How much?

Image copyright AP
Image caption 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.