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 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 told from our our own experience.
1. How expensive is Sydney and London to live in?
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?
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
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
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
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?
To be frank, housing in Sydney is rubbish. 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.
Looking for somewhere to stay when you first arrive in Sydney?
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. 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 found 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 obvs 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…
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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