Today’s ‘Life as a Nomad’ post comes to us from the same city as the latest Choose a Way book – Sydney. Two different people, however – a great chance to hear more about the iconic city down under. This post comes your way from Laura Bronner over at Collecting Labels (also at An American Abroad), and her full bio is near the bottom of the post.
So, tell me about Sydney.
It’s as beautiful as I had hoped it would be. After living in New Zealand for a year, I couldn’t wait for city living, for an abundance of amenities and things happening on the weekends. Sydney has it all – endless sunshine, beautiful beaches, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was love at first sight and once I arrived I knew it was going to be hard to leave.
When did you live there?
I moved to Sydney around Christmas-time in 2011 and said goodbye in October 2014.
But why Sydney?
I moved to Melbourne first. It’s funky and oh man, the coffee. But I longed for the beach and I had so many friends in Sydney. I wanted to be near them.
Why Sydney as opposed to somewhere else in Australia?
When I left Melbourne I wondered if I would regret it, if I thought once I was in Sydney I’d want to be back down south, but I never did. I fell hard for Sydney and no place in Australia or anywhere else in the world for that matter, was going to replace that feeling of being where I belonged. Sydney is alive with colour and is one of the most eclectic, fun cities in all of Australia. For an art lover like me, Sydney’s street art was a real treat.
How do you get there?
I flew into Sydney Airport from Melbourne and hopped straight on the train to Central Station. It’s less than 15 minutes to the station which then links to the city circle line to take you to any of the stations in downtown Sydney.
Are there many foreigners around?
Tons. Most of my friends ended up being other expats or non-Sydneysiders actually. I had friends from the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and constantly met other Americans and Europeans. My boss was from the Czech Republic and I had co-workers from South Africa, India and Malaysia. Sydney is a melting pot.
Are there many foreign products or services around?
I never had a problem finding anything that I wanted from home or anywhere else for that matter. Most supermarkets carry imported products from all over the world. If they don’t it’s easy enough to head into any one of Sydney’s different suburbs for specialty Chinese, Thai, Italian, Lebanese, the list goes on.
What about the language barrier?
Luckily they speak English, granted a completely different kind of English to the one I’m used to, but it wasn’t too hard to assimilate. Australians shorten everything. Once I realized that arvo was afternoon and avo was avocado (you have no idea how similar these are and how often they can be interchanged in so many conversations), I was well on my way to fluency.
What’s there to see around town?
The center of Sydney isn’t my favorite place, but there’s still plenty of exploring to be done in the CBD. I could spent hours sitting the Botanical Gardens looking out over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. I loved walking along Circular Quay and getting on a ferry to different parts of the city. There’s shopping in Pitt Street Mall and dinner or drinks at any myriad of small bars and restaurants that are constantly opening up around town.
The real magic is in the suburbs. Hop on any of Sydney’s buses, trains or ferries and head to the beach, walk along the rugged coastline, eat in the local restaurants. Sydney is a city of amazing little microcosms each offering something worth visiting. If you only have a short while in Sydney, check out this post on what to do with 24 hours in Sydney.
Is it worth coming to Sydney as a tourist?
Definitely. Sydney has everything you could want for a holiday away: a beach for every day of the week, walking trails, top restaurants, great little romantic bars, nearby national parks and wine regions. Just talking about it makes me want to plan my next trip there. Check out this post to see some of Sydney’s most epic photo spots!
Looking for inspiration on how to make your photos truly awesome? – Mikkel Paige has put together an epic guide on how to organise and edit your travel photos.
What’s the best way to get started as a nomad there?
Getting started in Sydney can be tough. The best thing to do would be to try to get your accommodation sorted as quickly as you can because it’s where you’ll hemorrhage money the most. Check out websites like gumtree.com and flatmatefinder.com.au. Once you stop paying through the nose on hostels, you can look for work.
What’s your favorite spot to get local cuisine – a place not frequented by tourists? What about a taste of home or the Western world?
There’s never any trouble finding any kind of food in Sydney. My favorite spots were my Saturday brunch cafes in Surry Hills. I frequented Four Ate Five on Crown Street most, but honorable mention goes to the Devon for their insanely good baked eggs.
If I was really hankering for a taste of New York I would head to Frankie’s Pizza. It feels like my local back home and is the closest thing to New York pizza I’ve had out of state. They also have live music and top notch craft beer on tap.
How did you find a place to live (e.g. where did you look)? What will you do differently the next time out?
The first apartment I got in Sydney I got with a few friends. We had to apply to so many places. It was such a headache. I vowed not to go through that again and instead used gumtree.com for my next apartment. Landlords post listings when they have rooms available in shared-houses and no applications or huge bonds were required.
Are there many jobs available for nomads like yourself, or is it easy to find clients in the neighborhood?
It depends how open you are to what you want to do. There is plenty of part time work available in so many different sectors, leaving you time to work digitally from home (or the above mentioned cafes). The only problem is there are so many people vying for these opportunities that it can be a tough slog to stand out. My advice would be to have plenty of savings before arriving.
What’s the vibe you get around locals? Do they see you as a potential partner or a threat?
Australian’s are great. They give good banter, they’re funny and kind. They’re helpful to newbies, for the most part, and I really enjoyed getting to know them during my time spent living there.
Think you’ll miss it after you leave?
I miss it everyday.
Last, but most important question: where’s the best place to get a beer?
Do I have to list just one? The Australian Hotel in the Rocks was my favorite place for Sunday Funday. They have one of the most extensive selections of Australian beers.
You’ve been reading…
Laura Bronner is writer who can’t sit still. Five years ago she graduated from college and set off for what was meant to be a year of travel. In that time she’s lived in New Zealand, Australia and South Korea. She’s in the process of figuring out where to next. Follow along on her adventures at Collecting Labels or through Instagram and Facebook
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