How to live like a local in Sydney
Located right on the water, Sydney combines food, nature, fun weekend trips, and intense English immersion into one incredibly seductive package. Living and studying in Sydney is an experience like no other. Want to live like the locals do? Here are our top tips for living the Sydneysider lifestyle.
1. Choose your favorite beach
The first rule of Sydney beach living: Don’t get stuck at Bondi Beach. In Sydney, you’ll be truly spoiled for choice when it comes to sun, sand, and surf. The fun part is trying a few until you find the one that suits your beach style.
Our favorite picks? Get the ferry from Circular Quay across the harbor to the beautiful two-kilometer long Manly Beach, great for swimmers and surfers. From there, you can take a short walk to Shelly Beach, another Sydney favorite, where snorkelers gather. For quieter family swimming, an enclosed rock pool, and coin-operated barbecues (yes, they really exist!) head to Bronte Beach. Nielsen Park is another relaxed option for swimmers not looking for large surfing waves. The park’s walking trails, historical buildings, and shady picnic corners also make it an attractive spot for day trips.
2. Explore New South Wales
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the state! Close to Sydney, the Blue Mountains call to outdoorsy types. Famous for the Three Sisters rock formation, the Blue Mountains are full of rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking adventures.
Like wine? Your ideal weekend away is in the Hunter Valley, where vineyards, green hills, incredible food, and artesanal everything are waiting. New South Wales even has options for travelers looking to explore the outback (Broken Hill, Lightning Ridge, Mildura) and play in the snow (Jindabyne, Thredbo, Perisher Valley).
3. Master the slang
Australians love to abbreviate their words wherever possible. While amusing, it can take some getting used to. A few terms you’ll definitely hear in Oz are muso (musician), garbo (garbage collector), postie (postman/woman), journo (journalist), pollie (politician), coldie (cold beer), bikkie (biscuit/cookie), brekkie (breakfast), veggo (vegetarian), cuppa (cup of tea), avo (avocado), chook (chicken), snag (sausage), cab sav (cabernet sauvignon), arvo (afternoon), trackies (tracksuit pants), and uey (U-turn) amongst many more. Who knows, your own name may even get shortened. So, “get amongst it” (as your new Sydney friends will say) and give Aussie slang a shot.
4. Live life caffeinated
It’s no secret that Aussies like their coffee. Australian-style coffee shops are popping up around the world. But, when in Oz, a simple “I’d like a cup of coffee,” isn’t going to get you very far. If you love coffee, take your research seriously and taste test the menu before settling on your favorite brew. The flat white is Australia’s signature coffee style, though don’t leave without sampling a long black, short black, long mac, or short mac. Confused? No worries. Aussie baristas know their stuff and will be happy to help you find the right drink.
5. Eat, eat, eat!
Australia is the only country that eats both its national animals – the kangaroo and the emu – so carnivores can try those. Besides traditional indigenous foods, Sydney is a hive of activity on the international food front. For Spanish and Latin American food, head to Liverpool Street; for Italian, make a beeline for Leichhardt; for Vietnamese, Marrickville or John Street in Cabramatta are your spots; Lastly, Korean, Japanese, and Mongolian feasts can be found in Chinatown.
Weekend brunch is almost a national sport in Australia, with friends meeting in cafés for late-morning and early-afternoon feasts. Filled with fresh sourdough bread, avocado, eggs, pancakes, bacon, pastries, fruit (and of course, coffee!) a Sydney brunch will keep your engines going all day.
6. Cheer for the Blues
Another popular sport – second to brunch, of course – is Rugby League. The annual State of Origin championship matches the New South Wales Blues (also known as the “Cockroaches”) against the Queensland Maroons (also known as the “Cane Toads”) in a best-of-three match series. Living in Sydney? Congratulations: You’re an automatic Blues fan! Celebrate your new-found community by watching the game at a pub or throwing an Origin-themed barbecue—dressed in blue, of course!
Beaches, brunches, and the Blues – life in Sydney sounds pretty good, right? We won’t lie, life in Sydney IS pretty good.