Price Check: a Sydney Shopping List. B.B.Q. King, Chinese BBQ Restaurant, Sydney, Australia. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Price Check: a Sydney Shopping List

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After posting our guide to experiencing Sydney on a Budget and our apartment reviews, it seemed like a good time to do our Price Check: a Sydney Shopping List for you. Despite spending a great deal of time in Australia over the last 12 months, we still had trouble getting used to how expensive the country had become.

Grocery prices appeared to have increased by about 30% since our last lengthy stay in the country and buying a coffee in a decent coffee shop seemed to have nearly doubled. Going out to bars and restaurants, we were seeing cocktails for $18 and a $60 bottle of wine being called “affordable” by restaurant reviewers.

While most Australians we spent time with were unfazed by the high cost of living (as salaries appear to have risen by just as much), the effect on the tourism market – particularly at the mid- and lower ends of the market – has been devastating.

While Sydney tends to make it into the top 10 of many of those world’s most expensive cities lists (and other Australian cities follow fairly closely behind), we found both Perth and Melbourne (where we also spent significant periods of time) easily as expensive. However, as we spent the last couple of months in Sydney, that’s where we’ve done our Price Check for Australia, but these prices could really apply to any capital city.

One thing to note is that poor growing conditions at the time of writing is why the tomatoes are very expensive. You can get cheaper tomatoes at markets, such as Paddy’s Market in Chinatown, and further markets away from the city centre which many people told us made Paddy’s look expensive. It all depends where you live. We found the inner-city Sydney neighbourhood of Paddington where we house-sat for friends (not surprisingly) incredibly expensive and did all our shopping in Chinatown. Supermarkets such as Woolworths and Coles are expensive but the newer competitor, ALDI is more affordable, but lacks the range that the other two carry.

While the price of tomatoes might skew this list a tad, due to the colossal size of Australia and its climatic extremes – from frequent floods to fierce heatwaves – there is always going to be some crop that has been impacted somewhere by something, whether it’s a storm or drought. When we arrived in Melbourne last year, bananas were up to $20 a kilo due to floods in Queensland!

But, of course, this all makes a great case for living like locals when you visit Australia. Rent an apartment in one place for a while, settle in, shop the local markets, and cook at least one meal a day at home, and you’ll save a bundle. We have more tips in these posts on doing Sydney and Melbourne on a budget.

To see how Sydney compares to the almost 30 other destinations in the world we’ve covered so far for our series, click here.

A Sydney Shopping List

1.5 litre water AUD$2.70 US$2.82 €2.18
1 litre milk AUD$1.50 US$1.57 €1.21
Bottle of drinkable local wine AUD$12.00 US$12.55 €9.67
750ml Victoria Bitter beer AUD$5.85 US$6.12 €4.71
100g Nescafe AUD$5.44 US$5.69 €4.38
250g fair trade coffee beans AUD$9.00 US$9.42 €7.25
Lipton’s tea 50 bags AUD$2.86 US$2.99 €2.30
1 kg sugar AUD$2.00 US$2.09 €1.61
Jar of pure honey (250grams) AUD$3.46 US$3.62 €2.79
1 loaf of wholegrain bread AUD$3.29 US$3.44 €2.65
250g quality butter AUD$2.60 US$2.72 €2.10
200g cheese (quality cheddar) AUD$6.00 US$6.28 €4.83
500ml ev olive oil AUD$7.00 US$7.32 €5.64
1 dozen organic eggs AUD$6.00 US$6.28 €4.83
1 kilo tomatoes AUD$9.00 US$9.42 €7.25
1 kilo brown onions AUD$1.78 US$1.86 €1.43
1 kilo red delicious apples AUD$3.40 US$3.56 €2.74
250g pistachios AUD$6.90 US$7.22 €5.56
220g gm jar of Vegemite AUD$4.17 US$4.36 €3.36
Total: AUD$94.95 US$99.33 €76.49

Price Check is a series of posts from every destination we visit where we settle in for a while, that could serve as a shopping list for you to stock the kitchen at the start of your stay, as well as a cost of living index, giving you an idea as to what things cost in that place. We include some basic items to get you started, plus a local specialty or two from the place.


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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

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