Moving to Sydney after Travelling the World

I’m very excited to be able to share my first expat interview with you today.

Travel blogger Jayne Gorman from Girl Tweets World fame has some great advice and tips for new expats, especially if you’re from her home city of London.

Jayne is not just a blogger but a travel author too. Her Guide to Sydney is a must for anyone moving (or travelling) to Sydney. Her guide has everything you should see, eat, sip, shop and photograph in Sydney. Seriously, EVERYTHING, no need to get any other Sydney guide.

Ok, let’s get on with the interview.

Settling into Life as an UK Expat in Sydney, Australia

  1. You’ve travelled far and wide, from Antigua to Sri Lanka. Why settle on Sydney to live? What is it about Sydney that says home to you (for now anyway)? Do you think you will stay for long?
  2. I think I’ve always harbored dreams of living in Australia (I blame it on Home & Away!). I spent 3 months here on a gap year after university but decided to start my career in London rather than apply for a Working Holiday Visa straight away. After 12 hectic years of living in London though I was ready to try living somewhere a bit more breathable. During the time back in London I also met and fell in love with an Australian man, who I moved here with last year. He’s from Melbourne but we decided to move to Sydney so that it would be somewhere new and exciting for both of us.

  3. What type of visa did you have when you relocated to Australia? Do you have the same visa today? How are you working out the logistics of staying more permanently in Australia?
  4. I initially came to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. I was just about young enough to apply and wanted to test the waters before applying for something more permanent. I was really relieved to discover you can register as self-employed on the WHV (not many people talk about that) so was able to continue running my social media consulting business on this visa. After living here for a year (and loving it) I’ve now applied for Partner Visa 820 so I can stay living with my Aussie fiancé. I’m currently on a Bridging Visa whilst they assess my application.

    Sydney Harbour from the air

    Flying over Sydney Harbour on a Seaplane. Photo courtesy of Jayne.

  5. When you relocated did you ship a lot over or just a few boxes or nothing at all? Would you recommend moving the way you did or, if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
  6. My partner and I were a bit crafty and saved a LOT of air miles to fly here First Class. We were allowed to bring 4 suitcases each so had pretty much all that we needed straight away. We did lots of research and worked out it was cheaper to buy some air miles (or an extra plane seat) than it was to pay for excess baggage or to ship items like clothing. We also shipped 2 boxes of personal items, such as travel souvenirs, artwork etc, that arrived 3 months later and we are so glad we did, the house didn’t feel like a home until our various knick knacks arrived!

  7. What so far has been the biggest surprise about Sydney that you didn’t expect?
  8. The biggest surprise is how easy it has all been. Within days we had bank accounts, a house and medical all sorted. There is a lot of paperwork but if you do the research and tick the right boxes it’s pretty easy to set up home in Sydney.

  9. What has been the biggest frustration with settling into life as a Sydney-sider?
  10. I’ve been surprised by how strict some of the laws are – particularly with regards to drinking and socializing. The Aussies have a reputation for being very laid back but there are actually some very strict laws around the purchase and consumption of alcohol. I wandered the supermarket for hours wondering where the wine was only to find out you have to go to a separate licensed shop!

  11. How has it been socially settling in? Are most of your new friends in Sydney other expats or Australians? Have you ventured out to any of the several Sydney expat Meet-ups or events? How did it go or why haven’t you? Do you have any suggestions for someone new to Sydney that is trying to build up their social circle?
  12. I have a mixture of friends here, both expats and Australians. I’m really lucky that my work in social media and having a blog has led me to meet lots of wonderful people who work in the same industry. I ventured out to lots of blogger meet-ups when I arrived and that was a brilliant way to build a social circle. My advice to new expats would be to search out meet-up groups in your areas of interest, that way you immediately have something in common other than being an expat (conversation about being an expat in Oz could dry up quickly but ones about your passions never will!).

    street art sydney

    Jayne enjoying one of her passions in Sydney, street art.

  13. What advice do you have for other UK expats, similar to you, that are thinking of moving to Australia? What has been your top 3 go to resources for information?
  14. There’s so much useful advice online (especially on Sydney Moving Guide!) – every question or concern you have has probably been answered by somebody else somewhere. The Department Of Immigration website is not the easiest to read or navigate but it does have all the answers buried in the fine print so keep digging (or give them a call) until you get an answer. The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum is also a great resource for any budget or lifestyle questions you might have.

  15. How about work? Do you have a job in Sydney? What do you do for a living?
  16. I work as a freelance social media manager and copywriter. I’m lucky that my work has not really changed since moving here, I still work for most of my old UK clients and have now built up a portfolio of Australian clients too. Networking events, LinkedIn and Twitter have been crucial to building up my client list in Sydney. For anyone in a similar position I would recommend reaching out to any connection you have over here before moving, it’s good to get word of mouth going before you arrive so you can get straight into pitching (and hopefully working) when you land.

  17. How about the cost of living in Sydney? How does it compare to back home in the UK? Do you have any tips for expats that have just moved?
  18. I find the cost of living very comparable to London, to be honest. Our rent in Sydney is about the same as our rent in Central London, except now we have double the space! As I still earn most of my income in UK£ it took a while to get my head around the cost of food and travel here but if you are earning in AU$ it’s all relative!

  19. What about the spiders and snakes and all of the other dangerous critters in Australia? Have you see any or have a story to share with us? Are there as many as you thought there would be?
  20. I have not seen a single scary critter. In fact, the biggest spider I have seen in recent months was in my parent’s home in the UK during a recent visit back home. I do have a story about a suspected spider bite during a camping trip to the Outback – it rather embarrassingly turned out to be the fault of my shaving razor. I daren’t raise the alarm like that again!

    opera house sydney

    The Sydney Opera House on a clear day. Photo courtesy of Jayne.

  21. How do you stay in touch with friends and family back home? Do you have any favourite apps that you use to keep in touch to share with us?
  22. I mostly communicate through WhatsApp and regularly Skype family and friends back home – including the dog, she gets most confused!

  23. I know that you’re back in the UK for a visit right now. What are you planning on packing in your suitcase to take back to Sydney with you? Favourite food or a clothes from a shopping trip back home or maybe other items such as skincare products or cosmetics or something else you want to stock up on? It a question I get a lot from expats making the move. They always want to know what to stock up on from home that isn’t available or far more expensive in Sydney. I always say jeans.
  24. I raided the UK high street as soon as I landed back home. I definitely miss the price and quality of clothes in the UK – especially things like underwear which I buy from Marks and Spencers! It’s also nice to know what size you are in stores as you have shopped there for years, I still don’t quite know where I fit in Australian brands. I also love UK chocolate – especially Galaxy Minstrels and Yorkie Bars – but they actually have these on sale in the British section of my local Coles! Of course, they are cheaper back home but it’s nice to know I can enjoy those home comforts whenever I want.

  25. What about traveling back and forth to the UK, do you have any pointers for others? Maybe a favourite site for shopping for airfares? Since you travel a lot in general, what is your favourite airlines to travel with? What is your recommended route back to the UK? Do you prefer a layover in Dubai or Singapore or perhaps another location?
  26. I’ve done about 10 trips between the UK and Australia in the last 3 years (I used to work for the Australian company Flight Centre before moving here) and have tried out most of the routes. I prefer to fly via the Middle East as it gets 1 long flight out the way to start with and then the second leg seems more bearable, as opposed to via Asia where you have 2 long flights in a row. However, my favourite airline for quality and service is Cathay Pacific. If you have the budget I recommend their Premium Economy cabin – better leg room, comfier seats and business class level of food. Hong Kong is a great airport to transit through too – lots of lounges (including pay to enter), good food, free and fast wifi and plenty of power sockets.

  27. What about jet lag? Do you have any tips to share on how to conquer jet lag especially for a long haul flight?
  28. I’m never jet lagged flying out to London but tend to suffer coming back to Sydney. My advice is to get back into the local timezone as soon as you start to travel. Reset your watch so you know when to try to sleep and be strict with yourself once you get back to Sydney (climbing into bed for a day is no help in the long run.) In the short term I swear by Berocca Boost – a mixture of vitamins and energy to keep you healthy and focused whilst your brain catches up with your body.

  29. Ok, let’s try a fun Sydney Travel question. Your best friend from the UK is coming to Sydney for the first time for a visit but only has 24 hours to spend in Sydney. What are your must dos for that 24 hours? Where would you take them for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why? For example, for a specific dish or for the view or the people watching, etc.
  30. I’d start the day in Bondi for a combination of people-watching, stunning views and delicious ricotta hotcakes courtesy of Bills. Then we’d walk part of the Sydney to Coogee coastal walk as far as Bronte and stop at the Three Blue Ducks for coffee. From Bronte we’d head to the Botanical Gardens, for spectacular views of the harbor, and stop at the Andrew Boy Child Pool for a dip if we need to cool down. We’d wander The Rocks for a taste of Sydney’s history before heading into Surry Hills for dinner and drinks at the twinkly-lit gardens of The Winery. Last but not least we’d finish this awesome day with a scoop or 2 of ice cream from Gelato Messina (I’d encourage my friend to order the salted caramel with white chocolate combination!).

    brunch at bills in bondi

    Brunch at Bread & Circus, Alexandria.

  31. Let’s talk a little more about food, one of my favourite subjects. Your new Guide to Sydney has a lot of great suggestions for places to go. I was wondering more about how Sydney compares with the UK for cooking at home? How does the quality, selection and cost compare? Are there things you just can find in Sydney that are readily available back home? Or how about the opposite, are there things that you now cannot live without?
  32. Sydney supermarkets are great for buying fresh, organic produce. We cook a lot more at home than we did in London, especially as practically everything tastes good thrown on the BBQ (we cook on it year round.) On the other hand I do miss the convenience of some of the premade foods you can buy in the UK – stores like Waitrose and M&S in particular do good foods made easy – whereas ready meals in Australia are pretty dire (and frowned upon by locals it seems!).

  33. How about takeaway? What are your top three favourite takeaway places in Sydney?
  34. We have a delicious and cheap Thai takeaway near our home, which we found on Menulog. There’s also some great takeaway burger joints in Sydney like Mary’s in Newtown and Chur Burger in Surry Hills.

  35. How about Australian slang? Has there been any misunderstandings? What’s your favourite Australian expression so far? For me, as an American, Australian slang took some getting use to. Is it easier being from the UK do you think?
  36. Ha not at all! It’s taken me 12 months to translate all the words with ‘ie’ or ‘o’ added to the end. I was really surprised that the slang is even used on national television, including the news. I heard a headline about a Pollie (politician) and some Garbos (garbage men) and thought my ears were playing up!

  37. What are a couple of your must have apps for living in Sydney?
  38. It’s not an app but I religiously read the newsletters from Urban List – particularly their weekend guides to what’s on and what to eat. The Broadsheet is also great for discovering new bars and cafes.

  39. Let’s run though a few of your favourites in Sydney
  40. What’s your favourite…

    • Tourist Attraction – The Opera House, it never gets boring, no matter how many times I photograph it
    • Beach – Bondi or Bronte. Bronte is like a beautiful, low-key version of Bondi but I can’t get past how photogenic Bondi is – from the street art to the Icebergs – it’s definitely iconic for a reason. Bondi gets pretty packed during the peak tourist season though so that’s when we retreat to Bronte.
    • Picnic Spot – Botanical Gardens
    • English Pub – I haven’t found one that quite matched up yet!
    • Weekend Market – Glebe
    • Outdoor Cinema – St George Openair Cinema, Botanical Gardens
    • Place to find UK food products in the city – Coles!
    • Cheap Eats – Newtown has a great mix of ethnic cheap eats
    Bondi Beach, Sydney

    Bondi Beach

  41. What’s at the top of your Australia Travel Bucket List? Have you added anything to that list since living in Australia?
  42. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen a lot of Australia on my travels but I would like to go back to Uluru with my partner (who is an Australian but has never been to the Northern Territory). It would be great to show him the Outback – I think it will blow his mind to know this different side of his home country.

    Thanks so much Jayne! Some great information there for newcomers to Sydney.

    If you’re interested in reading more about Jayne’s adventures down under, plus other parts of the world, you can find her at Girl Tweets World.

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