Skip to main content


There’s a lot in the media at the moment about the “cost of living crisis” that Australia is currently experiencing.

If you read or watch the mainstream media, the various themes are around:

  1. Rising interest rates, for home owners.
  2. Rising cost of rent, and the availability of rental housing, for renters.
  3. The increased cost of the weekly supermarket shop, which has opened up the new category of “supermarket bashing”.
  4. Increasing fuel prices.

I accept that if you want to live in any of Australia’s major metropolitan cities these days, then it is expensive to do so. However, living in Sydney has always been expensive. The cost of real estate here has, more often than not, been higher than elsewhere in the country. Australia’s first toll road is in Sydney (it’s called the Harbour Bridge) and to drive anywhere in Sydney, using the toll road system, is a big hit to the hip pocket. But, in my opinion, it’s no different to the way it’s always been.

I would contend that we don’t have a cost of living crisis and, instead, it’s all about the cost of lifestyle. Being conscious of not wanting to sound like an ageing boomer (because, I’m younger than that), the lifestyle that people aim for these days appears to be of a much higher standard than it was for me and my wife when we were first married, over 30 years ago.

We bought our first home in Bradbury which, back then, was at the very edge of Sydney’s metropolitan area. It was 16 years old with chocolate brown carpet, bright yellow laminate kitchen bench tops and had wallpaper that was reminiscent of the mid 70’s. However, we looked at building a new home and made a decision that an established home, in an established area, was a better choice for us, even if that meant living further out from the City, which is where both Trish and I worked in those days. It also meant our budget was not as stretched as it might otherwise have been.

We didn’t go out for breakfast on Sundays. We didn’t buy coffee on the way into work each day. We took our lunch with us. Dinner in the evening was rarely takeaway – it was something that was pre-planned on the weekend, to be available in the week. Our first anniversary, celebrated 3 months after we moved into our time warp home, was two nights in a caravan at Crookhaven Heads, on the NSW South Coast. In 1993, that’s the only holiday we took. There simply wasn’t the fat in the budget for anything else.

The only vehicle we had in the garage was the most horrible of cars, the 1982 model Holden Camira that we purchased second hand for $3000. We’d sold my dearly loved 1985 Ford Fairmont Ghia to help fund the deposit for our first home. They were the choices we made – not sacrifices, but choices.

If life in 2023 includes choices about dining out, buying new cars, having the latest tech, having a wardrobe full of the latest fashion, taking overseas holidays, and paying for whatever body modification is your preference, then that’s not a cost of living issue – it’s an issue of choice around the sort of lifestyle you want to live.

None of this is to discount the fact there are people genuinely hurting right now. Those individuals and families have always been there and this is where Governments need to step in. It’s also where families need to step in and support each other. However, it seems to me that some of the people who claim to be on the breadline right now, are smothering each slice with a poached egg and smashed avocado, accompanied by a double shot caramel latte on the side, on a Sunday morning.

This Week’s Tip

“There’s nothing like an old fashioned family budget to put into perspective what you’re spending,
and where you’re spending it”.