"A man taking a dump on my doorstep was the sign I'd been waiting for, Sydney."



It’s the opinion that makes me a very unpopular dinner party guest: Sydney is no longer liveable. I’m moving back to Brisbane. My friends are appalled.

This conclusion was formed the moment a man took a dump on the front step of my Darlinghurst home, at 9am as I stepped out for a run.

In the same week as the Victory Turd Incident, my landlord raised my rent.

A Sydneysider born and raised, I’ve watched what was once an invigorating city become a giant real estate nightmare, albeit an unsafe one. Sydney is a hive of activity but it’s also expensive, overpopulated and merciless.

When contemplating my move to Brisbane, I came across an article “Why I’m Leaving New York” that echoed my sentiments about Sydney: just because a city is tough to live in, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.

Millennials are flocking to the big smoke to make it – but at what cost?

In 2011 I relocated from my Annandale home to sunny Brisbane. My Sydney friends thought I was crazy – why would you leave all of this for a big country town? I was spoiled for fresh air, affordable housing and the security to walk home alone at night. Not the worse decision I’ve made.

Finally, I decided to return home; with its bright lights and chaos, Sydney is quite the seductress.

Sydney vs Brisbane.

In the three short years I was absent from Sydney, the cost of living had grown considerably; no longer could I pay for a coffee in loose change.

I discovered that my peers in Sydney, unlike their Queensland counterparts, all had second and third jobs to keep their dreams afloat, and after some thorough research I finally understood why.


According to the Australian Property Monitors, the Sydney median house price increased by $114,000 over the 2014 financial year; $807,880 is how much the average Sydneysider would need to find a place to call home. Although on a rise, the current Brisbane median house price sits at an achievable $477,352.

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with over 2.5 million inhabitants more than Brisbane. Swapping a home overlooking the XXXX for the Coke sign, I felt this change of pace deeply. My work/life balance best evidenced in the hesitancy to go for a $12 beer at the end of a 12 hour day. I learned very quickly that I had to work hard to make Sydney liveable. And perhaps I’d taken Brisbane for granted.

Recently, the Huffington Post published a list of growing American cities, reflecting a shift in priorities that mirrored my own. Topping the list, Tucson, Arizona was recommended for its clean air, Portland, Oregon for its alternative art scene. You can’t buy a hamburger at 3am in Washington D.C, but they do have world class bikeways. New York – arguably one of the toughest and most expensive cities in the world was so far down that list it was a mere footnote.

Is maintaining a $400 a week decaying attic room the marker of my success? No. Am I energised by the constant struggle to stay financially afloat? Absolutely not. A few years ago the Victory Turd Incident would have been excellent Happy Hour fodder, but now – I’m no longer laughing.

Do you agree? Do you live in Sydney? Do you live in other capital city? What about it is appealing to you?

Anna James is a travelling freelance journalist who has asked the hard questions at, xoJane, Thought Catalog, Woman’s DayFilmInk and Fox Sports.  When Anna is not writing, she’s Tweeting @missannajames.  Or talking about herself in third person on the internet. Visit her website here