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Talk to me about Sydney

(36 Posts)
FrozenYogurt Tue 16-Jul-13 11:07:49


We have made the exciting decision to move to Sydney for roughly two years (before both kids are in school). We are tremendously excited and nervous and frantically researching everything we need to do before and after we get there.

I have read a lot of the threads on Sydney, so I'll try not to duplicate questions. The main thing people seem to comment on is the extortionate cost of living. We are (sort of) prepared for this, DH's work are providing a cost of living allowance, but most of this will go on rent. We want to live quite central so DH can have a home life with the kids. Is 750/800pw a realistic budget for a 3 bed? I've searched on the Domain site, but thought a local could advise, since you can't really tell over the net! We're thinking possibly Balmain or Manly. I like the sound of the Inner West, or Northern Beaches, but we'd like DH's commute to come in under an hour..

Also how easy is it to live frugally: I think I'm a pretty good 'from scratch' cook, making big pots of chilli, etc, last a few meals. Are basic staples such as rice and pulses expensive? Or is it just meats and jars, processed stuff that's more expensive? What about nappies, sun cream, etc?

Anyone have a good shipper recommendation? We want to set up a new home, so will be scouring Gumtree, EBay when we get there, but will want to bring the kids stuff, kitchen bits. Not thinking a whole containers worth but certainly more than a suitcase can hold.

Lastly, having two DCs under 3 I am hoping that the playgroup network will provide me with ample opportunity to meet other mums. Have others found this to be the case?

Think that's all my questions for now, really grateful to anyone who can impart some insider knowledge.

chloeb2002 Tue 23-Jul-13 23:11:58

Azura... If you want pampers at a better price.. Look up go toddler. Free delivery. They match up in price to huggies with go toddler.

Azura Tue 23-Jul-13 15:33:05

Somewhere like Newtown would probably be better value. I used to live in Randwick - great because you can walk to the beach but I think the Eastern suburbs aren't that affordable any more. Basically, Sydney is insanely expensive. However, we have just been across on a holiday (to family in Melbourne) and I can say that the Aldi nappies are really pretty good. And I am totally a fan of Pampers in the UK. You actually can buy Pampers in Australia - Pampers have an online site (only available online) but they are eye wateringly expensive

bluechik Tue 23-Jul-13 15:17:11

Hi there, I'm a local Sydneysider currently living in London - if you are looking for somewhere a bit like Islington or East Dulwich then I would look at the Inner West. We have a 3 bed Victorian terrace on a quiet street in St Peters (20 mins walk to Newtown) with a small garden which is opposite a park and we rent it out for £580 per week, to give you an idea of pricing. When we go back to Sydney we'll be looking at Newtown/Erskineville/Enmore/St Peters (think Islington) or, for a bit more space but still central - Dulwich Hill/Summer Hill/Leichhardt/Marrickville (think East Dulwich). You will not be next to the beach but you will be able to drive to the Eastern suburbs beaches in about 20-30 mins, depending on time of day. All the above suburbs are lively, have plenty of families, children and parks, as well as cafés and high street shops, and a reasonably short commute into the Sydney CBD - picking somewhere near a railway station would be good. PM me if you would like any more info.

Mutley77 Fri 19-Jul-13 06:13:41

Good luck with your parents. Would they visit you? Mine have been once already and coming again early next year. It really helped me with homesickness and they were pleased to see we were all ok too.

newbiefrugalgal Thu 18-Jul-13 23:49:39

Can also second northern beaches

Trebletrouble Thu 18-Jul-13 23:41:43

If you're going on a business (457) visa then you have to have a private health insurance policy. Check with your husbands employer if they will pay or if you have to. The law is that they have to 'assist' you, ie give you the information about various providers, but they don't have to pay it. Our policy covered all hospital treatment, GP appointments and xrays etc. However (if you luve near one) you can also go to a 'bulk bill' medicare medical centre and don't have to pay for walk-ins. Dental Insurance is also recommend - costs a fortune to pay for treatment.

FrozenYogurt Thu 18-Jul-13 22:39:21

This is all great stuff - thanks everyone. We'll have health insurance covered by DH's work, but will definitely check about the ambulance cover.

Good pointer about the rental package. I'll gather copies of references, bank statements, etc so we can bring to inspections. We'll be renting out our house back here so I'll ask the agent for a reference.

I'll be making a list of all these area recommendations and doing as much online research as possible so we know which areas to target when we arrive.

DH's work have started the ball rolling on his 457 visa - it's definitely all happening now! We have yet to tell our parents that we're going. Not looking forward to those conversations. I'm sure they'll cope with us going, but will be upset to miss two years of our DCs. Thank goodness for Skype!

mono3 Thu 18-Jul-13 15:53:08

Other areas to consider are Drummoyne, abbotsford & chiswick which are in the Inner West. They are all on the ferry route into the cbd so a good commute for your husband. They are all just a bit further out than Balmain so slightly cheaper and while there are no actual beaches there are plenty of bays around so you are not far from the water.

In terns of meeting other people you are right, play groups are a good place to start. The local council can send you a list of the local ones if you give them a call.

Apanicaday Thu 18-Jul-13 14:32:08

I agree with sucking up to the agents - we got our rental because we offered to take on a two year contract. We looked round Balgowlah and loved it (still wish we'd ended up there really), but the competition for rentals was mad - we did apply for one, but so did about 20 others - and no other suitable places came up in the time we were looking. We also had application forms filled out in advance for properties we thought we would like so that we could hand them in at opens.

Daeira Thu 18-Jul-13 14:13:43

I grew up in Sydney (now in the UK) and based on what friends say it's now extortionately expensive as others have pointed out!

Location-wise what about:
- Glebe / Rozelle / Lilyfield
- Balgowlah / Clontarf
- Northbridge / Castlecrag (or Seaforth / Mosman / Neutral Bay, but they're pricier you may not get 3br)
- Roseville / Castle Cove
- Coogee

If you're willing to have a more inconvenient commute, then perhaps:
- Newport / Bilgola or Avalon / Palm Beach / Whale Beach but then you're TRULY in painful commute territory. Although the beaches are spectacular smile

As Mutley says, renting is a pain in the butt. Having all of your references and paperwork ready in advance helps - I used to have a print out of all my details that I'd need for the rental reference so I could just give it to the agent. And stalk the agent during the open house saying things like "well as we have our own home in the UK we're obviously USED to looking after a house as if it's ours" etc - suck up in other words. And if you love it, be prepared to pay more in advance as a sweetener (people are also offering over the asking rent these days, there's such a shortage of rental property).

Thumbwitch Thu 18-Jul-13 13:50:35

Ah, xposted with Mutley - VERY good point re healthcare and ambulance cover!
We had an ambulance out to DS1 last year when he swallowed DH's wedding ring and started choking - we had healthcare cover for it but the bill came to us first and was about $440, I believe. But I also believe it's not a blanket cost - it depends on how far they have to take you, because the telephone health line (who insisted on calling them) said it would be between $300 and $800 (luckily I'd insisted we had ambulance cover, DH thought it was unnecessary!)

Thumbwitch Thu 18-Jul-13 13:46:50

Something else worth mentioning is that the train ticket prices are much cheaper, IME, than in the UK. For e.g. - I sometimes choose to drive most of the way into Sydney rather than train it, because my trains only run once an hour, so I'll drive into Roseville and take the train from there to the Centre. Costs $5.40, iirc, for a return (off peak though - not sure if the price changes at peak hours).
For me to get to Sydney Central from my hometown (2h by train) costs me $11.40 return (again offpeak and again don't know if there is a peak charge).

The only train price I have seen/experienced that was utterly ridiculous was going to the Airport - $15 for 3 stops ($10 for a child). Talk about tourist-trapping! shock.

But maybe someone else can advise on commuter rail prices?

Mutley77 Thu 18-Jul-13 13:42:32

We are in Perth so possibly not that helpful but the cost of living is high all over Australia - supermarket and toiletries/baby items as others have mentioned are particularly expensive by comparison. Also I can't get over the cost of "basics" in a chemist, I don't seem to be able to go in to a chemist to ask for something for me/one of the kids and come out spending less than $20 - in England I would expect to spend £5 or under! Examples such as antiseptic cream, iron tablets, verruca ointment.

Healthcare is another thing to consider that hasn't been mentioned. Not sure if you will qualify for medicare but even if so you have to pay for GP visits (usually only adults - children are generally bulk billed) and only get half of the cost refunded so end up about $35 out of pocket. Prescriptions are also expensive and not free for kids (or pregnant women!) - big shock. As far as I understand private health insurance doesn't cover GP costs either. If you aren't planning to have health insurance you must have some cover for ambulance at a minimum as you have to pay for ambulances here (ambulance insurance cover is not expensive and obviously totally worth it - not sure how much they would charge you for a call out otherwise!)

In terms of rental - the agents like a lot of evidence for your good character, etc. You will need copies of bank statements, proof of income, references from previous letting agents (as we hadn't rented for at least 10 years prior they accepted a reference from the agent renting out our property in the UK as proof of us keeping our house in good order). We also provided photos of our house so they could see how nicely we kept it. The agents also wanted personal references (one needed to be from within Australia) and a weeks rent as a deposit upon application - would be refunded if we didn't get the property. It sounds complicated, and was, but better I think if you are aware up front. I was really stressed by it when I was looking round houses and suddenly realised that I needed to produce all this stuff within hours of a viewing to even be considered for a house!

FrozenYogurt Thu 18-Jul-13 12:57:46

susie liking Froyo, might have to adopt that!

slapdashsusie Thu 18-Jul-13 08:46:09

Froyo you can still have the 'northern beaches' lifestyle if you go slightly slightly inland, ie North Balgowlah, (Balgowlah Heights is more exxy than Manly) or Frenchs Forest/Belrose. These suburbs are close to the beach but you get more house (no flats) for your dollar- they are nice established family suburbs with big houses on big blocks, often with a pool. Around the $900 mark will get you something nice. Warning, though- the Forest area is markedly monocultural- very blonde! But the restaurants of Manly/Dee Why are a cheap cab fare away.
And the commute to the CBD isn't terrible, as you go in via the Roseville bridge rather than the Spit Bridge.

Trebletrouble Wed 17-Jul-13 23:03:59

Hi Frozen Youghurt,

I've recently moved back to UK from Sydney and can advise on these areas.
Manly is fab but v expensive especially for a house. Can also be a long commute if you dont live close to the ferry. We lived in Collaroy, further along the stretch of northern beaches but on a bus route (60 mins) into the city. They're express and only stop at limited places. Our rent was 700 dollars week for 3 bed apartment with terrace patio, underground parking. On a very busy road but only 2 mins to the surf club!
For a house, look a bit inland eg Cromer, Collaroy Plateau or Narrabeen. Dee Why can be nice in places and not so nice in others , but more affordable.
We paid 50 dollars a day (9-3) for preschool for 1 child and 65 for another. It can be hard to get places, most preschools take 3 year olds for 2 set days a week and 4 year olds for 3 days a week. Or there are 'day care' centres, more expensive and longer hours bug yoh may have more choice.
For activities, IME, most Aussie parents spend their time on preschool sport and swimming classes. There are hundreds to choose from if you have £££ in your budget for it. check out the local Anglican or Uniting Church for a more traditional playgroup with toys/craft/singing. Can be hit and miss so visit a few!
There are also preschool activities in the museums/botanic gardens if you live near them.
My top tip is negotiate a good salary. We were on a very good salary (dh 160k) but left due to the cost of living with 3 children on one salary.
Feel free to PM me for details on any specific areas as I've lived all over the north shore/northern beaches area.

Good luck x

FrozenYogurt Wed 17-Jul-13 19:19:53

newbie we're not sure at the moment, I would imagine the CBD, he'll be setting up the office himself so he will have some say in the matter.

Thanks so much thumbwitch, for your really useful info. It's good to know that we'll be able to budget a bit when we arrive. We live a comfortable life back here and it's quite a shock to realise our money doesn't go too far over there. Although, as my DH pointed out, wanting to live in Manly is probably the same as an Australian arriving here and having Knightsbridge and Chelsea on their list!! I just need to know where the Claphams, and East Dulwiches are of the Sydney market, I'm clearly (wrongly) aiming for the Notting Hill, Chelsea, Fulhams at the moment.

newbiefrugalgal Wed 17-Jul-13 18:28:56

Where does your DH need to commute to?

FrozenYogurt Wed 17-Jul-13 13:55:39

Okay, looks like Manly is out then! I'll be a SAHM so no need for child care. Although it would be nice to enrol my DD into a few sessions of playgroup/nursery it's not essential. I'm hoping drop-in playgroups/regular park visits will provide us with ample social interaction with her peers.

susie any pointers as to where would be affordable? With the same feel as Manly?

Thumbwitch Wed 17-Jul-13 13:41:13

Frozen - as mentioned, Aldi are here. They're substantially cheaper than the Big Two, and there are cutprice shops to be found - the Reject Shop for one, but you can't rely on their stock (and tbh I've never seen nappies in them). Costco is also here but you have to pay to be in that.
Salvation Army and St.Vincent de Paul are the big 2 charity shops here, but there are others as well (obvs not for nappies!!) and they're in every town/suburb, I should think.
There are value ranges in Coles and Woolworths too but they're still generally more expensive than UK prices.

Fuel prices are in the throes of going up at the moment as well, which may have a further knock-on re. prices in shops.

slapdashsusie Wed 17-Jul-13 13:17:00

Hi Frozen Yoghurt,
as a Northern Beaches local I can tell you I snorted when you wrote that you hope for a (liveable, decent) three bedder in Manly for less than $1500 a week! Manly is absolutely beautiful but ridiculously expensive- I wouldn't attempt it without a family income of around $250,000. Few flats in Manly (forget about a house for under a couple of grand) have car parking, either, which can be tiresome when dragging children/ groceries out of the car.
And if you want childcare/ preschool, put you child's name down and pay deposits NOW, I work in education and expat arrivals are always baffled that all of the local daycares are chock full (and around $100 a day). Also, kids don't start school until around age 5 and there is no public Nursery School provision, so you need childcare for a number of years.
Good luck, just make sure you get paid enough to make the move worth it!

FrozenYogurt Wed 17-Jul-13 08:32:26

If the cost of living is so high for everyone what do people on lower incomes/welfare do?

We have tight months when I buy from supermarket 'value' ranges, and Tesco do a value bulk package of nappies for about half the price of Pampers. I guess what I'n trying to say is that there are provisions for people who are living on a smaller income, it's relatively easy to do a budget shop here. Is there absolutely nothing like that in Oz? What are the budget options for people on lower incomes?

chloeb2002 Wed 17-Jul-13 06:04:17

I just did a nappies price check. Intrigued.. As I buy pampers here... Go toddler.. Pampers active fit size 4 ..3 boxes of 78 nappies.. $98. Compared to tesco that's quite good. It seems Aussie bubs must use more nappies as the packs are much smaller in tescos! 30 in a pack not 80/100 like Huggies :0)

Thumbwitch Wed 17-Jul-13 00:14:36

(Hi apanic, I guessed it was you! <<waves>> grin)

Thanks for the tip re Wasp-eze, yetanother - I have a couple of tubes of anti-histamine cream that I brought back last time but will look out for that whenever I run out.

I have suggested, in the latest census/poll for MN, that we could have local pages for big cities in forrin places (e.g. Sydney) but I guess it would be a bit complicated! So the answer is no at the moment.

Re. the rental - although I've never had to do it, I have heard the stories about trying to compete for them - you have to pretty much write a begging letter explaining how brilliant you'll be as tenants, what you can offer, why they should pick you instead of anyone else, and probably offer over the odds on price.

exexpat Tue 16-Jul-13 23:49:19

Yes, I rather fancy that Birchgrove Rd house - close to a great park (and the Dawn Fraser outdoor pool, if it's still going), plus one of my favourite Balmain pubs, the Riverview. And handy for Darling St.

Not a huge house, but big enough, by the look of it. I think the lack of an ensuite/second bathroom tends to mark down prices quite a lot in the Sydney property market.

Feeling envious now - I'd love to move back, but sadly just not possible for the foreseeable future.

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