Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane over the last 10 years have leap frogged from 32nd, 38th, 91st and 93rd respectively, to be listed amongst the likes of Tokyo, Paris and Zurich as some of the least affordable places to live in the world.
For many Aussies, this confirms long held suspicions that we are paying too much for life's essentials as increases in fuel, food and utility bills stretch family budgets to the point of breaking. Over the last 10 or more years housing prices within major cities have soared well beyond the reach of single income families, bringing rental costs with them.
Stories of struggling pensioners have littered the media of late, including one covering a scheme to sponsor embattled pensioners (Adopt-a-Pensioner) who can't afford to eat and pay rent. David Lewington, a clinical nurse with over 7 years of experience in aged care has noticed a marked difference between clients of his who have had opportunity to buy their house before retirement and those who have not. '...for those (pensioner's) who don't own their own homes, it is a real struggle. Once the bills are paid, there's not much left over for emergencies...'
Without doubt, the freedom and lifestyle we have in Australia is the envy of other nations, but to leap from a moderate 90th listing to top ten in just 10 years, is it time to question how much we are paying for this lifestyle, especially as our social services (i.e. pension) are struggling to keep pace?
The struggle isn't just limited to pensioners however, talking with Nadine Smith (not her real name) a single woman living alone within Melbourne, savings are almost a thing of legend rather than a discipline. The monthly wage packet is quickly gobbled up renting a simple one bedroom flat, and very little can be put aside to cover life's incidentals. When asked how she felt about her situation, Nadine said 'If I didn't have the Lord I'd be freaking out right now. He always seems to give me what I need as I need it to get by.'
Fair enough, we live in an amazing country, fair enough, the costs of living in such a place are expected to be high to cover the network of social services at our disposal, but when our elderly are finding it increasingly necessary to resort to sponsorship programs to get three square meals a day, shouldn't it be time to question where our tax dollars are going?
Ben Kitzelman has spent the last 4 years travelling between Australia and Zambia, serving for one as a missionary, and is now an IT professional in Melbourne.