Seeing as this blog is about a Londoner living in Sydney, I thought I’d write an obvious post about the differences to living in both cities in a battle of Sydney Vs London. More and more Brits are making the move over to Australia and so here’s what I have found to be the good and the bad of leaving life in London to make a fresh start on the other side of the world.
You can read all the posts in the world about whether it’s a good idea with making the big move but at the end of the day the only thing standing in your way is going to be the big ‘fear’. Regardless of my good and bad points, I always think it’s a brilliant idea to make that step because in the end, England or whatever country you are from isn’t going anywhere and you can always go back. I find that when I visit the UK after three years away now that everything is exactly the same. Yeah there’s maybe a bit of new infrastructure here or there, but when it comes to friends or family, everything is still exactly the same and everyone is still talking about the same things.
So here are my open and honest thoughts about the good & bad to living in Sydney with a bit of what I miss about UK thrown in. Please don’t take this to heart, I’m just expressing how I feel about living in another city on the other side of the world…
THE GOOD – SYDNEY
1. The Weather
This is the one topic Brit’s can talk about until the cows come in. With the long winter months that seem to drag on and on, British people love a good moan.
The weather here in Australia completely outweighs the miserable months on end of rain in UK. This has to be my favourite part of living in Sydney as we pretty much get glorious bright blue skies every single day and when the sun is out in winter it’s not that cold. The average temp in winter is around 16C – 18C which isn’t that bad but requires a good coat and layers. I absolutely love Winter in Sydney, it’s so beautiful with far less tourists. The best part is the lack of rain. It will rain for a week or so during winter and that’s about it with maybe one or two days here or there with a down pour.
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2. The Light
I’ve noticed that at the height of winter it will get dark by 5pm and light by 6:45am. This makes a huge difference to those dark miserable winter months in UK. It is so bright here and those bright blue skies are the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Recently I witnessed the best sunset I have ever seen anywhere in the world while I was on my way home from work smack ban in the middle of winter. Does it get any better than this?
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3. The Beach
The beaches in and around Sydney are amazing and the best part is the fact that there are so many to choose from with many being deserted and untouched. Most people seem to congregate in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney opting for the more iconic beaches to spend their days on such as Bondi or Coogee. There are however so many more around which are completely untouched and breathtaking. My favourites include The Garie & Wattamulla in The Royal National Park, Gunamatta Bay in Cronulla, Nelson Bay in Port Stephens and Jervis Bay a three hour drive south of Sydney. The best part is that I don’t think there are many places in the world where you can live by a stunningly gorgeous deserted beach and still commute half an hour to get to that country’s biggest city. Not bad at all.
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4. The Outdoors
There are the most stunning parks in Sydney such as the Royal National Park and Ku-ring-gai National Park which are so untouched with barely any visitors. That’s the beauty of Sydney, people won’t travel very far, so these parks, only a thirty minute drive out of Sydney sees barely any visitors. This is something that I really notice because if these existed in or around London, they would be packed full of people everywhere.
The Blue Mountains, only an hour and a half drive out of Sydney is absolutely stunning and such a rarity to see anything like this that is so close to the biggest city in any country. There are many incredible walking tracks in this park which are very tropical, a must do if you are even just over for a visit.
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5. The Lifestyle
At first it was a bit daunting seeing people everywhere exercising or taking part in boot camp sessions before, during or after work but now I really love the idea of the whole thing. People tend to be really healthy here and they are generally so fit looking it’s mental (or awesome if you are single!). I think obviously the weather has a lot to do with this which helps with being active whether going for a run or a hike in the great outdoors. I absolutely love how Sydney sucks you in to become a totally different person. Suddenly you actually care about your body and you want to only put the right food in and and that balance of a good workout.
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6. The Food & Wine
The food is awesome in Australia, I personally think Australia has the best food in the world! Due to its tropical climate, the fresh produce is amazing and the restaurants and cafes really take advantage of this and there are some amazing one’s out there. The quality is so good which matches the higher price tag that you’d pay in comparison to the UK but the food in UK is absolutely terrible.
With a big Asian influence, there are so many sushi shops in Sydney that are mostly very good and people generally eat really well with various health conscious cafes all over the city. There aren’t places like Pret, Eat or Pure in Australia as of yet as people are more on the run in England and will pay for pre-packaged food. Over here food courts are big where you’ll get someone to make you a sandwich from scratch.
You don’t even see microwave meals in Aus like you do in England where people find time to cook meals rather than put it in a microwave. People are aware that we should all be eating real food and it’s evident there’s a massive push for it here.
The wine is also amazing, and is some of the best I’ve ever had and there is such a huge variety to choose from and it can be pretty cheap if buying from a shop. If in a restaurant it will cost you $40 upwards.
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7. Work/Life Balance
If there’s one amazing thing about living in Sydney it’s got to be the work/life balance. Long gone are my hectic mornings of getting to work on time. Now I get up at least 2 and a half hours before work to enjoy the outdoors, exercise and cycle to work. I would have never have done that before. Bondi beach is rammed between 6-8am with people surfing, doing a bootcamp or yoga session or just purely going for a run along the beach. It’s magical. Where I live, I have been able to run along the harbour and see the sun rising over Sydney Harbour Bridge. Every single time I pinch myself I am living in Sydney.
Imagine your 30 minute bus ride home to the most amazing beach only to grab your swimmers and go for an evening swim? This is what you’d get in Sydney.
I’ve also found that of all the companies I’ve worked for, employers are more relaxed to you taking annual leave. If you work for an employer for a few years, you can get month’s off to travel. You’ll also get a number of sick days to take a year including 20 days annual leave and numerous public holidays.
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THE BAD – SYDNEY
I have to remember I was lucky with the transport system in London as there are so many ways to get to numerous places. Over in Sydney it’s a bit different. You’ll pretty much only have the option of getting a train or a bus into the city, not both. There are many places in Sydney that I am surprised don’t have train lines. It’s quite astonishing. Good job Sydney is quite small, I tend to get taxi’s or drive to most places.
Because Sydney has way fewer people than in London, getting to work on public transport has never been an issue of fighting for a seat. I always remember in London watching grown men in suits pushing women out of the way to get on the tube. Also you don’t need to be worried about accidentally making eye contact with anyone on the trains here as people aren’t as mental as you’ll find in London. Phew!
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2. The Roads
Most people drive to work meaning there is a big build up of traffic in Sydney. Now people don’t need to have any lessons over here to take their driving test meaning your parents can just teach you if needs be. Firstly, the lanes are really narrow and so you always feel like another driver is going to crash into you. Driving in Sydney is very cut throat, people won’t let you into a space at all and if you are turning onto a main road, you could end up sat there waiting to turn into it for a long time.
I also want to talk about the lanes here. In UK you have the slow, middle and fast lane and everyone sticks to the slow lane unless they are overtaking. Although this law does apply in Sydney, no one sticks to it at all and therefore everyone undertakes eachother by weaving in and out all the time. It really freaked me out at first and still does but it makes me feel so much calmer on the roads when I drive back in UK now.
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3. The Police
It’s a good thing that the police don’t have a great deal to do over here as it’s a really safe country. I never feel threatened at all or worried about anything happening. Even the school kids are actually really polite and not at all intimidating like the kids in London. It really makes me laugh when you’ll see five police cars each with 2 policemen all standing together pulling people over for an RBT (Random Breatherliser Test) on a Tuesday morning. Seriously??? Who on earth would be out drinking on a Monday night that would need 10 policemen to stop random cars at 11am on a Tuesday just to see if they are over the limit?
The police aren’t as friendly as they are in UK. I find there are a few contradictions here such as they are so strict about driving over the limit yet the law states that if you are driving you can drink one standard drink every hour. That means every single hour in that day, you can drink if you are driving, oh and men can have two drinks in the first hour. How mental is that? Also on the topic, if the police are going to do a big crackdown then don’t have drive through Bottle Shops (Off Licences). Yep they do exist! It’s like oh lets go down to the Bottlo and grab myself some beers to drink on the way home while I’m driving!
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This is more of a rant about missing British pubs. Unfortunately Australian pubs don’t have the character or atmosphere of a good British pub and you won’t be able to stand outside the pub with your drink like you can in London. There are a few good British pubs in Sydney like The Lord Dudley which makes up for it though!
Don’t expect the nightlife to be that great in Sydney’s CBD. There are now lockout laws meaning you can’t get into any club or pub after 1am. Also many bars have a strict drinks policy on the weekend meaning shots and doubles are off the cards after 12am. Don’t expect Sydney to be all chilled out about people drinking, it’s pretty much the opposite and the bouncers can really ruin your night if you actually look like you’re having fun.
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5. Damp / Mould in Homes
As I said before that winter isn’t too bad here, the only draw back to it is the lack of insulation and central heating so it can be colder indoors than it is outside. The worst part is the dampness. It gets so damp here in winter that we’ve had to once buy a de-humidifier in a for a past rental. I thought it was just happening in our place but it turns out everyone I know has the same problem. Make sure you thoroughly check the house before agreeing to take it on.
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6. Missing The Buzz
I really miss the buzz that London had. I miss the excitement of the seasons and how there was just a buzz in the air when everyone knew summer was on its way. I loved summer in London as there was so much going on, and I loved standing outside a crowd packed pub in Soho after work on a summer’s evening. I miss the fact that it doesn’t get dark until 10pm in the summer (the absolute latest is 8pm in Sydney).
I don’t know why there isn’t that buzz of excitement here in Sydney. I think maybe it’s because we are really lucky with the good whether Sydney has year round and therefore people aren’t as appreciative of it as they are when it finally arrives in UK. I also miss the buzz you get going to a gig in London. There are always so many gigs to choose from over there that in Australia, they will make a big deal if someone is coming over. Recently I saw you could buy tickets in advance for a Rick Astley concert in Sydney at one of the main gig venues. I mean, Rick Astley of all people??? Really??? He’d be lucky to be playing at a local Leisure Centre in the UK and Australia are doing a pre-ticket sale for his gig here. Haha, crazy hey!?
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When it comes down to it, I would much prefer to live here in Sydney than back in London because the good definitely outweighs the bad.
For me the biggest pro’s are the weather, the pay, the healthy lifestyle and the great outdoors which I wouldn’t change for the world. But for some reason there is something missing. Obviously I miss my friends a lot but it has to be the buzz and that’s all I can put it down to. I suppose there is a huge buzz in the air in the UK because once the awful weather dries up, people are way more happier and are excited about the longer days and nights ahead in summer time.
It’s been really good for me to write this post! I am grateful for the consistent good weather and that’s why I assume the buzz doesn’t exist in Sydney. Obviously there is way more going on in London and way more people to create that buzz in the air but that’s all I can put it down to.
How are your experiences of living in Sydney or as an expat living in another country?
Thanks for reading!