Freelance life in Sydney vs. Freelance life in the UK

Since we emigrated to Australia last year – and by ‘we’ I mean me, husband, three children age 11, 8 and 4 and a dog - I’ve been asked by many people across the pond what it’s like living and working as a freelance copywriter in Sydney, compared to the UK.

So for anyone interested, it’s probably easier if I give you a run down of a typical day in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, vs. Warrington in Cheshire, England, where we used to live.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Warrington, it’s a very large town (not yet an official city, but they’re trying) between Manchester and Liverpool. Once named the UK’s worst town for culture, it has far too many roundabouts and new-build housing estates but a nice pair of golden gates and some pretty rich history.

Here we go:

School run in Warrington:

Grey skies. Dry start, but begins to rain at 8.40 precisely just as we leave the house. Kids resemble the Michelin tyre man due to cold temperatures necessitating gigantic, duvet-style jackets. Emergency change of socks shoved into bags due to high precipitation. The monsoon conditions cause sudden onset of driving amnesia amongst fellow commuters and traffic grinds to a halt. Get soaked escorting kids into school.

School run in Sydney:

Sunny, blue skies. Warm temperatures already. Spray kids with obligatory sunscreen and Mozzie repellent. Peaceful drive to school at 8.30 and don’t even get out of the car. Drop and Go zones…otherwise known as Dump and Run….mean you just pull up into a designated area outside school, kick your little darlings out of the car and drive away. Gotta love the Aussies. “They’ll be right!”

Working environment as a freelance copywriter in Warrington:

Get back home just in time for Jeremy Kyle (toothless, in-bred miscreants from council estates yelling at each other over baby’s dubious parentage and DNA test, all hosted by a reformed gambling addict in a posh suit). Change out of soggy clothes and re-dry hair. Sit at dining room table as rain hammers windows (see banner photo above - this was the view from my front window) and start work, drafting copy, allocating deadlines and copy schedules for each day. Feel optimistic as rain stops by 1pm. Leave to pick up kids at 2.45. Step out of car near school and the heavens open. No umbrella. Kids, bags and you soaked. Again.

Working environment as a freelance copywriter in Sydney:

Back home way before 9am thanks to Dump and Run. Take laptop to a beachside café with free wi-fi. Feel inspired and motivated by the warm weather, sea air and laid-back lifestyle. Flat Whites and Long Blacks on tap. Respond to any new queries and copy requirements from UK clients which have come in overnight. Plan copy schedules to meet deadlines. Pick up kids at 3pm. Park near school – plenty of space because many people walk – and once again, don’t even get out of the car. The kids come to you.

After-school activities in Warrington:

Still lashing it down. Kids in front of TV, bickering over channels whilst being shouted at to do homework before swimming lessons at sad, tired, verruca-riddled, brown-stained indoor community pool with 25 other kids.

After-school activities in Sydney:

Sunny skies so post-school swim in the beach ocean pool. Or maybe bodyboarding. All this good, energetic stuff is completely free. Beach is quite empty. Laugh because the Aussie’s apparently think it’s ‘too cold’. It’s 24 degrees – the height of Summer temperatures and bikini and BBQ weather in Warrington. Feel proud that the kids are clearly hard as nails as they dive in the waves. Being born in England’s grim ‘Up North’ means the ability to withstand even sub-zero temperatures is in their genes.


So you get the picture…and although you may think it’s a rather biased one, this is pretty much how a typical day goes. OK so we might not ever be able to find a decent house because of extortionate property prices in Sydney and its suburbs, and the commute for husband means an hour on the bus each way to the CBD…but we wouldn’t swap it for the world.

When you’ve spent your life in North West England, where it rains that much you feel like your fingers are permanently wrinkled and there’s damp in your bones, the lifestyle change you get living somewhere where it’s dry and warm is massive. You get to truly live a life. Rather than watching each day pass through a rain-soaked, grey-skied window.

And as for working with clients and agencies that need copywriting support in the UK, I’ve found the time-difference is actually a real benefit. My working week starts as they’re settling down to watch Antiques Roadshow on the Beeb on a Sunday night. Being anything between nine and 11 hours in front means I’ve got a huge head start and can deliver to deadlines whilst they sleep.

We love Australia. When we got our permanent residency whilst back in the UK, I told friends it was like winning the lottery. No wonder this place is often referred to as the ‘lucky country’. Thanks for having us!