The Cost of Living in Australia: House Prices Revised

I have always stated on this blog that Australia’s houses are cheaper than those in the UK. But as property values fall back in Britain and the pound versus the Australian dollar tumbles, I am forced to relook look at the figures. If you want to check out my original post, you can read it here…..

The Cost of Living in Australia: House Prices

Also, at the foot of this page, you will find a link to an update on house price information from April 2016.

This revision doesn’t make for pleasant reading, although there is a twist in the tale.

When I agreed a selling price for my house back in the UK in September 2007, one Great British pound would buy around $2.45 to $2.50 AUD depending on which day you looked. In fact, during the previous month of August, the pound was at one stage worth $2.56 AUD. But by the time the sale had gone through and I actually had the money, the pound had fallen and was now worth just $2.25 AUD. And the rate I actually achieved when I bought the Australian house was $2.26 AUD.

I was gutted!

In the space of less than one month I’d lost about 10% of the sale proceeds of my home and it was all down to the spectacular crash of one Northern Rock Building Society. Of course, looking back I realise what a lucky escape we actually had. If my buyer had got the jitters and pulled out, I might still be stuck with that English house today. And today things look very grim, like this…

But first, let me remind you of the deal I did do. I sold this house, 30 miles or so from London…..

Our Old House in England

And I bought this one in Australia, 15 miles or so from the centre of Brisbane…..

Our Australian house

My Brisbane house cost me 63.5% of what I sold my UK home for, based on that exchange rate of $2.26. As my Australian house is on land at least 6 times bigger than the old one and the inside is at least twice as big AND I paid less than two thirds of the cost of my old home, it was a fair assumption to say houses cost less here, wasn’t it?

But what if I were selling today?

Firstly, property prices have fallen in the UK in the last 2 1/2 years, so I’d have to sell it for less. I have heard rumours of massive house price crashes but when I checked online to see what is currently available in my old area, I don’t really see any evidence of those big falls. At worst, I believe my old house has dropped no more than 10%.

But the biggest difference between now and the end of 2007 is the exchange rate. No longer do I get $2.26 for every pound, today I would get just $1.65. To make matters worse, house prices here in Australia have risen by 9.5% since the original deal.

So now I am selling my English house for 10% less, buying my Australian home for almost 10% more and in the exchange rate I’m losing around 27%. GULP!

I’ve done the maths for you. If I were doing the deal today, instead of buying my Australian home for 36.5% less than I sold my English place, I’d be paying 5.5% more. As I said, looking back now, I can see how fortunate I was.

So are houses cheaper in Australia anymore?

You could still argue that for about the same money I have bought a house that is much larger as well as being on much bigger land. On the other hand, I haven’t moved up any in terms of “social class”. I lived in a nice four bed detached house in England and I live in a nice four bed detached house here in Australia.

So, on current figures, I can only conclude that house prices are no longer cheaper here in Australia. But at the same time, I can’t say they are more expensive either. But then I thought, “Hold on a minute! Why don’t I do some proper research?” So I did and the results really quite surprised me.

This was a BIG surprise!

Believe me, I wasn’t expecting this.

According to these are median prices for houses and units in the major cities of Australia as at December 2009.

City House Price Unit Price
Sydney $600,000 $430,000
Melbourne $499,000 $410,750
Brisbane $463,000 $383,600
Adelaide $380,000 $310,125
Perth $490,000 $400,000
Darwin $510,000 $376,000
Canberra $560,000 $404,000
Hobart $351,000 $269,000
Averages: $481,625 $372,934

RPData update these figures regurarly, but the figures above were correct at the time of writing this article.

According to the BBC, these are average house prices in the UK as at June 2009.

  • Average house price in the UK £224,064
  • Average Detached house price is £344,989
  • Average Semi-detached house price is £196,506
  • Average Terrace house price is £177,633
  • Average Flat price £199,669

The BBC also update their figures too and again the prices above were correct at the time. For the latest figures, click here.

Now I know one is for June and the other is for December and one is for median and the other is for average, but these were the most reliable figures I could find. So I’m not going to draw too many conclusions, but I do want to make the following observations.

I am pretty certain that when Australia talks about a “house” price, it is referring to detached properties. When they talk about a “unit” price then that can be anything from a semi-detached house, a terrace or a flat. So for me, the best direct comparison is an English detached house with an Australian house price.

At the current exchange rate of $1.65 that makes the average detached house price in the UK $569,231. That’s over $87,000 dearer than the average Australian house making UK homes 18% dearer.

Also, taking the average annual salary in the UK, which we previously agreed on our post comparing Australian and UK salaries to be something like £26,470, it would take 13 years worth of wages (ignoring silly taxes) to buy a detached house of average value in the UK. Here in Australia, where the average salary is $62,270, it would take just 7.7 years to buy an average detached house here.

So, would anybody like to tell me which country has the cheapest housing now?

Update 2016

Of course, house price comparisons are a moving target. This was all about 2010, but that was a long time ago. Here’s what I had to say about this subject in April 2016:

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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Bane January 4, 2017, 5:26 pm |

    Would love to see/hear your opinion about this all now..

  • John June 4, 2013, 6:31 am |

    Australia is heading for a fall as with many western countries house prices are unaffordable for the young which means they cannot afford to start families which accelerates the ageing population,who all want good pensions and Meger buck for there overpriced houses which no one can afford.once you have a country with lots of pensioners and not enough workers to support them there are only 2 possibilities economic colapse or allow mass migration usually from countries who’s people don’t have our values.

    • BobinOz June 4, 2013, 1:50 pm |

      Interesting view John but I have had readers confidently predicting Australia’s crash since early 2010. It hasn’t happened yet and maybe it will one day, but nobody knows for sure.

  • Dave April 27, 2012, 7:51 am |

    Hey Bob … As luck would have it , my dear old Dad was born in Essex , which allows me to have a British passport as well as an Aussie one . We are looking at buying a biggish motorhome and being Gypsys for a couple of years . A few Hurdles to jump yet , but I guess if you want a change like we do , you just have to jump at some stage .

    Regards Davo

    • BobinOz April 27, 2012, 8:30 pm |

      That’s where I was born too! Anyway, sounds like you’re going on one great big long road trip, assuming all goes well.

      Good luck Davo, hope it all works out!

  • Dave April 26, 2012, 11:49 am |

    Hey Bob …love reading your site .
    The grass is always greener i spose . I’ve lived in Queensland all my life ( 50 years ) and can’t wait to get out of the place .
    We made the mistake a few years ago of going to the UK for two months ( and have repeated this since ) . We spent pretty much the whole trip wondering why the hell anyone would move from there to OZ .
    I realise that we mostly went to the nice places in England , Scotland and Wales , and travelled at the right time weather wise , but coming back here was possibly the most depressing time of my life . I dont live in a dodgy area ( Eagle Heights at Tamborine Mountain ) and enjoy a good lifestyle .
    We continually noticed , when in the UK , that we could sell our house over here and buy a pretty flash place over therefor the same money . I realise the wages over there are crap and the weather is nowhere near as pleasant as it is in QLD , but those negatives are countered by plenty . The history , architecture , food , produce and community feel of a lot of the place we visited were wonderful . Because of the exhange rate , we found we could eat out ( pub food and better ) for substantially less than we do here . Accomodation was cheap and a damn site more interesting than the sterile boxes you see here , and fresh produce ( Apart from beef ) was very affordable .
    Car prices were peanuts ( petrol and Diesel dearer for sure ) too .
    I spose my point is that sometimes its about more than the dollars and cents of it . Travel 100 ks over there and you see an amazing array of different landscapes , villages , people , accents and all manner of interesting things … travel the same distance here and i see the same things in almost every direction and end up at Caboolture .
    I know that we have beaches and lifestyle and freedoms here … but like anywhere , if you see the same old stuff enough , it becomes very ho hum .
    Keep up the good work ,

    • BobinOz April 27, 2012, 12:17 am |


      The grass is greener indeed, and for good reason. I know exactly where you are coming from, I lived in England all of my life until aged 49 and a half. I wasn’t desperate to leave the country, but I really did have the urge to live somewhere else for a change.

      It’s just my opinion, oh, and my wife’s too, that it’s a big world, so why live in the same place for your whole life? So for us, living in Australia and Queensland is so much different than life in the UK. That’s why we love it so much.

      I can easily see why going in the opposite direction after living for 50 years in Queensland can be so appealing. And you haven’t seen the half of it yet, Europe is about as exciting as it gets for a continent. Jump on those cheap flights from Ryan Air and the other cheap airlines and go and see some amazing European cities.

      With the exchange rate as it is, you will have a great lifestyle. But for us, right now, we are having a ball in the very place you have got bored with.

      I suppose that’s just human nature, and nothing wrong with that.

      Anyway, are you going to try to move to the UK permanently? And if so, how easy/hard is that going to be?

      Glad you have enjoyed your visits to my old country, it’s not a bad place, is it?

    • Oz May 2, 2012, 1:39 pm |

      Very true, absolutely agree. Also you can not buy in Sydney anything less then $1 million. You can buy a lovely house not too far from London and many other business districts for the price you would pay for 2 bedroom apartment in Sydney suburbs. Also there is no other business districts apart few places in all Sydney.

      • BobinOz May 3, 2012, 12:37 am |

        “you can not buy in Sydney anything less then $1 million” – That, quite simply, is absolute twaddle!

  • Leesa April 25, 2012, 10:04 am |

    Hi BobInOz,
    I have read thru these posts, and honestly cant agree on the comparison between living closer to London as compared to living close to Brisbane. To select London and compare it to Brisbane only, would be like comparing Liverpool to New York. It just doesnt compare! As they say, apples for apples, oranges for oranges. Yet, you admit in a previous posting the comparisons between Ballarat and Liverpool, and Melbourne with Bath…all good. Now let’s keep the rest of the comparisons consistent too. Quite a lot of us follow real estate listings all over, and you really need to look at rural in both, city in both, in order to gain a real comparison.

    • BobinOz April 26, 2012, 3:00 pm |

      I am not comparing Brisbane prices to London prices, I didn’t live in London. I lived 30 miles from London as the crow flies. I actually lived in a small town in Essex, closer to Southend than London. So I think comparing and Essex town with a home in the suburbs of Brisbane is a fair comparison.

  • sarah July 17, 2011, 6:20 pm |

    You are so lucky. For the rest of us we can only hope that 1.5 rate holds so we can get somewhere to live soon. I was looking at $650,000 to $700,000 in Burpengary (couldn’t find work in Queensland :(. Now looking at a doer-upper in cold Traralgon, Victoria) struggling to get it for under $400,000. Would never have risked it all if we had seen these results, living near power stations mmm not the beach I had hoped for eh?. To be fair it is on a larger plot. But not got the church view of my old house nor is it in a liviable condition nor does it have a pool (I can only dream of that!). You are soooo lucky we should have been you!

    • Al Chunk July 17, 2011, 8:51 pm |

      Sarah, Sarah, Sarah be very careful about moving to VIctoria especially regional VIctoria.
      I’ll give you three reasons:
      1. There is a property fall happening in Australia and Melbourne and VIctoria. There has been large scale property hyperventilation and over excitement but this is now over. IMO no one should buy now, keep your cash and pick up a dream in a year or two when commonsense has returned to the house market, and you have test driven a couple of areas as your current requirements will change after 6 months of living here. if you do buy you will be able to beat the price down substantially (and I’m talking 25-30%), do not believe the Real Estate agents or RP Data information (found on and Oz papers) as these are industry rigged statsistics which understandably have to be overly positive whatever the state of the market. Remember as a cash buyer you will be in the driving seat.
      2. If you had always dreamed of warm weather and an outdoor lifestyle, beaches, surfing that kinda stuff, Victoria is not for you. The weather is depressingly disappointing and do not bother with a pool, you just won’t use it except for removing all the duck poo.
      3. AFL – VIctoria has the very macho testosterone pumped Aussie Rules Football ruling everything, you had better like that sort of thing as you cannot escape it.

      Victoria can provide a reasonable faux European experience but you may as well stay put and have the real European experience (sans AFL). I cannot believe there is no work in Burpengary, remember that that area is a commuting town and the jobs will be towards the city in Brisbane which is seriously desperate for workers due to the massive resources sector projects (which Victoria does not have). $700k plus will buy you a big house and pool on acreage in that area, in fact you’ll get the tennis court to.
      Good luck wherever you go.

    • BobinOz July 18, 2011, 11:53 pm |

      Hi Sarah

      Yes, we were lucky to get out of England when we did. The nosedive of the pound had already started and 2.5 had become 2.2. Now, I can’t believe 1.5 and I really do feel for you.

      But where I live, Western suburbs of Brisbane, there are still plenty of houses in the $400,000 price range. I just did a search, and the results showed 106 properties between $350,000 and $400,000. I’m not sure where they all are, but I don’t suppose any of them will be further then 20 to 25 km from the city.

      Check out my page on housing, the link is underneath the main link at the top to Migration Advice.

      Hi Al

      You may well be right about many of the things you have said and property prices could well fall substantially. But, on the other hand, they might not. Nobody can really predict what will happen next in the housing market, although many have tried.

      When to buy, what to buy and whether not to buy are always gambles, as is the exchange rate. Sarah is hoping to cling on to 1.5, maybe if she waits it might go back up to 2.0 or even more. None of us knows what surprises are in store.

      Just my two cents. Which may go up to 3 cents or go down. Who knows?

  • BobinOz January 7, 2011, 12:43 pm |

    Bob, did you do any research whatsoever before making your claim that you cannot buy a three-bedroom house for less than $1 million in either Melbourne or Sydney?

    In Melbourne, I found a house in Kingsville, which is about eight or 9 km from the CBD for $699,000. It had three generous double bedrooms, fully appointed kitchen with stainless steel appliances, polished wooden floors throughout, central ducted heating and cooling, an alarm system, a decked alfresco outdoor entertainment area and only minutes to Yarraville Village, Seddon Shops, schools, public transport & direct access to the CBD.

    It looked gorgeous.

    And in Sydney I found a three-bedroom house in a suburb called Belmore, a quite desirable area situated 15 km south-west of Sydney CBD. It’s a brick built home, three large bedrooms, spacious open plan layout with a low maintenance rear yard and a side driveway to the lock-up garage. Price, $649,000. There were three other three-bedroom properties sold in the area during the last month, they went for $765,000, $735,000 and $528,500.

    And I think it’s great that I can live 15 miles from Brisbane city centre yet live in the countryside. It’s like the best of both worlds. The reason you can’t do that in England is because England is overcrowded.

  • Bob January 7, 2011, 12:12 am |

    One thing that people should remember is that 15 miles from Brisbane is more rural than 50 miles away from London. It’s practically classed as an outskirt suburb. London is geographically huge. “15 miles away” is still very much a metropolitan area. There are offices and businesses going on. Whereas 15 miles away from brisbane is rural, people travel everyday to CBD for their livings.
    Also, London is more akin to Sydney, which you can’t quite compare with Queensland.
    Or to be precise, london probably can’t quite be compared to anything, it’s a different class altogether.
    Outside london, anywhere in the UK is generally more affordable than major cities in Australia.
    You can afford a 3-bedroom house/flat in major inner cities in the UK for less than $1m. That can’t happen in Sydney or Melbourne.

  • BobinOz September 29, 2010, 9:11 pm |

    I’m pretty sure it includes all suburbs. Houses in ‘the city’ are quite expensive so it has to be. But you’ve raised a very interesting point because, for example, a place called Caboolture is almost 50 kms north of Brisbane CBD, but it is classed as a suburb. So it’ll be included when working out these medians.

  • kws September 29, 2010, 1:16 pm |

    When the median price is listed for a given Australian city, is it for houses that are only within the city’s borders or does it include all the suburbs in the metropolitan area?

  • BobinOz April 12, 2010, 12:20 am |

    Hi Michael

    Thanks for the compliment. Yes, this is very much a constantly moving target. Currency fluctuations, falling and rising house prices, global financial meltdowns, this story can run and run. We can probably debate this forever. But I have to say, if the pound does fall much lower I might have to change my stance on which country has the cheapest housing.

    But surely, it can’t get any lower than $1.60, perhaps $1.50 for a pound?



  • Michael Kishore April 10, 2010, 5:12 am |


    Very nice site.

    I think the adjustment in prices will take place thro the currency mechanishism. the pound has further to fall as the country is in debt.

    but it seems to me that in oz, with interest rates rising, house prices will begin to fall. the house prices in the US where I live are also way overvalued in spite of the economic collpase.

    It is much cheaper to rent now and I dont even live by the coast or any fancy area.

  • JOHN WILKES April 9, 2010, 8:56 am |

    Bob, compared our house in Freshfield Formby Merseyside with our friends in Bentleigh Melbourne as we have stayed in each others homes. My Aussie mate and his wife reckon our home is far better although I’m too humble to agree. We live two minutes walk from the National Trust-Formby nature reserve, have great high schools, golf clubs and much better environs and yet our home (4 bedroom 2 garage) which featured in the London Evening Standard, is valued at 37.5% less ($A550,000 / $A880,000 ) As you say, it would be easy to make one place seem more affordable than the other and I suspect that Queensland would fare far better.That brings me to the most affordable, U.K. or Australia. The answer is U.K. but not because I say so but because the 6th.Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey says so as did the 5th. and the 4th. and……………………..It also showed that some of the best cities in the World to live in are also the most unaffordable.

    • BobinOz April 12, 2010, 12:15 am |

      Hi John

      Well I don’t know enough to comment much on your house comparison with that of your friend in Melbourne. But I’m going to all the same. Bentleigh is a very affluent, upper middle class location almost on the beach, yet just 13 kms from the city centre. Prices there are, for sure, way above average. Bentleigh is where well of 50+ year olds go. I’d be there myself…..if I were well off.

      Your house sounds lovely, I see you are also close to the beach, but you are in Liverpool. I have nothing against Liverpool, especially now that I am over the fact they beat Spurs in the 1982 Milk Cup Final, but I’d be comparing Melbourne with somewhere like Bath. Or Liverpool with somwewhere like Ballarat. So I’m not sure it is a good like for like comparison and so therefore I am totally discounting your point. (hehe!)

      I also checked out what I could buy for
      £350,000 (about $550,000) around or where you live, so I have a good idea of the kind of housing available in that price range. Believe me, you can get much better value for money here in Australia in hundreds of locations, but not Bentleigh.

      Like I said, I think we can all make a case to prove whatever we want to prove. Which brings me on to your point about the 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

      I have already explained the massive flaw in their findings, which do repeat themselves year after year, in a post I made over a year ago, just after the results of the 5th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

      You can read why I find their survey so pointless in my post – Australia vs England at House Prices.

      So sorry, I’m still not going for it, I maintain Aussie houses are better value.

  • Steve Povey March 22, 2010, 8:11 pm |

    I think the point most people miss is that you could never get the same calibre of property in England for the same money. I would imagine there would be very few places in England where one would be able to buy a 5 bedroom individually designed house with stunning ocean views for less than £700k. Where as these options are a plenty in Australia for the same amount in $. As Bob said, you get a lot more for your money in Australia and as the wages are higher, it effectively makes it even cheaper.

  • BobinOz March 16, 2010, 2:22 pm |

    Mr Pastry, John and Brithit

    Thank you all for your contributions, but seems as though we are all finding it difficult to agree with each other. My true and honest feeling is that houses are still cheaper here than in the UK. Certainly if you are talking like for like, that is to say comparing square footage with square footage, I don’t think there is any debate that Australia is cheaper.

    Brithit: have you seen the size of the dogboxes that are built in England? I reckon they’d get at least eight units on the same block of land back in the UK. But I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to buy over 800 square metres for just £400,000.

    John: (thanks, by the way, for upgrading my site to brilliant and thanks for recommending me around, much appreciated) I think the cost of the actual mortgage is a different issue. Yes, you could argue it’s all part of it but as with everything else, interest rates change from time to time so whilst it is true today, it may not be true next year. But this particular post is about house price comparisons and nothing else. Not sure where you got the $515,000 figure from either, but that’s what we all love about statistics. They can be so flexible, can’t they? For sure, an exchange rate of $2.40 would make a big difference, but do you really believe it will ever get back to those days again?

    Mr Pastry: yes, I know the figures aren’t really like-for-like but they did appear to be the most trustworthy I could get hold of. My view is that it is more likely that housing outside of the big cities would cost less and therefore make Australian housing even cheaper.

    I thought that the only way we could truly bottom this out would be to ask people, whether they live in Australia or the UK, to put a realistic value on the house they currently live in, I mean give it a price that you really think you could sell it for and convert it to the other countries currency. And then visit either….


    And go shopping for a new house. At the end of it all, you decide which country offers you the best value. Then come back here and post your findings.

    But whilst I would love people to do that, I think that if you decide you want to make Australian houses look to be more expensive, you could easily find a way of making that appear to be the case. And vice versa.

    That’s probably why this debate could last for ever with out conclusion.

    But it appears that most of us do agree about one thing though, the weather is much better here.

  • Mr Pastry March 16, 2010, 11:04 am |

    @John Wilkes – I always say when asked why I moved to Brisbane that it was the nearest suburb to London I could afford. I live 17 miles from the Brisbane which would be impossible for me to live as I do 17 miles from London. I agree that weather is probably more influential which is why weather minded migrants who are thinking of Melbourne need to be careful. I moved there initially and the weather was a constant disappointment and spent many years trying to persuade my wife to up sticks again to Queensland. The Melbourne weather is just like the UK but with winter skiing 2 hours from the city. The main difference with UK weather is Melnournes 6 week summer when the temps can get over 40C. Melbourne does have many other draw cards but weather is certainly not one of them.

  • JOHN WILKES March 15, 2010, 8:05 pm |

    UPDATE. Hope you don’t mind. MR. PASTRY ( love the name ) certainley did the right thing moving to OZ. House prices in London are horrendous and I would want to get out. Just been checking out some properties in beautiful rural England. I’ve found quite a few with between one and three acres of land that you could get for the price of a ‘cheap’ London flat. Only thing is though, you’d have to move at least 100miles from London but then some people seem prepared to move 10,000 miles ! Mr Pastry has quite rightly pointed out that the figures for OZ didn’t include rural areas, however, as Australia has one of the most suburbanised populations in the World it makes little difference to the overall figures. Mr Pastry states that property should not be the motivation to move, I agree although it needs to be considered. It is the weather that people move for……figures show that there is a huge surge in applications for emigration to OZ at certain times of the year.

  • Brithit March 15, 2010, 5:58 pm |

    There is absolutely no way houses are cheaper in oz than in uk. Only exception is London which is about the same as Sydney. A guy down the road bought an old run down 4 bed house on a quarter acre dustbowl in Adelaide. It cost him over $650,000. This guy will subdivide and build 4 dogboxes costing $300,000+ each!.

  • JOHN WILKES March 15, 2010, 11:39 am |

    Bob , in reply to your question : House prices are cheaper in the U.K. Why ? Firstly, although I think your site is brilliant (updated view) the above housing costs are, it seems, incorrect……..The average house price for Australia should read $A515,000 based on the figures for the cities shown .This is because a common mistake has been made; the figures do not reflect the number of houses at each average. Not knowing the housing stock of each city I have used the populations to work out the true average. Next, I do not believe the figures for the U.K. I visited the B.B.C. site through your link and spent some time ( I love figures )trying to work out how they got their ‘Average’. If you look at the ‘County Rankings’ you will soon realise something is wrong. In each property-type list only a very small percentage are above the average price and the numbers sold ( right-hand column ) would have little effect as many cheaper areas recorded good sales . I , along with a couple of friends , seem to recall a figure of £185,000 being mentioned a year or so ago. Lastly, what finally makes houses in the U.K. cheaper are the mortgages. A £150,000 loan over 25 years costs $1220 (£740) per month with NATWEST. This loan ( using a calculator in The Age property) works out at $1650 in Australia. I believe no-one should sell their U.K. home unless they can get an exchange rate of at least $2.20 to the £. My ideal rate would be £2.40 so that expenses are covered. Finally, yes finally, I have recommended your site to hundreds ( well not hundreds but at least twenty) people as a more accurate view of life DownUnder. Our T.V. programmes in the U.K. show Sun , Sand and Surf whereas you show Sharks , Spiders and Snakes ! BEST WISHES.

  • Mr Pastry March 15, 2010, 8:24 am |

    Oz prices given are only for the major cities and ignore all the regions, UK prices given are for ALL Uk areas, not a straight comparison. Having said that, I went from a third floor, 2 bed flat, no garden in a poor area of south london, to a large house on 2 acres with swimming pool and a shed bigger than the south london flat (and 3 minutes walk to schools) for the same price! While property should not be motivation for migration – I’m quite pleased with the trade.

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