I first set foot in Sydney April 2014, over the last three years I have spent countless days in my home spot of Bondi.
I’ve explored the city, worked in some great marketing jobs and learned a lot on the way.
I’m often asked about the reality of living in Sydney, recently a reader got in touch to ask for tips for making the move and finding work …
Here’s a detailed set of need-to-knows for anyone thinking about making the jump Down Under for a short time, a long time or just a damn good time!
Things to do the week you arrive
- Get a Medicare card. This allows free doctors appointments, otherwise it’s $75 a pop!.
- Get an Opal card. This is your travel pass for buses and trains.
- Download the Uber app. Uber makes life easier if you live out by the beaches.
- Set up your bank and super account. Your super is similar to a pension. Find out more at the bank of your choice, I’m with Westpac.
- Stay with friends, at hostels or Air B&B while you look for a place. Hostels are the most fun but depending on your age and how serious you are about coming to Sydney to find work, you might be better off in your own Air B&B space.
- Do your RSA – if you want to work in a bar you need this, don’t bother applying for jobs until you get it. It’s a one day course and costs around $100.
- Get your white cards – if you’re looking for construction work you need these, I don’t know much about them but Google does.
- Get a sim card. Optus is good for a pay and go, don’t get a contract until you know if you’re definitely staying in Australia long term.
How to find work quickly in Sydney
- Gumtree is your friend if you want a cash-in-hand job fast; cafes, bars, labouring, house removals etc.
- If you’re looking for hospitality jobs it’s a good idea to print out your CV (Google libraries closest to where you’re staying) and go on foot into places you’re interested in. It’s always good to meet managers in person and show you’re keen.
How to find contract / permanent jobs in Sydney
- On a working holiday visa you can only work for up to six months at a time for any one employer – make sure your visa allows you to work in the jobs you apply for or you’re just going to waste time applying for something you can’t actually be considered for.
- Make sure your CV / resume is up to date and relevant for the jobs you are keen on. Keep your CV short (two pages max). Don’t repeat words, phrases or skills. Make sure it’s to the point and clear to digest for employers who know nothing about you and are short on time.
- Seek.com.au is the best website for ‘proper’ jobs – be prepared to spend some serious hours searching for the right roles. Check it daily to keep first in line for any awesome opportunities.
- LinkedIn is also a great source for job hunting in Sydney – pay for a premium LinkedIn account to get better access to recruiters and vacancies.
- Register with multiple recruitment agencies. Google the jobs you are looking for, search ‘Marketing recruiters in Sydney’ / ‘Temp jobs in Sydney’ for a list of relevant agencies. Recruiters will always ask you to come in, in person, before they try to find you a position … It’s their job to find you a job so they need to make sure you’re the right fit (and what you say you are on paper!). Make sure you have a smart outfit to go to these meetings and be prepared to go back over your entire work history. Don’t be caught out!. Set up various meetings over a couple of days so you can get registered with lots of agencies in one hit.
- Sydney CBD is the main business hub. The Eastern, Western and Northern Beaches areas might be a bit far out to travel depending on where you live – don’t go for jobs that require a long commute – you want your new Sydney life to be as easy (and enjoyable!) as possible.
How to find accommodation in Sydney
- Explore the city and beach areas before you start looking for a new home away from home, there’s no point traipsing around viewing places if they’re too far for where you’re hoping to find work.
- Gumtree has plenty of listings but I have heard stories of dodgy landlords taking backpackers money – keep your wits about you at all times and don’t hand over any money until you’ve signed anything.
- Lots of people share rooms in Sydney. Yep. It’s ‘normal’. If you’re here solo you might want to wait to meet people before you room-share but it’s just something to bear in mind. It was a shock to me when I compared my London homes to Sydney!.
- Flatmates.com.au is a great source for finding houses and people to share with.
- Facebook. Join the Bondi Local Loop and Irish Around Sydney pages to check for listings and post wanted ads.
- If you arrive on a budget and want to set up home quickly and easily, hit your nearest Coles, Kmart and Target for essentials and homeware.
Best place to live in Sydney
- If you want to live in the city itself: Paddington, Surrey Hills and Newtown are my fave built up areas. Check them all out!.
- If you want to live by the beach: I LOVE BONDI but many find it’s too busy and overflowing with backpackers getting drunk / tourists getting in the way … If Bondi is too busy for you try nearby Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee. Or you can head North to Manly. They are all on the waters edge and connected by public transport for you to get to work.
What is living in Sydney really like?
- Sydney is an expensive city but it’s all relative, even low-paid jobs are decent wages compared to back home. You can expect around $25p/h for call centre jobs and most of my boy-friends who work in construction/ labouring are on a minimum of $30p/h.
- Once you settle in to Sydney life, try to make the most of the great city. I have spent so many days in Bondi when I know full well that there is more to Sydney than Bondi! – It’s very easy to fall in love with where you live and spend all your time there.
- Get fit and healthy. Making the most of the outdoors and natures beauty is one of the best things about living in Sydney. Sydneysiders love the outdoors, it’s a fabulous way to live!.
- Winter is COLD. Don’t be mislead into thinking it’s hot and sunny all year round. You will need a decent (sleeping-bag!) jacket and warm layers from June – August!.
- If you’re settling for the long term you need to accept that you will make many great friends who are traveling through. It’s always hard to say goodbye but luckily, as Sydney is such an amazing city it won’t be long before other close friends are visiting again.
- When you first arrive try and enjoy your new city a bit before you go full-force into work. If you have a bit of money behind you it’s definitely worth doing all the tourist spots – go on a whale watching tour, go to Taronga Zoo, go to the Blue Mountains.
- If you become based in Sydney be sure to make the most of cheap Jetstar / Tigerair flights and explore more of Australia whenever you get the chance.
Sydney is a brilliant, vibrant city, full of many opportunities for a good, happy, fulfilled life … I hope this post saves you time and gives you a good starting point for carving out your time here.
I really enjoy sharing tips / advice and trying to help in any way I can … if you have any questions that I can ever help with / give my version of events on please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thank you for reading, please leave any of your own Sydney tips / feedback below.
Next post coming Sunday.