Why Australia Has Made Me Forget the Value of Money

This one is a bit of a rant, sorry!

I have saved and travelled for as long as I can remember now but the process of saving in Australia is stressful to the point of being a little soul destroying. All the great things in a life in Australia, particularly in Melbourne, cost money. The going out for drinks or dinner or grabbing coffee or lunch all cost more than your average price in the UK. Even having drinks in is expensive when the average price for a crate of beer is $50! Melbourne is made for going out, be it for food, drink or an event and saving always involves cutting out some of the going out. Problem is I feel that is what makes Melbourne great and I feel like I’m missing out on the good life I came for. Cutting back and saving is so much easier in a country you cannot wait to escape rather than one you love but feel totally trapped in because of the lack of money it allows you to save.

To make matters worse I am being taxed at some insane rate; my place of work didn’t allow me to tick ‘the box’ – on the tax form there is a box which for one job you can tick to say you are an Australian citizen for tax purposes. This means every week I lose about $200 in tax, money I should be able to get back when I leave but I cannot know for sure how much I will actually get. I certainly will not get it while I’m still travelling so as far as my savings goes it is a huge blow.

It’s not only the tax issue and that common feeling of missing out on the good nights – I mean I’ve missed out so many times in the UK. It’s the fact that the things I would replace going out with are expensive. It’s the fact that when I read a price in dollars I am no longer converting it to pounds in my head to see if it is expensive. I’m just staring at this number; I know how many dollars and pounds it is but I just no longer know if that is expensive. This number is just meaningless, it has no value and I don’t know how I am supposed to understand. I don’t know when this problem started, if I can Google how much something costs in the UK and then convert the dollar price to pounds I’m okay – like when I bought my iPad a month back, I researched the price here and in the UK and then converted them to see which country had the cheaper price. Still, without carrying around a notebook of average prices in the UK I don’t know how I’m meant to find the value of money again.

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Had someone tried to tell me how expensive Australia was before we left I wouldn’t have listened. With the rise in living costs in the UK and having come from a life in London I couldn’t understand how the costs in Australia would be so much more. We had fifty dollar notes with us when we arrived and I felt silly carrying around such large notes, yet after the first few days in Sydney I realised how little you get for your money and how quickly you went through those fifty dollar notes. When we first started travelling around I would still convert to the pound and understand it was expensive. Still at the same time I knew it was an average price for Australia and so it began, buying things at silly prices because for Australia it was ‘cheap’.

I’m a person who is good at saving; I will only buy something if it’s a bargain or if I really need it. I’m good at cutting out luxuries and not spending money but here that all seems so much harder than normal. I have never worried constantly about money so much before. Normally I’m good at hoarding a little bit here and there just in case but I feel like here I am always watching it slip away. I’m earning more than I was fruit picking yet after three months in the same job I have still only managed to save $3000 – that’s not even a $1000 more than what I saved orange picking. Melbourne in particular is an expensive city to live and play. The longer I stay here the more I realise that and I say this having spent seven months living in London and being paid less an hour than I currently receive.

Australia has made money become the bane of my life, I feel like I am constantly trying to save and achieving nothing. I see all these prices and numbers but I cannot understand what is average and what is expensive. It’s like I’ve been playing monopoly for all these months and forgotten the real currency.

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