Sydney-vs-london

Sydney vs London: Everything You Need To Know

What was one of the first blogs on this site, we’ve since completely overhauled this Sydney vs London blog post because so much has happened especially in the last year.

If you’re new to this site, we moved back to England for just six months in 2018 before we decided to move back to Australia. At first we LOVED living in England but as time went on, we quickly realised that it wasn’t for us.

You can read all about our time back in England right here >

You might be reading this because you’re wondering whether to move to London or whether to move to Sydney. In this case, which one will give you a better life?

We can definitely admit that London and Sydney are both amazing cities to visit, but what’s the reality like to live in both of them?

After moving to Sydney in 2011 and having a stint back in England, here’s what we really think about living in both London and Sydney, without holding back.

 Don’t take personal offence to this post, this is just our our own experience. 


1. How expensive is Sydney and London to live in?

cost-of-living-comparison-between-london-and-sydney
Read our living costs comparison between London and Sydney here.

To be honest, we found it actually more expensive to live in London than in Sydney. I know most people might disagree but that’s how we found it.

Transport is hugely more expensive in England as a whole, eating out is very expensive and so is fuel. We only found renting (only slightly), clothes shopping and grocery shopping to be cheaper in England.

Want to know more? Here’s just some of the costs to compare.

1 monthly train ticket from Brighton – London : Roughly AUD$1000.

1 monthly transport to work in Sydney: Roughly AUD$160 max

2x main meal at a thai restaurant in Brighton: Roughly AUD$90

2x main meal at a thai restaurant in Sydney: Roughly AUD$45

We found that we could technically save way more money in Australia because we tend to not spend much on weekends as we’re out at the beach or hiking which doesn’t cost anything except for the cheap fuel. This made a huge difference for us instead of buying into consumerism in England.

And whilst we’re on that note, consumerism is HUGE in England, like massive. We never noticed it before until moving back there. Clothes shops have new stock in almost daily unlike Australia which updates theirs like every few months.


2.  What’s it like working in London vs working in Sydney?

working in london vs sydney

Let’s get straight to the main point you’re probably wondering about with working in London vs working in Sydney. I have to admit, neither working in London or Sydney has been great, but from personal experience, here’s the things that stood out if you need a comparison.

The pay is generally higher in Australia but it’s relative with living expenses. Although saying that, we actually found it more expensive to live in England personally as we mention above.

I found it easier to get a decent job in London than in Sydney because there are so many more amazing global companies hiring than in Sydney. Also as a side note, it seems people have more of a live to work attitude in London and a work to live attitude in Sydney.

There’s a whole lot more you need to know about working in London vs Sydney so you need to read this blog about it below.


3. Pub life in London vs pub life in Sydney

english-pub-and-sydney-pub

British expats in Sydney definitely miss a decent pub which is no surprise because understandably they don’t have the heritage or character of an English pub. They are mostly called Hotels in Sydney which is totally confusing at first but you’ll get used to it.

Don’t expect to be able to stand outside the pub in Sydney like you can in London, there’s just too many rules to drinking in Sydney. But you actually can stand outside the pub at The Lord Dudley in Sydney, our personal favourite British pub in Sydney!

If you love to party, expect house parties to take over the clubbing scene in Sydney as there’s so many laws now that you won’t be able to go out and actually have a laugh in Sydney without being kicked out of a bar, you know for like laughing. You’ll notice how dead Sydney CBD is on weekends and during the week because no one goes out.

In London you can go out all night and not worry about getting served whereas in Sydney, the doormen and bar staff are really strict, like you’ll get asked about 10 questions about how many drinks you’ve had before you go into a pub in Sydney.

So basically just say goodbye to getting drunk in Sydney, probably a good thing anyway, right?


4. The weather really does make a difference

HEATWAVE-IN-ENGLAND copy
Read how the heatwave in England compares to Summer in Australia here >

I’m absolutely shooting myself in the foot for saying this because last year when we moved to England, we felt like the weather  just wasn’t enough for us anymore in Australia. Now that we’ve lived in both countries, I can confirm the weather really does make a HUGE difference to your life.

During the colder months in England we found it to be so miserable, it was beyond depressing. The sun barely rose from 8am-4pm each day and it was pretty much grey weather, every single day for what felt like forever. It definitely made us appreciate when there was sunshine but in general it was really depressing.

When it rained a lot, we were stuck indoors so we couldn’t do much at all. It also made people way more miserable but that’s a whole other point.

But although we get awesome weather in Australia, be prepared for Winter because it can get proper cold, like freezing. I know you’re probably laughing right now, thinking ‘I don’t need to bring a coat with me’, yes you do, you really do.


5. The lack of space in England

England-london-paddington-station

After living in Australia, you begin to appreciate space, like actual space just outside of Sydney where you can find drop dead stunning and secluded beaches even on the weekend. We found England to be very claustrophobic because there’s just too many people living there.

We couldn’t drive anywhere on the weekend because the roads were packed, trains were busy all the time, even trying to go for a hike in England would be difficult without bumping into someone.

 

When you hear Australians talk about how busy it is in Sydney, you’ll laugh. Honestly you will. When we returned to Sydney after being away for a year, it was lunch time during the week in the centre of the city called the CBD. We noticed how quiet it was and wondered where all the people were. It honestly felt like we had gone to a small town.

So, we grew to LOVE hiking in Australia and going to the beach as much as possible. Even if you’re reading this before arriving in Sydney and you’re not a hiker or beach lover yet… you will be. This is what Australia does best, the great outdoors. Embrace it and learn to love being in it every second you can. I know that’s a proper cheese fest, but it’s true.


6. What’s housing like in Sydney?

Wondering where to live in Sydney? Check out this post here >

To be frank, housing in Sydney isn’t great unless you’re happy to pay a lot. When we moved back to England, we absolutely loved how cosy the houses are with big ceilings, loads of natural light, double glazing, big bedrooms, central heating… I mean really. The list goes on and on.

When you move to Sydney, you’ll soon realise the housing is ridiculous that I wonder whether there are actually any laws when building a property here. But you can get a half decent place obviously with the more money you want to spend.

There’s no double glazing, no heating and no insulation so be prepared to actually see your own breath in your home. The weird thing is most people claim it’s because housing in Sydney was built to keep the heat out which also means not a lot of lighting. But a lot of people suffer from both extreme heat in Summer and extreme cold in Winter indoors.

Because of this, try not to get a ground floor apartment because you may get some mould in your place. But you should easily be able to smell it when you view the place.

One thing for sure is, you’ll be buying a crappy portable heater, electric blankets and as many other heating gadgets you can get your hands on. Also, bedrooms seem to be small in Australia so as another expat mentioned, she found it really hard to buy king size sheets for her bed she shipped over. Most people have a queen size bed in Australia because housing is generally pretty small.

The good news is, you won’t need to pay for water or council tax in Sydney unlike in England. But, when you’re looking to rent, London goes on a first come first serve basis. In Sydney they go on a weekend viewing inspection so you could see up to 50 people viewing the same place.

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7. Don’t expect great TV in Australia

One thing a lot of expats hate about living in Sydney is the terrible TV on offer. Aussie TV is all about reality TV mostly in the dating or cooking show variety. It’s terrible, like unbelievable and I think the most insulting part is the talent who seem to dumb down the audience in a very fake way.

So, we end up watching a lot of British shows on TV in Australia which is a god send!

Also, don’t expect to hear about what’s actually going on in the world. News is very local so you’ll have to jump online to find out what’s going on. I’m sure you do already anyway.


8. What are the people like in London vs Sydney?

Don’t be surprised to see a lot of girls in Sydney wearing gym gear with a full face of makeup on, on the weekends.

 

OK so people is usually a huge topic to discuss for expats. Personally when we moved back to England, we couldn’t actually believe how nice everyone was. But it was Summer time. As time went on and the Winter months appeared, people became more miserable and angry. I honestly think it’s due to the continuous grey days. Regardless of that, we noticed people would chat to each other on public transport, have a laugh in the pub and it almost felt like we’re all in it together.

If the trains were down, no one would get knarky in England, it’s that reserved nature we have, unlike in Australia. If there’s one thing about Australian people, they don’t hold back, sometimes this is a great trait, other times maybe not so much. I had to continuously stop Steve from ranting really loud on the train from Brighton to London about how crap the service was on more than one occasion.

I think one of the biggest things expats tend to struggle with in Sydney is making friends.

Here’s my reasoning behind it: In Australia most people go to uni where they grew up and stayed living at home (to save on expenses obviously because uni fees in Australia are massive) so they wouldn’t have experienced a similar up bringing to British people who move away at 18 to go to uni.

What I mean by this is a lot of Aussies have their same friends from primary school and are in very tight circles. Where as in England, a lot of people leave home at 18, move into Halls of Residence whilst expanding to further friendship groups past their school years. I might be wrong but that’s just my interpretation since I moved to Australia 8 years ago.

When you move to Sydney, it’s not easy making friends at all. One thing I noticed a lot was that work people hung out with work people all the time in London outside of work, whereas work people in Sydney might be your mate at work, but wouldn’t be up for doing anything on the weekend. Don’t take this personally, it’s very common.

Australian people in general are really, really nice but in Sydney they can be a whole other experience and can be fake. Not all people are like that at all, but you’ll probably notice it from time to time. But that’s what you get for living in the biggest city in a country. In London I didn’t notice it as much, probably because it’s so much bigger but of course people in London are definitely not the same as the people outside of London.

So Steve & I hold meet ups every so often in Sydney so you can meet some like minded peeps and make some awesome mates regardless of where you’re from. We know how hard it is to make friends not only when you move to a new city but to a new country as well.


9. If there’s one thing Sydney is way ahead of the times, it’s…

The-grounds-of-alexandria-best-brunch-in-sydney

One thing that Sydney does exceptionally well is food, we’re talking healthy food here. There’s loads of vegan restaurants to choose from, millions of healthy cafes, and mind blowing food that you won’t find the quality like this anywhere else in the world.

London might have more variety but in general, you won’t find better quality food than in Sydney (or in Melbourne for that matter as well!). But you will go on and on about how much you miss Pret and wonder why it’s not here yet. Oh and M&S food as well obvs!

You’ll also notice supermarkets might be smaller in Australia. That’s because there’s not a huge thing about microwave meals or processed food here, people tend to cook from scratch which will help with your health massively.


10. To sum it up…

Basically here’s the lowdown on Sydney vs London.

Obviously London is for you if you want culture on tap. Apart from New York, I doubt there’s another city in the world that has entertainment and culture on the scale like London does. And the buzz… the buzz and energy in London is something that’s indescribable and something that most people gravitate towards and love about living in London. (It’s something I’ll always miss about London.)

Move to London if you want to get a cracking career with a global company, if you’re into socialising and having a laugh where you’re not fussed about your health yet. I say this because when we lived in England, EVERYTHING seemed to revolve around the pub. Obviously not everyone is the same but that’s how we found it.

 

Or move to Sydney if all you want is to be healthy and have nature, some of the best hikes and beaches you’ll ever find on your doorstep. Move here if you want to have an actual better way of life. What I mean by this is, gone are the days of getting drunk and eating terrible food, and welcome healthy food, getting into shape (because Sydney people LOVE to be in shape), actually getting up for a sunrise swim in the ocean if you’re lucky to live near it. Live in Sydney is you want to be around less people and less stressful people for that matter, and have more of a work to live attitude.

Because I’m a British expat living in Australia, I follow a lot of expats in Australia Facebook pages and have seen what people tend to miss about London when they live in Sydney. It generally revolves around the people back home, the pub and TV. That’s what people really miss the most.

Not to be harsh and all, but here’s a very blunt reality.

One thing to note is, when you become an expat, no matter if you see it as a year away or longer, there will always be guilt in the back of your head. The guilt of leaving your friends and family, the guilt that no matter how long you’re an expat for, it will always be there. Being stuck in between two countries is a luxury some find very hard to deal with and struggle to settle.

It took me a long time but I finally feel like I’m on that path to finally settle in Australia, especially since I moved back to England for six months. I know many people can’t just move back to England to see if they prefer it, but this is what worked for me to realise that Australia is now my home.

Personally, I’m glad I moved to Australia and glad I moved back to England, because Australia actually changed me for the better and what I thought was happiness in England has now grown to a better way of life and happiness for me in Aus. Friends and family back home will always be just a flight away 🙂

Hope this post has helped make up your mind. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂

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  1. Love this post. Just recently came back from London to Sydney, and I kind of miss it. There’s more buzz and so many more things to do there! I’m not sure if I’m missing something – I thought the food (and everything pretty much) was more expensive over there compared to Sydney, but I found the food was better in London and there’s so much variety. I paid $94AUD for 3 bowls of ramen and 3 drinks at a casual joint in London. That would be unthinkable in Sydney.

    1. $94 for 3 bowls of ramen? Were you dining at Fortnum’s or something? You are definitely right, we wouldn’t be paying that in Sydney. I wasn’t massively into dining out in London before I moved to Sydney so I would love to go back and see what options are out there now. I do absolutely love the fresh produce in Australia though, England definitely didn’t compare on that level! Hope you don’t have the blues on leaving London too much xx

  2. Hi Annabel, I love this post and agree with every point you mentioned. I have been wanting to move to London, which is funny because I cannot stand cold weather but I just love the buzz and energy in London. Public transportation and the shopping are plusses too 🙂 So funny about Rick Astley!! Sydney’s never gonna give him up.. 😉

    1. Hi Jean, thank you for reading my post! I think Sydney definitely has my heart because of the weather. I’m even looking forward to winter as I love those cold days with brilliant sunshine. London on the other hand has a lot of rain which puts me off going back but I definitely miss the buzz and the energy there too. There is always something going on in London and obvs the transports and shops are sooo much better there! Let me know how you get on if you do move! xx

  3. I miss London pubs and bars too! Thinking about it now we rarely go out in Sydney. We have long leisurely boozey lunches or dinners with friends but if we do that out the bill averages $200 per person so we often have dinner parties at home instead. I love the Aussie Sunday sessions in a ‘hotel’ but really miss going to a bar on a Thursday that has a DJ and late night drinking – I feel you have to go to a nightclub here for that and that’s not really my style anymore.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Jayne. We walked through the city on a saturday night recently after going to one of the open air cinemas and everyone was so young. I thought, when did that happen? When did I suddenly get too old to go out? I think most people have the same idea as you because it’s so strict with the alcohol laws let alone so expensive to actually have a great night out in Sydney.

  4. Nice page- I am not from UK, but I have lived in London and I have been living for 5 years in Sydney now- Generally I agree with most of the points, but as you said it come to a subjective experience- I find that for a person working in the office in the everyday life where you go to work 5 days on 7 you really do not get to enjoy much outdoor and it comes to the weekend which it is always the same in Sydney: after 5 years I feel I have done and tried almost every possible thing in Sydney (not much happening),then you think maybe I can travel? where do you go from here? nowhere unless you pay AUD 1000.00 minimum to get out of Australia and experience different language of food (by the way Sydney is becoming China/Thailand on this aspects). So an important thing to think is that from London in 1 hour you are in Paris, 2 hours in Italy and 6 hours in NYC- In Australia after 6 hours flight you are still in Australia enjoying the same awesome food, awesome outdoor and awesome lifestyle.

    1. Totally agree with you Ciro. That’s probably the biggest problem living in Australia is that we don’t get the luxury of popping over to another country for the weekend. It is something I’ve become very aware of and wish I didn’t take that for granted when living in UK. Even popping to another city is difficult unless getting a flight but yep Sydney is pretty small and it doesn’t take that long to see everything but at least it’s not raining all the time 🙂

    2. 2-6 hrs you can get to new zealand, fiji, new caledonia, vanuatu, bali – different type of holiday, but all great parts of the world to explore…..Plenty of flight offers like $199 to Japan come up regularly…..

  5. Great blog! You’ve really tapped into my thinking about the differences between London and Sydney. I was born and bred in London and moved out for a better life for my kids. The lifestyle for them is amazing here and second to none. Amazing weather, outdoor lifestyle, beaches, national parks, friendly down to earth people and a pretty decent education system to boot. However, as a 20-30 something without kids I can’t say I would have lasted long in Sydney. The lack of buzz or excitement in Sydney would get to me. Sydney is very tribal with people commuting to the CBD (central business district) and then back to their suburb. People are defined by where they live here. You can say the same thing with London with the north south divide. But I’d say there’s more variety and movement of people whether you’re in Notting Hill, Camden, Clapham, Oxford Street, Shoreditch, Kensington or in one of the thousands of pubs, which I really miss. Also the t.v. in Australia is atrocious. News is localised here and more often than not talks about local politics or rugby league / AFL. Major turn off for me. One day in London and I somehow feel more connected with what’s going on in the world. I see there is a war in Chechnya or protests in Paris. Now this might make you one unhappy bunny if you get bad news piped in everyday but you’ll surprise yourself talking to people about random information you’ve picked up on the grapevine. Having said that life is way more relaxing in Sydney. You want to go for a swim or surf at 5am? No problem. Just do it. Bondi beach too crowded? No problem. Just drive 20 minutes and you’ll be on another deserted sun drenched beach. Want to job round the Harbour as a backdrop. Sure thing. Everyone does it during their lunch time. The food is pretty good here too. Lots of Asian influences with a large influx of Asian migrants coming into the main cities. This has its pluses and minuses with property prices booming. But London prices aren’t exactly cheap either. In a nutshell, both are great cities and both won’t go away should you plonk for one over the other. 6 months on and 6 months off (summer to summer) would be great. Now to get one those jobs Joe Hockey was yabbering about 😉

  6. Really interesting blog, I lived in Sydney for a couple of years and have to say it really didn’t do it for me. I’m back in London now and wouldn’t dream of a return to Australia. I agree with most of your points. The only thing that puzzled me was your comments on the weather. Whilst it is absolutely true the temperature is VERY mild (by British standards) but what I also really noticed was how wet it was. “Sunny nearly every day” Not for me it wasn’t. I thought it may have been in my head at the time, as everyone seemed to go on about how ‘amazing’ the weather was until I actually looked up the statistics. It turns out; on average Sydney gets double the amount of rain compared to London, and has more rainy days. Just wondering if you’ve been sucked into the trap that most people do. You’ve been told your whole life how sunny it is in Sydney that you unquestionably believe it?

    1. Sydney is way sunnier if you actually count the annual hours – 2600 vs 1600. Rainy days maybe, but what really matters (to me, that is) is what comes after the rain – the gray or the blue! An (intense) shower isn’t such a big deal if followed by a sunny spell..

  7. I’m moving to Sydney for a year or so in April, and I really appreciated your outlook. Cheers for the blog entry!

  8. I have been living in Sydney for around 3 months, having come over from London. I was trying to put my finger on what felt so different in terms of energy and it is the buzz and vibrancy of London. I agree – the good far outweighs the bad here and I love feeling far more relaxed/safer, but I miss the thrill London.

  9. Hiya I am currently going through my visa application with my partner and we are going on the 189 skilled trades visa. We have been planning for a few years now but I always have this daunting feeling of am I doing the right thing am I too young or old lol im 30 next year and been to Australia twice and my partner worked there for a year so we know Sydney like we know London. After reading your comments its safe to say that you have definitely made me feel very confident and excited for my future so thank you for sharing and I couldn’t agree more with your opinion ??

  10. nice blog. Thanks for sharing.
    i lived in London for 12 years moved in 2014 in Sydney with my husband and young kids to Sydney for 4,5 years. Back in London now since one year, as i was missing the buss, the great jobs and being part of it all i miss my friends the weather and easy life….
    I hate the horrible winter here. Forgot how bad it was.
    I work in Banking and although I though Sydney was far beyond, things have deteriorated so much in London that’s it s just an horrible industry in London and ok in Syd.
    Pb is: Kids love London now and don’t want to move back: they love the skiing holidays the great schools, trips in Europe…
    Shall I drag everybody to SYD? is that fair on the kids?
    hubby dais he would do it again but kids (11 and 8) might suffer long terms consequences…

    any advice?

    1. I think kids adapt a lot quicker than you think. I’d do it earlier the better as I’m sure those teenage years would be more difficult. Winter is really hard in England and depressing for sure but a lot of people find Aussie life to be quite boring too. It’s always hard to weigh it up. But if you feel like you all should be back in Australia then you should do it!

  11. Hi Annie,
    Great article!
    My husband and I currently live and work in London. Have been here for a little over a year. We have an Australian PR and are considering if we should move to Australia or continue in London.
    Our main worry is finding a job there! (It is difficult to quit both our jobs and move there).
    Do you have any suggestions?

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