This 23-Year-Old Barista Went Viral After Breaking Down His Expenses In The US Vs. Australia — Here’s Why He Says “We’re All Being Scammed”

23-Year-Old Compares Cost Of Living In US After Working Abroad

Recently, Jaxton Bloemhard, a 23-year-old barista, moved back to America after working in Australia for a year. After doing the math and comparing his cost of living between the two countries in a TikTok, Jax concluded that “living in America is a scam” — and people have a lot of thoughts.

In the TikTok, which has over two million views, the Ohio native shared that he lived in Sydney, Australia for a year until returning to America around the end of 2023. In the video, Jax says, “I’ve been having such a hard time getting on my feet, and I was so confused why, but now I know: Money does not go as far [in America], and we’re being scammed.”

To prove his point, Jax breaks down his cost of living in America versus living abroad. For total transparency, the 23-year-old detailed his weekly expenses, which included rent, groceries, insurance, utilities, transportation, and more.

On the flip side, Jax does the math for his weekly expenses while living in Ohio. As he says in the video, “This is where things take a depressing turn.” Considering he did not need a car in Australia, Jax deducted his car payment to keep the comparison fair. It should also be noted that he lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Australia, which would have a rent cost similar to that of a comparable apartment in Columbus, Ohio.

After combining those expenses and subtracting car-related costs, Jax’s total weekly spending while living in Ohio came out to $565 — $205 more than what he was spending in Australia.

“And then, it gets crazier,” Jax continues in the TikTok. Let’s talk about wages.” Working as a barista in Australia, Jax made $32 AUD an hour, which he states is a “normal” wage — the equivalent to around an hourly wage of $21 in America. Because he received little tips, they were not included in the math. “That is my starting rate on a weekday,” Jax says. On weekends, I made more than that; on public holidays, I made double.”

According to Jax, he only worked an average of 17.15 hours, which was enough to cover his baseline expenses. “That means all of the hours I worked — and I worked a lot of hours in Australia — went to traveling, shopping, drinking and partying, and, like, having fun and doing things that made me feel alive,” he says in the TikTok.

Meanwhile, back in America, Jax says he made $15 an hour as a barista, not including tips. When doing the math, he chose to go on the “high end” of the pay spectrum and included $18 an hour, including tips. Even so, as Jax points out, you make less as a barista in the US than in Australia — while working more hours. Compared to working a weekly average of 17.15 hours in Australia, Jax worked a weekly average of 31.38 hours in Ohio to cover expenses without including the car payments.

He says in the video, “It takes 31.38 hours of work a week just to live. That’s before you get to savings, before you start traveling, before you go to restaurants […] The comparison of the two makes me sick to my stomach.”

After detailing his experiences living in the US and Australia, Jax received more than 5,000 comments from people shocked by the comparison. One user even said, “You made more in Australia than I make in the US with a masters-required job that sucks my soul away [,] and I work 65+ hours a week.”

Other TikTok users took to the comments to discuss their own experiences living in different countries, with one person saying, “My friend moved to Germany[,] [and] she looks like her quality of life has improved DRAMATICALLY.”

Jax told BuzzFeed that he left Australia after his working holiday visa expired. Rather than renewing it, he returned home to spend time with his family and friends. However, from his experience, he concluded the quality of life is better in Australia. Despite working a job that “didn’t require a degree,” Jax felt he and his friends always had more than they needed. “We were quick to buy a pair of shoes we liked or book a ticket to a new country,” Jax said. “With the money I saved working in Australia, I was able to travel for three months: first, down the east coast of Australia, then off to Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.”

Jax and his friends weren’t the only ones living life to the fullest in Australia, either. He told BuzzFeed that he met many Australian peers who would travel often, had more financial freedom, and had a better work-life balance than his friends in the States. He said, “It made me feel like living in America was a scam thinking about my friends back home who were just scraping by — lacking extra income for savings or travel.” And Jax’s comparison in his TikTok is a testament to that statement.

“There are so many things I loved about living in Australia,” Jax told BuzzFeed. “And even though I adore America and am proud of where I’m from, I hope we can learn a thing or two from our Aussie friends down under.”

If you’re American, have you ever lived in a different country and noticed a significant difference in the cost of living? If you’ve moved to America, what differences have you noticed? Is America a “scam?” Let me know in the comments, or you can anonymously share your story using this form.

For more content from Jax, you can follow him on TikTok.