A tetrad-based procedure is presented for solving Einstein’s field equations for spherically symmetric systems; this approach was first discussed by Lasenby, Doran & Gull in the language of geometric algebra. The method is used to derive metrics describing a point mass in a spatially flat, open and closed expanding universe, respectively. In the spatially flat case, a simple coordinate transformation relates the metric to the corresponding one derived by McVittie. Nonetheless, our use of non-comoving (‘physical’) coordinates greatly facilitates physical interpretation. For the open and closed universes, our metrics describe different space–times to the corresponding McVittie metrics and we believe the latter to be incorrect. In the closed case, our metric possesses an image mass at the antipodal point of the universe. We calculate the geodesic equations for the spatially flat metric and interpret them. For radial motion in the Newtonian limit, the force acting on a test particle consists of the usual 1/r2 inwards component due to the central mass and a cosmological component proportional to r that is directed outwards (inwards) when the expansion of the universe is accelerating (decelerating). For the standard Λ cold dark matter concordance cosmology, the cosmological force reverses direction at about z≈ 0.67. We also derive an invariant fully general relativistic expression, valid for arbitrary spherically symmetric systems, for the force required to hold a test particle at rest relative to the central point mass.