Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It is known by a fact Australia is a freaking expensive place to live in; it does not matter how you search online or who you consult with, almost any Aussie city will be in that list. Even worst, almost all the time Sydney and Melbourne will be in the top ten.

And why do I think Australia is so freaking expensive?

Because I suffer it on my bone and flesh every single day, every single time I am paying rent and every single time I go to the mall to acquire any good I notice the huge price difference in comparison to the same products in the US or Asia.

Being honest, I don’t have a clue of why Australia is so overpriced; maybe lots of taxes, import duties and what else only god knows but you could find lots of goods with huge overprice margins regardless to the country of origin of the product.

To those who does not know what a PS3 Controller is...

For instance (and I don’t have intentions to sound trivial with the item I am going to post in here) you could buy a PlayStation 3 Controller Dual Shock 3 SIXAXIS on any retail store for A$90... If you find a very cheap place where to buy it from.

OR you could go online to ebay if you want and buy it for A$30 plus postage, or you could even go to Amazon and buy it online with a bundle (most of the time bundles are not available in Australia) and get it for A$40 including postage with a brand new game (depends on offer and season).

Maybe the PS3 controller is a bad example because you could argue there are websites selling those controllers directly from China with a retail price of $30 flat; and there is the light possibility of someone telling to compare a wide range of items, because one item is surely not enough… 

Let’s take a shiny new 3D LED TV (I am going top of the line here just to show the difference in prices).
The Sony Bravia 60” Full HD 3D LED LCD Smart TV (I don’t like Sony as my display, but I went to the JB HIFI website looking for any brand).
See the tackle coming at you... you will definitely will feel it with the price!

On JB HIFI it cost A$3496 (you could ask for a deal, actually I went there and asked for one and they gave me the ubber awesome discount of A$500)

On Amazon (US)*(1) it will cost US$1258 (at the time I am writing this post), including shipping, exchange rates and taxes it will be A$1800.
*(1) Could not find it on for the comparison… But it will probably be cheaper as well.

Difference in prices: A$1.200!

If there are differences on these prices, go to JB HIFI and Amazon websites, note down the prices and compare.

Now I could argue this price stuff and blame entirely on extreme taxes (yes, bonji jumping extreme) or very bad policies applied to certain products.

Let’s study then a scenario that to me is totally absurd; I present thee Holden Cruze (I was about to select the Commodore... more about that later).

Holden/Chevrolet Cruze

Why the Holden Cruze?
Holden brand is Chevrolet on the states (and several other countries as well) and the Cruze has the exact same name everywhere, so I thought it could be easy to related between different models. And there is another reason to select the Cruze; turns out is a fine Australian made car (at least those sold in the US are)... So, if the theory is right, the Cruze should be cheaper down under than anywhere else, right? 


The Holden Cruze CD (the cheapest you could get) costs in Australia A$21.990 (without changing anything to it); that is US$21.700 with the current exchange rate of US$0.98 per each A$ (if I had posted this before the US price goes up for few hundred).

Its description is:

  • Model: Series 2 Cruze CD
  • Engine: 1.8 Petrol (gasoline) engine with manual transmission, 6 (gears/speeds).
  • Colour: Heron White (not that makes a difference, double checked).
  • Trim (Seats and Interior): Jet black cloth.

The Chevrolet Cruze LS (again cheapest that matches previous description) costs in the US$17.275.
Aussie price for the Aussie built car is 126% the US price.

That is ‘BUGGER!’ in Aussie slang or ‘what the funk?!’ in American.

So... how come Aussie will pay more for the same car? Is it that shipping stuff to the US is so cheaper than shipping within the same territory?

I can't understand it at all...

What could I find while doing my research?

Australia will get higher prices on 80% of the items; you name it! If you are whiling to spend some of your time searching online, try to establish similar products from different places and you will notice the great difference between prices.

Whose fault is it?

There are three different groups to blame on any society (Australian or not).

  • The Merchants, manufacturers and retailers; huge companies will always try to get more profit without taking into consideration markets or societies. I call this group ‘the bitches’ or industry prostitutes because they will charge you as hard as you want their services.
  • The Government or the market regulator; this group are the pimps, they use their prostitutes to get money out of the public on many different levels.
    For instance, you pay levies or taxes on those goods you are trying to purchase (just like the prostitutes charge you for their protection paying it to their pimp) and on top of that you also have to pay taxes deductible from your income.
  • The customer or client; this is the worst of all (to my point of view) because it won’t matter how much people would like to sell themselves for money or how hard the pimp will hit others to get his money, the customer is the one supporting the entire system. Without someone looking to get an easy ‘date’ there are no prostitutes, without prostitutes there will be no pimps.

What do I want to say with this?

Well my dear Aussies, you need to hunt a good bargain and to know when to say no to a huge overprice, no matter how madly/desperately you want it just say no and keep looking for a better bargain.

Think ahead, plan your investment. That means, if you buy something regardless its cost try to get the best value out of it.

What do you think? Am I wrong with my perception?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yup, Kathy and I have officially turned two years down under and what’s the best way to remember those two years than checking the balance.

Sadly, this post is being written as the migraine strikes back, so please forgive me if is total nonsense.

This story has two sides, one happy and one sad. Let’s start with the sad one (that why you won’t end depressed at the end of the post... maybe a little in the middle).

Three days ago (on September 7th) I was having a lovely moment with my missus, watching a movie when I received a call.

This was the movie we were watching on that day...
Confessions of a shopaholic – if you are a guy and your girl brings this movie to your place... RunRun away from her, leave her behind and never look backJust RUN!
Save yourself while you can, it was too late for me!

I think my testicles shrank twice while watching it

At first it was confusing and could not understand what the person in the other side of the line was saying to the phone because there was too much interference, but I decided to give it a try and replied: 

‘Alo? Hello? Anybody there?’

At that precise moment, the sounds coming from the other side resembled someone crying and mumbling something...

‘Today... is two years... have been two years since you are gone. I miss you so much!’

My chest felt instantly heavy, it was difficult to talk, to breathe and I had to stand up and stepped out to the balcony replying:

‘Hi Mom! I was not expecting your call! How are you?’

The conversation went on for another ten minutes, with my mom crying more and more, my dad trying to make her smile (unsuccessfully) and I... I was trying to maintain my calm.

Must admit, it has been one of the most sad, complicated and depressing conversation I have ever had with my mom, but I fully understand that for her is not easy. But for me it was extremely difficult to respond to some of her questions, such as:

“How do you feel? Are you happy?”

Are you happy????? What am I supposed to say here? I know there is no right answer to this... maybe a 
‘No mom, I am being miserable in here. I am being treated like shit, less than rubbish and because of my masochist tendencies I am going to stay for as long as possible?’

Obviously that is not the case, telling her that I feel utterly happy and comfortable was not very well received; triggering a new river of tears, with eventual phrases saying ‘I know you are very happy... it was your choice of leaving us, pursuing your adventure of trying to be happy... is just that I miss you so much!’

Up to this point you might be wondering... but why isn’t your mom taking the first plane to Oz?

Economical issues will be my first answer and probably lack of interest to take a plane for more than 20 hours.

To my mom, anything that is not America or Europe is far far away.

Why am I not taking a plane to go and visit her?
Yet again, economical issues will be the first answer. Flying to Venezuela is very expensive from this part of the world, but sadly enough is not the main component of the full answer; Venezuela has become very hostile place to anyone, categorised at the moment as one of the most dangerous country in America and the world. You don't believe it? Google it and you will find in no time posts and articles pointing it out.

But... Why am I telling these stories and thoughts?
Being far away from my family has been hard. There have been times when I would like to be with them, share some of the same experiences, enjoy my nephews and nieces, play with my brothers or just take a seat and chill out, hear them talk about baseball, or what was the last big move with the national soccer team, or my sis laughing of my stupid jokes or sarcastic comments about different situations.

I miss those tasty treats my mom used to cook for me, even though she was going to tell me later on I am eating too much and that is why I am too fat! Or going bald or whatever.

I miss them, all of them very much and the feeling is neither getting worst nor decreasing as the time goes by. This is part of the decision I choose when starting somewhere else.

Now... the happy and more appealing side of the post!

There is always a bright side.

The 9th was our second anniversary since our arrival to Australia! Heey!

On these two years we have been able to:

  • Start different projects and studies. Kathy has been back to her belly dancing, and I have been reading different types of articles and magazines, most of them related to photography and how to improve the image composition and general appearance.
  • Buy the camera we always wanted (and now we are fighting to get a chance to use it... and highly probable we will have to buy another one). I was not going to include material things into the list, but the camera (for me) isn’t part of those material things. The camera give us the opportunity to show to our families and friends how we perceive and appreciate Australia (and our lives).
  • Establish our home. With all the crap need it for it.
  • Make friends, very dear friends.
Say whaaat?
Say whaat? Two years?

These two years have been great yet a bit melancholic... or should it be melancholically great? In general the balance is still pretty good! We are deeply, truly and madly in love of our new home.

I am unimaginable grateful to this country for giving me the opportunity of being part of it and I will try to do my best to be a great investment for its future.

Thanks to our friends (in and out of work) for being great with us, to make the effort of understand, comprehend and share our journey.

Till next post.