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cskiff

Arriving in one week

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We are relocating to sydney with my OH's work. We have 3 children 12,9 & 7. We are looking at the northern beaches, north shore area. Does anyone have tips on good schools and family friendly areas. We would love somewhere where there are other kids around for them to play with.

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I think, if I am right, Northshorepom would be the best person to ask. The Northern Beaches definitely seems to be the family area. When are you hoping to move by? Are the children excited?

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Hi cskiff

 

Sorry, only just seen this. All the north side is pretty good for families IMO, but none of it comes cheap so budget and commute (or likely commute) drives the choice for most, followed by how you like the feel of a place

 

There are kids' activities all over IME. One of the good things about Australia is that there are a lot of activities on offer, and many at a reasonable price too. Lots of it is attached to school but there are loads of sports clubs too. E.g., my son (6) does piano lessons on Monday after school, Tuesdays at this time of year is football training, Wednesdays is swimming lessons, Thursdays he goes to after school care (just for the social side really) and Friday gymnastics. Then plays football on a Saturday, and golf on Sunday. In summer the football drops away but the cricket season starts, in a year or so we'll probably be able to knock the swimming lessons on the head as he'll be a fluent full swimmer by then (he can do a length or 2 of a 12m pool now, so nearly there) - just in time to get him into nippers or cubs ;)

 

At every one of those activities he has different sets of friends - plus school mates. We have 3 or 4 good sets of friends who we see quite a lot socially and they all have kids. At least once a month each family (sometimes at the same time)

 

We've only been here about 21 months - in the first few months we did have to work hard at it and put ourselves forward for activities/help out but that's also quite common here, I find people quite outgoing and welcoming too. Sure, lots of people have established social lives and don't need loads of new friends and some newcomers misinterpret this (IMO) as unfriendliness, but there are always people looking for new connections.

 

One of the things I really like about Sydney is its easy multiculturalism. No one (certainly in these areas) is that bothered about where you come from and it's a very international city. Those families I mentioned above that we've got friendly with, two are South African, one is Australian/Canadian (but lived in UK for years), one is Venezuelan. Plus we have other (perhaps less family-oriented) Aussie friends.

 

Anyway, I think I've drifted off the point!

 

Everywhere that I've ever been to in the North Shore/Beaches has a LOT of parks/green open space. So can't really pick an area just based on that. It's worth hiring a car (or buying one) and allotting a couple of days to driving about to see where you might like. You could make it a sort of point-to-point drive around some of the beauty spots (say, places like North Head at Manly, Manly Dam, Long Reef headland, around Church Point, Bobbin Head in Ku-Ring-Gai chas national park, Lane Cove National Park) - and get to see some nice spots as get a feel for the suburbs in between (you'll need to get out and walk around those really, you can't tell much from the main road).

 

So much of it is down to feel (after budget and commute!) and that's so personal. We live in Wahroonga on the Upper North Shore, it's very leafy, well off type of suburb. Think Richmond/Esher or similar in London if you know London at all. For us it was the first place that grabbed us, we had a relocator take us round and most of the suburbs up the Pacific Highway were a bit "shops on the main road, suburb sprawling away from it" sort of thing. The centre of Wahroonga though is off the highway and it makes all the difference - really feels like a "village" with shops, cafes, restaurants and an old-fashioned formal park (very "British"!!). Plus it had the railway which was very important to us.

 

Most of the Upper North Shore suburbs (Wahroonga, Warrawee, Turramurra, Pymble, Gordon, Lindfield, Killara, Roseville, St Ives) feel pretty similar if you ask me, with the exception of the shops being off the highway thing. It's all very nice, none of it is cheap. Lower North Shore (Chatswood, Artarmon, Lane Cove, Castlecrag, Northbridge, Middle Cove, Castle Cove, Cammeray, Neutral Bay, Mosman, Cremorne, Crow's Nest, Kirribilli, North Sydney) is more mixed but even more expensive. North Sydney is a business district really. Crow's Nest, St. Leonards, and to some extent Neutral Bay much more young professional territory, Lane Cove has great facilities and is very family-oriented, Naremburn, Willoughby, Cammeray, Northbridge, Castlecrag very nice family areas (pricey though), Chatswood the main commercial centre of the northside, loads of shops and transport, very Chinese. I do most of my work in Chatswood, North Sydney and Pennant Hills so I'm happy to be relatively far out of town. If I worked in the CBD I'd want to be a bit closer I think - I'd live in Castlecrag, Northbridge or Willoughby in a heartbeat. Mosman is nice but VERY expensive.

 

Over on the beaches, standard rule of thumb is the further out from the city or the further from the sea, the cheaper it gets. There's buses only over there, no train, so most people drive to/from work and as there are only 3 roads across from the beaches (Mona Vale Rd, Roseville Bridge, and Spit Bridge), the traffic can be pretty ordinary. I have a lot of colleagues who live in Belrose/Davidson/French's Forest/Killarney Heights which I think seems to offer good value for families - not on the beach so cheaper but still only a 15 minute drive to the surf if you want to. Lots of facilities for kids again over here. On the coast itself, Narrabeen, Newport, Cromer (OK just back from the beach), Mona Vale, Collaroy and Dee Why seem popular with families. South of Dee Why towards Manly it can get quite expensive again, although of course expense is all relative

 

People have a different feel about living actually on the beach itself. Speaking personally, I would love it, but in the real world with a full time job and a young family, I'd only ever actually get to the sea at weekends anyway - by the time I'm home from work, had dinner with the family and put the kids to bed, it's pushing 8pm which means even in summer the light won't last that long (long summer evenings are the thing I miss the most from England!) and I'm knackered. So I just wouldn't be going to the beach after work every day regardless. If I were single/no kids I might but, well, I'm not. And the way I look at it, I don't want the other compromises of living on the beaches (long commute especially) if I'm only going to go at the weekend. This is a practical/pragmatic view though, the romantic in me loves the sea air and sea breeze and would love to wake up to that every day. Just not where I am in life right now.

 

Hope that helps, a bit. If you can narrow down budget/commuting (like where your husband is working and how long you or he wants to spend on travelling to work) I hope I can help more

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Hi Northshorepom,

 

Thanks for your reply.

My husband will be based in the CBD, ideally he would like a commute of an hour or less. he has his heart set on a view of the water, I am more concerned about getting the right area.

Our upper limit for rental would be 1500/week.

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You should be OK with that budget

 

All suburbs are pretty much in play, depending on what size place you want. Although Mosman and immediate surrounds (Cremorne, Neutral Bay, Kirribilli) are pushing it. Worth pointing out that water views on the north side of Cremorne/Mosman (overlooking Middle Harbour) seem to come in cheaper than those overlooking Port Jackson

 

For that decent budget with water views and keeping the commute down to a sensible distance as criteria, I'd be looking at Longueville, Greenwich, Northbridge, Castlecrag, Seaforth, Balgowlah Heights, Manly, Freshwater, Queenscliff as well as those mentioned above, and not really bothering to go out much further. Although like I said, it's all about feel so you really need to travel around. In terms of schooling, are you looking public or private (if your rental budget is that decent then you're obviously on decent money)? Also note if you're on a 457 (moving with work would suggest so) then you'll be paying even for public schools, and selective high schools aren't open to you - which adds more weight to the private side of the equation. Redlands is a pretty well thought of private school for all ages in Cremorne (and, a rarity amongst Sydney private schools, it is co-educational if that matters). Mosman High (a non selective public high school) not too shabby either. I have friends in Mosman/Cremorne so have some hearsay about their schools, no idea about over on the Northern Beaches although tbh, all of these areas are affluent so a really bad school is unlikely. Again, schools are such an individual choice and as much about your kids as the school itself, and only you will know them

 

Also worth pointing out if you're in a beach suburb, you really don't need a swimming pool.....

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Also should add when we came over, the relocator got us appointments at both Northbridge and Seaforth public schools and we liked both of those - especially the latter. We ended up moving further out, as per above, our son goes to the local public school in Wahroonga but we plan to go private in Yr 3 (we would have done earlier but as a June baby he misses the cut off for most of the private schools as it's different to the one the publics use, and we didn't want him to do "the first year of school" for a third time - ah, it's a long story!)

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Hi CSKiff if I am right today you landed in Sydney, so welcome to Australia. Remember the first few weeks are going to be stressful plus you will have the jet lag etc.

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CSKiff I guess you are there already had any thoughts? I thought I would add onto this thread as in a similar position - budget of $1500 weekly for rental and could do with some feedback. My kids a bit younger - 2 at primary and 1 in preschool. Live in London now and would like advice on best areas for schools. Is North shore so great or should we try E. suburbs? Will be returning probably for son to sit exams for secondary here in London so would need somewhere on the case academically (especially as he is more sporty inclined at the moment). No budget for private schools at the moment either. Would like somewhere closeish to CB with that leafy but not too suburban feel of a London suburb. Eg. family friendly, but with a bit of life and restaurants, interesting shops within walking distance. Clapham, Putney, E. Dulwich Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Gospel Oak if that means anything? Thanks.

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Hi All, randomly I'm from St Albans in Hertfordshire too. Just wanted to say I moved to the lower North shore 3 years ago (north Sydney) and although I've moved around to other areas other than the north shore I couldn't wait to get back. I've lived in Neutral Bay, North Sydney, Cammeray and Kirribilli and loved every single one. You can't go wrong. However if you want water views and a good sized family home, you may need to look that little further out such as seaforth, balgowlah but again all beautiful areas. Welcome to Sydney anyway :)

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My Dad's family are from St Albans, Beresford Road, I think they lived. I have two aunties still living on the ?Green Lane? Estate, & a cousin in Redbourne? (Are you Spurs fans!?)

 

I lived in Neutral Bay and Cammeray too, back in 1979-81, Hayes St and Yeo St, Miller St in Cammeray right on the corner of Ernest St, $80 per week with my two brothers, or was it $85?

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