Expat Life in Exciting Sydney
by Jamie Douglas
If fate has chosen you to become a resident of Australia’s largest city, then congratulations are in order. From its landmarks – the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge – to its famous beaches and a vibrant art and music scene, the city is a cultural heaven, with many different activities available year round. Sydney is a very cosmopolitan world-class city, and when it comes to doing business, they “out-American” their American counterparts in many respects.
The same may be said about homes in the city and its many suburbs. Very large is very in. Australians live big, from their ready for anything utes (pickups, for you Yanks) to their recreational activities, which often involve beaches and barbies and drinking very late into the night. During weekdays, Sydney is all business, being the headquarters of many financial institutions, and the all-important Australian Securities Exchange, one of the most important bourses in the southern part of the world.
With all the corporate headquarters in Sydney, it has acquired a most cosmopolitan skyline, with the Sydney Tower, or Centrepoint Tower, at 1014 feet, overlooking it all. There is a fully enclosed observation platform as well as a restaurant featuring full course meals. Admission is a steep A$25. However, an annual pass is available for A$100, giving you unlimited access to the tower as well as the Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney, Oceanworld Manly, and more.
For the avid outdoors person, there is so much more than just the beaches: The Blue Mountains are a short distance from the heart of the city, easily reached by train or car, and they are a recreational paradise. Hiking is at its best here, as there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails leading through the area. A good starting point is Katoomba, from where you can cross gorges in the Scenic Skyway Cable car, which offers a surprise after undocking from either station. The floor is a liquid crystal panel which turns completely transparent. Not for those with acrophobia, but then it is unlikely that you would find those sufferers on a gondola hundreds of feet above the gorge of the Jamison Valley. On the other side you will find the world’s steepest funicular railway, the Katoomba Scenic Railway, originally built for and by the coal mines at the bottom of the valley.
Sydney has consistently been rated as one of the best places to live in the world, an asset to the expat community. All amenities you would expect are widely available here, medical to dental, schools for youngsters and adults, many beautiful parks, world class performances in the Sydney Opera House by artist from all over the world, museums, cafés, restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the world, a plethora of pubs, bars, and nightclubs, buskers on the streets, sporting facilities, and on and on. Being well known for its youth culture means that there is never a lack of action.
The transit system is aging but efficient, connecting trains, buses, and ferries throughout this huge metropolis. Getting around is a breeze and inexpensive for the distances covered. You may opt to commute by ferry to various places around the city, such as to the satellite city of Parramatta, which has become known as Sydney’s second CBD with many municipal agencies having left expensive inner city locations to the more relaxed and affordable suburb.
Housing in Sydney is moderately expensive for rentals and purchase, but readily available. Be prepared to pay three months in advance when signing your lease. The city’s CBD is very pedestrian friendly, with thousands of workers rushing along the sidewalks during lunch hour and after work.
Owning a car and getting a license is relatively straight forward with minimal hassles. Insurance is obligatory, and because of a serious history with drunken driving casualties, you may expect roadblocks anytime, but particularly on weekends and holidays. Beware! “Drink Driving” is a serious offense in all of Australia, and will always result in the immediate loss of driving privileges, huge fines, a possible jail sentence, and the subsequent astronomical rise in insurance rates.
On the whole, becoming an expat in Sydney is highly desirable to those wanting to live abroad. English is of course widely spoken and Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, German, Urdu (Pakistan) and many more languages are likely to be heard. Since Australia abandoned its racist policy of a white Australia and embraced multi-culturalism, people from all over the world have come to Oz to seek a new life, bringing their culture with them. This has lead to occasional frictions between the Anglos and Paki’s. Both sides have radicals that are fanning the flames of racism and nationalism, but after so many years of white Australia, with severe discrimination against the Aboriginal inhabitants of the continent, changes in attitudes cannot be expected to occur overnight. Still, it is a great multi-cultural city. Enjoy!
Jamie Douglas San Rafael, MendozaWhere that Malbec Wine is Always Fine!
(all photos by Julie R Butler)
I encourage you to write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions you may have, and if necessary, we can establish a voice communication via Skype. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel related business. My advice is based on my own experiences, and is free of charge. (Donations accepted). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.
Jamie Douglas is an Adventurer, Writer and Photographer with an amazing array of Nikon equipment, and a lifetime of experience traveling and documenting. To contact him for assignments, email: jamie.douglas [at] yahoo.com