How much?

 
Raspberries (file image) How much would you pay for a punnet of raspberries?

Since touching down in Sydney two weeks ago, no trip to the grocery store or one of the city's myriad of amazing restaurants has been complete without an anguished cry of "how much?", or as they say in my Yorkshire homeland "How many?"

On day one it was raspberries, A$10 ($9.20, £5.90) a punnet! On day two it was French cheese, A$149 a kilo! On day three a bacon and egg sarnie, A$12. ("What an eclectic diet he has," I hear you cry.)

Sydney is pricey - the third most expensive city in the world apparently. Gatherings of expats here often quickly descend into dispirited diatribes on just how costly it is. I am sure it bores the locals stupid given they too are having to live with it day in, day out. House prices continue to soar. Cost of living (or perceived cost of living) is certainly a big issue for voters in next month's election.

And a study out this week from HSBC bank shows that foreign students are footing the bill too, with Australia now the most expensive place in the world for international students to go to university. A$42,000 is the average annual cost for fees and living expenses, more than both the United States and the United Kingdom, which ranked second and third respectively.

For starters the study says university fees for foreign student are now the highest in the world but it's the cost of living that really makes Australia a place for students with deep pockets.

Germany, remarkably, comes out more than six times cheaper for international students to study. Australia's relatively strong economy and the subsequent high Aussie dollar in recent years are big factors. Both have weakened in the last few months, easing things slightly.

In the meantime, I can recommend "A$3 Taco Tuesday" at my local boozer in Redfern for any students seeking out a rare bargain.

 
Jon Donnison Article written by Jon Donnison Jon Donnison Sydney correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    Moved to Aus 18 months ago and our savings were depleting at a fast rate when using sterling. The cost of living is high, but when you are earning aussie dollars, its not so bad. Alcohol still makes me cough though. Some spirits are $100 for a 70cl bottle.

    On balance, the cost of living is high, but the quality of living is far better value than I have experienced in the UK.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    $3 Tacos Jon? That must be The Norfolk!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    Yep, we all know that things are expensive over here, the economy is strong, house prices are high etc etc etc.

    Jon, you really should have mentioned the ridiculous obsession with Rugby League and the sudden lack of interest in test match cricket.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    BBC correspondents do have high expectations when it comes to their choice of cheese. As for Australian social life compared to being on a witness protection program, that is not my experience. I have quite a few expat English friends, they love it. I live in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. I enjoy my local community, the very high standard of living and the very low crime rate.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 19.

    First a guy crying over the price of limes, now it's raspberries. Living in Melbourne, but from the UK, I would say the cost of groceries is about equal to London, but rent is cheaper and wages are about a third higher for the same job roles. Since arriving I've also been enjoying the odd bottle of $2.49 wine, which would go well with some French cheese, but I'll survive without somehow.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 18.

    Higher wages do not compensate for the ridiculous cost of living. Coles and Woolworth have sown up the food market. Yes, you can buy their home-brand "tasty" cheese if you like tasteless lumps of plastic. Real cheese is a luxury. They get away with it because Aussies don't have a tradition of protest like, say, the French do. Just open another tinny of over-priced lager and enjoy the view.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    After living in Sydney for more than two years I have learned the secret of cutting the cost of living. Bottle of water at a convenient store may cost $3.50 but you can but 24 bottles for just $8 in a supermarket. There is not much control in Australia so it is all about where you buy it. You can pay between $1 and $8.00 for bread. Fruits are very very cheap when you buy in season.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 16.

    Hey Jon. Firstly, it's Winter here, don't buy raspberries in Winter. Secondly, this is Australia. Don't buy French cheese. Buy Aussie cheese. Supermarket own brand tasty (i.e. Mature) Cheddar is around $8/kilo. Finally, 1Kg economy bacon in say Coles, plus 1 doz free range eggs and a toaster slice loaf will set you back about $14 and will do around 10 DIY bacon/egg sangas. Work to a budget mate

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 15.

    I am a Sydney resident and agree wholeheartedly that it is expensive, but apart from the bacon and egg sandwich (agree $12 is ridiculous) you use raspberries and French cheese as examples? Seriously? Raspberries are out of season (it's winter so they were probably imported), and French cheese presumably has to come from France which is, oh, 17,000 odd kms away.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    Yes, I was amused by your eclectic diet,Jon,tho you were merely window-shopping for your interesting article.Here in UK, I had no idea of prices like that in Oz. I knew its economy has weathered the global crisis better than most.But I had no idea of the cost of living.An important item you failed to mention in your article(I blame your awful diet:)) is the average wage.It would have been helpful.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    Sadly, all of the previous comments are correct . Australia is a great country, it has magnificent scenery and its people seem outwardly to enjoy a high standard of living. It seems the lack of community and culture is the price that is paid.
    A visitor fom the UK once described it as ' Yeah really nice here ,but its like living in the witness protection program "
    Perfect !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 12.

    @11: What Australia has been doing "right" is ripping minerals out of the ground & exporting them to China in record amounts & record prices. For the time being, those prices have abated. (Although most appear to have bottomed & rising again). This allowed successive governments to pork-barrel the electorate with middle-class welfare which was used to inflate housing prices.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 11.

    Swing Lowe thats a bit below the belt and harsh about Australia! Considering the Australian economy is far better shape than the Uk and most other western countries one has to wonder what the Aussies are doing right! Oh yes thats right domestic product is expensive and wages are high!! MIght be a clue why the Aussie mantra is to buy Australian made! Sydney is gorgeous full of history!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 10.

    Visited Oz, son works there - if I was 30 years younger I'd go myself! Nice people, plenty work - if you are willing to work, good wages, beautiful country. Cost of living high, but wages higher. So stop the moaning & criticism - it's a great country

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 8.

    Nobody likes to work in Oz, so the food prices stays high.

    Nothing else there anyways but beer.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 7.

    I hear food is cheap in PNG

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    The thought of anyone wanting to live in Oz is a joke in itself, I have visit the country on 3 occasions each time found it soulless, culture-less and devoid of true community. Like a brothel it is something to visit out of pure curiosity but you would not want to repeat unless you had to for work reasons.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    I was in Sydney last month, first time for 5yrs, and was appalled at the price rises. The exchange rate is artificially high because of minerals but has devastated the rest of the economy, especially tourism. It is cheaper for Australians to holiday in Bali or Fiji! Taking my grandchildren for a treat was crushingly expensive. Bit like visiting London but worse.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    The only way to stabilize house prices is to fill the demand, particularly in
    the £200K category where demand will be at its highest from first time
    buyers wanting affordable properties.Inflation would defeat the whole
    object of the Government's Loan Scheme and would soon cause Mayhem
    in the Economy. Talk of more Quantative Easing is crazy as this is
    could stoke inflation.

 

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