I was recently asked by a Mum’s gone 2 Aus reader about the best places to live in Sydney. The dilemma about where to live made me reflect on my family’s choice, and leads me to ask this question to all Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers…Which are the best Sydney suburbs for families?
If you’d like to help other mums facing the “where to live” dilemma, please give your answers in the comments below. To get the ball rolling, here are Mum’s thoughts and experiences…
Mosman? Manly? Dee Why? Balgowlah? Randwick? Bondi? Coogee? Maroubra? Erskineville? These were places we researched as potential new homes when we planned our move to Sydney.
Mosman (Northern Sydney: Lower North Shore)
I was drawn to Mosman because we’d visited before and the closest beach (Balmoral) is child-friendly, with little surf. Mosman is also a favourite due to its close proximity to the CBD and other popular places like Manly and Cremorne.
Since being in Sydyeny, we’ve visited several times and there’s a great village feel about the centre of Mosman; there are one off boutiques rather than chain stores, and good schools and childcare facilities in the area.
Manly (Northern Sydney: Northern Beaches)
We researched Manly because it’s somewhere we’d been as tourists and liked. But the fact that it is so firmly on the tourist trail was a reason, for us, to think twice about living there long term.
Manly is busy and built-up compared to beaches further north, but it’s in a convenient location and being able to get the ferry to work is amazing. Although friends who live in Sydney were quick to point out that if you miss the last ferry home to the Northern Beaches a taxi across the Harbour Bridge is expensive.
Dee Why (Northern Sydney: Northern Beaches)
We stopped off in Dee Why recently, nine kilometres north of Manly. Compared to Manly, the beach front in Dee Why is less developed; we thought it had a good feel. When we were searching for a short term rental property we nearly went for a place in Dee Why because it was significantly cheaper than Manly. I think we would have been happy, had we ended up there.
Balgowlah (Northern Sydney: Northern Beaches)
Balgowlah is a few kilometres east of Manly. North Balgowlah and Balgowlah Heights share the same postcode. These were also areas we looked at, because they are cheaper than Manly. In the end we didn’t know enough about them for them to be serious contenders.
Since living in Sydney, I’ve learnt that couples who have lived in Manly often move east to Balgowlah when they start a family, or buy their first home – property is more affordable. I believe there’s a good community feel about the area, but would love to know more if any of our readers have first-hand experience.
Bondi (Eastern Suburbs: Waverley)
Before moving to Sydney we’d visited Bondi and much of what we experienced summed up the lifestyle we wanted when we moved to Aus. For the same reasons Manly was struck off our list, Bondi was never a real contender. Had we been a few years younger and moving without the little ones, it probably would have been top of the list.
We’ve driven and walked around much of Bondi since living in the Eastern Suburbs, North Bondi is good for families and has good schools but, as usual, it comes at a price.
Other great family friendly suburbs in Waverley Council are Waverley, Queens Park, Bronte, Tamarama and Clovelly.
Randwick (Eastern Suburbs: Randwick)
Randwick town centre has a shopping mall and is within an easy bus ride (30 minutes) of the CBD. The Spot in Randwick is a lively restaurant and café area. If you live in Randwick you’ll be within walking distance of Centennial Park and Coogee beach. The public schools in Randwick have excellent reputations.
Coogee (Eastern Suburbs: Randwick)
We stayed in Coogee when we arrived and loved it. We live somewhere quieter and less expensive now but Coogee is by no means as busy at Bondi or Manly. The things we like about Coogee are; the beach (of course), the swimming baths (there are several), the playground and adjacent reserve, and the coastal walk to Clovelly (and beyond).
From Coogee you don’t get the romance of the Manly ferry but bus services are generally good (around 30 – 40 minutes to the CBD), and trains run from Bondi Junction.
Maroubra (Eastern Suburbs: Randwick)
Maroubra is significantly less developed than Coogee and has one of the best surf beaches in Sydney. It’s laid back and quiet, which is perfect for families. For shopping and other services Maroubra Junction is a ten minute drive from the beach front.
Transport to the CBD is by bus, the express bus takes forty minutes. The price of property is rising in Maroubra, although it’s more affordable than nearby Coogee. Schools in the area have a mixed reputation, but much about Maroubra is more reputation than fact.
Maroubra, or closeby, is a favourite for families moving from France to Australia because Lycée Condorcet: The International French School of Sydney is on Anzac Parade at Maroubra Junction.
Erskineville (City of Sydney: Inner West)
If you’re working in the CBD, Erskineville is the most conveniently located of all the suburbs we looked at (about 15 mins by train). Despite the close proximity to the CBD there is a village feel about the residential streets in Erskineville, helped by a rather complicated one way system around streets lined with federation style semis.
King Street in Erskineville is well-known for its relaxed, café culture and one-off shops. It’s also a short stroll from Sydney Park which is a paradise for kids of all ages. It might not be right on the beach but you can get to most of the Eastern Suburb beaches within twenty minutes.
Where will you settle?
When we made our “where to live” decision we were influenced by the price and availability of rental property and advice from friends and family. Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers will do doubt do the same. Let’s use this article to give mums relocating to Australia a helping hand – it’s such a life changing decision, I know I was grateful for any advice I could get. Thank you!
P.S. We’ll cover other states and cities at a later date, including the Sydney vs Melbourne dilemma that we know is a common one for people relocating to Aus. In the meantime, if you have any direct questions please contact Mum through the Contact page, we’ll be happy to help.
- Mum’s gone 2 Aus Essential Ebook for families relocating to Australia
- Australian suburb profiles – where to go to get the low down
- Help for those relocating to Sydney: Northern Beaches Know-How
- Opening a bank account in Australia – which bank and when to open your account
- Mum’s gone 2 Sydney: First impressions series
- International money transfers: Introducing TorFx
P.S. The following books will be useful in tracking down your perfect Sydney-suburb.
- Sydney Complete Residents’ Guide
- The Sydney Morning Herald Good Suburbs Guide
- Sydney for Kids
- Time Out Sydney 7th edition: Eat, Drink, Shop, Sleep, Explore, Enjoy
- Cafe Life Sydney: A Guide to the Neighbourhood Cafes (Cafe Life Series)
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