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HappyIsland

Suburb advice needed

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HappyIsland

We've been looking at suburbs and have narrowed it down to Berowra.

 

Our needs are to live in a suburb that has a smaller town feel and that has rail access and about 40-50 minutes commute time by train. We've ruled out most of the hills area due to no direct rail access.

 

Can anyone tell me what Berowra is like, and perhaps suggest similar suburbs (with above criteria) to look at?

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AndreR

I worked with someone from Berowra and he loved living there. Not sure what the schools are like though. I think it's about as far out of the city you can go and still have a reasonable commute. The only other areas with similar commute times on a train line would be Seven Hills, maybe Schofields, and then going South you could look at Cronulla. 

 

I live in Castle Hill and spend about 2 to 2.5 hours a day on the bus. It's gotten worse in the two years I've been here, but the train will be here in the next two to three years so let's see. Rent seems to be around the same for both areas. The only thing keeping us in Castle Hill for now is the schools. My kids are both very happy in their schools and I would hate to move them after they've settled in so well.

 

 

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AFreshStart
6 hours ago, HappyIsland said:

We've been looking at suburbs and have narrowed it down to Berowra.

 

Our needs are to live in a suburb that has a smaller town feel and that has rail access and about 40-50 minutes commute time by train. We've ruled out most of the hills area due to no direct rail access.

 

Can anyone tell me what Berowra is like, and perhaps suggest similar suburbs (with above criteria) to look at?

 

Hi HappyIsland,

 

May I ask why you 'need' to live in a suburb with a small town feel?

 

Moments ago I read an article on one of the big Real Estate websites about a couple moving to Bowral because their 'needs' included having their kids cycle the quiet tree lined streets alone, or building a fort in the backyard.

 

The article went on to say that they have now found a better work-life balance, though shared the Father now spends 20-hours a week on Public Transport to and from his City job. How in the world is that a better work-life balance? When is Dad (or Mom) going to teach their children to ride or be on hand to build that fort when they are losing a day a week in transport alone?

 

I've read over in your other post that you have a Baby and 3-year old, you may already know this, but Childcare is expensive in Sydney and the waiting lists are long. With 2 children under 5/6 you'll be crippled by childcare costs at over $100 a day per child, so there is a good chance your wife or you will be staying home with the children unless you both have jobs that can support this, or at least pay for a full-time aupair/nanny.

 

Either way, have you thought about what happens when your partner needs you, as she/you may, if you find work in the City? At best you're an hour away for emergencies, you'll also be looking at a +2-hour round trip journey, and most likely will be gone early morning and probably not back before 7pm, when your children might have already gone down for the night, how much of them will you see to afford these needs of yours?

 

Before moving here we assessed our 'needs' very closely. They were few - air, water, food, clothing, shelter and education/work, everything else was negotiable. My wife landed a job in the City, so we chose to LIVE in the City, no, we THRIVE in the City, we traded a 3-bedroom house with front and back gardens in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town for a 2-bedroom City apartment.

 

We live less than 250m from open green spaces, dedicated cycleways, parks and 5-minutes from no less than 4 supermarkets. My wife is now a 10-minute bus ride to her office door to door, and we are walking distance from both our son's school and daughters daycare.

 

We own one car and spend less than $80 on fuel, catching public transport or walking/cycling everywhere.

 

We have a better quality of life because as we're together as a family, if one of our children are sick, either my wife or I are 10-minutes away. We're able to sit at the table as a family and enjoy both breakfast and dinners together at 7.30am and 6pm like clock work, hearing about our days, making jokes and planning our weekend and after school adventures, which usually involve the beach, parks or local swimming pool.

 

We've learned to enjoy public spaces as our own, hard not to when they look like this, these are just 3 of the parks within walking distance from our home, not to mentioned the 2 libraries, one of which is right next door.

 

greensquare.jpg

 

Don't be afraid to challenge your needs, and look and see what you might be sacrificing to have them.

 

Cheers

 

Matt

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HappyIsland

Hi Matt

 

Thanks for your reply and input. It's definitely not a case of needs for us when it comes to our preferences (or anyone for that matter), but wants.
In terms of living in the city and saving costs - it's great that you guys are able to live in a way that suits your needs.

Moving or living in a bustling city is definitely not what we have in mind when moving to Oz - if we end up in the city it would be because of compromise not choice. We have always been laid back, outdoors people. The way we cope with working in cities is by living as far out as possible but still being close enough for a decent commute. Sure, it's a sacrifice in commute times, but for us we get a lifestyle that better suits our preferences.

 

But who knows - once we settle in oz the reality could be that we end up closer to the city or in a completely different type of suburb.

 

We are painfully aware of the ridiculous childcare costs, and we'll both have to work to support 2 kids and the prospect of home ownership in the future. To be fair, the childcare costs are the same whether you live in a suburb or in the CBD.

 

For now, however, we're looking at a smaller town with a train commute of hopefully no more than 40-45 minutes. For us, a 45 minute commute is a minor compromise to live in a beautiful area like Berowra where we can have nature and the outdoors on our doorstep.

 

 

 

 

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RYLC

A rail commute can be wonderful!  You get time to read, listen to podcasts, decompress from your day before you get home etc. it's a car commute that would kill me - crawling along in six lanes of traffic unable to do anything other than drive. 

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HappyIsland
5 minutes ago, RYLC said:

A rail commute can be wonderful!  You get time to read, listen to podcasts, decompress from your day before you get home etc. it's a car commute that would kill me - crawling along in six lanes of traffic unable to do anything other than drive. 

 

I agree. I believe some rails even have wifi and there's first class options to sit and work on laptop?

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AndreR

The one bonus of being further out of town is that you actually get a seat on the bus or train. This may sound trivial, but if I have to spend time on the bus or train everyday I want to do it in comfort. 

 

 

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AndreR
20 hours ago, AFreshStart said:

 

Hi HappyIsland,

 

May I ask why you 'need' to live in a suburb with a small town feel?

 

 

Cheers

 

Matt

 

 

Matt, I would imagine a two bedroom city apartment being out of reach for most new migrants. Out in the burbs you can find rentals for around $600 a week. I doubt very much if this is the case in the city.

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Guest

It would be great if you could get a seat on the train to sit and relax to music or read a book etc, this is not always possible though.

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RYLC

The commuter trains in Sydney are double decker so much more room. Also there are designated quiet carriages for those who want to work or study. It's not the same seating configuration as the "round the city" carriages. 

 

Another thing to to consider which isn't a thing in RSA is that a lot of people work a 5 day week in 4 days to get a day off with the same pay. So working 40 hours a week doesn't have to be spread over 5 days. Having a longer work day over 4 days is common. Yes you'll get home late but won't be getting the train home during rush hour so that's a bonus and you'll get extra time at home. Work life balance is VERY important here and chasing the dollar is not as highly prized. 

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AFreshStart
11 hours ago, AndreR said:

 

 

Matt, I would imagine a two bedroom city apartment being out of reach for most new migrants. Out in the burbs you can find rentals for around $600 a week. I doubt very much if this is the case in the city.

 

AndreR,

 

At the moment there are three or four 2-bed / 2-bath and parking units around us going for $650-$700 a week.

 

I guess it all depends on how much value you place on your time in commuting and the costs associated with it.

 

Both my wife and I can walk or cycle to work, we rarely need to use our car, owning one where others might need two living further afield or spend an hour each way on public transport and the associated costs.

 

We're able to spend more time together as a family because of the short commute and are able to quickly tend to emergencies when they arise, which has been beneficial without extra help/support.

 

I think working and living in Sydney is always going to be a compromise (unless money isn't a problem) and you have two options.

 

1. Live closer, save time (and money), but expect to live smaller.

2. Live further out, commute and spend money (and time) on transport.

 

Both are options.

 

Cheers

 

Matt

Edited by AFreshStart

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rozellem

We're in Belrose/Frenchs forest area. My husband takes a scooter into the CBD. It cost him $90 per term for unlimited access of the harbour bridge and tunnel. Bikes can use the buslanes. I work from home and walk the boys to school (50m) from the house. Five min walk to shops/teater/gym/library/etc. Fifteen mins drive to the beach. Countless mountain bike trails from our door. Even proper bmx track close to us (unfenced, open to the public).  Its a difficult dice to throw, a very personal fit. Some places work immediately, others grow on you. There are no wrong answers to your question, but its probably as difficult as picking you a wife/husband.  

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pilotg2

Hi Rozellem, i have loads of questions from your post.  Hope you don't mind me jumping in on this thread but i think it relates somewhat.

 

I'm really interested in your husbands commute as I commuted by bike in London for 8 years into the City and i'm looking to do the same in Sydney.  My one way commute for 4 years was a 10km, 18min trip and then 4 years at 20km, 50min trip.  That latter trip was awful mainly as it was rat runs, no direct route, school runs and loads of traffic lights, but it was where i could afford to buy a house.  How does your husband rate his commute and for the distance how long does it take him?  I'm not sure if you husband may know but how would such a commute from say Turramurra or surrounds to the CBD be?  From the map i see there are a couple main roads into the CBD. Are they gridlocked, tight and a real pain on a bike?  In the main i actually enjoy the ride, especially the door to door aspect so would give the train a miss!

 

Is the $90 term a quarter for the tolls?  Does he feel safe on the roads, such as are the cars at least aware of bikers OR are they gunning for you?

 

Is there free parking for bikes or do you have to pay?  Can you secure your bike to anything?  I've had 2 bikes stolen whilst in the office in London so ended up parking only at motorcycle bays where you could secure your bike by chain to something solid.

 

I've read about the Hornsby mtb track - looking forward to having a go!

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rozellem

Hi Pilot.  We were in London for 11 years without a car, but with 2 Vespas.  We used them 365 days a year, carrying all sorts on them (with an office chair and skirting boards I still hold the family record).  I had countless scooters stolen in Ldn too. I have not heard of this here, but I am sure it happens sporadically, somewhere.  The $90 is the toll for the bridge and tunnel, the only ones we will hit to get into the city (and from Turramurra), for 3 months.   No parking fees, but like London, the parking spaces are getting more scarce.  Parking garages with short booms come in handy. Scooters/bikes can legally weave in a n out of traffic here, when safe, so that helps a lot.  My BIL in Turramurra has a old clapped out scooter he takes to the train station and leaves there for the day.  He likes to read on the train.  I want to say people are not as bike aware as they are in London.  There are definitely less two wheelers here.  Common sense always prevails and trying to make yourself as visible as possible with a cheap hi viz jacket over the top of your gear will always be a good idea. This is roughly his commute, takes about 30mins.  https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/Annette+Pl,+Belrose+NSW+2085/300+George+St,+Sydney+NSW+2000/@-33.8048377,151.1391345,12z/data=!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x6b12a9efa030853f:0x50b970d64c5892fc!2m2!1d151.2192442!2d-33.7396498!1m5!1m1!1s0x6b12ae41aaea3ad3:0x8879b39fedfb9c73!2m2!1d151.207441!2d-33.8656718!3e0!5i1

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pilotg2

Haha that is great going with that load (could be a London record), a bike in London is a must.  Small world.  I commuted from Tooting Bec and then Carshalton with my wife pillion, she has had a few goodies to carry in that time.  Apparently her most enjoyable was a large computer tower she had to hold/rest on her legs leaving her to "hold on" with her feet.

 

Thanks for the info, your location sounds like bliss to me.  We've been in Perth for a year but miss the buzz and feel of London and after visiting Sydney in Jan this year are looking at possibly moving over.  There are very few bikes on the road here and i don't think cars drivers appreciate them.  30min is a great balanced commute, I'm aiming for that but the trouble is compared to Perth, property in Sydney is through the roof and you get pushed further away from the CBD in search of a house with a garage - i like to tinker so a garage is a must and a garden for the kids.  Here near the very good government schools you can buy a 4 bed with a pool for $750k easily. We looking at near double that for a starter house in the good areas of Upper North shore, where you are, Pymble, Gordon, etc up and down the railway line.  We want to be in a good area with the kids starting school in 2018 so we have a little time on our side, but not much.  Are there any gems we missing?  I think i need to widen my search to make this happen.

 

As you've also gone the long way round and now back in the southern hemisphere, can i ask how do you find Sydney compared to London, is there anything you majorly miss?  On the whole we really loved Surrey, Box Hill and beyond, the natural beauty, the people, etc and looking to replicate that - am i far off in those Sydney areas?

Edited by pilotg2

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rozellem

Although the Sydney property market have calmed a bit, its still quite heady compared to most cities in the world.  I cant remember when last I heard of a house under 1Mill around here.  My area was built in the 60/70's and the houses are ugly by South African standards.  I think my eye had to get used to it.  I grew up in a house built in 1969, so it doesnt bother me.  I do have a chuckle when South Africans tell me they live in old houses, and it turns out to be 10-15 years old.  Around here the original owners are now all in their 80's and moving on (so to speak).  The local population has really changed in the last 5 years, from oldies, to mostly young families wanting a back yard and the type of childhood they had (biking in the streets with the neighbourhood kids, playing in the cricket nets, the beach and nippers, etc.).  My kids (4 and 6) have spent today (11am to 4pm+, on this school holiday Tue) building an elaborate den/fort on the front lawn.  They have collected fire wood for a pretend camp fire to heat the toy dogs living inside it, biked, scooter-ed, raided the cupboards for apples and raisins (dog-food apparently) and ran around the oval behind our house.  All while I work inside the house and occasionally glance up. 

 

Sydney is very pretty and surprisingly green.  But, because of its relatively young age, it cant match London in some aspects.  In London we lived in Chelsea, Fulham and then in Muswell Hill for long time.  When we moved over, we went to live in Balmain and it reminded us of Muswell Hill a lot.  It has houses with 1880 and the like on their gables, so pretty old.  It was an almost seamless transition from London to that area.  The move out to the suburbs were visibly more of a departure.  It took me a while to get the hang of it, to not have a visible high street as such.  I had to learn that in the burbs, life/action/activity/hustle/bustle is not always done out in the open.  So, if you dont see a 100 women walking with kids in prams, it doesnt mean there are no other women and kids around.  You just have to find out where they go.   We dont miss the UK at all, we were ready to move on.  I miss a selected few spots in Europe for a brief couple of weeks in their summer, but its not a deal breaker.  

 

You have to ask @elleneo to share some wisdom, as she has recently researched buying a house on the North Shore train line (Turramurra/Thornleigh commuting to Chatswood area).

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pilotg2

It's the same here in Perth, alot of the Brits that come over want a new house in the newer suburbs - we prefer the bigger plots which generally come with an older house.  You could still be a little picky here.  If an opportunity arises to move we will hopefully be able to snap up something that is habitable but requires a major update.  My old place was built in 1881, it was tiny and still had its 4 original fire places charm.

 

I noticed the rich green looking at houses and thought they can't all be doctored photos - i see it rains twice as much as London but Sydney has 50% more sunny days.  I love the green.  Shame it can't just rain at night haha.

 

Your burbs comment is insightful and spot on in relation to what we have also experienced in Perth.

 

Thanks i'll PM elleneo.

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elleneo

Thanks Rozelle I'm back with exciting news..we ended up buying in Thronleigh. After 6 months and 4 auctions we are finally homeowners. We found thornleigh to be great value, the house is 1.2km from Normanhurst station ( hubby walks 1.5 to Pymble where we are now) and 450 m from Normanhurst west public school which is an excellent, small school.

 

Our main criteria was walk to station so that the commute remains easy,we don't need to buy an extra car and our daughter can go to Chatswood for high school if we so choose, commuting with hubby every morning.

 

our first choice was Normanhurst but houses don't come up for sale there often for some reason,so buying in neighbouring thornleigh was the obvious choice. Thornleigh is known as pleasantville by its locals and the leafy north shore without the snobbery lol (that will change when I move there?)

 

.The entire northshore has many excellent public and private schools to choose from, so make your priority list and go from there.get ready to lower your expectations and compromise.....when you done doing that get ready to compromise some more....we wanted a pool but couldn't find walk to station with a pool, who 3 bedrooms in our price range.

Pymble currently has a median of $2 mil so it's not exactly first home buyer territory, cast your net wider or further up the train line like Hornsby,Asquith,Normanhurst,Thornleigh and you can find some "bargains" . Get ready to pay 1 mil plus for a 3 bed ( although some bargains around the 950-1mil mark can be picked up....they are priced like that for a reason though,,,the one house we looked at was 950-1050 and it was directly across the road from the sewage farm in Hornsby....nicely renovated ....nice big land...but opposite the poo farm....

 

We understand the adjusting of price expectation as we were ready to buy in Melbourne 4 years ago but needs to double the budget to find something in Sydney. It's demotivating and competition is still fierce. Sellers are not getting the crazy prices of last year but you still have plenty of "entry level " buyers wanting the same house as you with the same budget as you.

 

enjoy the househunting , I loved it, but after almost 6 months I'm really glad to have my weekends back to braai instead of driving from house to house for open homes. And watch for pesky agents,,I can recommend Ray White Thornleigh,mcgrath Hornsby, but I'd give Soams a wide birth...

Edited by elleneo

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elleneo

Oh ..and we looked at Berowra buy they don't have cable or nbn yet...but that was a personal must have. Berowra is going through a revival and there are some beautiful houses there...when you get here check out mount kuringai and mount colah...but be warned..in some parts teeth are optional lol

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