An update post is long overdue, considering we’ve been in Sydney for over six weeks now (longer than our entire Mexico City adventure). However, the truth is, moving abroad is actually quite boring and there hasn’t been a ton to update on beyond our posts marking some of our big milestones (finding a house, buying a car, Theo starting daycare). The past weeks have been filled with countless hours searching Gumtree (the Australian version of Craigslist) for used furniture, multiple trips to Big W (the Australian Walmart) for all sorts of household items, and waiting around for service providers to come set up our internet and cable, repairmen to fix our dryer, and all sorts of other very mundane things. Not exactly the cool experiences that come to mind when one thinks of “moving to Australia”. We have yet to see a koala or kangaroo, travel anywhere outside of the City or surf Australian waves.
We spent our first few weeks in Sydney at a house we rented through Airbnb in North Sydney. It was a perfect landing spot for us being just a five minute walk to Matt’s work, super easy access into the City via train, and it even had a granny flat for my mom. It was in a quiet neighborhood and had a lot of character. The couple who owns it has a baby, so there were all the furnishings we needed for Theo too – a crib, changing table, high chair, toys, etc., which made it really convenient.
Nonetheless, three weeks was plenty of time there for us, and we were really happy to get the keys to the home we had rented and start moving in. Our few short weeks in North Sydney confirmed what we realized in Mexico City – we are not city dwellers. We like the convenience of nearby stores and easy access to transit, but we need open spaces, playgrounds, and most importantly, the beach! North Sydney is also very hilly, which made walking anywhere a huge effort, and there is a biting cold wind that comes off the bay and was particularly frigid the few weeks we were there.
We did the majority of our move into our new home in one epic 14-hour moving day, beginning with renting a utility truck at 8AM and then proceeding to pick up a media stand, couch, dining table and chairs, bedroom set, refrigerator and washing machine, and making intermittent trips out to our new place to unload furniture and make room for more stuff. We spent the rest of the week at Ikea, Target and other furnishing stores to fill in the gaps and get our home ready to live in, and finally moved in on Matt’s birthday – July 24th. I didn’t fully comprehend the effort (or money!) it would take to furnish a home entirely from scratch (although I started to suspect it as we deconstructed our home in San Diego and tried to find places for all of the random items that had accumulated over the years).
Our new home is suiting us very well. It’s located in Curl Curl, a suburb in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney about 30 minutes north of the City. The distance to the City is by far the biggest downside (and Matt’s hour commute by bus to work, each way). Otherwise, we love the area and really feel that it was the right choice for us. We are just a couple of blocks to numerous playgrounds, a five minute walk to the beach, and a short bike ride to the small downtown’s of Freshwater and Dee Why, both of which have cafes, stores and a variety of restaurant choices. We really love that our place is small (I was really worried when we were choosing it that it was too small, but now I can’t imagine furnishing anything larger). And the outdoor space is a perfect fit for us with tons of space to store our beach toys and bikes, wash off the sand and spread our gear out to dry.
Theo started daycare the week we moved in to our new place. It was a lot of change to throw at him at one time, and Matt and I have definitely paid for it in the whining and tantrums that have ensued (although maybe that just comes with the territory of the terrible twos?). He is adjusting well now and really enjoying school though. And he hasn’t cried at all this week when we’ve dropped him off – a huge relief! The center opened just a couple of weeks before Theo started, and they really had their hands full considering all of the students were new and needed to adjust. The teachers handled it wonderfully though, and held it together and always had the kids engaged in some activity or another. Theo has three teachers in his group, which ranges in age from 18 months to 3 years. One is British (she is his favorite and he talks about her all the time), another is South African and one is Australian. There is quite a cultural mix at the school too. We’ve been trying to adjust to using the Australian terms they use at daycare so that Theo is familiar with them… for example, naps are “sleeps”, diapers are “nappies” and snacks are “tea”.
Theo is at school three days a week, which gives me time to fit in about 15 hours of work a week as well as get errands done and spend some time at the gym. Matt has started biking Theo to daycare to drop him off (it’s adorable watching the two of them bike off together in the morning) and then catches the express bus from the stop just down the street from the daycare direct to North Sydney. I usually pick Theo up in the late afternoon since Matt’s day is 10+ hours including his two hours of commute time. Theo and I will stop at various playgrounds on our way home to test them out, or come straight home to begin feeding the bottomless pit that is his tiny little tummy (although his teachers insist he practically eats them out of house and home at school as well). On Theo’s days off we usually head to the playground or beach depending on how warm it is or head out on a walk if he’s patient enough to sit in the stroller for a while. On rainy days (of which there are quite a few), we head to the Manly Aquarium or one of the indoor aquatic centers that have leisure pools with fountains and sprayers for the kids to play in.
We’ve begun to develop a bit of a weekend routine as well. One morning we’ll usually bike into one of the little towns near us for a bite to eat or to play at the beach. Then we’ll spend the afternoon doing chores and errands or getting things set up around the house. The other day we usually try to get out for a bit more of an adventure, doing one of the many short coastal walks in the area (read about our favorites here) and then will spend some time in the evening playing at our local playground and netball courts (where all the little kids scooter and bike). While we were in North Sydney, we spent an afternoon walking over the Harbor Bridge into the City and exploring Circular Quay and the Opera House too, so we’ve spent some time being tourists.
We celebrated Theo’s 2nd birthday last weekend! He didn’t fully understand that it was his birthday, but he definitely grasped the concept of blowing out candles and wanted them in every piece of food we set in front of him that day and the few days following. We spent a good part of the day playing at the beach and then played at home with all of his new toys (he got a train set, mini pretend BBQ, lots of sports balls, some beach toys, etc.). We also made cupcakes (which he called “pop cakes”) and frosted them together.
All in all, we are doing very well. It has been a huge effort getting everything organized and set up, and we are definitely exhausted from it all. We are beginning to settle into routines though and are feeling a bit more at home, so it should keep getting easier. We are also looking forward to planning some bigger adventures in the near future to explore the region and start taking advantage of all the things there are to do here. We head home in September for three weeks as well and are really looking forward to that. Even though we only just got here, we already miss everyone terribly! And we really miss Maebee!