Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Expat Observations: Currency

One of the fun things when you go to a new country is getting to use the local currency. Unlike the US dollar, the Australian dollar is colorful with each note being a different size. This makes it much easier to find what you are looking for quickly. Australia doesn't have $1 bills or one cent coins - there are $1 and $2 gold coins, and the lowest value coin is the five cent piece (which means things are rounded up or down). Each note features a historical male and female Australian figure on the front and back (with Queen Elizabeth and Parliament House on the $5 note being the exception). In 1996 Australia became the first country in the world to have a complete series of polymer notes.

The value of the Australian dollar relative to the US dollar has fluctuated since the currency was first floated in 1983. The lowest value was 47.75 US cents in 2001, and the highest was $1.108 US dollars in 2011. It was a fantastic time when we were above parity in that 2010-2011 period. I think Australians truly discovered international online shopping then. Unfortunately, we are now back in the doldrums with the current exchange rate at 71 US cents. This means things are not in my favor when I travel home for a visit.

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