Why it Costs More to Live in the ‘Land Down Under’
The falling price of iron ore continues to make headlines, but it hasn’t stopped Australia from being among the most expensive countries in the world to live. According to the Deutsche Bank Mapping the World’s Prices report, Australia ranked as the world’s most costly place to live for the fourth-consecutive year—despite the Aussie dollar currently trading at USD $77.16.
RELATED TOPIC: Iron Ore Hovers Close to $US50, Hits Six-Year Low
Even with iron ore dropping to a 10-year low of USD $46.70 earlier this month, the country’s weather, outdoor lifestyle, food and culture still make it one of the world’s most desirable locations. The purchasing power parity (PPP) index has one U.S. dollar having the same purchasing power as $1.12 Australian dollars, while New Zealand is right behind in second place at $1.11.
Sydney (USD $2.92) and Melbourne (USD $2.89) are the two most expensive cities in the world to ride public transportation as well as the two most pricy cities to buy a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, with Melbourne (USD $18.45) edging Sydney (USD $16.92). Meanwhile, Sydney also rivaled Paris and London as the most expensive places in the world for a weekend getaway due to expensive hotel room prices— 5-star hotel rooms in Sydney average 232 percent higher than hotel rooms in New York.
Australians also pay more for two litres of Coca-Cola, a pair of Levis jeans, a pair of Adidas running shoes and an iPhone than Americans. The only thing cheaper in Sydney and Melbourne compared to most cities is a gym membership, which is about half the price of what it would cost in New York.
RELATED TOPIC: Australia's fitness sector sees growth in the billions
Experts believe Australia is so expensive today because it has gone so long without having an economic slowdown, and as a result, prices have drifted higher over time. Consumers have simply become used to high prices, especially in grocery stores, which are about 24.85 percent higher than the US. The price of cheese is more than any other city in the world by far, while even food produced in Australia—such as apples, tomatoes and mince—is more expensive than anywhere else.
Many would argue the country’s high wages play a role in the consumer’s willingness to pay high prices for groceries, but it also has to do with what is socially acceptable and the way Aussies value certain foods. The impact of having only two main supermarkets—Woolworths and Coles—also lifts prices by about 3 to 3.5 percent based on the difference between Woolworths’ profit and the world average.
The style of living Aussies have developed in recent years won’t change overnight, no matter how dire the situation on the mining front may appear.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.