Which Sydney Suburb Should You Live In?

Another ugly Sydney sunset - I joke!

One of the things I get asked regularly by new expats coming to Sydney is what suburb should they rent a property in. Although it depends on your personal tastes, budget and transport requirements, I thought it might help to put together a brief overview of all the areas my partner and I looked at when we first moved to Sydney.

We focused on areas that were close enough for my partner to commute to the CBD (Central Business District) and had properties that we hoped would be within our budget of $650 per week for a 1 bed flat with parking. (This might sound like a big budget but it doesn’t go very far in Sydney!)

If you would like to look for properties from the comfort of your own couch, there are countless websites that can help you. You can easily look for Sydney rental properties on sites such as Homesales. They have listings across the city and let you filter your search results by adding details such as property type, price, car spaces and more.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on the best suburbs to live in Sydney:

Balmain

Balmain is one of the first areas we eyed up due to its gorgeous harbour views and village-like feel and amenities. This area will suit young families or couples who like to stay local on their weekends. The biggest cons for this area are the transport links – there’s no train line so my friends tell me it can be a nightmare to get into the city during rush hour traffic.

Newtown

Newtown in Sydney’s Inner West will suit those who like to live somewhere a little edgy. Filled with vibrant street art, vintage clothes shops, live music venues and international restaurants; Newtown’s a buzzing neighbourhood with great nightlife. You do tend to meet a few colourful characters on the street and it can get kind of busy on a weekend so try nearby Erskineville if you’d like to be based somewhere a little more low-key.

Eye-catching street art in Newtown

Eye-catching street art in Newtown

Surry Hills

Surry Hills was another big contender for us due to how close it is to the CBD – pretty much everything is easily reachable by train, bus or on foot. Filled with cool brunch spots and intimate wine bars, this area suits people who like to be in the thick of the Sydney dining scene.

Paddington

Paddington is where I’d like to live if I won the lottery. The designer boutiques, high-end eateries and darling terrace houses make my heart skip a beat. It has great transport links – the city is in one direction, Bondi Beach the other – but it’s therefore not easy on the purse strings to live here. We found some slightly more affordable properties in nearby Darlinghurst – they just weren’t as sweet as the Paddo houses.

Love the terrace houses in Sydney

Love the terrace houses in Sydney

Potts Point

Potts Point is one of the more exclusive central Sydney neighbourhoods and boasts lots of premium apartments with gorgeous harbour views. There’s fab dining in the area and you’re within easy reach of the harbour beaches come the weekend. What deters me personally from the area is that Kings Cross is the nearest main transport hub and even after the implementation of the lock out laws I still find this area a bit scary for a single lady at night time. (Maybe I’m just a wimp!.) If you’d love an apartment with harbour views though, I’d recommend McMahan’s Point just north of the bridge. Our friends have a gorgeous apartment here with enviable views of the NYE fireworks and a handy ferry link to Circular Quay.

You can walk to the ABC Pool from Potts Point

You can walk to the ABC Pool from Potts Point

Manly

I know many expats (particularly us Brits!) who have been drawn to the laid-back beachy vibes of Manly. People refer to it as the Manly Bubble as once you’ve moved to this north shore suburb you rarely leave! With cafes, shops, numerous beaches and swimming spots I would be seriously tempted by a Manly pad with sea views if it weren’t for its distance to the airport. The Manly ferry makes a wonderful commute for those that work near Circular Quay but if you want to get any further (to say the domestic or international airports) or stay in the city past the last ferry it’s a long and expensive cab ride home.

Taking the ferry to Manly Wharf

Taking the ferry to Manly Wharf

Waterloo

Which brings me to the suburb we decided to live in – Waterloo. The main selling points of Waterloo for us was the fact that it’s 10-15 minutes in the car from the city, airport* or beach. Being a bit further out from Surry Hills the rental prices are slightly cheaper and most apartments come with parking, gym and a pool. (To be honest it was the pool at our apartment that really sold it for me! We also have a study, large balcony and underground parking that we wouldn’t have got for the same money in other parts of the city.) The main drawback of this location is that it excels at cafes but not at nightlife – The Winery in Surry Hills is just a 10-minute taxi ride away though.

*An Uber to the airport costs us just $16 – how good is that?!

Our neighbours bring some interesting props to the pool

Our neighbours bring some interesting props to the pool

For brand new and shiny apartments, nearby Zetland has a lot to offer. There’s also a lot of cool cafes and dining spots dispersed around Alexandria and Rosebery.

Do any of these Sydney suburbs take your fancy?

This post was written in conjunction with homesales.com.au. All opinions are my own.

11 Comments

  • No shout out to my former home of Marrickville/Dulwich Hill? 😉
    Love these neighborhoods

  • Jess says:

    I lived in Glebe for the 3 months I was in Sydney and I loved hopping on the 370 to Newtown to check out all the quirky cafes and restaurants. Glebe itself was great, it had such a nice lazy vibe and what an amazing Saturday market. So close to the CBD aswell.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      I’m not sure why I left Glebe out to be honest! Our friends live in a gorgeous terrace in Glebe and you’re right about it being near the Newtown nightlife and the Glebe weekend market. I should add it in!

  • Shane says:

    Newtown is where it’s at! 🙂

  • Angie Silver says:

    One of my friends moved out to Australia and is living in Manly, it’s so pretty and relaxed!

  • Kate says:

    My sis-in-law lives in Kirribilli… She moved from the UK 12 years ago and after a spell in Coogee somehow lucked into renting an amazing Kirribilli pad with a view of the Opera House. She hasn’t moved since!
    Pretty handy to have a relative living somewhere so amazing.

  • Paula says:

    What a great list of newly arrived expats. I moved to Mascot a couple of years ago right by the station. Lots of great new dining in nearby Rosebery only a few mins away.
    Love the proximity to the city – only 8 mins to Central and 1 stop to the airport by train. There are also cross-country buses to Marrickville and Bondi for shopping and eats. Like Waterloo really good value for money and good facilities.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      There’s so many different sides to Sydney isn’t there. I’m enjoying learning about the different neighbourhoods – Mascot sounds like our style too!

  • Celine says:

    Actually, I’ve never experienced any trouble getting to the CBD – but it takes a while, despite only 5 or 6 kilometers…

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