1 February 2014
Sydney is like the hot girl in school that every one wants to ask out but only a few are brave enough to actually do it. Most just admire her from afar never daring to talk to her or even have the nerve to say hello. Those that do are often surprised to find out that not only is she beautiful but also has a great sense of humour, is fun to hang out with and is surprisingly way smarter than you would have ever guessed. A complete package.
That’s Sydney, the complete package.
At first glance, everyone falls for Sydney’s beautiful beaches, its gorgeous harbour, and temperate climate with more than 300 days of sunshine but those to get to know Sydney find that there’s more to the city than it’s stylish, beach casual laid-back lifestyle.
Be careful though, many have come to Sydney on holiday or backpacking during their gap year and have never left. Once you fall for Sydney, you fall hard. Seriously hard, I’m talking marriage. Yeah, the for life kind.
I know, I know. The M-word is scary and kind of a big deal. This is life change stuff. Many get scared off thinking, “It’s so far away” or “It’s so expensive” but don’t be scared. Living in Sydney has some amazing advantages that just might change your life, in a really good way.
1. International Diversity
Most tourists spend their time in Sydney close to the city centre, eating out at one of Sydney’s many world renowned restaurants or searching for the newly hyped small bar that they’ve read about in a guidebook. Few venture out and explore Sydney’s diverse network of suburbs that give the city it’s international character. In fact, one doesn’t have to go far from the city centre to be surround by cultural diversity.
Two suburbs that are perfect examples of Sydney’s diversity are Leichhardt and Cabramatta. Leichhardt is Sydney’s little Italy complete with a piazza and some of the city’s best Italian restaurants and cafes.
Cabramatta (Cabra as it’s usually referred to) has the largest Vietnamese community in Australia. Though Cabra has had a bad rap for many years things have started changing for this suburb. For one, Sydney’s foodie culture has embrace Cabra’s Vietnamese background so much so that there are even Cabra Food Tours that take people restaurant hopping then finish up at one of Cabra’s local markets.
2. Never A Dull Moment
The Sydney Opera House attracts top acts from all over the world. Every month it’s booked solid with touring rock bands, lecturers, theatre productions or a visiting orchestra. Though the Opera House is the hub of entertainment in Sydney, it’s not the only venue in town.
The State Theatre also draws in touring acts and often, if the Opera House is too book to add on a second or third night of a touring artist, will make accommodations. During the yearly Comedy Festival, several acts sold out but were able to add a second performance at the State Theatre for fans that missed out.
Not only are Sydney’s top venues usually booked solid but almost every month there is a festival happening somewhere in the city starting with the Sydney Festival in January. Even in the middle of winter there is one of Sydney most innovative art festival. Vivid Light Festival when the white sails of the Opera House act as a blank canvas for a visiting artist to display a light show. If that for some odd reason doesn’t tickle your fancy the maybe ice skating in Bondi Beach during the Bondi Winter Festival will. Honestly the words, “I’m bored” are rarely spoken by Sydney-siders.
3. Surrounded By Nature
Even though Sydney is a modern metropolitan you’re never far from nature. There are many large parks and nature reserves in and surrounding the city. To the north is Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park where wallabies and wild turkey roam. To the south is the Royal National Park, the world’s second oldest national park. Not too far from Chatswood train station is Lane Cove National Park. Within the city are several large parks waiting for visitor to unfold their picnic blankets and spend the afternoon.
Hiking in Sydney, or bushwalking, is a popular weekend activity. The Manly to Spit Bridge Walk is one of the most popular of the city’s bush walks known for it’s many scenic view points throughout the walk.
One doesn’t have to go out bushwalking or to a national park to come in contact with Australia wildlife. Right in the Royal Botanic Gardens you can feed the cockatoos, lorikeet parrots and eels in Middle Pond or, if you’re there at dusk, watch the few remaining flying foxes making their daily migration to Centennial Park.
Whales can been seen from Sydney’s Eastern Coastline twice a year migrating south during the Australian winter and then back up north during the spring. Along the Southern Coastal Walk during these times locals often see a whale breeching off in the distance. Once in awhile, a whale wanders into the harbour slowing down ferry traffic and causing delays for commuters.
4. Economically Stable
Just a few years ago, the Global Financial Crisis shook up many countries’ financial stability. Amazingly, Australia seemed to escape the crisis all together making the Australia dollar strong than ever. Good news for those that moved to Australia but bad news as bank accounts and investment funds back home got hit hard. Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole time, the Australia dollar continues to be strong making Sydney a costly trip for low budget travellers.
Sydney’s high cost of living is a shock to newcomers moving to the city, including those from other areas of Australia. It isn’t until that regular pay check starts to come in that the shock starts to wear away and a sense of normalcy sets in.
Even with the high cost of living there are many opportunities for expats to start to saving money. One of these options is opening a high interest savings account usually starting at 3% and can be as high as 4.62%. Though the interest rate has recently been lowered by the Reserve Bank of Australia, it’s still much higher than other countries like the United States where a high interest savings account is at best 0.95%.
Another financial blessing to working in Australia is the superannuation. A superannuation fund is a retirement fund that is not only government support but encouraged. As of 2013, the minimum obligation of employer contributions is 12%.
5. A great place to raise a family
Once you’ve fallen for Sydney, with all her natural beauty, worldly charm and active lifestyle, you may find yourself thinking of making a more long term commitment and settling down. Sydney is one of the best places to do just that, settle down and raise a family.
Sydney is often described as a network of villages as each suburb has it’s own unique character. At the heart of each village is the community centre, a place that all newly arriving families should get to know. Community centres in Sydney often have kid oriented activities, classes, child care and new moms groups.
Besides the community centres there are numerous play parks in each suburb where parents and children often hang out making new friends. A few play parks that are worth a family outing are Darling Quarter, with it’s elaborate water feature, and Sydney Park with it monster slide and kiddie bicycle course.
Don’t worry, it’s not all fun and games. Australia is well known for having one of the world’s best public school systems. In 2010, Australia was ranked 9th in education by Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) survey. The USA was 17th and the UK ranked 25th. Besides public schools, Sydney has a many private schools plus faith based schools.
Growing up in Sydney, children benefit from the urban city life with museums, the opera house and historic site but still maintain the feeling of growing up in a smaller town as each suburb has it’s own unique character and a strong sense community.
Home is where the heart is
If that’s the case then you had best be careful because Sydney will surely steal your heart.