Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia vs USA: Compare and Contrast (2 videos even)

           Australia Day, oh what will come of this? I have been told by many that it is a day of pissed blokes (drunk guys) whom often are looking for a fight and specifically often with foreigners, such as myself! What a good way to start off this most recent post, as today January 26th is Australia Day, essentially the exact replica of USA’s red, white and blue extravaganza which we called “Independence Day” on the 4th of July. This leads me into a possibly misinformed, debate able, skewed version of the way Dr. Lamperski(sounds good doesn’t it?) see’s it “AUSTRALIA vs. UNITED STATES”….(cue music) DUhh DUNN DUHH DUHNNNN……(bomb drop). Is it a coincidence that United States has more letters, I think not…
So all joking aside, let’s look at a serious comparison from country to country and I must also point out that I am focusing in on the Western Australia side of the country as I have not been over East to the tourist traps in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. From what I can tell, Australia as a whole is very much influenced by the United States in terms of style and music but not so much religion or work ethic. I knew before I ventured over to this distant land, that the price of “runners” aka running shoes to you Americans was nearly double the price back home, so I was preparing myself for a wealthy economy in which the cost of living was substantially higher. After I purchased a “triathlon” magazine at the airport for $13 I quickly caught on that I may be in over my head.

           The list below is strictly based upon my simple observations in my 3 month tenure while in Perth, Western Australia. Examples were used from first hand experiences and could be slightly off in some standards. (WA- Western Australia)

  • Minimum Wage- 

Ø  WA: $15.00
Ø  USA: $7.25
  • Median Household Income- 

Ø  WA:  $72,800
Ø  USA: $52,029
  • Dining Out- 

Ø  WA: $22 Cheeseburger w/beetroot and chips (no drink) in Fremantle, side note you get a glass that typically holds about 6 ounces of water and never get refills unless you do it yourself.    
Ø  USA: $9 for 2 burger mini’s, chips, and an all you can eat DELICIOUS salad bar at “Ruby Tuesdays” yummm, $2 soda (500ml) unlimited REFILLS!
  • Dining In-

Ø  WA: $4.99 per Kg(2.2lbs) for Bananas, Shredded Cheddar Cheese $7 for 500ml   
Ø  USA: $0.45 per lb of bananas, Shredded Cheddar Cheese $1.99-$2.39 500ml special at HT always!
  • Rent/Lease- 

Ø  WA: living in a decent area near the city and sharing an apartment/flat with 2 housemates, expect $200 per week + utilities. ($800 a month).
Ø  USA: I lived in the sedgefield neighborhood, which was close to town in a big house, huge deck and yard for $370 a MONTH, with having my own bathroom and balcony!
  • Mortgage/Real estate-  Based upon a location that is about 5-6k from the center city and I have included 3 examples pulled from a local add. 
WA: 1bd 1ba w/one parking bay $409,000; 4bd 1ba(wow) w/garage $1.369 million!; 3bd 1ba w/carbay $900,000 as noted in the add a “perfect starter home” 
USA:  My neighborhood back home was about the same distance to the center city and most of the homes sold for $200-$300k, that being said, they were family homes w/3-4bd and 2ba w/garage and a small piece of land.

  • Top Sports- 
Ø  WA: Cricket, Footie (AFL)
Ø  USA: Football (gridiron), baseball
  • Spending Habits- 

Ø  WA: circa USA 2006(can’t go wrong mentality)
Ø  USA: much more conservative after the recession hit us hard in recent years.
  • Cycling Cultures- 

Ø  WA: Literally 100’s of miles if cycling paths to travel. On a normal day I will pass 100 cyclist while cruising about 20-30k
Ø  USA: Cycling paths HAHA (North Carolina) we have one loop called the “booty loop” which is somewhat safe and short of 5k in total length!
  • Petrol/Gas cost- 

Ø  WA: $5.00+ per gallon(but sold in liters)  
Ø  USA: $2.60 per gallon?
  • Cars- 

Ø  WA:  drive on the left hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. 
Ø  USA: Drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the left.
  • Cycling equipment cost- 

Ø  WA: Standard Tube $10, helmet $190
Ø  USA: $5, helmet $110
  • Running equipment cost- 

Ø  WA: Asics Gel GT 2160 $209.95, Yanks $19.95 
Ø  USA: $114.99, Yanks $9.99
  • Internet- 

Ø  WA: bloody horrible, everything is ran on a data plan using GB and you have to “recharge”, even YouTube is considered downloading
Ø  USA: everyone has wifi (very high speed) and its cheap, around $30-40 a month? Plus you can download music ALL DAY and it never runs out!
  • Air Conditioning- 

Ø  WA: some people have it but very few seem to use it. It’s hot as heck, 100 degree’s out and people just sit and sweat it out somehow.   
Ø  USA: A/C is a must pretty much everywhere. If you don’t have A/C then you are in a bind of some sort, it’s cranking all day at your house and in your car.
  • Food choice- 

Ø  WA: Lots of Thai and Indian food, as well as subway and McDonalds!  
Ø  USA: Mexican food, I miss it so much! Sesame Chicken, nothing compares to this real Chinese crap down under.
  • Beer- 

Ø  WA: extremely overpriced! $9-10 for a normal pint! It seems that the some of the beers are only 3% alcohol as well? Why bother?
Ø   USA: $4 for a pint sometimes $2 on specials, geez I miss you Ed’s Tavern!
  • Wine-

Ø  WA: loads to choose from as wine country is just down the road, price is equivalent to the USA amazingly!  Still haven’t seen 2 buck chuck
Ø  USA: Standard, seems like less choices in some places, but Harris Teeter brings the heat in the wine section.
  • Fun Runs/Road Races- 

Ø  WA: $10-12 entry fee’s usually and $3 for club members! We did a New Years Eve 8k, it was $15 but included basically all you can eat sausage sizzle, muffins galore, 2 beers, lemonade and chips!   
Ø  USA: $20-25 for a 5k! We always get shirts back home but after awhile they pile up.
  • Weather- 

Ø  WA: HOT, HOT, HOT. 2 seasons, summer and rainy season. 100 degree’s (38) here at this and people casually walk around in business suits.  
Ø  USA: 4 seasons. I missed them all I think actually. North Carolina is a perfect moderate temp MOST of the time.

                Oprah Winfrey, recently made an appearance out east and there was a huge uproar about it down under. People absolutely loved her, it was pure insanity actually, and she packed out the Sydney Opera house which boosted the tourism to come by 5 fold I am willing to bet. Before you head over here with your “USA” money keep in mind the cost of normal daily functions, they add up quick, as I soon realized while I arrived over here, found myself jobless and wondering where to go. I dropped $200 on a simple cart of groceries at the store one time and that didn’t include a package of thick steaks, a big honey ham or ever a couple bottles of wine, we are talking, rice, some frozen chicken, some ice cream, just the normal purchases.
BBQ in Jurien Bay

Western Australia is amazing, while most people truly are very friendly and outgoing, they all seem to assume I am from Canada; I am getting past that, simply because Steve Nash (NBA player) is the man.  Ever since arriving I have been engrained into the coffee culture and it could be a death sentence for me. If I get near “Express or Epic” café’s I am done, how could I not walk in, order a $4 or $5 Flat White or Latte, accompanied with a delicious warm raspberry muffin? My remedy has been in the form of a drip/percolated coffee maker, along with the wonderful taste of fruit muesli cereal in the mornings. So all of this being said, it’s very expensive here but it appears that most people tend to make more money and often take extensive travel holidays all around the world, where as American’s must work work work and never enjoy the experience life has to offer while they slave away at a desk to make enough fake $ to build that 3 story home on the lake that they really can’t afford.

                Another valid point to this extremely long but very interesting dive into culture, I think the Australians got something good going on here. Every full time position entitles you to 4 weeks paid holiday leave from the get go at a job. It’s insane to think as an American starting with that much leave honestly, plus they have a superannuation fund (essentially 401k) that you must deposit 9% of your check into for your retirement. After 7 years of employment you get 7 full weeks of holiday leave and someone told me that once you get to 10 years you get about 10-12 weeks of leave, utterly AMAZING! I could see how so many people have arrived in Australia, then get perks such as this and never make it back “home”. Asia and India are fairly close for travel as well, so it’s common for many Western Australians to fly over and live like a king for a couple weeks.

In CLOSING, Each country has its own strengths and weaknesses of course; our political structure is a completely different issue, while politics in Australia doesn’t seem to have that “politically correct” stamp of approval on everything. As another point, people do not randomly sue someone to hope for that easy meal ticket here. If you spill coffee on yourself, you feel like an idiot and then people piss on you (not literally) for doing so and you have a laugh. Back home it’s a law suit waiting to happen because you were texting while trying to drive your car, change the radio station and attempting to stir in some sugar, and in some indescribable way you spill a bit of coffee on yourself and feel the need to file a $6milllion law suit. I love the attitude of the people in Australia, typically upbeat and enjoying life, guns are banned here so that’s one less issue to deal with “ I have the right to bear arms”. Take it for what it’s worth; I hope that I have given some sort of insight on the cultures and how they operate in a different setting from one country to the next!

Below is a recap of my recent weeks Down under written by pictures....
Tree Top Walk: kings park

London Court

G$ the original gangsta aka G Star Raw 
In thought at Sunset


  1. Interesting.

    I lived on the east coast of Oz and came from the west coast of the US.

    I had no idea how cheap it is to live in North Carolina. I'm actually pretty shocked.

    Sydney is very expensive but nowhere near as expensive as LA. In fact the restaurants in Sydney are of such a high quality; the same type of three course dinners in an LA restaurant would coast you an arm and a leg.

    The RSL's in my opinion have better food than the American chain restaurants.

    All in all I love Sydney. It's cleaner, safer, and friendlier than LA. It takes the best things about LA (the weather, the beautiful people, the beaches) and San Francisco (the architecture the bay/harbour, the big bridges) and improves on both.

    I'll have to travel more around the USA though. I am pretty shocked at the house prices there and the cost of rent.

  2. I would love to move to Australia is the cost of houses a lot out there?