Everything you need to know about living, studying and working in Sydney Australia

Firstly some links to info on Oz:

The news paper - free online:
There is a real estate section with rental listings: http://www.domain.com.au/

http://www.staticice.com.au/ for comparing electronics - don't be shocked that they are cheaper (buy your printers there)


http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/5day.shtml?world=0093 - weather
https://www.oshcworldcare.com.au/Default.aspx insurance

Commonwealth Bank - CBA is widely available and has a branch in SG

St George has free accounts - low interest

Property rental links:


Allow at least 2 weeks or more to find a place

Street directory:


ABC radio:


Immigration matters and visas:

Note the Australian embassy in Singapore opens till 12 noon everyday only.

Proper planning and budgeting

This forms the backbone of a successful trip and a memorable stay – in a good way.

But there needs to be a proper budget and timeline for getting good quality accommodations.

A simple meal of noodles costs 8-10$Aus. Get real this is OZ, budget your money sufficently so you don't feel miserable and eat maggi for the whole year

Accommodations take time, if you rush you get shoddy places and you are forced to live in it for at least 6 months. Rentals are expensive, get real, and if you need a more budget place, come earlier and plan to explore other suburbs.

EG Strathfield and Chatswood, both very Bukit Timah like suburbs costs more than $6-800/week for a tiny place.

This is not SG (which is also increasing)

But keep your chin up, keep looking and ask around for part-time jobs if you are really hard up. Oz is a great place for learning, living and there is always a way.

My 2c worth

Voltage in Australia is 220-240V.

The country code for Australia is 61 and the area code for Sydney is 02. Dial this number first if calling from outside New South Wales and drop the 0 if calling from overseas. Local calls from public phones cost 40c for unlimited time. You can make local calls from Telstra payphone booths and also from the gold and blue phones found in many shops and hotels.

Long-distance calls can be made from almost any public phone. Buy pre-paid phone cards which make overseas calls very cheap. Many public phones accept Telstra Phonecards which come in $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations and are available from retail outlets which display the Phonecard logo. Otherwise you can use coins of 10 cents and upwards. Long-distance calls are charged according to distance and rates vary depending on what time you call. The lowest rates are currently at weekends and after 8pm during the week.

Post Office
The postal service in Australia is relatively efficient. Generally, post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. All post offices will hold mail, keeping it for one month before returning it to the sender. For a small fee you can arrange to have mail forwarded to you. If you wish to purchase stamps you can buy them from most newsagents if the post office is closed.

In Australia tipping isn't a must as it is in America and some parts of Europe. It is considered as a 'thank you' for good service rather than an obligation. If you decide to tip, the amount should be in accordance with how good you felt the service was. Ten percent of the bill would be considered reasonable.

Public Holidays
January 1st, January 27th (Australia Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 25th (Anzac Day), June 9th (Queen's Birthday) , December 25th and December 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area you are heading to as certain towns and cities have their own public holidays. It is worth noting what the public holidays are before travelling to Sydney as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.

The cost is rising
  • Share with friends if possible, it can be scary if you have not gone away before, but its pretty fun too!
  • There are many unsafe places, in each district, unless you stay in posh areas eg Double Bay.
    Even these can be target for thieves (cos the thieves know the rich stay there)
    Main thing is its not Singapore, take caution in securing your home.
    Be smart, if there is graffiti and lots of barred up shops around, and high gates, it means they are trying to keep crime out, so beware.
    Redfern around Syd Uni is v unsafe, but also v cheap to stay.
    If you are male, it can be colorful, just stay off the streets at night.
    Glebe around the uni is also unsafe and so is Cleveland Rd, but within each area there are high security apartments, but you pay
  • Hey remember, peanuts and monkeys
  • Unilodges are premium cost places for SG and other students who didn't try too hard to find a place to stay, cos its near the uni and convenient with a Coles supermart and other stuff around the corner. The place is well lit and the only bother are partying students and drunks in the place.
  • Out there you will notice there are v few people on the streets after dark and v few people walk alone.

    As for getting uni allocated accom, try booking a year or more ahead.

    Be safe, smart and don't be too cheapo or hiam. Do your homework and go early to recce.
  • There are many rooms (not flats) for 120 - 160 a week in the area around Cleveland Rd, lots of international students on a budget stay there. Its potluck, cos the guy in the next room could be a stud who spends his time bedding the entire neighborhood or a nice Chinese girl who volunteers to clean up the entire house plus tidy your bed.

  • Also the lodge only allows a microwave in the room.
  • Look up Aussie forums too for advice.
    Anyway if you go earlier, you can see if the local surrounding neighbourhoods are not too scary to stay.
  • For girls, safety is better than going budget (actually guys too)


Eating out is not cheap, but if you venture about there are cheap and good places.

Newtown around USyd is cheap and portions are big.
When I say cheap, I mean Aus$ 7-10 a meal without drinks.
3 people can share 2 meals and be pretty full, water is free usually.

Thai food is v good, so is Viet food.

Pizzas are resonable and so are kebabs (5-6$) at Newtown, but they like to use 'chicken salt' which is super high in MSG.

To avoid spending, you will need to cooking or die, or bring your GF along

Groceries are fresh and much cheaper than eating out, but they are still more expensive than NTUC.

Be prepared that you need to spend, so you don't end up crying and hungry.

Even if you are on a budget, do try and eat out once in a while, so you don't shcrimp so much you really feel miserable.

Phone cards

'Hello' and other brands (10% off if you buy from Chinese shops) offer calls home at v cheap rates, even more than regualr phones if you or your folks don't use msn or skype.

Vodafone offers free air time to other vodafone callers in Oz, sms is 25c local and foreign

Buy your recharge at Big W or Woolworth for a 10% discount


They are not expensive but parking in the city is very dear, up to A$18 an hour.

Petrol is cheapest on Tuesday.

Buy 30$ worth of groceries at woolworth for discounts at Woolworth Caltex, or $30 at Coles, Bi Lo for the same at Shell

Woolworth and Aldi have cheaper groceries than Coles.

Buy those meats and veggies with an expiring date "quick sale" tags to save

Use the house brands for more savings

Warm clothes

There are many chains there selling sports gear but in general they are more expensive, unless you go to their warehouse sites.

Kathmandu has a warehouse selling off season and old stuff at Birkenhead point

Paddy Pallin has one in Parramatta - cheap and v nice brands

Lowes is a budget clothing chain with lots of shops in the suburbs.

Ask your friends and relatives, bring less and if you need buy there

Winter can feel very cold to newbies, so keep warm

You can buy cheap heaters in Big W or tool shops and those "$1 cheapo" shops but if you want to save on bills, wear more


Its not Singapore
Shops close early - about 5pm most days except for late night shopping on Thursday, which still closes by 7 to 9pm.

Ask yourself if you need to be Singaporean and shop all the time, when the great outdoors is there for you to enjoy.

Do more recce in the suburbs they are usually cheaper and food is better,
Sydney is city is not Sydney, do venture out


Things are cheaper out of the city

Eg there are many shops selling at warehouse prices out west

Birkenhead point carries branded stuff

Nike, Addidas and Puma warehouses are located around each other in Auburn, along Parramatta road.

You can bargain in Hardly Normal, Clive Peters, Dick Smith and other eletronic shops and ask for a "price match"

For your WHITE GOODS – fridge etc, there is a “QQ” shop at Chullora, which sells the almost new stuff at very good prices.


Coles and Woolworths open early and close late on most days except Sunday

Paddy's market at haymarket has market days on Thurs thru to Sunday
Go last minute to save and buy in bulk with a few friends

Groceries in Chinatown are not cheap

Buy cheap DVDs code 4 at Big W, or get prev rented ones cheap at Civic Video

Cheap TVs are all about, or buy seconds from warehouses along Parramatta road

The outdoors

This is what is fun over there, not parties or getting drunk with the Aussies.

Within an hour of Sydney there are so many parks, forests, real waterfalls not man made to attract tourists.

Do spend some time exploring Oz, before long you will be headed home

Hiking in winter is great, no bugs and you don't sweat in winter.
Get a good pair of hiking shoes, or bring your army boots over.


There are quite a few in town, most have Asians in them.

I recommend CCC at Milson's point, or St Andrew's in town hall if you like mixing with Aussies.

Stationary and batteries

These are much cheaper in SG

But computers and esp printers are very reasonable in price, just buy the 'chiong' cartridges in SG first.

Handphones are cheap in Aus, but you need to look for those who allow no contracts, eg Vodafone


Internet is not cheap, so check that you get internet esp broadband with your rental place. Usually there is a 18mth to 2 yr contract, so it is best to get something tied to the apartment if possible, or see if there is a shorter one.

Before you get a wi fi type connection, check that your place is covered. Sydney is a really big place, and there are many blind spots.

You can also use pre-pay dial up, or unwired


Which is contract free, reception varies.

Find a broadband plan:



They are pretty expensive in Oz, so either get 2nd hand, or get from NUS co-op first which can order for you.
Either that or send them via amazon, it will still be cheaper.

Get lots of files for notes, there is a officeworks store just opposite the Camperdown Campus which opens until 8pm or so

Calculators are cheaper in SG, but there isn't a lot of difference

It is worth your while to join the USyd co-op if you are buying lots of books, membership is lifelong

 Bus and train

The campus is not in the best area, so after dark, i.e. 3-4pm there are buses which will take you to Redfern train station. Redfern is dangerous, and there are muggers (not the Singapore bookworm types) and drug addicts, so be careful.
Take the bus, its free.

As foreign students even though we subsidise the locals we do not get bus concessions

Buy return train tickets, they are cheaper

Also travel after 9am if possible it is half the price

Sometimes the trains undergo repairs on Sundays, so check first

Stay in the blue lit cabins with guards, and don't get into one with a strange man.

Its not Singapore, be street smart

Info on public transport costs:


Popular posts from this blog

Dynaudio Special Forty Speaker review

Tips on choosing a fan and the Haiku Fan

My Setup March 2016