White Goods Prices Compared: Australia Versus the UK.

Whenever anybody who is moving to Australia asks me what they should or shouldn’t bring with them, I almost always advise them to bring the lot.

Beds, furniture, toys, books, bikes, the whole shaboodle; the only exceptions are soiled garden goods, maybe the TV and of course, there’s no need to bring the kitchen sink.

When we sold our house, our buyers wanted us to leave behind all of our white goods; “not on your Nelly” formed part of my response. I’d been told white goods were expensive in Australia.

So, are they?

White goods prices compared

I get the impression the major manufacturers of white goods do not want their customers to compare prices of their stuff between countries. Indeed, they appear to go to great lengths to give their products different names and different model numbers around the world.

Not sure, but I think they even give their companies different names!

I don’t know the ins and outs, but if I look at the most popular washing machines in our respective countries, here in Australia we have makes like…

  • Asko
  • Beko
  • Bosch
  • Electrolux
  • Euromaid
  • Fisher & Paykel
  • Haier
  • Hoover
  • LG
  • Siemens

And in the UK they have…

  • Baumatic
  • Beko
  • Bosch
  • Candy
  • Hoover
  • Hotpoint
  • Indesit
  • LG
  • Siemens
  • Zanussi

Yes, I know there are some common makes, and I know each country has more manufacturers that I have not listed. But the point is, finding the same make and model in each country is almost impossible.

So how can we compare? Like this…

For each appliance I chose:

  • The cheapest ‘brand named’ appliance in the category.
  • But just to make it interesting, no brand could appear twice.

No, it may not be the most scientific comparison, but it’s better than nothing. I have also shown full transparency, creating two tables, one for each country. In each table I give precise details of the make and model chosen.

My task was made easier by both of our countries having websites that appear top of searches in each of these countries for the words “appliance online”.

No one will need to be Sherlock Holmes to find out which companies I got my prices from in either the UK or Australia. Here are the tables, first…

Australia

Australian Appliances

The UK

UK AppliancesNotes:
All appliances were freestanding.
Fridge freezers were the side-by-side double door type.

The conclusion:

How about that then? If we do the old “let’s convert GBP into AUD and see how expensive Australia is” method, we will see that what costs $2,849 here in Australia, can be bought for a little over the equivalent of $2,100 in the UK, based on one GBP = 1.5 AUD.

Therefore the UK would be about 25% cheaper than Australia.

But we know that doesn’t really work if we understand the hard yakka.

If we use the hard yakka method, an average worker in the UK would buy all of his white goods in that country by working for 94 hours.

The same average worker here in Australia would have to work 87 hours to buy the equivalent goods here.

Therefore Australia is about 8% cheaper.

But what I like about this experiment is that it agrees with what I have said many times around this website, most recently in my post called Australian and UK Salaries Compared: Part Two 2012.

And that is…

  • Things cost about twice as much here in Australian dollars as they do in the UK in Great British pounds.

In this case, that’s almost exactly right, isn’t it? And as we know from reading the above linked post about salaries, earning twice as much in AUD here as you do in GBP in the UK isn’t difficult to do.

The conclusion then, must be that there just isn’t much in it.

One final note. I’d like to give a special award to Euromaid for the model number of their washing machine. Did you notice it? It’s called the…

  • WM5

Why don’t all manufacturers keep it that simple?

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Germish April 3, 2013, 7:04 am | Link

    Wow alcohol more expensive in the UK. Gosh didn’t think that was possible. Since a can of beer here is 2 to 3x more than in Germany or SA.
    Back to mattresses. I see what you mean, maybe the OZ manufacturers are just joining in. I like competition and a big unrestricted market. It keeps the lid on inflation and prices.
    Germans always moan about life in Germany. They don’t know how much they get and how good and fair it is until they have lived outside it.
    I think, given the choice on mattresses I would go for a water-mattress these days. The days of it being sleezy or vulgar are long gone, one also does not get seasick on them any more. They are pretty much high-tech these days and come in various technolgy design. Often the water is just one part of the inside and they are of fixed shape. Sometimes even just like several big sponges inside, in chambers with different possible water pressures possible.
    For my taste in a warm country like Oz I would find it a benefit to have a mattress which keeps the contact area to the body cooler than an ordinary mattress. After all it’s the contact pressure points to the body which makes you toss and turn.
    If you read up on it you’d be amazed who much better from an orthopaedic point these type of mattresses are.

    • BobinOz April 3, 2013, 9:55 pm | Link

      Just to clear that up, alcohol is more expensive in Australia than the UK.

      I’ve never fancied a water bed and I’m not sure there are many for sale around here, but I will check it out. We think we know what we are going to buy, we stayed in a hotel recently and the bed was soooo comfortable, Mrs Bobinoz phone them up and ask them what it was. They told us, and we now look into that as an option.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Germish April 2, 2013, 1:20 am | Link

    I read with interest the comment on bed prices. I bet the problem is not the price of the bed but that of the mattress.
    This possibly is because there are no Australian mattress manufacturers. I live in the UK but I always had to buy my mattresses in Germany, because 1) English manufacturers do not make normal metric size mattresses but only little small mattresses and far to short for today’s tall generations. It takes them more than 100 years to change things and they still have not realized that people these days are taller than in Victorian times. 2) I doubt I could buy directly from manufacturer but will have to pay for profit margins of the entire distributor chain.
    When I bought in Germany I found that I was able to buy directly from a manufacturer if I picked it up. The top end mattress was half the price than in the cheapest shop who would also buy directly from the same manufacturer. The reason are the huge costs of transporting and storing these mattress. The mattress I bought was just below Euro 200 and was 1.6m wide and 2.10m long. Almost always you can get the same style mattress in widths from 0.80m to 1.80m and in lengths from 2.0m to 2.2m. But I can recall that they would make mattresses to any size a customers specifies (pre-order).
    Recently I found some of IKEA’s motorised frames for mattresses to be suspiciously using the identical components than those of the German manufacturer I bought from. I have got the feeling that there recent factory expansion might be related to the fact that they now are also making the mattresses for IKEA. At least buying from IKEA is now an option in the UK. They are metric in size and are at German retail price level. I can accept this because transport is really an issue. You don’t get that many on a lorry . The value per unit of space needed is low which really pushes the price up a lot.
    Even more so if shipping is required half way around the world and extra shipment per lorry from the container port.
    I just went online to see and found that IKEA is selling imperial sized mattresses in Australia. (I thought you guys are metric and have KM). http://www.ikea.com/aa/en/catalog/categories/range/10376/24823/
    I just saw that in the UK which is still imperial and has inches and miles, Ikea sells in metric sizes but has now extended to selling imperial too http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/categories/departments/bedroom/10609/
    I will leave comparisons to you. Names are sometimes different, sizes are and of course you need the exchange rate.
    But at a glance I saw SULTAN FLORVÅG in Australia as Double for AU$119 and in UK as 140×200 for £80. Of the top of my head that looks about right.
    Of course the German price,by nature the most competitive market in the world has the lowest price, but it’s so much that one can safely assume that there is another factor reducing the costs. I e. transport because they are made in Germany.
    http://www.ikea.com/de/de/catalog/products/30139741/?query=SULTAN+FLORV%C3%85G#/00139733
    The price is for the same mattress 140cm x 200cm only Euro 69 which I know translates to about £53. That’s quite a saving.
    But there might be a business opportunity here for an Entrepreneur. I leave it with you.

    • BobinOz April 2, 2013, 10:13 pm | Link

      No, it’s not so much the price or the mattress, it’s just that prices range from $100 to over $5000 and it’s impossible to know which mattresses are good and which are bad simply by laying on them for 10 minutes in the store.

      So you end up searching endlessly online for mattress reviews, and guess what? It pretty much doesn’t matter whether someone paid $100 or $5000 for their bed, they usually end up giving it a bad review. Or some people love the bed, others hate it, but they are talking about the same bed.

      That’s the problem.

      By the way, we do have bed manufacturers here, Sleepmaker and AH Beard are certainly both national Australian manufacturers and I know of a few local companies that manufacture beds too. My UK mattress is pretty much the same size as a standard Australian queen mattress here, that’s 153 cm wide by 204 cm long. Or as we would say in English, 5′ x 6’8”.

      I think there is a massive business opportunity for an entrepreneur here, but it ain’t going to be me 🙂

  • Carol-Anne April 1, 2013, 9:19 am | Link

    Hi there, we moved to Mackay in Queensland in December last year. We brought all of our household belongings, except garden equipment, over from Scotland. With regards to the TVs, all we had to do was buy some cheap freeview boxes ($20 each) and they all work fine. Would have cost a lot moe to have each one converted by a TV engineer.
    To be fair though, TVs are much cheaper here than in the UK (one of the few things that’s cheaper). White goods are ridiculously priced. The most expensive item I’ve come across so far is mattresses. They are over $1000, bring your beds everyone! And if you’re going to the hassle of shipping beds out, you might as well fill the container with everything else you’ve got. Like Bob says, the cost of shipping is much less than the cost of starting from scratch.

    • BobinOz April 1, 2013, 9:35 pm | Link

      You are absolutely right Carol-Anne, I still advise people to bring everything and those set-top boxes are cheap and will work fine with a UK TV. Funnily enough, a friend of mine arrived here a few months ago and his UK digital television worked fine and picked up Australian channels no problem without him having to buy an extra box.

      So it’s worth checking before you go to the shops.

      As for beds!! Tell me about it. Mrs Bobinoz and I are shopping for a new bed right now, it’s an absolute nightmare! I’m so wound up by, I’m going to write a post all about the ridiculous price of beds in Australia.

      They weren’t this dear in England, were they? Looks like we are going to end up paying over $2000 just for a queen mattress!

      So, yes, bring your beds people!

  • Germish February 28, 2013, 4:16 pm | Link

    HeHe,
    Right you are, just I am experiencing this also with an extra twist.
    I would like to compare the UK prices with those in other countries in the EU.
    I cannot because they vary their Model Numbers from Country to Country and this even more since there is the EURO.
    I often found that the UK is especially on the branded German Makes considerably more expensive than the prices in Germany.
    No to the extra twist. While in Germany you would find the most energy efficient models, these often are not even on offer in the UK.
    This often is very scurrilous as one having clearly identified one fridge to be identical with the one found in the UK but having different ratings despite the same look and wattage. Until one finds that the German fridge sold in Germany for less money has a one centimetre thicker insulation than it’s so called equivalent fridge sold in the UK.
    Australia is a far away small market I would never expect prices to be internationally competitive. The charges for Internet and servers to hire are also horrendous.
    It still is cheaper to live in OZ than in the UK. You buy a washing machine for a bit more maybe every 10-15 years, but we buy DAILY food, fruits, meat and alcoholic beverages at far higher prices. And our beeches are much colder too.
    However it still puzzles me about UK that food here is more expensive than in Germany albeit the UK has 0% VAT on food and Germany has actually 8% VAT on food.
    Businesses will take whatever they can get away with. This is guided by the location (UK is a small Island … Australia is a bigger but still an “Island”) in both cases you can’t just nip over the border to buy somewhere else.
    And then the mentality of the people. Stingy Germans just refuse to pay what they consider is to much. They will hold of CONSUMING and hold on to what they got. If a nation refuses to consume ..you would see prices come down quickly.
    I had considered to move from the UK to OZ at some stage but I would have left everything here and turn up just with a suitcase and a chequebook. It’s ridiculous to even suggest to save money when having to pay for one or two containers of household items to be transported half around the world. It’s cheaper to buy new and that sofa, armchair and desk which looked OK in an English cottage would just look stupid in a swish modern large Australian house.
    BTW. Ikea prices are not that different around the world. They are selling now white goods too. Now they have IKEA branding, but at first they had BAUKNECHT branding.
    I believe it still is Bauknecht. But be aware that the German company Bauknecht has been sold to the American Wirlpool Company some decades ago. Nothing German than the Name.

    • BobinOz March 4, 2013, 9:33 pm | Link

      Thanks Germish for the insights, it is rather shocking that what appears to be the same model are actually different specifications in each country, it kind of shows that if manufacturers think they will get away with it, they will give it a go.

      A couple of things I disagree with though, we brought all of our furniture here when we moved, and we don’t regret that at all. Only cost us around £6000 to transport all our stuff in a 40 foot container, way cheaper than starting from scratch with a cheque-book when you get here. And alcohol, sorry to say that’s much dearer here in Australia than it is in the UK.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Kirsty Stanley September 19, 2012, 5:55 pm | Link

    Hiya, well thanks, this answers another question; you’re good at that. My husband is about ready to divorce me with my ‘Bob Says’ constantly 🙂
    Have you done a post on shipping costs?

    • BobinOz September 20, 2012, 1:15 am | Link

      Yes, funny enough, I have. It’s actually in a post called Moving to Australia: What to Bring With You.

      Do bear in mind though, if your divorce goes through, you can halve the cost because you’ll only be bringing half your stuff with you. You can tell your husband Bob said that 🙂

      • Kirsty Stanley September 20, 2012, 2:18 am | Link

        Haha! Funny guy! Thanks for the help 🙂

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