Living in Sydney, Australia – An Expats Guide

Living in Sydney, Australia – An Expats Guide

Are you thinking of living in Sydney?

Australia is a vast country.

In fact, it is the sixth-largest country in the world by total area!

It has a land mass of approximately 2.97 million square miles, known for its diverse landscapes, including deserts, rainforests, mountains, and coastal areas.

The country comprises six states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.

In addition, there are two territories, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory.

Sydney is located in New South Wales and is arguably the country’s most well-known city.

If you are thinking that Sydney could be the ideal place for you, you are not alone.

Currently, they are receiving record numbers of applicants for permanent residency in Australia, many of whom have set their sights on Sydney.

A dynamic and cosmopolitan city that attracts people from around the world due to its cultural richness, economic opportunities, and stunning natural surroundings.

Choosing to move to Sydney might turn out to be the most fulfilling lifestyle decision you’ve ever made, and here we explore exactly how to do it and what to expect when you get there.

Visit Sydney First

Sydney, Australia

You may wish to visit Sydney before making the move there. Image credit: Unsplash

Opting to relocate to a new country is a momentous decision.

Emigrating entails a significant investment of time, money, patience, and substantial effort.

It would be foolish to embark on the journey without ever having visited Sydney.

There is no better way to get to know an area than an extended stay.

It will give you the opportunity to explore the city practically, its neighbourhoods, schools, and other prudent things that you don’t need to think about when you are in Sydney on holiday.

You will want to ensure that the decision to emigrate to this fabulous city is right for you and your family.

Applying for a 90-day holiday visa known as an eVisitor (subclass 651), allows you to spend up to 3 months in Australia, affording you plenty of time to explore the city and the wider region.

You can find out how to apply for the eVisitor visa here. 

About the City of Sydney

Sydney at Night

Sydney is an iconic city full of character. Image credit: Pixabay

If you have never been to Sydney before, be prepared to be wowed.

The people are lovely, welcoming, and friendly and are commonly referred to as Sydneysiders.

Sydney stands out as one of the world’s most stunning, secure, and liveable cities on the planet.

It has a notably low crime rate allowing residents the freedom to roam through its streets and rely on public transportation to get them to where they need to be without too much concern.

Renowned for its picturesque beaches and delightful climate, Sydney offers an idyllic setting for residents and visitors alike.

Nearby you can explore nature at its best.

Just a hop away and you are amid the beauty of the Blue Mountains, the Royal National Park and of course, there are almost 1300 miles of the most outstanding coastlines in the world to discover.

Away from the natural beauty of the region, the city also provides a swathe of cultural things to do and see such as galleries and museums.

Additionally, it has a nightlife scene that even manages to match New York and London.

Eating out is another incredible experience with restaurants from all countries of the world at your fingertips.

Unsurprisingly, freshly caught seafood is a speciality, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy an ocean feast.

On the contrary, a fish and chip meal in a beachside café is an absolute must.

Meat pies are incredibly popular with the Aussies.

Harry’s Café de Wheels is an iconic pie cart located on Cowper Wharf Road in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

Best pies in town!

This is just a mere snapshot of what you can expect when you live in Sydney, there is so much more to discover, explore and experience when you arrive.

Getting Your Visa

Australian Visa

There are a number of Australian Visas you can apply for. Image credit: Depositphotos

Once you are sure that Sydney is where you want to be, the next stage is getting the correct visa in place.

You may want to work in Sydney or already have landed a job. You might be joining family members already there or attending university for a time.

There are visas to suit each category.

Australia’s permanent immigration policy is renowned for its strictness and operates on a points basis.

The point system is designed to assess the eligibility of individuals seeking to migrate to Australia based on factors such as age, skills, work experience, and English proficiency, along with other relevant criteria.

More details on the point system and how it functions can be found on the ProvinceImmigration wbsite.

There are at least 10 visas to choose from. However, the four most popular visas include:

  • Skilled Migration: This visa is based on your specific skills and qualifications. The General Skilled Migration (GSM) program encompasses visas like the skilled independent visa (subclass 189) and skilled nominated visa (subclass 190).
  • Employer Sponsorship: If you are lucky enough to have secured employment with an Australian employer you will likely qualify for a sponsored work visa. Skilled workers can be sponsored through programs such as the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) or the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186).
  • Family Reunion: Joining family members already residing in Sydney is another option. There are partner visas, parent visas and several other family-related options.
  • Student Visa: Studying abroad is a fantastic experience. There are six universities based in Sydney, it is a popular destination for international students. All you need to do is enrol on a registered course and meet the eligibility criteria for the visa. There is some more information on the NSW Government website.

Visit the Australian Government website for details regarding other visas you may qualify for.

Use an Immigration Agent

It is by no means obligatory to use an agent to obtain your visa but there are several reasons why it is the best way forward.

They play an important role in the Australian immigration process.

Not only are they armed with the latest information about immigration law, but they will also help guide you through the complicated application requirements thereby giving you the best shot at getting that coveted permanent visa.

Not all agents are created equal! Do your homework before you appoint an agent.

Check the Australian Government’s OMARA Register when you are searching for a reputable company.

The OMARA website page has some very informative information regarding the credentials of prospective agents.

When you have found an agent you like, look for reviews and ratings from previous clients to gauge their reputation.

Here are several reputable agents you might like to investigate:

An agent will provide you with the peace of mind that they will find the best possible migration pathway for you.

The complexities of navigating the immigration system need not cause you a huge headache after all!

How to Find Work in Sydney

Working in Sydney

You should consult the Skilled Occupation List when looking for work in Sydney. Image credit: Pexels

Getting a job in the city is not as hard as you may think.

Sydney enjoys a robust economy, with significant contributions from finance, technology, tourism, education, and the creative industries, providing plenty of job opportunities.

Your first port of call should be searching the “Skilled Occupation List”, it is the best way to find out if your particular skill set is in short supply in Sydney and therefore in demand.

Those with in-demand skills will be awarded extra vital points.

Update your CV. Tailor your CV to the Australian job market. Highlighting your relevant skills, qualifications, and work experience. (A migration agent will help you with this).

Ensure that your foreign qualifications are recognised in Australia. You may need to get your qualifications assessed by relevant authorities.

Search some of Australia’s on-line recruitment agencies.

Adecco is a good choice.

Job hunting can be a challenging process at home let alone in a different country. Stay focused and persistent.

Good luck!

Weather in Sydney

Manly Beach, Sydney

Manly Beach in summer. Image credit: Unsplash

Because of the city’s geographical location being in the southeast of the country, Sydney enjoys a mild climate throughout the year.

There are four seasons, but they are not as extreme as we have in the UK, and they are pretty much the exact opposite to our seasons.

Summer (December to February): Summer in Sydney is warm and can be hot, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.

This is the peak tourist season, and many outdoor events and festivals take place during this time.

Autumn (March to May): Autumn is characterised by mild temperatures, ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.

The weather is generally pleasant, and it’s a popular time for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Winter (June to August): Winter in Sydney is cool, with temperatures ranging from 8 to 18 degrees Celsius.

While it can get chilly, winters are relatively mild compared to many other parts of the world.

Spring (September to November): Spring brings a gradual warming of temperatures, ranging from 12 to 22 degrees Celsius.

It is a lovely time with blooming flowers and increasing daylight.

The Unbeatable Australian Lifestyle

There is one word that applies to Australians whether they hail from Sydney in the south or Darwin in the north or anywhere else in the country and that is “laidback” with a casual attitude to life.

You will hear the mantra “no worries” a lot.

The lifestyle is relaxed and easy. While there is a class system, generally it doesn’t matter where you are from as long as you work hard, are open and friendly.

It goes without saying that most Australians enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle, along with plenty of entertainment outside via the obligatory BBQ or “barbie”.

Sport and nature are huge.

Given the incredible natural wonders of the region, Sydneysiders can’t wait to get out into the wide-open landscapes that living in Sydney provides.

Cycling, hiking, swimming, surfing, or just relaxing on a beautiful beach are all favourite pastimes everyone enjoys.

When it comes to sports, there is nothing Sydneysiders love more than Australian Football, cricket, soccer, rugby, and tennis.

Heated debates are often held around the BBQ after a big game.

Even the dress code is casual. Flip flops (or thongs) as they are known, shorts and a T-shirt is all you need.

No airs and graces are necessary in Australia, everyone, even the boss is often referred to as “mate”.

Incredible Attractions

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House. Image credit: Pixabay

You will be eager to get out and explore the many iconic landmarks that combined make Sydney such a popular place to visit or live.

Here is a list of some of the most notable things to see and do when you have spare time on your hands:

Sydney Opera House: A multi-venue performing arts centre that has weirdly become more known for its looks than anything else. Instantly recognisable by its sail-like architecture, or as many refer to it, an armadillo. It is certainly one of the most visited attractions in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Bridge: This landmark is an engineering marvel. Whether you choose to climb it, walk across it or sail under it, it is an amazing sight. More than just an iron bridge, it holds significant cultural and symbolic value for locals. It represents engineering achievement, connects the northern and southern parts of Sydney, and is a symbol of national pride.

Darling Harbour: Set alongside the busy waterfront area, the harbour is home to several attractions. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, and the Australian National Maritime Museum are all here. Plus, a huge selection of renowned restaurants and shops.

Sydney Tower Eye: The tower has an observation deck that provides panoramic views of the city. You can book s Skywalk if you dare. A 90-minute walk that takes you outside the main deck, on a clear day you can see as far as 50 miles. This is not for the faint-hearted.

There are plenty more things to do when you are exploring the city here is a list of 30 of the most popular attractions in Sydney.

Sydney’s Best Beaches

Bondi Beach, Sydney

Bondi Beach is an iconic spot in Sydney. Image credit: Unsplash

You don’t have to travel far at all to find a beach that is right out of a travel magazine.

White sand, clear waters and very often the opportunity to spot whales, dolphins and invariably the odd shark or two!

Bondi Beach: We have got to start with Bondi Beach. A globally renowned location. Known for its golden sands, excellent surf, and vibrant atmosphere. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a popular activity offering breathtaking views.

Manly Beach: It provides a relaxed seaside setting with a wide range of water activities and oceanfront dining. Getting to the beach is via the local Circular Quay ferry.

Freshwater Beach: This beach has a relaxed vibe and is less crowded than some of the more well-known ones. Situated near Manly, Freshwater Beach is famous for being the birthplace of surfing in Australia.

Coogee Beach: A great beach with calm surf and is family-friendly offering plenty of opportunities to play and sunbathe. The promenade area also has restored historic buildings and nurtured parklands to explore.

Tamarama Beach: Alternatively known as “Glamarama,” it is a quiet location with strong surf and like Freshwater, it offers visitors a quieter alternative. It also forms part of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.

These are not the only beaches situated close to Sydney, but all have one thing in common and that is they are all stunning in their own particular ways.

Cost of Living in Sydney

Cost of living in Sydney

Cost of living in Sydney. Image credit: Depositphotos

A key component of anyone’s emigration journey is going to be affordability.

Unfortunately, Sydney is one of the most expensive cities to live in Australia.

However, similar to London many employers pay higher wages to compensate.

It is very difficult to make direct comparisons between the UK and Australia because you will find that some things cost more in the UK than Sydney and vice versa, which does even the playing field somewhat.

As a guide, we have used to compare the cost of living between the two biggest cities in each country, Sydney, and London.

Even though Sydney is expensive in Australian terms, the good news is that overall, you could save as much as 17% living in Sydney.

Here we compare the average cost of common expenditure items between the two cities:

  • Utilities for a family of four in the London £210 – Sydney £144
  • A mid-range 3-course meal in London £152 – Sydney £125
  • Cappuccino Coffee regular size London £6.78 – Sydney £4.87
  • Milk per litre in London £1.32 – Sydney £1.21
  • 12 regular sized eggs £3.50 in London – £3.06 in Sydney
  • Local Cheese per kilo £14.43 in London £19.27 in Sydney
  • Potatoes per kilo in London £202 – in Sydney £1.21
  • Cigarettes per 20 in London £15.00 in Sydney £22.42
  • Monthly bus pass in London £200 – in Sydney £118
  • Fuel per litre in London £1.50 in Sydney £1.08

Once you arrive and settle in, you will find that just like in the UK, there are up-market grocery stores and cheaper options available so you can easily tailor your shop according to your budget.

Renting a Home in Sydney

Many ex-pats either choose to or have no choice but to rent a home when they first arrive.

There is a positive to this. It does afford you time to experience several locations before you find one that you love.

Every country has different rules and regulations when it comes to renting and making a mistake could prove expensive.

Make sure you take the time to investigate how to rent a home in Sydney.

You may want to check out this informative guide before attempting to commit financially.

Like all major cities, renting in Sydney can be costly and very often rentals are hard to come by with demand outstripping supply.

There has been a notable shift in recent years in favour of renting versus purchasing a home, particularly with younger people.

The same rule applies to all locations, rent will be less expensive the further out of the city you choose to reside.

Avoiding the most desirable neighbourhoods of Sydney and searching on the outskirts of the city could potentially save you a fortune.

Numbeo, the cost-of-living comparison website states that the cost to rent a family-sized three-bed home in the centre of Sydney per month is currently $6571 (£3459).

A similar property further outside the city drops to $4077 (£2146), a big saving of £1313 not an insignificant amount.

Sydney’s Local Housing Market

Houses in Sydney

Sydney’s housing market is very competitive. Image credit: Depositphotos

Buying a home abroad is a huge commitment and not just financially.

It can be even more stressful than normal as you navigate a different set of legal and regulatory frameworks.

It is therefore imperative that you thoroughly research the Australian house purchase system and that you seek professional advice.

Working with local real estate professionals and legal advisors can provide valuable insights and guidance when navigating the complexities of international real estate transactions.

Here is a useful step-by-step guide to buying a home in Australia.

Once you are sure you understand the purchase process, you can begin your search for a new home.

The local market is extremely competitive in Sydney. As with rentals, demand far outstrips supply currently.

The average cost of a home in London, according to Statista stands at £536,000. (August 2023).

While the average cost of a home in Sydney is now $1,057,000 (£556,404).

Yet again, it is possible to buy a home for much less than Sydney’s average if you expand your property search outside of the city limits.

To get an idea as to how far your money will stretch in and around Sydney here are the two most popular estate agent websites in the region:

Sought-after Neighbourhoods in Sydney

Property values in Sydney over the long term are generally profitable and regarded as a low risk, buying in a good area will ensure you get a good return on your investment.

It is also essential to consider factors such as proximity to work, schools, public transport, and personal lifestyle when choosing a neighbourhood.

Here are some of the more popular locations where you may want to start your search:

Balmain: Sitting alongside the harbour, Balmain is a family-friendly area with a strong sense of community. It has a range of great cafes, restaurants, and bars when you want a night out but don’t want to travel into the city centre.

Paddington: Known for its charming Victorian terraces, Paddington is a trendy and vibrant suburb. It offers a mix of boutique shops, cafes, and easy access to the city.

Manly: A popular coastal neighbourhood that is attractive to young buyers as well as families due to its relaxed and trendy beachside vibe.

Chatswood: 7 miles north of Sydney, with excellent public transportation Chatswood has become a commercial and retail hub and offers a good range of dining options too.

Double Bay: This upmarket suburb is well known in the area for its beautiful harbourside setting and pricey luxurious homes.

Fairfield: Situated in the southwestern suburbs, Fairfield provides a mix of housing types and is often considered more budget-friendly.

Schooling Options in Sydney

Sydney Schools

Sydney is home to some excellent schools. Image credit: Pixabay

Sydney like most of Australia has a very good solid educational system rivalling that of the UK.

From kindergarten to university, you will find most schools perform well.

Parents have access to a diverse array of high-performing schools including private education, religiously affiliated schools, international schools, and schools for children with learning difficulties.

The NSW Education Standards Authority is responsible for administering education in Sydney.

It is important to note that the educational system differs from the UK.

Those relocating with children can find out how it works by visiting the Australian Government’s “Study Australia” page.

Getting your child enrolled in a school can pose a challenge, so planning well ahead will be crucial.

The Good Schools Guide have put together a list of the best schools in and around the city.

Healthcare in Sydney

Healthcare Sydney

There are plenty of good healthcare options in Sydney. Image credit: Pexels

It is a relief for expats to discover that the healthcare in general across Australia is of excellent quality.

Medicare is Australia’s publicly funded universal healthcare system, providing access to a range of medical services at little to no cost for Australian citizens.

Similar to the NHS, it ensures that individuals have access to essential medical services regardless of their financial situation.

Medicare is funded by a 2% income tax and government levy, with higher-income households paying more money to the system.

However, many expats have access to private healthcare as part of a work contract.

Others opt to pay for private care themselves, in fact over half of residents in Sydney opt for private health cover.

Sydney has a mix of public and private healthcare options, ensuring that residents have access to a broad range of medical services.

Travelling by Public Transport

The city’s comprehensive well-developed public transport system ensures that you can get from A to B with the minimum of fuss.

Whether you travel by train, bus, or ferry services are clean, timely and reasonably priced.

Rail services operate from the city’s central business district and out to various suburbs and the wider region making your commute to work or a night out in Sydney very efficient.

Bus services are very comprehensive and reach practically all areas of Sydney.

It is a very flexible and popular way to travel.

Ferries are a unique way to get around, Sydney’s iconic harbour is serviced by a network of ferries, providing scenic and efficient transport options to locations such as Manly, Taronga Zoo, and Parramatta.

You can purchase an Opal Card. Similar to London’s Oyster Card, it is an integrated smart card system that allows seamless travel across different modes of public transport.

The Opal Card is the cheapest and most comprehensive way to get around the city.

Wherever you want to be in Sydney, getting there by public transport makes light work of your journey.

Driving in Sydney

Driving in Sydney

You will need to apply for an Australian Driving license within three months of moving to Sydney. Image credit: Unsplash

You can use your UK driver’s license in Sydney for an indefinite period of time, as long as it is current and not suspended or cancelled.

However, if your visa status changes to permanent, you will need to apply for an Australian driving licence within three months of the change.

Converting your license is a relatively straightforward process, for a “how-to guide” click here.

Driving is a little more challenging, particularly so for those new to the city. It will take time to get to grips with some of the traffic rules and regulations.

There is an extensive road network in and around Sydney, including well-maintained highways and arterial roads, providing accessibility to various parts of the city and its outskirts.

Typically, finding a parking spot is difficult at times and can prove expensive.

Additionally, Sydney has several toll roads, and the cost of using these roads can add up. It’s important to be aware of toll charges and payment methods.

Many residents choose a combination of driving and public transport based on their needs and the specific circumstances of their journeys.

You can find out more about driving as an expat in Sydney here.

A New Life in Sydney

So many people dream about starting a new life in warmer climates along with a healthier lifestyle and wide-open spaces.

Taking the leap to begin a life in an entirely new part of the world is a courageous step that many hesitate to take.

Doing something about it is not always an easy decision because Australia is far from home and family ties are a big pull.

However, living in a new country is an exciting adventure.

Discovering new cuisines, a different lifestyle and making new friends is an experience that few regret doing.

Beyond the personal enrichment living in Sydney offers, the experience of living and working abroad is a valuable asset for your professional journey too. International experience on your CV is often viewed favourably by prospective employers.

Though moving to the other side of the world is a massive step, it need not be forever, and you will have an endless stream of “long-term” house guests eager to come and share time with you in your new home in Sydney.

Are You Thinking of Living in Sydney?

WACO Truck

White & Company Truck

If you’re ready to embark on the challenge of relocating to Sydney, there’s a lot to organise.

An important aspect will be the practicalities of transporting your personal belongings to Australia.

While you manage all the other arrangements, choosing White & Company as your international removal company can help alleviate the stress of shipping your belongings.

As a leading international removals firm, we have established ourselves as the preferred choice for relocations worldwide.

We have already successfully moved hundreds of expat families from the UK to Sydney since our business was established over 150 years ago.

We understand the intricacies of international moves and strive to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible for our valued clients.

To learn more about how we can help kickstart your dream move feel free to give us a call to discuss our removals to Australia services.

Alternatively, you can fill out a quick quote form or engage with our chatbot, and we will be in touch shortly.

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