Want to know more? Choosing where you’ll live when moving to a new country is a huge decision. It can have a huge impact on how comfortable you feel in your new surrounds and on how successful your relocation is. With this in mind, we’ve put together a useful guide of some of the best places to live in Australia.
Detailed below we’ve look at the various major cities in Australia and broken them down into work / life opportunities.
Which city has the best opportunities for my profession?
You’ve got a qualification in your home country and now you’re thinking of taking your skills to Australia. Sound like you? But where should you move to increase the possibilities of employment in your field?
In 2016, the national unemployment rate was 6.3% (Australian Bureau of Statistics). The unemployment rate has been fairly steady over the years, averaging 6.9% from 1978 to present, which is a good indicator of what you can expect for future years.
A more specific breakdown of unemployment rates per state is as follows:
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Must read: What are my job prospects?
Remember that these rates are across all sectors of employment and may not completely reflect the opportunities in your specific field.
When considering specific industries the Labor Market Information Portal states that the sectors with the highest number of persons employed (May 2016) include Health Care and Social Assistance (1,435,700), Retail Trade (1,238,000), Construction (1,037,500) and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (972,300). Areas with the least number of people employed include: Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (143,100) and Information Media and Telecommunications (212,000).
If you’re wondering what the job prospects in your field in Australia are like, you might also like to explore Job Outlook, which is a government initiative designed to give you an idea of the market when looking for a job or considering education.
Australia also has specific visas for those qualified in Skilled Professions. There is a specific Skilled Occupations List (which changes constantly) which details professions that are in demand in Australia and can hold better prospects for you in Australia than other sectors might.
Occupations currently on this list include: Construction Project Manager, Engineering Manager, Child Care Centre Manager, Medical Administrator, Nursing Clinical Director, Actuary, Architect, Surveyor, Chemical Engineer, Structural Engineer, Veterinarian, Special Needs Teacher, General Practitioner, Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, Software Engineer, Barrister, Social Worker, Carpenter Chef, Dental Therapist and more. Click here for a full, current list.
Ultimately, if you’re thinking of making the move and would prefer the security of work before you leave, you can start searching job portals such as Indeed, SEEK and jobsearch.gov.au to begin applying and to also get an idea of what roles are available at the moment. From there, you can determine the best city for you to live and work in.
But if you’re not as particular, then why not explore our cities and see which suits your personality and needs yourself.
What should I be getting paid?
The salary expectations at home may be vastly different from the expectations in Australia. While there will be variations between companies, positions and genders (yes, it still happens) it’s good to have a general idea of how much you should expect to be paid in your position.
Here, we’ve mashed together Glassdoor’s rating for average salary ranges across Australia’s largest employees for Australian university students and graduates to give you an idea of how much you can expect to receive.
Moving to Australia? You might like to consider thinking about…
From the sands of Bondi Beach to the sights of its famous harbour, Sydney is a city that’s famous all around the world. Australia’s largest and oldest city, Sydney is perhaps best known for its natural beauty and cultural diversity. It combines the hectic pace you’d expect of a major world city with some of the most iconic man-made landmarks anywhere in the world.
Weather-wise, Sydney follows the seasons with the warmest months being during the Australian summer (November to February) where temperatures can reach up to 40°C. Winters are quite mild here, reaching minimums of 6°C at night.
Sydney has Australia’s busiest airport, too, so if you’re looking to travel extensively, it may be a good bet for you.
With a population in excess of 4.6 million, Sydney is easily Australia’s largest city. While the Central Business District (CBD) is contained within a compact area near the harbour, its suburbs spread far to the north, south and west. As finding somewhere to live in the Inner City is quite expensive, you’ll probably be looking further afield for somewhere to live. At least while you’re still starting out.
For a trendy, bustling 20-something lifestyle, the suburbs of the Inner West might do the trick. If you’re looking for family friendly, the Hills District in the north-west or perhaps the Northern Beaches could be suitable. For those looking to settle among cultural pockets of fellow expats, Western Sydney is home to a significant migrant population. For example, many Indian expats live in the Parramatta region, while a number of migrants from Britain and New Zealand live in the city’s south-west.
Transport in Sydney is an oft-complained-about subject for the city’s residents. Many Sydneysiders choose to get around by car, though travel times and traffic queues can be extensive for those heading to the CBD from the west. Sydney’s public transport system covers nearly all of the metropolitan area.
Commuters can get around by train, bus, light rail or ferry, while the State Government has recently introduced an Opal Card (similar to London’s Oyster Card) to make it easier to get around on the public transport network.
Sydney’s economy is larger than Hong Kong’s or Singapore’s, producing more than $306 billion of goods and services each year. The major industries in the city are financial and professional services, manufacturing, information and communications technology, tourism, research and education, and the creative industries. Employment prospects in Sydney are generally considered to be quite good, with plenty of opportunities available and a low unemployment rate.
Sydney is home to a wide range of universities and educational institutions to help you further your learning journey. World-class universities based in the city include the University of Sydney (USYD) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), both of which have been named in the world’s top 100 universities.
In fact, Sydney has been named the sixth best student city globally, with other institutions including Macquarie University, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Western Sydney (UWS). Whatever you’re looking to study, you’ll be able to find the right place to do it in Sydney.
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia to live in and features prominently on lists of ‘the most expensive cities in the world’. As an example, the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre is $1,624.22 per month.
In comparison, the same apartment might cost around $946.16 per month in London and $1,719.44 in New York. According to the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), Sydney’s median house price for 2014 is $763,169, which is the highest among the capitals.
Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city and has legitimate claims to be the country’s cultural and sporting capital. The city’s four million residents love both the arts and sports, and the city is also home to some of Australia’s best dining and nightlife. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that The Economist regularly names Melbourne as one of the most livable cities in the world. Weather-wise, Melbourne is known for having “four seasons in one day”, while it follows the seasons, the weather often changes during the day expectantly. As it is further south than Sydney, winters and summers generally tend to be a few degrees lower with frost sometimes appearing during the winter months.
The heart of Melbourne sits on the banks of the Yarra River, with the city branching out in all directions from there.
Of course, choosing where to live will depend on your lifestyle and preferences.
You might choose to live by the sea in the artsy St Kilda suburb, or perhaps further afield in Sandringham. Or maybe you’ll find the unpretentious and vibrant surrounds of somewhere like Fitzroy more up your alley. Richmond boasts plenty of cafes and restaurants, Camberwell is leafy and family-friendly, while Surrey Hills is another great spot for those with kids. Melbourne is also a multicultural city, boasting large pockets of Greek, Italian, Chinese and Indian residents.
Designed around a grid system, Melbourne’s city centre is generally easy to navigate. The city also boasts an extensive public transport system which, especially in inner city areas, is quick and easy to use. Most popular spots can be easily reached by train or tram, while buses are generally used to link those areas without train or tram connections. All services are offered under the myki ticketing system.
Job prospects are generally quite reasonable for migrants moving to Melbourne. The main industries in Melbourne – and Victoria as a whole – include the automotive industry, aviation, building and construction, education, engineering, nursing, financial services, and information and communications technology. The city and its employers are welcoming of migrants looking for work and Australia has a reasonably low unemployment rate, meaning job prospects are good.
The state of Victoria has the highest university participation and graduation rates in the Asian region, and Melbourne is home to some world-class educational institutions. Students can study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, Monash University, or one of a number of other educational providers.
Both Monash Uni and the University of Melbourne are members of the Group of Eight, which is a coalition of leading tertiary institutions in the fields of research and professional education, while Melbourne is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top student cities.
Melbourne may not be as expensive as Sydney when it comes to cost of living, but it’s still quite pricey. A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre might cost you around $1,237.15 per month to rent.
The thing that attracts many migrants to Australia’s third-largest city is its weather. Brisbane boasts warmer temperatures than Sydney and Melbourne, allowing you to avoid Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather and the chill of a Sydney winter.
There’s also a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere to the place that you wouldn’t expect from such a major urban hub. Brisbane is one of the warmer cities in Australia as it’s in a subtropic environment and bears an average temperature of 16-25ºC. It’s also within easy distance to summer holiday spots like the Gold Coas and the Sunshine Coast.
With a population of around two million, Brisbane is growing fast as more and more people move to take advantage of the sub-tropical climate. The compact city centre is situated on the banks of the Brisbane River, with suburbs spreading in all four directions from there.
You can find reasonably priced accommodation quite close to the city centre in suburbs like Auchenflower and Paddington, while those looking for family-friendly living might turn their eyes north to the Morayfield region. Whichever direction you choose to move away from the city, you can find yourself large parcels of land, yet still be within reasonable driving distance of the CBD.
The grid-like layout and compact nature of Brisbane’s CBD make it relatively easy to get around. If you’re driving, however, a number of one-way streets can make navigation a little difficult. In terms of public transport; trains, ferries and buses are all available under the TransLink ticketing system.
The public transport system offers access to all of the city’s major areas, making it easy to get around in every direction. As the city continues to grow, the public transport network grows with it.
Brisbane boasts a thriving economic environment alongside a relaxed ambience that you may not find in other cities. Major industries in the region include: hospitality, tourism, health, business and manufacturing. As Brisbane is a city experiencing rapid growth, job prospects for migrants are quite good, with a wealth of employment opportunities available for the right applicants.
If you’re looking to study in Brisbane, the city is home to universities and educational institutions that cover all the major disciplines you would find at other Australian universities.
The University of Queensland (UQ) is the state’s oldest university and has more than 46,000 students and a graduate employment rate of 81.6%. Other options for students include, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
The cost of living in Brisbane is generally much cheaper than in Sydney and Melbourne. Property prices are much more affordable across the board, which is one of the reasons why many people choose to move north to the Sunshine State. On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre can set you back $1,234.04 per month.
Living in Hobart
From its relaxed country atmosphere to its beautiful country surrounds, Hobart has plenty going for it. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of a city like Sydney or Melbourne, everything in Hobart seems to move at a slightly slower pace. The city is also home to a thriving arts scene and family-friendly suburbs, and is noted to be a food lover’s paradise. Being Australia’s southernmost capital city, Hobart lends itself to the coldest temperatures of the cities, reaching temperatures as low as 4ºC during winter (July) and as high as 22ºC during summer.
The second oldest city in Australia, Hobart sits alongside the Derwent River and at the base of Mount Wellington. There are a number of desirable suburbs along the length of the Derwent, while the historic surrounds of Battery Point or the water views of Sandy Bay are always popular.
Those migrating to Hobart with their family might consider the southern suburb of Kingston as an option, as it was recently named the most family-friendly place to live in Australia.
There are two main ways to get around Hobart: drive yourself or take the bus.
The city has been sensibly laid out to make navigation easy, although keep an eye out for one-way streets when getting from A to B. The main bus interchange can be found in front of the General Post Office and offers sufficient service to most parts of the city. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver with prices varying depending on the distance travelled.
With a somewhat insular economy, Hobart is protected from the global fluctuations of the international markets. While this also means that Hobart isn’t an area prone to rapid economic growth – there are still good employment prospects for skilled migrants.
The Occupation List provided under the State Migration Plan includes positions in industries like construction, health, hospitality, automotive, viticulture and engineering. The Tasmanian Government migration unit can also help those who are moving to Australia and looking for work.
The University of Tasmania is a respected institution and one of the oldest in the country. It’s ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide and has more than 29,000 students. Hobart residents may also seek to undertake further study through TasTAFE, which offers a wide range of vocational education and training courses.
Although certain parts of Hobart are home to some expensive real estate, the cost of living is generally lower than in other parts of the country. However, you should expect to pay more for certain goods and services (for example electricity) than you would in other parts of the country.
Living in Adelaide
Known for its Mediterranean climate and boasting a population of around 1.3 million, Adelaide is becoming an increasingly popular place to live for new arrivals to Australia. The capital of South Australia, Adelaide combines a relaxed lifestyle, enviable weather conditions and affordable house prices. Adelaide weather is generally quite pleasant, it follows the seasons and hits around 7ºC during winter and peaks close to 30ºC on average during summer.
Adelaide is often described as being more like a big country town than a major city. Happily, this means you can often expect to pay ‘country town’ house prices rather than ‘big city’ ones. The median house price for Adelaide is under $400,000, though properties on the coast tend to cost more than those inland.
The historic beachside suburb of Glenelg is a sought-after location, while family-friendly suburbs include Aberfoyle Park, Belair and Banksia Park.
Adelaide is a well-planned city that’s easy to get around by car. In terms of public transport, metropolitan train, tram and bus services cover most of the city. These services are contracted out by the State Government and offered under the MetroTicket system.
The extensive bus network covers the majority of the city, while the tram service includes stops at Hindmarsh, the CBD and Glenelg. Four lines make up the Adelaide Metro train system: the Gawler Line, the Outer Harbor Line, the Noarlunga Line and the Belair Line.
Just like the rest of Australia, Adelaide boasts a healthy economy. With estimates stipulating that Adelaide needs about 5,000 new skilled migrants every year to thrive, there are plenty of job opportunities for the right people. Major industries in Adelaide include healthcare, manufacturing, retail, public administration, education and training, and healthcare.
Students looking to further their education in South Australia can choose from a number of institutions. According to the Good Universities Guide 2015, the University of South Australia is the highest ranking university in South Australia in the graduate outcome category for ‘Getting a Full Time Job.’
The University of Adelaide is the country’s third-oldest university and has been named one of the world’s top 200 universities. Bradford College is designed to offer a pathway for international students to the university, while other options include Flinders University and the University of South Australia.
Adelaide is generally considered to be one of Australia’s most affordable cities to live in. Goods and services, property prices and rent are all reasonable, with an average month of rent on a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre costing around $982.25.
Living in Canberra
It’s a common misconception that Sydney, being the largest city in Australia, is the capital of our country, but the truth is that our capital is Canberra. Located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Canberra is one of our smallest cities with a population of just over 373,000 people. Nevertheless, it receives many workers and visitors to its doorstep as it is the home of parliament. Canberra has a dry climate and is prone to frosty conditions during the thick of winter. If you plan to move and live in Canberra, expect temperatures as low as zero in winter (July) or as high as 28ºC during summer (January to February).
Australia’s capital city is divided in the centre by Lake Burley Griffin. To its north is the shopping and commercial area as well as the Australian War Memorial and National Library. Further north of these are the suburbs, where many government workers tend to reside.
Suburbs like Ainslie and O’Connor are popular areas for families living in houses, while Braddon and Civic are more popular for smaller numbers of occupants, with the majority of its residents living in flats, units or apartments.
To the south of Lake Burley Griffin is the Parliamentary triangle and embassy area. While it does have residential areas, its population is around half of what is in Canberra’s north, and features more expensive, waterside properties such as those on the Kingston Foreshore.
Canberra is a highly planned city, so it isn’t hard to maneuver your way around. Traffic jams and toll roads don’t really exist here with most car journeys taking little more than 20 minutes. As it’s a flat city, many of its residents choose to walk or cycle into work – depending on how convenient it is for them to commute from home to work or the shops.
In terms of public transport, because Canberra is so small it doesn’t rely on a suburban train or tram system. It does however provide a thorough bus network, and has a main train station and interstate buses to connect it to other cities and townships.
As Canberra houses parliament, many of its residents are public servants working for either the Australian or ACT Governments. Despite this, it’s interesting to hear that over half of the city’s workforce is employed in the private sector, making it a destination for business people.
In recent years, Canberra has begun to show more interest in cultural activities, and may soon develop more employment in the cultural sectors. Canberra might not be the business mecca of Australia, but it does offer a low unemployment rate, and the highest average full-time income in Australia, making it an enviable place to work in.
Both international and local students have a wealth of choice when it comes to higher education in Canberra with the University of Canberra (UC) and Australian National University (ANU) offering undergraduate and graduate awards in arts, business, engineering, legal studies and more.
ANU is also regarded as one of the top 20 universities in the world. More trade-based schools such as The Australian International Hotel School (AIHS), which teaches hospitality and business, and the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), which teaches military and civilian undergraduates and postgraduates, are also options for study in Canberra.
According to the REIA’s June 2014 report, the ACT is the most affordable state or territory in Australia to purchase a home. That is, when you consider the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments. In its December quarter 2013 report, it estimated that the median cost to purchase a three median room was $520,000, while to rent a three-bedroom home the median cost was $445 per week.
Living in Darwin
Darwin has a laid-back and relaxed approach to life that you’d struggle to find anywhere else in the world. Boasting world-class natural scenery, a buzzing nightlife and warm weather all year round, Darwin has a lot to offer to new Australians. Being so close to the tropics, Darwin’s weather follows the dry and wet seasons. Dry occurs between April and October and is the more pleasant season of the two with clear skies and balmy nights. During wet season (November to March) sees many rain and lightning storms with a little reprieve in terms of temperature, which on average jumps between 33 and 33ºC throughout the year.
With a population of some 100,000 people, Darwin is home to a multicultural mix of expats of all nationalities. With this in mind, it’s a place where many new migrants can expect to feel very welcome.
House prices in Darwin are quite high compared to most other capital cities, with properties in suburbs like Bayview and Fannie Bay fetching a pretty penny or two. Family-friendly options include Wanguri and Wulagi.
Driving yourself is the best way to get around Darwin. As it’s not a huge city, traffic is fairly manageable and commute times are not too long. If you need to access areas close to the city centre, a public bus service can get you where you need to go with tickets starting at $3.
Darwin is a city experiencing economic growth at the moment. And with new port facilities, an improved airport and the construction of the north-south railway, that growth is expected to continue. There are plenty of employment opportunities available for migrants with the right skills and training.
Major industries in the region include construction, retail, accommodation and food services, public administration and health care.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) teaches 21,000 students across four campuses and four training centres. Ranked in the top 2% of universities in the world, CDU aims to provide high-quality learning experiences to all students.
Although it’s not the biggest of cities, Darwin is actually quite expensive to live in. It boasts a competitive real estate market that drives up prices, while geographical isolation means you can expect to pay more for certain goods and services. On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre may cost $1,702.71 per month.
Living in Perth
Last but certainly not least on this guide to Australia’s capital cities is Perth. Featuring a wonderful climate and relaxed beachy lifestyle, it’s definitely worth considering when looking for somewhere to live. It may be a fair way away from the rest of Australia but that’s just how the locals like it. Another consistently warm city, Perth weather never dips too cold, peaking above 30ºC during summer and dipping to around 18ºC during winter.
With a population of about 1.25 million people, Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world. Situated on the banks of the Swan River, the city’s CBD is relatively compact and the suburbs spread out from there.
In general terms, suburbs in the city’s north and west are considered to be the most desirable places to live. Perth has a large migrant population, in part because of the mining boom in the state’s north, with many British migrants in particular calling this city home.
Although Perth is quite an easy city to drive around, the best approach for new arrivals is to use public transport. Operated by Transperth, the city’s public transport system is generally considered to be both reliable and affordable.
Buses and trains are the modes of transport used, with trains being particularly effective to help commuters access outer suburbs. Holding a SmartRider card may help make your public transport journeys easier to manage.
Thanks to Western Australia’s immense natural resources, the ‘mining boom’ has brought many in the mining industry to Western Australia. If you’ve got skills in this sector, there may be job opportunities for you in this sector.
All of the other regular industries you’d expect to find in a large city can be found in Perth too, including tourism, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and information and communications technology. However, because of the size of the city, jobs might be slightly harder to come by than in Sydney or Melbourne.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) is a member of the Group of Eight and one of Australia’s leading educational institutions. It’s ranked as the 88th best tertiary education institution in the world.
There are plenty of other study options for Western Australian students, including Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University (ECU) and more. All of the major conventional areas of study are covered by these institutions.
Although Perth is generally quite an affordable place to live, certain goods and services can cost more due to the city’s remote geographic isolation. The resources boom has seen a sharp rise in house prices in recent years, although you might still be able to rent a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre for around $1,452.43 per month.
Jeremy is finder's Global Head of Publishing & Editorial. Jeremy has been with finder since the very beginning and is part of the founding team working closely with Fred and Frank to build finder.com into the comparison network it is today.
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