Finding a Place to Live in Sydney
Deciding on where to live in Sydney is definitely a daunting task. The first decision you’ll need to make is which area of Sydney you want to live, which will be completely varied depending on your lifestyle/budget. ‘Where to live in Sydney for a young professional’ is a very different question to answer than ‘where to live in Sydney with kids’, or ‘where to live in Sydney on a budget’. Sydney spans across 12,000 square kilometres, meaning it’s easy to get lost in all the different options!
I remember scrolling through apartment listings online, trying to figure out if it was an area I should live in; it’s a hard process! Since then, I’ve lived in five suburbs since moving to Sydney, so have a bit of perspective I can share.
I’ve collated the below guide to give some advice on what to expect from each main area. The information below is a blend of actual data (average buy/rent costs, demographics etc) and some of my own opinions/observations. I apologise in advance for stereotyping, but it’s hard to pull together a guide like this without some generalisation!
The Inner West area includes suburbs like Glebe, Newtown, Rozelle and Ultimo. These suburbs will keep you within a few kilometres of the CBD and most are right on the train line. It’s a super trendy area, with plenty of amazing restaurants and loads of quality cafes.
The average two-bedroom apartment costs $1.4 million, and rent for a two bedroom apartment averages $700/week.
Who lives in the Inner West? Many of these suburbs tend to have a trendy, young, hipster vibe, so are home to people who find this attractive. Think: beanies, skinny jeans and lots of plaid/oversized shirts!
This area includes suburbs like Darlinghurst, Paddington, Kings Cross, Potts Point, Surry Hills and Woolloomooloo. It’s an incredibly convenient area, with most suburbs within walking distance from the CBD (or just a couple short minutes on the train.)
The average Surry Hills’ two bedroom apartment costs $1.2 million to buy, or $780/week to rent.
Who lives in the Inner East? It’s a great area for party animals, young professionals, and all those who like to be smack dab in the action. Kings Cross is considered the red-light district, and most of the suburbs in the inner east are very LBGT-friendly. It’s an expensive area, so many people will have roommates to spread the costs.
Central Business District (CBD)
Overall, the CBD is more of a commercial area than a residential area, but there are definitely apartments to rent/buy in this area still. Prices are very high, but your life will be extremely convenient!
The average price for a three bedroom apartment in Millers Point is $2 million to buy, or $1,200/week to rent.
Who lives in the CBD? The area around Town Hall (Haymarket) is known as Chinatown, and it’s home to many Chinese nationals. The Rocks and other waterfront areas are extremely expensive, so tend to be owned by individuals who bought at a low prices decades ago, or by extremely wealthy individuals.
This area has recently become known for up-and-coming suburbs, such as Alexandria, Erskineville, Zetland and St. Peters. A former industrial area, it’s now becoming built up with lots of apartment complexes, shopping centres, restaurants and cafes. I think this area will be a cool place to live in a few years, but for now it just seems a bit…concrete, and still a bit industrial. That said, the location is extremely convenient, and most suburbs are on a good train line.
The average two bedroom in Alexandria costs $1.2 million to buy, or $725/week to rent.
Who lives in the City South? Lots of young professionals – the median age of Alexandria is 33 years old. It’s a great area to live to stick close to the city, but away from the hardcore party scene. The City South is attractive to many people because the cost of housing is slightly lower than some other areas nearby. It’s also an up-and-coming area, so lots of the apartment complexes are brand new and very modern.
I adore the Eastern Suburbs, so – full disclosure – this summary is going to be a bit biased. The Eastern Suburbs includes all of the beach suburbs like Bondi, Bronte, Coogee, Clovelly and Tamarama, along with inland suburbs that border the beach suburbs, like Double Bay, Wollahra, Randwick and Vaucluse.
The average price to buy a three bedroom apartment in Bondi is $2.2 million, and rent for a two bedroom apartment averages $900/week.
Who lives in the Eastern Suburbs? This area tends to be a magnet for expats, as it gives close proximity to both the city and the beach. It’s also home to many young professionals, especially those who enjoy an active lifestyle.
The Shire tends to be called home by people who want to live by the beach, without the high price tag of the Eastern Suburbs or the Northern Beaches. It’s a further commute to work for city-workers, but the cost of living is much more reasonable.
The average price to buy a three bedroom house is $1.5 million, but rent for a two bedroom unit is only $550/week on average.
Who lives in the Shire? Lots of families. You can get a lot more for your money in the Shire than you can closer to the city, so if you’re trying to buy a house (not apartment) for under a million dollars, the Shire is a good option.
Lower North Shore
The Lower North Shore is an extremely sought after area to live, as it’s close to the city, but still has a more suburban feel to it. This drives up the cost of living, making it a vey affluent area. Some suburbs are on the train line, while others rely on buses or ferries to get across the harbour to the CBD.
The average three bedroom house in Mosman costs about $2.4 million, and renting a two bedroom unit will cost an average of $850/week.
Who lives in the Lower North Shore? The north side of the bridge tends to be home to families, many of which will be well-off financially. Think: families with children who attend prestigious private schools.
Upper North Shore
The Upper North Shore includes suburbs like Macquarie Park, Chatswood, Gordon and Pymble. The Upper North Shore is a good option for individuals who want to get more from their money, as housing prices are lower than those closer to the city. Most suburbs in this area area on the train line; however, the commute tends to be quite long (40+ minutes, depending on how far north.)
The average three bedroom house in Hornsby costs $1.2 million, and rents for $600/week.
Who lives in the Upper North Shore? Similarly to the Sutherland Shire, lots of families choose the Upper North Shore for the affordability.
The Northern Beaches is coastal area on – you’ve guessed it – the north side of Sydney. Many of the beaches are stunning, and the lifestyle tends to be chilled. Some of the beaches, like Balgowlah and Manly, have direct ferries to the CBD, while others rely on buses. The further north the beach, the longer the commute. The from Palm Beach to the CBD takes well over an hour.
The average three bedroom home in Manly costs $2.1 million, and rents for $1,300/week. The same sized place in Dee Why would only set you back $1.2 million to buy, or $775/week to rent – as you can see, the housing prices vary significantly in this area.
Who lives in the Northern Beaches? It’s a mix. Some beaches have extremely expensive housing costs (the ones that are closer to the city), while others are much more reasonably priced, but the commute is much longer.
The West includes areas like Bankstown, Parramatta, Ryde, Westmead and Baulkham Hills, and basically covers the geographic region sprawling out towards the Blue Mountains. Most suburbs are on the train line, although the commute to the city can easily take more than an hour one way.
The average cost of a three bedroom home in Mount Druitt is $590,000, and the average rent is $400/week.
Who lives in Western Sydney? This area is home to many individuals of international backgrounds, with 39% of people speaking a language other than English at home. The cost of living is significantly lower than most areas, so it tends to be an option for many lower income families.
So, where should you live in Sydney?
That really depends on you! Every single suburb in Sydney has both advantages and disadvantages, and my opinions on which is best will be very different than someone else’s view.
My recommendation is to start by thinking about two things: lifestyle and budget. Budget will likely rule out a few areas, and lifestyle will help you narrow it down even further. From there, start exploring! Spend a morning/evening wandering around a couple suburbs to get a feel for the vibe.
What advice do you have on choosing a suburb in Sydney? Comment below!
Like this post? Pin for later!
*Buy/Rent costs are from realestate.com.au (December, 2016)