Explore like a local
An Insider’s Guide to Moving in Syndey
This Sydney relocation guide is designed with the intention of helping prospective residents in Sydney and expats to settle into Sydney. This guide explores all the practical issues that you may face when moving to Sydney, answering questions that many have asked before.
In this chapter, we provide useful tips for navigating the potential perils of public transport in Sydney. Traversing Sydney may at first be confusing to the uninitiated, but this guide ensures that travelling around this Australian city when you first arrive isn’t intimidating.
The guide includes actionable insights and direct links to official websites that can help you make travelling around Sydney simple.
Travelling like a Local
You’ve arrived in your new home in Sydney. You’ve unpacked and you need to get out and about. At first, traversing Sydney may seem confusing but the transport networks here are some of the best in the world. Choose to travel by rental car, in a taxi, by train or by bus. The infrastructure is in place to get you from A to B in no time and with minimum stress.
Regardless of which district you choose to live in, you will have the freedom to choose which mode of public transport you use. The train system or even the ferries may well become your best friends in Sydney while buses are abundant and relatively low-cost ways to get around too.
2.1 By Rail
Sydney’s train system will connect you into the city and way beyond, to the adjoining neighbourhoods and regions on the outskirts of the city too. It’s this system that will most benefit you if you choose to live outside of Sydney and commute into the city from a quieter region. Train stations in the city you’ll most likely frequent are Central, Museum, St James, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Kings Cross. These central stations then link up with the suburbs and beaches. Trains run until 4am with 24 hour ticket vending machines.
2.2: By Bus
The bus system in Sydney can boast a very large network of routes and this is perhaps the cheapest way to see the city and move from A to B across Sydney. It’s also the perfect way to cool down, as most buses can boast an impressive aircon system. Remember to buy a ticket or top up you card before getting on the bus at the system is prepaid.
A number of companies operate bus tours of Sydney, which serve as a perfect introduction to this diverse city. Take in the sights and enjoy a blast of breeze as you ride top deck on one of the city’s Hop-On Hop-off sightseeing buses.
When you’re in a rush and the public transport system just won’t do, then a taxi can always be relied upon to get you to where you need to be. A comfortable way to travel through Sydney, taxis can be hailed pretty much anywhere. Fares are usually metered. Another option is of course, Uber, the taxi app which is operational in Sydney now too. Uber may well be an easier way for you to get around and communicate exactly where you need to be.
2.4: Car Hire
Finally, you can travel in a rental should you want to take the reigns yourself and step into the driver’s seat. Both pre-booked and walk up options are available to visitors in Sydney. If you have questions, call the car rental agency before you book your rental and check out the cheapest companies and deals on Kayak.
If you think you’re going to need it, ensure you have a sat nav system to guide you through the city and remember that you must always drive on the left hand side in Sydney.
Converting your Driving Licence
Your driving licence will be recognised in Sydney for three months. If you move to Sydney as a resident and are living here for longer than three months, you may well need to update your driving license to an NSW driving licence. Before visiting Sydney, check that your licence is up to date. If you want to convert your licence, you will need to jump through a few prerequisite hoops...
You’ll have to head to a service centre or registry and:
- Take your overseas licence with you
Note: In some circumstances or if you can’t provide your overseas licence, you may be requested to provide confirmation of your overseas licence details and status. A letter from the licence issuing authority (on their letterhead) or a relevant consulate or diplomatic office, (based on information received from the overseas licence issuing authority) confirming your licence details may be accepted. If the letter is not in English, you will need to provide the translation. You’ll be advised by a customer service representative if further confirmation of your overseas licence is required.
You may also need to:
- Provide proof of your identity
- Provide proof of your Australian permanent residency
- If you can’t provide this, you will be issued with a Temporary Overseas Visitor licence
- Complete the Licence Application form (PDF)
- Pass an eyesight test
- Pass a knowledge test for each class of licence you require, unless you are exempt
- Pass a driving or riding test for each class of licence you require, unless you are exempt
- Pay the relevant licence fee
Depending on the location you attend, your NSW licence card will either be handed over the counter or posted to you. If it’s posted, you’ll receive a temporary paper licence, to drive or ride with until your new card arrives.
You’ll also need to provide up to three of the following as proof of your residency:
- Australian full Birth Certificate showing parental details. Commemorative certificates are not acceptable (except for 1987 and 1988 NSW Historic Birth Certificates).
- Australian passport
- Certificate of Australian Citizenship
- Australian Naturalisation Document
- Certificate of Aboriginality
- Permanent Resident Evidence (PRE) ImmiCard - Issued before 1 July 2017
- Evidence of Immigration Status (EIS) ImmiCard (permanent residency status only)
- Current ID document from Australian Passport Office
- Current Australian Defence Force photo ID
- Overseas passport or travel document which includes a valid Australian permanent residency
Under prosecution of the law, it is illegal to drive a car in Sydney without insurance. When it comes to purchasing insurance, finding the right deal can be tiresome and time consuming. To ensure you secure the right deal:
- Don’t automatically choose the cheapest deal. A cheap deal may leave you exposed and not fully covered.
- Don’t pay for what you don’t need. Numerous insurance companies offer services that are unlikely to be used.
- Make sure you shop around before purchasing.
2.7: Opal Card
Your key to the city and its transport links is your Opal Card. This is a free ticket or smartcard that you can top up to travel across the city’s networks - from trains and buses to ferries and light rail. This even goes beyond the city as far as Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands and other areas around Sydney.
We are thesqua.re, a serviced apartments provider based in Sydney. We offer apartments to business travellers and people who are relocating to Sydney and require a permanent residence.
With our extensive experience in this industry, we have realised that many expats ask the same questions about how to get settled in the city.
For your convenience we have created this local’s guide to navigating the market before, during and after your move to Sydney.