Sticker Shock Sydney

Sep 21st, 2009, 07:38 AM
  #1  
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Sticker Shock Sydney

How do you do it? I am in total sticker shock. Arrived yesterday and the prices blew me away. Simple paperback books $17-18 things I sell at home for $7.99. Hardbacks all around $39.99 again things I would sell for $24.95. Food, cup of simple coffee was $2.50 at Woolworths! I pay.85 at home with 2 refills, my pals had quick breakfast there it was $8 for 2 eggs and bacon, toast was extra not what we are use to. Had a great time, checking out the food market they had, however WOW the prices!
Love the city!!! Lovely weather so far. Walked all over the place yesterday did CBC, Rocks, Darling Harbor that general area. Today doing the exploring thing, ferries etc.
BTW my power strip is working fine with a simple adapter………………………
Need help before my 3 week budget runs out in 5 days, have apartment in CBC.
THanks
JoanneH is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 01:38 PM
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I've always wondered what that expression meant, "sticker shock". Is it being surprised at the price of something?

Yes, books are expensive here and it hasn't helped having Goods and services tax (GST) added to them. The other prices you quote for food sound fairly normal to me. Espresso coffee is usually about $3 round where I work.

If you are on a budget, buy a copy of Sydney Cheap Eats, it will direct you to the good value places to eat. In the CBD, try Laksa at Malay takeaway in Hunter St, it's $12.
Susan7 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 02:20 PM
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Generally higher prices in Australia should not come as a surprise if you think about it. A country of 22 million people in a continent the size of the "lower 48" can't possibly generate America's economies of scale.

Another factor that isn't so obvious is that Australian minimum wages are a good deal higher than their US counterparts, and Australia doesn't have the huge pool of very low-paid immigrants, especially illegals, that support American agriculture and service industries. This of course feeds into prices here.

Most Australians, BTW, feel that decent living wages are a good thing - this is a more egalitarian culture than the US.

As waiters, bartenders etc. are paid a living wage, tipping is still the exception rather than the rule, and the 10% sales tax is included in menu prices rather than being tacked on at the end. Tips and taxes typically add 20-25% to American menu prices. And BYO wine is much more common in Australian restaurants than in the US; corkage is charged, but you can avoid the high wine markups that are often found in US restaurants.

The price of books is currently the subject of a hot debate due to a proposal to end longstanding restrictive distribution practices. This is being opposed by Australian authors and their supporters on the grounds that in the absence of protection many wouldn't get published at all.

Beer and petrol (gas) are a good deal more expensive than in the US, mainly because of higher taxes. Wine prices are generally comparable to what you'll find in US supermarkets, with the exception of Trader Joe's $2 range.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 02:22 PM
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Sticker shock means surprise at price of something. I am on a budget of course but I saved a long time for the trip and have ample funds but I am just shocked at how expensive things are and wonder how anyone can live well. I live in the boondocks and things are as cheap there as in the larger cities but I had no idea of what it cost in Australia not a clue on my part.

Love the place so far!!
JoanneH is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 03:16 PM
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I just returned from Australia with a vow to never complain about US food prices again.
However, remember that
** you gain 14% on the exchange rate, so you are paying only $.86 for each US dollar
** no sales tax added to listed price; you pay what the tag says
** tipping is not expected or encouraged; we were repeatedly told by waitstaff that they were compensated well and did not need tips
** you will find some items less expensive (eg. I brought back souvenir wrapping paper - only $.50!)
elnap29 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 03:47 PM
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JoanneH -

I've lived in Australia for about a year (American) and I'm still surprised at how much things cost. My husband and I joke that Australian 50 dollar bills spend like US 20 dollar bills. A slight exaggeration, but not much.

The only bargain I've found in Australia is macadamia nuts and fresh produce in season.

Costs aside, you can't beat the Australian standard of living.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 04:04 PM
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"I am just shocked at how expensive things are and wonder how anyone can live well."

Joanne, I appreciate that your reaction is that of a temporary visitor, but have no fear that Australians don't live well - we do. There are many factors involved in "living well", and how much stuff we can buy is only one, and for many not the most important, component.

As an example, most Australians would wonder how about 1/6th of Americans can live well when they're excluded from receiving quality medical care because they have no health insurance, and where the biggest single cause of personal bankruptcies is medical bills. That simply doesn't happen in Australia and for this resident that trumps the price of paperbacks any day.

That aside, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself and I hope the rest of your stay is as good.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 05:06 PM
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Neil referred to the minimum wage in Australia. It is about $550 per week, to which is added a further $50 for compulsory superannuation. That equates to about $15.00 per hour, and I believe that the USA minimum wage is about $5.00 per hour. That does push prices up.

Tourists mostly see only the high costs of day to day goods, but there are things here that are dirt cheap to the consumer. Education is a good example. Universities charge fees, via a government operated student loan scheme. A student who completes a three year university course will have a student loan debt (called a HECS debt, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme) in the order of $30,000. That’s the case for my son–in-law, who completed a medical radiography course a couple of years ago. Longer courses, like medicine, will have a higher HECS debt.

The debt is repaid by way of a surcharge on income tax, but not payable until the student has an income of about $30,000 per year.

We have a socialised system in Aus, and taxes – and benefits – are higher than in non-socialised systems like the USA.

On balance, we live pretty well. But tourists certainly see higher prices.
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Sep 21st, 2009, 06:03 PM
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Just to make you Australian residents feel even better then you do regarding your health care system, I was prescribed an antibiotic. Ten pills cost me $113.00. My health insurance didn't cover the cost of the prescription. I so envy your health care system as Neil knows. A friend gets migrane headaches. A brand prescription works well but when the his doctor ordered a renewal prescription my friend discovered that the price had increased and is now $650.00. He couldn't afford it. Consequently his doctor wrote a prescription for a generic medication. The generic prescription doesn't work any better than over the counter medications so it isn't helping at all. The generic prescription cost him $425.00.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 06:24 PM
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Amore Italia, I guess that's why we are prepared to tolerate the lack of coffees at 85 cents including two free refills, in exchange for cheap pharmaceuticals.
There's a system here called the Pharma Benefits Scheme. Effectively, the government negotiates with the pharma companies, which drives the price down. The govt also puts in a big subsidy, of about $4 billion a year. Drugs are then cheap - people on welfare benefits pay about five dollars, and employed people pay more. Typically, a course of antibiotics, say 20 pills, costs about fifteen dollars.
I've been interested to see the way the USA health debate has been developing. One of the big issues seems to be the issue of choice, and a belief that if the government is involved, then choice will be denied. But I see so often comments like "my insurer won't cover that treatment", which is effectively a denial of choice.
The issue of pre-existing conditions is managed differently here. When one buys hospital insurance, there is a three month waiting period during which benefits won't be paid (nine months in the case of pregnancy), but there is effectively no medical insurance here. Everyone is a member of medicare, and pays a surcharge on taxation of 2.5% of one's income, and this entitles you to treatment. In a public hospital, there is no cost whatever (this includes home after care, if required), and in a private hospital, the insurer picks up the hospital tab, and medicare picks up the doctor's charges (or most of the charges).
There is no requirement to negotiate with one's insurer before receiving treatment. Effectively, the patient says to the insurer "I'm getting treatment in hospital - get over it".
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Sep 21st, 2009, 06:31 PM
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Cripes, LoveItaly. Must remember to bring my own medications next time I visit the States. Here, in Queensland, a pack of prescription antibiotics costs about AU$5.00 on a Commonwealth Senior's Health card, that's not a pension.

In my line of work I come across many American tourists who sometimes need a doctor's visit, they're always gob-smacked about how little it costs in comparison to US.
pat_woolford is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 08:39 PM
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A friend from Melbourne visiting Sanfrancisco needed to attend the emergency section of a hospital , no admission but a blood test and a prescription .Took 5 hours and the bill sent to his travel insurers is $9000. Yes , true . It is being q
JohnFitz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 08:40 PM
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Hit the wrong thing - It is being queried.Can this be right ? Or was the hospital taking advantage of an overseas insured visitor ?
JohnFitz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 09:53 PM
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Wow lots of comments. Today another great day except for one rip of of bus tickets from a 7-11 otherwise great day. The guy charged me for two round trips but only gave me 2 one ways. I am a babe in woods when it comes to bus’s where I live there is no public transport so the only time I ride a bus is when I am traveling. Did the zoo another price shocker (45.00) but IMHO well worth it. Explored via bus trying to find the saddle shop, over shot my mark but people kind and helpful and got me on the right path. Enjoyed the museum in the park and took the ferry to Manley.

I have a heath care question? How much does the average doctor make in private system vr
JoanneH is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 09:59 PM
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Hello John, that sounds about right I am sorry to say.

Some years ago I had what seemed like the flu. Not feeling quite right. Not to be graphic but need to be to answer your question. I woke up one morning and as usual went to brush my teeth and felt rather gaggy. Put on the coffee and turned on my laptop. I had about half a cup of coffee and ran to the bathroom and started throwing up. I rather remember the morning, constant vomiting but I do not remember ringing my neighbors door bell (we shared the same porch) and telling her "I am so sick". Anyway, evidently I walked back into my apartment and my dear neighbor followed me. I was constantly vomiting. My dear neighbor called my daughter who came rushing over with her husband and I was in such bad shape they called the 911 number (our emergency number if one needs the police, fire department or an ambulance). The ambulance came and I was taken to our local hospital which is four blocks from where I live. I was in the emergency room from about 4:00p.m. to 2:00a.m the next morning. I was given test, IV's etc.

The emergency room bill was close to $10,000.00. The emergency room doctor's bill was close to $1,000.00. But mind you the doctor never saw me, he just read the test reports that the nurse and techs handed him at his desk where ever that was.

So, JohnFitz, I would say that NO, the amount of the bill is not because your friend was an oversea visitor, that is what our health care cost.

Fortunatly except for the $500.00 copayment for the hospital my cost was covered by my insurance BUT I had to also pay something like a $200.00 copayment for the ambulance. Their bill was $750.00. And as I said I live four blocks from the hospital.

Please, any of you that plan on travelling to the US do obtain insurance before you take your trip unless your own coutry's insurance will cover your medical cost here in the US. Our medical cost are beyond description.

Peter and Pat, it is beyond belief regarding our health care/insurance situation Of course our politicians have excellent care provided by us tax payers.

One can chose to buy coffee at a restaurant/cafe or not or a book but when health care and medicine is needed it is a whole different matter as in a life and death situation in some or perhaps most cases.

Australia, Canada, West European and even Mexico (I think but not sure) are so humane to their people compared to the situation here in the US.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 10:03 PM
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"Everyone is a member of medicare, and pays a surcharge on taxation of 2.5% of one's income..."

Just to be a nitpicker, Peter, I believe 2.5% is the surcharge you pay if you earn above median (?) income and opt not to take out private insurance - otherwise it's 1.5%.

I'm sure there'd be much less opposition to reform of the US system if individuals rather than (as in most cases) their employers had to meet the cost of insurance. Where individuals have to pay their own premiums and have been assessed by their insurer as high-risk the costs can be horrific.

Much of the opposition is coming from people whose costs are being masked by their employers and who are worried that reform will jeopardise their current level of care.

There are major exceptions to the market-dominated system. One is Medicare, which covers seniors, and another is the scheme that covers defence personnel, both of which are "socialist" systems. Ironically many of the the right-wing lamebrains who marched against Obama in Washington last week would themselves be covered by Medicare.

I suspect also that there'd be less opposition if more Americans realised that overall costs are much lower in other advanced countries, which all have a higher level of government involvement, and the quality of care is typically high. The OECD average cost of health care is 8-9% of GDP, whereas the US shells out 16-17%.

It depends whether you treat health care as a fundamental right or as a commodity subject to market forces.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2009, 10:23 PM
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Hi LI, a note on the ambulance costs. We have ambulance insurance, and it costs about $100 a year for the family. There's no co-payment.

Gosh, for your ER costs of $10 or $11k, I was able to get four dental implants and a delightful piece of porcelain in my mouth. (I'm so over single handedly funding my dentists racing yachts, flying lessons, overseas trips and fine art collection!)

The OP, JoanneH, asked what an average doctor makes in private practice. It's a bit hard to tell, because the practices operate as a business.

But this might give a feel for it. Our local GP operates a single person practice, with his wife on reception. The practice is open from 6:00 AM to about 1:30 PM, five days, and he is an older man, not very “money hungry”. I suppose he would see about five or six patients an hour. He “bulk bills”, which means that he bills Medicare directly, and the patient pays nothing to the GP. I think that Medicare pays him about $40.00 per standard consultation, so he is receiving gross about $200 an hour. He’s got to pay his costs out of that – rent, consumables, receptionist. So it’s not all that lucrative.

I’ve no idea how he billed for my last attendance – we spent over half an hour talking about our recent trip to Italy, and then another half an hour talking about his boyhood in Rumania. He's a nice guy.

My tooth man charges about $65 for a twenty minute gig in the chair. Implants cost about the same as a main sail for a decent sized ocean racing yacht!
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Sep 21st, 2009, 10:30 PM
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So very true, Neil. And I and many others so noticed regarding that demonstration/march in Washington DC that a good percent of the demonstrators were obviously over the age of 65 or beyond which means that they have our Medicare which is supplied to any person age 65 or over. A government run health plan.

Regarding "less opposition if more Americans realised that overall costs are much lower in other advanced countries..".. with only about 25% of Americans holding passports I don't believe the average American has a clue about the health care in other countries.

Signed: A disgusted American
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 01:25 PM
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Joanne. if you are using the buses only intermittently, buy a brown or a blue travel ten, they gives you 10 rides for a discounted rate. Blue is for short rides, you can dip it twice for longer rides.

There's also a travel ten for the ferries, although with this dust storm I'm not sure if they are running today! The sky is orange at the moment, it's quite eerie.
Susan7 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2009, 04:46 PM
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Not to again hijack this thread Peter but I can so relate to your dentist bill. I am not going to Italy this year although due to a health situation I wouldn't have anyway but I sure financed my dentist's trip to Europe whenever he wants to go, trust me.

So it sounds like dental cost in Australia are about the same as here in the US.
LoveItaly is offline  

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