Resurfaced 1970s Video Proves Just How Easy Australian Boomers Had It

$14 rent?! Yes, please...

Resurfaced 1970s Video Proves Just How Easy Australian Boomers Had It


A resurfaced 1970s video reveals stark differences in cost of living, highlighting how much easier Australian Boomers had it financially.

The cost of living has (almost) never been harder than it is right now. Affecting men in swathes of overlooked ways, with some even giving up on meat as supermarket prices soar, young Australians have been making their frustrations with today’s exorbitant living costs know, and rightly so.

Now, a recently resurfaced video from 1977 has reignited the always-heated debate about the financial challenges faced by different generations in Australia. The clip, originally posted by the ABC, highlights the cost of living for a university student in the late 70s. The stark and frankly uncomfortable contrast with today’s expenses is eye-opening and eye-watering…

WATCH: The Contentious Clip Is Doing The Rounds Online.

1977’s Cost Of Living

In the video, a student explains how she managed her expenses on the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS), a government support payment run at the time. She received $43 per week, of which (a mind-boggling) $14 went to rent, $8 was spent on food, and around $10 covered bills, utilities, and transport. This left her with roughly $10 each week for additional expenses.

When adjusted for inflation, this $43 translates to $284.74 per week in today’s dollars. Her rent, therefore, would be $92.71, food $53, and other expenses $66.22, leaving her with $53 to $66 to spare. In comparison, the current AUSTUDY payment for a single student with no children is $319.50 per week, showing a surprisingly similar level of government support over nearly half a century.

Then And Now

However, while government support has remained impressively consistent — though some would argue too low across the entire period — living costs have skyrocketed. According to recent data, the median weekly rent in Australia is now $601, massively higher than the equivalent of $92.71 in 1977. Even with housemates, it’s nearly impossible to find such low rent in capital cities.

Australia's historic house prices plotted out on a graph
For anyone who needs reminding, here are Australia’s historic house prices plotted out on a graph. Image:

Grocery costs have also surged. The average Australian household spends around $160 per week on groceries, triple the adjusted cost from 1977. This widespread financial pressure extends to education costs as well. From 1974 to 1989, university education was free in Australia. Today, the average HECS-HELP debt is about $26,000, with some students facing debts over $100,000.

The Generational Divide

Unsurprisingly, the video has stoked the flames in discussions about generational financial struggles. Older generations often claim they had it just as hard, if not harder, than today’s weak-willed youth. And yet, the evidence suggests otherwise. The student in 1977 expressed concerns over potentially paying for university, stating, “I’d totally be at the mercy of the Department of Education … I couldn’t do it myself.”

Reactions from viewers on TikTok express understandable indignation, albeit with a welcome sense of humour:

A screenshot of a TikTok comment about historic rents,
A screenshot of a TikTok comment about about the cost of university.

This sentiment resonates deeply with today’s students who face exorbitant living costs and significant educational debts. Many young Australians are vocal about their struggles, with some resorting to extreme measures like skipping meals or “dumpster diving” to make ends meet.

As the debate continues, the video serves as a timely reminder of how financial pressures have shifted dramatically over the decades. While Baby Boomers reminisce about their own past challenges, clips like this make it hard to deny that today’s young Australians are navigating a far more treacherous economic landscape, whether they like it or not.