Cost of Living in Australia

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Groceries

Our main weekly supermarket shopping costs around $250, then there's about another $50 per week spent on additional fresh fuit and veg.

Here are a few general observations;

  • As a new migrant, you will inevitably compare grocery prices with "back home". The fact is, some things are cheaper and some things seem super-expensive (especially with the current exchange rate). After a while, you stop comparing and just modify your shopping to get the best value.
  • Australia has nothing like the variety of prepared meals that are available in UK supermarkets.
  • A lot of fruit and veg is grown locally and the price fluctuates greatly depending on the level of supply. A recent example; storms in Queensland destroyed most of last year's banana crop and the price of bananas in Perth went from about $3/Kg up to $12-$15/Kg! Peaches and plums can be $6/Kg one day and $2.50/Kg the next day.
  • At "growers' markets", fruit and veg can be MUCH cheaper than in the supermarkets. For example, recently in Perth celery has been scarily expensive ($5 for a whole celery), whereas at our local growers' market, celery has been $1.99.

Total food bill for our family of 4:
$300 per week.

Specials

All supermarkets run weekly and daily specials - the price of individual items can be reduced substantially, sometimes by 30-50%. Therefore, if you are able to allocate enough time to the process, you should be able to reduce your weekly shopping bill significantly - I would guess by about 20% overall.

To view some current specials follow these links (if you need to enter a suburb, just enter the capital city you are heading for) :

Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are not sold in supermarkets (at least not in WA) - they are generally sold in "bottle shops", which may be attached to a pub/hotel or may be a separate shop. Some of the supermarket chains do have bottle-shops as a side-line, located near the main store.

Note that every week retailers have specials which can reduce the price by 20% or more. Also, beer is much cheaper if you buy a "carton" of 24 cans/bottles or a "block" of 30 cans, rather than buying 4 or 6 at a time. Often there are savings to be had by buying wine by the case or half case. Wine casks (wine box in the UK), holding 2, 3 or 4 litres are also fairly popular and work out cheaper in general than bottled wine. Below are some prices of drinks advertised in specials catalogues that dropped through our door in June 2012.

  • Emu Draft Beer (aussie mid-strength 3.5%) - 1 block (30 x 375ml) for $28 = $2.14 per litre
  • Full strength aussie beer (5%) - 1 carton (24 x 375ml) normally about $38, on special for $30 = $3.33 per litre
  • Imported premium beers (5%) - 1 carton (24 x 375ml) normally $55, on special for $45 = $5 per litre
  • Wine - red or white 4 Litre wine cask - 2 for $20 = $2.50 per litre
  • Wine - "reasonable" (opinion of author!) bottle of red or white - $10 on special (normally $13)
  • Spirits - 700mL bottles of gin, blended whisky etc. - $30

Eating / Drinking Out

Here are a few indicative prices seen when eating and drinking out around Perth:
  • Cup of coffee = $3.90, mug = $4.50
  • Full cooked breakfast = $20
  • MacDonalds burger/fries/drink meal - $6.95
  • Large pizza (pickup) - $5.95
  • Gourmet/wood-fired pizza (pickup) - $18.00
  • Fillet steak main course with potatoes and a few veg = $35 - $40
  • Glass of wine in restaurant = $8
  • Bottled full-strength beer in pub or restaurant = $6 - $8
  • Pint of Guiness in a pub = $8 - $10

Estimated total for beer/wine, takeaways, eating out for our family of 4: $80 per week.