Connect with Like-Minded Expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You'll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global mind together.

Start here

Housing in Australia

Best Places to Live in Australia

Australia’s best cities all have a stellar reputation when it comes to quality of life. Sydney ranks high in job opportunities for expats; however, the housing market is overpriced. Melbourne offers a lot of cultural activities and Perth has a laid-back attitude to life. Expats looking to enjoy good wine will find Adelaide a good fit, and those who enjoy a quick escape into nature will feel right at home in Brisbane and Canberra. Choosing the ideal place to settle is a major decision. In this guide, we will provide you with essential information about the six most popular expat destinations in Australia to make your relocation as smooth as possible.

At a Glance 

In terms of employment opportunities and quality of life, the best places to live in Australia are the bigger cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Canberra.

  • Sydney is home to over 5 million residents, 37% of whom were born overseas. As the financial hub of the country, Sydney has a lot of job opportunities and an unemployment rate below the national average.
  • Melbourne is known to be Australia’s multi-cultural capital with a lot of museums, art galleries, theatres, bars, and restaurants, as well as outdoor festivals and concerts.
  • Perth is the meaning of work-life balance. Perthies have a laid-back attitude and always make time to enjoy the city’s golden beaches or a picnic in Victoria Park.
  • Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is known for having the country’s best wine and food. The city is gaining more and more popularity among families as real estate is more affordable there.
  • Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, offers the excitement of big city life with the possibility for rural escapes. Close to the country’s Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, Brisbane offers a lot of outdoor activities. 
  • Canberra, Australia’s capital has more of a family-friendly, small-town feel to it with its wide, tree-lined streets. Property here is even considered to be the most affordable in the whole country.

Australia’s Most Popular Cities

Are you thinking of relocating to the Land Down Under, but can’t decide where to put down your roots? This guide covers everything you need to know about the most popular expat places in Australia, and explores a bit of the Aussie culture, which is much more than beer, barbecues, and mean UV rays.

Wherever you decide to live in Australia, the popular cities in this guide have a high percentage of foreign-born residents and large expat communities. No matter if you are relocating alone or with your family, you will find friends and fellow expats through InterNations. There you can participate in local events, language and cultural gatherings, as well as other community and interest groups.

Australia has a thriving economy and is continuously looking for skilled workers. If you are wondering how to relocate to Australia, the best way to go about it is to apply for the General Skilled Migration program (GSM). Applicants will have to meet basic requirements and have to pass the Australian immigration Points Test to be issued a work visa. If you need help with your visa application or anything else related to your relocation, do not hesitate to contact us. InterNations GO! offers a variety of expert services such as international moving, home-finding, and visa support.


Sydney’s location, temperate climate, vibrant lifestyle, and growing multicultural community are just a few reasons why the city is becoming more and more popular among expats. However, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and it is better to know that before you plan on relocating there.The city is more than just beautiful national treasures, like the Glenbrook Gorge, and numerous parks and beaches. Sydney has a stable and growing economy with a higher GDP than Hong Kong. Between 2007 and 2012, over 2,000 businesses were added to the city, many of them being headquarters of international companies offering a variety of jobs.

Being the biggest Australian city and the capital of New South Wales, Sydney puts a lot of emphasis on education. If you’re an expat relocating with your family, you will be happy to know that there are five universities, numerous international schools, and a conservatorium of music. Culturally speaking, Sydney has a growing expat population with the presence of many different ethnicities, which is especially welcoming to families with children of any age.

Cultural Life

From Bondi Beach’s surf spots to the hiking trails of the bushland of the Blue Mountains, the region of Sydney offers a lot of recreational activities outdoors. With over 400 public parks and playgrounds, and even 23 community gardens, the city encourages its citizens to be outdoors.

Expats who enjoy a more hectic city atmosphere can visit the famous sights like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. There are plenty of festivals throughout the year, ranging from food to sports or live outdoor concerts. Sydney also offers a vast culinary experience with trendy new pubs, restaurants, and bars popping up every minute.

Since nearly half of the city’s population was born overseas, the city is very multicultural. It also has a growing LGBTQ community, and expats find the city very welcoming.

Size of the City

Greater Sydney extends from the Pacific shore to the Blue Mountains and covers 12,367.7 km2. Made up of 35 local councils, Sydney Region is home to 5.23 million habitants, approximately 65% of Australia’s entire population. Sydney’s urban area is divided into North and South of Sydney Harbour and West of the city center. The inner city is very expensive. Expats looking for affordable and family-friendly areas should take a look at Hills District and the area of the Northern Beaches. Western Sydney, home to a large expat community, it is a melting pot of interesting cultures.

Work Opportunities

The New South Wales’ capital has an economy that can compete with Hong Kong or Singapore. Sydney topped 300 billion USD (roughly 444 billion AUD) in the financial year of 2017. The metropolitan area of the city produces nearly ten percent of the country’s GDP every year, with tourism being its biggest industry. In 2016 alone, Sydney hosted over 3.3 million tourists.

However, Sydney is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified workers and the government is trying to attract highly skilled people from abroad. Expats looking for a job in Sydney should register with the SkillSelect Database, which allows businesses to find qualified employees.

Sydney is undisputedly the country’s financial hub. Expats will find job opportunities in the following industries:

  • real estate and construction;
  • tourism and hospitality;
  • technology and media;
  • healthcare;
  • creative and performing arts.

Even though Sydney is one of the most expensive cities worldwide, salaries have been stagnating. People working in the New South Wales area earn on average 83,000 AUD (55,410 USD) a year.

Cost of Living

Sydney is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. The average cost of living for a single person is 1,300 AUD (870 USD) per month, and rent is not even included in this figure. A family of four will have monthly costs of around 5,000 AUD (3,340 USD) without rent.

The urban housing market is very expensive. It is not uncommon for people to live in the suburbs and commute to work. For a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can expect to pay 2,500 AUD (1,700 USD) for rent per month. In the suburbs, a one-bedroom costs around 1,800 AUD (1,200 USD) per month. Buying a home in an urban area costs approximately 13,600 AUD (9,080 USD) per m2.

Outside of the center, the average price per m2 is 8,600 AUD (5,740 USD). Add to that utilities, which cost for a 2-3-bedroom apartment approximately 170 AUD (110 USD) a month.

For groceries and household items, make sure to budget roughly 450-700 AUD (300-470 USD) a month. The monthly transport pass will set you back 200 AUD (134 USD). An average mobile phone plan will cost you between 20 and 50 AUD (14-34 USD) per month.

Even though social security and healthcare (Medicare) are subsided by the government, and therefore almost free for most services, it is not uncommon to purchase a private health plan.

If you plan on enrolling your child in an international school, be aware that the school fees are around 18,700 AUD (12,500 USD) a year for one child. Daycare or kindergarten costs on average 2,200 AUD (1,500 USD) per child per month. 

Need to Relocate?

Make It Easy with Our Home-Finding, Moving, Settling-In, and Other Essential Services.

Get started


Life quality is part of the good news for expats planning on relocating to Melbourne, as the city was ranked 29 in the 2019 Expat Insider report from InterNations. In the Economist’s ranking of “the most liveable cities in the world,” Melbourne was placed first for five years in a row. Melbourne also has a flourishing economy with a lot of job opportunities for expats. Regardless of the praise, it is the second most expensive city, after Sydney. Expats wanting to relocate here need to be aware of the costs.

Melbourne is known as Australia’s cultural capital. The city has a lot of theatres, art galleries, museums, and hosts many cultural festivals that cater to the large multicultural community throughout the year.

Expats that cannot bring a car with them or are not yet allowed to drive in the country don’t need to fret. Melbourne has the largest tram line in the world (over 250 km track). Public transportation covers the entire city.

Cultural Life

Nicknamed Australia’s “City of Gardens”, Melbourne is an attractive city for expats. It has a lively arts and entertainment scene, exciting nightlife, a good variety of cultural festivals and sports events, and several parks and recreational spaces.

Melburnians are multicultural and have roots from all over the world. Almost 41 % of residents living in the city center of Melbourne were born outside of Australia, making the city an open and welcoming community for new expats to join.

Some of the city’s festivals cater to the different demographic groups. Chinese and Vietnamese residents living in Melbourne celebrate the Lunar New Year at Yarra’s Victoria Street Lunar Festival, while the Hispanic population organizes the Johnson Street Fiesta. Another big event is the LGBTQ pride march in Port Phillip, showcasing Melbourne’s support to the LGBTQ community.

The only downside to Melbourne is the unpredictable weather. It is not uncommon to experience “four seasons in a day” as Melburnians like to point out.

Size of the City

Melbourne is Australia’s second-most populous city with 4.81 million habitants, right after Sydney with 5.23 million. Approximately 31% of Melbournians were born overseas. In some districts, the percentage of expatriates is even higher than the national average of 28%. The city center alone is home to over 41% of Melbourne’s expats. As the capital of Victoria, Australia’s smallest and most densely populated mainland state, the city of Melbourne stretches along the coast and covers an area of 9,990 km2.

Melbourne is not only great for single expats looking for a change, but also for families. Neighborhoods such as Surrey Hills and Camberwell are ideal for expats with children, while the beachfront suburb of St. Kilda attracts millennials.

Work Opportunities

Melbourne is Victoria’s economic powerhouse. Up until the 1980s the city used to be called Australia’s “rustbelt” but, ever since then, it has transitioned into a thriving business and service sector. Visa-holding expats will find job opportunities not only in Melbourne but also in Victoria State as a whole.

Since Australia has been experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, the government set up a database, SkillSelect, where skilled expats can register and be invited to work in the country. The following industries welcome high skilled expats:

  • automotive and aviation industry;
  • building, construction and engineering;
  • information and communications technology;
  • performing arts;
  • agriculture, manufacturing, and mining;
  • tourism and hospitality.

The average annual salary in Melbourne for the above-mentioned industries is around 69,000 AUD (46,700 USD). While an accountant would earn a median wage of 58,000 AUD (39,300 USD) per year, a software engineer earns around 77,000 AUD (52,100 USD). The exact yearly income depends on the industry. Australia does have a minimum wage, though. As first 1st of July, 2019 the minimum wage is 740 AUD (500 USD) per week.

Cost of Living

When it comes to most expensive Australian cities, Melbourne ranks right after Sydney. Without taking into account the costs for rent, the average cost of living for a single person is 1,300AUD (860 USD) per month. A family of four will have to set aside 4,600 AUD (3,070 USD). Rent or a mortgage are also not included here.

Similar to Sydney, the housing market in Melbourne is very expensive. For a one-bedroom apartment in the city center you will probably pay around 1,800 AUD (1,200 USD) on rent per month. Renting a one-bedroom in the suburbs might save you up to 500 AUD (340 USD) per month, with the average rent being 1,400 AUD (935 USD).

Purchasing property in an urban area costs on average 4,000 AUD (2,670 USD) per m2 more than in Sydney. In Melbourne, the price per m2 is around 9,500 AUD (6,340 USD) in the center, while in the suburbs the average price is 7,700 AUD (5,100 USD) per m2. Depending on the size of the apartment, you will have to set aside approximately 200 AUD (135 USD). Groceries and household items in the state of Victoria are more expensive than in the rest of Australia and might set you back around 150-250 AUD (100-170 USD) per week.

The monthly public transport pass in Melbourne costs 155 AUD (105 USD). If you have a small child, make sure to budget monthly around 1,950 AUD (1,320 USD) for daycare. Australian public schools have the low tuition rate while still maintaining a high standard of education. Most of them even offer additional English classes for the children of expats. However, if you want to send your children to international schools, the annual fees will set you back on average 21,600 AUD (14,400 USD) per child.


Did you know that Perth, the capital of Western Australia is one of the most geographically isolated cities in the world? In fact, Perth is closer to Jakarta than to Sydney and mostly surrounded by ocean to the west and desert to the east. Yet, this doesn’t seem to stop the city from growing. Projections estimate that by 2050, Perth will have between 3.9 and 5.4 million residents.

In 2011 the government officially proclaimed Perth to be a “Regional Hardship Area,” meaning that there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill the vacant jobs. Perth has since become one of the easiest cities for expatriates qualified to work in the mining and service industries to be issued a visa.

Perth is the exact opposite of Melbourne when it comes to the weather. The capital of Western Australia is consistently warm throughout the year. The summers are not too hot, with a maximum of 30 ºC. The winters are mild, with the temperatures dipping to around 18ºC and lots of sunny days.

Cultural Life

Perth’s geographical isolation might be a disadvantage, but the city and the surrounding area of Western Australia is so rich in nature and recreational activities that expats end up enjoying a laid-back approach to life.

Outdoorsy people enjoy hiking along the trails in the Swan River Valley. The many beaches in and around Perth are also ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and surfing. Expats who have small children should visit Rottnest Island to observe quokkas. They look like smiling cat-sized hamsters in their natural habitat. In the Perth Hills it is also possible to bird watch, or go tour one of the many wildlife sanctuaries, and go camping in the Yanchep national park, home to koala colonies. Australia’s Freemantle Prison, an Australian convict site and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also worth a visit.

Something that is definitely not missing in Perth is a rich nightlife. The district of Northbridge has the most renowned bars and night clubs. Another popular destination for expats who like to work remotely or simply enjoy a good cup of coffee is the cappuccino strip, a street with a lot of cafés and restaurants. 

Size of the City

Perth has an area of 6,418 km2 with a population total of 2.14 million habitants. Most of the Australian-born residents living in Perth and Western Australia are of British or Irish ancestry. Their descendants date back to the 19th-century settlers, who squatted on the territory of the indigenous Whadjik Noongar people. Other expats in Perth either come from or have ancestors from Portugal, Italy, Eastern and South-eastern Europe or are of Anglo-Indian, Anglo-Burmese, and Chinese descent.  

Work Opportunities

Since becoming a “Regional Hardship Area” in 2011, Perth has welcomed a lot of high-skilled expats to work in the mining and construction industry. Although now there might be far fewer jobs in these industries than in 2011, Perth is still in need of skilled workers. In 2015, one in three employers had trouble finding qualified workers to hire.

Expats will find work in the following industries:

  • tourism and hospitality;
  • farming, agriculture, and manufacturing;
  • financial and legal services;
  • healthcare and education;
  • information and communications technology.

Expats in Perth can expect to earn a median annual wage of 71,000 AUD (48,052 USD). While a project engineer in Perth earns an average salary of 92,000 AUD (62,265 USD) per year, a retail store manager earns around 53,000 AUD (35,870 USD). 

Cost of Living

Perth has a cost of living index of 70.07, meaning is one of the most expensive cities worldwide alongside Melbourne and Sydney. The cost of living for one person in Perth is estimated to be 1,250 AUD (835 USD), while for a four-person family it’s around 4,500 AUD (3,000 USD) before rent.

Rent prices in Perth are about 8% lower than Melbourne. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 1,400 AUD (935 USD) per month, while in the suburbs it’s 1,000 AUD (670 USD). Buying a house in an urban area will set you back 6,600 AUD (4,400 USD) per m2. In the suburbs, the price per m2 is around 4,700 AUD (3,200 USD).

The monthly utility costs for a 2- to 3-bedroom apartment are 200 AUD (135 USD). For groceries and household items make sure to budget roughly 400-600 AUD (270-400 USD) per month. The monthly transport pass costs 140 AUD (95 USD). Sending your child to daycare is a monthly expense of 1,900 AUD (1,300 USD).


Although Adelaide is located in the far South of Australia, Adelaideans like their sense of independence and enjoy exploring. The city has extensive rail and air transport to other Australian cities making it the ideal place for a base.

Access to other places is just one of the many reasons Adelaide has consistently been voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The public transportation system is very efficient and cheap and covers almost all parts of town. The city center even has a free bus service, which takes you along the most popular tourist attractions.

Like most of the major Australian cities, Adelaide has a large expat community. Almost 30% of Adelaideans are foreign-born and welcoming of new people from overseas. The city also has the highest percentage of retired residents of any of Australia’s largest cities, making it a great place to enjoy retirement.

Cultural Life

Adelaide’s main attraction is undoubtedly the world-renowned Adelaide Festival with its focus on the performing and cultural arts. For over 50 years the festival has showcased a variety of performances, such as operas, concerts, literature readings, plays, and documentaries.

Aside from a plethora of different outdoor festivals, Adelaide is also home to a lot of parks, museums, and natural and historical landmarks. The Art Gallery of South Australia on North Terrace is worth a visit. With over 35 thousand artworks it is Australia’s second-biggest state art collection. Located nearby is the Parliament House, which can be visited during regular hours, as well as the South Australia Museum, Holy Trinity Church, Government House, South Australia’s State Liberty, and the old railway station.

Another popular attraction is the Botanic Garden, with its bicentennial conservatory and the zoo, the second oldest in Australia. What Adelaideans are most proud of is the city’s international gastronomy and its great wine, catering to everything your expat heart desires. You can even study Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide, that’s how seriously they take their wine.

Size of the City

Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, covers an area of 3,258 km2 and is home to a population of 1.3 million inhabitants. Although the fifth largest in Australia, the city has a countryside feel to it. The most coveted neighbourhood among expats is the historic beachside suburb of Glenelg. Expats relocating with a family will find Aberfoyle Park, Belair, and Banksia Park are the quieter and more family-friendly areas.

Work Opportunities

Adelaide is also affected by a skills shortage. For the city to continue thriving it needs about 5,000 new skilled people every year. The first problem: Adelaide is experiencing a decline in population, with many inhabitants moving away. The second: South Australia has a strict visa application process, making it difficult for expats to move there.

If you are interested in relocating to Adelaide, don’t be discouraged. The best way to go about your visa application is to ask directly for help at Immigration South Australia or use our visa support. At InterNations GO! we help expats all over the world take care of every step of their relocation.

Expats looking for jobs in Adelaide, will find opportunities here:

  • healthcare and education;
  • manufacturing and agriculture;
  • retail;
  • public administration;
  • mining and forestry;
  • real estate and construction.

Expats looking for jobs in these industries should expect an average annual salary of 64,000 AUD (43,315 USD). To compare, a retail store manager in Adelaide earns about 52,000 AUD (35,190 USD) per year, while a Software Engineer takes an annual salary of 70,000 AUD (47,375 USD) home.

Cost of Living

Good news for expats wanting to relocate to Adelaide. Rent prices in South Australia’s capital are almost 50% lower than in Sydney. However, living costs without rent are still quite high. A single person has to budget around 1,100 AUD (735 USD) per month for groceries, household items, utilities, eating out, transportation, etc.

On top of that, you are expected to pay approximately 1,300 AUD (870 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. A one-bedroom in suburbs is much cheaper, and costs on average 960 AUD (650 USD). A family of four will have monthly expenses of 4,000 AUD (2,700 USD) without rent or a mortgage. Add to that utilities, which will set you back approximately 190 AUD (125 USD) a month.

Expats thinking of purchasing a property in Adelaide will be delighted to find out that the current housing prices are much lower than in Sydney or Melbourne. The price per m2 in the city center is 4,100 AUD (2,700 USD). In the suburbs, the average price per m2 is 2,800 AUD (1,900 USD).

Groceries and household items will cut you short around 400-600 AUD (270-400 USD) per month. The monthly transport pass costs 100 AUD (65 USD). Compared to other Australian cities, daycare in Adelaide is much more affordable and costs around 680 AUD (450 USD) per child per month.


Known for its hot and almost subtropical climate, Queensland is also called “The Sunshine State”. Expatriates moving to Brisbane, the state’s capital, can expect sunny weather all year round.

Sunshine is not all there is to Brisbane and the State of Queensland. In fact, South East Queensland is one of the fastest-growing parts of the country with more than 3.4 million inhabitants. This area used to be home to a large Aboriginal community. However, because of the earlier British settlements, Aboriginal Australians now only make up about 3.6% of Queensland’s population.

Expats setting down in Brisbane will be glad to know that the city is home to a lot of ethnicities. According to a government survey from 2011, between 16% and 24% of all Brisbanites were born overseas. Most of those residents have roots in China, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and New Zealand, among many more.

Among Australian’s, Brisbane is also known as “BrisVegas” because of its many casinos, seaside resorts, and big skyscrapers, but expats will soon discover that Brisbane has a lot more to offer than casino strips.

Cultural Life

Brisbane’s beachfront is very popular among residents and tourists. The “Gold Coast” and “Sunshine Coast” have a special flair to them, ideal either for a relaxing stroll or for surfing. Just make sure to avoid the Gold Coast in November, as thousands of high school graduates from across Australia flock down to party for weeks on end.

Along the South Bank are a lot more leisure opportunities. If you are into the arts, make sure to visit the cultural precinct, home to a vibrant contemporary art scene. There you’ll find the Queensland Museum, a large Performing Arts Center, and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Expats living in Brisbane can also enjoy day trips out into nature. Hike the trails of the Scenic Rim or go whale-watching to Hervey Bay.

Size of the City

With a population of 2.4 million habitants, Brisbane is Australia’s third most populated city, right after Sydney and Melbourne. The city covers an area of 15,826 km2 with the city center located on the banks of the Brisbane River. Expats looking for a home here will find that Brisbane has reasonable house prices. The suburbs Auchenflower and Paddington are close to the city center and quite popular.

Work Opportunities

Queensland’s economy is based in the primary sector, with the mining industry and agriculture being the biggest employers. Finance and tourism are well-established sectors, with tourism contributing more than 3.3 billion AUD (roughly 2.2 billion USD) to the city’s gross regional product. However, the state is trying to move forward with a special emphasis on future growth sectors and research.

Expats in search of job opportunities in Brisbane will find openings in the following industries:

  • mining, agribusiness, and farming;
  • finance;
  • tourism and hospitality;
  • healthcare and social assistance;
  • scientific and technical services;
  • public administration and security.

Expats working in the above-mentioned industries can expect an average annual salary of 67,000 AUD (45,280 USD). For example, salaries in healthcare range from 66,000 AUD (44,600 USD) until 123,000 AUD (83,130 USD) depending on your position. A civil engineer’s average annual salary is 75,000 AUD (50,700 USD) and a graphic designer’s is 52,000 AUD (35,150 USD).

Cost of Living

Residing in Australia’s third-largest city definitely shows in living expenses—Brisbane is more expensive than Adelaide. However, in comparison to Sydney, the rent prices in Brisbane are two thirds lower. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs 1,700 AUD (1,135 USD), while the rent for the same apartment size in the suburbs is roughly 1,200 AUD (800 USD). Expats thinking of buying property will find that the price per m2 in the urban area is 6,500 AUD (4340 USD), while outside of the center the price drops to 4,350 AUD (2,940 USD) per m2.

Add to that the average cost of living per month. A single person will have to budget around 1,300 AUD (870 USD) per month for utilities, groceries, household items, transport passes, and other expenses. Expats with a family will have monthly costs of 4,500 AUD (3,000 USD).

Utilities for a 2-3-bedroom apartment in Brisbane costs 195 AUD (130 USD) a month. Groceries and household items will set you back about 450-700 AUD (300-470 USD) monthly. The monthly transport costs 150 (100 USD).

If you like eating out, plan around 80 AUD to 100 AUD (55-70 USD) for a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant. Daycare in Australia is private and not subsidized the government. The average monthly tuition fee per child is 1,700 AUD (1,135 USD).


Though Australia’s largest inland city, Canberra is comparably young. It was purposely built as the capital to avoid any conflict between Melbourne and Sydney. Construction on the capital started in 1913 and followed the principles of the garden city movement, planned and designed by Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Looking at the city from above, you can see the many geometrical shapes and large green areas that gave Canberra its “bush capital” nickname.

The city is surrounded by a lot of nature and ideal for expats who enjoy a quick escape from hectic city life. Canberra is situated close to the Brindabella Range, where the view from the top is magical, especially at sunrise or sunset. Mount Majura, Mount Taylor, Mount Mugga Mugga, Mount Ainslie, and Black Mountain are all nearby and well-suited for hikers of all levels. Although Canberra was established 150 km inland from the east coast, it is still possible to do water sports there. The north and south of the city are divided by the Molonglo River that has been dammed to create the popular Lake Burley Griffin.

As in other big Australian cities, the population in Canberra is quite multicultural with almost 30 % having been born abroad. The biggest expat group in Canberra has roots in the UK, second is Chinese expats and many others come originally from Europe or Southeast Asia. The population is also very young, with the mean age being 34.

Cultural Life

As Australia’s capital, Canberra boasts many national monuments and museums. Expats fond of arts and culture should pay a visit to the National Museum, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the Canberra Theatre and Playhouse, Llewellyn Hall, and Albert Hall. History fans will have a great time exploring the Australian War Memorial, the National Library, and the National Archives. Some of the government buildings, such as the Parliament House and the Royal Australian Mint, are also open to the public. Expats with children can stroll around the Australian National Botanical Gardens, or visit the Zoo, Aquarium, and the Dinosaur Museum.

Canberrans are very into team sports. Expats looking to find like-minded sport’s fans need to see a match at the Canberra Stadium, home to both the Canberra Raiders and the Brumbies rugby teams. You can go one step further and watch typical “Aussie Rules” football. It’s the Australian way of playing soccer, with two teams of eighteen players on a modified oval-shaped cricket field.

As the city is surrounded by mountains, Canberrans like to hike the trails of the Brindabella Range, Mount Majura, and Mount Taylor, just to name a few.

Size of the City

Although Canberra is the country’s capital, it has a small-town feel to it. This also shows in the population density. While only about 410,200 people are living in Canberra, the city covers an area 814.2 km2. The urban part of Canberra is known as “20-minute city” because of its accessible and great infrastructure. Due to well-planned roads and efficient cycling paths and public transport, Canberrans don’t have a long commute to anywhere.

Work Opportunities

As the capital, Canberra is the seat of the Australian government—the region’s largest employer. A large part of the population fills a position in the public sector or in one of the many government agencies. Another large employer is the Australian Defence force, with its headquarters and military establishments in the area.

In recent years, many technology and software companies have taken advantage of the fact that there are not many companies besides government agencies as a reason to set up shop in Canberra, and profit from their monopoly position.

Expats looking for employment in Canberra will find openings here:

  • public administration and security;
  • politics and military;
  • education and training;
  • healthcare and social assistance;
  • finance and legal services;
  • technology, software, and communications.

Canberra has Australia’s highest average full-time salary and the best benefits (pensions, healthcare etc.) system. Expats thinking of relocating here can expect a median annual salary of 94,000 AUD (62,800 USD).

Cost of Living

Expats looking to settle down here will be happy to hear that Canberra has the highest average full-time salary as well as being one of the cheaper Australian cities. Rent prices are around 29% lower than in Sydney, and consumer prices 8% lower.

A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around 1,800 AUD (1,200 USD) in rent per month, while outside of the center the rent is 1,400 AUD (930 USD). Apart from the rent, a single person has to budget roughly 1,300 AUD (870 USD) per month for living expenses. A family of four will have monthly expenses of 4,500 AUD (2,993.08 USD), excluding rent or mortgage.

Expats wanting to purchase a property will discover that Canberra’s housing market has reasonable prices. The price per m2 in the center is on average 6,000 AUD (4,000USD), while the price in the suburbs is 4,500 AUD (3,000 USD).

Utility prices in Canberra are fairly high in comparison to other Australian cities, so make sure to budget roughly 230 AUD (155 USD) for a 2- to 3-bedroom apartment. Groceries and household items will set you back around 400 to 600 AUD (270 to 400 USD) per month. The transport pass in Canberra is much cheaper compared to other Australian cities with a monthly cost of 90 AUD (60 USD). If you have a child that needs daycare while you are at work, make sure to plan 1,600 AUD (1,050 USD) per month.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and moving to Australia, but still have a lot of open questions, our complete relocation guide will help you ease your doubts and our relocation packages and services will help you along the way so you can smoothly settle into your new home.


Updated on: April 27, 2020

Connect with Fellow Expats