Sydney Australia vs. America, many differences?

Relocation dream du jour: Move to Sydney.
Went huntin around on some international job sites, found what could be a really good job in Sydney. Thing is, I’m a born and raised American who’s only real impression of Australia has been the croc chasers on the discovery channel, the Olympics, and those stupid Foster’s comercials.
So what’s it really like? Is the day to day life/culture much different?
I spent a very brief time in the UK and Ireland a few years ago. Few obvious differences: Less time in front of the TV, more time at the pubs, much less of a “car culture”, people tended to be more fashion conscious (in and about London mostly), etc.
What’s it like in Sydney? Would it be much of a culture shock to a guy who was born and raised in the Boston area?
Help the ugly American.

Well as there are no crocs in Sydney, the Olympics are over and Fosters isn’t commonly drunk by the locals, that sort of shoots down most of your preconceptions :slight_smile:

I guess if you want to drink Bud Light, play ice hockey and watch decent basketball live you might struggle.

Sydney is Sydney, it’s big enough and diverse enough to stand by itself. Comparisons are essentially futile.

Why not come over with an open mind? Judge for yourself. You might not want to go back!

If you’re at a loose end when you’re over here assessing the job (presuming you’re getting a free flight) drop me a note and we’ll see what we can do. :wink:

In many ways, Sydney stands between the cultures of the UK and USA, overseas TV shows are pretty evenly split between them, there are British Pubs along side American style bars (although for pub culture, Melbourne in probably the place to be). Restaurants are plenty, with much variety, but don’t expect to see as good Asian food as in the UK, seafood and steaks are better though. Australian wine is excellent and cheap, local beer is ok, you can get imported brands at a premium. Nightclubs follow the UK style; other venues (such as comedy and theatre) are so-so. The climate is good if you like warm weather, gets a bit chilly in mid winter (about 10C).

With the Aussie dollar at is current lows against the US dollar and British pound, the cost of living is low, (air tickets are pricey though). Petrol is priced somewhere between the US price and the ludicrous UK price.

Women are pretty, plentiful and accessible (men also I’m told).

Sport is mainly football orientated (rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules), but the aussies are sport mad, so you should have no difficulties finding other sports if you wish.

The transport system is still in its infancy, Sydney could do with an underground system or something akin. Taxi’s are easier to find than UK or USA, and reasonably priced.

Good beaches north and south of the river, with excellent surfing. Snow skiing in winter (a few hours away), but poor standard of slopes compared to North America or Europe.

The locals are friendly, although they all like to have a dig at the pommes (limeys) and yanks (that’s you). They can be a bit full of themselves at times, but I guess that comes with being a new nation, and if I hear another chorus of ‘aussie, aussie, aussie’, I will throw myself off of that damn bridge. Crime (especially violent crime) like in the UK is a generally a lot lower than in the US.

International phone costs are reasonable, but probably not as cheap as over there, internet connection was a bit pricey, when I first came over, but is getting better.

Let us know if there is anything specific you need to know, or any help you need.

Obviously these are just the views of an Englishman in-situ.

I’ve never lived in Sydney, but I have been there. I was actually surprised at the similarities between the U.S. and Sydney…it was kind of a bizarro world version of an American city.
By similarities, I mean stuff like brand names, types of food, television shows, etc. Our first day there (jetlagged), we stayed at a friend’s house. The first thing I did was take a shower with Dial soap and Pert shampoo. Then I went downstairs for a cup of tea, a sandwich, and a flip through the television stations…where Roseanne’s talk show was airing.
Don’t get me wrong…Sydney is an incredibly unique, cultured, fascinating city that is wholly Australian. Living there, I’m sure you’ll have new experiences daily and challenges, too (while in Australia, I was always a little shy to speak with my American accent).
You won’t, however, feel completely at sea. There are enough anchors to familiar culture that you’ll probably feel very comfortable.

Won’t your water go down the toilet in the wrong direction? I don’t think I could stand that.

One more crack like that Uke and I’ll be bringing forth the boot.

And it’s not just Australia…

We went to Singapore a few years ago. “Oh goody, we’ll get to experience an authentic Asian culture,” I said.

Not so. Hell, it was just like being in America! Everyone spoke English, all signs were in English, all brand names were recognizable, etc. I mean, except for the fact that most of the people were of Asian ancestry, you would have thought you were in another large town in America.

Well, I’ve never been to Australia, but from what I’ve read there is one area where things are quite different from the US: censorship. I’ll leave it for those living in Australia to say how much of an affect this has on the availability of books, movies, videos, etc. For some in depth information on the censorship in Australia, try the following:

I’ve been to both countries so maybe a third party perspective might be helpful. Firstly I loved Sydney, as cities go it’s the perfect size where it’s big enough to have everything you want but not so big that you’re overwhelmed with the crowds and crime. I find that Australia is more similar to Canada then the States but I think it’s the Commonwealth connection. I found that they’re much more “British” then we are though, IMHO. Only a couple of bad things, if you like Mexican food eat plenty of it before you go. That’s the only cuisine I didn’t find in Sydney. If you do happen to find I have it on good authority that you should really consider NOT eating it. Otherwise amazing food, especially seafood. I found CD’s fairly expensive, as well as anything imported. Buy Australian it’s much cheaper.
As mentioned before you’ll get the “bizarro” feeling. Lots of little difference not many big ones.
HINT: If you do go, NEVER ASK FOR A FOSTERS and eat plenty of Tim Tams the best biscuits (cookies) in the world.

Mmmmmmm…Tim Tams. Dipped in coffee.

If you want to try out some out before you go, go here:

I disagree - Sydney’s population is too spaced out for an underground system to be viable, but the above ground system is just fine as it is.

The only real problem you’ll have is that when people hear an american accent they’ll assume that you’re very stupid and talk slowly and loudly. I’m sorry, but it’s a fact. Try telling people that you’re canadian and see if it makes a difference. Also do a bit of research (and try and get into) Cricket, Rugby League and Aussie Rules before you come. It’ll make things so much easier. Cricket will be a challenge, but the two major footy codes mentioned should appeal if you like american sports.

Re: censorship. Nope. From my american friends I understand that our laws are more liberal than yours. Here are words that are allowed on Australian free to air commercial TV that I am given to understand are not on US TV: Shit, Fuck, Cunt, Arse, Dick, Motherfucker, and so on. Don’t flame me if I’m wrong and this appears on american commercial TV too. We also see full nudity (breasts, genitals, male and female, everything). There is often a lot of discussion about what is morally right and wrong, but it usually (and eventually) passes the censors. I have no idea what that site from tourbot is about. Also, we tend to be much more left-wing politically that the average American.

And the advice that you have received before me but which I wish to support:
Eat Tim Tams
Don’t drink Fosters (have VB or Tooheys)

I hope I’ve given a favourable impression of my city. I love it here and I can’t imagine anywhere on the planet that is better. Mind you, I’m a little drunk…

Have you thought about what area of the city you were thinking of moving to?

PS, C3 whack a little rum in that coffee and the timtams will go off like a frog in a sock.

Two years ago, my husband and I went to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for the ANZAC Day ceremony/luncheon. The actual ceremony was held at dawn at the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. It was 6 o’clock in the morning and they were passing around the bottle of Bundeberg (sp?) rum to put in the coffee! By 7, everyone was a little tipsy and the party moved back to the embassy for more rum and a millions rounds two-up (set up very efficiently on the rug dragged down from Peacock’s office). Forget Sydney, seriousart, just move to the Australian Embassy.

Go, go, just go. You won’t regret it–Australia’s amazing.

Spent 6 months over there last year (got back Nov. 25, 1999, sniff, sniff) studying abroad while finishing my BS. Wasn’t in Sydney, was rather in Perth (best little place in WA!) but visited there and it’s very nice. Australia’s very nice (I’m trying to talk the SO into going over for some serious bit of time).

Yes–eat Tim Tams (nice with tea, too), avoid Fosters (try VB or XXXX) and travel as much as you possibly can. Aussies (this may cause some chagrin–sorry) are a lot like Americans (and Canadians, you’re in this too), except possibly drunker <g>. The cultures are very similar, tho they are more British than us (hey, we kicked the queen out years ago!). Other than that, they’re rowdy, friendly, and a lot of fun. Go, travel as much as you can, enjoy rugby (league rules!) and soak it up. There’s possibly not a better country/continent on the face of this earth. And when you get there, send me a ticket!

Actually you may be surprised to learn that our censors are FAR more lenient than US ones. The only exception is the x-rated/NVE video market. Our locally-produced TV shows feature significantly more nudity and expletives than any of your free-to-air channels and even a lot of your cable channels.

But to return to the OP for a sec…

The main differences are small things in the culture. Australians have a very dry sense of humour - very sarcastic and they mock their friends viciously. This is something most Americans don’t get and take too personally. You have to remember that we make fun of those we like (for the most part) and ignore those we don’t.

We’re also more laid back and casual as a whole. The males (and a good percentage of females) worship sport.
For more generalities:
Mate, ask the Aussie

Hey! Disparaging the boot is a bootable offense!

There are things I like about Australia, and there are things I hate about Australia. Almost definitely, none of these will coincide with your own likes and dislikes, so I’m no use at all.

However, expect three months of acclimatisation, and don’t be afraid to say “Where’s that?” when people talk about suburbs and country townships, as people who have lived here all their lives still don’t know where a lot of those places are.

As stated before, you’ll expect the big differences, but will be unprepared by the little differences. Things like how the Metro system works, what they call some foods and brands, what those animal and bird noises are, etc.


P.S. Melbourne is a much nicer city than Sydney, but not quite as active.

There are no US government censors, that I know of. Yes, what is allowed on the public airwaves is regulated. But outside of child pornography, there is no material that is censored to the point of being illegal to buy or sell in the US. I do know that the Australian censors have in fact banned non-pornographic material from being sold in Australia, but as I said, I don’t know how common it is.

Ah Boston. I’d move to Boston. Love the place.

For what it is worth, I’m a born-and-bred Sydneysider, and I’ve been to the States a lot (Counting only the places where I’ve spent a week or so at a time, I’ve been to Hawaii once, California eight or ten times, Utah three or four times, Pennsylvania once, New York once, and Massachusets (?sp) maybe six times.) so maybe I can be of some help.

Trying to relate it to US equivalents, Sydney feels to me like a cross between Boston and San Francisco. The public transport in the Sydney city area is equivalent to that of New York, and is far inferior to that of Boston, especially if you take commuting to nearby suburbs into account. But that is due in part to the very spread-out nature of the city.

City driving is like driving in Boston or San Fran - but better than New York! I took a look at the NY traffic and decided not to even try. Road lanes here are narrower than most places in the US, especially on the Harbour Bridge, which can be a bit daunting to novice left-side-of-the-road drivers.

Accommodation in Sydney is very expensive. As an indication, the minimum you would be likely to pay for a 3 bedroom house in reasonable condition in an OK but not great suburb within about a half-hour commute to the city is$Aus500,000 plus legals and stamp duty. (But then, the exchange rate is in your favour, as our dollar is now dribbling in the dust of the greenback). Suburbs further out are cheaper, and you get more land as well, but the commuting times increase.

The main Sydney daily paper is the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Saturday edition has an extensive real estate section. The web site is . There is a reasonably good interactive search function, so put in the name of the suburb where the job is located and tick the ‘surrounding suburbs’ box and get an idea of the sort of money you’ll need to pay to get what you want (or see what you can get for the sort of money you have!). Not sure how the rent and share accommodation markets go, but I assume it’s similar.

Service in shops is better than in America to my taste - staff here are less likely to make empty polite noises like ‘have a nice day’ and then just wait for you and your difficult request to go away , and more likley to make a less helpful noise but then go out of their way to help you get what you want.

If you want more info, what are your interests? Got kids? Looking to move for a year or five? Culture-vulture? Gay? Mad about surfing?

Oh yes - to keep credibility, don’t ask for a Fosters (blech, ptooey, spitting noise). And our Mexican food is lousy. And you can’t get Buffalo wings. Boy, do I miss them. Anyone got a good recipe for Buffalo wings?