Sydney Expat Interview Series Question 10: Advice For Moving to Sydney

Sydney Expat Interviews

If you’ve ever moved somewhere new, you know that there’s nothing like the insider knowledge of a resident to help with the adjustment. They can tell you everything from where the best restaurants are to the honest ups and downs of the lifestyle. No guide book will tell it to you like a local. 

In that spirit, I’ve asked the expats this month to give their best advice to someone moving to Sydney. Here it is, straight from the experts!

(This is the 10th in an 18 part interview series with expats living in Sydney. Please make sure to visit the fantastic websites of the participants linked below, and follow me on Facebook for much more on expat life in Sydney. )

Sydney Expat Interview Series - Advice From the Locals

Question 10: Your friend is moving to Sydney. She’s read all the guidebooks and is pretty sure she knows it all. Give her one piece of advice that she really doesn’t know, yet.


Name: Julia
Country of origin: UK
Lived in Sydney: 6 years

Make the effort and go to different suburbs – a lot of Brits head straight for the eastern suburbs but Sydney is so much more than just Bondi!! Also its all about getting out and about – the thing I love about Sydney is the outdoor lifestyle.


Name: “Bushranger”
Country of origin: Serbia
Lived in Sydney: 6.5yrs

You will not find Fosters beer anywhere…and shrimp are called prawns.


Name: Victoria
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 5 years
Victoria blogs at The Freedom Travellers

Bring an umbrella! Despite what you may think, it rains a whole lot in Sydney, especially in winter.Bring an umbrella


Name: Dido
Country of origin: India
Lived in Sydney: 1.5 years

Think thoroughly about the suburb you move into.


Name: Mollie
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

It is more expensive than anything you have read. Are you sure you have enough money, can make enough money, etc?


Name: Debbie
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 10 years

Bring more money than you’ve budgeted for – it’s really expensive here.


Name: Erin
Country of origin: Texas, USA
Lived in Sydney: 6 1/2 years
Erin blogs at TexErin-in-Sydneyland

Adjusting to the cost of living takes time. It is difficult to budget how much you truly spend on groceries, eating out, socializing, and household goods. Be patient. Be smart. Give yourself time to get used to the change of expenses.It's expensive


Name: Caitlin
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Caitlin blogs at Where’s Wallis

It’s worth getting a bicycle out here. The roads might seem scary at first but public transport leaves a lot to be desired and you’ll get to know your way around the city quickly this way. Just brace yourself for the hill out of Bondi…


Name: Shane
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Shane blogs at Sea Salt Secrets

Australians are big on “mateship” and treating everyone as equals, everyone getting a “fair go”


Name: Melissa
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Melissa blogs at Leche Love

You will be going to the grocery store a lot. Get a cart and/or re-usable bags. Don’t buy more than you can carry.


Name: Ashley
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: 2 years (in Newcastle)
Visit Ashley on Instagram

It is insanely confusing to shop at a grocery store. It will give you a headache. You won’t know which bread to get. You won’t know that mayo here tastes different and you have to get the one that says “whole egg mayo”. You won’t know which chips and cookies to get. You will only have to choose between approximately 5 not so great flavours of ice cream. The good thing about this is you get to try all new things!


Name: Kirstie
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: Since September 2013
Kirstie blogs at Venga Vale Vamos

Be patient! It may feel like it’s taking forever for you to find a job, a room, or even friends, but they all come eventually. Don’t get discouraged.


Name: Rachel
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

I would pass on the best piece of advice I received not long after I arrived. I’d been in Sydney a couple of months and my flatmate and good friend Sarah offered a simple but invaluable nugget of wisdom. It was a recommendation and a friendly encouragement of ‘say yes’. It was at a time when my homesickness was at its most intense and a welcome reminder to take every opportunity. Even if I didn’t feel like going out for drinks, or joining a club to take each chance as it came and not pass anything by. This has stood me in good stead and I have passed onto a few friends since.


What’s your best “local” advice for anyone moving to Sydney?
If you’re moving to Sydney, anything you’d like to ask one of our locals?

Read Part 1: Expectations vs Reality
Read Part 2: The Most Memorable Sydney Day
Read Part 3: Your First Day in Sydney
Read Part 4: Drinking Like an Aussie
Read Part 5: The Birds of Sydney
Read Part 6: Australian Christmas
Read Part 7: Off the Beaten Path
Read Part 8: Questions About Your Home
Read Part 9: What People at Home Think of Australia

8 thoughts on “Sydney Expat Interview Series Question 10: Advice For Moving to Sydney

  1. Yvette

    Everyone had great advice. Personally, I agree with Rachel. Just say yes to everything you can. It wasn’t until I started doing just that … that I felt I was living the Aussie life. It can be very difficult when everything is different and you’re so confused. Just get out there and do things.

    1. Cristin Post author

      So true, and I think that’s the case with moving to any new place. Staying busy and being around people can make such a big difference.

  2. Lyndie

    Any advice on finding a job?..

    We moved here last year with my husbands job, have two kids that are now in school so I am looking to go back to work.

    I have applied for loads of jobs online or via agencies but can’t even get an interview with the agencies they seem put off by the fact I’m either a mother or on a 457 visa so not a PR yet.

    Very frustrating!!!

    1. Cristin Post author

      Sorry to hear that, Lyndie. I, too, found it quite difficult to get work when we moved here, and the non-PR visa makes it even trickier. One thing that I’ve heard has been very helpful to some expats is to have a professional look at and help you reformat your resume. A lot of places here can be particular about wanting it a certain way, and getting help with that does seem to help some expats I’ve heard from get noticed a bit more.
      Good luck! I know it can be frustrating.

      1. lyndie

        Hi Cristin,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I will definitely get a professional to take a look at the format etc.

    2. Yvette Niesel

      Hi Lyndie,
      I know you weren’t specifically asking ME for help, but I worked for three years on a non-PR 457 Visa. I found my way into an Accounts Payable job. I don’t know what you do for work, but I would recommend trying to find contract work over permanent. You can usually make more money and companies are more willing to take a chance. I loved living in Sydney, but HATED working there. Can’t stress that enough.

      1. Lyndie

        Hi Yvette,

        Thank you for commenting, I’m looking for advice from anyone that’s got some really.

        Can I ask why you hated working in Sydney? I’m not looking to work in the city if I can help it as we live in the suburbs so I’m hoping to find something in the surrounding areas.

        1. Yvette Niesel

          Hi Lyndie,
          I don’t know what nationality you are, so keep in mind that I’m American and all opinions are my own. 🙂

          My experience here in America is that employers are looking for employees who are interested in keeping a job for the long haul. They value those who spend time in one place and don’t move around a lot from job to job. In my opinion, even though they may say differently, employers in Sydney don’t put a lot of value in that. They expect that you are going to take oodles of time off and will probably be gone in a year or so. Therefore, they expect you to be able to just step into a position and take off running. Because of this, they tend to pigeon-hole everyone, too. I sure hope the first job you get is what you want to do for the rest of your life because you *probably* won’t be given an opportunity to do anything but that job FOREVER.

          As I said, I don’t know what you do for a living. And perhaps it will be better working in the suburbs. I worked in the city because I needed to make more money to feel like a worthwhile person (just a flaw of mine). I wish you lots of luck. I also don’t know if you NEED the money. If you don’t and you just want to work to occupy some time out of the house, you’re probably better off. You can hold off for something you want or whatever. I just know that I had to job hunt twice while I was there (my first position was made redundant) and I hated it both times.

          Again, all these opinions are mine. 🙂

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