Money

What 6 Common Things Used To Cost Compared To Now

There’s no shortage of content out there telling us that the cost of living in Australia is going up, with no signs of slowing. This can feel like overwhelming and stress-inducing news, but when you look back to past decades, how different was it for other young Australians? What proportion of an annual income was spent on living costs?

To get a better sense of how the relationship between living costs and wages has evolved, and work out just how tough modern Aussies are doing it, we’ve compared today’s cost of six common items to what they once cost. It’s time to find out how the young people of 2018 really fare.

#1 Coffee

Today the cost of coffee ranges significantly, influenced by whether you sit in or take away, the sort of milk you add, the calibre of your barista and of course, the size.

There are reports of a cup of coffee costing AUD$9 in some parts of the country, though the average sits at a more modest $3.50 per cup. In the late 1970s, you would have parted with just over a dollar to get a 100g jar of ground coffee, equivalent to around $6 in 2018’s dollars. Today, the same size jar of instant coffee costs closer to $10.

#2 Bread

The State Library of Victoria reports that in 1980 you could pick up a loaf of bread for just 54 cents. It sounds cheap, but relative to today, and adjusted for inflation, it’s only a difference of around 25 cents per loaf. The kicker however, is that in 1980, 54 cents would buy you a near two-kilogram (or four pound) loaf. Today, the average loaf is just 650 grams. More dough for less bread, eh?

#3 Movie tickets

In 2010, movie tickets in Australia cost around $11, equating to approximately $12 in the current market. According to Screen Australia, standard ticket prices have risen 33% over the past eight years, now costing closer to $14 per ticket. But at the top end of cinema experiences, cost increases are more around the 61% mark, coming in at $25 per ticket, depending on the state and cinema you frequent.

The average weekly rent for Australians in 1990 was around $125. This is equivalent to around $230 per week in today’s market.

Sadly, this figure doesn’t include any of the trimmings like popcorn or choc-tops. It does, however, make Australian movie tickets some of the most expensive in the world.

#4 Newspapers

Getting your fix of daily news cost a mere one cent in 1901 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. One. Single. Cent. However, with inflation factored in this is closer to 50 cents in 2018 terms.

Today, weekend editions of major daily newspapers have hit the $3 mark. While likely a much denser, worldly and more colourful read than the papers being distributed at the beginning of the 20th century, the price of newspapers has increased a whopping 500%.

#5 Rent

A Budget Direct report revealed that the average weekly rent for Australians in 1990 was around $125. This is equivalent to around $230 per week in today’s market, but wages in the ’90s were at the highest they’d been for the better part of the 20th century.

On average, $125 constituted a quarter of an Australians’ income, whereas today, rent consumes closer to a third, increasing the strain on low-to-middle income earning Australians. The report also predicted that by 2030 rent will increase by more than 460% compared to average 2018 prices.

#6 A dozen eggs

It’s the mid-’70s and you’re craving an omelette, but as fate would have it you’re fresh out of eggs. You head down the supermarket and hand over the 84 cents that’s jingling around in your pocket. Though cheap by 2018 standards, sadly, it’s not the cracking bargain you’d think it might be and equates to around $5.85 today.

Buying a dozen eggs in 2018 can range from as low as $3 to more than $7 depending on their size, whether they’re caged or free range, or whether they’ve come from an organic farm or not.

It’s clear to see that the price of these regular items has increased sharply over the decades, which may mean that the youth of today do have it harder than in decades gone by. No wonder it’s so difficult to jump onto the property ladder.

All prices provided in this article are in Australian dollars and are estimates only. Inflation has been considered using the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Inflation Calculator.


Izzy Tolhurst is a copywriter and editor. She writes about music, the arts, employment and international development. She also sings and plays an impressively amateur level of guitar in Melbourne band Go Get Mum. Find her rambling on Twitter @izzytolhurst.