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Guest ralfjnr

Moving to Canberra - The Reality Check

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Guest ralfjnr

Its been 3 years for our visa to finally come through (176), and we have to stay the first two years in Canberra.

 

We have just been out to Canberra to activate our visa, whilst waiting for our house in the UK to sell.

 

Whilst in Canberra for a month, we did nothing but research cost of living, and what was the Aussie dream sold on TV programmes etc, finally became a reality of somewhere to live.

 

I guess I'm writting this as when applying we looked at it through rose coloured glasses and when the UK exchange rate was strong, and now the reality is kicking in after being in Canberra for a month. If anyone knows of anything that is wrong below or a cheaper alternative, please feel free to let me know.

 

In brief, it is a lot more expensive than the UK (as of Oct-11). The salaries are in the main a bit higher but not enough to compensate the extra living costs. If your thinking of moving to Canberra (and we still are), its a matter of personal choice for having less money left in our pocket at the end of each month in Canberra vs the lifestyle you would gain.

 

Here's some of my thoughts, and I was hoping others could add to, or feel free to say if it can be done cheaper etc

 

Houses

To buy a decent 4 bedroom property (detached) in an average area would cost in the region of $500,000 (approx £360k), and to rent such a home is $600 a week. But, because they work out part weeks in months, the monthly rent converted to around £1700 ($2650 a month).

 

I guess if your from the South East of England, this would be a like for like, but the mortgage interest rates are higher than the UK.

 

Smaller property (3 beds etc) tend to be less looked after, and somewhere you may not want to rent for 12 months or over with children, these rents were around $450 a week.

 

We viewed around 15 homes to rent, and on each around 10 couples turned up to view, and your competing with other people.

 

Mortgage and Lending

The Bank of Australia interest rate is currently 4.75% (Oct-11) vs the UK 0.5%. Therefore the banks Mortgage rates are higher than this. Unless you have a substantial deposit, or small mortgage, the mortgage in Australia will be a lot higher than the UK. This we found also applies to Car loans, credit cards etc.

 

Utility Bills

Cold in the winter and hot in the summer - unless the home has got duct heating, the bills are more expensive than the UK. Reverse cycle air conditioning, keeps the bills high. The newer build homes are better energy efficient, but a lot smaller than the old build homes which are no where near the quality of UK standard homes for energy effeciency. A relative advised us her 2 month bill during winter was $500 (approx £350). There is less competition on energy suppliers in Australia.

 

Fox-tel - which is like sky TV, the full package is around $115 a month (its not a necessity, but in colder darker winter months it helps ), with broadband etc on top

 

Food

Meat is better quality than the UK and about the same price.

Bread for an average brand loaf is $2.50, although some are doing 'Smart Price' loaves for $1. In a bakery the bread was around $4 a loaf. This gives and indication of total shopping will be higher than the UK.

Fruit and Veg... Bananas in the UK at the moment are 50p per kilo, yet we saw them at a major supermarket for $7 (£4.50) a kilo!!!. Mango's $4 for 2, and apples for $1 each. A cauliflower was $3.

Milk was $2 for 2 litre.

A curry (Chicken Korma) was $10 for ready made meal.

Baby food $2 per jar, and nappies around $10 for 25.

A mars chocolate bar equivilent was $2.50

On average we spent around 30%-40% more on food than we would have done in the UK.

 

Cars

Our car in the UK (a second hand Merc), if we bought it in Australia it was double. That said the second hand car market holds their value better than in the UK, but the cars (including Holdens and Fords) are around 25% to 50% more expensive.

BMW's, Merc's Audi etc can be upto double the UK costs, but Nissans, Mitsubishi's, Toyota etc are all more expensive to buy.

The Fords for a like for like model (Ford Fiesta) was around 30% more expensive to buy.

 

Petrol

A lot cheaper than the UK with unleaded around $1.40 (approx 90p), that said, you drive a lot more miles on average, and the cars tend to be better on the miles to the litre, with a lot less traffic jams (so no more sat there burning petrol and not moving ;-)

 

Schools

Public schools are free, but, a lot of people go into private schools as the government gives more money per student to the private school, and they also get more money from yourself, therefore a lot better education in Private.

 

Google OECD world rankings and Australia comes in at 6th, and the UK 20th for world rankings on education. Its evident, the extra funding from yourself, you are getting a great deal back on your childrens education.

 

Public Areas

Each housing area seems to have a playground for kids, a playing field and some have BBQ's. These are fantastic and extremely well looked after and maintained.

 

Shopping (non-food)

You'll need the odd trip to Sydney or shopping on line from time to time. They have a great shopping centre in Belconnen, and a smaller precinct style one in Gunghalin. Tuggeranong also has a large shopping area.

Kids toys are around 30-50% more expensive e.g. Cars 2 toy cars in the Disney store are £10 for 2 in the UK, and in Oz they was $10 each.

A pack of babies dummies was £3 in UK (Avent), but $10 in Oz. Fisher Price toys are more expensive as well.

Games Consoles and Apple products tend to be slightly cheaper (just a touch)

DVD's and Music is a lot more expensive approx $25-$35 for a DVD (go to www.dvdland.com.au), new CD's are around $20 (£13).

Furniture tends to cost around the same as the UK, but white goods again are more expensive, along with TV's etc. Although its not a great deal more expensive.

 

Health

Medicare is similar to NHS,but you pay for it and then claim it back. So you can go to a public hospital (on a waiting list etc), or pay private and get some of that cost re-imbursed, which I thought was better than the UK.

 

Dental, our relative had a filling whilst we was in Oz and this cost $250. Their son (14yr old) had needed braces and these cost $4000. No matter the age, dental or optical is not covered. You will need to budget for your childrens teeth.

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Guest Guest31881

Hi,

 

The cost of living will vary depending where you manage to find accommodation. When you look at buying a new home, take a look at the various grants that are available to first time buyers, they can help a lot. Not sure what is available in Canberra.

 

When renting remember you do not have to pay any rates (Council tax) that is paid by the owner and check what happens about the water bills, some pay for excess usage whilst others pay nothing.

White goods and TV's ... Do not take any notice of the prices on the items, you are expected to negotiate a discount, and the more you buy the bigger the discount. This is normally alien to our way of shopping but you soon get used to bartering with the shop assistants.

 

You do tend to find that because fuel is cheaper in Australia more people tend to commute to work, that way they get cheaper housing but trade it off against journey to work.

 

Good luck with your new life..:biggrin:

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Food

Meat is better quality than the UK and about the same price.

Bread for an average brand loaf is $2.50, although some are doing 'Smart Price' loaves for $1. In a bakery the bread was around $4 a loaf. This gives and indication of total shopping will be higher than the UK.

Fruit and Veg... Bananas in the UK at the moment are 50p per kilo, yet we saw them at a major supermarket for $7 (£4.50) a kilo!!!. Mango's $4 for 2, and apples for $1 each. A cauliflower was $3.

Milk was $2 for 2 litre.

A curry (Chicken Korma) was $10 for ready made meal.

Baby food $2 per jar, and nappies around $10 for 25.

A mars chocolate bar equivilent was $2.50

On average we spent around 30%-40% more on food than we would have done in the UK.

 

 

Just a quick reply on the banana front. Yes they are currently $7 a kilo, they were $15 a kilo until recently! This is because Cyclone Yasi wiped out all the banana crops in Australia with the exception of about two farms, and you are not allowed to import bananas to Australia. The normal price is about $2 per kilo, and they should return to this price next month.

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Guest Perseus

Fantastic post, thanks for all that information. Financially the figures just dont stack up, we'd be much better off in the UK but what the hell we are comimg to Canberra anyway, life is not about money its about living and experiencing.

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Fantastic post, thanks for all that information. Financially the figures just dont stack up, we'd be much better off in the UK but what the hell we are comimg to Canberra anyway, life is not about money its about living and experiencing.

Yes it was a great post, but I thought I might add a little more in case some people are put off!

 

Just about everything is more expensive in Oz, with the exception of petrol, red meat, and car insurance for young people. However I still find I have a lot more left over income at the end of the month. Wages are higher here. I earn about 50% more here than in the UK for the same job, but the bills are probably about 25% more than I paid in the UK. As prices seem so expensive here I've become more conscious on the value front. If you look around you can find the bargains on the food front; you don't need the air con switched on until it's over 30C; you don't need to air con/heat every room in the house; commuting is cheap here - cycle paths everywhere, cheap buses and for many people, cheap or free parking; you can order on amazon and eBay and everything appears so cheap; ready meals don't harly exist here and when they do they are stupidly expensive and taste like crap, you cook from scratch.

 

If your experience was working in SE England before moving here, I think you will find things to be priced similar, but your wage higher. But granted if you are coming from elsewhere be ready to realise that the economy is hot here.

 

Also worth a mention is that there is a compulsory payment of 9% of your salary into a super fund (pension). It might not sound so sexy or fun now, but does matter in the long term: for many in the UK a private pension is just impossible. Take this into account when making a comparison. If you are working for public sector you might get more super than this.

 

This post has got me thinking, I will dig out my bank statements and see how much I spent on various household expenses over the last 12 months if people are interested.

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Guest mauiboy

definitely agree on the prices observation....there are things that I find cheaper but generally they cost more than UK prices. But then it's balanced out by the high salary that they pay out.We're a two income household back in London and after all the bills had been paid,there's only little left to tide us over 'til the next paycheck.

money is not the only thing to consider though...Canberra is really ideal for families. Lived in London for the last ten years and it's getting too much for us especially with the riots last summer. It's a welcome change to be here in this quiet and peaceful place.

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Guest ralfjnr

Thanks for all the posts so far. Some fantastic ideas re never knew about the negotiating down a deal at an electrical store, and bananas thank god this is a one off season.

 

When writting this piece, my intentions were not to be negative, as my wife and I are still making plans to move out to Canberra because we feel it would offer a different lifestyle.

 

I guess my motivations for pulling this piece together was, when we first looked at emigrating, we persuaded ourselves it would all be positive, and convinced ourselves it would be all good and easy.

 

With the reality check, we are looking at it differently, and any people researching for their visa, should consider it a lot more carefully than we did. My best advice would be to visit first, before submitting a visa request.

 

Its a lot of time, money and emmotion to invest, when the reality is different from the TV programmes.

 

Keep the ideas of reducing costs coming

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ralfjnr comparing cost of living using the current exchange rate doesn't work well.

 

For example if the pound dropped more tomorrow and lost another 30% against the aussie dollar that wouldn't make everything in Australia 30% dearer the day after. On the same day the US dollar could strengthen against the Australian dollar so it might seem Australian cost of living got dearer and cheaper on the same day depending which exchange rate you use which is of course impossible.

 

To work you what is dearer or cheaper you need to work on percentage of average wage something costs in both countries...as you alluded to with "The salaries are in the main a bit higher but not enough to compensate the extra living costs."

 

It has been worked out on here previously that the average salary difference is roughly 2.2 so that makes a more accurate basis for comparison...ie your salary number needs to be 2.2 times the number you earn in the UK to put you on an equal footing. Also prices should be compared using the same 2.2 to do a proper cost of living conversion as the exchange rate comparison is meaningless unless still spending pounds - or you're working out how much you'll get for what you bring over.

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Fantastic post, thanks for all that information. Financially the figures just dont stack up, we'd be much better off in the UK but what the hell we are comimg to Canberra anyway, life is not about money its about living and experiencing.

 

well said perseus, coudln't have said it better :yes:

 

Cal


Job offer April 2011, Reccie July 2011, 457 submitted 21/09/2011, my medical only 14/10/11, medical submitted 21/10/11 (IT issues), referred 21/10/11, approved 27/10/11, landed 24/4/12, PR submitted (decision ready) June 2012, PR granted August 2013

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Guest ralfjnr
ralfjnr comparing cost of living using the current exchange rate doesn't work well.

 

For example if the pound dropped more tomorrow and lost another 30% against the aussie dollar that wouldn't make everything in Australia 30% dearer the day after. On the same day the US dollar could strengthen against the Australian dollar so it might seem Australian cost of living got dearer and cheaper on the same day depending which exchange rate you use which is of course impossible.

 

To work you what is dearer or cheaper you need to work on percentage of average wage something costs in both countries...as you alluded to with "The salaries are in the main a bit higher but not enough to compensate the extra living costs."

 

It has been worked out on here previously that the average salary difference is roughly 2.2 so that makes a more accurate basis for comparison...ie your salary number needs to be 2.2 times the number you earn in the UK to put you on an equal footing. Also prices should be compared using the same 2.2 to do a proper cost of living conversion as the exchange rate comparison is meaningless unless still spending pounds - or you're working out how much you'll get for what you bring over.

 

Completely agree with you, as I said it does depend on the salary achieved, however, from what I saw in the Jobs market for Canberra, it certainly was not a 2.2 comparrison.

 

The 2.2 comes from Australia as a whole and is skewed by other industries not generally performed in Canberra. e.g. mining in Australia one of the best paid mining industries in the world, and there is lots of it, but not in Canberra.

 

An I.T. professional or Public sector worker (as an example) would be paid same or slightly higher but would struggle to get 2.2. A tradesman could get 2.2 (as our friends are joiners and do so).

 

It all hinges on the job you secure.

 

Like I'm always saying, I'm being realistic. It will worked amazingly well for some, and not so good for others.

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Completely agree with you, as I said it does depend on the salary achieved, however, from what I saw in the Jobs market for Canberra, it certainly was not a 2.2 comparrison.

 

The 2.2 comes from Australia as a whole and is skewed by other industries not generally performed in Canberra. e.g. mining in Australia one of the best paid mining industries in the world, and there is lots of it, but not in Canberra.

 

An I.T. professional or Public sector worker (as an example) would be paid same or slightly higher but would struggle to get 2.2. A tradesman could get 2.2 (as our friends are joiners and do so).

 

It all hinges on the job you secure.

 

Like I'm always saying, I'm being realistic. It will worked amazingly well for some, and not so good for others.

 

I think it's great that you have real figures to work out your situation. You can't get anymore accurate than that. I guess my point is that it makes more sense to specifically compare using whatever conversion your job gives you or use the difference in average salaries or a canberra average or whatever - using a floating exchange rate to compare cost of living doesn't work at all and has little meaning.

 

Not sure how much the mining jobs have skewed figures btw as there are not really that many direct mining jobs in the whole australian economy - a lot of the money flows to other positions in all the cities. If it didn't the ACT wouldn't continue to have one of the highest average salaries for any state. Sometimes as a new immigrant it may take a while to get back to the 2.2 figure I guess even when it is achievable - certainly differs by industry - IT contracting seemed far better paid in the UK though I am going on old figures.

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We've been her for six weeks now and I stopped comparing prices to the UK within two weeks of being here.

 

At the end of the day this is now home and I no longer earn a UK wage nor do I buy stuff there (well with a few exceptions) so what I am more interested in is whether say Coles is cheaper than Woolworths in Gungahlin or where the cheapest petrol nearest to my house is etc those are the sort of comparisons that make sense now.

 

Please don't get me wrong, facts and figures on what things cost before I came out here were what I craved and yes it is in some cases more expensive but in others it is not.

 

What you have to do I find here is shop around more, back in the UK we went to Asda every Friday and did our weekly shop, now this is done in several differs places including farmers markets and the like and we are finding that the difference in food prices has decreased significantly and we are paying very little more that what we did, plus in general terms the quality is far far better.

 

 

---

I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=-35.171652,149.106281


Later days - Dave and Joanne

-------------------------------------------------------------

State Sponsored Visa Granted 20Jan11 - Arrived in Canberra 22Sep11 - Citizens Mar16

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...what I am more interested in is whether say Coles is cheaper than Woolworths in Gungahlin or where the cheapest petrol nearest to my house ...

 

yeah ..agree .. and sometime I checked on SUPABARN in the center too. :biggrin:


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