The cost of moving to Oz

The cost of moving to Oz

2 November 2011

AUSTRALIA'S high cost of living has proven an unexpected sting in the tail of emigration.

Every recent emigrant interviewed for this series expressed shock at the expense of the country where costs are rising.

Louise Sharvin, who recently emigrated to Melbourne with her husband and four children, described rents as "extortionate" and said expensive private schools were almost considered a necessity. Leitrim man Ronan Doyle, who works in the mines outside Perth, said despite his high salary, he was not as solvent as he had expected due to the elevated rent and the "shocking" cost of grocery shopping.

Gael Ward, who emigrated to Perth in western Australia from Downpatrick 10 years ago, has experienced first hand the soaring cost of living, which she says is affecting the standard of living for most Australians and is often a shock to recent arrivals from home.

She said her friends and relatives who have visited from Down District over the past two years have been stunned by the cost of a supermarket shop in a city, which is among the world's most expensive places to live.

Gael said prices were partly inflated by highly paid mine workers who have "money to burn" during their limited time off in the city, while recent flooding has also fuelled a hike in grocery prices due to damaged harvests and livestock.

She said restaurant prices were also remarked upon by new arrivals with a steak in her father-in-law's restaurant costing £32 without trimmings, while a pint of beer in a typical pub is £6.

Gael said most middle class parents opt for private education, which starts from about £800 per year for church-subsidised Catholic schools to £15,000 per year for good secondary schools. She said schools were selected by parents for their sporting specialisms, such as cricket, swimming and aviation, as much as for their league table success.

She said she has yet to become accustomed to the high price of second-hand cars with a seven year-old Volkswagen Golf costing about £14,000.

Gael, who left her nursing job to care for her two small children, said the rising costs had recently prompted her to set up her own online children's shoe business First Feet.

"Just a few years ago it was very manageable to live off one salary, but over the past two years more and more women are returning to the workplace to help with the soaring cost of living," she said.

"Although Perth was fortunate to escape the recession, our prices have jumped up quite a bit and that is definitely remarked upon by people who first arrive.

"They are often shocked by a restaurant bill or the price of meat. After 10 years I suppose I have got used to the prices although I don't know if even I will get used to paying around £6 for a few bananas."