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Climate & Lifestyle Sydney

Set on the coast with pleasant weather all year round, Sydney is a thriving metropolis. The 2018 Mercer Quality of Living Survey has Sydney listed as the 10th most liveable city in the world. Residents enjoy a varied range of outdoor recreational activities and a vibrant cultural scene. Its strong economy attracts immigrants from all over the world and has resulted in an ethnically diverse population.

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Despite its reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Sydney is the most populated city in New South Wales (it is also the state’s capital). This coastal city attracts more immigrants than any other city in Australia. In fact, it is often used as a ‘gateway city’ to the rest of the country. Even Australians from other parts of the country are drawn to it thanks to the opportunities that its economy offers.

The availability of skilled workers draws big businesses to Sydney. Both the Australian Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank are set in the city which makes it tempting for professionals to relocate. The city is home to an estimated 5 million people from a number of different ethnicities and religions.

Sydney has six public universities including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney (both are ranked amongst the top 50 in the world). These attract a large student population (including international students) and it is said that about 5.2 % of Sydney’s residents are attending a university.

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Sydney Daily life

Real estate in Sydney is one of the most expensive in the world. Most houses located in the inner city areas are terraced but you also have the option of living in one of the 650 (approx.) sprawling suburbs. Detached houses are characteristic of the outer suburbs.

Commuting to work and around the city by public transport is not difficult as the city has an easily accessed network of ferries, trains and buses. Between 12 am and 4:30 am the night ride bus service operates instead of the trains.

Residents of the outer suburbs prefer to use cars to commute, the Metroads (a network of roads that direct traffic circumferentially around the city) make this easier but traffic during rush hour can be trying. Taxis are available throughout the city, including the popular Uber service.

The city has a large network of bike paths and the government encourages cycling in the city (they offer free lessons).

Culture in Sydney

The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales have large collections to delight art lovers. To learn more about indigenous Australian history, the Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour is popular. The Australian Museum (originally established in 1827) is the country’s oldest and is said to have a collection of about 10 million artefacts! The Hyde Park Barracks Museum provides insight into the city’s convict past.

At Darling Harbour, the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum are notable. The former has displays and interactive experiences that focus on applied arts and sciences while the latter has plenty of maritime memorabilia.

Every January, the Sydney Festival converts the city into a vibrant cultural hub for music, theatre, dance and art. The Vivid Sydney festival also offers visitors incredible visual treats. Computer generated light displays are projected on to major landmarks to create jaw-dropping visual scenes. For instance, you could see the Opera House catching fire while the Customs House bursts into blossoms and butterflies. You may even pass giant pigs in the streets!

The iconic Sydney Opera House attracts world famous musicians and singers. They have performances scheduled every week. While the Enmore Theatre offers more of an old-world, bohemian feel for rock performances. After the show, you only have to step out onto Enmore Road for plenty of dining options. Hordern Pavilion at Moore Park has hosted legendary bands and musicians like Queen, Metallica and Bob Marley. It is affectionately called ‘The Hordern’ and is also used as a dance party venue. Toward the centre of the city, the Metro Theatre hosts upcoming performers. Boutique festivals like Harbourlife, Field Day and the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (among many others) are very popular among music lovers in the city.

Outdoor recreation in Sydney

The great climate makes outdoor activity and recreation very popular amongst Sydneysiders. The local authorities maintain about 400 playgrounds, parks and green spaces that are open to the public. These are great for a day out with the family. Residents enjoy cycling, jogging and picnicking on their days off. These spaces can also be hired for competitions and parties. Those with green thumbs can exercise them in one of the 23 community gardens around the city.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are set in the heart of Sydney and have plenty to offer. Besides the peaceful greens, you can learn about Australian flora, stop at one of the cafes or learn about the Aboriginal heritage of the city. A number of festivals are held in the Botanic Garden as well.

There is no dearth of beaches for those who prefer seaside recreation. Divers tend to favour the quiet Clovelly beach while the Bronte beach is a family friendly option. Bondi beach is a popular tourist attraction and the Tamarama beach (just south of the Bondi Beach) features a small scenic cove. This beach has strong rip tides and even experienced swimmers should be cautious of the water. The eastern beaches (set within easy reach of the City Centre) offer great swimming and surfing opportunities.

Surrounding the city of Sydney are vast national parks and bushland. The Blue Mountains are just west of Sydney and are characterised by rugged cliffs and eucalyptus trees. On hikes here, you are likely to pass a cascading waterfall or two, not to mention the beautiful views.

To ‘glamp’ i.e. ‘glamourous camping’ (or to camp in style) close to the city, look to Cockatoo Island. This is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site set at Sydney Harbour. The island has a rich history related to its convict and shipbuilding past, and has now been rebranded as a ‘glamping’ hotspot. Visitors wake up to breath-taking views and gain insight to the city’s interesting history.

Sydney & Eating out

Residents enjoy a wide variety of cuisines at the many casual and fine-dining eateries across the city. Eat streets are set in the inner city areas in neighbourhoods like Surry Hills and Potts Point. The cafes here are known for their creative menus. Bars and breweries also thrive in the city and attract beer aficionados from all over the state.

Pubs are common all over the city, giving you the option of a solid meal and drinks for dinner. You can take your pick from historic pubs like The Rocks (over 150 years old) to family friendly options. Paddington is choc-a-bloc with pubs and even has dog-friendly establishments! If you like live music with your dinner, head to Chippendale and stop at The Landsdowne.

The pleasant weather makes eating out possible all year round. Cafes and restaurants are often constructed to include beautiful gardens, skyline views and courtyards as part of the experience.

Restaurants at local vineyards plate up dishes made with fresh produce and pair them with award-winning wines.

Also known as the Harbor City, one of Sydney’s most noticeable characteristics is harbour views and coastline. Sydney Harbour plays host to some award-winning restaurants and seafood is sure to be fresh with catch straight from the Pacific Ocean.

Climate in Sydney

Sydney has a humid subtropical climate that goes from mild, cool winters to warm and humid summers. Because it is set on the coast, the city does not have extreme seasonal differences. At the most, the inland suburbs tend to get about two degrees hotter in the summer and two degrees (Celsius) colder in the winter than the coastal suburbs.

Sydneysiders enjoy blue skies and sunshine-filled days for most of the year. Their winters are mild and summers are best enjoyed in the coastal neighbourhoods where the sea breeze cools things off. The sea temperatures are warm around Sydney so residents take full advantage and enjoy swimming, water sports and yachting. The humidity can get quite high in the summer and on calmer days, the smog in the city is more noticeable.

Seasons in Sydney

Summer lasts from December to February and temperatures generally stay between 18.6 and 25.8 degrees Celsius. The beaches are great at this time of the year as water temperatures are about 21.9 – 23.7 degrees Celsius. Light clothing is recommended to stay comfortable during Sydney’s warm, balmy summer days.

Autumn is between March and May, when humidity drops and temperatures average between 14.6 and 22.2 degrees Celsius. This season is characterised by crisp, fresh air that allows residents to enjoy outdoor activities like walks and hikes. Coastal walks are popular toward the end of the season because of the chance to spot humpback whales that are migrating north (this happens around May).

Between June and August, it is winter in Sydney. Temperatures drop and average between 8.8 – 17 degrees Celsius. June in Sydney sees the highest rainfall while July is probably the city’s coolest month (daytime temperatures average at 13 degrees Celsius). Dressing with layers, carrying jackets and keeping rain gear handy is recommended.

Water temperatures don’t drop much during this time of the year so locals often continue water sports but with wetsuits. The water temperature averages around 18.8 or 19.3 degrees Celsius in the winter.

It is extremely rare for it to snow in the city. Snowfall does occur in regional parts of New South Wales (at the Blue Mountains or at Upper Hunter). You could take a six-hour drive to Jindabyne (the gateway to the Snowy Mountains) to see snow. In the winter, this is a great place for skiing.

September to November is Springtime in Sydney. Daily temperatures can range from 11 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees and it is not as humid as the summer months.

UV index forecast

Residents keep an eye on the Ultra Violet Index forecast which is included in daily weather reports. This indicates the intensity of UV radiation on a daily basis. Carrying around a hat, sunglasses and SPF 30+ sunscreen is wise.

Urban heat island effect

The city also experiences the urban heat island effect which makes the western parts more vulnerable to extreme heat conditions. The creation of an urban heat island (UHI) is the result of human activity. Cities that are crowded with too many vehicles, infrastructure, industrial buildings set too close together (among other factors) tend to generate and trap a lot of heat.

Rainfall in Sydney

Rainfall is fairly even and spread throughout the year in Sydney. Rainfall lasts longer in the winter than in the summer, sometimes lasting for the entire day as a drizzle. In the warmer summer months, heavy downpours are likely in the afternoons and this helps to cool the city down.

Wind patterns and offshore cyclones around the city influence its rain patterns. For example, Sydney’s CBD is more likely to get rain in the cooler months than the inland suburbs thanks to the east coast lows. These low pressure depressions have been known to bring big swells and cyclonic winds to the city. Onshore winds and Sydney’s proximity to the coastline are also contributing factors for summer rains.

Sydney rarely sees cyclones but is susceptible to hailstorms that occur on occasion. A notable hailstorm was one that occurred on Dec 20th, 2018. A fast moving storm travelling from the southwest brought hailstones (said to be the size of coins) into the city.

The city’s wettest November day since 1984 was recorded on Nov 28th, 2018 when a low-pressure system from the west caused heavy rainfall. Several suburbs recorded 3.94 inches of rain in just 2 hours! It caused flash flooding which submerged several cars and 90 km/h winds uprooted a number of trees.


Sydney receives adequate rainfall throughout the year but the city does experience drought conditions. There are 11 dams that contribute water to the city including the Warragamba Dam which is one of the largest domestic water supply dams in the world. When droughts are declared, residents adhere to water restrictions imposed by the city.

Sydney has been known to experience dust storms in dry conditions. Heat waves have also been more common in recent years thanks to climate change. Dry weather, strong winds and droughts provide the perfect combination for bush fires in the regions surrounding Sydney.

Daylight savings in Sydney

Daylight savings in Sydney happens on the first Sunday of October at 2 am EST (Eastern Standard Time). It ends on the first Sunday in April at 3 am Eastern Daylight Saving Time. During this period, Sydney switches to AEDT or Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC +11).

Sydney hosts the largest population in New South Wales bringing together a wonderful mix of ethnicities and cultures. The result is a family friendly city with a number of employment opportunities that allow residents to keep up with its high standard of living. To balance out the bustling city of towering buildings, is sprawling suburbia and warm, sunny beaches. With mountains and protected sanctuaries not far from the city, residents seem to have the best of both worlds close at hand.

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