How to Choose a School in Sydney Before You Know Where You Are Going to Live

This week’s Mailbox Monday post is about what do you start looking at first, schools in Sydney or suburbs.

Megan’s question below has an interesting twist as they want to eventually buy but don’t want the kids to have to switch schools when they do.

Today’s Question:

We are planning to move to Sydney at the end of this summer (Sept-ish)…myself, my husband and our two pre-school girls (40 months and 6 months). We have independent permanent skilled visas.

We have friends in Sydney, in the Eastern Suburbs (Bondi Beach and Junction, Coogee) and always imagined trying there first. However, we are now trying to get the ball rolling and are finding ourselves asking some ‘chicken and egg’ questions, and we are getting a little bit lost in all the detail! Wonder if you could advise, please?

I know you have a very useful list of things to look at and consider, but we are struggling to know which decision comes first.

I suppose we would rent initially until we find a part of town that we liked enough to buy in. And with that, it makes sense to rent close to friends, so there’s a bit of a cushion and some familiarity to ease the transition.

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So perhaps we are looking at Coogee/Bronte to start with? My husband would probably need to get to the CBD for work, I will be able to work in most areas.

My main question is how do we go about choosing schools if we don’t know where we will live yet?

Should we get a school first or a place to stay? We are keen to maintain a good quality of life, so don’t want to be travelling for hours every day. Also, want the best school possible. We would have a hard time living further than a walk away from the beach, which I know means higher rent and fewer options!

Thank you for any advice you could offer.

Megan

Lauren’s Reply

Hi Megan,

The school vs suburbs is definitely a question many have when moving to Sydney.

The simple answer is you need to choose the suburb first and find a place to live before registering for schools. Schools and pre-schools will not accept your kids until there is proof of a permanent address (eg original copies of council rates notice,
residential lease, electricity accounts, statutory
declaration etc).

This goes for government schools in Australia, not private schools. With private schools you have more flexibility since you’re not locked into a school catchment area.

Pre-schools are more flexible if they are independent, not part of a government primary school, but again to get on the waiting list you will need to have proof of a permanent address to give to the pre-school when enrolling.

You mentioned easy transition, I’m guessing you’re looking for an area/school that you can rent in then, when the time is right, buy in without having to move your kids from one school to another.

If this is the case then I don’t think it’s a chicken or egg type of question but instead a where are we going to build the chicken coop. After we get that settled, we can start talking about chickens and eggs.

I took look at government preschools in NSW and, unfortunately, I didn’t see any in the areas in Sydney you’re interested in.

This means that you don’t have to worry about school catchment areas so cross that off the list and move on to privately run long day care centres where you could possibly have both children enrolled.

I did a quick search on mychild.gov.au for preschools in the Eastern Suburbs. I used Coogee as the main suburb and included preschools within 5km. I’ve attached the results so you have the contact info, but you can do a search yourself and see where on the map the preschools are located.

One thing to notice is that the Coogee preschools are all listed as Randwick. Randwick is a nice suburb in Sydney not on the beach but really not too far from Coogee beach. It’s also less expensive but means commuting by bus and not train. It’s a suburb to consider when you’re here.

Now for primary schools in Bondi, Bronte, Clovelly, Coogee, Randwick, Maroubra areas here’s a list:

  1. Bondi Beach Public School
  2. Bondi Public School
  3. Bronte Public School
  4. Clovelly Public School
  5. Coogee Public School
  6. Maroubra Junction Public School
  7. Rainbow Street Public School
  8. Randwick Public School
  9. South Coogee Public School
  10. Waverley Public School

Kids in Australia don’t start primary school until they are 5 years old so you have some time to think about primary schools and where to live as it will most likely change by the time you are ready to buy.

One thing to check out with primary schools is enrollment size. Some schools are very large like Randwick Public School, South Coogee, and Maroubra Junction while other schools are much smaller, Waverly Public School.

But enrollment is not everything as South Coogee is a good school even though it’s large. I have a friend in Coogee and her kids go to South Coogee and love it. I’ve also heard good things about Randwick Rainbow Street School but there are plenty of parent forums about schools in Sydney and you’ll get to know other parents in your area that will have info on schools too.

When you contact preschools, ask what primary schools their preschoolers usually transfer to.

I would put Coogee/Randwick at the top of suburbs to check out in Sydney list, for the price and also because these areas are very family friendly. In my opinion, more so than the Bondi area. If I had to choose beach-wise, I would pick Coogee Beach over Bondi every time.

Hope this helps.
Lauren

What is Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from an email subscriber along with my reply straight out of my inbox to share with everyone here on Sydney Moving Guide.

I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.

The aim of Mailbox Mondays is to start conversations on topics you want to know about. So please leave a comment, or ask a question, or share more info from your experience living in Australia in the comment section below.

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Lauren
Hi, I’m Lauren, and I LOVE being an expat in Sydney but am fed up with all the misinformed and useless expat guides out there, not only giving bad advice but also charging for it! So I created Sydney Moving Guide written by expats, for expats. Click here to read my story.

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