I might still be nick named Frenchie, but I have been in Sydney long enough to be a local! So, here is some local knowledge I wish I had when I first arrived in Australia… I hope it can help any one who is thinking of relocating or moving to Sydney.
Where to live?
Sydney is a beautiful place for its harbour. The city is surrounded by bays and beaches. Of course there is stuff to do in the water & on the beach everywhere: surfing, rowing, diving, swimming, sailing, paddling, kayaking, beach walks, photography… the only one thing I would not recommend: sun baking (the sun is very aggressive in Australia).
Depending on what your profile is you will find an area that suits you best amongst the multitude of suburbs. If you are moving from a major metropolis and looking to make the most of the Aussie lifestyle, do not hesitate: find a place near the harbour or a beach! That is what I did and I have never regretted leaving Paris!
– Darlinghurst/ Surry Hills: Lots of places to go out, bars, restaurants & shopping… super convenient for those who work in the CBD. Probably 20 min from the water.
– Other areas around the city like Elisabeth Bay, Glebe, Leichardt, Newtown… are worth having a look at but don’t expect anything like Little Italy, East Village…. Sydney is small scale and the international/arty communities are not deeply influential.
– The one neighbourhood I would recommend to avoid: Kings Cross. Nights in the Cross are always fun at the time, but always horrible the next morning and you certainly don’t want to live too close to it!
– Bondi: Great beach & social scene. Perfect for those who want to be at the heart of the action. Gets quiet busy in summer, as it is the main beach accessible from the city and Western Suburbs. There are also other lovely areas around Bondi like Bronte, Coogee, Tamarama… but not as accessible.
Suburbs North of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are described as “OTB” Over The Bridge. For sure, at some point during your stay here you will experience the great Northern/ Easter Suburbs divide.
– Kirribilli, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Balmoral: Great spots along the harbour’s shore. Relatively easily acces to/ from the city by bus or ferry.
– Further North is Manly (first beach on the Northern beaches- where I live). Great surf beach (I find the quality of banks here a lot more consistent than in Bondi. Even when it’s busy the crowd is also friendlier!!). Manly would be described as hippie, Bondi as Hipster… Manly is a lot more chilled out, not as much going but still super fun and offers a nice community feeling (particularly around Queenscliff and Freshie)
For those who work in the CBD, the ferry has to be the nicest commute in the world. Coming to Manly after a day at work feels like a mini holiday.
Not ideal if you like going out in the city as the ferry stops at midnight and a cab ride will be a good $50 to $60!
Further north are other beautiful beaches: the Northern beaches. Better for a day trip than to settle when you first arrive.
What not to miss:
There are a few milestones throughout the year that you don’t want to miss it.
If you have friends who intend to visit you in Sydney, strongly encourage them to come during Australian the summer and time it with some of the event below, they will fall in love with the plance!
– Sydney to Hobart departure (dec 26):
Great spot to watch the race: from South head, Mosman, North head… make sure you secure your spot early as it gets super busy. Another good way to do it is to get on a boat or on a ferry!
– NYE: Always spectacular. So spectacular he first year I was here that I decided to move to Sydney. Yes it is that impressive! Totally worth the $500 that any venue on the harbour will ask for a NYE party. Do it once!
– Sydney Festival: Every January
All sorts of concerts and arts exhibition all around the city. Most of them for free and some venues also put on great shows together during the period. Have a look at the program and book your most wanted ones. Some artists don’t tour Australia that often so concerts can get sold out
– Vivid: Every May
Light shows all around the city. Beautiful way to make Sydney sexy at night. Photographers’ heaven, perfect excuse to go out during the week!
– City2surf: Mid August (Sunday)
14Km run from the CBD to Bondi beach. Might be the biggest event of the kind in the world. Even if you don’t want to run it, go along! It is a really fun day and a great way to explore Sydney in a very Australian Spirit!
A few obvious things you will miss if you come from a big European/ American city:
– The multi cultural feel of Europe. If you drive 5 hours out of Sydney and the landscape still looks the same. The main international hubs around Sydney are apprx a 10h flight away.
– Shopping: Ladies, shop at home before you arrive in Sydney. What you will find here is a limited range of over priced items…
– Grocers markets: They simply don’t exist here
– Proper public transports: Train & bus networks are pretty shocking in Sydney and traffic is very bad 😦
– Affordable cost of living: Prices are creeping up. In some areas, basic products are totally out of proportion (eg: a smoothie for $7.5)
– Super fast internet & Wifi everywhere: Sydney is not on the map for Google Fibre… the government is rolling out the National Broadband Network, but it’s not a done deal.
Things to tick of your list:
– Shortening every single word and calling your friends “mates”
– Drinking flat white
– Taking a surf lesson
– Joining Surf Life Saving, or your local triathlon squad, bowling club….
– Whale watching
– Getting sunburnt
– Playing lawn balls (and drinking too much beer)
– Going to the pub to watch Australia play England or NZ in Rugby,
– Falling asleep watching a cricket test on TV on a hot summer day
– Watching surf life savings competition (particularly rowing. You will understand when you see it)
– Sailing on Sydney harbour
– Hitting the beach before and after work