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Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

I'm moving to Sydney in March and we're still unsure of where to live. We're going to be spending four weeks in corporate accomodation before we decide where to rent (in the short term) I was wondering if people could help me narrow down my search...

Proximity to the CBD is really important to us and we've already ruled out Manley (an early favourite) because of the commute. Balmain is currently a front runner because of the frequent ferry service. Glebe, Cremoyne and Kirribilli I think are going to be worth a look too.

What my guidebooks don't tell me is what the food purchasing options are like in these areas. I currently live in Islington, chosen mainly because there are two very good butchers, one great fishmonger (and one less good one), a branch of the best cheese shop in London and a weekly farmers market. I'm not a big fan of supermarkets and prefer to buy local produce frequently, rather than do a weekly supermarket run. Are there any areas that you would especially recommend as being good locations to procure good produce? Any shops, markets or stores you'd recommend? Is there one especially food-oriented suburb that sticks out for you?

Would really love any advice and look forward to sharing my experiences of moving to Sydney with you.

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  1. Hi there, I lived in Sydney a couple of years ago, so here's what I know.. any native Australians please correct me if I am wrong. Mostly I know areas by their restaurants, there are so many cuisines and it is relatively cheap to eat out you may find yourself doing that a lot. Surry hills esp Crown St has the highest concentration of great restaurants..Bills, Billy Kwong, Prasits, RQ, Red Lantern, Tabou.. the list goes on. Darlinghurst is also great for food, Onde, Sel et Poivre, Bills.. Newtown is more grungy but has great eating options Thai, Vietnamese lots of cafe and bars.. Leichardt is known for its italian restaurants. In terms of food shopping I kow that paddington has smaller fruit and veg shop, a butcher, fishmonger and french bread shop.. Mostly though there a big supermarkets.. there are regular farmers markets but I don't know where they are. A useful blog that I ahve recenlty discovered is grab your fork which might be of use to you.. enjoy!

    1. Hi Suzi, Rekha has given you some good information on restaurants and some neighbourhoods. The public transportation system in Sydney is better the closer that you are to the CBD. You will find good green grocers, butchers and bread shops in most areas of Sydney. Do you want to live near the water? I've lived in the Eastern Suburbs for almost 20 years now. You can get to Bondi Junction by bus then it's a quick train trip into the City. The ferry is a great way to travel but it sometimes has it's limitations. The last Rose Bay ferry for example is 7:15 pm during the week. I'm not sure about Balmain. You can use your four week period to get around Sydney and visit these various areas. A word of caution - the Sydney rental market is real hot (if you believe the press) with stories of people paying above the quoted rent in order to secure a flat or house. Good luck. You will find Sydney a great place to live regardless of which neighbourhood you choose.

      1. Interesting question. Good food shopping in Sydney is not universally good across all suburbs. In fact even the supermarkets are highly variable so it is good to check out the quality of the local "Coles" or "Woolies" because they vary a lot (unlike the UK), thus one Coles can be great, another poor. Even if you try and avoid them, it is good to have a reliable one as a stand-by.

        Leichardt is great, it is the historic centre of the Italian community and has a good butcher (AC Butchery), greengrocer, coffee (bean & machine) shops, deli's, and just up the road in Haberfield really good bakeries (for boxes of Italian pastries and bread).

        The Glebe/Balmain area is quite a short drive from Leichardt and good in it's own right. Randwick has a growing reputation with "Terry Wright Gourmet Meats" gaining a strong reputation. There are now Farmers Markets (or Growers Markets) in many suburbs - but to be honest I rarely get out of bed early enough to get to them before the best has gone.

        One thing I did find was no matter how good the suburb was for shopping I always needed to go across town for that essential ingredient - not such a hassle as the inner suburbs are not that spread out.

        I live in Paris at the moment, but return to Sydney soon. I am looking forward to shopping for food like asian vegetables, exotic fruits, great (cheap) meat etc. But I will miss the cheese shops. The Australian "craft" cheese industry is getting better all the time but it still has a long way to go (unfortunately I believe, by law, all cheese needs to be pasturised to be sold in Australia).

        Have fun.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Hi, just a quick word -- not sure about all cheese, but Roquefort is allowed in Australia. There are two fantastic cheese shops close to that area -- one in Leichhardt (Staffords), on Balmain Road and another in Haberfield.

          1. re: PhilD

            Anyone thinking Sydney farmers' markets are really farmers' markets needs to be a bit careful. Few - even the biggest - have many (if any) farmers or growers. The exception is the Hawkesbury Harvest markets on at Castle Hill, Rouse Hill (outer NW suburbs) and in front of St Mary's Cathedral in the city on Fridays. Even then, they're pretty relaxed about whom they allow in. Almost every other one, including the big Good Living Market at Darling Harbour (once a month) are loaded with people buying at the wholesale market and reselling or supplementing their offerings with extras from wholesalers. Never trust a market in Sydney selling mangoes or bananas or pineapples, all of which have had to be driven from a thousand kilometres distant.

          2. I forgot one other point - buy a copy of the "Sydney Morning Herald" good food guide when you arrive. A great source book for restaurants (I find it reliable) and it has a section on the best food shops which will get you started. They also have a section on the papers web site called "Good Living"
            http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/g...
            Another good source of info is the Helen's blog
            http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com/

            1. Native Australian here... I lived in Sydney for about five years before moving to NYC. I lived in the east, in Elizabeth Bay as well as in Annandale (inner west).

              I did most of my grocery shopping in Chinatown and at the market in Paddy's (on the edge of Chinatown/Darling Harbour-ish). The inner west is fabulous for Italian, Portuguese, Greek etc.

              There is a fabulous store in Zetland (or is it Alexandria? Blocked out of my brain!!) called Fratelli Fresh - there are lots of other Mediterranean ethnic grocers around there as well.

              I found my time in the east much easier, proximity to trains being the main point. Unless you have a car, your main options on the west or south are bus. Unless you live MUCH further out... On the other hand, the west is where all the fun food stuff happens. And it's REAL, unlike the east.

              Balmain is nice, Cremorne and Kirribilli are very difficult to get to and out of, to be honest. If you want proximity, I'd stay on THIS side of the bridge.

              Good luck.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sodahq

                Am so glad someone mentioned Fratelli Fresh! the best grocer/ deli/providor I think in Sydney

                1. re: sodahq

                  If I may ask, since I am looking to relocate to Sydney, AU - what is the reason you moved to NYC from Sydney? :)