Living in Sydney

Sydney Coogee BeachSydney is the capital of New South Wales and is Australia’s largest city. It has a population of around 4.76 million and is located on the coast of Australia’s south east. It is Australia’s most internationally recognised city, so much so that many people believe it is Australia’s capital. It isn’t. But it is Australia’s financial centre.
Sydney Map Location

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Liveability Survey, Sydney is the seventh most liveable city in the world. It is easy to see why.

Sitting on the Parramatta River, the city boasts a stunning harbour complete with Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, two of the main tourist attractions in the area. The harbour itself offers ferries that run like buses. It’s a great way to explore the place.

About 5 km from the city centre, on the east side, is Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most famous beaches. A little further away, Sydney also has Coogee Beach, another favourite with the locals. Both are beautiful, I can’t tell much difference between the two.

Another favourite beach, this one on the north side of Sydney which can be easily accessed with a short ferry ride, is Manly. So, three great beaches and we haven’t left the city. For those who want to jump in the car for an hour, there are even more options. Palm Beach where golden sand meets lush evergreen bushland and The Entrance where the magnificent Tuggerah Lake meets the Pacific Ocean. Both are to the north of Sydney.

Sydney also offers galleries and arts, cafes and restaurants, festivals and theatre as well as some great national parks and, to the west, The Blue Mountains with its Eucalyptus trees and breathtaking gorges.

What’s the weather like?

Sydney Annual Weather ChartSydney has, on average, between six and seven hours of sunshine each day. Summers can get very hot and dry and winters are mild.

Occasionally, the temperature can swing wildly. One day it could be over 30°C but the next as low as 16°C.

Possible severe weather around the Sydney area could include thunderstorms, large hailstones, gale force winds and apparently, rarely, the odd tornado. Bushfires have been known in the area.

Sydney, for me anyway, is a “love it or loathe it” kind of place. I have to be honest, it isn’t where I would want to live. Just a bit too busy and crowded, two of the reasons I left England. Sydney is also the most expensive place in Australia for housing.

But that’s just me. Many people absolutely love Sydney; they love the crowds, the action and the bustle of the business centre. There is always something happening in Sydney.

The Districts of Sydney:

Sydney Map and Districts
Sydney can be broken down into five main areas:

  • Inner Sydney – including City and Inner West
  • North Sydney – including Northern Suburbs, North Shore, Northern Beaches, Hills District and Forest District
  • South Sydney – including St George, Sutherlandshire District and Macarthur
  • East Sydney – including Eastern Suburbs and South-Eastern Sydney
  • West Sydney – including Cantebury-Bankstown, Greater Western Sydney and South Western Sydney

Questions about Sydney?

If you have any question about living in Sydney, please please feel free to ask them in the comments below. Or if you know this city well, why not tell us what you think of it or maybe even help out by answering some of the questions people have about the area. I’m sure anybody thinking of moving here would be very grateful for any help you can give them.

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Open a bank account in Australia
{ 471 comments… add one }
  • Amy April 18, 2017, 1:51 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Firstly thank you for a fantastic site, it is helping me no end in my move planning!

    My husband and I are moving to Sydney in June. We both have been offered roles with our current companies and so are both arriving with jobs on 457 visas.

    I know you will not be able to answer this being based in Brisbane but I hope some of your faithful followers from Sydney will be able to!

    We think we have narrowed down the neigbourhoods we are interested in living to Kirribilli, Neutral Bay and Cremorne. I know no one can advise on where ‘best’ to live but I am just trying to get a sense for the differences between these three areas? We are late 30’s / early 40’s and no kids. We enjoy being active, outdoor life and eating and drinking! If that helps in anyway to understand more about where might be good for us!!

    Second question….we are working in the CBD and so plan to cycle into work. I know you can cycle across the harbour bridge but understand there is no ramp onto it yet (although it seems it was announced in December there is now a plan for this!) During rush hour is it a nightmare to carry your bike up the steps do you think?!!

    Thanks so much in advance,


    • BobinOz April 18, 2017, 9:44 pm | Link

      Yes, as you say, not a question I can answer, so hopefully a local will help you out. I have stayed in Cremorne though, really liked it, you can read about it here…

      Hopefully a local will be a long sometime soon.

    • Paul April 28, 2017, 7:19 am | Link

      Hi Amy,
      I think there is one very large difference between the suburbs you’ve mentioned, although being a bike rider might be the answer. Cremorne is beautiful, as pointed out by Bob, however you are stuck on a peninsula of land that has only one exit…Military Road. One of the most frustratingly choked and slow pieces of road in Australia. It gets even worse on the weekends. If you can ride a bike up the steep hills of the lower north shore, then a) you must be pretty fit and; b) you will beat every car into the CBD by a significant margin. You mention that you like the äctive lifestyle, so I’d say carrying your bike up the steps to the bridge cycle path is just part of that lifestyle, and I have not had any problems with congestion on the steps. I am also a keen cyclist and it is definitely the best way to get around at peak hour (provided it’s not raining). If I were to pick, I’d be looking at Kirribilli and Neutral Bay, because its easier to get out of them on the weekend, and there is plenty of restaurants and cafe’s to keep you going. Tip, also have a look at McMahon’s Point, Blues Point and Lavender Bay.
      Hope that helps.

  • Clinton Eckersall April 17, 2017, 12:40 pm | Link

    Hi All, I am moving to Sydney with my wife and two young children in May. We have driven through the south, west, north and eastern suburbs and really enjoy the look and feel of the north (just above the “spit”) for accommodation and schooling. The only challenge is that I will be working in mascot and am concerned about the commute into work. I have lived in Johannesburg and Manila before so traffic doesn’t scare me too much and I generally leave home before 06:30 and the office at 18:00. I have looked at a couple of apps and it shows me a driving time of approx 45 minutes, is this accurate (excluding accidents and the like) and is there anyone on this forum that does the same commute that can offer me their thoughts. Thank you, Clinton

    • Paul April 28, 2017, 7:11 am | Link

      Hi Clinton,
      I’d say that 45 mins from the spit junction is about right. If you left any later you can add another 20 minutes to that time.

  • Raymond April 14, 2017, 10:42 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I’m a 23 year old New Zealand Citizen from South Africa, recently graduated with a Degree in Graphic Design (AUT New Zealand Tertiary education). I’ve accumulated quite a bit of a student loan (maybe you have seen students with similar issues). I also have a keen interest in design/technology and innovation.

    I’ve currently narrowed my choices down to Melbourne or Sydney as viable options, but I’m unsure of which is the best (I have people I know in Melbourne), but Sydney seems much more innovative and more likely for me to see and learn new things (It’s also the most expensive as I’ve heard).

    Your website is a great resource of information

    • BobinOz April 17, 2017, 9:37 pm | Link

      Well, there’s a question. People have been debating for many many years which is best, Sydney or Melbourne. There is no best out of the two, they are just different.

      Both cities are quite expensive, but Sydney more so than Melbourne. It’s always good to go somewhere where you know people, but on the other hand your gut is telling you to go to Sydney. I wish I could help you with this, but I can’t. Whichever you choose, I hope it turns out to be the best decision for you.

  • DanSydney March 31, 2017, 2:41 pm | Link

    Just a heads-up for anyone wanting to ask a question. I’m a Sydneysider who was answering questions about living in the city, but I stopped answering questions because they became too vague. You can’t really answer a question like “what’s a good place to live in Sydney?” There are hundreds of good places to live. The more specific you are about what you’re looking for, the more us Sydneysiders can help you.

    • BobinOz March 31, 2017, 7:06 pm | Link

      That’s a very valid point DanSydney, it really is impossible to give any kind of meaningful advice to people about where to live without knowing specifically what they want.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked where is the ‘best’ place to live in Australia, there is no best place, there are just many different places to suit different preferences.

      Anyway, that aside, I really do appreciate that you are willing to help some of my readers who want to know more about Sydney and what it’s like, because being in Brisbane myself, I simply can’t answer these questions. So, glad to have you around, thanks, hopefully you’ll get some descriptive questions come through soon.

    • Raymond April 27, 2017, 8:34 pm | Link

      Hi Mark

      My wife and 2 children are moving to Sydney in July. I’m on a 457, I’ll be working in the city and we are looking for a place to settle in the Greater Sydney suburbs. Though I’d like to, I shan’t ask for great places to live in Sydney. What would be great is a recommendation of suburbs that have good primary schools (private, catholic or Christian), within 45 min-1hr commute using public transport and reasonable rental prices. Are there any places in the South western, greater western and northern suburbs of Sydney you could recommend for a family with young children?

    • Ra April 27, 2017, 11:23 pm | Link

      Hi Mark

      My wife and 2 children are moving to Sydney in July. I’m on a 457, I’ll be working in the city and we are looking for a place to settle in the Greater Sydney suburbs. Though I’d like to, I shan’t ask for great places to live in Sydney. What would be great is a recommendation of suburbs that have good primary schools (private, catholic or Christian), within 45 min-1hr commute using public transport and reasonable rental prices. Are there any places in the South western, greater western and northern suburbs of Sydney you could recommend for a family with young children?

      • Paul April 28, 2017, 7:30 am | Link

        Hi Mark,
        Having put 2 girls through private Catholic schooling, I’d advise to have a look at the public system, which is very good in Australia. Private schooling is very expensive, which is great if you can afford it, although looking back on the last 14 years, I’d say not great value. There’s a lot of other things you can do with $250k…like try to buy an eighth of a house. The Northern suburbs of Sydney are jokingly referred to as the “Bible belt” due to the large preponderance of middle class Christian’s who populate those areas…and possibly by the absence of Mosques. There are a lot of Christian schools just about everywhere in Sydney, but particularly in the North West. Catholic schools here are funded by the government and provide a standard of education roughly similar to the government schools, but you still pay private fees. There is also a wide variation in the perceived prestige and fees charged in the various Catholic Schools. Sydney does not have “reasonable rental prices”, but if you are very well paid that should not be a problem. Baulkham Hills is at the geographic centre of Sydney, is about a 50 minute commute to the city (by bus) and is also the heart of the bible belt. I’d start there and work your way either north or south, however if you can find a place near a train line, that is gold for commuting in Sydney, the roads are a joke.
        Hope that helps.

  • Rahul March 23, 2017, 3:01 am | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I got an offer for Sydney of 70K, I want to live with my spouse and no children. Please help is this offer Okay to live in Sydney.

    Please suggest.

    • BobinOz March 23, 2017, 9:19 pm | Link

      It’s going to be tight, very tight. 70K is an average Australian salary, slightly below if anything, and Sydney is above average for the cost of living. Particularly housing and accommodation.

      You need to do a full budget if you are considering this offer, and pay special attention to where you’re going to live and how much that will cost you each month. You can do that on my page called Cost of Buying or Renting a House in Australia and you can do the rest of your budget with help from The Cost of Living in Australia of Everything.

    • Paul April 28, 2017, 7:35 am | Link

      Hi Rahul,
      Provided your spouse is working too and has a similar income, you should be able to make ends meet. Rent in Sydney is going to set you back around $500 to $900 per week for an average one or two bedrrom house/flat depending on where it is. The closer to the CBD, the Harbour or the beach, the more expensive it will be.
      Hope that helps.

  • Amy Clarke March 12, 2017, 7:09 pm | Link

    Hi bob my husband has been offered work in Sydney northern beaches .. we have a pretty good life here in tbe U.K. But it has got us thinking we have lived abroad before an never really wanted it thought about oz .. the wages are low I think compared to the prices we have seen in reguards to rent etc … also do we have to pay for schools what are the hidden costs etc the company will pay for our visa and flights , another thing I’m dreading with two year old 🙈 Will it be worth it is aus really that much better ..

    • Mark March 13, 2017, 6:38 am | Link

      Its a very big question you pose which is a complicated answer but yes in the main I would say all day long Australia is worth it, The salaries are generally higher and I am personally convinced the cost of living for us is less than UK. There are a number of variables. We dont rent, we bought rental seems higher here compared to UK. Some things are more expensive, some food items some utilities but then say council tax is probably around a third, fuel less.
      School fees are not easy to answer for PR visa holders they are apart from some contributions pretty what free but for Temporary visa holders some states charges NSW being one. You say the company is paying fights visas etc , you may need tu fund your furniture move eg possessions even TV car etc.
      As for is it worth it well, what an experience your little person and yourselves could have, something you have done. I’ve lived on three different in 4 different countries. I have a degree but also have gained a ‘degree in life’ I think you should ask what will you lose and if its negligible give it a go or in ten years time you will be wondering I wonder what if?

      • BobinOz March 13, 2017, 8:53 pm | Link

        As Mark has said, it’s a difficult question to answer, nobody can tell for sure whether you would prefer your life here and be better off or not. Sydney though is almost uniquely different from the rest of Australia, although Melbourne is almost as bad when it comes to housing costs.

        Houses in Sydney (and Melbourne) are ridiculously expensive and way out of whack with most of the rest of the country. And as Mark has suggested, 457 visa holders do have to pay for state schools in NSW, see…

        So it very much depends on how much money your husband will be earning in Sydney, where you will be living exactly and how much you will be paying for that. If you have concerns, maybe try exploring whether your husband could work from a different city? We have other fine cities where state education is free to 457 visa holders and housing costs are significantly lower.

        If it does have to be Sydney though, then you probably should sit down and do a proper budget to see how you would get by, my page The Cost of Living in Australia of Everything will help you with that.

  • Etta March 8, 2017, 12:14 am | Link

    Hi, I was wondering if we need work contracts/pay slips to rent a place. We’re a family of three moving on skilled independent visa (189) and we wont have jobs on arrival. Or will it be sufficient to show a bank account statement with our savings? Thanks in advance!

    • BobinOz March 8, 2017, 11:37 pm | Link

      There is no set formula for this, each landlord makes a decision on whether to rent to somebody simply based on the information presented to them. My advice is to give as much information as you can to support your case, so yes, bank statements, savings, proof of previous good rental or mortgage payments and just answer any other questions the rental agency might ask.

      Anything that works in your favour is worth mentioning.

  • Joen March 6, 2017, 3:45 am | Link

    Hi, Bob!

    What is the approximate cost of living in Sydney? Apartement and houses. I haven’t even graduated yet, but I have plans for the future, and those plans include either LA or Sydney for the most part. The cities and countries are very different but I’m mostly interested in the weather and a big, interesting city.
    Another question I also have is if it’s worth going to a UNI in either Sydney or Melbourn. Are they any good?


    • BobinOz March 7, 2017, 7:26 pm | Link

      Sydney is our most expensive city by a long way when it comes to apartments and houses. See my page Cost of Buying or Renting a House in Australia to research current prices. As for the weather in Sydney, there is a chart in the above article.

      I couldn’t tell you whether you’d be better off in Sydney or Melbourne for university, there probably wouldn’t be much in it, they are our to the guest cities.

      • Joen March 8, 2017, 5:25 am | Link

        Thanks! Do you have a page on the subject of universities on this website? Or just schools in general?

        • BobinOz March 8, 2017, 11:53 pm | Link

          Yes, I have lots of information on schools, you will find it all on my page called Which school? Be sure to look at the additional links at the foot of that article.

          Unfortunately I don’t have anything specifically about universities, but I do have an expert who can help international students; read about that on my page called Student Visas. Good luck, Bob

          • Joen March 10, 2017, 5:25 am | Link


  • Carlos March 4, 2017, 5:05 am | Link

    Hi Bob, I’m a Construction Project Manager from Mexico and we have received our Subclass 190 visa, we are planning to move in the next 6 or 9 months to NSW, so my question is, which suburb on Sydney or cities near Sydney do you recomend? I’m married with 2 girls, 6 and 3 yrs old.

    thank you

    • BobinOz March 5, 2017, 10:24 pm | Link

      Well, I can’t help with this, I don’t know Sydney well enough, I live in Brisbane. But people who do know Sydney do help out quite regularly, but you will need to give more information. What you want from a suburb? Where will you be working? What’s your budget?

      • Gloria March 22, 2017, 7:40 am | Link

        Pls we live in Spain and are planning to relocate to Australia, I would like to know the best place to live in Australia with my family, we need a place where they have good primary and secondary schools. My wife is a nurse and am an administrator.

        • BobinOz March 22, 2017, 8:59 pm | Link

          There is no best place, just different places. Have a look at my page A Quick Guide to Choosing a City in Australia.

          For what it’s worth, at the moment Sydney and Melbourne are extremely expensive for housing, but it’s where most of the jobs are. As a nurse though, you would probably get work in Brisbane or Adelaide, both are cheaper and are worth considering on that basis.

          Good luck, Bob

  • mike February 22, 2017, 2:16 am | Link

    Hi bob, I would like to know how to get a Job in Australia before moving in and the company that can help secure a work visa together like the complete package if there’s any, Any useful information will be really appreciated.

  • Allegra Orangi February 17, 2017, 6:14 pm | Link

    I was wondering what type of weather is there in sydney, usually

    • BobinOz February 17, 2017, 9:41 pm | Link

      Well, it’s the type of weather that is fully explained underneath the heading in the above article, which is in bold, and says ‘What’s the weather like?’

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