Best Sydney Suburbs for Expats with Small Children That are Close to the Downtown Area

Where in Sydney should we live?” has to be the single most common question I get. It’s also one of the hardest questions to answer because, well for one, Sydney is a large city with many different suburbs. But also, because each suburb has its own unique feeling.

Often when I ask, the person asking hasn’t really give me that much info about them for me to give a full, thoughtful answer.

That’s not the case with an email I got recently. There is enough information for me to at least get them on track with their apartment search in Sydney. So much so that I’m sharing it below since many of my readers are moving to Sydney with small children and will be working in the city.

Sydney Suburbs Near the City for Easy Commuting

Here’s the email from an SMG reader.

My husband has been offered a job with a company in Chippendale and so we are trying to figure out which suburbs would work for us. He is actually in Sydney as we speak (until next Saturday) getting a feel for the city and meeting with his prospective employers.

Regarding suburbs, I won’t be working initially, but looking after our one-year-old son and so we are interested in suburbs that would work for our family.

I’d love to be near to parks or the beach so that I have places to take my son during the day, but also know that my hubby loves a city vibe – coffee bars etc.

Do you have any suggestions for us?

Recommended Sydney Suburbs Near Central Station and Chippendale

Chippendale is a great location to work as far as commuting goes. Right next to Central Station.

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It’s also close to some nice suburbs that he could walk to work from or take a short bus ride. Being close to the University of Sydney means that he will have a number of buses to choose from. I personally hate taking the bus and, if the weather is permitting, I always opt to walk instead.

Glebe is walking distance, but can be pricey. Really great spot, cafes, restaurants, pubs, and a great yearly street fair that packs the streets. It’s also close to the harbour and has Bicentennial Park.

Annandale and Leichhardt will be a short bus ride also nice, but not as many cafes and such. You could probably find a nicer, more affordable place there than in Glebe.

Leichhardt is the “little Italy” of Sydney so coffee is no problem there. It even has a piazza surrounded by Italian restaurants. Both have several pocket parks and, depending where you live, are close to the water.

Recommended Inner West Sydney Suburbs

Going west not too far and on the train you have Newtown, Enmore, and Erskineville. Those areas, especially Newtown, are more urban city living. Mean you get some derelicts on the street.

Newtown feels more like a young college town. I have friends that live in Enmore with their two young boys and they love it. There are great restaurants and cafes, but it’s definitely city living and would depend on your comfort level. Near Erskineville is Sydney Park which has an amazing play park in it. Even if you don’t live in the area it’s worth a special trip to check out once your little one is older.

Recommended Eastern Suburbs of Sydney

Going east there is Surry Hills, the restaurant mecca of Sydney. It’s hipster central.

We’ve tried, each time we moved, to live in Surry Hills, but you don’t get much for what you end up paying. I would recommend going to Surry Hills for dinner, but not for your first apartment.

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Going farther east there is Bondi, the quintessential Sydney suburb.

Commute-wise it would mean bus to Bondi Junction station then changing trains at Town Hall. It’s not too bad. Bondi Junction to Town Hall is about 15 mins on the train. Walking from Bondi Junction station to Bondi Beach is about a 30 min walk. The closer you get to Bondi Beach the more backpackers there are. At night, the area can turn into party central. There is a sweet spot between Bondi Junction station and the beach that is not too bad as far as noise. I have several friends that live in that area and they wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Recommended Lower North Shore Sydney Suburbs

Staying on the train and going north, I would recommend Crows Nest (St Leonard’s Station) and Wollstonecraft.

Crows Nest I love. It has a nice village with restaurants, cafes and bars about a ten min walk from the train.

Wollstonecraft is a good choice near Crows Nest, but no cafes or really anything else. You can find some good deals on apartments for that very reason and Crows Nest is about a 20 walk from the Wollstonecraft station.

Staying on the North Side, I would consider looking at Neutral Bay.

There isn’t a train station, but the Neutral Bay bus stop is where every bus that services the Northern Beaches stops and it’s just a 10 min ride to Wynyard station.

There is also the ferry. I recommend commuting by ferry because it’s like taking a harbour cruise every morning and evening.

We lived in Neutral Bay and really liked it. It’s a more quiet part of the city. Apartment buildings mixed in with houses. Lots of families and the views from Cremorne Point are some of the best in the city. There are shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, but it’s not a real bar hopping type of place.

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My top picks would be Bondi, Neutral Bay, Leichhardt.