Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ten Things I love about Australia...

I was reading a blog yesterday that's being written by some friends as they drive across Australia. One of her blogs talks about how she loves Australia, but can't quite put her finger on WHY she loves Australia. So I thought I would try. Here are my top ten things I love about no particular order:

1. Sydney - I know it's a whole city and it probably shouldn't count but i love Sydney. I think it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Granted, I haven't done that much traveling but I've been to a fair few and Sydney is just beautiful. Alot of people don't like Sydney b/c of she's overally beautiful but not me. She's sunny and the water glistens and who can say that the Opera House and the Bridge aren't breath taking?

2. Red Rock Deli chips - They have the best combination of flavors. My newest favortie is Sea Salt & Balsamic. So yummy!

3. Qantas - Qantas is the national airline for Australia. If you've flown anywhere domestically in Oz, you've most likely flown Qantas. Granted, they are usually the most expensive airline but I think they're generally worth it. I'm currently Platinum with Qantas - one of their highest frequent flyer levels and let me tell you - it is totally worth it. If you ever get the chance to enjoy the First Class lounge at the Sydney International Terminal, I highly suggest it.

4. Coffee - I'll never be able to go back to Starbucks. If i have to move home, I'm thinking of marrying my barista so he can go with me.

5. New Years Eve - Ok, so maybe this should sit in the Sydney bucket, but I love that they take New Years so seriously here. Sydney is one of the first major cities to tick over to the new year and boy do they know how to put on a show. The NYE that spent in Sydney is one of the best I've ever experienced and I would happily go back every year.

6. The Wine - they have really great wine here. I recently shared a bottle of California wine with HA and I could definitely tell the difference. Though I do love the Australian wine, I do feel like I need to admit that I prefer the white wine from the Marlbough region in NZ.

7. Banana Bread - Much like coffee, the banana bread is a staple in this country. I was never a big fan before I came here, but now I love a little blueberry/banana bread in the morning.

8. Weetbix - Weetbix is a cereal here in Australia. I grew to love it on my very early morning flights from Canberra to Adelaide. Now whenever the Weetbix commercials come on, HA likes to call me a Weetbix kid.

9. Diet Coke - Yes, I know you can get this in the US but I'm telling you, the formula is different here. It's less sweet. I'm addicted and if I have to move home, I'm going to need to get this imported into the US.

10. Finally - the people. Just as Kangaroo Chronicles says in her blog, the people here are very very friendly. Sometimes, it seems unreal to me how friendly they can be.  And, I'd say that 95% of them really like Americans and always want to know where I'm from and why I could come here.

11.  Just because I can - The Politics - I mean, come on, in a matter of hours, they had a new primer minister!  You'd never get that kind of excitement in the US!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Negative Gearing and Australia

HA and I have friends here in Oz that have been investing in properties throughout Canberra in the last couple of years. HA really wants to get into the invest property business and has asked me if I'd be interested in going in on a property together.

I've thought about it and I do think that buying a property in the CBD of Canberra would be a good idea. With so many government officials here and contractors for government agencies and the university, I doubt there's ever a shortage of people looking for properties.

My general issue with it is that the price of property in this country is OUTRAGEOUS. I couldn't afford to own my own home in this country. The apartment I live in, which about a third the size of my house in Phoenix, runs, easily, for mid-six figures. That's a one-bedroom, one-bathroom. What makes it even crazier is that salaries aren't adjusted for this higher cost of living. So given that, I'm not sure how my friends, who make realitively the same amount of money as I do, can afford their own rent, plus the mortgages of their multiple investment properties.

In theory, the investment properties should pay for themselves. Or at least I would think that's how it's supposed to work. But no so in Australia. In Australia, they do this thing called Negative Gearing. Here's how it works as I understand it - You buy a property that you plan on utilizing as an investment. The weekly mortgage is $750 but they're renting it out at $650 a week. Clearly there's already a $100/week loss. Then when they do their taxes, these losses are fully deductible and depreciation is taking into account. This will typically provide the owner with a much larger refund which then offsets the losses of the property.

So my question is - how is this a good idea?? I feel like I must be missing something about this whole scheme. If you read about this on Wikipedia, it doesn't sound like a good idea at all and apparently, this is illegal in most other countries. Am I missing something? Could I be an Australian real estate mogul but I'm too dense to realize it?