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Moving to Sydney

Home to some of the world's most iconic landmarks, Sydney is a dynamic, world-class city where breathtaking natural beauty and a cosmopolitan spirit meet.

Expats moving to this New South Wales city can look forward to a vibrant, culturally-diverse environment with loads to see, do and explore. It’s no wonder Sydney is constantly ranked as a top expat destination.

Living in Sydney as an expat

Expat families in Sydney live a high quality of life and rarely run out of things to see and do. The city heaves with modern eateries of all kinds, exciting nightlife, museums, shopping districts and entertainment venues.

That said, Sydney is not a city content to rely only on its scenic charms or hedonistic indulgences. It is also a major financial hub and economic power, so it is no surprise that the number of working expats relocating to Sydney every year is on the rise. Particularly those in finance, insurance, healthcare, retail and manufacturing will find ample opportunities to work in Sydney.

Accommodation-wise, expats will have a huge variety to choose from, be it lavish high-rise apartments in the city centre or more affordable family homes in the suburbs.

Sydney also offers good, accessible public transport systems that get commuters where they need to go. With trains, trams, buses, a monorail system and taxis, expats will find getting around quite easy. Having a car can be convenient, especially for parents, but it is definitely not necessary.

Sydney also offers efficient healthcare facilities, with state-of-the-art hospitals and ubiquitous pharmacies. As in the rest of Australia, residents in Sydney have access to the Medicare universal healthcare scheme.

Cost of living in Sydney

The cost of living in Sydney is high. Accommodation, entertainment, transport and eating out are all far more expensive than in many other parts of Australia. That said, expats usually find that the quality of life in Sydney is worth the cost, and in most cases expat salaries are high enough to afford a comfortable life here.

Expat families and children

When it comes to their children’s education, expats can rest easy as Sydney’s schools are generally of an excellent standard. Public schooling is free for residents and locals, saving parents some money. Non-government Catholic schools and other private schools are also options, and some international schools are also available.

There is much to be said for the spectrum of lifestyle benefits available to expat families in Sydney. The city is famous for its gorgeous beaches, but also boasts lush parks and other family-friendly attractions and annual festivities. For those families who need a break from the city, there are countless options for weekend getaways around Sydney.

Climate in Sydney

The climate in Sydney is much milder than other parts of Australia, and expats don’t take very long to acclimatise. Occasional flash floods and storms do happen, and Sydney has been getting drier, so expats should keep an eye on weather updates.

Expats who enjoy plenty of sunshine, the beach, friendly people, a safe family environment and entertainment galore will have a good time in Sydney and probably stay longer than they had planned.

Weather in Sydney

Sydney has a pleasant climate with lots of sunshine, particularly in the summer months from December to February. The hottest months are January and February, which can see daytime temperatures reaching as high as 78.4°F (25.8°C). Winter is from June to August and, though sometimes chilly and a bit wet, it is a generally mild season, with temperatures only rarely dropping below 47.8°F (8.8°C).

Sydney does occasionally experience weather-related hazards, and the city’s weather has been getting progressively drier over recent years, causing droughts and bushfires. When it does rain, there may be flash flooding, hail and wind storms. Mostly this just causes inconvenience but may be hazardous. Expats should be sure to stay up to date with the latest weather alerts and adhere to weather-related regulations such as water restrictions.

 

Pros and cons of moving to Sydney

Sydney, a vibrant, world-class city home to numerous iconic landmarks, is known for its spectacular natural beauty and cosmopolitan city life. This New South Wales hub offers expats a dynamic, culturally varied environment with a wide range of things to see, do and experience.

Sydney consistently ranks as one of the top cities for expats, but as is the case everywhere, there are downsides too. Here's a list of the pros and cons of moving to Sydney as an expat.


Accommodation in Sydney

+ PRO: Wide range of choices

From apartments in the city centre to freestanding houses in the suburbs, there are plenty of accommodation choices for expats in Sydney. For expats who need a bit of space but are on a budget, rowhouses are a happy medium, sharing their side walls with neighbours but affording residents a bit of yard.

- CON: Accommodation is expensive

Property and rent costs in Sydney are much higher than even in Melbourne, never mind some of the more affordable cities in Australia. Expats should expect accommodation to be the biggest item on their budget.


Lifestyle in Sydney

+ PRO: Things to see and do for everyone

The lifestyle in Sydney is one of its key draws. Shoppers will find boutique clothing stores littered throughout the city, as well as shopping centres like the Queen Victoria Building and markets like Rocks, and foodies will find dining options for every palate and wallet. Outdoorsy types can head to the beach for swimming, surfing, diving or snorkelling, or take a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens.


Cost of living in Sydney

- CON: High cost of living

The most populous city in Australia, Sydney has the country's highest cost of living. In the 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked 58th out of 227 cities. This is largely due to the cost of accommodation, though the price tags on a lot of the city's entertainment options are also a contributing factor. Groceries are quite expensive, but this is not a problem unique to Sydney – the cost of living in Australia in general has risen quite sharply in the last few years.

+ PRO: Equally high standard of living

Despite its steep cost of living, Sydney's work-life balance, enviable lifestyle and variety of available activities continue to attract expats across the globe.


Education in Sydney

Australian public education is generally first-class and is free for permanent residents, and there are private options available too. Sydney is also home to prestigious universities, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

- CON: No free education for temporary residents

Until they have been granted a permanent residence visa, expats will have to pay school fees for their children to enrol in public schools. As a result, many expats enrol their children in private schools.

+ PRO: Affordable private education options

Faith-based (usually Catholic) schools are quite affordable, and sometimes even cheaper for expats than the public school fees. This is not generally true for other independent schools, which have higher fees.


Healthcare in Sydney

+ PRO: High quality of healthcare

Sydney has a mix of public and private healthcare. The public healthcare on offer is great, and many residents don't take out private insurance, though this means longer wait times.

- CON: Expats may need costly private insurance

Medicare is available to residents and New Zealanders living in Australia. Other expats will have to pay for healthcare, and without Medicare, healthcare costs and insurance are expensive. Some visas even require expats to have private insurance as one of their conditions.


Getting around in Sydney

+ PRO: Well-developed public transport

An extensive public transport network makes getting around Sydney fairly straightforward. With a prepaid Opal card, commuters can tap in and out at train, light rail, bus and ferry terminals.

Working in Sydney

Sydney is Australia’s commercial centre, and it lures droves of expats to its shores each year. Home to some of the country's largest businesses, Sydney is also the city of choice for multinational companies establishing a base in Australia, and therefore the natural option for job-seeking expats.


Job market in Sydney

Some of Australia's largest companies, and indeed some of the largest companies in the world, are based in and around Sydney. 

Those in financial or insurance services, in particular, will find plenty of opportunities in the area. Alternatively, expats looking for work in healthcare, retail or manufacturing sectors are also likely to secure employment.


Finding a job in Sydney

There is plenty of work in Sydney and the city's government is constantly doing its part to stimulate job creation. Expats often have questions about where to find information on available jobs.

The best place to start looking is on the internet. Looking for opportunities online has many advantages: it’s free, new listings are put up frequently, and expats can start job hunting even before they arrive in Australia. Job seekers can also filter a search by location, sector, salary and position, which saves a great deal of time.

For those who already know what type of work they want, approaching recruitment agencies can be highly beneficial. There are hundreds of them in Sydney, and expats can find agencies for all types of jobs ranging from office admin and management to hospitality and construction.

Lastly, expats would do well to put their networking skills to work. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are highly valued in Australia. Approaching a company directly and enquiring about roles can be a gateway to opening up opportunities down the line.


Work culture in Sydney

The work environment in Sydney reflects the friendly and casual demeanour of Australians in general. The atmosphere is informal, with humour and slang being commonplace. Swearing is often part of the office vernacular and usually not considered offensive. Drinks after work are the norm, and this is a great opportunity to get to know coworkers a bit better.

The corporate structure is typically egalitarian with emphasis on the team rather than the individual. Everyone is encouraged to voice their opinions, and decisions are taken with group concerns in mind.

A good work-life balance is important to Australians. There is a tendency to start work early and leave work early. While on the clock, Australians are extremely hard workers, but overtime is unusual and work is rarely taken home.

Cost of living in Sydney

Sydney is one of the world's most iconic cities, host to beautiful landmarks, breathtaking natural beauty and a cosmopolitan and diverse population. Australia's most populous city is also its most expensive. As the 58th most expensive city for expats to live in out of the 227 on Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living Survey, the Emerald City's accommodation prices are about one-third higher than in Melbourne, while the overall cost of living is estimated to be 7 percent higher.

Sydney may be the most expensive city in Australia, but for price-conscious expats, there are plenty of ways to stretch their Aussie dollars.


Cost of accommodation in Sydney

Accommodation in Sydney is typically an expat's greatest expense, particularly in the more attractive areas and suburbs and around the city centre. Expats who want to save on housing expenses should search for a home further out in the suburbs.


Cost of public transport in Sydney

Public transport in Sydney is well developed, making it cheap and convenient to get around the city without a car, though a private vehicle might afford expats more freedom to explore the country. With an Opal card, expats can use the city's integrated infrastructure and make savings on their commute.


Cost of groceries in Sydney

The cost of groceries in Sydney is in line with the national average, and Australian produce is high quality. Seafood lovers should head to the Sydney Fish Market, the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, for inexpensive and fresh fish.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Sydney

Many expats cite the lifestyle as a key draw for Sydney. Expats on a budget should consult a local about the best places to get an affordable bite to eat. Alternatively, they can take advantage of Sydney's wide spread of world-renowned fine-dining establishments. Thanks to the variety of options available in Sydney, expats will not struggle to find something to match their palates and wallets. 

Expats looking to soak in some culture will visit the Sydney Opera House, while those looking to party will head to the myriad nightclubs at Kings Cross. Price-conscious expats can take advantage of the country's excellent climate, picnicking in the park, having a barbecue or visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens.


Cost of education in Sydney

Public education in Sydney is free or cheap for permanent residents, though temporary residence holders will have to pay to enrol their kids.

Faith-based schools, especially the Catholic education system, are popular in Sydney. Expats on temporary residences tend to find the fees lower than those they would have to pay for public schools.


Cost of living in Sydney chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for November 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 2,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 1,850

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 4,900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 3,200

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

AUD 5.27

Milk (1 litre)

AUD 1.59

Rice (1kg)

AUD 2.69

Loaf of white bread

AUD 3.43

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AUD 16

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)  

AUD 42

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

AUD 13

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AUD 3.26

Cappuccino

AUD 4.56

Bottle of local beer

AUD 9.75

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

AUD 115

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

AUD 0.32

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

AUD 63

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

AUD 186

Transportation 

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

AUD 2.70

Bus/train fare in the city centre

AUD 4.60

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

AUD 2.03

Accommodation in Sydney

Expats looking for accommodation in Sydney will find that the process is fairly straightforward, with many good residential areas to choose from in and around the city centre. For most expats, the final choice will depend on budget, proximity to schools and access to public transport.


Types of accommodation in Sydney

Apartments

City living can be an attractive option for students or young professionals who prefer to be near universities and Sydney’s vibrant nightlife. Most of the accommodation in these areas will be in the form of apartments.

Freestanding houses

The outer suburbs of Sydney are largely made up of freestanding houses, most of which offer more space and usually gardens, making them popular with families.

Rowhouses

Found all over Sydney, rowhouses share walls with neighbouring houses on either side. For those who want more space than an apartment can offer but can't quite afford a freestanding house, rowhouses are a happy medium.


Finding accommodation in Sydney

Many properties in Sydney are managed through estate agents, but it's up to the individual whether they want to work directly with an agency or not. On the one hand, this may give access to properties before they go on the market, but on the other hand, doing the search independently may broaden possibilities.

Listings of available properties can be found on online property portals, estate agency websites and in newspapers.

In most cases, agents will be responsible for showing the property to applicants and handling the application process. Group viewings are the norm and take place at set times. If the property is well priced or in a desirable location, expats should expect to be viewing it with up to a dozen other people.

Accommodation is usually snatched up fast, so being strategic about the timing of viewings can be useful, as fewer attendees mean less immediate competition. There will often be several showings scheduled for a particular property, and weekday viewings are less busy than those on weekends.


Renting accommodation in Sydney

Making an application

Apart from references and income checks, the national '100-point test' must be passed for an application to be considered. To pass the test, various forms of proof of identification must be submitted. Each type of proof is allocated a particular number of points, and the combined submission points must add up to at least 100.

Applications are considered in the order in which they were submitted, so timing is crucial. By law, discrimination of any kind is not permitted, so the first application that meets all requirements for references, documentation and affordability is accepted.

Leases and deposits

The typical lease length in Sydney is one year, although some agencies may offer shorter or longer periods depending on their internal policies and the needs of clients.

A deposit, or 'bond' as it is locally known, is payable upfront and is typically equivalent to between four and six weeks' worth of rent. Once the lease expires, the deposit is returned in full as long as there are no damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear.

Paying rent

Rent for accommodation in Sydney is payable monthly and is typically submitted at the end of each month or, in some cases, each fortnight. Expats should note that property in Sydney is often listed with a weekly price. Expats from countries where the monthly rent is quoted on listings should keep this in mind, especially when they come across what appears to be an unusually good deal.

Utilities

Utility bills are usually not included in the rental price and are the responsibility of the tenant. In the scorching summer months, houses with air conditioning will usually experience a spike in electricity costs.

Areas and suburbs in Sydney

The best places to live in Sydney

In a vast, sprawling city such as Sydney, deciding where to live as a new expat is not a simple task. Before beginning their search for accommodation, expats should take time to consider their options, keeping lifestyle, family and personal preferences in mind.

With a diversity of neighbourhoods, Sydney has something to suit every taste and budget.


City living in Sydney

Sydney

Sydney is a vibrant cosmopolitan city and many young expats prefer to live close to the city centre where the action is. That said, space is hard to come by here, and the price of accommodation largely depends on how central it is.

The Rocks

This area is close to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a great location with some of Sydney’s best restaurants, bars and nightlife just a hop and a skip away. This part of town is scenic and has a fun laid-back feel to it. The area is best suited to young professionals who enjoy the buzz of city life or business executives who want to be located close to the CBD.

Potts Point

Just a few kilometres from the CBD, Potts Point is a lively and central place to live, and apartments here often have stunning views of Sydney Harbour. Residents are right in the middle of town and surrounded by cafes, restaurants and shops, and have access to good public transport.

Potts Point is conveniently situated and offers plentiful amenities and beautiful views. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the housing prices. Accommodation here is on the pricey side, but for those who can afford it, Potts Point is a great choice.

Newtown

Newtown is a bohemian area of Sydney and is the perfect place for single expats or couples on a budget. It is a colourful and unconventional area with an eclectic host of restaurants, bars, theatres and clubs. The streets are lined with vintage fashion boutiques, music stores, specialist bookshops and antique stores.

Although it looks a little run down in parts, this is all part of the Newtown charm. It is decidedly cosmopolitan and highly popular with young expats.


Family-friendly areas in Sydney

Manly Beach

Thanks to Sydney’s glorious weather, sublime beaches and wide open spaces, it is a great place for expats relocating with children. Expats moving to Sydney with a family will naturally want to consider their child’s schooling options before deciding where to live. It’s important to note that many public schools in Australia only offer places to students living within their particular catchment area.

Manly

Suburbs located near the northern beaches of Sydney are popular with expat families, especially those from the UK or New Zealand. Areas like Manly are great for expats with children, as they are close to some stunning beaches as well as a number of Sydney’s top private and public schools. Public transport links to the city are good in these areas with regular bus, train and ferry services in operation.

Parramatta

Parramatta is a lively but family-friendly area for those relocating to Sydney with children. Properties here are large and inexpensive compared to many other Sydney suburbs, and there are a number of good schools in the area. There are lots of open spaces to enjoy the outdoors with the family. These suburbs are also well serviced by several modes of public transport.

Blacktown

Blacktown in western Sydney is an area with lots of community facilities and schools. It also has plenty of shopping and entertainment facilities to keep the whole family busy. With good public transport links and close proximity to major highways, commuting to the city centre is easy.

Healthcare in Sydney

Medicare, Australia's publicly-funded universal healthcare insurance scheme, is available to citizens and permanent visa holders in Australia, as well as New Zealanders living in Australia. This covers, or largely subsidises, treatment by general practitioners and hospitals.

Temporary residents living in Sydney will not be eligible to utilise Medicare and will have to invest in their own private health insurance. In the same vein, even permanent resident expats may prefer to have private health insurance to cover the cost of private medical treatments. Eligible expats should check what is covered by Medicare to see if they would benefit from additional private insurance.

Below is a list of reputable hospitals in Sydney.


Hospitals in Sydney

Balmain Hospital

www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/balmain
Address: 29 Booth Street, Balmain

Macquarie University Hospital

www.muh.org.au
Address: 3 Technology Place, Macquarie University

Mater Hospital

www.mns.org.au
Address: 25 Rocklands Road, North Sydney

Sydney Children's Hospital

www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/hospitals/sch
Address: High Street, Randwick

Education and Schools in Sydney

Sydney caters to a broad range of educational needs. Expat children can attend public, faith-based, private or international schools in Sydney. High school graduates can choose from several prestigious universities, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

Those with permanent residency status have access to free public education, but families living in Australia on a temporary resident visa will have to pay for their children's schooling.


Public schools in Sydney

The quality of public education in Sydney is generally good. Like elsewhere in the world, schools' performance is influenced by sociodemographic factors such as location and funding.

The language of instruction in public schools is English. English proficiency is not a requirement for students in primary school – that is, from Kindergarten up to Year 6. After this, students enter Junior High School in Year 7. From this point on, English proficiency is a requirement for entry into Sydney public schools.

DE International is the international division of the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education. As a resource for non-Australian students, DE International provides guidance to international students attending government schools. This includes providing bridging classes for pupils aged 12 and older at their Intensive English Centres (IEC).

Children attend public schools based on zones, or catchment areas. The details of which neighbourhoods filter into which schools are usually available on school websites. Expat families often base accommodation decisions around access to preferred schooling.

Public schools generally accept enrolment throughout the year before the child is due to start. Parents are required to submit an application form along with supporting documentation such as proof of residence.


Faith-based schools in Sydney

Faith-based education is common in Sydney. Catholic primary and high schools, run by Sydney Catholic Schools NSW, are particularly popular.

The Catholic education system has an excellent reputation in Sydney. Many parents see this as a comfortable middle ground between public and private education. This option is popular among expats living in Australia on a temporary residence visa, as fees for faith-based schools are often lower than the fees temporary residents are required to pay for access to the public system.


International schools in Sydney

Although international schools tend to have by far the highest fees of all the Sydney education options, many expats feel that the benefits justify the cost.

These schools allow children the opportunity to study their home curriculum or an internationally recognised curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate. Studying a familiar curriculum ensures continuity and minimises the disruption in the child's learning during relocation. International schools also offer an easy way for parents and children alike to meet other expats and settle into Sydney with greater ease.


Special-needs education in Sydney

Public schools in New South Wales are required to offer personalised learning and support for students with special educational needs. Schools are responsible for making initial assessments, implementing reasonable adjustments, and monitoring the impact of interventions on children with special needs. This process is a collaborative effort between parents, school staff and any external professionals involved in managing the child's condition.


Tutors in Sydney

Whether a child needs a helping hand with a particular subject or more general skills such as essay writing, tutors can be a great resource for expat parents. If necessary, some tutors can assist with the transition into a new curriculum and development of English skills, helping to ease the pressure new arrivals face at school.

There are a number of highly recommended tutoring companies in Sydney, including Alchemy Tuition, C3 Education Group and LearnMate Tutoring.

Lifestyle in Sydney

Australia may be far removed from the rest of the world, but expats, particularly Westerners, will find plenty of familiarities in Sydney’s lifestyle. The city is a top choice for many expats thanks to its gorgeous weather, pristine beaches and thriving nightlife.

Working professionals tend to enjoy a good work-life balance in Sydney with plenty of leisure time, which allows them to take advantage of the countless fun activities, events and weekend stays in and around the city.


Shopping in Sydney

Fashionistas may laud Paris, Milan or New York City as the best shopping destinations on the planet, but Sydney certainly holds its own. The city boasts a number of boutique clothing stores, vintage stores, high-end shopping malls and everything in between.

The Queen Victoria Building, commonly referred to as the QVB, is a must for shoppers. Located on George Street, the QVB is packed with purveyors of clothing, shoes, accessories and much besides. Shoppers can also check out one of the many cafes tucked away throughout the building for a bite between purchases. Westfield Sydney Shopping Centre is another great place to look for clothing, shoes, home furnishings and accessories.

Shoppers on the hunt for unique items such as vintage clothing, handcrafted jewellery or handmade purses and wallets should definitely check out the Rocks Markets.


Eating out in Sydney

With Italian, Thai or authentic Aussie food, Sydney has something to satisfy any palate. Like many big cities around the world, dining out can be expensive in Sydney, but knowing where to go can keep costs low. Expats on a budget should avoid touristy areas, and rather consult locals or other expats on where to grab a bite.

Pubs and hotels are popular quick-eats choices, and many offer happy hour specials. Anyone celebrating a special occasion or in the mood for a fancier restaurant should be sure to visit Darling Harbour, where patrons can enjoy good seafood and watch the sunset over the water.


Nightlife in Sydney

While Sydney may be known for attractions such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, it also plays host to a thriving nightlife scene and boasts some great nightclubs and bars.

Expats looking for a party should head to Kings Cross, where some of the city’s best nightclubs are found. King Street in Newtown and Oxford Street in Darlinghurst are also well worth a visit. Both of these areas offer a wide selection of beer gardens, cocktail bars and pubs to choose from, and drink prices tend to be slightly cheaper than at venues in the city centre.


See and do in Sydney

As one of the most exciting and popular destinations for expats to relocate to, Sydney is bursting with fabulous attractions and activities for new residents to enjoy.

Harbour Bridge

One of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, Harbour Bridge stretches across the river, connecting the CBD to the North Shore. There’s no better way to view Sydney than to climb to the top of the bridge and look out over the harbour and across to the famous Opera House.

Royal Botanic Gardens

These sprawling grounds in the heart of Sydney contain thousands of species of plants and features paths that criss-cross their way around its ponds, sculptures and horticultural areas.

Sydney Opera House

The world-renowned Sydney Opera House is one of the city’s architectural masterpieces. The complex consists of a Concert Hall that seats 2,500 people and boasts some of the finest acoustics in the world, as well as two proscenium theatres, a playhouse, a studio and an outdoor forecourt.

Sydney Tower

The tallest free-standing building in the city and the second tallest in the southern hemisphere, the Sydney Tower is a great place to admire the breathtaking views of the harbour.


Whats on in Sydney

Expats will never be bored in a city that always seems to have something going on. Below are some recommended events in Sydney.

Sydney Festival (January)

One of the most exciting and varied events in the city, the Sydney Festival includes everything from cabaret and circus acts to opera and theatre. It attracts performers from all over the globe and festivalgoers are sure to experience something truly unique and enjoyable.

Vivid Sydney (May/June)

Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of light, music and ideas, colouring the city with creativity and inspiration. Hugely popular are the light installations, where artworks are projected onto the sails of the iconic Opera House and other notable landmarks around the city.

City2Surf (August)

The annual City2Surf is a large marathon with more than 80,000 people participating. The run starts in the city centre and ends at the iconic Bondi Beach. Participants often dress up in novelty costumes and the route is dotted with bands providing entertainment.

Carols in the Domain (December)

Thousands of people come together in the Domain, in the heart of the Botanical gardens, to sing along to their favourite Christmas carols. There are often also national and international performers featured, and as an added bonus, the event is free of charge.


Where to meet people and make friends in Sydney

Landing in a new environment can be lonely and strange.  Luckily, Sydney offers many opportunities for expats to meet new people and integrate smoothly.

Dive Centre Manly

For all snorkelling enthusiasts, the Dive Centre Manly diving club offers a group to enjoy the rich marine life of Manly and make a few friends along the way. The frequent social gatherings and scuba training more than justifies the annual membership fee for many members.

All Nations Bushwalkers Inc

This relatively small group of expats and locals is dedicated to breaking away from the city and exploring the natural areas around Sydney. With a small annual fee, members are entitled to insurance.

Sydney Badminton Players

This group of badminton enthusiasts offers the chance to have fun, stay healthy and meet new people. They meet on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Members should bring their own gear and there is a fee of $17.5.

Weekend breaks in Sydney

Sydney’s beautiful harbour, hidden beaches and sprawling parks all beg to be explored by new expats, but for those who have been in Sydney for a while, a break from the city is sometimes necessary.

The areas surrounding Sydney make for great weekend getaways. Just a few hours out of the city, adventurers can find stunning scenery and the chance to glimpse local wildlife such as koalas, kangaroos, wombats, platypuses and dolphins, not to mention miles of empty beaches.


Weekend breaks from Sydney

Blue Mountains

A trip to the Blue Mountains is probably the most popular weekend getaway from Sydney as it’s only a short drive. The bluish haze that surrounds the soaring crags is the result of the oil produced from the many eucalyptus trees. On crisp sunny mornings, visitors will also notice the wonderfully refreshing smell of eucalyptus in the air.

A drive to Katoomba, the largest town in the upper mountains, affords expats the chance to explore lush bushwalking trails, ranging from family-friendly treks to more challenging rock-climbing routes.

The most popular attraction in the Blue Mountains is a distinct rock formation known as the Three Sisters. To catch a better glimpse of these interesting rocks, visitors can hop on a Scenic World train, cableway, walkway or cable car to better view the area. Expats shouldn't miss the Jenolan Caves, rich in Aboriginal and geological history. The large network of caves dazzles with brilliant crystal formations and pristine underground rivers. And if expats are lucky and plan the day right, they might just spot a platypus; these unique creatures live along the Blue Lake next to the main entrance of the caves.

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley is a dream come true for any foodie looking to spend an indulgent weekend outside of the city. The Valley is one of Australia's oldest wine regions and is best known for its superb Semillon. Visitors can sip on the region's famous wines while taking in the view of the seemingly endless vineyards.

Southern Highlands

There are a number of great spots in the Southern Highlands, all offering something unique. Visit the Tulip Time festival between September and October, enjoy lunch in a cosy cafe in Bowral or explore Berrima, a historic and well-preserved Georgian village.

On the other hand, nature lovers or those simply looking for a respite in the outdoors would do well to rent a cabin in the country. The deeper into the wilderness one goes, the better the chances of spotting wallabies, wombats and kangaroos.

Kids and Family in Sydney

Expat families in Sydney will find there's plenty to keep the little ones entertained. With the fantastic weather and boundless natural beauty in and around the city, families are sure to spend a great deal of time outdoors.

When not at the beach, children often spend time with their families at the local nature reserve or enjoy picnics cooked on one of the many public BBQs. Most suburbs have well-equipped playgrounds every few blocks, so kids have no reason to be cooped up indoors.

For parents who thrive in a city environment but want their kids to have an outdoor upbringing, Sydney can tick all the boxes; its northern and eastern beach suburbs are particularly family friendly.


Education and schools in Sydney

Education in Sydney is similar to the rest of Australia. Parents have a choice between an extensive array of private and public schools. Sydney schools offer good education, and some offer a bus service, though some parents find having a car highly convenient. Special-needs education in Sydney is a collaborative effort between parents, school, staff and professionals.


Out and about with kids in Sydney

With so many places to swim and splash around, expats should be prepared with swimsuits, towels and sunscreen. Although the beach is the star attraction, it’s not the only outdoor entertainment option. Ocean pools are a great place to explore marine wildlife and are a safe place for swimming. There are aquatic centres in most suburbs offering indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as lessons.

To the west of Sydney’s city centre, Sydney Olympic Park has a broad range of activities as well as a swimming pool with a water playground and slides.

Other outdoor options include Centennial Park and Sydney Park, both with bicycle tracks, playgrounds, and a kiosk or cafe. Skateparks in Sydney are also popular.


Arts and entertainment for kids in Sydney

Parents taking their kids out in Sydney have many options. Kids will love SEA Life Sydney Aquarium, where they can look at and learn about all types of sea creatures.

Madame Tussauds offers a unique and interesting experience, where kids can marvel at lifelike wax figures of celebrities. Families can also get to know the famous Sydney Opera House with Junior Adventures Opera House Tours.

A Sydney Go City Explorer Pass can save families out on the town some money.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sydney

Expats considering a move to Sydney often have questions about the bureaucratic processes involved and the quality of life they can expect. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to Sydney.

What are public transport options like in Sydney? Will it be necessary to buy a car?

When it comes to getting around in Sydney, expats will find that there is no shortage of public transport options. Sydney boasts an extensive network that consists of trains, buses, a monorail system, trams and private taxis. Indeed, many expats use public transport for their daily commute. So, while it is not strictly necessary to have a car in Sydney, it does come in handy for expats with children and those who want to travel and explore beyond Sydney.

Is Sydney a child-friendly city?

Absolutely. Sydney is a dynamic city where expats of all ages can find something to enjoy. The famously pleasant Sydney climate provides ample opportunity for kids to have fun outdoors. Beyond Sydney's fantastic beaches, well-maintained parks and open spaces, there are also plenty of indoor activities to keep the little ones entertained.

Expat parents will also be pleased to know that there are plenty of good schools in Sydney, so they will have lots of options to choose from when it comes to their child's education.

What food can I expect to eat in Sydney?

Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to Sydney cuisine. The choice of fine-dining restaurants is limited only by the imagination, with some of the world’s top chefs delivering diverse menus for every palate. The fact that there’s such a range of styles and influences is directly related to the presence of a large immigrant population and the easy availability of good-quality Australian produce.

Where can I shop in Sydney?

In addition to the huge selection of department stores and shopping centres present on nearly every block in Sydney, there are some wonderful markets that sell just about anything, from clothes, furniture and antiques to street food and fresh produce.

Getting Around in Sydney

Thanks to an extensive public transport network, getting around in Sydney is straightforward. The various modes available not only allow new arrivals to explore the city, but also give them more choice when it comes to accommodation as commuting from outlying areas into the city is relatively quick and efficient.

Having a private vehicle is not essential but it does afford more freedom and makes it easier for expats to travel and explore Australia.


Public transport in Sydney

Sydney boasts an extensive network of public transportation which includes trains, light rail, buses and ferries. It is easy to get around the city on public transport, especially with an Opal card, which is a smartcard that can be loaded with credit. Travellers simply tap in and out of the terminal with the card, with the fare being automatically deducted.

Trains

Sydney has a comprehensive suburban train network run by Sydney Trains. The rail service consists of a number of lines, most of which run through the city centre. The suburbs and the city centre are both well serviced by these trains.

Light rail

Sydney’s light rail system is a tram route that was designed to complement the monorail. It runs underground through rail tunnels and then on the streets like a conventional tram when it reaches the city centre.

Buses

Buses are a major branch of Sydney’s public transport network and are a handy way to reach spots not covered by train routes. Some bus routes run 24 hours a day and can be used as a substitute outside of train operating hours. While traffic can delay buses at peak times, Sydney buses are frequent and are generally reliable.

Ferries

Sydney Ferries is a government-owned organisation that operates the commuter and tourist ferries on Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River. Harbour ferries are a popular option among daily commuters.


Taxis in Sydney

New South Wales has a large taxi network. Most taxis are owned by small-scale operators, and taxis can be hailed either on the street or at one of the city's designated taxi ranks. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber are also available in Sydney and are a convenient option.


Driving in Sydney

Because of Sydney’s extensive public transport network, most expats manage to get around without the use of a private car. Even those who do have their own vehicle tend to avoid Sydney’s city centre area during peak hours due to heavy traffic and expensive parking.

For expats who have children, live further out in the suburbs, or who want to travel around Australia, a private car can be useful.

Expats can drive on their foreign licence for up to three months, as long as it's in English. Those with a non-English licence will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP). To continue driving after the initial three months, expats will need to apply for a New South Wales driver’s licence. Depending on nationality, some expats may be exempt from tests and can simply exchange their foreign licence for a local licence. Others will have to take written and practical tests to be granted a local licence.

The road conditions and signage in Sydney are of a high standard and the city is easily navigable, except during peak times when traffic becomes a problem in the city centre. Expats planning on using a car outside Sydney, in more rural areas and on country roads will need to be careful at night to avoid hitting large animals, especially kangaroos.


Cycling in Sydney

Sydney is quite hilly, so it might not be the easiest place to get around on a bicycle. Cyclists also often have to share the road with motorists, so they should respect the rules of the road and always be aware of motorists.


Walking in Sydney

The government is working hard to encourage commuters to walk, for the benefit of both the environment and their personal health. The mild weather in Sydney makes commuting on foot a breeze, and some people purposefully take public transport only part of the way to their destination and walk the rest of the way.