The real cost of living is rising much, much faster than official figures suggest, writes Nick Webb. The Sunday Independent/IIB Homeloans Cost of Living Index reveals who is being squeezed hardest and who can keep spending like there’s no tomorrow
THE MIDDLE CLASSES
Cost of living up 14% in just two years
THE Irish stock market is down 65 per cent, property prices are down about 20 per cent and Lansdowne Road won't be open for another two years. It's been an awful time for Ireland's aspiring middle classes. They have been hockeyed as their cost of living has risen at about one and a half times the national average.
If you've bought a des res in Ranelagh, you'll feel the pain of a 68 per cent jump in mortgage repayments over two years. Especially if your house has lost 20 per cent of its value. Education costs are up 11.3 per cent. Insurance costs are up 3.6 per cent in the last year.
Heating and lighting bills are up 23.4 per cent, meaning that it's even more expensive to run that 45-inch plasma TV. However, electrical appliances are way cheaper.
Equally painful is the hike in fuel prices. Filling up your Land Rover now costs close to €145. But at least the price of new cars has come down, with 08 models down 0.8 per cent.
Getting a new set of . . . er, implants, a tummy tuck or botox is also pricier, as outpatient services are up 13.4 per cent.
Clothing is much, much cheaper than it was two years ago. But this is down to the Penneys effect.
Heading out to Renards, the Ice Bar or L'Ecrivain could be pricier, with eating out and drinking costs up 7.6 per cent over two years. Entertainment services are up 7.9 per cent. These socialising costs make up over one-fifth of all outgoings of these aspirant middle classes.
Cost of living up 9.4% since August 2006
PENSIONERS' cost of living has soared in recent months. At the beginning of the year, it was miles behind the average cost of living rate but huge increases in food and heating have pushed pensioners' personal inflation rates up to the national average.
The cost of necessities such as food (up 6.4 per cent) and heating (up 14.2 since January!) could make winter particularly harsh. But given that pensioners spend close to 40 per cent on food and drink and over 17 per cent on heat and lighting, these increases will be tougher to bear.
Getting a little man in to fix the roof or unblock the toilet has also become more pricey, with maintenance bills up 4.1 per cent. Pensioners will also be hit by rising tobacco costs, up 12.5 per cent in two years.
Cost of living up 7.9% since Aug 2006
THINGS may be grim in the construction sector but migrant workers are at least seeing their cost of living rise slower than the national average. Rents -- which account for nearly 43 per cent of all outgoings -- have increased by 13.4 per cent. Gas, fuel and electricity costs have risen 14.2 per cent in 12 months or a staggering 23.4 per cent in two years, according to our Cost of Living index.
Food costs are up 9.3 per cent in two years or up 6.4 per cent since this time last year. Tyskie and Tiger beers are only slightly dearer, with alcohol prices up 1.8 per cent. Bus costs are up 5 per cent since August 2007, with rail prices 4.3 per cent up in the same period. Buying a car is also cheaper, with prices down 1.8 per cent in 12 months.
Prescriptions or medical appliances and equipment have increased by a modest 2.3 per cent in the last year. Gyms and entertainment services are up 9.4 per cent in two years.But phoning or emailing home is actually cheaper than this time last year, falling 0.3 per cent. Flying home is well cheap, with prices down 13.2 per cent in the last year.
THE FIRST-TIME BUYERS
Cost of living rockets 20.1% since August 2006
FIRST-TIME buyers have been kicked senseless by the jackboot of inflation. In the last two years, their inflation rate has risen by over 20 per cent, or more than twice the national average -- as if negative equity wasn't enough to bum them out.
The biggest chunk of this unsustainable hike in living costs is from soaring mortgages repayments, which have jumped 70 per cent since August 2006. They have risen nearly 18 per cent in the last year alone, according to the Sunday Independent/IIB Homeloans Cost of Living index.
Given that most first-time buyers have been forced further and further away from urban centres, they have been hard hit by rising petrol costs -- which have leapt 13.3 per cent in the last year alone. At least the price of a new motor is down 1.3 per cent in a year.
Yo-yo oil prices have seen heating and lighting bills skyrocket 23.4 per cent since August 2006. This double whammy of increased mortgage repayments and rising fuel costs has eaten up any spare cash they may have had, dramatically slashing their spending power.
What little cash they can hoard can, at least, go a little further on doing up their house. Leather sofas, coloured loo seats and other first time buyer staples have fallen in price by 8.1 per cent. Fridges, cookers and other household appliances are down 5.8 per cent in two years, with TVs and stereos about 12.6 per cent cheaper this year.
The price of a handyman has risen just 0.8 per cent in the last year.
THE STAY-AT-HOME 20-SOMETHINGS
Cost of living down 1.2% over the past two years
YOU'D be bonkers to leave the family home in your 20s. The cost of living for 20- and 30-somethings who haven't fled the nest has actually fallen over the past two years, according to the Sunday Independent/ IIB Homeloans Cost of Living index.
There's no need to worry about spiking interest payments or even double-digit increases in rent. There may be a teenchy contribution to family food bills, which have risen 9.3 per cent. But that's it.
All the time spent on Facebook or iTunes hasn't taken much of a bite either, as mobile phone, internet and communications charges are down 0.3 per cent in the last year. Buying iPods, DS lites or other electrical equipment is miles cheaper, with prices down 22.5 per cent in two years.
Skinny jeans are way cheaper, too, as clothing and footwear costs are down 8.3 per cent. Given that clothing costs make up a good 15 per cent of stay-at-homers' spending, it represents a significant fall.
Weekends away are dirt cheap, with hotel prices sliding 3.3 per cent this year alone. Ryanair and cheapo flights are down over 14 per cent in two years. Tobacco prices are up 6.8 per cent in the past year, with booze rising 1.8 per cent in the same period.
Going to the movies and other entertainment services have increased by 5.3 per cent this year -- but Heat, Grazia or magazines with semi-naked girls from Big Brother are up 6 per cent since 2006.
Cost of living soars by 16.2% over the past two years
IF BEING swamped by smelly nappies or being stuck watching an endless loop of Dora the Explorer cartoons wasn't bad enough, young families have seen their cost of living rate spike 75 per cent in just two years.
Education and school bills have risen close to 11.3 per cent since the end of the World Cup in Germany, with creche and childcare up nearly eight per cent.
Weekly shopping costs are up 6.4 per cent since August 2007 and up 9.3 per cent in two years. A glass of wine, once the little ones have all been put to bed, is slightly dearer, with alcohol prices up 1.8 per cent in the last year, according to the Sunday Independent/IIB Homeloans Cost of Living index.
Soccer moms and those doing the school run have been hammered by a 13 per cent rise in fuel costs this year alone. Giant people carriers and SUVs have proven ridiculously expensive to run. But it's the near 70 per cent increase in mortgage costs over the last two years that is strangling the finances of young families.
Trips to casualty and other medical expenses have risen steadily, with hospital costs up 15.3 per cent in two years. These costs have increased 10.5 per cent in the last 12 months alone. Insurance has increased by 3.6 per cent over the same period.
With the knees coming out of a pair of jeans after about two wears and pink Converse a must must-have, young families can get some respite as the cost of clothing has slid 8.3 per cent in two years.
Package holidays have increased by just 0.7 per cent in the past year.
The other bit of good news is the startling slump in the price of electrical goods -- they're down an average of 22.5 per cent.
THE RENTAL BRIGADE
Cost of living up 7.5% since August 2006
GOOD news for those in bedsit land; their cost of living has risen more slowly than the national average. Rent is their biggest cost, making up over one third of all outgoings. Although rents have escalated by 13.8 per cent in the last two years, the increase is far, far smaller than that suffered by mortgage holders.
Given that renters are more likely to use public transport, they have suffered less from huge spikes in petrol bills. Bus and rail fares have risen by up to 8.3 per cent since August 2006. Taxi fares have swelled 12.4 per cent.
Eating out and pub prices are up 7.6 per cent, making it cheaper to go out than entertain at home as food bills rose 9.3 per cent. However, booze prices have risen just 0.9 per cent.