Ideal for those making the move down under.
If you come from a land down under, firstly, thanks, now we’ve got that song stuck in our head all day. But more importantly, there’s nothing for you here. Move on. Because this one’s for those who are moving in.
Hmmm. There have certainly been better segues into an article, but here we are. And it’s to Australia we’re moving, or specifically, Sydney. While you may have heard rumours about the high cost of living, the chock-a-block traffic, and the curiously early closing hours, we’re sure you’re also aware that this is one of the most beautiful, welcoming cities in the world. Get the basics right, don’t fall into the tourist traps, and you’ll settle in just fine. Here are 6 essential tips if you’re moving to Sydney, IDEAL for those making the move down under.
GETTING AROUND SYDNEY
Here’s the thing about Australia; it’s a fantastic driving country, full of some of the most beautiful stretches of road around. In fact, a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney ranks as pretty much the best in the world.
Here’s the other thing; Sydney most certainly isn’t fantastic for driving. The traffic is terrible, with the average commute lasting 71 minutes in the city. To make things even less hospitable for cars, most inner city flats don’t have parking. If your heart is set on driving here, there are certainly inconveniences.
On the flipside, public transport is varied, wide ranging and wide reaching to cater for this. With ferries running directly to Circular Quay and stopping off at harbourside attractions and Sydney’s suburbs, the water represents the best way of getting around if you’re keen on seeing some sights and you’re not in a rush.
Otherwise, regular buses and trains in the metro area are clean and reliable. Buses are pretty much 24/7, and trains only take a brief pause in service between midnight and 4am. In Sydney, the Opal card is equivalent to London’s Oyster, and will get you around town, no fuss. You can also use the Opal to go further afield, for days of exploration into the gorgeous Australian countryside. Do make sure you visit Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Illawarra and the Blue Mountains, in particular.
Sydney’s suburbs are distinct, unique and all offer something different and exciting as somewhere to live. It’s a massively spread out city, defined by its harbour, and to get acquainted with Sydney first hand when you arrive, it’s to Bondi where you should first head. Of course, the beach is the main draw here, but the area is packed with hip bars and boutiques, too.
If you’re moving to Sydney with family, Darling Harbour and Coogee are the most kid friendly feeling neighbourhoods, with loads to do for the little ones. While Darling Bay is the entertainment hub, the beach at Coogee is gorgeous, with calm waters for the kids and great snorkelling opportunities at nearby Gordon’s Bay. Superb scuba diving options are available in Australia, too, a little further out of Sydney.
Should you be seeking the Shoreditch/Brooklyn vibes, then Surry Hills has its hipster thing down and is particularly well known for its coffee culture, which is huge in Sydney, and Australia, as a whole. You’re going to have to get conversant in your bean and grind if you’re going to fit in here! Newtown is another trendy borough, though a little less grungy and a touch more bohemian than Surry Hills. Or, if you’re after a raucous party, Kings Cross packs in the most clubs and bars per square mile. Or, as they say here, kilometer.
WHERE TO SHOP FOR YOUR HOME
If you’re moving to Sydney, one of the first things you’ll want to do is fill your cupboards with food. While the big Australian supermarkets offer an obvious convenience, if you’re after more esoteric ingredients, then you’ve got to look beyond the Coles and Woolworths supermarket chains. Sydney is a massively multicultural community, and you’ll find many independent grocery stores offering all sorts to suit any taste. There are lots of Chinese grocers in Sydney, but locals recommend the New Yen Yen and the Tong Li stores most enthusiastically. If you’re after Indian, then UDAYA Supermarket carries the widest range of ingredients for this cuisine. If you’re after wine or a few ‘coldies’, then your best bet is to head to an independent bottle shop, known colloquially as bottle-os.
You’ll also be after some furniture to help you settle into your new home. Fantastic Furniture, which originally started as a market stall at Sydney’s Park-lea Markets back in the ’80s, now has 14 stores across the city offering affordable pieces for the entire house. Similarly, Freedom which also has stores all over the Greater Sydney region, offers an extensive collection of furniture and homeware. And of course, there is always IKEA if you’re in the mood for meatballs and flatpack furniture.
If you want to start a collection of houseplants, then your best bet is to head to one of Sydney’s leaf laden markets such as Kingscross or Marrickville market. For online delivery, head over to Leaf Supply and for bloomin’ beautiful bouquets, Pearson’s offers personalised flower delivery in Sydney all over.
Do you have friends who just turned into first-time parents? You can order some baby flowers and have them delivered by Pearsons’ as well.
Sydney boasts a warm, sunny climate all year round, though winters are significantly cooler than the summer months. Due to the city’s position on the water, the sea breeze means extremes of temperature are less common.
Summer runs from December to February and sees average temperatures ranging from the late teens to mid-twenties. Water temperatures are warmest in the late summer; the perfect time to see Bondi, Coogee et al. It can get a little humid during this time, however, with the preceding Spring months (September, October and November) only slightly cooler but significantly less sticky.
Winter – from June to August – sees the most rain and coolest temperatures, though things still remain pretty mild (compared to British winters, that is!). You’ll need a jacket in July, though, make no mistake.
Autumn, from March to May, is mild and comfortable, and many Sydney residents say this is their favourite season. An added bonus are the humpback whales arriving in the city’s surrounding waters from May onwards for a couple of months!
Between December and February is Sydney’s ‘high season’, so expect greater crowds during this time. Low season is considered May to August.
Whilst we hope your time in Sydney is spent healthily, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, so it’s best to be aware of the medical infrastructure in Australia. Here, the system is defined as medical ‘insurance’, and aims to guarantee low cost or free care for all. It’s called Medicare and as long as you have permanent residency (which will get you a Medicare card) you can get doctor’s appointments for free, as well as subsidises on other care, up to a point. If not, you’re going to have to pay, and medical care in the country is expensive.
As a British expat, you’re entitled to a Reciprocal Medical Card, which means emergency treatment at public hospitals will be covered by the government. Be aware that this doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Australian expats living in the UK can expect the same treatment. Do make sure you apply for both cards as soon as you arrive, and you’ll need your passport with you, and NHS card should you have one.
That said, getting medical costs covered by Medicare can be complex, with tax levies, upfront payments which are reimbursed, and caps on assistance all coming as a shock to Brits used to the simplicity of the NHS. Many Aussies and expats choose to also take out basic health insurance to cover for complications and discrepancies in Medicare’s service, and to supplement any losses.
Finally, a little fun. Though English is, of course, Australia’s first language and spoken in the home of 72% of the population, you should be aware that the Aussies love a bit of slang and wordplay, their breezy, laid back humour suiting it perfectly.
You’ll have heard ‘barbie’ and ‘arvo’, no doubt, but there are a few more niche items you should probably get under your belt before arriving. If someone asks you the way to the ‘dunny’ or the ‘bottle o’, they’re looking for the toilet and off licence, respectively. Should they be looking to buy a ‘slab’ at that bottle o, it’s a 24 pack of beer they’re after. If someone is ‘devo’, they’re devastated and if something is ‘ripper’, it’s brilliant. Are you keeping up?
In fact, much of the Aussie parlance is now used in England, too, and the Australians are an expressive bunch; if you’re not sure of the slang’s meaning, you’ll easily guess by the facial expression. Oh, and one more thing; you’re moving to ‘Straya. Good luck!