I’ve recently had a few expats contact me for some tips and best kept secrets about moving to Sydney so I thought I’d share some for people visiting and moving over to this city. There is a lot to do here so I’m not going to go into too much detail about it but here’s a quick summary for you all of my visiting or moving to Sydney tips!

1. VISA – If you are coming over for a holiday than its very easy to get a visa. If you want to live here then it’s another matter. There are a few ways you can move to Australia;

  1. Working Holiday Visa – This is the easiest way IF you are under 31. You can obtain this visa before your 31st birthday which lasts for 1 year allowing you to work anywhere in Aus but for only 6 months per employer. If you carry out farm work/fruit picking for 90 days during that year, you can obtain another 1 year visa to use before your 31st birthday. I used my first visa in 2006 when I was 23 and slogged out the fruit picking to use my second visa in 2012 when I was 29. Once your work visa runs out, you can’t automatically go onto a tourist visa if you wanted to hang around for a while. You must leave the country and then come back in on a tourist visa.
  2. Partner Visa – This is what I am currently on. I came back into Aus on a tourist visa, waited out that visa until it expired 3 months later to apply for the Partner Visa. You have to be living with your partner for 1 year before you apply for the visa. We were travelling during that time so as long as you can prove you have been together (literally seeing eachother face to face the whole time then you can get that visa.) 9 months on from when I applied for the visa, I still haven’t heard back yet. But I hold full working rights until the visa has been granted.
  3. Marriage Visa – If you are already married then you can get the visa. I’m not sure how easy it is to obtain though.
  4. Sponsorship – You find an employer who will sponsor you. I know they won’t for Admin jobs so make sure you have a good job to come into. A friend of mine boyfriend recently was offered sponsorhip for coaching a local football team so it can be done!

Defacto Visa

 

This is what my visa looked like. To read my visa story click here

2. HOW TO GET A JOB – The best site to go on would be Seek for all industries. If Media related then Pedestrian TV is also a good site. If you are on a Working Holiday Visa, be prepared to do only temporary work because the visa limits you to work for an employer for 6 months. I found Chandler McLeod recruitment agency was the best to find work. I wasted a good 2 months applying for full time work and didn’t get anywhere because employers will rarely look at your CV if you are on a WHV. Once I applied for Temp work, I got a job within a week. Temping pays pretty well. Go for the Government roles if you can and don’t go below $25 an hour for any role they put you forward for. If you are looking for cafe/bar related work then Gumtree would be best but you have to do a day’s course to get a licence to serve alcohol over here (which you have to pay for).

Pedestrian

3. RENTING  – If you are looking to rent over in Sydney then the best site to use would be Domain. This has all the rentals on the market. I would check everyday because the competition is fierce here. If you see somewhere you like then call the Real Estate Agent straight away, don’t wait for the open inspection. See if you can get in to view the property before anyone else as you may end up competing with a lot of other people for that one place. I’ve been to open inspections where at least 50 other people turned up to view the same property.

A good tip as well, if you have to wait until the open inspection, go and look at the outside of the property and around the area to get a feel for the place. Fill out all of the application forms and make sure you have you id points ready (each real estate will differ with what they want from you). Take all forms and print outs of id with you to the viewing because you’ll have to make your mind up straight away if you want the property because someone else will get it. Be friendly and talk to the real estate that’s conducting the viewing. You will want him to remember you because it can come down to who they liked more and make sure you dress well. One real estate told us he hated it when guys turned up in shorts and thongs (flip flops) so although you think Australia is all casual, make sure you are at least presentable for house viewings.

A good one bed property will be on average $500 a week in Sydney CBD, so that includes Bondi, Surry Hills, Paddington, Balmain, Kirribilli etc. You only pay for electricity over here so no TAX or Water bills (from what I’ve experienced). The further West you go the cheaper it is.

Domain

4. WHERE TO RENT

  1. Eastern Suburbs –  for the beaches. To get away from the mega touristy Bondi, try Coogee, Bronte or North Bondi for quieter but still scenic areas.
  2. Balmain – Always feels like it’s a town by itself. Reminds me a lot of London for a the cool pubs and millions of them, great cafe culture where the tables spill onto the streets.
  3. Kirribilli – This is the suburb I live in which is just over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is very central but is much quieter than living in the city, has the best harbour views and has a great village feel to it.
  4. Newtown / Erskinville  – This is the more alternative and trendy areas which houses loads of antique shops and people that actually dress different to one another rather than the same same you see everywhere else. There are some good bars and restaurants such as Newtown Hotel, Kuki Tanuki (Japanese restaurant).
  5. Alexandria – This is up and coming with loads of cool warehouse cafes and restaurants such as Kitchen By Mike and The Grounds of Alexandria.
  6. Paddington / Woolhara – I love this area, it’s just north of Oxford Street on the way to the Eastern Suburbs (where the beach is). The houses are really beautiful and it has a real sense of a community in this suburb with lots of beautiful shops and cafes dotted around.
  7. Surrey Hills – This is a great area if you want to live in the city with loads of cafes and bars to keep you entertained.

Living

5. GETTING AROUND – To find out how to travel around Sydney use the site 131500 to plan your trip from A to B which have all buses and trains listed. Here’s the novelty of Sydney trains which have 3 levels, it’s exciting stuff!

sydney-train

6. DRIVING ON SYDNEY ROADS – Sydney drivers a bit mental and don’t use the lanes properly so be careful when driving as what I know to be the slow, medium and fast lane doesn’t really work over here and people will undertake to get to their destination that little bit quicker. Don’t speed at all, police and cameras are quick to give you points and a hefty fine. They are HUGE on this over here. Also if there are any public holiday’s there will be monitors flashing ‘Double Demerit Points’ which means you will get double points off your licence if caught speeding during the holiday period. You can also drink 1 drink every hour if driving, be careful though because yet again the Police are ready to pull you over for a random RBT (Random Breatherliser Test). The Fuel on the other hand is dirt cheap in Australia. It costs us up to $40 to fill a tank up. That’s twenty quid or so for the Brits out there.

7. WHAT’S ON GUIDE – If you are looking for the best up to date guide on what’s going on in Sydney or Melbourne then Broadsheet is my go to. I think it’s a bit better than Time Out as it’s more for locals rather than tourists. They have a guide for Sydney and one for Melbourne (issued in cafes but best to find online and upload their app) and I use this site every week to find out the new cafes, to latest art exhibitions to awesome parties that are going on. They even have a weekend section and it’s really good if you are just visiting Sydney because if you are looking for a bar that has a rooftop or a good beer garden, it will show you what features you want which are available in the area. Same goes for cafes and restaurants. I really love this site. It’s a must to download the app when visiting or moving to Sydney/Melbourne.

Broadsheet

8. WHAT TO DO IN SYDNEY

  1. As a tourist the first thing I’d see is the Opera House at Sydney Harbour, Sydney’s most iconic place. It is stunning there. Then go take a boat ride, you can get hop on hop off boat trips for the day which go all around the harbour.
  2. Walk from Opera House to the Botanical Gardens is lovely. The Restaurant in the Gardens is also great!
  3. Coastal Walks – the Bondi to Coogee walk is magnificent. Try to not do it on weekends as it’s crazy busy!
  4. Food – I could talk about the amazing restaurants all day long – start with ice cream at the world’s number 1 ice cream place Gelato Messina.
  5. Bridge Climb is a must! Also book yourself a tall ships cruise along the harbour. I went a few years ago and it was beautiful. Free booze and food for the entire trip, it was awesome (from what I remember!) Groupon regularly does deals for this trip.
  6. Pub crawl in Balmain/Surry Hills – both have loads of pubs to choose from.
  7. The Royal National Park – This is such a gem of a place. Rarely anyone there, make sure you have a car to get around in. There are some stunning beaches such as The Garie.
  8. Balmoral Beach – This is another gem north of the bridge with a great cafe on the wharf called Balmoral Boathouse. If you are feeling adventurous, head over the road to Obelix Bay – the nudist beach!
  9. The Orpheum Cinema – This cinema is incredible. It’s by far the best one I have ever been to interms of beauty. It’s an art deco building and the staff all wear a vintage uniform. A must visit!
  10. The Weekend Markets in Sydney are a must – There are so many to choose from. I love the Kirribilli Markets as they have a great range of fashion stalls and its really cheap! Bondi markets are more expensive being the touristy area, Rozelle do a good market on a saturday too.
  11. I nearly forgot to mention the amazing Swimming Pools located pretty much on every beach, there are some amazing pools around. I really like the 1920’s one in Cremorne Point that’s right on the Harbour. Also, Wiley Baths in Coogee and the famous Bondi Icebergs is without a doubt a must see to catch that iconic photo.

9.  TAKE A TRIP OUTSIDE OF SYDNEY – There is so much to do outside of Sydney, go and take a trip to one of my favourite destinations:

  1. Jervis Bay (2 hours south of Sydney) – absolutely stunning beaches in a National Park. You will have to pay an entrance fee of about $20 per car. It’s a must do!
  2. Nelson Bay (2 hours north of Sydney) – This place is gorgeous, has a bigger harbour than Sydney and houses a lot of dolphins. I’d be suprised if you didn’t see any. A must do is hire out a little dingy boat. Its about $70 for 4 hours. You can fish or just sit back and watch the dolphins pass you by.
  3. Blue Mountains (1 and a half hours west of Sydney) – This has the most beautiful scenery with some stunning walks. The town of Leura is a gorgeous town to visit and Katoomba where there mountains are has an awesome cafe called Yellow Deli which is so cool. Hand Built from pieces of drift wood and ran by a hippy community, they produce some amazing food that’s not Sydney prices 🙂
  4. Palm Beach – (1 hours north of Sydney) It’s just so beautiful and tropical and if you are especially British you’ll be pleased to know this is where they film Home & Away. I am so keen to try out a restaurant called Jonahs in Whale Beach near there which looks amazing right over the cliffs. That’s a definite must do!

Days out of Sydney

 

10. IF BOOKING SOMEWHERE TO STAY, I recommend using Airbnb, Agoda, Couch Surfing or just the usual Last Minute, Hostelworld and Trip Advisor (which is also good for bars and restaurants)

11. FLYING OUT OF SYDNEY – If you want to explore some other destinations around Australia, the best sites to use are Tiger Air (the cheapest), JestStar, Virgin AustraliaWebjet and Skyscanner. Book well inadvance for super cheap flights.

12. THE BEST PUBS IN SYDNEY – Note most pubs are called Hotels in Australia. It’s confusing but you’ll get it.

  1. The Lord Dudley – A proper British Pub
  2. The Lord Nelson  – The next near to British Pub
  3. Watson’s Bay Hotel – A perfect weekend pub for people watching (this is a bit glammed up) that’s right on the water with a big beer garden.
  4. The Glenmore – A good rooftop pub right in the heart of Sydney for harbour views.
  5. Frankies Pizza – A great little find that’s a kitsch pizzeria until you walk through the doors to a mod rockers bar. Awesome!

Watsons Bay Hotel

13. THE BEST FOOD IN SYDNEY – The food is amazing here. There are so many places to try out.

  1. Bread & Circus – Absolutely love this place, all organic wholefoods and its amazing!
  2. Quay – If you want to push the boat out and have a romantic dinner right on the harbour as it’s been rated as one of the best restaurants in the world!
  3. Sadhana Kitchen – Sydney’s first Raw Cafe. They serve up the best raw food in Sydney hands down! Love, love this place.
  4. The Grounds Of Alexandria – It would be a crime not to mention this place as it’s an institution in Sydney. Always packed and theres a reason why – Its super cheap and amazing food thats all mostly grown on site. It doesn’t get much better than here but arrive early to get a table.
  5. Cafe Sydney – This is one I’ve not been to yet, but it’s meant to be one of the best in Sydney. Reasonably priced and has amazing views over the harbour, it’s a must go to!
  6. Cottage Inn – Although this restaurant is out of Sydney in Kur-rin-gui National Park (1 hour north of Sydney) it looks amazing. You can get a sea plane to there from Sydney Harbour. It’s a definite must go to!!

Food Places

NOTE – You must book in advance any restaurants in Sydney because they get booked up fast especially on weekends. Be prepared to queue for cafes, that’s the norm here.

If you have any questions, please comment below. Thanks!

Don’t forget I’m on Instagram and Facebook 🙂

Visiting or Moving to Sydney Tips
5 (100%) 4 votes
  • Ella

    Hi Annabel,
    I just stumbled on your blog today, and needless to say i’m still smiling from such an amazing discovery. It is truly a rich mine of information, particularly from someone like me, on the verge of joining my husband who is already there, with our two daughters in tow. I suppose it’s normal to be a bit paranoid about searching for whatever information you can find on what life in a totally different country and culture is like, and boy, am i happy i found you! You got a lot covered. Useful tips i can even share with my husband who’s been there just a little over six weeks and still moans about how lonely it is without friends, and not knowing a lot of places he could go without further depleting an already ‘rapidly vanishing’ bank account, also the stiff competition that renting a place surprisingly is…plus a couple of other things. I’m sure he will be grateful to read your blog too. Well, enough of my ramblings…just sooo grateful i saw your blog

    • londoner

      Hi Ella, what a lovely comment. Thank you so much!! Best of luck with the move, you’ll be fine! If you ever need any advice please let me know 🙂

  • Great post, I wish I’d found your blog before we emigrated! We came out on a temp visa and are currently waiting for our skilled migration PR to come through- can’t wait!

    We are Dannah | Australian lifestyle blog
    xo

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