Wondering what it’s like to live in Sydney? Wonder no more!
After living in Canada (and Italy for a hot minute) and travelling pretty extensively through Europe and Asia, I’ve come to realise there are a few fun facts about living in Sydney others don’t necessarily think about.
Houses are freezing in winter.
Think Sydney is warm all the time? Think again!
To be fair, Sydney is pretty sunny most of the time, but I don’t know if the architects of Sydney believed the propaganda spread around the world about how Australia is perennially hot and decided insulation was for squares but, for whatever reason, houses usually aren’t insulated and they’re super-freaking-cold in winter and impossible to heat.
If you do manage to heat them, you’ll have no money left because power is so expensive, which leaves you with two options: a) spend approximately half your wages on power bills, or b) (my personal favourite option) freeze.
Welcome to Sydney.
Day-drinking is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
This is confusing because the NSW government are presently anti-fun (you’re not legally allowed to be drunk in a bar; music festivals are being throttled due to ‘safety concerns’; bouncers at any given pub sport high-vis vests and ear pieces while clutching tally counters to clock whether a ‘safe’ number of humans are in a bar at any one time; some pubs photograph your eyes before permitting entry so they can identify you if you wreak havoc; all venues selling alcohol except casinos are legally obliged to close at 1am around Central to curb alcohol-related violence… the list goes on).
But despite this, our culture of drinking lives on with a number of bottomless brunches, lunches, and afternoon sessions (or ‘seshs’ as we like to call them, because Australians are notorious for butchering the English language) available at different venues on almost any day of the week.
These day-drinking events are not only available, they’re totally acceptable.
There’s a fancy bridge you may never need to cross.
New Sydney-siders quickly learn that while the Sydney Harbour Bridge looks spectacular, you probably have no reason to cross it. Most suburbs worth living in are on the Central side of the bridge, and the north side feels very far away. If you know anyone that moves over there – throw them a farewell! You may never see them again.
The traffic will fill you with rage.
Sydney roads are horribly congested, road rules are heavily enforced, bike lanes are in short supply, everyone speeds, and pedestrians don’t have right of way. All these forces combine to ensure everyone lives their lives with the fear of God pounding through their veins.
If you feel you need a car, don’t drive it during peak hour unless you want to add an hour on to your trip, opt to live near a train line rather than a bus line, make sure your rental property comes with a parking pass (or garage if you’re rolling in it), and avoid Pennant Hills Road like it’s a disease.
The buses don’t make sense.
When I was a kid I didn’t know how the adults in my life understood the Sydney bus system and managed to get us from A to B.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve realised they didn’t know because no one knows.
While the buses are numbered, that’s often all the information available – you just have to know what number bus goes where. And it’s not like there are only 10 buses or something. There are literally so many buses.
You also have to know approximately where your stop is because the bus will only stop if you press the button or someone waves it down, there are no stop announcements, and while most bus drivers will tell you when they reach your stop if you ask them to, some literally have no idea what the street names are. It also doesn’t matter how much you look as though you want to jump on the approaching bus, it will drive past you unless it’s obvious you’re trying to wave it down.
…Neither do the trains.
While undoubtedly more efficient and easier to navigate than the buses, Sydney Trains are a hot mess. This directly conflicts with the fact that trains are the artery of the city – without them, Sydney transit breaks down, yet they’re chiefly known for being overwhelmingly crowded, late, cancelled, and unable to deal with weather of any kind.
Sydney has always had pretty extreme weather, and the trains are 100-percent not equipped to deal with it. The amount of trains I’ve tried to catch that have been out of sorts due to too much hot weather negatively affecting the tracks, too much rain slowing the service down, hail messing up the power lines, wind blowing branches everywhere, or the irritatingly common occurrence of signal boxes being struck by lightning is literally ridiculous. At one point I actually started driving everywhere because the trains were so unreliable.
And sure, these things sound like natural occurrences that are out of anyone’s control, but not taking Sydney weather in to account when designing a train network is a bit like building Venice without taking the water in to account.
Despite all that, trains are still often the best transport option ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You probably won’t go to the beach that much.
It’s a painful fact because they’re so beautiful, but unless you’re living there, visiting any beach involves jumping on a bus for the best part of eternity.
Everything is soul-destroyingly expensive.
This is by no means unique to Sydney – Australia is generally an expensive place to live. Rent, electricity, groceries, drinks – you name it! But eventually you’ll assimilate, convince yourself that paying $22 for avocado on toast is a bargain, and stop thinking about it.
The cockroaches fly.
Sydney cockroaches have the gift of flight and they’re the stuff of nightmares.
Breakfast is a deal.
Due to great weather most of the time, Australians are generally early-rising breakfast fiends. Say goodbye to canned baked beans on white sandwich bread and feast your eyes on smashed avocado with dukkah-seasoned labneh, handmade potato gratin and saffron-infused tomato relish on a giant field mushroom with sprouted sourdough.
This is normal.