Living & working in Sydney as single parent

(26 Posts)
lokijet Tue 01-May-18 22:15:41

Im looking at a role with my company based in Sydney (but likley to include travel around major cities).

While I currently do a similar job in the UK here I have some family as support network and the geography is clearly smaller.

Does anyone have experience of living working in Sydney and how feasible it would be to have live in au pair etc

OP’s posts: |
HPandBaconSandwiches Wed 02-May-18 04:53:47

You can do anything with enough money but don’t underestimate the family support you’ll be leaving behind.
I live near Brisbane and moved with 2 kids and a husband. It’s indescribably hard emigrating, both emotionally and practically. And the kids didn’t settle as well as everyone said they would. I’d have had to have very good reasons for doing it solo.

Sydney is London prices for rentals. Are you going to earn enough? Are you happy with a small apartment?
In terms of city to city, that’s easy. People jump on planes as if it’s the bus. Lots of flights daily between the major cities. All doable in a day other than Perth.
You may need/want to factor in school fees and cost of living (electricity bills especially) is higher.
If you're going to be out/travelling 5 long days a week, I must admit I wouldn’t want to do that to my kids, leaving them in a new country, without any family, unless I had to, having experienced the trauma they (sometimes) go through emigrating.
If your company are going to through in private medical care, expenses, relocation and a nice fat salary then maybe. But even then I probably wouldn’t do it alone with kids. Full respect to those that have.
Have a look at for ideas of prices of rentals. Have a long think about how much you use family each month to cover childcare. What will you do if your child is sick, or your aupair is sick?
Sorry to not be more positive, but unless you’ll have a big salary and a laid back adaptable child, I’d stay in the UK.

ItchyBites Wed 02-May-18 08:31:56

It would depend hugely on salary, exact location in Sydney, what your working hours are likely to be, how often you need to go away for work and so on. It probably also depends a bit on what your financial situation is like currently, because moving overseas is a very costly exercise, and you'd be advised to have a contingency fund, just in case you decide it isn't for you and you want to move back.

It would also depend on the type of visa. If it is a temporary visa, then you won't be able to claim anything towards childcare, and you will have to pay for schooling. There is always the risk of losing your job on a temporary visa, in which case you have 90 days to leave the country.

We lived in Sydney for quite a number of years, and over that time the cost of living rose hugely, so you will need to do your sums carefully. Rents and house prices in particular rose, and I had several friends who had to move away to cheaper areas. Don't underestimate how isolated you can feel when friends and family are on the other side of the world. I really struggled with that at times, and I had an OH to turn to.

If you've any specific questions about Sydney, I would be happy to try and help.

beingsunny Wed 02-May-18 08:49:19

I'm a single parent in sydney, I've been here ten years now.
It's the rents which are most expensive so depending on your location and the type of home you are prepared to live in will be very important. For context, I live in an expensive area but in an old apartment meaning I can walk everywhere and am 30min from the office door to door. This is important for me in terms of being able to do drop offs and pick ups for school and not have my son do really long days in after school care.

There are also lots of ex pats and these guys are welcoming and can quickly become your support network as there are lots of us in a similar position.

The questions around what happens with your child while you travel must be answer d with having an AU pair, this is popular but of course you need the space to put one...

If you have any specific questions feel free to message me

ToesInWater Wed 02-May-18 15:19:31

Everything is doable with enough money but the age of your child/children is going to be pretty crucial as the amount/type of care they will need will make things more or less difficult. Your options around schooling, bearing in mind your visa class, will also impact. Sydney is expensive and your experience will very much depend on where you choose/can afford to live. Happy to help with further info if I can.

lokijet Wed 02-May-18 22:59:22

thanks for your responses guys.

it would be an internal transfer with a large company and ian on good salary though i don't currently live in london but this also means they don't advertise the salary so I would need to set expectations etc

I already have a job where I have to spend several nights away during a month but at the moment my mum looks after my son who has just turned 8 ( TBH she is very helpful but nearly 80 so cant carry on doing this forever)

I have family in Melbourne but would need to be based in Sydney - I don't know much about the suburbs.

Didn't know about school fees so would need to take that into consideration too.

I might be able to get away with an occasional overnight babysitter but to be honest thought an au pair might be more sensible though it would mean higher rent as would need an extra bedroom

OP’s posts: |
ToesInWater Thu 03-May-18 09:02:57

A live in au pair is certainly an option but as you say the increase in your housing costs would be significant so you would have to do your sums. Very easy to get a 2 bed apartment (there is a lot of building going on here and a large percentage of it is buy to let), less easy for 3 beds. Also lots of cute little town houses depending on where you live. You would also need to be very confident in an au pair to leave her overnight with an 8 year old in a city where you won't know many people to start with. A full time job will make it harder to make mum friends at the school gate, also Aussies who have grown up locally are often perfectly pleasant but not really interested in making friends with expats as they have their friendship group already from school/mothers group. I always remember how crap I felt having to tell my kids' school that I really couldn't provide the obligatory emergency contact as I didn't know anyone I could ask (not a single parent btw so at least there were two of us but we did have three kids 😁). Any chance of negotiating school fees as part of your package? I'm thinking if you could get private fees paid you could find a school that would have 8-6 cover which would help. After school nannies are also a thing, there are a number of reputable babysitting/nanny agencies here like Nannies and Helpers and Dial an Angel. You could try for someone who would do occasional overnights giving you the care you need without having to provide a room. Would you be based in the CBD or somewhere with a lot of offices like North Sydney or Macquarie Park? That will be important in deciding where to live.


RedDwarves Thu 03-May-18 09:58:29

Sydney is obscenely expensive. Even the rubbish suburbs a 40+ minute commute away are expensive. Certainly knowing a ballpark salary figure would be helpful, because going off the facts you've given: single parent and Sydney, the assumption I'm making is that it's going to be a struggle.

Public schools don't demand fees. They are given on a voluntary basis by those who can afford to pay/wish to contribute. Otherwise, costs incurred include uniform, books, trips etc. Sydney has excellent public primary schools and fantastic selective high schools. These are public, but require an entrance exam to be passed and a particular academic average maintained. Some of the top performing schools in NSW (including the longest-running number 1) are selective public schools, not private schools.

You have to be very aware of the areas you're looking to live in because public transport can be sparse, even non-existent in some areas. I grew up on the North Shore and that was/is one of the better areas for public transport, but trains still only go into the CBD every 10-15 minutes, even at peak time.

For what it's worth, my friend is renting out their 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom flat in a suburb on the upper North Shore (40 minutes by train to the city) for $650 per week at the moment. Granted, the flat is a 3 minute walk to Westfield and a 5 minute walk to the station, but it is indicative of what you can expect to pay for something similar.

ToesInWater Thu 03-May-18 12:12:27

Sorry RedDwarves but you are wrong with regard public schools in NSW. Holders of 457 visas ( the usual business visa) are currently charged $4,000 per year for primary schooling, more for high school. There is nothing to indicate that the new TSS visa which would be the visa replacing the 457 will be different. Not all States charge fees for temporary residents (though interestingly South Australia introduced fees in 2017 "to bring it in line with other states") but NSW does. If you were to stay and get Permanent Residency the fee no longer applies. The British Expats website is a mine of useful practical information if you like research 😊

ToesInWater Thu 03-May-18 12:13:19

Sorry, that should have read $4,500 per annum.

RedDwarves Thu 03-May-18 12:15:18

Oh you’re right Toes. The visa thing completely slipped my mind!

Pythonesque Fri 04-May-18 08:17:25

If you are looking at transferring within a large company, I presume they will probably have someone available to advise on a relocation package.
It would seem very reasonable to try to discuss what would be offered / recommended / what support they might or might not give for all the practical aspects of relocating. Hope you can figure out something that seems reasonable.

I agree with the difficulty of not having existing support networks by the way, and that you may need to link up with expat communities to get any of that. We grew up in Sydney but my mother was from the UK and Dad's family were in Qld, lots of assumptions were always made that everyone would have relatives around and backup, little effort to notice we didn't have that and help, and in an ever busier world that probably hasn't changed much sadly.

KingIrving Sat 05-May-18 04:24:42

While we were on a 457 in 2014, school was $5000 . I doubt it is lower now. One of the condition of the 457 is to have compulsory private insurance and renouncing your insurance once you are her would void your visa conditions and have you expelled, so you need to consider:

- renting cost
-school cost
- private insurance
- flight tickets home

and cost of living in Sydney is higher.

Family and friends in UK are not only there to help you but also represent a bond for your child. Do not underestimate the cost of being cut from family and friends.
As a previous poster said, moving comes at a cost for a child especially a single parent who might be away for several days. Yes an aupair can help but there great aupair and not so great ones.
Making friends takes time and many playdates, which is a bit harder here as everyone does so many activities.

My kids changed 4 countries, and I said enough, I am not moving until they finish school and then I want to move closer to home near grandparents while they are alive. and this, the ageing parent, is another point you need to consider. How would you feel in case of sickness? How would your mother feel about you moving so far away with a grandchild she has cared a lot for? Can you budget not only money but also time to visit?

My husband's company pays 1 flight a year to fly home, we buy the second so go every 6 months. Any chance for a similar agreement? They also cover part of the rent (used to be all), health insurance and one car, and they paid the school while we were on the 457.

My husband's company is huge but they had not relocation agent or specialist, it was all our doing in researching and putting request down.

Do you have an idea of the salary you will get? Roughly?

lokijet Sat 05-May-18 10:10:39

I am currently on £100k+ and not London based and already travel for my current role both commute (1hr+) and overnight to offices in London/birmingham scotland - I am away Mon-thurs next week. (but here have family helping out but this is not sustainable over the next 5 years so either way I am going to have to consider live in childcare or part Boarding at school). I am expecting AUD200k + to make this workable ideally nearer 230k

I work for a large international group so relocations are common but unhelpful financials and details are only discussed once you have been offered the job ( which I may not get!!!)

I appreciate this is not everyones lifestyle choice and recognise the impact this will have on my son but the impact would be similar if I move in the UK or Mid East which are the other options and I do have friends and family in Australia/NZ just not sydney yet> Mum and I have discussed and she is supportive.

I am trying to do as much research as I can ahead of those discussions.

Tips on schools, suburbs etc welcome or experience of childcare/ part boarding

Thanks for all the comments and input - single parenting always has its challenges smile

OP’s posts: |
lokijet Sat 05-May-18 10:28:02

Toes reliable overnight childcare and extended after school would probably work as thats what i do at the minute - the after school club lady does extra for me has my keys and will bring my son home and put him to bed on nights Im back later than 6.30 ( clearly I pay and its by prior arrangement).

I was looking at au pair as I thought it might bring additional support and stability and my preference has been to stay away from Boarding schools but think I could get school fees sorted as part of a package (whereas they wouldn't cover an au pair)

OP’s posts: |
KingIrving Sat 05-May-18 10:59:08

We are on the Northern Beaches. Really nice area, but you might want to stay on the south shore if frequent travel. From here to airport, 45 minutes minimum, 25 to CBD with public transport.
Maroubra in the south is really nice, with a local feel, beach and close to airport, local school, buses to CBD.

No idea about boarding, sorry

lokijet Sun 06-May-18 01:17:29

Thanks King - TBH I don't really want to do boarding I want him home with me

45 min to the airport doesn't sound too bad to me or 25 min to CBD

while UK distances are smaller it can take a longtime to get anywhere!

OP’s posts: |
Sunshinedaze Sun 06-May-18 11:53:49

Lower North Shore, Inner west/city, Eastern Suburbs, all have areas that can get you to the cbd by public transport around 25- 30 mins and some with 30-45 mins. There are also apartments in Sydney near the cbd ( central business district ) itself. If you don’t like spiders, avoid North Shore as it’s a leafy area, full of them.

A good real estate site for looking at rental costs is

The following guides have profiles on the suburbs.

PurplePumpkinPiss Sun 06-May-18 12:35:13

I can't understand why you are even contemplating this. We are in London with family in Aus. Not a single parent family, great CM and only occasional travel and I think you are vastly underestimating the help you receive.

Sure your dm might not be up for minding your ds in 5 years but he'll be 13 and fine if she's in the house.

You say you don't want him boarding, home with you, but you aren't going to be home yourself very often?

As an Aussie there is no way I would move to Sydney without any support.

What is it you want from this move? Do you expect it to be a perm move?

Tinlegs Sun 06-May-18 12:41:08

Can you take your Mum?

KingIrving Mon 07-May-18 00:16:20

Getting an old parent's visa is an almost impossible task. They tend to kick you out once you are very old and getting unwell, as we read from newspaper.

I understand your will, OP, to assess this possibility. Being a single mum does;t mean you have to suppress career dreams or moves. You should however try to make it worth for your son as well and aim at the "Australia" you have in mind when you think about it, so beach, a house with a pool, going to surf after school, going bare feet everywhere, so for this reason I would stick to Eastern suburbs which means Coggee, Maroubra, Bronte (avoid Bondi) or on the other side of the Harbour, Manly, Freshwater. Anything further up would make your commute harder.

The Lower north shore , the inner suburbs or the west, is maybe not the Australia we get from movies, series, documentaries , that would make it worth it.

Seriously consider Manly. Easy to reach the CBD by ferry and its popularity would mean you will easily find Aupairs. Yes it is busy and crowded but slightly move away from the Corso and not so much any more. Manly is also flat and everyone moves around in bicycle, great library, nice to go for a walk after work before dinner with your son. There are lots of expats, so many who share your experience and might be more prone to help in case of emergency.
Manly has a great new pool, plenty of parks, oval and is very friendly.

Aim at a beautiful place, both for you and your son.

NewBallsPlease00 Mon 07-May-18 00:29:29

Manly is gorgeous and has a lovelyvfeel yet 25min ferry and you're in cbd
Cost of living is extortionate
Cost of accommodation is extortionate
If you're 100k+ not London establish what your London weighting is and there is your base

beingsunny Mon 07-May-18 00:39:40

With your update, I would say look at manly or Bronte as suburbs, small community feel here with lots of quite involved parents and ex pat parents at that. I'd think about renting a small house and having an AU pair, that sounds like the least disruptive option for your son, you could do weekly boarding which in comparison to the UK is quite cheap, look at cranbrook, and Newington College,in the east, kings in parramatta, and maybe st josephs if you live in manly as it's north shore.
You sound like a smart and confident woman so I'm sure you will be able to make this work if you want it.

LadyCassandra Mon 07-May-18 01:23:43

I have a friend in a very similar situation to you. Similar income, job with lots of travelling and single parent to a 9 year old, living in Manly. She has a live in au pair and she manages pretty well. Au pairs are pretty easy to come by in Manly, a few of my friends have them, as it’s a popular destination.
We are on a much lower income but manage well in Manly. Yes, rents are extortionate but there are so many free things to do, that we have a pretty good life.

lokijet Mon 07-May-18 09:57:46

Thanks guys - the application is in so we'll see if this even gets to the stage of needing to find schools etc.

Manly and eastern suburbs sounds like what i want for my son. We often do pre dinner walks around Harrogate where we are at the moment particularly as he has recently discovered pokemon go!!

I also forgot that I would expect to be renting out my UK property +£1k per month (although am also freaking out about how much needs doing to the house!!)

Will keep you posted if the job moves forward - fingers crossed x

OP’s posts: |

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