Source: Flickr | Jono Haysom
Moving to Sydney is a well travelled path for many British expats. Indeed, though the story of Australia’s oldest city began with Britain’s Captain Cook sailing into the city’s famous harbour to proclaim a new nation, it is in recent decades particularly that many Britons have been drawn to the prospect of high salaries in this city of 5 million people, mixed in with a wonderful lifestyle.
Sydney was founded, built, and has traded in tourism ever after on the stunning surrounds of its city. Built along Port Jackson - the largest natural harbour in the world - the identity of this New South Wales city is forever linked with a lifestyle of sunshine, sand and world class beaches. Moving to Australia has never looked so good.
It’s the Australian hub of business and finance, has hosted the Olympic games, has a famous beach and a skyline that’s recognisable the world over. All these factors contribute to Sydney’s ranking as the world’s 7th most liveable city according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Source: Flickr | Alan Lam
Sydney’s population has grown by about 12% in the last decade but, despite some press stories, isn’t overcrowded - the population density is less than half that of London, for example. Most of the city’s inhabitants point to Australian, British, Irish and Chinese ancestry but there are also large Lebanese, Italian, Greek, and Indian communities.
If you enjoy sunshine, sports, nightlife and culture, surrounded by laid-back and friendly people then Sydney is a great place to relocate.
Making the cultural transition shouldn’t pose too many problems - after all, Sydney is English speaking and enjoys rugby, soccer and cricket. Banter about the shared royal family is usually enough to break the ice with even the most wary Australian.
Why move to Sydney
As the capital of New South Wales, Sydney is located in Australia’s most populated and economically active corner. It’s within driving distance of the country's capital city of Canberra and a short flight away from Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Thinking of moving to Sydney?
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Sydney has almost half as many people living in it as London and is spread out over a much wider area so it feels much less built up and congested. You’ll also benefit from much less pollution and more efficiency in public services like healthcare.
Sydney is a city rather uniquely well positioned as a employment market. As the financial capital of Australia - a nation that has a deep and ongoing engagement with the booming Asian region it’s surrounded by - many Britons and people from all over the world are drawn here via recruitment for a particular role.
This is particularly so with the property, tourism and hospitality sphere, which collectively make up a significant sector of the city’s economy. Further, with Australia having a long and sustained immigrant tradition, finding a job or professional contacts and colleagues who have shared a similar experience moving Down Under is an easy task.
From the many open parks and hiking trails, to the famed dining and night-life scene, as well as the rich and vibrant multicultural neighbourhoods Sydney is a city that will never leave you bored on a Friday or Saturday night. This means it is easy to get a Japanese dinner, then a German beer next door, before finishing it off with an Italian ice cream across the road
Source: Flickr | Matthew Kenwrick
As well as attractions of the city itself, Sydney is a regular stop on the international calendar for a broad array of festivals, concerts and events. Whether a fashion show, a movie premier or a musical, many expats shall still find themselves able to keep engaged with the finest of European culture notwithstanding the 17,000km distance between London and the Harbour City.
Comparing Sydney to London
Sydney has seasons
The first thing most Brits moving to Sydney will notice is the stark contrast in temperature. While Sydney sparkles in the sunshine, in the winter months it can be a more challenging affair. With some intense bouts of rain intermeshed with a large body of water surrounding the Sydney CBD, a thick coat and umbrella is a useful combo to keep close at hand as the winter months draw near.
Source: Flickr | Ali Inay
Record low winter temperatures are well above freezing and summer highs regularly make it into the high thirties. While if regularly spending your afternoons and weekends seaside shall leave the summer largely manageable, the city’s heat can become quite confronting if living in the city of west between Sydney and the Blue Mountains which seek to buffer the city alongside Australia’s east coast.Barbecuing on the beach on Christmas Day might be a cliché, but it’s also entirely possible.
Greater Sydney covers a much larger area than any comparable British city - over 12,000 square kilometres. This is an urban sprawl that’s well serviced by public transport in the form of rail and bus, but nevertheless a car will be essential for any family moving to a Sydney suburb. Luckily, petrol in Australia is a good deal cheaper than in the UK.
Were there one downside to Sydney, it is the commuting between the city and its suburbs can be a very hit and miss affair. While if you are located in the inner-West, the East or the inner-North a commute can be a easy 20 minute affair - and if able to catch one of the city’s many ferries a wonderful way to get to work
If located further West, South or North, the traffic can pose a challenge. While most residents have some sympathy for their city - given few others in the world have a huge harbour in the middle of their metropolis to navigate everyday - there is an oft repeated adage that ‘one car breakdown is all it takes to bring Sydney to a stop’.
Sydney of course has a world class opera house which is the centrepiece of a vibrant music scene, both classical and popular, which more than gives London a run for its money.
Source: Flickr | Kelly Schott
While there aren’t as many museums and galleries, those on offer in Sydney are excellent and the city hosts many festivals including the Sydney Festival and Australian Fashion Week.
Love of sport
Like London (at least since the Olympics), sport is a big part of Sydney life. Unlike London, the weather is good enough to actually enjoy some of it. There are 6.8 hours of bright Sydney sunshine sunshine per day on average, compared to London’s dismal 4.4 hours. Frosts are a freak weather event.
For a swimmer, sailor or water sports fan, Sydney is a veritable heaven. With hundreds of beaches surrounding the city it is not uncommon for even lifelong Sydneysiders to still find new waterways to explore.
Accordingly, in the warmer months of the year the city truly transform into a seaside extravaganza, with an array of swimming competitions, boat racers and other outdoor events dotting the cultural calendar. Yet, even if you are not a water-goer, there is still an abundance of things to adore about Sydney.
Visas and work permits for Sydney
Moving to Sydney from the UK is a relatively straightforward giving the visa system in Australia. It is important to begin a proper process in the UK before departing for Australia - especially if you are moving to Australia for a job seeking sponsorship from your employer for residency - as well as the long term status of either permanent residency or citizenship.
While Australia has a something of a deep and complex system in this area, it is also a nation that enjoys a deep and historic relationship with the UK, so generally a Briton shall find the process of relocation manageable.
The British Consulate within Sydney is located at number 16, Gateway Building, 1 Macquarie Place, one of the main commercial streets of Sydney City.
Packing list for your move to Sydney
- Heavy raincoat
- Jokes about crocodiles - Sydney has none
- Light raincoat
- Swimming gear
- Rugby gear