- Download our Moving to Sydney Guide (PDF)
Australia may be far removed from the rest of the world, but expats, particularly Westerners, will find plenty of familiarities in Sydney’s lifestyle. The city is a top choice for many expats thanks to its gorgeous weather, pristine beaches and thriving nightlife.
Working professionals tend to enjoy a good work-life balance in Sydney with plenty of leisure time, which allows them to take advantage of the countless fun activities, events and weekend stays in and around the city.
Shopping in Sydney
Fashionistas may laud Paris, Milan or New York City as the best shopping destinations on the planet, but Sydney certainly holds its own. The city boasts a number of boutique clothing stores, vintage stores, high-end shopping malls and everything in between.
The Queen Victoria Building, commonly referred to as the QVB, is a must for shoppers. Located on George Street, the QVB is packed with purveyors of clothing, shoes, accessories and much besides. Shoppers can also check out one of the many cafes tucked away throughout the building for a bite between purchases. Westfield Sydney Shopping Centre is another great place to look for clothing, shoes, home furnishings and accessories.
Shoppers on the hunt for unique items such as vintage clothing, handcrafted jewellery or handmade purses and wallets should definitely check out the Rocks Markets.
Eating out in Sydney
With Italian, Thai or authentic Aussie food, Sydney has something to satisfy any palate. Like many big cities around the world, dining out can be expensive in Sydney, but knowing where to go can keep costs low. Expats on a budget should avoid touristy areas, and rather consult locals or other expats on where to grab a bite.
Pubs and hotels are popular quick-eats choices, and many offer happy hour specials. Anyone celebrating a special occasion or in the mood for a fancier restaurant should be sure to visit Darling Harbour, where patrons can enjoy good seafood and watch the sunset over the water.
Nightlife in Sydney
While Sydney may be known for attractions such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, it also plays host to a thriving nightlife scene and boasts some great nightclubs and bars.
Expats looking for a party should head to Kings Cross, where some of the city’s best nightclubs are found. King Street in Newtown and Oxford Street in Darlinghurst are also well worth a visit. Both of these areas offer a wide selection of beer gardens, cocktail bars and pubs to choose from, and drink prices tend to be slightly cheaper than at venues in the city centre.
See and do in Sydney
As one of the most exciting and popular destinations for expats to relocate to, Sydney is bursting with fabulous attractions and activities for new residents to enjoy.
One of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, Harbour Bridge stretches across the river, connecting the CBD to the North Shore. There’s no better way to view Sydney than to climb to the top of the bridge and look out over the harbour and across to the famous Opera House.
Royal Botanic Gardens
These sprawling grounds in the heart of Sydney contain thousands of species of plants and features paths that criss-cross their way around its ponds, sculptures and horticultural areas.
Sydney Opera House
The world-renowned Sydney Opera House is one of the city’s architectural masterpieces. The complex consists of a Concert Hall that seats 2,500 people and boasts some of the finest acoustics in the world, as well as two proscenium theatres, a playhouse, a studio and an outdoor forecourt.
The tallest free-standing building in the city and the second tallest in the southern hemisphere, the Sydney Tower is a great place to admire the breathtaking views of the harbour.
What’s on in Sydney
Expats will never be bored in a city that always seems to have something going on. Below are some recommended events in Sydney.
Sydney Festival (January)
One of the most exciting and varied events in the city, the Sydney Festival includes everything from cabaret and circus acts to opera and theatre. It attracts performers from all over the globe and festivalgoers are sure to experience something truly unique and enjoyable.
Vivid Sydney (May/June)
Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of light, music and ideas, colouring the city with creativity and inspiration. Hugely popular are the light installations, where artworks are projected onto the sails of the iconic Opera House and other notable landmarks around the city.
The annual City2Surf is a large marathon with more than 80,000 people participating. The run starts in the city centre and ends at the iconic Bondi Beach. Participants often dress up in novelty costumes and the route is dotted with bands providing entertainment.
Carols in the Domain (December)
Thousands of people come together in the Domain, in the heart of the Botanical gardens, to sing along to their favourite Christmas carols. There are often also national and international performers featured, and as an added bonus, the event is free of charge.
Where to meet people and make friends in Sydney
Landing in a new environment can be lonely and strange. Luckily, Sydney offers many opportunities for expats to meet new people and integrate smoothly.
For all snorkelling enthusiasts, the Dive Centre Manly diving club offers a group to enjoy the rich marine life of Manly and make a few friends along the way. The frequent social gatherings and scuba training more than justifies the annual membership fee for many members.
This relatively small group of expats and locals is dedicated to breaking away from the city and exploring the natural areas around Sydney. With a small annual fee, members are entitled to insurance.
This group of badminton enthusiasts offers the chance to have fun, stay healthy and meet new people. They meet on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Members should bring their own gear and there is a fee of $17.5.
►Learn about the accommodation in Sydney in our guide
"There are so many advantages to living in Sydney – as a big fan of staying active and enjoying the outdoors, the temperate climate of Sydney is perfect. I often go diving or snorkelling at one of the local beaches, running, swimming, or coast or bush walks are some of my favourite things on the weekends." Learn more about life in Sydney in our interview with American expat Katie.
Are you an expat living in Sydney?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sydney. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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