For the last 10 years, Terry Smith has lived in Ryde, in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs and Annandale, in Inner West Sydney. He shares his thoughts here on living in Sydney, particularly for people relocating from the UK.
Public transport in Sydney is amongst the most expensive in the world and, according to many commuters, the most frustrating. The rail network reaches all areas of the metropolitan region, but train travellers can never rely on the timetable, even for a short journey across the Harbour Bridge. The buses are often on time but over-full, and hampered by heavy traffic, making the sight of commuters standing on the roadway searching for an approaching bus commonplace.
The rail and bus networks service the city and older suburbs, leaving residents of the newly-developed regions without a fast, efficient means of travelling to work. Many workers have a two-to-four-hour commute every day. Much of the public transport frustration is blamed on politicians who allocate transport upgrades according to voting patterns rather than need.
General infuriation with public transport means that people are opting to travel by car, thus contributing to air pollution. Smog is a feature of the cityscape in Sydney on most days, sometimes entirely due to traffic and industry, sometimes with a contribution from controlled, or uncontrolled burning off in bushland areas.
Numerous studies have been undertaken over the years, all finding that something needs to be done about the quality of Sydney’s air, but so far no serious attempts to entice people out of cars and onto public transport have been made.
Considering that many of Sydney’s attractions are some distance from each other, you might as well get a car. If you end up living in the outlying areas like Campbelltown, you will learn the intricacies of the motorways with their many and varied tolls. Stopping at a toll booth may not be necessary due to the e-tag system in operation on most motorways, but there have been many instances of people being charged for journeys they never made.
The hospitals are always overcrowded and understaffed.
There are two major supermarket chains in Sydney, with two or three smaller ones offering more bargains. Overseas chains like Aldi and Costco have joined the mix in recent years. You will need to come to grips with the new brands in Sydney but the cost of a shopping trip should be roughly the same as in Britain once you are acclimatised.
For students of all ages and stages, Sydney has an extensive and vibrant network of public libraries with a strategy which aims at continuous upgrading of library facilities as needs grow within the community. There are 12 branches in the City of Sydney Library network, with 9 offering free wireless internet.
Kids in primary and high schools have less exams and homework than they do in Britain, and there will be plenty of invitations to join sporting activities. The public schools are free for permanent residents and for holders of some types of visas, but parents are expected to take part in fundraising activities and make voluntary contributions if they are in a position to do so.
Sydney residents have an astonishing range of opportunities open to them when it comes to tertiary education. The number of learning institutions in Sydney makes it easy to continue your education, no matter where you live.
Macquarie University is situated in Macquarie Park, close to the established residential areas of North Ryde, Ryde and Carlingford. The largest faculty at Macquarie is Business and Economics, which has courses in finance, international business, human resources management, and economics.
University of Western Sydney
The University of Western Sydney has campuses in Campbelltown, Parramatta, Penrith and Bankstown, offering arts, business, forensics, policing, teaching, law and many other courses. Around 3000 overseas students attend the University of Western Sydney each year.
University of Technology
In the city, the University of Technology is a tech based college, running courses including communication, education, architecture, engineering, and tourism. Some graduates say it has the best business faculty in New South Wales.
University of New South Wales
The University of New South Wales in Kensington is quite close to the city and Bondi, and is ranked amongst the top fifty universities in the world. More than half of the Higher School Certificate students in New South Wales indicate a preference for continuing their studies at the University of New South Wales.
University of Sydney
No matter which course you are considering, you should visit the University of Sydney campus at Camperdown just to take in the historic sandstone buildings, cloisters, gargoyles and courtyards. University of Sydney campuses are spread around the city area, and include the Sydney Law School, Sydney Medical School, Sydney College of the Arts, and The Sydney Conservatorium of Music.