Where I chose to live and why-New South Wales

Choosing somewhere to live in Australia is perhaps one of the biggest decisions you need to make.  Throw into the mix schools and work, and it’s important to get it right.

Hopefully, the fellow migrant posts here may help you.

For those that want to contribute, please let us know the general area that you live and why you chose that location. Was it work, lifestyle, family, convenience or education that helped you decide. Have you found any benefits or downsides since moving to you new location?

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Michelle Brindle – Illawarra.

NSW often isn’t at the top of everyone’s wish list due to its high cost of living, however due to my work in the banking industry and Edd having built his career as a plumber specialising in high end commercial builds in London we needed to be as close to the big city as possible.  

We initially settled in the Southwest suburbs of Sydney but following one of the harshest lockdowns in the state where we couldn’t explore more than 5k for nearly 6 months of 2020 we struggled to find our tribe and call it home. So, we set off to find a new place and quickly found the Illawarra. 

We have ended up settling in the historic coastal town of Bulli, rich in history of the initial coal trade and where Capitan Cook originally landed before deciding against staying and moving up the coast to Botany Bay. The town has a train line meaning can still get into Sydney in under an hour and half, which whilst long has one of the most memorable views of watching the sunrise over the ocean.  

Our boys aged 8 & 10 are spoiled where days are filled with bike rides along the coastal path, dips in the ocean pool after school, a plethora of afterschool and Saturday morning sporting activities, skate parks and mountain bike tracks, scouts camping and chilling in their friends’ houses. The area is so safe where everyone looks out for everyone that even after only a few months we have an endless revolving door of all the local kids whilst us mums sip at a chilled wine round the fire pit. 

We are 15 min to Wollongong and all its shops, restaurants and its entertainment centre which is big enough to get world famous acts. We have become ‘those’ people that get expensive coffee on a Saturday morning and a locally brewed ale in the evening. The area even has a bunch of travelling food trucks bringing some of the best local delicacies straight to your door.  

The weather here is perfect with winters never dropping below 15 degrees and a pleasant breeze of the ocean on those hot summer days. The area is surrounded by national parks and a short drive to Lake Illawarra where there are endless outdoor activities, camping locations and 4×4 options and driving slightly further afield we can be in camping in the south, skiing in the Snowy’s or sipping wine in the Hunter Valley. 

Personally, we have found home.  

Where to consider living in NSW by Michelle Brindle

NSW is the place where Australia modern history began but where civilisation has lived for thousands of years. The state is home to sprawling bush land, some of the most famous beaches in the world, mountains, and tablelands perfect for growing some of the best grapes. Below are some of the top areas to investigate: 

Newcastle and the Central Coast.  Median house of $750-$800,000 

This is the second largest city in NSW, located just 2 hours north of Sydney in the central coast. The city was originally built up around the coal industry and is now home to one of the country’s best universities. This wonderfully restored area is perfect for those not ready to go fully remote but want easy access to the bush, beaches, and views. The city still has a bustling industrial area and working port keeping steady levels of work in the trade industries. Bonus is that many of the surrounding suburbs fall into the regional category for the 491 whilst providing solid work opportunities. The Central coast is also home to Gosford and areas which has had a recent influx of people moving out of Sydney and following plans by the NSW governments to build a train line to get you into Sydney in under an hour this is an area to keep any eye on! 

Wollongong and the Illawarra. Median house of $800,000  

Starting in Helensburgh follow the Grand Pacific drive, through the jaw dropping sea cliffs, hugging the coastline all the way down to Shellharbour. Each town comes with its own unique charm from the boutique Austinmer, family built Woonana to Newcastle’s little sister, Wollongong. The Illawarra is perfect for those who still need to commute into the big city on an occasional basis at c 1.2hr commute by train. Like its big brother, Wollongong was built up around the coal industry and is home to Port Kembla one of the largest ports in Australia, there are plenty of work opportunities with lots of local construction and development. The area is truly a family’s paradise.  

Far North Coast. Median house of $550,000 

Not quite the tropical climate of Queensland but as close as you’re going to get. With the famous bohemian town of Byron Bay where shoes are not expected with linen and tie dye as far as the eye can see to the chic and trendy Coffs Harbour and all the towns in between, this area can be perfect for those looking for the more laid-back resort lifestyle. As ever with regional towns research that you can get work in your industry before falling in love.  

Murry River. Median house of $340,000 

Moving away from the beaches and heading inland you will be spoiled for choice in the Murry River area. Bordering the state of Victoria this beautifully green area is packed with family friendly towns however beyond local services such as schools or smaller hospitals there is little industry in area with many having to commute to further afield.  

Orange or Dubbo. Median house of $690,000 

Looking to the central tablelands of NSW you can find the two ‘cities’ of Orange and Dubbo. Both have a population of less than 50,000 so expect a tight knit community but one where recent investment has made these areas more attractive. The areas have had a growing food, wine and arts investments attracting more people to the areas.   

Where to consider living in Sydney by Michelle Brindle

Sydney is home to over 5 million people, a post card place with its iconic Sydney Opera house and Harbour bridge combined with a diverse and thriving lifestyle. Sydney has repeatedly been voted in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world whilst equally falling into the top 20 most expensive cities, however despite its cost it continues to attract people from all over the world with over 30% of the population having been born overseas.  

One of the biggest draws for the city is the work opportunities be it if you are here as a backpacker on a WHV (Working Holiday Visa) looking for seasonal bar work, a seasoned professional on a 2-year 482 visa or looking for a permeant spot as a family in the suburbs, Sydney has all sorts to offer.  

Thankfully, the city is divided in to aptly named areas each with their own unique personality: 

City. Shockingly this is in the middle and home to the CBD unless a professional who really hates commuting this will only be a place for visiting and working.  

Eastern Suburbs. Home to the ever famous Bondi and Coogee you might actually find more British and Irish people here than actual England/Ireland. Check out the family friendly areas of Double Bay, Edgecliffe or Bellevue for that perfect mix of being close to the city but with beach views. However, don’t drop your wine glass when you see the median house price at a tasty $3m! 

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Northern Beaches. The most famous part of Sydney and home to some of the most spectacular beaches, easy commute via ferry and some of the top ranking schools in the country. Spreading from Manly in the south to Palm Beach in the north, expect to find a mix of mansions, marinas, and top end units. As ever expect to pay a premium for this awesomeness with median house prices topping well over $5m. However, if you find yourself here only for a shorter period of time you can find some great units to rent for a ore much wallet friendly price. Highly recommend researching the schools as many will be private or religious and come at a cost.  

Western and Inner West. The largest part of the city stretching out all the way to Penrith, a city in itself. The west is a diverse cultural melting pot where some of best food can be sourced. Housing becomes a lot more affordable and with plenty of commuter train lines it’s a popular place. Recommend visiting any areas that attract you before committing as unfortunately there can be pockets of undesirable areas that may not fit the Australian dream. Check out the likes of Padstow Heights, Harris Park, Paramatta or Kareela.  

The Shire (Sutherland). The number 1 spot for families with suburbs set into the bush and greener areas surrounding the Georges River and into the Royal national park whilst moments’ drive from the beaches at Cronulla, this is truly a family haven. With pockets of affordability, easy access to the city in 45min by train or road and short drive to beaches and nature. Check out Jannali, Como or Miranda. 

The Chadwick Family

Although we currently live in Perth, Sydney and the surrounding areas would definitely be our close second choice. We moved to Perth for work reasons, but have spent a lot of time in New South Wales and always love our time there.

Cost of living is definitely more expensive, however the salaries tend to be higher to compensate.

We always find Sydney a clean and tidy state with great weather and the transport is very convenient.

New South Wales offers the perfect balance of modern and historical culture.

James & Michael

After travelling around Sydney & Queensland back in 2011, we contacted the DUC in 2019 with the idea we wanted to move Sydney. Both tradies (carpenter and welder) we completed a skills assessment and lodged our visas to become permanent residents.

New South Wales was the perfect state for us as we both loved the night life in Sydney and the surf at Bondi, as well as the rural areas of NSW. The scenic railway in Katoomba is a must see.

Now living in Manly & Ingleside Sydney. We both love our jobs (jobs are similar to what we had in the UK) the work/life balance and the awesome weather.

Bhavik & Kavita

Our migrant story is quite unusual, as we migrated during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2020. I was awarded fast-tracked permanent residency through the global talent program within 3 weeks! However, to get into the country we had to quarantine (in Darwin!) and were not allowed to leave again until the borders opened (almost 18 months later). The choice of Sydney was pretty much driven by receiving a job offer in the city before making the move. Everything happened very fast – from applying for the visas to receiving the grants, job and moving was all within 3 months in the midst of Covid lockdowns.

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Although we knew very little about Sydney, we both fell in love with the city very quickly. Initially, things were good and we lived near the airport (which in Australian cities are usually located within close proximity to the city centre). Since internal and international borders were closed, there were no flights and it was easy to forget that we lived under a flight path! The surprising thing about Sydney is that there is nature everywhere. Within a 30 min walk from our place in the city, there were bush walks with wild bat communities and dense bush, making it easy to forget that you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. There is so much to do in Sydney and the scenery is stunning. Almost every weekend in the summer, spring and autumn are like a holiday, with beaches, hikes, city activities and more right on our doorstep.

Sydney is immense. It is more like three or four cities in one, with each different part (city, eastern suburbs, west and northern beaches) having it’s own unique character. Driving an hour (or two) is something you will have to get used to if wanting to settle in the city. After the very intense lockdown of 2021, we decided to move out to Campbelltown in the city’s southwest.

It is easy to forget that we are in Sydney when in the southwest, with everything being significantly less built up and less congested than in the city. It is possible to get onto the property ladder here, with 3 bedroom houses priced in the range of $700,000 – $750,000, putting them into the NSW government’s stamp duty reduction scheme for first time buyers. Compared to London, things are generally more affordable in Sydney for couples or young families starting off.

From the southwest, the Illawara, Wollongong and several national parks are very accessible. We love hiking, and there are so many options around it’s impossible to do them all! Canberra is around 2.5 hours drive west and Wollongong (and less it’s less crowded beaches!) are around 1 hour away. The Blue Mountains are 1 – 1.5 hours away, and you don’t have to do through the city when traveling from the city’s southwest. We are lucky to live within a 5 minute walk to a train station, which goes directly to the city within an hour. Compared to other locations, southwestern Sydney has it all – transport links, affordability and nature.

For jobs, Sydney is great. There are several major universities here and of course, the city is a major economic centre. I found a job as an associate lecturer at one of the main universities before making the move, which helped immensely. My partner was offered a position whilst we were still in quarantine and before we arrived in Sydney. Everyone was so welcoming and it was easy to forget we are in city of 5 million people!

In all, Sydney is great place to live and work!