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Sydney suburbs with good public (primary) schools


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Hello,

 

I'm new to the board and have been lurking for some time now, reading threads etc, as we prepare for a move to Sydney next year. I've found the threads very helpful and also eye-opening. We now have an imminent LSD trip and are hoping to check out some neighbourhoods and if possible, some public schools (is that even a done thing?) for our kids who are 4 and 6. 

 

My wife and I have looked at maps, RealEstate.com.au, Google Maps (for transit time) and Better Education to try to work out areas where we might consider moving to given the price, commute time  to the city (ideally not more than 30/40 minutes) and school's reputation. Ideally, we'd also want something that's green and pretty, or at least neighbourly (?) and walkable. We're not opposed to living in an apartment but are skeptical of sharing a bathroom with the kids. :P In Johannesburg, we've lived in Parkhurst, Rosebank and Norwood, and would have moved to Greenside if we'd stayed longer, if that gives you any indication of the type of areas we've gravitated towards in the past. All of these are green, with family friendly vibes and decent entertainment options nearby.

 

We've sort of narrowed it down to the following: Woollahra, Northbridge, Randwick, Balmain, Leichhardt, Neutral Bay, Greenwich, Cammeray, Roseville, Lindfield, and Killara.

 

My impression is that Woollahra and Northbridge might be very pricey and posh. Balmain looks a bit gritty even though people seem to have a lot of nice things to say about it. I was told Leichhardt is deeply Italian and that it might be difficult to integrate into. I've read some good things about the Neutral Bay school but the area seems very built up. Greenwich and Cammeray both look nice but pricey. Roseville, Lindfield and Killara seem lovely and green but the commute time seems to be pushing our limits. I've read that these areas can also be quite boring and perhaps too suburban.

 

Is anyone familiar with these areas and these schools, and can you offer any advice?

 

Regards,

 

 

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Riekie

Hi there,

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

You can't really judge a suburb by it's looks in Australia - especially not from images on the internet.  Many of those gritty ones are prime position and almost unaffordable. It's all about location location location and not so much about the way it looks.  The closer you are to the city and water, the more expensive (and older - often "gritty") it gets.  Suburbia is where you'll get the kind of homes South Africans are used to and would probably go for.  Generally about 30km from the CBD (up to 90mins in traffic on a bad day...) It's a whole different culture. Inner city and especially Inner West has a very arty farty cafe culture.

 

Schools in Australia are good, pretty much almost wherever you live with a few exceptions mostly located to the South West of Sydney (and mostly due to the socio-economic situation and demographics of those suburbs). 

 

First decide what your budget is.

Then, what your needs are (2 bedroom or 3 bedroom, garage or not, garden or not, close to work etc) 

Then, look for schools & homes in that area.

 

 

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SimpleSimon

All those areas you’ve listed are very pricey. I wouldn’t start there, you’ll be burning money for not much gain.

 

I suggest Carlingford, West Pennant Hills, Cherrybrook. Reason is that a 4 bedroom 2 bathroom house in Killara rent is $1500 per week while a 5 bedroom 3 bathroom house + pool in Carlingford is $720 per week.

 

I grew up in Emmarentia so I understand what you’re used to. All areas listed are very safe, walkable and neighbourly. 

 

In in terms of commute, it’s part and passable of a successful buzzing city. I do work on the train on a laptop. You get used to it.

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@SimpleSimon raises a good point. Killara  is really expensive. So the maths... your rent should be 1/3rd of your combined take home salary. $1500 * 4 * 12 * 3 = $ 216 000. That means you and your partner  have to have top paying jobs. Each of you would need to earn over $150 000 per year (excluding super fund payments). If both you and your partner were Charted Accountants... you probably would not earn enough. Charted Accountants earn $90 000 to $130 000 per year.  The kind of people who live in Kilara / Lindfield are surgeons, executives, senior managers, etc..  There is also a lot of old money... e.g. your parents passed away and left you a $2 million house.

 

@SimpleSimon is also correct suggesting you move further out. But I would go further out, e.g. Quakers Hill. You need to think about your retirement!   Go and do the numbers on the "Money Smart" site  ->  https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/retirement-planner  and its scary. Your Rands you saved up for your pension won't go far here. So, you need to be realistic about the suburb you choose. For example, find a suburb where you could afford to buy one day. Many people in Sydney don't own there property... so if you fall into that boat  make sure you can afford to put in extra super fund payments each month. Learn how to invest in shares, etc.. Also, traveling back to South Africa  with kids is not cheap. 

 

For example, myself and my wife moved out her 5 years ago. We would need to work till we are 70, contribute extra into my super fund and somehow afford to buy our home  (which we don't own now) in order to retire 'comfortably'. 

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Riekie

Monsta pretty much hit the nail on the head.  Sydney is not cheap and you'll have to drop your standards quite a bit.  Aussies don't have the "keeping up with the Jones'" mentality.  A house is a home and a roof over your head.  A car is a vehicle to get you from A to B.  Live where you can afford and where you could still experience work-life balance.  After 12 years in suburbia we now live in the city - it's literally worlds apart in so many ways! Each have their pro's and cons and it's really about our needs and what's practical.

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Thanks for the responses @Riekie, @monsta, @SimpleSimon. I guess it comes down to a lifestyle choice? I took a look at some of those places on maps/property sites and the commute times seem really taxing - an hour or more on public transport or in traffic each way. I know people do it, even here in Johannesburg, but I've never had to commute more than 30 minutes and I'm not sure if I'd be happy to do it. If it comes down to a choice between more living space or more free time, I think I'd lean towards more free time. Then again, you never know until you experience it. We're going to see if we can take public transport to some of those areas (St Ives,  Carlingford, Baulkam Hills) to see what they're like and whether it really feels very long while we're in it. 

 

 

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Riekie

Our commute from suburbia (The Hills, Northwest of Sydney) was anything between 1 hour to 90 minutes each way each day - that's 3 hours on average every single day that you're sitting in traffic.  Public transport would get us there about 15 minutes quicker but 99% of the time, it was standing room only.  Unfortunately Sydney's transport infrastructure did not keep up with suburbian growth and it would take us a bus and two trains to get to work - rushing from bus stop to platform through masses of people all vying for the same spot.  Not my thing...

 

About 18 months ago we sold our family home and moved to the Inner West - gritty Balmain B) and we absolutely LOVE it!  Yes, we now live in a very expensive, very small apartment and we do not have a backyard but we're 100m from the bay run, massive parks - all with gorgeous water views - and walking distance from cafe's, pubs, restaurants, markets, shows, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Opera House, Harbour Bridge, galleries, museums and most of all, only 10 minutes from work! (I often walk home from work - takes me about 1 hour and covers off exercise for the day at the same time) We've given up a lot of space and other things that come with living in suburbia but we now have at least 2 extra hours a day adding up to 498 hours over a year (21 extra days we can spend doing nice stuff instead).

 

Suburbia certainly served its purpose very well for 12 years, but we have a much better quality life where we are at the moment.

 

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SimpleSimon

The other thing to consider is where your work is likely to be - what do you and your wife do. A lot of businesses are located outside the CBD.

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Riekie

Agree - always a good point to start. 

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Hi, I think its really difficult to make a recommendation  unless we know what sort of budget you working with. I had a friend who bought a place in St Ives near the school he wanted his children to go , I had no idea he was that wealthy because I had also initially suggested cheaper areas to him. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

@SamParker  You have to start by realising that Sydney's transport system is very broken. A mate of mine once said.

 

" Anyone who puts the CBD right next to the ocean, far from the centre of the city is asking for traffic. Then consider there is a harbour that cuts the city nearly in half... a massive national park to the south."

 

What he was trying to say is the geography really isn't on Sydney's side. There are even some people who argue that politicians get lots of donations from property developers and the own a lot of property themselves. Both are true... but is that why they are slow to act on building infrastructure that could push down property prices? who knows. 

 

Its my experience that the labour governments sit on their hands and plan infrastructure that doesn't get built. The coalition governments build the big necessary projects... but already super expensive projects just have huge cost blow outs. 

 

But with the coalition at least things happen... lookup the projects like the Sydney Metro, Westconnex, Northconnex, etc...   http://www.mysydney.nsw.gov.au. There are even major planned projects like the Northern Beaches Link ->  http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/sydney-north/western-harbour-tunnel-beaches-link/index.html.  But it does end up in massive tolls..  To Travel the M2 motor way into work... (Quakers Hill to deli road) is $10.84 each way!  The average take home in New South Wales is +- $5000. If you live in quakers hill and work in chatswood, $433 of that goes to tolls!

 

This is why we tell peeps on the forum to pick their suburb wisely. Few locals would drive from Quakers Hill to Chatswood each day for a $4000pm take home pay job,  the tolls are $10.84 each way!  

 

Look on seek.com.au to find out where the jobs in your industry are. Find an example rental on realestate.com.au in your chosen suburb. Use google maps to see how long it would take you to get to work by car and by public transport. Then calculate the cost 

http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/sydney-motorways/toll-calculator/  (for cars)  or put in your start and finish destinations using the trip planner on https://transportnsw.info  and you will see the cost.

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Thanks @monsta ; Great advice - we definitely had not considered the cost implications of the tolls or public transport commute relative to our salaries.  

 

We're off on our LSD on Friday this week, the 27th Oct - we're so excited! I've scheduled some interviews with prospective employers and we've contacted some schools to do tours (where they were willing). We're also going to do some admin (collect our bank cards, try to convert drivers licenses, etc.) so that we're all raring to go when we arrive at the beginning of Jan.

 

With the advice from this forum in mind, we're going to explore some of the North Shore schools and some of the eastern suburbs. I absolutely want to avoid a long commute to work and these areas should be relatively close to all the Telecoms companies I am applying to. As long as the schools are good, we don't mind the city living.

 

Thanks for all the advice from this forum. Hopefully, we return to SA at the beginning of November even more excited about our final journey.  

Sam

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@SamParkerOptus have a lovely campus in Macquarie Park. But don't be fooled. Macquarie park is one of the worst traffic hot-spots in all of Sydney. A mate of mine works in Macquarie park... he no longer has parking at work and has to work from home 2 days a week.  

 

They are also planning on shutting down the trains for 6 months  due to the new Metro train they are installing. Great when the new trains start operating... hell while they shut down the trains. 50% of the people who commute to Macquarie park do it by train. Also, there is construction on the M2 due to Northconnex. And they are building >3000 apartments in Macquarie Park   (Ryde Gardens, Lachlan's Line,  Macquarie Park Villiage)

 

A word of wisdom, go onto google and specify the time of day you want to drive to work and home. Your journey time will double or triple. 

 

Also, anywhere near Sydney's 2nd biggest CBD  (i.e. Macquarie park) is going to be really, really expensive. Experts are saying that owning a house anywhere near work is going to be a huge luxury in coming years  (apartment living will be the norm).

 

Look, there isn't much you can do about it.. just be ready for it  :(

 

Cheers

Paul

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Good public primary schools ( that I know of ). Normanhurst west public school, Pymble public, st ives north Primary...

 

Killara is known for its excellent public high school.

 

have you considered Catholic primary schools? Good value schools with a high academic standard. 

 

As as far as suburb/commute goes...Sounds like apartment may be the way to go if you want to be close to the cbd, in good school catchment...although I don't know what your budget is..

 

Hubby commuted by train to Chatswood from Thornleigh and with the 1 km walk to station it's 45 minutes door to door...

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  • 1 month later...

Hi @SamParker, I am wondering how your LSD trip went.

We seem to have very similar requirements, so I would be interest to hear your conclusions on suburbs post your trip?

 

Edited by CTtoAus
Pressed enter too quickly.
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Hi @CTtoAus

 

Hi had a successful LSD in November and I'm actually back in Sydney for a second round of interviews (without the family this time). Every family has very different preferences but ours focused on a short commute home from the CBD (where my current interviews are), proximity to the beach and catchment in a top rated public school.

 

Conclusions:

1) We affirmed that the commute from the northern suburbs won't work for us. I have very low tolerance for long commutes and neither road traffic nor the train ride was ideal for me. We also realised that there so many family-focused events hosted by the city we would miss out on if the commute was 30 - 40 minutes. Similarly, a short bus ride or walk to the beach would mean the world to us. 

 

2) Public schools are fine for us. My son currently goes to Pridwin in Jhb, which has multiple cricket/ rugby fields and unfortunately public schools in the city were small and had with very few facilities. That being said the quality of the education in the city schools are phenomenal as some of them are as good as the private schools. Our thinking is that we could supplement the school with extra curriculas that we could organise ourselves. We used the school rankings as a primary filter, with a combination of distance to the CBD and beach and we concluded that (the cheaper parts of) the Eastern Suburbs are ideal for us. We narrowed down our selection to Bondi Junction, Paddington, Woollahra, Edgecliff. As an outside option, we also are looking at Balmain.

 

3) These areas are still ridiculously expensive. So currently our searches are focused on tiny townhouses, ideally around 2 bedrooms. Tbh, having a tiny place helps with the transition - no maid/ gardener makes a small place more manageable. Also, we think that a small place with young kids will make us want to head out of the house and live a more outdoorsy lifestyle. There are so many open spaces in the city which makes having a small place so much easier. 

 

Overall, while many of my friends have chosen to live in the North Suburbs, we are going to end up having a smaller living space whilst also having to pay more rent. This will give us the short commute to the city, proximity to the beach and catchment in a top public school. And we're happy with this balance. So, if nothing else, the LSD gave us some direction on this.

 

I return to South Africa on Friday and I am in Cape Town on vacation at my folks' place, from Thursday (14th Dec '17). Drop me a PM if you want to grab a quick coffee in Rondebosch/ Claremont or surrounds (we are leaving SA permanently on the 30th Dec).


I hope this helps 

 

Sam 

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  • 4 months later...
rozellem

@SamParker  just curious, did you get the job?  Did your family make the move over to Sydney in the end?  Where did you end up renting?  We have been in Sydney for 9 years (Balmain/Drummoyne first, now Belrose), so its always interesting to hear other people"s take on it.  We love it here. 

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SamParker

Hi Rozelle, 

 

Yeah got news on the job just after I arrived back. It was a huge relief to arrive in Sydney with a job in the bag. I started around the middle of Jan based in the CBD. 

 

We ended up staying in Edgecliff. The biggest positive is the commute to the city - under 15 min via the train. The location to some of the Eastern Suburbs beaches and Centennial Park is also a massive boon - we can take the kids for an afternoon out, just after school even. We got my son into Woollahra public, a very highly rated school. 

 

The rental in the area is a little pricey though - which is one of the biggest negatives. Also, when we visit the inner west, north and other neighborhoods, we do have a little buyers remorse. Some of these neighborhoods have a very homely feel. We are considering making the change at the end of the year before my daughter starts Kindy. The only other thing is that my son has a had a tough time in Year 1 adjusting to Oz culture. He is a very soft, shy kid, and hasn't really grooved with the boisterous Australian boys yet. It's better now, but still worried about things like bullying. 

Overall, it's been a good shift over, but certainly been a lot harder than what we anticipated. In particular, we miss our friends and have been finding it very difficult to make friends quickly. But these things take time. and it's only been around 16 weeks. The life of an immigrant. *sigh*

Sameer 

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rozellem

∆ Yip, no such thing as a "chicken run" or the "easy way out". Both concepts made up by  people who have not done it. The easy way would have been to stay right where you were. 

Not everybody gets their perfect destination spot on, first time. Many make a move (even a tiny one), in the first year. Dont worry about boisterous boy, there are all sorts of kids here. I have two boys, 6&8, and they are chalk n cheese. Controversially, (and I have been in trouble for this on here) I would never recommended people make their initial move to the Eastern suburbs. Dont get me wrong, I kove it there. My opinion, but I think you should only consider if you have lots of money to eventually buy there and you are used to high density living. If you are Jewish and have ties to the community there, it would also be a good fit. 

Hope you find your perfect suburb soon. 

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  • 1 month later...

Hey mate, just read this post. I'm in woollahra. If you interested in meeting up (work permitting) you can contact me. 

 

I made the mistake of moving east and I love it which is a problem because I can't afford to buy here. Eek.

 

Cheers

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