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Sydney: Migration Visas and Housing

Thinking about moving to Sydney? Let us give you some relevant information. InterNations gives you a brief overview of what to keep in mind for your move: visa requirements, housing, popular neighborhoods, and more.
Real estate in Sydney's eastern suburbs is popular ... and expensive.

General Skilled Migration

The other main visa category, General Skilled Migration, used to be for people moving to Sydney in order to seek employment there. The Skilled (Migrant) Independent Visa required them to pass a points-based test and to undergo an official skills assessment.

At one time, only people with skills and qualifications needed for a job on the Skilled Occupations List were eligible. If you did not reach the required number of points for a permanent Australian visa, you had the opportunity to seek sponsorship from a relative in Sydney or from the State Government of New South Wales. Unfortunately, this is not an option for expatriates anymore.

The Australian government introduced a new Skilled Migration Program in July 2012. At the moment, if you would like to move to Sydney as a skilled worker, business person, or investor, you will need to enter your personal information into the official SkillSelect database. The Australian government uses SkillSelect to manage its skilled migration program by aiding regional skill shortages.

People who are interested in moving to Sydney can be considered for a skilled migration visa by submitting an EOI, an expression of interest, through SkillSelect. Afterwards, these applicants are placed in a pool, and some of them are nominated by an Australian employer or state government. Typically, applicants only get selected if they have a high number of points. When a certain quota is reached for a field of employment, the Australian government will place a cap on the invitations.

Finding Accommodation

Finding accommodation in Sydney works like in most other big cities around the world. When you first arrive, you might need to stay in a hostel, hotel, or furnished short-term accommodation, depending on your circumstances. There are a number of websites to help you find temporary accommodation while you are looking for your new home.

Commercial websites offer a selection of apartments for the luxury executive lifestyle. If you come to Sydney with your family and need a cheaper option, try sites such as Stayz. For a general overview of hotels and hostels in Sydney, the Sydney City Life website is one of several good sources.

How to Rent or Buy a Home

Once you are in Sydney, the easiest way to find rental accommodation is to check the local newspapers or the websites of some estate agents. The White Pages for Sydney list the contact details of all estate agents offering local property. Once again, the Sydney City Life section on real estate is worth consulting for a list of Sydney suburbs and a search function for rental properties.

The next step is to arrange a viewing or attend an open house of the property in question. Most rentals in Sydney are unfurnished and don’t allow pets. You should also familiarize yourself with the neighborhood, the proximity to schools, public transport, etc. Once you have found the right place, fill in the application form and return it promptly (together with the required documentation): the property market in Sydney moves fast.

Signing the contract, both you and the agent or landlord should complete a condition report. In all likelihood, you need to make a security payment, to be deposited with the Residential Tenancies Bonds authority. It will be returned to you once your tenancy has ended, provided you don’t owe anything in rent or repairs.

Where to Live

The Sydney metropolitan area covers a vast area of over 12,000 square kilometers and is home to more than five million inhabitants. Expats settle in all parts of the metro area, but they often live in the more expensive suburbs closest to the city center. Generally speaking, Sydney is divided into four main regions.

North and South

North Sydney includes some wealthy and prestigious suburbs. If you are willing to part with a good deal of money, you can find high quality accommodation in an area with many private schools and low crime rates, particularly by the beach. Accommodation close to the center is in apartments and terraced houses; single family homes are found in the outer suburbs. People in these neighborhoods often buy rather than rent.

Southern Sydney's suburbs are far from downtown, but they often have good rail links to the city center. Their strong points are affordable housing and the close proximity to the countryside with its beaches and national parks. The further west you go, however, the less desirable the suburbs become.

East and West

East Sydney is popular with young professionals, singles or couples. Rental accommodation and shared homes are more common than in the rest of Sydney. Real estate prices are very high. However, the city center is easy to reach, and there are good state schools as well as private schools around.

West Sydney covers a large area; a few prestigious suburbs are interspersed with less sought-after neighborhoods. Accommodation is often cheaper than elsewhere, but crime rates may also be higher and access to private schools is limited. Inner West Sydney is where most of the university campuses are located; the student population thus dominates some areas. It also boasts a number of reputable state and private schools.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Serhat Ahmed

"Without experience of having lived abroad, I thought it would be hard to get to know other expats. But not with InterNations."

Lotta Koskinen

"When I first attended the Sydney Bar night I was really nervous. But everyone welcomed me and I quickly felt as part of the community."

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