Sydney is one of the most internationally recognizable cities in the world.
If the white steel of the Opera House didn’t give you a hint, then the enormous Harbour Bridge should do the trick.
It’s a city surrounded by beautiful beaches, with beautiful weather and, frankly, beautiful people.
It’s no wonder most of us want to be one of them.
Once get over the large amount of creatures who want to eat you for breakfast, you might be wondering how you can make your Australian dream a reality. Well, I’m here to share with you exactly how that can happen, from somebody who actually did.
Australia is as strict with immigration as the US is, which means moving there long-term will either necessitate a job offer, or a partner visa.
If neither is an option and you’re under 30, you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa, which will entitle you to 12 months in the country, this can be extended to 24 months if you choose to do ‘regional work’ for 88 days. For American citizens, this can include anything from farm work to mining to hospitality work within specific zip codes.
Either way, most of those who have their eyes set on Sydney, are likely to have a job on the horizon. Australia has one of the highest minimum wages in the world, which means if you’re there for the experience rather than saving money, you can usually find a decent apartment for prices not much higher than what you’d expect to pay in higher-end US cities.
As with all cities, Sydney is divided into different suburbs, all of which have a lot of different pros and cons to consider. The most popular suburbs for expats include:
The North Shore
If you cross the Harbour Bridge, you’re entering the North Shore. The Upper East Side of Sydney, it comes with its own CBD (Central Business District) named, originally, North Sydney.
The North Shore is home to some of the most affluent areas of the city and also boasts arguably the best beach suburb, Manly.
Expect to see a lot of coffee shops, play parks, and families. The inner-North Shore is one of the most sought after places to live, so prices are high, but with short commutes and views over the harbor, it’s undeniably worth it.
Popular suburbs: Mosman, Kirribilli, Manly, Crows Nest
The Eastern Suburbs
When most people think of Sydney, they think of one place. Bondi beach. The Eastern suburbs is Bondi’s home and is once again extremely popular, but this time with people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Train connections in the East aren’t as good, with buses being the usual way to get around. But what you lack in public transport, you make up for in proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Popular suburbs: Bondi, Coogee, Surry Hills, Paddington
The Inner-West Suburbs
To the west of Sydney is slightly less up-market, and consists of a couple of great suburbs which are extremely popular for those in their twenties and thirties.
Newtown is renowned for its incredible graffiti and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a night out which doesn’t recommend one of its many bars as a starting point.
Being further from the beaches brings rent prices down, but you may find you’ll be paying extra in commuting costs. Luckily, a lot of the Western suburbs can be reached via train or bus, and with a direct connection to Central Station, you can get from A-B swiftly.
Popular suburbs: Newtown, Annandale, Enmore, Leichhardt
Other options you may want to consider would include further West, such as Parramatta, Penrith, or even the Blue Mountains. These areas offer more land than the inner-city homes and also tend to be cities-within-a-city themselves.
Australia may not differ too much in size from America, but their attitude towards public transport is very different. All of the major cities have fantastic train and bus transport options, and in Sydney, this expands into trains and ferries too!
Many people will use public transport over cars because, frankly, it’s way easier and much faster. Commuters often travel from as far as Newcastle into the CBD, which takes half the time if you’re willing to jump on a train.
The city relies on an Opal Card system, which you can get from almost any grocery store or newsagent. You top up the card either manually at a machine, found in every train station, or by the app, and ‘tap’ on and off the transport you use.
The limit is capped at AU$7.50 per day, and on Sundays, the day-limit is $2.40! Meaning you can go anywhere in the city, using any amount of transport, and pay $2.60 all day.
In Australia, most companies pay you fortnightly, which means renting is also on a fortnightly basis rather than monthly.
Sydney is the country’s most expensive city, with prices for a room in a flat-share averaging at $300 per week in the center. The good news is, salaries are much higher on average, and with a minimum wage of $740 per week, it can balance out.
If you’re moving to the city more permanently, and are looking to buy or rent long-term, it’s worth considering whether you’d like to start fresh or move out with your belongings. For most, the touch of feeling at home away from home, means shipping furniture is worth it.
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Australian’s have a life truly like no other. Grills really are a daily occurrence, and most Aussies are born with a surfboard in their hands.
But did you know, Sydney actually does get winter? If you’re arriving during the American summer, it’s worth packing a sweater and jacket, because you’re likely to be in for a shock. Australian homes are built to keep cool air in during their long, hot summers, which means the winters feel very cold.
When you are sunning yourself though, it’s important to top up on suncream – something Australia is very passionate about. Due to a hole in the Ozone layer above Australia, the sun does a lot more damage, and 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they’re 70, so protect yourself!
Much like suncream, another passion project for the Australians is hydration. You’ll find places to fill up your water bottle on a lot of streets and in almost every public park.
They’re also ahead of the save-the-turtles game, and with plastic straws and single-use grocery bags being banned, you can bet a plastic bottle won’t go down too well either. The lifestyle is very adaptable though, and soon you’ll be giving out aluminum bottles to all of your US friends for Christmas!
I moved to Australia with no idea of what to expect and left with it secured firmly as my favorite country in the world. If you’re looking fun sun, sea, sand and a fantastic city, you’ll fall in love with Sydney as quickly as I did.
Don’t forget, if you’re looking to move to Australia, it’s important to find a reliable international mover with no-hidden-fees to take you through the paces of emigrating.