Saunders 1865 | Moving to Sydney

Moving to Sydney

Are you moving to Sydney? Because Sydney is Australia’s largest city, plenty of people assume it to be the country’s capital. It’s not—the capital is Canberra. But Sydney steals the limelight, for its location, its dynamism and its thriving economy. It is in fact the state capital of New South Wales, and additionally the financial powerhouse of Australia. More than 50 percent of the country’s top 500 companies are located in or around Sydney, making it the most likely destination for expats moving down under.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Sydney report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

Putting Sydney on the Map

Sydney owes the beauty of its location to the fact that it straddles the largest natural harbour in the world. The inner city covers approximately 10 square miles, while the entire Sidney urban area sprawls around 650 square miles. And, luckily for the ‘Sydneysiders’, the bay has more than 70 beaches, including the world famous Bondi Beach. The city basks in a humid sub-tropical climate that brings plenty of rain throughout the year, and the temperature rarely falls below 5°C in the winter.

Sydney is Australia’s main transport hub.

  • Sydney is very much a driver’s city—if you live in the widespread outer suburbs you simply can’t get by without a car, and traffic congestion is a growing problem.
  • In the city centre, public transport provision is better—nearly 225 million bus journeys are taken every year.
  • There are also 176 railway stations over 582 miles of rails, delivering more than 280 million journeys a year.
  • Currently under construction, the North West Rail Link rapid transit system will include a second tunnel under the harbour. It’s due to open in 2019 and will be known as the Sydney metro.
  • The harbour ferry service makes more than 170,000 crossings a year.
  • Sydney’s international airport is Australia’s busiest, handling 37.9 million passengers per year.
The Areas

Sydney was never built to a town plan and there are 658 suburbs and 40 local government areas. That’s a lot to check out and choose between if you don’t know where you want to live! There are 33 inner suburbs, most of which are pretty small and in recent years, many of the more industrialised areas of the city centre have been gentrified or developed for residential. Of the outer suburbs, the Eastern suburbs of Vaucluse and Point Piper are the smartest, while the Northern suburbs offer smart beachfront living.

While apartments and terraced houses dominate in the centre, the outer suburbs offer more space and large detached houses are common. Generally though, there’s a trend towards building more apartments now, as both land and economic pressures come to bear. Naturally, the usual rules apply—accommodation costs more the closer to the centre you go, while further out, you’ll get more space for your money. And, of course, waterfront properties command the highest rents of all.

The Rocks

Right by the bridge, in the centre of the city, the Rocks is buzzing with nightlife and convenient for the CBD. This is luxury apartment land for those with a generous budget.

Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay

Popular with young singles or couples, the central location of these two areas make them fairly pricy. However, if you hanker after an urban apartment or solid period conversion with a view across the harbour, this is the place to look.

Surrey Hills and Paddington

Close enough to the centre, these up and coming areas are a little more affordable for young professionals who want the fun of an urban lifestyle. You’ll find Victorian terraced houses aplenty.


Generally regarded as the artistic quarter of town, this a colourful and unconventional suburb that’s lots of fun. Vintage clothing and record stores vie with hip cafés and second-hand bookstores. Perhaps not as smart as some areas, Newtown’s bohemian charm attracts a younger crowd.


Located on the harbour, Pyrmont was once an area of docklands. Today, however, new apartment buildings offer fabulous harbour views and it’s become a popular tourist area.

Manley and Warringah

The northern beaches of Sydney are popular with families, affording a spacious and open air lifestyle. These areas also boast some of the city’s best schools.


Some 20 miles west of central Sydney, Blacktown is a popular suburb with families which offers good schools and community, shopping and entertainment facilities. There are excellent train and bus connections to the city centre and it’s well-located for the main highway network.

Merrylands and Parramatta

With good commuting connections and large, affordable properties, it’s easy to see the family appeal here.


Once most notable for its prison, this suburb has plenty of historic row houses and has seen significant gentrification.

Green Square and Barangaroo

Both of these areas were once industrial zones, but multi-billion dollar regeneration projects are turning them into desirable places to live.

Coogee and Cronulla

If you’re a surfer or a beach queen, this is where you’ll want to head. The atmosphere is relaxed and the rents are reasonable, so there are lots of students and young people in these suburbs. The downside? A slightly longer commute of around 30 minutes.

Northern Beaches

This is where the smart set move when they want a slice of beach living. Collaroy, Narrabeen, Newport and Mona Vale are a string of small, charming towns with great beaches. And, what’s more, you can take the ferry to work every day. However, if you need to drive, rush hour congestion can be an issue.

Who Lives in Sydney and Why?

The population of Sydney is nearly 4.5 million, of which approximately 1.5 million were born abroad. This makes it one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with more than 250 languages spoken. Apart from English, the most common languages are Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Greek.

As Australia’s economic powerhouse, Sydney’s strengths lie in finance, manufacturing and tourism, and it is the financial hub for the whole Asia Pacific region. It has also been recognised as one of the world’s top ten cities most integrated with the global economy, and always does well in quality of living rankings. Certainly, it’s Australia’s most expensive city to live in, but pay levels are considerably higher here, too.

This cosmopolitan, bustling vibe makes Sydney popular with expats, and if you have the right skill set, you should be able to find a job in finance or insurance, or with one of the major corporates who have offices here. Other sectors that employ in the city include healthcare, retail, social assistance and manufacturing. It’s a city that offers wonderful lifestyles, and the flexible working practices adopted by many employers make it a great place to bring up a family.

Furthermore, Sydney’s just the city to enjoy a good work/life balance. It’s Australia’s most cultured city, with a wealth of museums, art galleries and theatres—and, of course, don’t forget the iconic Opera House. Australia is a country that likes to live as much of its life out of doors as possible and Sydney’s no different. From the Botanic Gardens in the shadow of the Opera House to the 70 beaches that line the harbour, people are outside. Sport is popular and there are facilities for sailing, football, rugby, golf, swimming and much more.

The Best Bits

Sydney has so much to offer, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The symbol of Sydney surely has to be the Sydney Opera House. Since it opened in 1973, it has hosted more than 100 million visitors and presented 100,000 performances. It was designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and its interlocking vaulted shells are loved by Sydneysiders and internationally.
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge is, at 134 metres, the world’s tallest steel arch bridge. It connects the northern suburbs to the city centre, with more than 200,000 vehicles crossing it each day. If you don’t suffer from vertigo, you might like to attempt the BridgeClimb. Alternatively, you can get a wonderful view of it from one of the harbour ferries.
  • The 52-acre Taronga Zoo opened in 1916 and is home to more than 4,000 animals. Overlooking the harbour and the Opera House, it probably has the most spectacular views of any zoo in the world.
  • Bondi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Lying four miles east of the city centre, it’s certainly Australia’s most visited beach. It comprises about a kilometre of soft white sand and it makes a great place for swimming, surfing and spending Christmas day.
  • Between Haymarket and Central Station, you’ll find Australia’s biggest China Town, a Sydney fixture since the 1920s. Eat Chinese food there all year round and be sure to visit in February for the Chinese New Year.
  • Sydney has an amazing selection of markets, including the Rocks Markets, selling homeware, fashion and art at weekends, the Bondi Beach market for fashion, jewellery and crafts on Sundays, the China Town Friday night markets, Eveleigh Farmers and Artisans Markets, the Sydney Opera House Market on Sundays…and so many more!
Bringing the Kids

Sydney offers a wonderful environment for families, with its spacious suburbs and outdoor living. Whose kids wouldn’t want to live in a city with 70 beaches, a free amusement park and one of the world’s great zoos? But as a parent you have to concern yourself with the boring stuff – where will they go to school?

For American and UK expats, the one advantage of a posting to Sydney is the language. It means that you’re not hemmed in by a small choice of international schools but can look at the local schools as well. Naturally, however, if you want to keep your child on your home country curriculum, there are international schools too. Picking the right school for your child is an important decision, and needs careful consideration before you decide whereabouts in Sydney you want to live.

  • Sydney has a highly educated population, with 57% having completed the highest level of school.
  • 40% of working age people in the City of Sydney hold university qualifications.
  • There are six universities in the city, including Australia’s oldest, the University of Sidney.
  • There are 935 preschool, primary and secondary schools in Sydney, including public, denominational and independent establishments.
  • Expats on permanent resident visas have access to free public school education.
  • Those with temporary resident visas have to pay for their children’s education—New South Wales currently charges a fixed amount of AUD 4,000 per year.
  • Public education in Sydney is of a high standard and you can check out individual schools on the government’s MySchool website.
  • Public schools accept enrolment throughout the year prior to a child starting, and the schools are filled according to catchment area—which means choosing where you’re going to live with care.
  • Faith-based schools are common and may charge less than the public school system.
  • The best private schools have long waiting lists, so you need to put your child’s name down well in advance.
  • There are French and German international schools in Sydney.
Relocating to Sydney

Sydney is one of the world’s most vibrant and picturesque cities. The sparkling blue harbour, the Opera House, the beaches, the greenery of the botanic garden with the high rise skyline beyond—it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular postings among expats. At the same time, it’s Australia’s main commercial centre, so the job prospects here are good and the pay levels are the highest in Australia. The combination of these factors means it’s not the cheapest of cities to live in, but out in the suburbs, space is affordable. The city centre is bustling and cultured, with plenty to entertain singles and couples. Further out, the draw of big houses and good schools make it ideal for families. So whatever you’re looking for, Sydney should be able to provide it.

At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Shanghai, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.


Good Schools
Museums & Galleries
Spacious Houses
Young Professionals
Average Monthly Rent - Sydney
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre A$2,655
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre A$1,948
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre A$4,667
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre A$3,202
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.
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