Inquiring minds want to know what happened to abort our move to Sydney. The answer is quite simple: It's really amazingly expensive there. Think Manhattan expensive. You'd think this would've been something I looked into before it got as far as it did, and to some extent it was, but it's actually not an easy thing to find a quantitative answer to. I did push back against the offer I was given by Google, and was told repeatedly that the cost of living there was lower than here in the US, and that relative to it the offer was quite generous. I can only assume that those who told me this were badly mistaken about the cost of living here, or about the state of the family housing market there, or some combination of those and related factors.
The result is that when we got there and began to house-hunt, we discovered that we were totally unable to find anything we would live in, within an hour of work downtown, in a good public high school's catchment, within our budget. Note that said budget was about 30% higher than what we pay for our large 5-bedroom home here in the DC area. Our choices were either a 3-bedroom apartment about the size of an extended-stay hotel (note that I have three kids, so this would've meant the youngest two sharing the third, tiny bedroom), or a slightly larger 4-bedroom house or townhouse that is very old and generally unrenovated. The latter places reminded me of places I lived when I was in college.
After the fact, someone at Google (who wasn't involved in the original conversations) told me this was pretty much the status quo: That families have to live an hour or more from work. I was definitely unwilling to do that, especially in addition to paying so much more for housing and pretty much everything else as well.
I will say, though, that Sydney is a really great city, and the people there are the nicest I've ever encountered anywhere.
So we're staying where we are. I've happily returned to WOTI, though at a different site and in a different job. No hard feelings; though we were excited about the would-be adventure, we love it here, and are quite delighted to be staying.