A few weeks ago my husband and I spent 10 days in Melbourne, our first time back since Christmas. We tried to catch up with as many people as possible, and the number one question I was asked was, of course, ‘Is it exhausting being perfect every day?’. The number two question was ‘How’s life in Sydney?’.
It’s a simple question, but I found it a lot harder to answer than I expected. Moving to Sydney is one of those life changes that seemed huge and overwhelming at first, but has actually been…well, it’s just been. Neither good or bad. Just life.
We recently hit six months in Sydney and thinking back over that time, I’m amazed at how quickly life here felt normal. It helped a lot that I was able to keep my job and stay working with the same people every day. Of course, the biggest wrench has been moving away from family and friends, and visiting Melbourne reminded me again of everything I’m missing down there. But for the most part, life in Sydney feels much like in Melbourne (only warmer).
The first month
Don’t worry, I’m not going to do an individual recap on all six of the months I’ve spent in Sydney. The first month is worth highlighting because, predictably, it was the hardest. The move itself went really smoothly, as smooth as you could ever dream a house move to go. Because we were both keeping our jobs, we were settled into a daily routine pretty quickly. But while my 9-5 was settled, I felt about as far from settled as I ever have.
I’d come home from work and sit on the couch, and it was the same couch as always but it just didn’t feel right. The apartment was wrong. The water tasted weird. Even the humidity levels outside were way off. It took a few weeks (and a few breakdowns – one large and several medium) for Sydney to start to feel like a place that could one day be home.
Home in two cities
The settling in process wasn’t helped by the fact that between moving in mid-November and Christmas I travelled back to Melbourne four times. There was a baby shower, wedding and concert that I had booked in before we moved, then a longer stay over Christmas. Going back so regularly made it hard to settle properly in Sydney. It was beginning to feel like home, but Melbourne still very much felt like my real home.
It wasn’t until I came back after Christmas that it really felt like Sydney was home. We had no more trips to Melbourne booked. It was a new year, and it was time to make a real new start in a new city.
Building routines and relationships
I had already started to build a routine before Christmas, but knowing that I was staying put in Sydney for a while allowed me to really work out what a week in my life looked like. There was work on Monday to Friday, and a walk down the street to the butcher, greengrocer and IGA to pick up groceries on the weekend. On Saturday mornings I started heading to a local parkrun, something that I’d done in Melbourne too. And I found a ballet class to fill my Monday nights.
One of the big blessings of moving to Sydney was that it forced me to drop my many regular commitments and only pick up those I really missed. My life in Melbourne was beyond hectic. I was out somewhere every weeknight, often until quite late, and weekends were usually pretty full too. I often thought about clearing my schedule but there was nothing in there that I was willing to drop. I have so much more free time in Sydney. I’ve only picked up the things I knew I really wanted to keep, like ballet and church and a bible study. Most nights I’m able to relax at home and get to bed at a decent hour, and my life is so much better for it.
The final piece of the puzzle was finding a church community. Joining a church was always something we were going to do. There are many benefits of being part of a church, but one of the biggest is that it’s pretty much the only way I know to make friends as an adult. Every week we see the same people at church and our bible study group. We’ve been invited to lunch, a wine and cheese night and plenty of other social gatherings. Slowly but surely I’m getting to know people and am on the path to having a group I can call ‘friends’.
Six months later
So six months down the track, I can say that Sydney is…Sydney. It feels a lot like Melbourne in many ways and my life is pretty similar here. I still miss my family and friends in Melbourne and wish I could see them more. I still miss Melbourne’s cafes (cliched but true – and I don’t even like coffee) and weather. Yes, I am the one person in the world who prefers Melbourne’s weather to Sydney. I still consider myself a Melbournian and think of Melbourne as home (hopefully it will be again one day soon!). But Sydney is, well it’s okay. 3.5 stars.