Working in the Sydney CBD (Australia) and wondering where I should live?
June 9, 2006 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Working in the Sydney CBD (Australia) and wondering where I should live?

Following up on my previous questions about living in Melbourne, it actually looks like a job in Sydney might be on the cards (it's always the way, isn't it?)! :)

Just looking for advice from the AskMe crowd on the best place to live in Sydney if I'm working in Kent St. I hear that the commute is a bitch in Sydney and 10 times worse than Melbourne!

(BTW, the interview is on Tuesday, so feel free to wish me luck!)
posted by ranglin to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you still after a shortish (20 min or so) walk to work? And a house, rather than an apartment?

If so, here is what I would recommend (in rough order):

Surry Hills - pretty terrace houses, leafy streets, strangely laid back & peaceful, but still with enough buzz to be interesting. My personal favourite...have lived there off & on for many years.

Glebe - quite similar. Bit further out - could require a bicycle or bus ride. I always think of Glebe as a bit unsafe, or at least bad in terms of personal & property crime, due to a fair amount of public housing in the middle of an otherwise quite rich suburb. Then again, most of the inner city is probably pretty much the same for safety.

Newtown - same inner city terrace streetscape. A zillion cafes & restaurants. Bit further out again, but still possible to walk to town (30-40 min?). Reasonably eclectic student / hipster / boho / gay & lesbian / yuppie scene.

Darlinghurst & Woolloomooloo (I think I got that right) -also convenient, but just that bit closer to the sleaze & crime of Kings Cross. Darlinghurst is Sydney's premier gay area, for what that is worth.

Ultimo - very convenient but kinda grimy, depressing, windswept, & really unpleasant at night. Pyrmont is right next door & has very recently been transformed into a horrific future slum: apartments as far as the eye can see.

Hope this helps a bit, and good luck with the interview! :)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:04 PM on June 9, 2006

What UbuRoivas said
posted by azuma at 6:23 PM on June 9, 2006

Oh, just thought of something: exactly how anti-commuting are you? You might want to consider places that are a short ferry ride from the CBD, like Neutral Bay or Balmain. Balmain especially. I imagine I would spring out of bed every single workday if I knew there was a ferry ride on the harbour awaiting me...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:36 PM on June 9, 2006

When I was in Sydney I lived in Newtown. It was about 10-15 mins on the train to the CBD from the Macdonaldtown station (I worked for the SMH newspaper in the Fairfax building right by the aquarium). I found the commute to be fine and I really loved the neighborhood. Young hipsters and GREAT FOOD on King st. - restaurant after restaurant. I never had to cook. Definitely recommended.
posted by ebeeb at 9:11 PM on June 9, 2006

Potts Point/Elizabeth Bay aka Spinster City. Come and live around the corner from Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Easy place to live, nice looking, 20 minute walk to the city through the Domain or Botanic Gardens. The area has lots of cafe's, restaurants and shops (finally a butcher is opening!). 35 years after servicemen returned from Vietnam with a taste for heroin, the area is finally being re-gentrified.

Also, most of the buildings are pretty old, so they are solid and noise isn't much of a problem.

If you have problems with occasionally seeing men holding hands, or exchanging smouldering looks over dinner, then you probably don't want to live in the area.

"Kings Cross crime and sleaze" is a joke. If you haven't been there Kings Cross is basically a strip that is one block long, and a short block at that, with brass plaques set in the sidewalk to remind people how "interesting" it used to be. If you stay out of the back lanes in the wee hours like a normal person you will be fine - there is just too much foot traffic (and a police station 100 metres away) for there to be much trouble.
posted by hifimofo at 9:44 PM on June 9, 2006

As long as you live near a train station, there is not much of a problem getting into the CBD. If you want to walk, Ultimo or Haymarket, anywhere in the CBD of course, would be fine.

I live in Surry Hills and think it is the most interesting area for a single person. Close to a lot of shops/restaurants and has a good "vibe".

I think the biggest issue is what your budget is. Nice place near the city is going to cost you a minimum of around $400 a week (unfurnished). Use to get an idea of cost and properties in the area.

If you want cheaper and interesting, I would go with Newtown or Glebe. For something that's not crazy expensive and super convenient, I would suggest Surry Hills. Money no object, you might want to look at Darling Harbour or The Rocks.
posted by qwip at 2:33 AM on June 10, 2006

This is a really timely question for me - I've just started freelancing in Sydney (a totally new city for me) and am housesitting in Neutral Bay. I currently get the bus into work, although I won't be in this accommodation forever. My job which I'm hoping will become permananent, is on Pitt St near Chinatown. I'm assuming these answers are just as relevant to me...

Surrey Hills sounds nice but I won't have a huge budget and am thinking I may have to end up sharing. I'd prefer to live in a house though instead of an apartment. We'll see how it goes, but keep the answers coming!
posted by Jubey at 2:44 AM on June 10, 2006

I just realised that simply chiming in to say 'me too' probably wasn't really helpful so I will suggest an option that I'm considering myself, which is Paddington. I think it's pretty pricey though, so we'll see.
posted by Jubey at 2:48 AM on June 10, 2006

Response by poster: Hi Guys. Thanks all for the answers so far. Lots of good food for thought and suburbs I can tell the wife to search for in!

To answer the specific questions, I'm warming to the idea of a commute, as long as it is a short, public transport one.... I like the idea of catching the monorail, light rail or the ferry to work, and I'm also not adverse to a (short) train ride.

As for prices, if I can manage a walk or a commute, I'm not adverse to paying $400 - $450 for a nice place, either a terrace house or a 2brm apartment (I think I can convince the missus). Currently I pay $300, but I know Sydney is more expensive, and the job is a promotion (obviously), so I am willing to spend a little more each week, especially if I can rationalise it by eventually getting rid of the car all together!

So, as Jubey said, keep the answers coming. I really appreciate all the good advice! AskMe is the best... :)
posted by ranglin at 3:30 AM on June 10, 2006

I live in Surry Hills, and love it. In terms of getting to work, anywhere near a train station or within a walk will be fine for Kent St. The other things you want to consider are the vibe and the amenities. I'd share if you need to build up a social network in Sydney.
posted by cogat at 5:46 AM on June 10, 2006

Funny; the friends I had in Surry Hills all left in the past year because of the crime. Maybe things are getting better.

How come nobody's mentioned Chippo? I live in Chippendale, which is pretty much smack dab between Newtown, Ultimo, and Glebe (and within walking distance of Surry Hills). Walking to my job in the CBD takes 20-25 minutes. The area is full of new apartments and warehouse conversions. (We pay $425 for a 2br with an undercover parking space and private garden. It's expensive, but this is an awesome apartment and we'd buy it if the damn letting agency were selling.) It's a quiet neighbourhood that seems to mostly consist of Asian students and artists. A lot of people have told me that it used to have a rough reputation, but we haven't had a single bad experience in over two years. You're also close to the Broadway Shopping Centre, which is the only centre with a grocery store, Kmart, butcher, greengrocer, etc this side of the Marrickville Metro. We're also only a block from the Victoria Park Pool.

I lived in Newtown for a few years before this place, and my husband and I had a hard time deciding to move away. We'd sorta become enamoured of the idea of being "Newtown people;" of thinking we were somehow cool because there were Socialist Alliance posters on the telephone poles. Eventually we decided that it wasn't worth it - the cockroaches, the tourists, the poseurs, the random acts of violence, the drunks lurching out of the Sando to piss on our stoop at 2am... We still go to Newtown for a night out, but it's nice living somewhere a little more peaceful.
posted by web-goddess at 6:58 AM on June 10, 2006

If you can deal with public transport and don't mind being a bit further from the city, I would suggest somewhere in the Inner-West. I live in Summer Hill, which is a fair few suburbs away from the city, yet it only takes me 10-20 minutes by bus to get there.

It's also very quiet and has a great village atmosphere. Stanmore, Lewisham and Annadale are other great places.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 8:25 PM on June 10, 2006

Looking at your previous question.

Cammeray is probably what you are looking for ... but it is pricey. It is quiet, has houses, nice green leafy feel, nice small shopping area and the "mall" at Northbridge is close by. Willoughby and Northbridge are also nice.

The bus from Cammeray shops into the city, in the morning and evening, is every 10 minutes ... It goes straight over the bridge and takes 10 minutes to get to Pitt St (Wynard Station) which is near to Kent St.

I lived there for a year and loved it. It is a gem of a suburb!

Other suburbs you may consider include Leichardt (catch the light rail into work ... 30 mins). Ultimo, Pyrmont, Surry Hills, Glebe (all walking distance to the city). Rozelle and Annandale are a bit further out but still within a 30 min bus ride (and have nice houses). Lots of friends lived in Balmain and loved it!

Do not live in Redfern! or the bits of Surry Hills near to Redfern station.

Summer Hill, Lewisham, Stanmore and Petersham are also nice but further out still ... 40 mins into town.
posted by jannw at 4:16 AM on June 11, 2006

I worked and lived in the CBD for a few years -- my office was at Town Hall, and I lived around the corner for a while in one of the many (many) Meriton developments for about 6 months, then moved to Surry Hills. It was nice, if a little pricier. The CBD has become much more vibrant and livable in the last 10 years or so.

Surry Hills was about a 12 minute walk (or one subway stop if I was lazy, and it took longer than walking), and quite nice. Funky, pleasant. Lots of relatively lofts (ours was a beauty -- 8 metre ceilings, gorgeous). There was the occasional used needle in the alleyway behind, though, and although I never felt threatened, my wife did a little sometimes, and it could be slightly dodgy on weekends.

Really, though, if you want to spend the money, anywhere in the inner suburbs is great. Depending on transportation needs, though, you might want to stay near the train lines, which limits you somewhat.

For us, it turned out to be cheaper living in/near the CBD, factoring in what monthly train passes (or taxis) would have cost us if we lived a little further out. I really wanted to live in Manley or Bondi, but we couldn't countenance the travel time and expense. Plus, it was a pleasant walk through mostly park to get down to the Opera House and the harbourside from Surrey Hills, anyway.

$400/week (in Sydney, it's always done by week, not month) will get you a very very nice small place or a reasonable slightly larger one, if you look hard enough.

The Saturday morning newspaper-in-hand trudge around the city, with what seemed like thousands of people doing the same, is something to avoid, I found, by the way. Find a place you want to live, then hit a few Real Estate agencies until you find someone who's willing to show you some properties from their list. Much more relaxing.

Also, before you find a place, you can get a furnished place, with pots and pans and the whole nine yards, for many $100 a week more for the first month or whatever, and relax and take your time. Searching the aforementioned or elsewhere (executive short-term accomodation will get you what you're looking for) will bring up heaps of options. I've stayed in a short-term exec-accommo place near Milson's Point Station (view of the bridge/opera house ahoy!) several times over the years (at company expense -- see if you can get your company to spring for a few weeks at one of these places as part of your relocation allowance!).

I totally envy you. God I miss Sydney sometimes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 PM on June 11, 2006

Also, my data is about 5 years old -- it's pretty likely that prices have gone up since. As a yardstick, in 1999-2001 I was paying $450/week nicely furnished 1 bedroom on Kent Street (Millenium Towers) and $340/week unfurnished (stove, fridge, washer/dryer built-ins) for our gigantic loft next to Central Station in Surry Hills.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:19 PM on June 11, 2006

Some clarification: references to the crime & sleaze of the Cross is because it, along with "the block" in Redfern, are the main drug markets in the inner city. I always assume that junkies are lazy as all fuck, which means they would rather break into the place they emptied last month 200m from where they score, as opposed to taking a train ride to a soft suburb loaded with portable consumer goods. For this reason, your chances of break-ins rise proportionally, depending on how close you live to these places. Obviously, the security setup of your house or flat will be crucial, and if your house is not barred and / or alarmed anywhere in the inner city, it is probably just a matter of time before somebody breaks in.

Why not Chippendale? Friends there have had a few problems - mainly random property crime by aboriginal teenagers from the block - just keying cars for the hell of it, for example. Occasional muggings, too, so I think the rough reputation has some basis. Overall, though, I think Sydney is a very safe city, if you take a few sensible precautions.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2006

Response by poster: This thread's pretty old now, but I thought, just to close it off, that I'd come in and say that I sucessfully moved to Sydney and I'm now living in Burwood, which is in the inner west..

I walk to the train station, which is 3 minutes away, catch the train (20 minutes) to Wynyard and then walk 5 minutes to work. It's a little bit annoying, coming from the commute I used to do, but I don't hate it too much!

In the end, we only had 14 days to find a place, so we did the best we could. It ended up being a compromise between cost and travel time, with a really significant drop in price for even a small increase in travel!

Anyway, thanks for all the opinions guys! I'd mark a best answer, but they were all great, so the whole thread would just be light-green!
posted by ranglin at 9:43 PM on October 4, 2006

« Older Why do people get married?   |   Parents are relocating to Portland... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.