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SJVH

Cost of living in Sydney for family of 4

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SJVH

Firstly, many thanks to everyone who posts regularly on these pages - it's been a massive help so far.

I have accepted an offer to transfer to Sydney with my current company. Signed the final contract yesterday, so early days in the process. I'll be heading over with my wife and two kids, both under 2 years old.

I've done a lot of reading / research, but I would like to make doubly-sure I'm not missing any monthly expenses / hidden costs that we may incur living in Sydney. Some of the costs - especially for housing - are a bit scary...

After deductions - Super, Health Insurance (for me), Life Insurance (for me), Taxes - we should have about AU$ 6,500 per month in our budget.

Is this enough for a family of 4? We live a fairly modest lifestyle.

My office is in the heart of the CBD and we're keen on the North Shore suburbs - Lindfield, Chatswood, St Ives, etc.

Here are the items I have in budget - anything obvious that I'm missing?

It would be great to get an idea of monthly expenditure from any families living in Sydney currently.

Rent

Mobile phones

Internet

Transport - Public

Vehicle

Petrol

Vehicle Tax

Insurance - Vehicle

Insurance - Health (family)

Insurance - House contents

Electricity

Gas

Water & Council Tax

Groceries

Thanks!

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Mel-B

I've got a rough budget for Melbourne, and working on one for Sydney. I'm watching this post for feedback. need to finalise our Sydney budget also.

Only items I have listed extra are:

vehicle license fee $750? (steep in Victoria, don't know if its the same for Sydney)

toll road fees (this is on my Melbourne budget, no clue if its applicable for Sydney)

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AFreshStart

Hi SJVH,

We've been here in Sydney as a family for 9 months, my wife works in the heart of the CBD and are a family of 4 with a 3 and 5 year old and moved from Cape Town.

Here are our monthly costs, they've been pretty accurate month to month.

Rent - $4,000

Mobile phones - $45 (1 phone - Unlimited Calls, Texts and 2GB data with Optus, other phone is covered by my Wife's company)

Internet - $124 (Home Phone, Unlimited ADSL, FetchTV with Netflix)

Transport - Public - $100

Vehicle - Bought for Cash on Arrival, sold both cars in SA and used the cash to but 1 here.

Petrol - $80

Vehicle Tax - $58

Insurance - Vehicle - $91

Insurance - Health (Family) - $200

Insurance - Household Contents - $52

Electricity - $100

Gas - $50

Water & Council Tax - $57

Groceries - $1000

Total = $5957

A few extra things we have include the following:

Clothing - $150

Haircuts - $72

Tolls/eTag - $20

Bank Charges - $12

Others - $300

Total = $554

GRAND TOTAL = $6511

RE living North, before we made the move we thought we'd do the same, but that all changed when we realized the commute to St. Ives and back would take at least an 45mins to an hour each way to the CBD (You need to get to Gordon from St. Ives to catch a Train). My wife had done that for 10-years and she decided enough was a enough and so we moved to the Inner City and couldn't be happier.

The other thing is if you drive in from the North, even on the weekends, bare in mind you'll be using toll roads and paying $8 - $14 PER return journey.

We started renting in Surry Hills on arrival, but it became too expensive and a few months ago bought an newish apartment in Waterloo (2 suburbs over) which is an 8-10 minute bus ride into the heart of the CBD with a bus stop outside our door and a 900m walk to Green Square Station, two stops to Circular Quay.

This saves us not only time, but money with transport costs. Also we are paying a lot less now that we own over renting, but the rental costs above are pretty average for a 3-bedroom townhouse/terrace in the City. The 4 of us now live in a 2-bedroom, 89m2 apartment and couldn't be happier, we have 2 green spaces right outside our home and 2 big parks within 5-minutes walk and are a short 15-20 minute ride to Bondi Beach.

If you still want to be close the City with good transport links, but want a more suburb feel then then I'd suggest you look in the Inner West where the commute times are half that of St. Ives, but equally expensive.

Cheers

Matt

Edited by AFreshStart
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monsta

Your suburb choices are way out if your league.

The chatswood area is full of wealthy Asians. They love the good public transport and shopping in the area.

St Ives is a weird bunch of mainly Jewish people. The shops feel like you are stepping back in time. Avoid the shops on pensioners discount days :). But, a younger generation is moving in and they are building apartments like mad.

I went to a footy game a while ago. There was a buss going to St Ives. A bunch of drunk locals went and sat by the bus and said things like "sorry guys, I can't be seen hanging around with commoners, I live in St Ives you know!"

On your salary, I would look at Glendenning (if you want to buy). But that's well over an hour to the city and way out west. If you want to rent a small apartment, look at Ryde. It is 45mins from the CBD by bus.

The north shore is a wealthy area, so you will need to pick an appropriate suburb, with an appropriately long trip to work...

You can pretty much draw a line between Mosman and Hornsby and rule out any suburbs near your line.

$6500 is great for an individual to take home (esp after health insurance). But you can earn $3000pm packing boxes in a warehouse. If Mom and dad both do it, they are nearly at your household income.. Those kind of people would avoid private health funds.

So, you guys would be above average, buy certainly not wealthy.

Edited by monsta
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AFreshStart

Quick note on the above, the assumption I'm working from is that you have PR status, if not, then your Medical Insurance costs will be much higher as you won't get free MEDICARE. It will also affect you down the line with schooling as there are fees attached to it as well and have also worked from the premise your wife will be staying home with the kids. While schooling is free from Kindy, childcare costs are astronomical in day cares around the city, around $30,000+ per child for 5-days a week. There are cheaper options like au pairs, but they have their own caveats, you have to feed and accommodate them as well, so it means a bigger property, higher rents etc, but with two children would probably be cheaper than 2 kids in daycare. It's for this reason I stay at home with my youngest and will return to the workforce when she starts school the year she turns 6 (she turned 3 just 2-weeks ago).

Cheers

Matt

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monsta

Matt brings up a good point about childcare.

You should know that people in St Ives, West Pymble, etc.. Are all prolific investors. For example, it's not uncommon for the value of your rental property to tripple.

Look at the suburb profiles on Www.Realestate.com.au and look at the price history of suburbs like Ryde, Chatswood, etc..

Then you can buy a safe share like Commonwealth Bank and get a 30% return in a good year. Your dividends are tax free as its an Aussie company.

Look at the dividend history on

Www.dividends.com.au

If you bought CBA shares in 2009 and sold them 6 months ago.. Well you would be smiling. CBA even admit that a large percentage of their investors are "Mom and pops".

How do you compete against that asba new migrant? Well, you buy far out in places like Glendenning (which will cost $4000pm) and buy westpac bank shares with your spare cash.

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qwerty

We lived in Killara (in an apartment) and recently moved to Gordon (into a 3-bedroom house).

Rent-wise you can expect to pay between $750 - $950 per week for a fairly old/average 3-bedroom house. You do get houses for less than that but the majority are really badly maintained. We took over the lease from a family who just moved into their own house and we are paying less than the average. It might take you a while to find the right house at the right price. You can also consider an apartment for starting out, which could be anything from $500 - $750 a week for a 2-bedroom apartment.

We are walking distance to Gordon station and it takes about 32 minutes to get to Town Hall station by train (Central will be around 36 minutes by train).

I think that you can make do with what you've got; just expect to give up a few comforts in the beginning.

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AFreshStart

Monsta,

St. Ives for many newcomers is probably what they know and hear about Sydney from friends of relatives. There are large congregations of ex-pats there, according to the last census 15% of St. Ives are South African, and yes, as you shared a large number of them form part of a strong Jewish community, but no different from the Eastern Suburbs like Rose Bay, North Bondi, Dover Heights and at the top end Vaucluse, with at least 10% of them in each being ex-pats South African's, and also Jewish, which I think is great that they can bond over shared faith and contacts, much like Christians do with their local Churches.

Something to bear in mind about these areas though is for the most part it's 'old money', many of these folk made the move to Australia in the early 90's, the rand was much stronger and they had YEARS of local investing to make up for it, and many are as you say, now, considered very wealthy. So for new comers it will be hard to step into that lifestyle if you didn't walk off the plane with millions of ZAR, and even then it's tough!

Personally I wanted to avoid South African areas, I didn't want to live with a bunch of ex-pats harking back to the good old days, as is often the case, or constantly talking about the situation in South Africa, or grumbling about how Australia does things differently. I chose to immersed myself in Australia culture, made local friends and networked into various communities and we feel very comfortable and settled, this is our home and I'm very comfortable being Australian because of it.

Cheers

Matt

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Nev

There was a mention of Melbourne so adding to Matt's post, these are ours, family consists of my wife and i, as well as a 8 month old, everything is per month



Rent - $1804 pm for a 3 bedroom house with no garden near a train and 25min by train into the CBD in a nice middle class area (nice house)


Mobile phones - $90 per month for my wife's phone but gives 4? hours of talk time a month to RSA


Internet - $95 - 300 gigs no phone or anything


Transport - Public - $100


Vehicle - $740


Petrol - $80


Vehicle Tax - $700 ish a year


Insurance - Vehicle - $91 yep about's this


Insurance - Health (Family) - $200 - been changing stuff but about's this


Electricity - $100


Gas - $50


Water & Council Tax - $20


Groceries - $,600



So rent is less than half for us, and we spend less on food, but then dont have the hungry kids yet :P


Edited by Nev
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RedPanda

Thanks for sharing Nev. :)

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SJVH

Thanks for the detailed info - very sobering!

I thought we would be "OK" but it looks like we'll be closer to the line than I anticipated. Definitely need to rethink neighbourhoods; I'm not keen on spending too much time commuting but I would like a garden... We're suburban types I guess. For the record, I have no problem living with Asians or Jews (my wife is Jewish) and have no burning desire to be in a South African community.

Matt - we will be on a 457 but I'm going to push for PR as soon as we land. Will make a significant difference to our budget I reckon. Wife will be home with the kids until they start school. Going to be a big adjustment for her.

Other than that, we'll just have to make it work. My mates there keep telling me "The best things in Sydney are free" and that's good enough for now.

Cheers.

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AFreshStart

SJVH,

I think we do more than ok, because as your friends shared, the best things are indeed free. You have actual FREEDOM, something you haven't experienced before in SA, to walk the streets unencumbered, to catch a bus at all hours of day or night and feel safe, to not be looking over your shoulder or having that flight or fight mechanism engaged. To have no alarm, burglar bars or armed response, heck in NSW you aren't even allowed a deadbolt or door chain on your door if you live in an apartment. We have 1 key to enter and exit. 1.

We have some of the most glorious beaches and you use them, you aren't worried about where you'll put your wallet or keys, you just enjoy the beach, nobody touches your stuff.

There are beautiful parks, cycle paths and plenty of free entertainment, on Sunday it's the Kite Festival on Bondi, the libraries always offer free classes, entertainment and crafting for the kids, all FREE.

Public schooling, form our limited experience is excellent and outside of the cost of uniforms and donation, FREE.

Medicare covers all our day to day stuff, we haven't paid to see a Dr. once, spent very little on medications and even had FREE X-Rays, all paid for by Medicare.

These things make life enjoyable and we feel more than 'Ok'.

In retrospect we spent so much of our time in Cape Town running mall to mall or couped up at home, even though we lived in such a beautiful city and no longer feel the need for ownership of a garden or yard because it's all on our doorstep. We moved from Claremont, owned a 3-bedroom house with front and backyards and now live in a 2-bedroom apartment and miss nothing.

Cheers

Matt

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SJVH

Thanks Matt - you've made my day.

All the things you've listed above are all the things I'm looking forward to experiencing. Plus, I've just checked out Waterloo at your suggestion and we could probably afford to buy a decent apartment there, and I can walk to the office.

We are also in Claremont (Lynfrae) and on balance, we have a very good life here - albeit an abnormal life relative to the rest of the world. The decision to leave is less push than it is pull, and very much about securing different options for our kids. We are European citizens but have grown too accustomed to the sunshine to consider heading back there.

If we make it to Waterloo, I will take you for a beer to say thanks...

Cheers.

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AFreshStart

SJVH,

Small world, we lived in Lynfrae as well, in Ranelagh Rd.

Just like you our move was more pull than push, had we not had children we probably wouldn't have made the move. I was born an Australian citizen, though grew up in South Africa, so the option was always there to move back, but we enjoyed living in Cape Town, until we had our two children and had to think about their future, which, without a doubt we believe is here.

All the things listed above are purely by products of the move, we got used to the crime, the attempted break-ins, of which we had a few and a shoot out my young son had to experience in Franklin Park around the corner, we wanted more for them, and they have that here, a carefree childhood, what more can we offer them.

Waterloo is is just one of the suburbs that are growing, combined with Beconsfield, Zetland, Alexandria & Roseberry they make up Green Square, which is becoming it's own micro hub with new parks, an Olympic size swimming pool, sports fields, library, arts center and new town hall on the way.

Most of it won't all be in place until 2019-2020, but we a seeing huge movements, they've just put in the new main street, Ebsworth Street, which is the first main street they have built in Sydney in over 100 years. When they started a few years ago there were 15,000 people, there are now 20,000+ and by 2030 they are expecting 50,000 people. We got in here because we feel it's a good bet long term and got in early and we've already seen mirrored apartments in our block go for $40,000 more than we paid just 5-months ago and the starting price off-plan of new developments of similar size in the area are now starting at $900k - $1 million.

Here's a video render of the future of Green Square, some of it already in place like at 0.46, which is one of the parks that have already opened, Mary O'Brien in Zetland.

Allow me to offer you the beer! If you, your wife and kids would like to come over for meal, you're most welcome, you'll welcome to pick-up the finer details via Private Message, but happy to help where I can with any specific questions you may have.

And here's a pretty good overview of our experience, as shared by many others, in fact the video features so many of our favourite hot spots, including my favourite bookshop and cafe. Many of the views are ones I experience from my Bicycle, which I used a couple times a week, cycling into the City and enjoy the parks, city views and often just read a book on the lawn at the Botanical Gardens (which are also FREE). Interestingly almost all the shots are of the City and inner city suburbs like Surry Hills, Redfern & Waterloo, these were what we wanted to be part of and are blessed to call it home.

Good luck with the planning and finer details.

Cheers

Matt

Edited by AFreshStart
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JEMS

I have a question about Medicare and private health insurance...do you have to take both to be adequately covered? I mean, what is the purpose of Medicare if you are still required to take out private health insurance (really want to know, no snark meant).

Please can I also have recommendations on who to use for:

Private Health Insurance

Household Insurance

We have just signed the lease on a 3-bedroom house in Castle Hill, has a huge garden and outdoor entertaining - for $650 pw. It is an hour commute by bus / train every day for my husband to the CBD (one way now), but our focus is work during the week, family during the weekend. Looking at rentals closer were just insane. And not just for the pricing but for what it got you. We could not find any one decent house, most were apartments. And since we are living off of one income for the time being, it just did not make sense trying to spend that much on rent just to be closer to the city.

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RedPanda

Wow, Matt, I can see somebody loves their city :D

It always makes me smile to see people enthusiastically supporting and promoting the place they live. (It's such a stark contrast to what we often get here, where people are either negative, or if they are happy they list the good stuff and then add the 'buts')

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AFreshStart

JEMS,

I've covered this in other threads, but here's the shorthand from Private Health.

Medicare does not cover:

private patient hospital costs (for example, theatre fees or accommodation),
medical and hospital costs incurred overseas,
medical and hospital services which are not clinically necessary, or surgery solely for cosmetic reasons
dental or optometry
ambulance services

Those are the bullet points.

RE who to use, shop around, once you sign up with one company and are through the probation period you can easily switch as your needs change or you get a better offer, there is very little loyalty there. Popular medical providers are BUPA, Medibank & HCF.

Most people who live in the City live in apartments, same goes for London, New York, Tokyo and many European countries. You are applying a developing nation, South African mentality to Australian city living. Australians, or rather Sydneysiders see it as both work and play, the balance is interlinked.

You are an hour away as you shared, even on weekends, if you want to enjoy the Sydney landmarks that can be a long way to travel, petrol, tolls, $10 an hour parking by car etc and transport links from some parts of the city are harder than others.

I enjoy that it's just a 15-minute cycle for me to the Botanical Garden with sweeping views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, an 8-10 minute bus ride into the heart of the CBD, a 5-minute walk to some spectacular parks, cafes and coffee shops and we live right next door to a beautiful library. We are also only a 15-20 minute ride to the iconic Bondi Beach and 2 stops by train to Circular Quay. For us we'll take apartment living over a house any day to be this close to the action, our home is where we sleep, our lives are lived on the street.

You can get a 2-bedroom/2 bathroom apartment here for not much more than your house, probably newer, with modern facilities, storage, parking and in our case beautiful lawns and communal BBQ's, our block only has 32 units so is more like Duplex living, but like many South Africans you may have made up your mind you need a house with a garden because it's what you have grown accustomed to or are familiar with.

We scaled back our lives, sold 3/4 of our possessions and have sold even more since arriving, our apartment's floor space is not that much smaller than our 3-bedroom house back in Cape Town, and feels even bigger because it's not stuffed with excess, and as shared, we haven't missed a thing.

Cheers

Matt

Edited by AFreshStart
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AFreshStart

Wow, Matt, I can see somebody loves their city :D

It always makes me smile to see people enthusiastically supporting and promoting the place they live. (It's such a stark contrast to what we often get here, where people are either negative, or if they are happy they list the good stuff and then add the 'buts')

Thanks RedPanda, yes, I'm deeply in love with my City, I feel privileged to be here and call it home. As shared I was born an Australian citizen, it's literally in my blood and coming here has felt very natural, we've made great friends, entertain 2-3 times a week, have friends who are willing to baby sit to give date nights, who bring over meals or invite us out to events, my son has been to gosh, maybe 6-7 birthday parties in the past 2-3 months and we have regular play dates. To be honest, in many ways I feel we have more of a community around us here than we did in South Africa.

I love the freedom it brings, the excitement, the arts & culture. I regularly visit galleries and pop-ups, were dazzled by the Christmas Lights in Pitt St, celebrated New Years with the Fireworks, walked the VIVID Festival, twice, at night, with my kids, catching buses in and out of the City at night. ALL of these are FREE, they costs us nothing, all provided by Sydney, right on our doorstep. What's not to love?

Cheers

Matt

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RedPanda

Many of the people I speak to in RSA simply do not comprehend how different some (seemingly similar countries) are to South Africa. Mostly those who do not travel, or worse, who travel with closed minds. I wish I could just show them!

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JEMS

Wow, Matt, trying hard here to not see your reply as just totally condescending. "...but like many South Africans you have made up your mind you need a house with a garden because it's what you have grown accustomed to or are familiar with..." not to mention the "third world mentality" I am also seemingly applying.

I do not currently live in a house in South Africa with a garden. In fact, for the last fifteen years I have lived in one or the other apartment or townhouse (five of those years in Cape Town - CBD, working in Sea Point, Milnerton, working in Sea Point. I know commuting is tedious). The last time I had a garden, I was 9.

I also did a ton of research - and still do - about this move. Currently, if we were to live in the city purely to make the commute to work better, I would need to start working as soon as I step off that plane. I have been a working-SAHM for the last ten years. My husband and I had a very successful little IT business that we sold in order to make this move. Ultimately, this is about giving our children a better life and looking after our son’s emotional state since he is old enough to know what he is giving up, but too young to understand the benefits thereof. He is therefore distraught about the move. All our decisions have been made with his emotional and physical well-being in mind. And that means for us that I am there when he starts a new school in a new country, to be there for him before, during and after school, whatever the case may be. Especially in the first few months while they assess him to see where he should be placed.

My husband is therefore the sole breadwinner for our little family in order for me to be there for our children. He has a pretty decent job too, just enough to allow for our new, still modest, lifestyle. We therefore are renting according to our financial needs. And it just so happened that we found a place with a garden, which my son has never had. He has never been able to keep a pet - now he does, and it means the world to him. Also, since we have a baby girl who is currently going through the 12-month sleep regression, where we live very much has a bearing on our (and our neighbour’s) well-being. Renting a house with a garden affords us some form of privacy, especially at 2am in the morning. Having not lived in a house with a garden, it only occurred to me yesterday that we would need to buy a lawnmower in order to cut the grass.

We won't own a car for at least several months since we are trying to save up every dollar we can to make it past the first year, so public transport will be our mode of transportation for the foreseeable future. Now since Sydney is a First World Country, we have been told (and my husband has experienced this first hand now for the last six weeks) that their public transportation systems are out of this world. Bus, Train, Ferry, you name it. So no tolls for us, just yet. And I am pretty sure, Australia has more to offer than just the few landmarks in the radius around your neighbourhood. Although family time for us means being together, however that may be. It does not need to be spent travelling all around Sydney. Rather, we will take a stroll down to the local park just a block away from our house, and let our son take his new puppy for a walk. My husband walked the equivalent of 119km over the last 4 Saturdays, checking out neighbourhoods, from Carlingford all the way to the CBD. We did our research. And once we are able to afford a car, his commuting will cut down from 1 hour to 25 minutes. Not too bad, really.

I am not coming to Oz with any pre-conceived thoughts or ideas, or with any inclination to recreate the lifestyle I had in South Africa (to that end, we sold all our furniture and appliances and are replacing new in Oz. Now, just to be clear, this will be IKEA stuff, which we have researched. It won’t be luxurious, but it will get the job done.)

I am coming to get away from the decay my country has become in order to offer my children some form of a future. I am a very intelligent person, I am well-read, can apply logic, reasoning and verbal skills on a broad range of topics as I am not some "Boerevrou van die plaas" (no offence meant to any boerevroue that might read this – much respect to you, it is a tough life.) I am also not a materialistic person. I view very few items as sentimental. I think, probably only my wedding glasses. Because they are awesome and can take half a bottle of JC Le Roux in each. Other than that, nada. I am not shedding a tear about anything that I had to sell, or leave behind. And believe me, we know all about down-scaling. We will have mattresses but no couch (no bases, only mattresses) for at least the first few months. We are so laid-back, we are sleeping on the floor.

You generalize and sweep all of us under one and the same rug. Give some of us a bit of credit here, we are not as naive as you might think we are. We are also not all rowing in the same financial boat. We got into Oz on Skills, and have used up every single cent we had to make it possible.

Edited by JEMS
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rozellem

JEM, I am friendly with some South Africans via facebook, who live in the Hills. It always astonishes me how often they are out and about in the city (at night or over weekends). The distance does not stop them one bit. We lived in the Inner West for over 3 years and did not have a car for a long time, slightly more tricky as you get further out, but you will figutre things out.

We moved to the burbs 3 years ago and I felt lost. Its was harder to make connections there than in the city ( were people needed each other more?). It took longer than expected, but buying a house just over 2 years ago made a massive difference to my settling. Its not a materialistic thing as some may think, I am a nesting Libra and would decorate my rentals as my own, just to have the landlords sell from out under us. Each to his own. I have put up a random domain seatch I just did for a rental in our area. I did that after some were saying on here, its almost impossible to rent a house in Sydney under $1000 per week, if you dont live on the outside fringes. Belrose is 10-15 mins from the beach, surrounded by national parks and 45/50mins into the CBD on the bus. My husband goes in on a scooter, door to door 30mins. Our house doors are wide open, most of the time, so that the scores of kids can freely move from house to house. ( I am talking pre schoolers too) The fact that I dont have to plan a playdate with anyone is such a mind shift for me. I like the organic way that things just happen. We have a tyre swing off a huge tree in the front garden and at any time you might hear squeals of laughter, look out and a unknown kid is zipping on it, like they're back on grandma's farm. We are spending the day (Sat) first at swimming lessons, then I do a bit of work, off to a housewarming around the corner for lunch (playgroup mum), then kids party next door late afternoon, then I zip into the city for dinner with my mothers group girls. Oh, somewhere in between we will plant shrubs. Yesterday I needed some big holes dug in my garden for big shrubs, also needed stones and pavers moved from one area to another, not rocket science but needed a labourer. I txted the pastors wife, who has the lowdown on people who might want a casual job. She hooked me up with a lovely accountant student from Zambia who came to save the day. If you do your homework, plan, save, spend wisely, get connected to your community and open your eyes and ears, you will have a blessed time in Sydney.

PS. Join your areas facebook groups. Like Hills District Mums, South Africans who love to live in Sydney, South African moms in the hills district. Life savers. I have even posted my unwanted pavers on facebook free to anyone who wants to come collect.

http://m.domain.com.au/listing/10024266?sp=1&adtype=standard

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AFreshStart

JEMS,

My comment wasn't directed at you, it was meant as a general observation, not personal attack. If you took it as such, I apologize. It's hard to read the tone behind the words, but if I was truly trying to be condescending I don't think I would I have taken the time to respond, genuinely to your questions, offering insurance suggestions and the key points of what Medicare doesn't cover.

You seem to have zoned in the one statement in my response which I probably should have worded differently, more sensitively, but in all fairness it was written at midnight when I was up with my 5-year old son, so without knowing the back story it is rather difficult to interpret and I should have re-read it before posting.

In response though you've made a few rather sweeping generalizations.

From what you've shared you seem to think we might be in better financial situation, got in on the merit of my Citizenship, don't have children of our own to consider and that we think of South Africa as a "Third World Country".

While I don't feel I need to support them, I will, as you may find we have more in common than you think.

On money, we have negotiated a 3-year interest only loan, which gives us 3-years to build back a bit of savings after putting down all we had down on a small deposit as we are only paying the interest on our loan. The payment difference between rent vs mortgage is over $1,000 a month in savings, so it was advantageous to buy, even in this crazy economy.

We got in on my citizenship because it was the cheapest way to do it, but it still costs over R60,000 for a Spousal Visa, but my wife would have gotten in on 189 VISA on her own merit though and has moved with her global company, who she has been with for 10-years. Her skills are very much in demand, enough that they paid for our relocation - tickets, container and gave a us a resettlement fund. Unbeknownst to us at the time they also paid back our VISA costs, which we up-fronted. They didn't want to loose her and her skills to the competition.

As stated several times, we have 2 young children, 5 and 3 and we live on a single income. I'm a SAHD, I have been for all 5-years. I walked away from a successful career to be there for my family, it was a financial shake up, but we made it work, cutting away excess to live frugally so that I could be there to see to their needs, it seems you have a similar outlook. I empathize with sleep issues, my daughter hasn't slept through the night in 3 years, it's gotten much better, but is up at least once a night, our apartment is plenty sound proof :blush-anim-cl:

I didn't use the words "third world country", I shared developing nation, but yes, purely based on economic stats, it's a third world country, but our own experience is that South African is FAR more developed than many other nations and many middle class families live in houses, far more than those here in Sydney.

The density is currently 8,000 people per square kilometer in Sydney, it hosts 21 km2 of this vs Melbourne's 1 km2. 70% of all approved building permits here are for apartments and more than 30% of people in Sydney live in apartments, a much higher percentage in dense areas, up to 70%. Many of these less dense suburbs are an hour away, but this still pales compared to London where they are sitting with 327 km2 with this kind of density vs Sydney's 21 km2.

If you you were coming from New York, London or Tokyo your expectation would be an apartment due to the density and first hand experience, Sydney is a global hub in the same league as these, or at least is aiming to be or selling it's services as in Finance & IT.

My experience though is that many middle to high income earners from South Africa want to move into a house or terrace here in Sydney, I think it's a sense of familiarity, but all this research and now first hand experience proved that it wasn't the case, which is what I'm trying to open your and other prospective migrants eyes to. Prior to my role as SAHD I traveled a lot for work and have been to 80 cities worldwide and lived in both London & New York, so have had those as a base of reference, which is what I tried, though rather badly to explain.

I have been open and honest throughout this thread, which wasn't started by you, sharing our personal finances and budgets, I've been quick to provide answers based on our own experience and tried to be helpful where I can, across not only this post, but hundreds that preceed it.

I honestly hope you enjoy your new home and stand by your convictions and that it will be welcoming to you and your family.

Cheers

Matt

Edited by AFreshStart
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SJVH

I am happy to admit that our original intention when considering a move to Sydney was to try and replicate our lives in Cape Town as closely as possible. So yes, our focus was very much on finding a 4-bedroom home in the suburbs. Bonus would be "close to work" or "close to the beach" but the primary focus was "nice house in burbs with a spare room for when the folks visit". Guess you naturally gravitate towards what you know and what you think will be best for your kids.

The more research I do and the more I read Matt's posts the more I have started to consider other options though. I certainly see the attraction of living "in the city", it would just require a shift in our thinking. Living in SA we have become unaccustomed to living our lives in public spaces.

One interesting thing this thread made me research was tolls. Driving from The Hills to the CBD works out to around $28 a day (according to the highway calculator I used). So, we could find a nice house in Castle Hill for $650 a week, and then either spend an hour and 25 minutes on the bus (according to Google) or do a 30 minute off-peak drive to get to work. My choice would be for the off-peak drive so I'd have more time at home with the kids, but at around $600 a month in tolls, driving is a very expensive option. Plus we would then need to buy, license and maintain two vehicles. Does this sound about right?

Seems it would make more sense to live in the city, walk to work, pay a bit more on rent/ a mortage, and spend our weekends exploring the areas outside of the city.

As for the sense of community, there seems to be a good argument to be made for either the city or the suburbs. We'll need to figure that out. Personally I'm liking the idea that my wife and kids could go downstairs and be in a park surrounded by other moms. Some of the suburbs we've looked at (online) seem a bit isolated.

Still, it's great to have so many options available - I'll let you know where we end up. We have 2 months paid accommodation when we arrive (not sure where) so we have a few weeks to check out different areas and make a call.

Thanks again for the input, much appreciated.

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AFreshStart

SJVH,

You've hit the nail on the head with some of the practicalities we worked through.

RE transport, yes, cars aren't cheap. REGO + CTP on our little Honda Jazz is $700+ a year, the maintenance is currently $250 a service, petrol is $80 a month and insurance $1000 a year. We only do about 400-500kms a month, much like your suggestion its for weekend trips further afield, outings to the beach etc. Imagine having TWO cars and doing longer distances with added tolls every day :stretcher:

We have friends in St. Ives who do this though, they both work 1.5hrs away from home each way, in opposite directions and have two young children and have had to hire an au pair/nanny to look after them. They are BOTH working full-time just to make ends meet because of all the added expenses. The cost of having an extra room and garden vs running two cars, hiring a nanny and being that far away in case of an emergencies just don't add up in our minds, but to each their own. This is why we choose to live in an apartment and be close to everything.

RE driving into the city, the issue is PARKING. If my wife drove in rather than taking the bus it might save her 10-15-minutes a day round trip, but the cost of a parking bay in her building is $900 a month... do the math. Parking in the city is +- $10 an hour, though you can get some "Early Bird" specials which are in by 10am out by 6pm and they are around $30 a day, but available on a first come, first served basis.

You can't easily park on the street because most inner city parking, if you can find it, is zoned for 2 or 4 HRS and they have City Rangers that walk around and check you move, if not, they fine you. The exception is that if you live in the inner city and your building doesn't have parking, you can apply for a parking permit to park on the street that lets you park anywhere in that zone 24/7.

If you don't want to buy a car, or can't afford to, but still want access to one when you need it you can always Go Get (https://www.goget.com.au/), there are cars parked all over the city and you pay a sign up fee, book them when you need them and get a card that allows you to open them electronically, grab the keys and return it when you are done and they bill you for the time/kms used.

Public transport is great, but can take it's time if you live further out, and that is of course if the bus isn't full. The benefit of where we live is that the buses pass our home every 5-10 minutes in peak times, so if one is full you quickly grab the next one, the further out you live you might have a longer wait as there may be fewer buses that pass your route, further adding to your commute. Not everywhere is accessible by train, so buses are your best bet, but some will bus it to the nearest station and then train in/out from there.

The big thing for us is that we realized that it's us, that's your support network. You can't just call your mother-in-law if there is an emergency, you are each others support and on call if something goes wrong. What happens if you spouse locks her/himself out and you have to get back to her/him the keys. Or you need to go to school because your child is ill or had an accident on the playground and needs to go to the ER? Do you want to be working an hour away?

Again, to each their own, there are hundreds of people who do this everyday, and kudos to them, we just wanted to do things differently and chose to be close to work, school, local parks, library, entertainment and a good and strong social network and have found that here in the city and have sacrificed space for these, but are very happy with our decision.

Cheers

Matt

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Mara

@ JEMs

I must add to the question of Medicare vs Private Health Insurance, that Matt did not explain:

PLEASE NOTE, THIS INFORMATION IS ONLY FOR THOSE ON PR, A 457 IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT KETTLE OF FISH AS THEN YOU DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO MEDICARE IN ANY WAY.

MEDICARE

Medicare will cover you for doctor's visits (bulk billing) but not totally if your doctor charges more than the current bulk billing rates = you would have to pay the difference. My doctor charges $66 per visit, of which Medicare refunds me, the same day I pay, $38-50.

Medicare does not pay for any dental work, except for children under the age of 12 (I think), and then only for routine fillings and extractions, definitely not for braces etc.

Medicare does not pay for optical, except every two years for your eye test, frames and lenses are for your cost.

Medicare will cover you 100% for emergency hospitalisation and you will be attended to immediately, HOWEVER, if it is not an emergency, ie. hip replacement, then you will go on a waiting list, which could mean surgery only happens many, many, months or even a year or two later. You do not have a choice of doctors or specialists, you go with whoever attends to you at the government hospital.

Medicare will pay towards your medication, as long as it is on the PBS listing, for instance, say your medication costs $500 per prescription, the maximum you would pay is around $38,50.

PRIVATE HEALTHCARE

It would be wise to have a 100% hospitalisation, you can then have any procedures done, when and if you want to and not have to wait eons for it to be done. Of course, like in all cases, there are operations that are not covered, so you have to check what you want covered and make sure it is included.

Private health does not cover doctor or specialist visits in any way whatsoever.

Private health does not cover medication in any way whatsoever.

Private health does cover dental work, but in a limited capacity.

EXAMPLE CASES

Many years ago I had an emergency operation done under Medicare at a government hospital. Put in a six bed room for surgery patients. 3 men, 3 women, shared bathroom for the room. Food was not great. Care was fair. However not much rest with all the bodily sounds of five other people around you, especially the snoring. I left early, which was not the greatest idea, but I needed to for my sanity. It was enough to convince me to take out private health insurance immediately.

I am with HCF with 100% hospital cover, which includes Ambulance Service. It costs hubby and I $300 per month. Three years ago I was hospitalised for 5,5 weeks and two surgeries, the final cost came to $75,000 which HCF paid 100%, they just sent me a statement to tell me what they had paid on my behalf. During this time I was either in a private room, a high care room or in intensive care.

I have lived in Australia for the past 18 years, there is no way I would only depend on Medicare, ever.....

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