With the cost of living soaring, we asked border residents what they are sacrificing | border mail
As the cost of living soars across the country with rising interest rates, with the COVID pandemic and war in Ukraine blamed as the main causes, we asked border residents how this affects in real terms.
Do they have to postpone their beloved soccer practice because of soaring transportation costs? Are Friday night pub bevvies banned? Perhaps even basic necessities such as fresh fruits and vegetables have now become an unaffordable “luxury”.
Many people border mail spoke at Wodonga’s Junction Square and Albury’s busy Dean Street were lucky enough to still be able to afford their indulgences, but others were struggling and forced to make painful sacrifices, Albury teenager even moving from state to state to earn enough money to survive.
Linda Adler, 62, retired, Wodonga
“There’s nothing new about the cost of living – but, mind you, when I was young our homes cost $35,000, not $600,000.
“With pensioners, there are very few benefits for us, especially from the government.
“We’ve worked all our lives, paid a lot of tax, but you’re not tied to the CPI on your super pension, you’re going to struggle over time.
“As for the children, with the huge interest rates that keep going up, they won’t be able to afford them and having a young family must make it difficult.”
Amy Connelly, 29, caregiver, Wodonga
“I try not to think about it too much because it’s so depressing. I bought ingredients to make a stir fry and looked at the receipt and thought, why did it cost so much dear ?
“Capsicum was around $3.80 and it makes you think what it costs to do simple things.
“But we can still enjoy a coffee, that will never change – it’s hard for some, though.”
James Dunne, 38, nurse, Wangaratta
“For me, the price of gas is quite expensive – I live in Wang and drive here, so working a few days a week here is quite expensive.
“It costs me about $15 a day to get to and from work – with three or four days a week, it adds up.
“My car is diesel and the price of diesel really hasn’t come down at all – it’s back to what it was before.
“It was once cheaper, but now it’s stuck at $2.30.
“Luckily my kids are really small so we don’t have to drive too much so it’s not that bad.
“But living in Wangaratta and working in Wodonga, I really have to rely on my car to get around without public transport.
“I used to live in Melbourne where I was cold cycling everywhere but not here.
“But the cost of groceries, fresh produce, it’s really expensive.
“We haven’t had to buy as many frozen items, but the cost of groceries is definitely a big part of the weekly expenses.
“I try not to buy frozen anyway because fresh is healthier and tastes better.
“We don’t really eat in restaurants because the kids are so small.
“But the costs are definitely going up everywhere – we’ve had to delay renovations to the house, and that kind of thing because builders are very expensive too, the cost of wood.
“So we have to keep delaying that – it’s difficult.”
Syed Hassan, 24, listener, Albury
“My living expenses have gone up by about $100 a week in a relatively short time because everything is so expensive, but it’s good that I got a raise – some salaries don’t go up based on inflation.
“Our company is very good in that regard, they also pay for my fuel and food expenses, so I’m lucky.
“But other things are so expensive – I’m also lucky to live on my own at this stage, so luckily that’s not too much of a problem.
“We go to Albury Cricket Club but because I live in Albury I can cycle there, it’s a very good thing to live here. Food-wise I usually try to stay away from restaurants and takeaways, but since I’m traveling tonight, it’s KFC for me today.”
Judy Hawkins, 64, retired, Wodonga
“There is a big difference between the challenges we face now and the younger ones.
“I’m very lucky that [with the rising cost of living] I don’t have to sacrifice much because I’m comfortably retired, but it’s different if you’re young.
“Kids have to have it all when they’re 20 and 30, well, we have it all at 50 and 60.
“When we were growing up we always had second-hand stuff and the same with furniture – we didn’t go to Freedom or places like that, but now the kids have to buy everything new for a brand new home.
“We don’t go out much because we cook at home – we are great cooks.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than ever, but we pick and choose – if lettuces are expensive, you choose cheaper things, for example citrus fruits are all the rage right now, so you put your citrus fruits in your salads.
“It’s safer that way anyway, everyone around us has COVID so if we’re going to go out and grab something we’re happy to sit outside.”
Tiffany McFadzean, 30, caregiver, Wodonga
“We just put down a deposit on a block of land about eight months ago and a lot has changed since then.
“Prices have gone up but we are not too stressed yet.
“We buy frozen fruits and vegetables, but we often buy from Arnolds or markets.
“I have a child due in September, and it’s quite scary too because living expenses are about to increase.
“It’s my last day at work today.
“After COVID, I was thinking about how much money we spend when we go out, but we don’t go out much.”
Paul Whitehead, 59, teacher, Corryong
“I live in Corryong now but lived in China for five years which is a fantastic and cheap place to live.
“With people struggling with the cost of living, I think the government could find much better ways to spend the money to help people than to buy nine nuclear submarines.
“The cost of electricity is another thing that is hurting a lot of people right now. Let’s move away from coal and use wind or solar, the community would benefit so much more.
“The cost of living in China is significantly better than here – even though I don’t make as much money, I save more.
“Electricity costs here are much higher. In China, your normal prices, such as fruit, meat and staple foods, are much better controlled by the government, so most people don’t have no problem with that side of their cost of living.
“Electricity is hugely cheaper there than here – in Australian dollars it costs me around $50, $60 a month including air conditioning and so on.
“No matter what flavor of government is in power here, their spending doesn’t seem to really help the people.
“Recently, Australia seems to be going along with what America is doing.
“I don’t see it working for normal people.”
Khylan Wright, 18, mine worker, Albury
“At the moment we are considering getting a home loan, but interest rates have skyrocketed.
“I have to work more and save more to try to get a higher deposit, which is much more difficult than before.
“I work in mines in Western Australia so it’s not too bad for me to try and save some money, but when I get home it’s expensive.
“Albury is my home, I was born here but now I fly to and from Western Australia.
“I’m there for two weeks, then I’m back here for a week.
“I did a carpentry apprenticeship here in Albury but with $400 a week and trying to pay fuel costs, it was really difficult.
“So I can’t imagine anyone else my age surviving on an apprentice’s salary when things are so expensive.
“It was the cost of living that forced me out of here.
“The company pays for all the accommodation, flights and everything, which helps me tremendously.
“Working there was about saving money and having enough money to get a security deposit and then come back here.
“Before going to Western Australia, I was looking to get a rental to move out, but I just couldn’t afford it at $400 a week.
“Grocery and fuel are just way too expensive for young people.
“When I go home to visit, I noticed that basic things are so much more expensive everywhere, just basic things.
“It’s hard to live away from my family, it makes it difficult, but I have to do what I have to do to have this house.
“I just want to buy a house and settle down with my girlfriend, that’s the long-term plan.
“If I was still doing my apprenticeship here in Albury, on just $400 a week, that would have been impossible to achieve.”
Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content: