Cost of Living in Australia and UK: Cities Compared

….and some other cities too.

In my category “Cost of Living – Australia” I have looked at the costs of a wide range of essential items ranging from electrical goods to groceries, from houses to ambulance fees and from toys to booze.

moneyAt the start of the exercise I suggested that there wouldn’t be too much difference between the cost of living in Australia and England, and so far that seems to have been the case.

I recently became aware of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living ranking report which I believe comes out every other year. As you can imagine, the economist’s resources are probably greater than those available to me here at BobInOz, so it is possible their figures may be more accurate or factual than mine.

Well, they do have over 100 in house editors and economists and over 700 global contributors.

So what do they make of it?

Firstly, let me explain that this survey compares prices and products in 140 cities around the world. As its benchmark city, it uses New York and whatever it costs to buy those products in New York is deemed to be 100 points.

So that we might get our bearings, let me tell you that New York, along with Chicago, Los Angeles and Hamburg, all scored 100 points and are sitting in at joint 23rd.

How did our Australian and UK cities fare?

  • London is 27th (8) with 99 points
  • Sydney is 35th (17) with 92 points
  • Melbourne is 39th (24) with 89 points
  • Brisbane and Perth are joint 57th (35) on 80 points
  • Manchester is 70th (49) with 76
  • Adelaide is 72nd (48) with 74

Close to the UK but not quite, is Dublin in 13th with 108.

The top three worldwide, for those who would like to know, are Tokyo on 152 and Osaka Kobe on 145, both in Japan, with Paris in third on 132.

What does this all mean? I really don’t know. But I see nothing here to make me change my mind about my own finger in the air assessment of “not much in it”. There is certainly no evidence that Australia is more expensive than England.

London/Sydney/Melbourne, not much in it.
Manchester/Brisbane/Perth/Adelaide, not much in it.

And we’re all cheaper than New York.

What is interesting is the way that the recent financial turmoil in the exchange rate markets has affected this table. The figures in brackets next to each cities current position in my list above reflects where they would have been prior to the meltdown of October 2008. You see, the survey took place in September 2008 and was adjusted in February 2009 to reflect the huge changes in exchange rates.

So, accordingly, most US cities have gone up the index because of the strong USD. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for example, would have been 39th instead of 23rd.

And each and every city within the UK and Australia is now cheaper than it was before then.

Doesn’t feel like it, does it?

I don’t really get it. I understand the weak British pound would make UK cities cheaper to live in, but I thought the Aussie dollar has gone from strength to strength since that crash.

But then the cent dropped. These figures were adjusted in February this year. Since then the Aussie dollar has continued its strong performance, gaining somewhere around 25% against the US dollar.

So a survey taken in September 2008, adjusted in February 2009 is out of date today. Complicated isn’t it?

I’m sticking with “there’s not much in it”. But the GBP is in desperate need of a reverse if I am going to continue to be able to say that.

My thanks to The Economist for helping out.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • sonia September 25, 2012, 6:13 am |

    hi bob, thanks for this great website. i must say this website really helped us in planning our move to australia. me and my husband are hoping to move to australia in the beginning of next year ( waiting for visa fingers crossed). by looking at your website and other sources we are thinking to move to WA or Victoria. ( i am a pharmacist and my husband is an engineer and these are too states with more jobs for both of us). i have two questions for u. one wat about finding a morgtage for new immigrants is it easy or we have to wait . ( we are selling our house in birmingham uk so we should be able to put decent deposit forward) second question i know its not a relevant question so my appologies in advance. would u by any chance know are there any indian supermakrets in melbourne or perth, where we can go grocery shopping (being a pakistani we cannot survive without spices lolx)

    • BobinOz September 25, 2012, 9:20 pm |

      Hi Sonia

      Glad you are enjoying my website. You shouldn’t have to wait to get a mortgage, providing you have a good enough deposit (say 20%) which it sounds as though you have, and can prove your new income.

      I would be shocked if you couldn’t find an Indian supermarket in either Melbourne or Perth, but particularly in Melbourne where the Indian population is quite high.

      good luck!



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