I feel a little uncomfortable about this post as it sounds like I am going against what Diane said. I expect tourists from overseas may well find Australia expensive and Diane's point stands. If you are staying a Melbourne city hotel and pop off to the local convenience store to stock up on goodies, you will be paying less than what you would be if you were buying from your hotel, but a lot more than local people would normally pay. The post is somewhat unfinished, but I am over it.
I don't consider Melbourne to be an expensive place to live. I know housing is expensive, to buy or rent, but day to day living is quite ok. You can live expensively but with a little effort, you don't have to pay high prices for food staples and there are just so many places to eat where you will get tasty, cheap and wholesome food.
Partly because of the high value of our dollar, electronics and clothing are unbelievable cheap; clothes are criminally cheap. Of course they are made in foreign sweatshops where people are paid a pittance, but it does seem to be the way of the world. Mind you, in America things are even cheaper again, but then do people generally have the income to buy them? Britain has never been known as a cheap place, but I think at the moment, it is considered cheap. It is five years since we have been there, but I found similarly priced cheap clothing there of better quality than what it sold here.
Not withstanding the above, we down under hate the way we pay up to double for imported books, cds, dvds and electronics than what they can be bought for overseas. We also hate the way we are geo-blocked from buying them direct and having them shipped here, hence third party shipping agents are doing rather well.
Lets have a look at Diane's post from last August. There are so many variables in supermarket prices, but this is just how I call it.
Tip Top 9 grain bread for $4.60. Helgas grain bread is now $4.70 I think, but of the two big supermarkets, it is usually on sale at 2 for $6 or $7. If it is an unlucky week, Abotts Bakery bread will have a similar deal on similar bread. At an Asian run bakery, you can probably get a plain white loaf for $2.
Three litres of quality fresh milk for $5.19. Too cheap. The farmers barely make a profit at this price. Think of how much water goes into producing a litre of milk compared to a litre of bottled water that might sell for a similar price. See what you pay for a litre of fresh milk in Asian countries.
Grapes, imported from America, poor quality and selling for an outrageous price of $13. Our friend from Japan bought some beautiful Australian grapes yesterday for $2 a kilo at the supermarket. Buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season means you get good quality at a cheap price.
Tomatoes. Diane saw some at $10 a kilo. Up north, I would have thought tomatoes would be cheaper, even in winter. So many things affect the price of tomatoes, with the biggest being our weather. The recent floods in Queensland must be responsible for high prices at the moment, when the prices should be at their cheapest. Oddly, South Australian tomatoes are expensive at the moment. This morning we found some edible, but not first class tomatoes for $3 a kilo. We only bought a couple and lashed out on some Australian vine ripened cherry tomatoes, 250 gram for $2.80.
Diane did not mention oranges. In winter navel oranges are imported from California. They are beautiful looking fruit, but their taste often pretty ordinary compared to our wonderful locally grown Valencia oranges. Our Valencias don't have the stunning looks of a Navel, often with some of the peel being green, but they are deliciously sweet and keep for a very long time. Why we need to import oranges to sell fresh and for orange juice when farmers are letting theirs rot on the ground because it costs more to harvest them than what would be their financial return, is just so wrong. You can buy a five kilo bag of delicious Valencias in season for a few dollars.
It is clear to me that Australia is not able to compete with third world clothing manufactures, which is why so little clothing is made here. It was a battle fought and lost some time ago, with any remaining Australian manufactures sticking mainly to the high end.
Our car manufactures, which do produce good cars and export them, only remain viable because our governments prop them up.
Very little in the way of electronics are made here, but where something like the manufacture of electronics can be highly automated, I think quite a lot could be made here.
But primary production, growing things and producing animal products can be done exceptionally well here, and at relatively good prices. I really don't see why we need to import vast quantities of food.