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4 days in after touching down in Sydney - first and ongoing impressions.


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Hi, I just thought I'd share our experience so far after having recently flown to and spent the last 4 days here.


A little background for those who've not read any of my previous threads

My wife interviewed for a job in Sydney at the back end of 2013. After interviewing over skype and with a few informal phonecalls was offered a job with a major telecomms company in Macquarie Park. They offered a job and sponsorship and paid for the processing of a visa for my wife and myself. The visa process started on December 5th 2013 and was approved on January 7th 2014, taking a little over 4 weeks (expected to take 3-6 weeks). We booked flights for 20th January (going via dubai > adelaide > sydney...it was several hundred £ less than going direct from dubai to sydney), a hire car for 14 days and used 'airbnb' to book 5 nights stay in a granny flat in Lane Cove, Sydney. We were set.


Landing in Australia - Day 1

We touched down on Wednesday 22nd January after a rested flight with emirates, of whom I would praise them highly because:


1) their food is really good

2) the plane (the Boeing 777, has built in usb and plug charging points - can re-charge your tablet/ipad/psp etc)

3) they offered a free upgrade to business class for the second leg of the journey from dubai to adelaide (can't fathom why, didn't ask!) which we gladly accepted (and made use of the facilities :D)


We touched down in adelaide around 9pm. We declared in customs some prescription medication (the contraceptive pill and some codeine phosphate) to which the security lady said was unnecessary to do (better be safe than sorry ~and fined) and we cleared immigration without a baggage search (felt a bit disappointed after watching 'nothing to declare')


As the airport closes overnight (11pm-4am) we had to collect our luggage and stay in a hotel for the night. My wife booked us into a comfort inn, which was a few km from the airport and was cheap. The experience in the hotel was not the best (thin walls, noisy neighbours, wifi only worked in the lobby) but it was clean and we had a few hours sleep before getting back to the airport for 4:30am.


Arriving in Adelaide airport I took the opportunity to purchase a simcard for my phone ("Boost" network - they use telstra) which took all day to activate and required me to login online to do so, however once up and running I loaded with $20, which gained me 1GB internet and unlimited calls and texts for 15 days (bargain!).


The domestic flight took 1h30 and (with time difference, 1 hr) we arrived in Sydney at 8:30am. We picked up the hire car after being scared witless from the lady on the desk for not taking out 'excess insurance' meaning we'd be liable to pay out for the first $3500 of damage in an accident (irrespective of fault) and drove to our accommodation (she didnt scare us enough to part with $30 extra per day though :P).



Finding the accommodation & Opening a bank account - Day 1

As my phone took all day to activate on the boost network I had no GPS/sat nav. A 40 minute journey to Lane Cove took us an hour and a half. We filled in this extra time with several arguments and at one point were both questioning whether we should drive back to the airport, and get the next flight home. Having eventually found the accommodation we both realised the melodrama was due to us being totally out of our element....and being on Sydney roads, which are seemingly ruled by crazy people who insist on trying to drive into the piece of road which is occupied by our car!


The accommodation itself was pretty nice, a granny flat set back in the garden of a lovely open plan house. We met the owner who gave us a warm welcome, wifi access details, bought us some milk and sugar (result!) and offered some advice on finding a rental.


Our next port of call was to collect our bank cards. We had an appointment to collect them from the NAB (having set up the account in the UK and nominating a branch to have them delivered to) and did so with little fuss, having only to provide our passports (though my wife did provide the visa - as proof of income for a credit card application so we can try build some credit).

Finding a Rental - Day 2

Jetlagged and still a bit out of our element we spent the morning of day 2 looking at properties to rent (http://www.domain.com.au, realestate.com.au, gumtree.com.au). Our previous experience in the UK had been using gumtree, with great success in finding good landlords (And avoiding pants letting agents). We arranged to view a couple of properties via gumtree and mailed about a dozen or so more people. We also approached Ray White's real estate in epping and found out they had several 'open houses' (10-15 min appointments where prospective tennants can view properties on set days. All in all the experiences of day 2 were a let down. We viewed places in the ryde & epping area and budgeted $400-500 per week. After viewing 6 properties we learned a few things:

1) The rental market works very fast in Sydney

2) Sydney is bloody expensive

3) Landlords have the upper hand because of 1+2, there is little incentive in modernising, and from the units we saw, few do!

4) when an advert says 'freshly painted walls and new carpet' - expect exactly that, and for everything else in the unit to be outdated

5) We were doing something wrong

6) tenants don't pay agency fees for rentals (landlords do)


Finding a Rental - Day 3

Having spent day 2 burning fuel, optimism and motivation my wife ended the day with a plea on the british expat forums to assist us with finding a place, after all our only strategy involved looking at where she was working, drawing around the map where we thought would be 'close enough' to her workplace and hoped the budget would work out (extremely naive in hindsight).


We recieved some valuable advice from the forums:

1) consider other areas

2) and/or increase budget

More specifically in addition to 1) someone advised to view the areas of Meadowbank and Rhodes. These areas are currently being developed as I type, and so supply of units is greater. We considered upping our budget however did find a couple of units (one a couple of years old, one just built) to view first.


The first unit in Meadowbank was nice, the living space was massive and the unit presented immaculately (its only a couple of years, to be expected I guess).


The second unit in Rhodes we fell in love with. It was just put onto the market. It's part of a block of 65 apartments, this was one of the last units free to let and had a real quality feel to it. Marble worktops, 5 hob cooker, double glazing, mirrored built-ins, 5 mins from train station, 10 mins from shopping centre, river view and all for the bargain (in context) price of $480 per week.


We applied for the apartment in Rhodes and within 5 hours had gained approval from the landlord, paid for it and had the keys (tip: go prepared with as many documents supporting your identity (passport, bank statements etc and proof of income, job letter, visa as possible to support your application).


Aside from the whole thing taking less than a day the agent also set our tenancy date to commence the next tuesday, several days after handing us the keys so effectively giving us a few days rent free.


We went from stressing out and being underwelmed on day 2 to being suitably impressed and calm within the space of a day.


Furnishing the flat - Day 4

Having received the keys on day 3, day 4 (today) we went out and bought some furnishings. I had a hellish nights sleep (I do not have work yet - I couldnt sleep thinking about it and the possibility of me being out of work and losing my skills, I didnt realise it would bother me this soon) I was up at 5am and looking at appliances to furnish our flat with.


We have no qualms with second hand, and I believe there are gems to be had so I spent a good hour on gumtree looking at washers, fridges, beds etc however due to the urgency at which we need stuff also googled a few places to look (http://www.appliancesonline.com.au, harvey norman, Dick Smith, JB Hifi, www.2ndsworld.com.au ).


Of all the places I looked I really liked the sound of 2nds world - basically they sell factory seconds, end of line, manufacturer repaired, ex-display models. I priced a few things online, but was hesitant to commit as the goods could turn out to be absolute lemons. I suggested to the wife that we take a drive out and have a look, as their website offers delivery same day and was quite reasonable ($65 first item, $5 each item thereafter).


We picked up:

1) front loading washer (Beko - $469)

2) fridge freezer (Whirlpool - 405l $645) and

3) TV (Samsung f8000 $1999)


Which were all delivered for $45 ($20 off australia day weekend promotion - also instore seemed flat price regardless of number of items). #


Additionally we also managed to get to Ikea and order a bed for delivery tomorrow, we did see a sofa-bed we liked (was only $300)...which we identified as the bed we're sleeping on in the granny flat right now, which is really comfortable, and debated whether we should buy that and when we get a sofa use it as a proper bed and replace with a queensize mattress, however in their infinite wisdom ikea make it 5cm narrower and 11cm shorter than a queen size bed...stopping bargain hunters like me from using it as a cheap bed base :P


All in all the day was a success. I just hope we have the bed delivered not too late on so we can join in the australia day celebrations at the harbour and spend some time relaxing before my wife starts work on tuesday.



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You've achieved so much already! Well done!

We arrived in Sydney on 1 January and have faffed around trying to find somewhere to live - our first application got accepted, but we turned it down, only to go back to it a few days later and ask for it back! Our search took us from the Northern Beaches to Thornleigh / Normanhurst and onto Hornsby Heights and Berowra Heights - eventually we settled on Frenchs Forest back in the Northern Beaches - rent is astronomical 850pw for a very average three bed house. Know we won't be able to buy there, so think had we not begun to get desperate as wanted the boys to start school this week coming we'd have chilled out for a bit longer and maybe gone Berowra/Berowra Heights - a long way from Sydney, but only 46 mins on the express train to Central and so much more affordable than the Northern Beaches, and it's a lovely suburb.

Anyway, you've done so much in a few days, so be sure to give yourself a pat on the back!

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This is a marvellous post and so reassuring for people like me who are terrified that we'll get out there and end up not being able to find a place to rent or not be able to find furniture for a rental or just be living in an empty house with patio chairs and a blow up mattress for months!! (I will still worry about these things, but it's nice to know it's all in my head!).

Theres some really good links too - thank you so much!!

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Food shop - Day 5

Boring but necessary, day 5 we needed to fill the shelves. Being savvy shoppers at home we were anticipating the shop to be more expensive than it was. Don't get me wrong, our local supermarket is coles, and for fresh produce they have some shocking prices (fresh produce can be 2-3x more expensive when converted at 1.8 aud to 1 gbp) however there's an asian fresh food store next door 'O'riens' which was actually pretty awesome to shop in for:


1) the variety of fresh produce, some of which we'd not seen before

2) the quality

3) the size of the fruit and veg (melons and cauliflower were giant!)

4) the price - comparable to what we'd be paying in the UK


Also found there were several butchers for meat - I eat a lot of chicken back home and usually pay 5-6gbp per Kg, there were 2 butchers outside of coles selling around 5 gbp per Kg and even coles were around 6gbp per Kg -as a side bonus beef and lamb seems cheaper too.


Here's a list (not exhaustive, didn't keep all receipts) of shopping on day 5:


Sugar 1Kg $1.99

Passata 700g $1.89

Maris piper potatoes 400g $0.99

Honeydew melon $4.99 (HUGE)

Bottled water 600ml x 12 pk $2.99

Beetroot (jar) 1Kg $3.99

Onions 1.5Kg $2.49

Bananas 1Kg $1.99

Carrots 1Kg $1.20

Cauliflower $2.99 (HUGER)

Apples red delicious 1Kg pk (4) $1.99 - half the price of coles, apples seem expensive generally

Capsicum (red peppers) 1Kg $2.99 - again less than half the price of coles, peppers are expensive

Tomatoes 1Kg $2.99 -as above, more expensive in coles

Cashew nuts - unsalted 500g $6.99 half the price of the UK - love it!

Broken rice 1Kg $1.89

Spaghetti 500g $1.19

Fusilli 500g $1.19

Pre-packed salad $3.49

Eggs 12pk $4.49 more expensive

sweetcorn $0.91

Pepsi max (cans 24 x 375ml) $1 bigger cans - as cheap as when on offer in UK - can continue my pepsi addiction!

Pepsi max (2l) $1.99

Milk (2l) $1.99

Chicken breast (2kg) $20


So far happy with shopping in Aus - prices rarely more, sometimes less, a lot the same.



Day 6 & 7 - flat-packed



Day 6 my wife started work - a relatively unspectacular day for me, visited the local pharmacy to enquire about job opportunities and spoke to the pharmacist in charge who seemed receptive though said he'd get back to me when I email my resume (didnt have ability to print my resume - regret not being organised)


Day 7 I waited in for some repairs to the apartment and an ikea delivery of our new sofa, managed to pop out in the morning and have my degree and documents certified by a justice of the peace, whom operate in the mall and in librarys on set appointments each week all across Aus. Handy if like me you need to send in documents to the AHPRA, the service in the UK can cost anything from 50-250 GBP. I also managed to pick up a printer from Dick Smith's for $39, a bargain...even if I did have to return to buy a USB cable (it's in small print on the box it isn't included - which I realised when I got home and tried installing it..doh!)


I've now printed off my resume and a covering letter, day 8 I intend on visiting a few local pharmacies to try find some work.



Impressions after 1 week: My wife and I are loving it so far, the only niggle being that I'm jobless

Edited by jdad84
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We picked up the hire car after being scared witless from the lady on the desk for not taking out 'excess insurance' meaning we'd be liable to pay out for the first $3500 of damage in an accident (irrespective of fault) and drove to our accommodation (she didnt scare us enough to part with $30 extra per day though :P).



Good tip for when you settle in. A lot of people holiday in Oz so it's a good idea to get travel insurance even if you're holidaying domestically....places can be remote and there are different risks here. If you get an annual policy, some of them cover the excess compulsory payment on hire vehicles. Useful if you take a motorhome, or go touring after an internal flight to get somewhere.

$3500 isn't bad, some of them put on a $6000 excess even if it's not your fault.

Edited by Slean Wolfhead
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Mate, if your resume is half as good a read as your posts on here you'll have a job pretty soon. Usually skip through long posts but yours was well written and a good read with some humour thrown in.


Good luck.


Thanks for the tip Slean - we've got travel insurance to cover the year as part of the visa requirements. Fingers crossed I won't need to investigate whether were covered.


Thanks for the compliment Paul, lifted my spirits after...


Job seeking - Day 8

Today started with me visiting a nearby shopping centre which has 4 pharmacy shops in and around the centre. I introduced myself, chatted about jobs and how I need to do 152 hours under supervision and handed in my resume.


* pharmacy no. 1 - seemed positive and receptive, a really genuine bloke who'd just taken over The pharmacy a year ago and grew the business. His only concern being the time investment in getting me up to speed but said he'd take a look into it as he has several pharmacies.


* pharmacy no. 2 - the store manager said they were pretty quiet with work and it would be unlikely there'd be a position but would speak to the partners in the business to see if they could give me 152 hours. She said if I was registered there'd be plenty of work. Ironic!


* Pharmacy no. 3 - owner wasn't present - handed over in my resume


* pharmacy no. 4 - seemed to be a family run deal - handed in my resume anyway


The guy from pharmacy no. 1 suggested it may be easier to get into hospital. I'd have thought hospitals wouldn't be as flexible as owner ran pharmacies but I rang 2 local hospitals anyway and although neither could support me I got some valuable feedback I.e. I need to know the PBS (pharmaceutical benefits scheme) inside out to be considered for a position when I do qualify.


There are tons more pharmacies to try...I just need to be more organised so I can visit/call more each day.


On a side note I have a really good feeling about the first pharmacy...if I don't hear back tomorrow or the next day i'll chase it up, even willing to do a week or two unpaid so I can show that I can pick things up easy enough and convince the owner I'm worth the investment (and get some valuable experience).


Overall a positive day but my insecurities over my skills and ability to get a job are niggling away at me. As my wife says though...this is only day 1 on job hunting. I need to stop being so melodramatic!

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I was out of work for 5 months. Gets you down a bit but I bought a bike and an answer machine and saw lots of Perth and surrounds.:wink:


All came good in the end and I've been with the same company now for just over 20 years. Got the watch and the long service leave up my sleeve. I've had a couple of months already and still have 18 weeks to come and it keeps accruing.

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Welcome to Rhodes! We got here just before Christmas and, like you, we're still settling. There are a few of us on here that have touched down in this area recently, perhaps we should meet up?


Hi Glenn, perfect opportunity if you, your partner and anyone else are free to meet up this coming saturday:




'Cinema in the Park' - Saturday 8th February at Rhodes Foreshore Park, Shoreline Drive / Cnr. Mary street with food and activities starting from 4pmand fireworks at 9:30pm

Hope to see you (and others there)

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