- Download our Moving to Sydney Guide (PDF)
Sydney, a vibrant, world-class city home to numerous iconic landmarks, is known for its spectacular natural beauty and cosmopolitan city life. This New South Wales hub offers expats a dynamic, culturally varied environment with a wide range of things to see, do and experience.
Sydney consistently ranks as one of the top cities for expats, but as is the case everywhere, there are downsides too. Here's a list of the pros and cons of moving to Sydney as an expat.
Accommodation in Sydney
+ PRO: Wide range of choices
From apartments in the city centre to freestanding houses in the suburbs, there are plenty of accommodation choices for expats in Sydney. For expats who need a bit of space but are on a budget, rowhouses are a happy medium, sharing their side walls with neighbours but affording residents a bit of yard.
- CON: Accommodation is expensive
Property and rent costs in Sydney are much higher than even in Melbourne, never mind some of the more affordable cities in Australia. Expats should expect accommodation to be the biggest item on their budget.
Lifestyle in Sydney
+ PRO: Things to see and do for everyone
The lifestyle in Sydney is one of its key draws. Shoppers will find boutique clothing stores littered throughout the city, as well as shopping centres like the Queen Victoria Building and markets like Rocks, and foodies will find dining options for every palate and wallet. Outdoorsy types can head to the beach for swimming, surfing, diving or snorkelling, or take a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Cost of living in Sydney
- CON: High cost of living
The most populous city in Australia, Sydney has the country's highest cost of living. In the 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked 58th out of 227 cities. This is largely due to the cost of accommodation, though the price tags on a lot of the city's entertainment options are also a contributing factor. Groceries are quite expensive, but this is not a problem unique to Sydney – the cost of living in Australia in general has risen quite sharply in the last few years.
+ PRO: Equally high standard of living
Despite its steep cost of living, Sydney's work-life balance, enviable lifestyle and variety of available activities continue to attract expats across the globe.
Education in Sydney
Australian public education is generally first-class and is free for permanent residents, and there are private options available too. Sydney is also home to prestigious universities, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.
- CON: No free education for temporary residents
Until they have been granted a permanent residence visa, expats will have to pay school fees for their children to enrol in public schools. As a result, many expats enrol their children in private schools.
+ PRO: Affordable private education options
Faith-based (usually Catholic) schools are quite affordable, and sometimes even cheaper for expats than the public school fees. This is not generally true for other independent schools, which have higher fees.
Healthcare in Sydney
+ PRO: High quality of healthcare
Sydney has a mix of public and private healthcare. The public healthcare on offer is great, and many residents don't take out private insurance, though this means longer wait times.
- CON: Expats may need costly private insurance
Medicare is available to residents and New Zealanders living in Australia. Other expats will have to pay for healthcare, and without Medicare, healthcare costs and insurance are expensive. Some visas even require expats to have private insurance as one of their conditions.
Getting around in Sydney
+ PRO: Well-developed public transport
An extensive public transport network makes getting around Sydney fairly straightforward. With a prepaid Opal card, commuters can tap in and out at train, light rail, bus and ferry terminals.
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.
Expat Health Insurance
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With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
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