Living in Sydney, Australia: An expat s guide - The Skinny

Living in Sydney Australia

Sydney / January 2, 2021

Bondi Spring timeAlready 3 months in, I’ve had a good taste of the realities of living in Sydney. Aside from my reactions to Aussie TV the transition has been smooth and relatively easy. All the things we thought we would love about Sydney living are true. There’s just a few things that bug me….

Things I Love About Living In Sydney

1. Life’s a beach. Hundreds of them around the harbour alone. I have nothing negative to say about this.

2. Convenience is King. Having lived most of my life in a city that haphazardly grew over hundreds of years it is refreshing to move to a place which demonstrates a certain level of prior planning. Houses have parking spaces (can you believe it London?), you may park directly outside a shop without getting arrested or causing major delays throughout the borough, and the streets are arranged in a way that one can navigate without needing advanced map reading.

Bugging me: someone forgot to apply the same common sense approach to buses. Nowhere on the bus stops near me does it state where the buses are going. Only select routes tell you where the bus actually is once on board and most buses are pre-paid only – leaving you wandering the streets in the hope of finding a 7-11 who will sell you a ticket . (Convenience stores are the only place you can get them – I think!) Also the air con on buses is arctic, this may be useful in summer but for now I would kindly like to ask the powers that be to turn it down a notch.

Brewtown Newtown3. Food is fresh. There is an abundance of fresh, ripe fruit and veg in my local supermarket, which they display on blocks of ice to keep it extra crisp. Australia in general has an amazing foodie scene which the world (and tourism board – hello #RestaurantAustralia campaign) are slowly catching on to. Organic, Asian and baked goods are really strong in Sydney, I haven’t had a bad meal yet.

Bugging me: don’t judge (although I know you will as this is bad) but I sort of miss a good ready meal. Sometimes, when you’re working late and can’t summon the energy to cook, a M&S Fuller For Longer popped in the microwave works a treat. Semi-healthy microwave meals are not a thing here (perhaps because the Aussies know this is an oxymoron) but I sort of wish it was. Plus (the confessions get worse) I really miss Pret, Eat and those of a similar ilk. For the same reason that sometimes you just want to grab a salad or sandwich and go, I miss the convenience (and price point) of the sandwich/salad bar chains we have back home. Chain stores are a dirty word where we live in Sydney; I can get artisan focaccia on every corner but there’s no chance of a dirty chicken and bacon sub.

Brunch at Bread & CircusCronuts for dinner again then! At Brewtown Newtown

4. Avo (avocado to you and I) is everywhere. Avocado is the ultimate side in Sydney – with your brekkie, salad, nachos, toast, whatever – you can always get avo (as long as you are willing to pay extra.) I’m a particular fan of the B.L.A.T ( a regular BLT with avocado) or the B.R.A.T (that’s bacon, rocket, avocado and tomato, Dahl.)

Bugging me: can you have too much of a good thing? I’m getting close!

5. The coffee. It’s good. Home roasted, freshly ground, organic, arty latte – this place takes its coffee seriously and I, for one, am loving it.

Bugging me: please, o please Sydney, can you keep your cafes open later than 3pm? This city seems to be full of morning people who are up brewing, serving and buying coffee from the crack of dawn, hence by 3pm the coffee shop owners (rightfully) want to go home. But what about us late risers/workers? I’ve tried several times to have meetings or catch ups with clients and friends around 3 o’clock and been asked to move on when we’re just getting started. Where do people go at this time? Surely it’s too early for the pub?

6.The weather. It’s no secret us Brits move to Oz for the warmer weather. I’ve spent Winter here walking along beaches and working on my balcony. Roll on the summer.

Blue skies at Sydney Opera HouseBugging me: The weather can sometimes be wildly unpredictable. It was 30 degrees at the weekend until a storm rolled through and bought temperatures down to 11 yesterday. At least I am well versed at dressing for these situations. And it gives us all something to talk about. Those weather reports of pure sun and 0% rain were getting a bit repetitive!

7. Barbies. People use bbqs here like a second oven – in fact our oven doesn’t have a grill, the realtor simply pointed at the gas connection on the balcony. Our neighbours throw everything from their morning bacon to lunch time sausage on theirs – I’m overjoyed to learn a bbq is not just a weekend activity.

Bugging me: cleaning them. There are also public bbq facilities at beaches and parks (hurrah) but I don’t know anyone who would go near them without a litre of Dettol.

8. Gym wear is street wear. For my first few weeks in Sydney I was so impressed by the amount of people I saw on their way to/from the gym – or so I thought. It turns out those people shopping in Coles in lycra and Nikes weren’t on their way home from a workout – it was just the way they dressed. As a freelancer whose work from home uniform is yoga pants and comfy slippers, I can now leave the house without feeling odd.

Bugging me: in general, I have no idea where to shop here. There seems to be a wide gap between high street and high end fashion, with not many affordable yet stylish brands in the middle. I could always resort to Topshop but that feels like cheating

9. Being a tourist in your own home. As a travel blogger with an addiction to travel the fact I can go sightseeing and discover new places all day long but still return to my own bed at night is bliss.

Bugging me: obvs if all my friends and family would just move here too it would be perfect.

Being a tourist in the Botanical Gardens

10. Just being here. But overall the best thing about living in Sydney is that I am doing it. I’ve always dreamed about moving to Oz and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. I have nothing negative to say about that.

Botanical Gardens