People living in the Top End have the highest living costs in Australia.
The Household Expenditure Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week proved the costly reality of life in the NT.
Mother of two Anthea Moniz and her husband David moved to Katherine in 2015 from Geelong, Victoria.
“The cost of living here is huge,” Mrs Moniz said.
“We moved to Darwin for 12 months and even compared to Darwin, Katherine is expensive.
“In Geelong you have competition for everything so people are not able to charge whatever they like. Our shopping bill is a lot bigger here, we spend about $300 a week on groceries alone.
“We have two kids in nappies and you cannot get cheap nappies like you can in Darwin. Yesterday petrol was 10 cents dearer here than in Darwin. If you want to do anything or go anywhere, petrol is a big cost,” she said.
Territorians are spending about $1700 per week on household and living costs.
The average Australian family spends about $1425.
Mrs Moniz said after paying household expenses there is not much left in the bank.
“There are not many ways you are able to save up here, down south we were able to put money away into a savings account,” she said.
“Once you pay electricity, rent, groceries and childcare you do not have any room to play. People do not have money to spare, and what they can spare they save.”
Mrs Moniz said some of the biggest expenses are rent and electricity.
“When we were in Darwin we were able to rent a four bedroom home for $450 a week, but here you are paying $600 or $700 for something comparable,” she said.
“We don’t go out a lot and I try and do meal plans so we are not wasting any food. We also have a big freezer so we can freeze leftovers and I am getting back into the workforce.
“Don’t even talk to me about electricity. We pay so much for electricity when we have such great renewable energy options around us, it is a bit silly that we run on a diesel plant,” Mrs Moniz said.
“Our last electricity bill was $1200 for three months, We paid about $600 down south.”
Mrs Moniz said cost of living was “absolutely” driving people out of town.
“When you want to stay somewhere long term you want to put down roots and buy a house. But a four bedroom house is $600,000,” Mrs Moniz said.
“Why spend that money here when you can go south or to Perth or Brisbane and get a large property for that amount of money.
“A lot of people have an exit strategy out of Katherine and it is really sad because it is such a beautiful community and people are lovely, but it is just too expensive.
“I do want to stay here but it is hard to put down roots and I understand why people don’t,” she said.
Mrs Moniz said if cost of living goes down, more people will spend money in town.
“The cost of living is too high so the town is not going to thrive,” she said.
“It is a cycle, the shopfronts charge huge rents then the people renting the shops increase their prices and we are paying more for products then cannot afford to spend money out.
“It is a cycle and we need to break that cycle for anything to work.”
Mrs Moniz said childcare is so costly it is almost not worth going back to work
“A lot of mums are struggling because they cannot get child care. If you are paying $20 an hour for childcare and not making much more yourself, they think what is the point.
“One mum I know could not get child care so had to start doing night shifts.”
The ABS survey did not account for 22 per cent of Territorians who live in very remote areas.