Moving to Sydney from London was one of the easiest decisions I ever made; Sydney, Australia, is arguably one of the best places to live in the world. I’ve been here with my hubby Will for just over 16 months which has flown by and we’re still absolutely loving it. However, as with any huge life change there have been ups and downs along the way so I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks on making the move a successful one. I’ve not focused on the practicalities such as getting a visa, there are tons of resources available for that. Instead, I’ve focused on what I personally believe to be the best advice on moving to Sydney and making the lifestyle change a success. I hope you enjoy my top 10 tips on moving to Sydney from London.
01. Buy a car as soon as humanly possible
After over 6 years of living in London without a car, this was certainly not top of my priorities when we first moved here. How wrong I was! Buying Bertie the Beemer (my pet name for our white BMW X3) has completely changed our lives. Whilst public transport in Sydney is good, and way less crowded, trains do not run to all suburbs, and buses on the weekends can be temperamental. Unlike London driving in central Sydney is actually very easy, and due to the tunnel system you can get to the other side of the city in minutes. Bertie has allowed us to explore both within Sydney and further afield in New South Wales. Exploring in Bertie is easily one of the things I enjoy most about living in Sydney. It makes heading for a day at the beach so much easier, and we’ve also taken to sleeping in the car when camping. If your budget allows, I would invest in a car within your first month.
I’ve written about one of our favourite places to explore outside of Sydney, the Hunter Valley, and some of the best boutique wineries here .
02. Think carefully about location
It’s a well-known fact that most Londoners who emigrate to Sydney make a beeline for either Bondi or Manly. Whilst it sounds absolutely idyllic to wake up to the sounds of the ocean, I would advise you to think very carefully about what your priorities are. For Will and I, we both work in Consulting in the city which involves long hours and frequent trips to the airport. For that reason, we prioritised proximity to work and the airport over beach living, and have settled in North Sydney. It takes me 20 minutes door-to-door to reach the office, and Will has been able to get from our apartment to international departures in an hour (including check-in and security), all using public transport. If you were to travel to the airport from Manly using public water transport then the commute would be at least 45 minutes longer, and driving there yourself/ getting a land-taxi is another story!
Accommodation in Manly and Bondi with a view of the ocean, or within walking distance can also be expensive, and a lot of apartments in Manly in particular are old, with some facilities such as washing machines being shared. Whilst Will and I have more of a trek to get to the beaches on our weekends, convenience won out for us, hands down.
03. Make Australian friends
I cannot stress this enough. Whilst Will and I have made some amazing new friends out here with British expats who have been a godsend in navigating a new city, we have made a conscious effort to befriend Australians. Through our relationships with Australians, we have learnt so much more about the unique Aussie culture, and made relationships that feel less transient. After all, not all Londoners who are living here will settle long-term.
One of my best friends out her, an Aussie called Jacqui, has been consistently helpful and welcoming, even going so far as to take us back to her hometown of Young, a rural farming town. We’ve met her extended family; picked cherries with her uncle on his organic stone fruit farm, played with a potty lamb called Pumpkin and jumped in the header (combine harvester) with uncle #2 as he explained cronulla harvesting. Most Brits who come to Australia either on holiday, whilst travelling, or emigrating do not tend to visit places like Young and we felt privileged to see a completely different side to life in Australia.
04. Join a gym
I was not an exercise aficionado in London. Put-off by the cold, dark mornings, I would stagger down to my local Pure Gym maybe once or twice a month. Since living in Sydney I now exercise 4-5 times a week. Nearly everyone exercises in Sydney, whether it’s going to the gym, surfing, or going for a walk and a coffee in the sunshine. Joining a gym has not only improved my health and wellbeing, it’s been a great way to meet new people.
I am fortunate that my gym is directly underneath my building, which certainly helped with getting into a routine. I attend a women’s only Muay Thai and HITT gym, Bikini Bods, which was started by the fabulous Maddy Williams (follow her on Instagram here for serious #goals). It’s a gym focused on empowering women of all shapes and sizes and is an incredibly supportive community. I’ve recently been struggling with insomnia and on returning to the gym after barely any sleep I kept bursting into tears at the ridiculous amounts of encouragement from my fellow beautiful beasts and the coaches.
05. Do not cling on to the London way of life
This is something that Will and I still struggle with and are continuing to work on. London for us was a constant flurry of commuting, long hours and packed social calendars; having to plan girls catch ups at least 6 weeks in advance. Initially, Will and I applied this constantly ‘on’ approach in Sydney, packing out our weeknights and weekends, determined to see as much as possible of Australia, and getting frustrated when people wouldn’t commit to future plans. It’s a tricky habit to break, and I still enjoy knowing what I have coming up in the following months. However, we are making a conscious effort to relax and open ourselves up to spontaneity. Australians are much more relaxed, waking up on a Saturday and making a plan that very day, taking life one day at a time. It’s certainly a less stressful mentality. We’ll always be planners, it’s part of our job, but we now leave some weekends free, enjoying much needed rest and opening ourselves up to impromptu plans.
06. Wear sunscreen
As Baz Luhrmann told the class of ’99, ‘If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.’ Whilst this may seem rather obvious advice when moving to a hot country, it is so important. When I first arrived here, I hung onto my British mentality of desperately wanting to tan so it looked like I’d been on holiday so I sunbathed at every opportunity. I relished in all of the comments from friends when I first made a trip home, ‘I’ve never seen you so brown,’ ‘you’re so tanned!’. After a year of living in Sydney however, my attitude towards the sun has shifted. The sun is not going anywhere, it will return. The sun in Australia is more powerful than you think; I’ve burnt in 20 degrees. The cancer council of Australia estimates that approximately 2 in every 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before they are 70. I now wear factor 50 on my body every time I’m in the sun, and every day on my face, and I never go to the beach without a broad brimmed hat. I’m not particularly tanned this year but I’m fine with it.
07. Let go of FOMO
Whilst it’s incredibly exciting making a new life in Australia and living in Sydney, it comes with inevitable sadness and FOMO. Australia really is far away from the UK, and whilst FaceTime and WhatsApp make it easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family, it can feel isolating. I struggled with this especially over July & August 2018 where the UK had one of the hottest summers on record and my girlfriends seemed to be constantly together. There are also several weddings that I’ve had to say no to, with lots of tears along the way. I’ve had to remind myself constantly that whilst I may not be able to attend every hen do, wedding, brunch or drinks gathering, these friendships have been built upon years of shared experiences and aren’t going to disappear. I made the decision to move and if I’m not present in what I’m doing, then there’s no point in being here. FOMO can be incredibly difficult, and it’s important to acknowledge, but you need to manage its impact on your emotional wellbeing and not let it take away from the amazing experiences waiting for you.
08. Follow the lovely Annie at londonerinsydney
Annie started her expat guide to living in Sydney back in 2011. It’s highly informative, personal and useful and has been carefully curated over the past 8 years. It’s an incredible resource providing practical tips on moving including shipping and visas, as well as providing a wealth of information on activities and trips for once you’re here. I refer back to her blog frequently, especially when I need inspiration for our next trip or holiday!
Some of my favourite posts include;
09. Watch the booze intake
The Aussies, like the Brits, enjoy a drink. It’s hard not to when every day feels like a summer holiday. The idea of sitting outside with a chilled glass of rose is incredibly appealing. When moving to a new city and trying to make friends, it’s inevitable that meet ups will take place over drinks, or dinner with drinks. Alcohol becomes a crutch in establishing a new friendship group. After my first 6 months in Sydney I realised that my drinking had increased exponentially both in terms of volume and frequency. It’s been really important to me to reign in my alcohol intake, and become a more mindful drinker. I’ve since completely two lots of 30 days dry, which has helped my mood, my skin and my sleep. Now, I don’t automatically order wine with every meal and I’m much more likely to suggest a walk and a coffee for a catch up with friends. I don’t want to waste any more of the beautiful sunshine by being in bed with a hangover. Watch how much you’re drinking and try to have a few days off a week.
10. Remain grateful
Now we’re into our second year in Sydney, it’s very easy to fall into a mundane routine. Work has become more intense for both of us, we’re not exploring every single weekend and we’re trying to save money. There are times that we find ourselves complaining, moaning or bickering, like we used to in London. I have to remind myself when I’m stressed, tired or missing home to stop, breathe and reset. There are so many things to be grateful for in our new city; we have a beautiful apartment, I feel safe walking home at night, our commute is bearable, we have amazing friends, incredible holidays and spend our weekends swimming, hiking and eating. Every city has its negatives and Sydney is no exception, but we remind ourselves to be grateful for something every single day, even if it’s as small as a good coffee!
More tips and links!
- If you’re planning on visiting Sydney but need to watch the pennies, I love this post by Chiera of Young and Undecided about how to explore Sydney on a budget.
- If you’re looking for even more tips on planning a move or a trip to Australia, check out the lovely Lexi at www.australiasoon.com
- If you’re looking for tips on getting out and about with little ones in Sydney, including where kids can eat for free every day of the week, I love this post by Alex Mergler here
Thank you for taking the time to read my top 10 tips.