It’s not the usual suspects of rising energy costs, tolls or petrol that are hitting the hip-pockets of New South Wales voters the hardest.
- The ABC obtained exclusive data compiled by the Australian National University Centre for Social Research and Methods
- There were big jumps in spending on international holidays, restaurant meals, child care and health insurance
- But housing still remains the most expensive cost for Sydneysiders
New analysis provided exclusively to the ABC shows health insurance and other medical expenses are chewing up increasing amounts of household income.
But Sydneysiders are also splashing more cash on overseas holidays and restaurant meals.
The cost of living, particularly in Sydney, is a major NSW election issue as people prepare to head to the polls on March 23.
The Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods crunched the numbers to find out where the financial pinch-points were for voters in Sydney.
Results show that between 2008 and 2018, medical expenses have increased from 2.8 per cent of Sydneysider’s household income to 4 per cent.
The second biggest jump in spending was on international holidays, with Sydneysiders now spending 3 per cent of their income on overseas trips, compared to 2.2 per cent in 2008.
Other big spending jumps were also recorded on household maintenance (from 2 per cent to 2.7 per cent of household income) and child care (0.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent of income).
Restaurant meals round out the top five, rising from 2.8 per cent to 3.4 per cent of household income.
Electricity, petrol less pricey
Lead researcher Ben Phillips said with a lot of media and political focus on energy prices, some people might find the results surprising.
“Certainly it is the case that electricity prices have increased — they’ve perhaps doubled in the past 10 years — but we are using a little bit less electricity,” he said.
Mr Phillips said people had adapted their behaviour as energy prices rose.
“So we may only spend say $30 a week in Sydney on electricity, whereas we might spend twice that on restaurant meals.”
Matters of State
Is the cost of living increasing?
From housing to medical bills, childcare to sport it seems everything is getting more expensive. How has the cost of living increased across NSW? And are our lifestyle choices making things feel tight?
Petrol prices are now lower than 10 years ago, Mr Phillips said.
His estimates took into account incomes adjusted for cost-of-living changes and used data drawn from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) consumer price index, inflation and national accounts figures, as well as surveys of income and housing.
Housing remained by far the most expensive cost for Sydneysiders who rent or have a mortgage, but as a percentage of income, it hadn’t jumped as much as some other areas over the past 10 years.
Mr Phillips said that was mostly due to today’s low interest rates.
“Mortgage interest charges have dropped dramatically from 8.4 per cent to 4.8 per cent,” he said.
“Interest rates were much higher in 2008 and debt levels were only modestly higher than they are today.”
Even with recent drops in home prices in Sydney, it remains the most expensive place to buy in Australia, with a median house price of almost $800,000, according to property analyst CoreLogic figures.
Data from digital property portal Domain shows rents for Sydney houses fell 1.8 per cent in 2018 to $540 per week for houses — the first time they had dropped in 12 years.
Topics: state-elections, elections, government-and-politics, housing-industry, housing, business-economics-and-finance, health-insurance, travel-and-tourism, social-sciences, research, lifestyle-and-leisure, nsw