Australians can't resist a bite of the Big Apple

If you take rent out of the equation, your dollar in New York takes you much further than it does in Sydney. No wonder so many Australians are moving to the city that never sleeps.

For those of you who have Australian friends or family that live in New York, I suspect your social media feeds have noticed this article that appeared on Gothamist pop up earlier this month. 

It seems the secret is out – Australians are flocking here in droves! While there were only 5537of us living here in 2006, that number has jumped to around 20,000.

The reason for that is largely down to a magical visa known as the E-3.  While those from other countries have to compete for the H-1B visa, we are given the inside track and only have to compete with other Australians for 10,500 visas issued each year. (It was basically our thank you from George W Bush for joining the war in Iraq.)

It means Australians now make up 15 per cent of the professionals coming to the US.

Now that so many of us are here, we often joke that none of us can afford to move home.

While that statement is often said in jest, there is an underlying truth to it.

It is always tricky to make a direct comparison on the cost of living between two countries due to the differing values in the dollar and wage rates but let’s have a crack.

An analysis by Numbeo, the world’s largest user-contributed database on cost of living, shows what many of us Aussie expats living in New York could tell you: once you take out the cost of rent it is actually much cheaper living here than in Sydney or Melbourne.

A direct comparison between New York and Sydney shows that consumer prices in New York are 14 per cent lower than in the Harbour City, you will spend almost 12 per cent less at the supermarket in New York and your dollar will generally stretch at least 4 per cent further.

The main leveller is rent. You will pay almost 22 per cent more to have a roof over your head in the Big Apple then you would in Sydney.

Buying beer at a supermarket here in New York is a whopping 61 per cent cheaper, cigarettes will set you back 32 per cent less and a bottle of water is almost 20 per cent cheaper.

However, if you want to keep fit, joining a gym in New York will cost you almost 22 per cent more than one in Sydney and don’t even think about hiring a tennis court in Manhattan because it is almost 50 per cent more expensive an hour.  Best to spend your free time seeing a movie -- that will cost you almost 20 per cent less for a ticket, according to Numbeo.

Where most of us expats notice the difference in cost is when we return home and head into a clothes store.

A pair of Levis are almost 50 per cent more expensive in Australia, runners will cost you about 35 per cent more and a summer dress at H&M or Zara will be around 32 per cent more Down Under.

Looks like we will be staying in New York a bit longer.

Mathew Murphy is a Walkley Award winning journalist based in New York

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