One of the benefits of travelling is to see the differences between societies.

These differences are manifold, but aren't necessarily glaringly obvious if the other society speaks the same language.

In my case, I am spending a significant amount of time in Australia (see Health Care Anecdote for the reason), and it is interesting to see how things are the same/different in Australia.

1) Food prices: due to VAT at least, and the generally positive state of the Australian economy vis a vis the rest of the world, food prices in Sydney, Cairns, and Port Douglas are much higher than what I am used to in San Francisco.

Examples:

Bananas-

In SF, typically around US$0.69 to US$0.99 per pound to as low as $0.49 per pound in Chinatown

In Sydney, in a grocery store, AUD2.99 per kilogram = $1.26 per pound
In Sydney, in the downtown Chinese market (Market City), AUD1.20 per kilogram = $0.51 per pound

Keep in mind Australia can grow bananas in the NE region (I saw them growing wild).

Cherries-

All imported, AUD18.99/kilogram in a grocery store and AUD12.99/kilogram in Chinatown

Eating out-

Both in Sydney and in the Gold Coast (Cairns/Port Douglas), the cost of eating out was a bit eye opening: dinner meal prices ranged from AUD16 (specials) to a more typical AUD18 to AUD25 plus drinks

There were exceptions: in Sydney Chinatown area, there are Thai, Korean, and Chinese places where an entree could be as low as AUD8.

Keep in mind that tipping is not that customary in Australia, and that the prices above include all fees, taxes, etc. An AUD20 cost is equal to approximately a AUD16 cost in the US style (i.e. tack on 9% tax, 15% tip)

Alcohol prices, in contrast, are another interesting study in comparison.

Beer in a bar in Australia - assuming not some fancy import - ranges from AUD6 to a more typical AUD5 or even AUD3.60 (lowest price I saw). Bottles of Australian wine in restaurants are AUD11.90 to AUD23, though of course there were more expensive alternatives.

In contrast the same beers in a bottle shop (liquor store) were about AUD1/bottle in sale with wines ranging from AUD6 to AUD15.

Real Estate (Sydney)-

There are real estate offices in every shopping district/rail stop that I've been in. However, these are generally quite small - one room type affairs - much in the Tokyo style, with perhaps 1 or 2 dozens properties from all over Australia on offer.

The less fancy parts of town - the prices seem to be in the AUD350K to AUD450K range for 2 bedroom, 1 bath places.

Waterfront type places seem to be in the AUD1M range (not super prime) with large American style McMansions being in the AUD800K range.

Transportation-

Gasoline prices are quite high, though not European outrageously high: AUD1.15 to AUD1.25 per liter = $4.05 to $4.40 per gallon.

The rental car used in the Gold Coast went about 440 kilometers on 40.5 liters - so clearly fuel cost isn't that bad assuming you aren't driving a monster truck.

The public transport system in Sydney seems excellent: the cost is fairly high for incidental travel, but falls progressively with use:

AUD4.00 for one way, AUD5.40 for round trip, 8 km from suburb to city - approximately 12 stops.

In comparison a 7 day pass for the above is about AUD31 and presumably unlimited use.

Other anecdotes - please inquire and I'll keep an eye out as I will be here another week to 10 days.