The Ultimate Guide to Living and Working in Sydney

By April 27, 2018For Talent

Considering a move to the Land Down Under?

Every year hundreds of thousands of expats move to Australia to settle in cities like Melbourne and Perth. They’re drawn by the promise of good jobs, a busy social scene and a hotter climate (after storm Emma we can’t really blame them).

For our next Ultimate Guide, we decided to take a look at Sydney.With over 100 beaches, a great expat support system and a laid-back culture you might just be tempted to move. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Average commute

Sydneysiders have the longest commute in Australia. On average they are spending 70 minutes getting to and from work each day. In recent years due to high rent prices, there has been a rise in extreme commuters i.e. people commuting over 100km for work.

On a global scale, Sydney workers would have a better time negotiating traffic in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles or Sao Paulo. The city ranks 17th, wedged between London and Johannesburg.

Of the nine million daily commuters in Australia, 7 in 10 workers commute by private car (68.4%) while just 1 in 8 (12%) get to work by public transport.

Public transport

Sydney’s public transport network runs on a smart card system called Opal (similar to London’s Oyster card).The card is free and you can top it up at newsagents and convenience stores across the city (minimum top-up is $10).

Once you’ve hit your cap for the day ($15.40 from Monday to Saturday) travel is free. Using an Opal card is usually much cheaper than buying tickets from your bus or train driver.

If you plan on using a lot of public transport then you should download the TripView app to help you to plan your journeys.

Tip: You can travel all day with your Opal card on Sunday for just $2.60. If you want to explore this is a great time to do it.

Career sectors in SydneyTech

64% of all Australian tech startups are based in Sydney. The city has a growing tech scene which has seen substantial growth in last few years. Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple all have offices near Martin Place which is now frequently referred to as Silicon Place.


As Australia’s main financial centre, Sydney is home to the Australian Stock Exchange and the Futures Exchange. More than 75% of all foreign and domestic banks in Australia have their headquarters in Sydney. As a result, the finance sector is responsible for a large amount of employment.


Creative industries include architecture, advertising, design, gaming, broadcasting, music, performing and visual arts, writing and publishing, interactive content and software development. It is currently the second largest sector in the city representing 8.3% of people employed according to the City of Sydney website. It is also the fastest growing sector and is expected to account for $14.9 billion in 2030.


Over 13 million people visit Sydney each year which means that hospitality is a massive business in the Australian capital. Hotels, bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and nightclubs provide thousands of jobs in the city centre each year. If you’re looking to gain experience in the hospitality sector this could be the place to do it.

Average wages in Sydney

Australian work permits

If you want to move to Oz you will need to make sure that you have the right visa. And boy are there a lot of options to choose from. From skilled visas to working holiday visas it’s hard to know which one to choose.

You can read a full list of the different types here. If in doubt it might be worth contacting your local Australian embassy to make sure you are on the right track. Once you have your visa sorted you will be free to enter the country.


When you arrive in Australia you will need to apply for a TFN (Tax File Number) with the ATO (Australian Tax Office).

The Australian tax year runs from July 1st- June 30th the following year. Taxes in Australia are deducted from your pay according to your salary.

At the end of the fiscal year (near 30th June) you have to fill out a tax return. Any excess tax will be paid to you by the ATO. You can find out how much tax you will have to pay here.


According to the website, Sydney Moving Costs accommodation in Sydney can cost between $350 – $570 per week for a one bedroom apartment (after setup costs). Renting a private room in a shared rental property generally costs between $300 – $400.

Most expats use websites such as Flatmates and Flatmate Finders to find shared rented accommodation.

It’s important to remember that your costs don’t stop at rent. Most apartments will require a deposit or rental bond (usually four weeks’ rent upfront, plus two weeks’ rent in advance). You may also need to pay for the installment of internet or furniture.

Finding the right area

As you can see from the graph above, rent prices within Sydney vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

In general, rent prices tend to rise the closer you get to the harbour. Areas such as Tamarama, Elizabeth Bay and Darling Point boast high rents that may not be attainable to the average expat. The good news is that rent prices decrease the further west you go. Like most cities, it pays to shop around.

When searching for somewhere to live in Sydney it’s important that you take things like heating, natural light and air conditioning into consideration. Remember it won’t be summer forever!

Average cost of living

The cost of living in Australia is eye-wateringly high, especially in Sydney. The city has seen a large surge in its prices. In January this year, Sydney was named the 32nd most expensive country in the world by Numbeo, up from 41 last year.

The average price for a pint is $8 according to the same website. While two tickets to the local cinema will set you back $40.

Expatistan estimates that dinner in your local pub will cost $53 while a one-month gym membership will probably set you back $113 (yikes!)

But don’t panic. Moving to Sydney doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to afford life’s little luxuries ever again. If you’re savvy with your wages you can make your money go further.

Stay away from touristy areas when wining and dining and use Uber instead of extortionate taxis. Make the most of the free Sydney walking tours when you first arrive. They’re a great way to get your bearings and learn some history about the place you will be calling home.

If you’re looking for some culture the Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Maritime Museum, the Rocks Discovery Museum and the Nicholson Museum are all completely free. Plus you’ll totally be able to brag about your culture-filled weekend when you go back to work on Monday.

Top tips from expats

We decided to ask some people who have lived and worked in Sydney what advice they would give to someone making the move. Here’s what they had to say.

Niamh Linehan, Marketing and Growth Freelancer

‘’Make friends with Aussies. They will show you parts of the city you never knew existed. They will also teach you how to BBQ. As cliché as that is – they really do do it best. Visit all the beaches not just Bondi – Malabar, Clovelly, Gordons Bay, Red Leaf. Get a fish burger from one of the beachside cafes and then crave them forever more amen. Make sure you go to the Sydney outdoor exhibitions and events – Sculptures By The Sea, Vivid, The Night Noodle Markets, The Easter Show.’’

Danika Hayes, Area Manager

‘’My biggest tip would be to be careful with your money before you find work. If you are by yourself it’s probably best to live the hostel life to make friends. If you are planning on settling in Sydney and finding work then an apartment would be the best way to go or perhaps renting a room.”

Josh Sweeney, Developer

”See as much of the city as you can. Use your weekends to explore new areas and places. The weekend markets are amazing, especially the Kirribilli Markets. Also, use the outdoor swimming pools at least once. It’s a novelty that you don’t get everywhere.”

Jude Peppis, Senior Comms Exec

”Prepare for expensive living! Rent was much more than I expected with fierce competition in the best places. But, persevere and it will pay off. Then, never leave! It’s such an amazing city.”

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Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

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