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

    Comment number 43.

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace...

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    @Demerara. Don't know where you get your lack of information from but can I suggest you educate yourself on the facts. Australia has never been brutal to Asylum seekers, in fact we have one of the highest % intakes of refugees of any western country, nor do we discriminate refugees on race. I for one am glad the boats are being turned away

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Off topic but there is nothing racist with Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, if you are an illegal immigrant and get caught you get the same treatment no matter what colour your skin is. I didn't realise living in safe conditions where everything is provided for by Australian tax payers, including good clean water, food, TV/Internet was considered brutal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Surely there are more pressing matters to be focusing on? What about Australia's brutal and racist treatment of asylum seekers, for example? Human rights abuses are more important than raspberries and French cheese!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I live in Perth and I usually start my shopping at the cheapest of the three supermarkets: IGA. If I can't get what I want in the Black & Gold or "No Frills" sections, I move to Woolworths. If I don't find it I go home or to one of those many African and oriental shops. I don't go to Coles, the most expensive place to shop for groceries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I've been living in Sydney for 8 years and some things are certainly expensive. However, today I bought a punnet of strawberries for $1 and I can get a pretty good steak at the local pub for $7. I have seen a rise in prices since I've been here but it is some what distorted by the recent strength of the dollar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I could not believe these prices!
    One primary and almost mandatory method o reducing prices, I to tackle the gambling, speculation and sheer waste caused by the various commodities exchanges.
    I tell you these "betters" would rather let food rot than lose a bet, and they have frequently done exactly that!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.


    Somewhat nieve John. All large cities have homelessness and squalor and having a high minimum wage makes things worse, not better. If your going to be paying someone A$35,000 to clean streets, then naturally the cost of living is going to be high. and when times get tough, more people will get made redundant as companies can no longer meet their insane wage bill

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Expat in Sydney for seventeen years. Sydney peaked at the time of the Olympics in 2000. The real problem is house and rent prices. It's nauseating. "Real people" live up the central coast and commute. Luxury flats have five students to a room. It's now totally out of control. I want to move to Northern Queensland but my job pays too much here. Melbourne is much more liveable than Sydney.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    £5.90 for a punnet of Raspberries? Consider yourself lucky.

    My local supermarket where I am currently residing in Moscow is selling punnets of blueberries for 460 roubles - roughly £9.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Prices are crazy but locals know where to buy. Go to Chinese butchers for cheap meat. Go to Paddy's market in the Haymarket in Sydney or Flemington markets for unbelievably low prices for fish, meat and fruit and veg.
    It is not difficult to find a really good Asian meal for $9-13 anywhere and you can be pretty sure it will be made in an hygienic kitchen.
    The big supermarkets are not competitive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    As a real Aussie who lived in London for 13 years and now lives in Brisbane, yes you're absolutely right, the cost of living here is high. As bad or worse than London, but we have no squalor, no homelessness, low crime and infrastructure that works. If you want cheap goods and services you need to have low wages, and we have the highest minimum wage in the world ($35k). The price of egalitarianism

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Marcus 28: where are these Street Markets you talk of? I live in The Gap (western suburb of Brisbane). I have just returned from the UK after 15 months living in Northampton.
    Brisbane is outlandishly expensive! And it's getting worse, fast.
    Great place to live. Agree that people here have no idea though..

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Where are some of these people shopping? Those are insane prices that you won't find in a suburban supermarket in my experience. Well done in the Ashes. Your bowlers were superb. Also the Lions were awesome. We will be back. I'm happy to go to my local supermarket and take a few pictures to prove the point if necessary. Only trouble you will have to wait until I come back from France back Sept

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    From Melbourne, some comparable prices:

    Cigarettes (20pk) - £11.70
    Local pint - £5.30
    Local Beer (6pk) - £9.40
    Train fare (15min to city-return) - £4.40
    1 avocado (seasonal) - £2.30
    2/3 bedroom house - inner city/suburb - £585,000+

    You get the idea. Wonderful place to live, but crazy expensive.
    That said, I agree with others...don't buy French cheeses & raspberries in winter!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I moved to Brisbane seven weeks ago and agree that prices in Australia are disproportionate. Predominantly, I think that this is due to consumers here not being very savvy or - worse still - no interest whatsoever in being so. People shop in Woolworth or Coles, largely based on what their parents did and between them there is an effective cartel. Street markets, however, charge UK prices or less.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I don't quite understand the bubble. Before going anywhere to play expat for a sorts of extended vacation: RTFM. Else, if it's job related, sure enough the company provides some extra cover? Else, try Sussex for a change...

    BTW: My own extended vacations just turned 21; and from what I get in the news, I doubt be coming back any time soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I call it the Aussie Tax.
    With a minimum wage over $16 per hour and the additional compulsory employer contribution to Super Annuation at +12%, I'm not surprised that Australian onions are more expensive in Australia than in the UK!
    I've lived with it for 18 months now, and Australia loses out as I buy my clothes from online outlets. I don't get paid enough to shop for poor quality clothes here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    From Surrey and have spent the last year in Aus/NZ.

    Higher cost out of season/imported foods is greener and local goods cost more because of better working salaries ($25ph casual cafe work).
    Other 'shockers' -
    Whiskey - upto 4xprice (tax&import)
    Car insurance for 2 people $8pm (NZ - due to ACC)
    Fast food cheap - Dominos Pizza - $5
    Cars - older (no salt/weather) and $$$

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    It is decided by the seller normally. However, if the seller do not post the price of the goods, then the seller and the buyer should negotiate the price. The price can be by cash, by shares, by properties, by marriage or exchange the goods.


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