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summerain posted 8/11/2013 01:27 AM

So I am from Australia and I generally really love it here. One thing that would make it better is.... Walmart.

Then my friend who brought a book about Walmart and recently went to America said it was one of the most evil corporations. That it shuts down all of the mum and dad owners and sucks the life out of America.

Wow was my thought

But I was thinking about it and there are some aspects that I do love about America just from reading this website and I was hoping to go there maybe end of 2015. From what my friend said though is that the social security sucks and people are overly enthusiastic when going to cafes etc because they only get paid around $2.50 an hour, because they are reliant on tips.

Even then it only goes up to $8-9 an hour then onwards. I would get more on our social security for doing nothing. That is our min wage for 15 year olds. This greatly worries me. I asked my friend if she thought the cost of living was lower in the America and she thought it was... slightly.

So this is my dilemma, I love my friend dearly but I thought maybe she's exaggerating? This is really curious to me because I would feel awkward coming to America know that my waitress was struggling to survive because she doesn't get paid enough.

This is not an attack on America btw, like I said the information I received seemed like a very different life to Australia. Besides there are so many aspects of America that sounds amazing.

Oh yeah and does Walmart ship overseas? haha

Amazonia posted 8/11/2013 07:43 AM

(Without getting into politics here - please realize this can be an extremely heated topic in the States):
Minimum wage in America varies by state. In most states, it is below what is considered general standard of living though.

Yes, service staff like waiters, bartenders, hostesses, etc. make less than minimum wage (there is a separate minimum wage set for those types of jobs) and do rely on tips. Tipping also varies regionally, but the norms tend to fall from 15-20% for decent service. Waiting tables can actually be quite lucrative if you work at an upscale restaurant where a lot of alcohol is served. We (Americans) also tip for services like spa or beauty services, hair cuts, nail appointments, massage, waxing, etc.; baristas and ice cream shops usually have tip jars; etc. America is a very tip friendly culture.

Walmart is actually an international corporation. I believe they have more stores outside the US than in! When I was living in Asia, Walmart was a good place to find certain western style goods and products we couldn't find anywhere else, but was quite expensive. Here in America it's generally considered inexpensive, and often trashy. There are other stores that have a very similar model, but are considered nicer, like Target (which now includes groceries in more and more of their stores) or Meijer (a family owned superstore chain in the Midwest). These stores tend to be cleaner and have a higher class clientele than Walmart, but without significant changes to the pricing.

America has a growing gap between socioeconomic classes, which many would argue is driven in part by things like wage disparity, like you mentioned with the minimum wages. This can directly affect things like education, if a parent is working 2 full time jobs to make ends meet, and can't be involved with their child's education. Education is also largely privatized in America (is it in Australia?) or run through city governments, so there's a lot of inconsistency in the level of education received, with it being common to see better education where the local community can pour more money into the local schools. It kind of creates a self perpetuating cycle where families that struggle continue to do so for generations - but those families aren't a picture of all of Americans, because we have a large middle and upper class as well.

Hopefully that helps as an objective overview, and this post won't incite angry political debates.

jrc1963 posted 8/11/2013 09:02 AM

Wages for tipped employes

Federal Minimum Wage/States Minimum Wage

Here are a couple of websites that show minimum wage and minimum wage for tipped employees.

Most of the restaurants/cafe's I frequent don't have "tipped" employees because they are basically counter-service or fast food.

When I do visit an establishment where the wait staff relies on tips, I tend to give a minimum of 18%.

I'm not sure what your friend meant by

overly enthusiastic

Or how that would effect her/your impression of the establishment, so I can't speak to that aspect.

I think she has a valid point when she says Walmart tends to run out the "mom and pop" shops. Being a cheap, onestop shop kinda place. Although unless I'm really desperate I tend to stay away from Walmart, as do a lot of people I know.

Having no idea what your cost of living and taxes are like in Australia I can't say if we're any less expensive.

I do know that living in Florida I have a very low tax burden. Florida has no state income tax. I also don't have a local city tax (other cities might). I pay property tax on my house, but because of the Homestead Exemption I pay about 1/2 of the homes assessed value.

I'm a teacher which isn't that high paying a field in Florida as it can be in other places so my Federal Income Tax bracket is pretty low also.

We pay into Medicare and Social Security - but that doesn't take too much out of my check. However, I won't get too much back either so I have to plan for my own retirement. At this rate I'll have to work until I drop dead!

PM me if you'd like any more specific information.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 8/11/2013 09:04 AM

Am a said it perfectly

Deeply Scared posted 8/11/2013 09:12 AM

Our Walmart here is filthy, unorganized and filled with trashy people. Our neighbor (who isn't!) shops there every day...literally, every day.

She brings home crap. Shit made in China for a nickel and then she's surprised when it breaks a month later

I don't like Walmart so I shop at Target. Much better quality of merchandise and it's a very clean store with nice music piped through

As for service related jobs...Amazonia said it perfectly. I know that MH and myself along with all our friends are very generous tippers. I think overall America is like that...we value our servers

[This message edited by SI Staff at 9:12 AM, August 11th (Sunday)]

Bobbi_sue posted 8/11/2013 09:20 AM

asked my friend if she thought the cost of living was lower in the America and she thought it was... slightly.
Cost of living varies a lot in the USA.

My H and I went to Australia in 2009. We were shocked to hear how high the min. wage was, but then even more shocked to see how much stuff costs there. We came away thinking that $8/00 hr goes further here than $15/hr there, at least in our area, that is the case.

Also, some people hate Walmart. I think it is fine for what it is. It is the only store we have in our town where we can most of what we need in one stop. It came in our town 11 years ago. Not one other retail store including the two other grocery stories has gone out of business in that time, and if anything, Wally world brings our town more business because people from the rural surrounding areas come to our town when they would not bother before, eating in our restaurants and checking out some of the other businesses. I'm sure the experience could be very different in another town.

People say it is horrible place to work. My step-DD and her H met there, while they were employees, and later got married. They wanted Walmart themed everything. It was cute.

Just yesterday, I talked with the second in command manager at our local Walmart. My H has known her and her H forever and went to school with them. She says she loves her job, and they are fair to her and the benefits and pay are nice. How often do we hear that? On TV it is all the opposite but I think people might get a different picture if they went around talking to the real individuals involved (not the just the ones who got fired, or whatever, either).

homewrecked2011 posted 8/11/2013 09:39 AM

Depends on where in America you want to live. If you can afford it, pick out 6 places and spend a week in each place, then return to Australia and then decide.

In my area of South Carolina, a 3 bedroom home is 80,000 and we make about 10-15 dollars an hour. Most people drive older cars and have land.

My bro lives in Ft Lauderdale Fl and his condo was 500,000 for 2 bedrooms, but he earns a TON of money..

And this is NOT polically charged, just as a reference: If you become a citizen, our new health care insurance is mandatory (at this time) and no one knows what the cost will be per month....

Nature_Girl posted 8/11/2013 09:59 AM

I won't shop at Walmart. I actively protest when a Walmart is proposed for being built around here. I think Walmart is bad for America and global economics.

Most people I know who work in the restaurant industry struggle to make ends meet.

travels posted 8/11/2013 10:55 AM

I'm not a Walmart fan. It has run small businesses out of business in my area. Plus all the employees always look miserable, again in my area.

I agree with picking different areas you think you would like to live and visit them. There are so many different costs of living expenses depending on the area you choose. I've found taxes differ greatly depending on location.

Good luck!

[This message edited by travels at 10:55 AM, August 11th (Sunday)]

Sad in AZ posted 8/11/2013 11:56 AM

Yes Walmart's policies are deplorable, but many people can't afford to shop elsewhere and many people are happy (I guess that's a relative term) to have jobs there. Service staff and cooks make very low wages, but they either choose to work at restaurants or can't find jobs elsewhere. I usually tip 20% or even more if I receive good service.

You can vist or not; that's up to you. I'd love to vist OZ someday, and I won't let the umpteen species of deadly animals deter me. I say this with tongue partly in cheek; the X refused to consider visiting OZ because of the many animals that could kill you

Mama_of_3_Kids posted 8/11/2013 12:20 PM

Honestly, I dislike Walmart with every part of my being. Walmart DID drive out many mom and pop stores, as well as other (less known) retail stores in my town, when they came in, in early 2000. I actually lost my job as a result of Walmart coming in (hence part of the dislike for them). I would much prefer to go to a Target or Meijer, over Walmart (better quality, similar prices).

As far as minimum wage, tipping, etc. I think many American's tip at least 15% (if not more). Do3K and I tip a MINIMUM of 15-20% when we go out; if it's somewhere upscale and the server does a decent job, we've been known to tip much more than that. It is difficult to live on minimum wage and some families do have to work more than one job to make ends meet. We live in a farming community; houses in this area go for approx $80,000 for a 3bed/2bath home, in town. It's kind of a toss up on vehicles (some drive new vehicles and others drive older models). We have a couple of distribution centers, for stores, in the area and that has helped our economy/jobs to stay here.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 8/11/2013 12:35 PM

The fed govt sets a minimum minimum wage. The states can then choose to increase it.

Often, even if the states increase it, a person can work full time and still not be above the poverty level. One of the saddest stats of our society, IMO.

Most retail/service jobs are PT and at minimum wage - a fact not limited to Walmart.

I live between 2 Walmarts. The closest one in nearer the city, is dark, dirty, bleh. The other is in a nicer suburb, bright, clean, pleasant. Location. Location. Location.

Lionne posted 8/11/2013 17:32 PM

Walmart has cause the closing of several smaller grocery stores here, and their policy of hiring only part time employees and therefore not paying for healthcare has added to that issue. I also find the quality to be lacking and prefer Target-whose quality has also suffered, btw.

My fWH spend 5 years in OZ, his mother is a native. Loved it, found taxes high but services, health care, public transportation, etc, exceptional. He was a single guy, no responsibilities, just had tons of fun. DS#1 just spent 6 weeks there and would love to go back.

Servers are paid ~$2.50 an hour and depend on tips. I tip well.

summerain posted 8/11/2013 18:54 PM

Scaredy kat..... Wow I couldn't even imagine that my mouth literally dropped open!

Sad in AZ: oh yes we do have dangerous animals... Well technically we do, but hand on heart I don't see them often. I did live in an intercity suburb that had a lot of rainforest and we did occasionally get snakes.

My cat though she was amazing, she would kill the snakes. Also it's really dependant on where you live for koalas and kangaroos.
Amazonia: really interesting thankyou! My friend said when she went to restaurants she felt she was being asked every 5 mins if she was 'ok'. I'm not sure if she was exaggerating but in Australia that would really piss people off.

Wow, this is so interesting! Yes the healthcare is America is an aspect that I've found really surprising! Here it is seen as just a tax you pay, to ensure everyone has it. So we dont need a job to have healthcare. Except for dental and physio (which astronomically expensive here)

I also heard cops can be really mean, is that true?! That they can pull you over an start screaming at you! i also saw an american cop show and was horrified! Our cops here are really laid back, (sometimes to the public's detriment).

Even after reading all your responses, some which really shocked me. I think I would still love to have a visit at least! I think it is such a different culture to what we have in Australia. Also the entertainment is apparently so much better than Australia! We don't seem to be much of a cultural society so ballet etc, whilst its possible, it would be nowhere as good as America.

What I've found really interesting is the cost of houses !!!

80,000! Jeez Louise! Here I live in a inner city area and it's 600,000 min.

All considering I could save a lot of money here, watch the exchange rate and buy a house!
That must be why Americans seem to have such nice houses

Yes taxes are very high. For example last year I earnt about $29 an hour. I may only see about $23 -24. But it's all if you do your tax returns right. (Which many people, including me are too lazy to do)

But another thing I've always wondered, in America do you not have a deferred payment system for uni students? Is it true that you have to take out a bank loan?

We only have one university that doesn't do deffered payments and the isn't really that much of a line cueing up to go to it.

This is so fascinating! Such a different culture to ours! As apparently it's beautiful there, architecturally wise and amazing promotions for tv shows, and a huge sports culture. The biggest thing here, personally is the football. Haha!

But yes if any of you are thinking of coming to Australia. We don't generally tip . I've seen Americans do that and I feel bad for them, the food etc takes the 'tip' aka their wage into account!

Wow thankyou so much for your responses. It's amazing how different life is in different countries, I can't wait to go there in person!

[This message edited by lauren123 at 6:58 PM, August 11th (Sunday)]

musiclovingmom posted 8/11/2013 19:05 PM

Homes in my area start at about $150,000 (50+ yrs old and bought after being repossessed). We are not a city and our minimum wage is $7.25/hour. $25/hr is considered good money here. I worked as a teacher for $23.80/hr. I also worked as a waitress for $2.35/hr. We live close to a reservation and culturally many traditional people are opposed to tipping. I could expect to get no tip from at least 1/3 of my tables on any given night. Most people in my area tip a standard dollar amount ($2-$5 is the norm).
Come, visit, see how the culture is different from your own and enjoy some of the rather unique and beautiful things America has to offer. Idk if I would just up and move, but I am admittedly resistant to change.

Amazonia posted 8/11/2013 20:20 PM

One bedroom condos where I live (downtown DC) start around $300,000. Home prices are very regional in the States.

University is indeed paid upfront and is growing at an unbelievable rate. Several economists I follow are predicting that education will be the next bubble to burst in the faltering American economy. Our economy relies very heavily on the use of credit. My opinion is that this is why it's so shaky, but that's just an uneducated personal opinion. Educational loans are available through private banks and in limited amounts through the government. The government loans have limited interest rates.

I'm a single individual and very roughly 25% of my paycheck goes to taxes (state and federal). It varies a lot for married and those with kids, as well as different tax brackets based on how much you earn.

Law enforcement attitudes tend to vary by city/area as well. You have to remember that America is a pretty big country with very distinct subcultures in different parts of the country. A lot of the generalizations and media stereotypes will be true for one area but not everywhere. In my experience, police in bigger cities with higher crime rates have a more hardened attitude, which is understandable considering what they encounter on a daily basis.

bluelady posted 8/11/2013 20:29 PM

There are other stores that have a very similar model, but are considered nicer, like Target

Really??? Here in Canada, we have had Walmart for years. Target just recently opened their doors. I have yet to go to a Target here in Canada.

Now, a few years back, a few friends and I went to the States for a weekend away. They were super pumped about being able to go to Target. I honestly thought it would be this magical place - boy was I wrong. I did not see the appeal. It reminded me a lot of Zellers (who, incidentally, were recently bought out by Target, hence Target's move north), which I find to have had cheaper quality merchandise than Walmart. To be fair, I've never been inside an American Walmart, so maybe they're different?

Nature_Girl posted 8/11/2013 20:33 PM

I just saw something about the federal minimum wage for employees who make tips is under $3.00 an hour. That's outrageous.

Lionne posted 8/11/2013 21:01 PM

Homes in my area are about $275K for a large 4 bedroom 2.5 bath with a fair sized lot. Values are depressed. We are 20 minutes from a major city. Teachers are paid $50k starting, engineers and nurses ~$65K. Your return of $23 on $29 is better than most Americans I know! I pay 28% I think, having no deductions, and I do my taxes properly, lol. My healthcare is a perk of my employment, but too many people don't have it. That is about to change.

I have never had anything but positive experiences with police, I wouldn't believe TV...there are always bad apples.

Come visit! We've had Aussies come visit a lot, relatives mostly from the Melbourne area. We usually adapt to the accent within days!

Amazonia posted 8/11/2013 21:03 PM

bluelady, every time I go to walmart in America, I feel like I should get a hepatitis shot afterwards. Are they like that in Canada?

ETA: Walmart in Asia did not give me hepatitis feelings. It made me miss America.

[This message edited by Amazonia at 9:04 PM, August 11th (Sunday)]

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