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Lauren: Sydney Moving Guide

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Sydney makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Sydney, etc.

Hi, I’m Lauren Kicknosway and I’m a former Seattle-ite now loving life as a Sydney-sider, since 2008.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

When we moved to Sydney in 2008, I had a hard time finding info on moving to Sydney and what to expect when we arrived. Sure there were heaps of expat forums and expat guides but nothing really specific to Sydney. Most were very broad and usually out-of-date. We had never been to Sydney before and felt completely overwhelmed and on our own organizing such a large international relocation.

Sydney Moving Guide is exactly what I was looking for at the time of our move. My goal is to have all the information needed to organize a move to Sydney, find a job, an apartment, and to settle into life as a Sydney-sider in one place.

Since 2009 Sydney Moving Guide as grown so much I can hardly believe it. The best part is having expats who have used the site now writing articles, helping out others with their own experiences of being an expat in Sydney.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

  • My favourite blog entry is titled “Excuse me, Do you have a rubber?. It about how, even though English is spoken in American and Australia, there can still be misunderstandings especially when Australian slang is thrown in the mix.
  • My next favourite blog entry is “The Best Tip For Finding An Apartment In Sydney”. It’s one of my favs because that single tip has help out so many other people. It’s so simple and easy plus gives them an edge on the competition when looking for an apartment in Sydney.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Sydney differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

First off, the biggest difference between Seattle and Sydney has to be the number of days of sunshine. On average there are 240 days of sunshine in Sydney in comparison to 58 days of sunshine in Seattle. That difference alone has had the biggest effect on my life in Sydney.

For one, I’m way more active outdoors now. Not just running or bushwalking around the city but in a more daily ingrained way.

For example, I now walk to work instead of taking the train. Sure I have to get up earlier but walking through the city in the morning is magic. Plus I always stop by my favourite cafe on the way. It’s just the best way to start your day.

In the beginning it was hard to be so far away from friends and family especially because I didn’t know anyone in Sydney. Then I realized that I needed to be proactive and seek out new friends. Not an easy thing to do but, as I found out, not hard either.

There are heaps of expat groups and other social groups in Sydney. The American Expat Group in Sydney was a perfect fit. I remember that first meet up and how nervous I was walking into the pub by myself. Then within minutes I had already met a few people and started chatting.

What was interesting to me was no one asked “So, what do you do?”. There were so many other things to talk about!

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Sydney? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Wow. I would be very surprised if anyone is full prepared when they move to Sydney. I felt especially unprepared because I had never been to Sydney, or Australia, before.

One decision I would change was staying in a hotel for only two weeks. That meant I had two weeks to get to know the city, decide where in the city I wanted to live and find an apartment. It was crazy. If I had to do it again I would definitely book a short term rental for one month at least. It would make things far less stressful.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

It felt like years before the shipping company finally called saying that customs was done going through my boxes and they could now deliver them.

Right on time, there was a knock at the door from a young Polynesian man in uniform ready to deliver all our boxes. After I told him what room to put all the boxes, he left to get started on the delivery.

It must have been just a few minutes before he was back with a hand truck full of boxes. Quickly he drops them all off then left to get another load.

Then, in just minutes he appeared again with another full load of boxes that he dropped off and quickly made his exit.

Then it happened again. Bang, in and out, within minutes then back again. Each time he seemed faster and faster.

I couldn’t believe it. He had to be the world’s fastest moving man.

In about 30 minutes, he had single handedly delivered our whole shipment. I was stunned.

With the last load of boxes he asked if I could follow him down stairs to sign the paperwork.

I followed him down to the moving truck where his identical twin brother, in the same uniform, was waiting with my paperwork. I just busted up laughing.

They had totally fooled me.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Sydney?

  • Don’t renew your driver’s license if you don’t have to. If you do, get a copy of your driving record. I thought I was being good and renewed my license before I moved so that it wouldn’t expire when I was in Sydney. The problem with that is the RTA wants proof that you’ve been driving for over three years or they will give you a provisional license. I now have a P2 plate and have to take a test to get a normal license even though I’ve been driving since I was 16. Crazy.
  • Remember your moving overseas not down the street. Don’t ship things that can easily be replaced. When my shipment finally arrived, I couldn’t believe all the stuff I packed like tin foil and Tupperware containers. Things I had already replaced while in Sydney. Oh, and Ikea bookcases that didn’t even last a whole year in Sydney after being shipped. They ended up just taking up precious space in my shipment.
  • If at all possible, avoid moving during the holiday season, Christmas and New Year’s. Moving at this time will make your life so much harder. It’s more difficult to find an apartment during the holiday season and, as far as finding a job, most companies don’t hiring at this time.

How is the expat community in Sydney? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Sydney is a great city to be an expat in. It’s so culturally diverse because of the large number of expats living in Sydney.

The only hard part is making that first move to actually go to an expat meet up but once you get over that it’s easy sailing.

Now I have friends from all over the world: Brazil, Italy, German, UK, France, Switzerland, America and, of course, Australia.

A lot of Australian’s have been expats and understand adjusting to life abroad. Many of them are more than willing to help you out.

I can’t imagine a better country to be an expat in.

How would you summarize your expat life in Sydney in a single, catchy sentence?

Never a dull moment as a Sydney-sider.

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."

Global Expat Guide