One of the first things I did after we decided we were moving to Sydney was Google the HGTV show House Hunters International and try to figure out how we could get on the show. I have always loved watching the show and thought they would provide a real estate agent who would help us navigate the crazy housing search in Sydney. After reading some very sour stories from previous people who had been on the show – and not finding any online application – I decided we would just devise our own “show” and that I would turn it into a blog post for my reader’s entertainment.
Our housing search couldn’t have worked out better for this post either since our decision actually came down to three very comparable houses. We actually had to sit down and write out our pro and con list and the decision was incredibly difficult. I’m excited to hear what everyone would have chosen.
We did a whirlwind tour of the areas we were considering living our first weekend in Sydney and quickly narrowed down our desired location to the Northern Beaches area. It had the small beach town feel that we loved so much about our home in the U.S. and we wanted a residential neighborhood with lots of parks and local establishments. In particular, the small town and adjacent beach of Freshwater really caught our eye. We combed the listings for houses that matched our criteria, set up appointments and attended open houses. We saw six places in total, but it came down to three houses.
- Detached house or duplex with private entrance
- Minimum 3 bedrooms
- Private, fenced outdoor space
- Within 15 minute walk to the beach
- At least 1 off-street parking space
- Pet friendly
House 1: Charming Character Home in Fairlight
Location: About a 15 minute walk to the harbor and 20 minute walk to Manly Beach. Just a couple of blocks to the large Stockland shopping center and located in a very nice residential neighborhood. Closest to Matt’s work in North Sydney (and just steps to a direct bus line).
Layout: Three full bedrooms plus a small office and a sunroom. Separate formal living space and large combined dining/family room. One bathroom. Each room was very compartmentalized and separate from the others. Large grass, fully-fenced backyard was accessed through steps leading down from the kitchen. Laundry was located in a basement storage area downstairs.
Pros: Lots of character and charm – picture rails, fireplace in master bedroom, window seats, ornate chandeliers, and patterned ceilings. In the process of being renovated with new paint, carpet and kitchen updates. Lots of space to accommodate all of our needs and guests.
Cons: Lacked convenient amenities such as bathtub, dishwasher and internal laundry. No outside entertaining area or covered patio and had to go downstairs to access backyard. Kitchen was closed off from living area (which would make it hard to cook and watch Theo). Furthest from the beach.
House 2: Manly Bungalow Just Steps to Beach
Location: On a busy road just two blocks from Manly Beach (North Steyne). Close to lots of shopping and stores, but in a busier touristy district. Close to direct bus line to Matt’s work.
Layout: Open floorpan layout with kitchen, dining and living areas connected, although an awkward angular layout. Three bedrooms with decent wardrobes in two of them. One bathroom and an internal laundry room. A backdoor from the laundry room led out to a decent sized patio space and connected to a single car garage space. Patio backed onto an alleyway with two parking spaces. Dated interior finishes.
Pros: Charming exterior. Fully enclosed garage space. Patio without grass (for Mae). Internal laundry, dishwasher, and bathtub. Large kitchen with lots of storage. Very close to the beach and shopping.
Cons: In a very busy area and not in a residential neighborhood. No character on the inside. Priciest of all the homes (by $300-400/week).
House 3: Curl Curl Duplex with Great Outdoor Entertaining Space
Location: In a quiet residential neighborhood less than 10 minutes walking to South Curl Curl beach. Five minute bike ride to Freshwater village and beach. Furthest north property (and furthest from Matt’s work) and not as convenient to shopping or bus lines.
Layout: Open floorpan layout with large counter separating kitchen from living space. Small living space and three small bedrooms with small wardrobes (one bedroom is almost just a glorified closet). Sliding door in kitchen leads out to a large covered balcony with steps down to another private patio and grass space. Garden boxes along edge of yard and fully fenced. Large storage shed at back of yard. Two full bathrooms – one off main living area (with a bathtub and laundry hookups) and another off the second bedroom.
Pros: Great beach town location near Freshwater and coastal walking paths. Awesome outdoor entertaining space that is well connected to the interior and very clean and usable yard space for Theo and Mae. Had all amenities – bathtub, internal laundry, dishwasher, open floorpan, etc. plus two full bathrooms. Brand new flooring and paint, new appliances in kitchen – very fresh and updated. Cheapest of all the properties.
Cons: Longest commute to Matt’s work. Attached home and close neighbors. Very small living space and bedrooms.
Let us know which one you think we should choose! We’ll post again in a few days to reveal our choice, so check back soon.