10 Best Places to Live in Australia

If you’re thinking about moving abroad, Australia should be one of your top countries of consideration. With outstanding weather, exciting nature, and relaxed multicultural cities, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular destination to move to.

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The Australian lifestyle is known worldwide to be laid back, healthy, and pretty safe, so it’s no wonder many travellers fall in love with the destination and yearn for a way to one day call it home.

With a strong emphasis on work-life balance and an unemployment rate below 5%, Australia offers a number of reasons to relocate here, be it for a few months or for a few years. In addition, the country boasts an attractive working holiday visa program that many take advantage of in order to stay in Australia for a year or more.

If you plan on moving to Australia to study, you’re in luck, as there are countless excellent universities to choose from. You won’t be alone if you’re studying abroad; Australia ranks third for the total number of international students at universities. Whether you want to study, work, or just travel long-term, moving to Australia is an excellent decision!

The Best Places To Live In Australia

Deciding where to live in Australia is quite a feat, given the plethora of outstanding cities to pick from. This guide breaks down the pros and cons of the most popular places to live in Australia.

Sydney, NSW: Best City For The Working Professional

Perhaps the most well-known city in the country, Sydney is always a top choice for those looking to move to Australia. Sydney is the central hub of the country, which is why a lot of people assume it’s the capital city of Australia. Young professionals flock to this city in search of job opportunities in almost every industry.

As the largest city in the country, Sydney is also known worldwide for its racial tolerance and LGBTQ friendliness.

Well known for its beautiful bay, iconic Sydney Opera House, and fantastic beaches, such as the famous Bondi Beach, Sydney is a top destination for tourists and expats alike.

If you choose to live in Sydney, Australia, expect fantastic weather with strong sun and pleasant temperatures year-round.

The city usually sees less than 2 mm of rain each month. On the weekends, you’ll have plenty to do both in the city and just outside. There are lots of opportunities to take great day trips to places such as Port Stephens, Hunter Valley, and Blue Mountains National Park.

The biggest drawback is that living in Sydney, Australia is very expensive. Nomad List estimates that the average monthly cost of living for a long-term resident close to the city centre is $3,751.

But despite the cost of living, Sydney is still considered the happiest city in Australia according to the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. So, without a doubt, it is a great place to live in Australia, especially if you are young and are coming to Australia to live and work.

 Sydney included on the best place to live in Australia
Sydney Harbour
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Best Places to Live in Australia - Sydney
Bondi Icebergs Club, Bondi Beach, Sydney

Sydney Is Best For Young Professionals

Sydney is super laid-back; the awesome weather and beaches are a huge plus. But it’s not cheap. To really savour life in Sydney, you’ll want a decent paycheck, especially with the pricey rent. It also stands out for its diverse culture, making it a breeze for young professionals to settle into Australian life. 

Sydney is definitely one of the world’s most stunning cities. I mean, there’s the famous Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, plus colourful neighbourhoods like Potts Point, Surry Hills, and Newtown. 

Also, Sydney’s social scene is off the charts. It’s so lively you might be left wondering whether the event planners here have some secret manual. It also has an efficient and affordable public transport system. And for a big city (5.3 million folks), it’s surprisingly safe, and you can walk around or take public transport at night.

Sydney Harbour Sunset
Sydney Harbour Sunset

READ NEXT: Locals’ Tips For Fun Things To Do In Sydney, Australia

Melbourne, VIC: Best City For The Creative Types

Regularly named one of the most livable cities in the world by The Economist magazine, Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city and another excellent place to live. Diversity is everything in Melbourne, and the expat community is thriving. It’s a hub for artists, hipsters, and anyone in the creative industries.

If you are outgoing and like to try new things, you’ll have no problem meeting people and finding exciting things to do in this cultural capital of Australia.

Like Sydney, Melbourne is located right on Australia’s beautiful coast. Melbourne has good weather and is also known as Australia’s cultural hub, and is ranked as the third-best university city in the world. If you’re moving to Australia to be a student, Melbourne should be your top choice.

While in Melbourne, you’ll want to take a number of day trips, and you won’t want to miss the winemaking hub that is the Yarra Valley or the spectacular drive along the Great Ocean Road.

While not as pricey as Sydney, Melbourne is still a relatively expensive city.

The average monthly cost of living for an expat is estimated at $3,353.

Melbourne, best place to live in Australia
Sunrise at Melbourne
Where to stay in Melbourne, Australia
Elwood beach overlooking the Melbourne skyline.
Melbourne included on the best place to live in Australia
Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Explore The Art Galleries

If you’re an art enthusiast, Melbourne is a must-visit on your travel list. This lively city is full of world-class art galleries and a buzzing arts and culture scene. Everywhere you look, there are theatres, live music spots, and artist hangouts. Plus, Melbourne’s architectural mix of Victorian-era gems and sleek skyscrapers is a sight to behold.

Melbourne has world-renowned art galleries like the National Gallery of Victoria. The city also has a wide variety of live music venues, from cosy bars to spacious concert halls. 

For those looking for opportunities to showcase arts and craftworks, visit the Federation Square Cultural Precinct. Here, you’ll find top attractions like the Ian Potter Centre for Australian Art, the Melbourne Theatre Company, and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Plus, there are plenty of dining options for you to recharge after your exploration.

Immerse Yourself in Melbourne’s Festivals

Melbourne hosts incredible events and festivals throughout the year, so there’s likely something happening that you can be part of. From the Australian Open and Grand Prix to the White Night Festival, St Kilda Festival, Moomba Festival, Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, and many more, there’s always excitement in the air.

St Kilda Festival 2012 main stage Melbourne
St Kilda Festival main stage. Photo Credit: Visit Victoria/visitvictoria.com

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Melbourne, Australia

Brisbane, QLD: Best City For Families

Brisbane is another great place to live in Australia, especially for those looking to settle down with a family or those looking to take advantage of its great location in sunny Queensland.

As the capital of Queensland, Brisbane serves as the jumping off point for exploring what many consider to be Australia’s most exciting region.

Those living in Brisbane can visit Mount Warning, Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Springbrook National Park and the Currumbin Rock pools and many other Queensland destinations on a little weekend escape from the city. Another great trip to take is a road trip between Brisbane and Cairns or the iconic road trip from Brisbane to Sydney.

The weather in Brisbane is consistently good and boasts some of the mildest winters among Australia’s big cities. Brisbane is popular among expats, mostly due to the fact that the talent pool in Brisbane is much smaller, so there are more job opportunities for qualified candidates. And the jobs pay better too!

It’s One Of The Many Reasons Why We Choose To Live In Brisbane During Our Time In Australia From 2013-2015.

Brisbane may not be a party hub, but that’s what we liked about it. It’s a laid-back city that offers a bit of everything. It’s one of the best places to live in Australia for families, thanks to a plethora of green spaces around the city and activities for kids.

Luckily for Brisbane residents, there are a number of beautiful beaches on offshore islands within an hour of the city. Moreton Island, North Stradbroke Island, and Bribie Island all offer plenty of great places to cool off on a hot weekend.

Another huge selling point for Brisbane is that it is Australia’s most sustainable city. With an incredible 2,000 parks and astounding biodiversity, Brisbane is the perfect city for the truly eco-conscious citizen.

And to top it all off, living in Brisbane doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

A month’s expenses will average around $3,100 (although we lived here on a lot less).

Brisbane included on the best place to live in Australia
Brisbane Skyline
Brisbane city beach
Brisbane city beach
South Bank Parklands
South Bank Parklands

Fun Family Activities in The City

Families have plenty of fun options in and around the city. Southbank Parklands is a top choice, offering a giant playground for kids right in the heart of Brisbane. Streets Beach, a massive man-made beach pool, is a major attraction here. The Riverside markets are also fantastic for exploration, featuring crafty and handmade items.

Another fantastic family activity in Brisbane is to board a boat and enjoy a river cruise. For panoramic city views, don’t miss a ride on the Brisbane Wheel. Alternatively, you can have fun spending a day at Lone Pine Koala Park, where you can meet some of Australia’s most adorable animals.

Visit Interactive Museums

One of our favourites is the Queensland Museum, which features the state’s fascinating natural history. They also have a fantastic science centre for interactive experiences, which is an optional extra but definitely worth it, especially for kids. Other options include the National Maritime Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, and the Gallery of Modern Art, all of which have fantastic interactive exhibits.

Spend The Day at The Beach

The Sunshine Coast, just a short drive north, has many beautiful beaches to explore, including the popular Noosa beach. Other family-friendly beaches on the Sunshine Coast include Caloundra, Coolum, and Cotton Tree.

You can take surf lessons or simply rent boogie boards for some wave fun. After your time in the surf, don’t forget to visit one of the numerous surf clubs along the coast for a scenic lunch. 

Things to do in Noosa, Queensland, Australia
Noosa Main Beach, Noosa National Park

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Brisbane, Australia

Perth, WA: Best Up And Coming City

As the capital of Western Australia, Perth serves as the gateway to Australia’s beautiful West Coast. Famous for the Swan River that twists through the city and Mount Eliza that looms behind it, Perth is a city often overlooked by those wanting to move to Australia.

Those living in Perth have the opportunity to explore Australia’s West Coast, the country’s most underrated region. You can visit Penguin Island and Serpentine Falls, take a road trip up the coast to Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef, or head all the way north to the beautiful town of Broome.

Perth is an up-and-coming city but still has a very mellow atmosphere. Being one of the few major cities in Western Australia, you’ll love living here if you’re looking for a feeling of remoteness. It’s also one of Australia’s sunniest cities, as it hardly ever rains. This fact alone makes it one of the best places to live in Australia.

Monthly expenses in Perth will set you back by a whopping $4,200 for an expat resident.

Western Australia itinerary: Perth Skyline from Kings Park
Perth Skyline from Kings Park

Perth Has Plenty To Offer

Take a moment to discover one of Australia’s less-explored states. Expats and travellers often focus on the Eastern part of the country. Despite the high cost of living, the city’s attraction lies in its natural beauty, burgeoning food scene, cultural attractions, and its closeness to wine regions.

Known as Transperth, Perth’s public transport is a fully integrated system encompassing trains, buses, and ferries. While not as frequent as systems like Melbourne, it’s reliable and user-friendly.

Newcomers to Perth from the Northern Hemisphere often revel in its weather. Anticipate dry, warm summers and mild winters. If you’re from a Northern country, experiencing a hot Christmas can be a surprise.

In Perth, even though job growth is relatively high, you won’t encounter the hurried vibe of an inner city or terrible traffic during rush hour.

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Perth, Western Australia

Adelaide, South Australia: Best City For Students

The hub of Southern Australia, Adelaide, is another city that shouldn’t be overlooked by those looking to find the perfect place to live in Australia. It is the major city in the state, and Adelaide’s upscale and elite nature makes it appealing to both students and professionals alike. 

There’s always something going on here, from university events to cultural activities and festivals that take place in the region all year round. Some of the best food and street markets in Australia can be found here, too.

While you’ll never be bored within the city itself, Adelaide’s location is perfect for a great number of day trips and road trip adventures.

Visit the Fleurieu Peninsula for the stunning countryside, the Murray River for watersports, Kangaroo Island for wildlife, or Barossa for famous Australian wineries. If you’re on the fence about where to live in Australia, living in Adelaide is truly a little bit of everything.

Adelaide is a great city to live in Australia, with monthly costs averaging just around $4,789.

Fall colours in Adelaide, Australia
Fall colours in Adelaide, Australia

World Class Education

If you’re looking to travel and study in South Australia, Adelaide is home to three state universities, all ranked in the top 2% worldwide. Several private universities and specialised higher education institutions also provide high-quality education to international students. 

Work While You Study 

There are a lot of industries that offer part-time and casual work opportunities in Adelaide. As an international student, it’s important to know your work rights before you work, understand your student visa’s working conditions, and comply with any restrictions.

Affordable Accommodation and Transportation Options

Even with high cost of living, Adelaide offers affordable student accommodations with rental prices that vary based on location and accommodation type. 

Due to its compact size and proximity to most city attractions, getting around the city is easy, and suburbs are also convenient with Adelaide’s public transport system, Adelaide Metro.

Budget-Friendly Activities

In Adelaide, you can explore the city for free. Visit the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) at no cost. Then, take a leisurely walk along North Terrace and gaze at the architecture

You can also have a picnic in a park or treat yourself to a meal at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. For a free beach day, head to Glenelg, just a 20-minute tram ride from the city centre.

READ NEXT: What To Do In Adelaide, South Australia

Hobart, TAS: Best For Outdoor Lovers

Located on Tasmania, Hobart is a unique port city on the southeast side of the island. Known for its affordable housing, living in Hobart is a fantastic option for those who want to explore Tasmania’s mind-boggling beauty with heaps of outdoor activities.

From Hobart, you have access to attractions such as the Overland Track, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, and many other unforgettable experiences and off the beaten track destinations. Hobart is a great option if you want to study, as it is home to an upbeat student community.

Monthly living expenses in Hobart would add up to around $3,447.

Hobart included on the best place to live in Australia
Views from the Overland Track

Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene

This vibrant city hosts a variety of cultural events and captivating experiences all year round. Dive into a calendar packed with diverse events that cater to all interests and passions. 

From the world-famous Taste of Tasmania, offering a culinary extravaganza featuring the best local produce and wines, to the electrifying Dark Mofo, a winter festival known for its provocative art installations and immersive experiences, Hobart knows how to celebrate in style. 

You can also join the excitement at the vibrant Hobart Summer Festival, where the city comes alive with music, dance, and entertainment for all ages.

A Safe City With Low Crime Rate

Hobart is generally considered a safe city, but it’s essential to take precautions to ensure your safety. The city is known for its vibrant nightlife and drinking culture, and it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings.

Relaxed Vibe Around The City

Hobart offers a perfect blend of outdoor activities and laid-back city vibes. You can easily enjoy your time in Hobart and spend hours relaxing in the sunshine without the hustle of the metro city.

READ NEXT: Top Things To Do In Hobart, Tasmania

Cairns, QLD: Best City For Tourism

Best known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is the perfect place to live if you’re interested in diving and exploring Australia’s underwater world. Due to the reef being right nearby and Cairns being a relatively small city, the impact of tourism can feel quite intense at times.

That being said, it draws a great community of young people and there’s always something fun happening in town. If you want an upbeat community and you work in tourism or hospitality, this may very well be the best place to live in Australia. Summer temperatures can be extraordinarily high, so do take this into consideration if you’re thinking of moving to Cairns.

By Australian standards, it’s a very affordable city with the cost of living averaging $3,000 per month.

Panoramic views of Cairns from our room at Riley
Panoramic views of Cairns from Riley Hotel

Diverse Job Opportunities

Most people living in Cairns work in the tourism industry, but you’ll also find media, agriculture, and industry opportunities here. The city plays a significant role in Queensland’s media landscape with multiple TV stations, newspapers, and radio channels. 

High-quality Educational Establishments

Near the city centre, Freshwater is an excellent residential suburb with great access to the CBD, airport, and northern beaches. It’s highly regarded by locals, offering excellent housing options, schools, parks, and dining spots.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Brisbane To Cairns Drive Itinerary

Darwin, NT: Best Underrated City

Darwin is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory and is best known for being the gateway to Kakadu National Park. If you’re a nature lover, the city of Darwin might just be your top choice as it offers an opportunity to live next to huge populations of crocodiles, birds, and other wildlife.

It’s also a great place for students, with some standout universities that are particularly well known for excellence in research. The weather here can be hot as the temperature commonly hovers 40°C all year round.

Due to its remote location, living costs in Darwin can be a turn-off, as they are some of the highest in Australia at around $4,500 per month.

Darwin, Northern Territory

Vibrant Communities

You can enjoy coastal living in the suburbs, centres on the cliff-front esplanade and parklands. Biking, rollerblading, and skateboarding are the main ways to get around. In the dry season, food trucks line the Nightcliff Foreshore, offering a variety of takeaway options like tacos, laksas, baked potatoes, and pizzas. Sunday mornings feature community markets in Nightcliff as well.

Thriving Cultural Scene and Arts Galleries

You’ll discover hip cafes, trendy restaurants, unique boutiques, and spacious green parks right in the heart of Darwin city centre. It’s also the hub for major tourist attractions like WWII heritage spots, museums, art galleries, and the lively Darwin Waterfront Precinct. Here, you’ll find a wave pool, a lagoon, shopping, and a variety of dining options.

It’s Forever Summer in Darwin

If you enjoy a tropical climate with warm weather, Darwin is the place to be. It’s summer in Darwin all year round, so pack your T-shirts and shorts and start your journey. 

Daytime temperatures usually stay above 30 degrees Celsius, and there are about 12 hours of daylight throughout the year. Darwin has essentially two seasons: Dry Summer from April to October and Tropical Summer from November to March.

Byron Bay, NSW: Best City For Alternative Lifestyle

Best known as a backpackers paradise on the coast, Bryon Bay is a small but well-loved town in New South Wales. Its popularity has exploded in recent years, and it now finds itself on nearly every tourist’s eastern Australia itinerary.

With its heavenly beaches, iconic lighthouses, and happy-go-lucky vibe, it’s no wonder this seaside town has become so popular for both tourists and expats. Over the years, Byron Bay has become a hub for foodies, yogis, health advocates and offers a unique alternative community unlike any other in Australia.

The biggest drawback of living in Byron Bay is the price. Monthly costs here can be as high as $2,900, making it one of the most expensive options, but still, the best place to live in Australia for those looking for an alternative lifestyle.

Byron Bay included on the best place to live in Australia
One of the many beaches in Byron Bay, Australia
What to do in Byron Bay: Beach in New South Wales
Surfing in Byron Bay, NSW

The Hippie Epicentre of Australia

Byron Bay is the haven of an alternative community, for those of you who’ve said no to the typical 9-5 grind in search of a more genuine and pure way of life. It’s this unapologetically free-spirited ethos that draws unique individuals from all corners of the globe to Byron. 

Days here are best spent strolling barefoot on the golden beaches and meandering through charming side streets. Evenings are for sunsets, cocktails, and the mesmerising tunes of incredible street musicians. 

Lively Creative Atmosphere

The creative vibe can be seen from the moment you set foot in ‘The Bay,’ as the locals affectionately call it. Everywhere you turn, you’ll discover art in its myriad forms, from exceptional buskers to stunning street art and live paintings in the making.

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Byron Bay, Australia

Gold Coast, QLD: Best City For Surfers

The Gold Coast is widely considered one of the best places to live in the entire country. Like Byron Bay, the Gold Coast’s popularity has exploded in recent years and attracts tourists from every corner of the globe.

Also known for Surfers Paradise, its nearly perfect weather and fantastic beaches make it a truly idyllic place to vacation or live. The expat community there is growing steadily, and it is becoming a top choice for families as well. The surfing culture is huge and nearby green spaces such as Burleigh Heads National Park and Springbrook National Park offer endless activities for copious sunny days.

It’s also becoming both a gastronomy and entrepreneurial hot spot, making it an awesome place to live and work in Australia. 

Expect to pay around a whooping $5,600 in living expenses each month, which is rather pricey, especially if you don’t need to be right on the beach.

Burleigh Heads Beach, Gold Coast, QLD
Burleigh Heads Beach, Gold Coast, QLD
A surfer riding a wave at Coolangatta Beach, Gold Coast, Australia
A surfer riding a wave at Coolangatta Beach, Gold Coast, Australia

Australia’s Theme Park Paradise

This city is full of fun attractions and is home to some of the globe’s finest theme parks, like Wet’n’Wild, Dreamworld, Sea World, and Movie World. These parks draw millions of visitors each year, ranking among Australia’s top tourist hotspots.

Immerse Yourself In Gold Coast’s Culture

Thanks to the numerous galleries and creative hubs springing up across the city, Gold Coast’s multicultural art scene is thriving. One notable place is Home of the Arts (HOTA), formerly known as the Gold Coast Arts Centre. 

HOTA offers a 1,130-plus seat Arts Theatre, the Gold Coast City Gallery, two cinemas, a cafe, function spaces, a chapel, and two small performance venues. It’s open all year round and serves as a fantastic all-in-one destination for theatre, art exhibitions, music, film, and free events suitable for both adults and kids.

Enjoy The Festivals

Gold Coast hosts numerous festivals year-round, from music and food to sports and artSWELL Sculpture Festival, held in early September, features over 50 sculptures by national and international artists along the Currumbin shoreline, offering a unique beachfront art experience. 

Bleach * Festival, the Gold Coast’s premier arts and cultural event, takes place each April. This popular festival promotes the city’s stunning natural landscape as unconventional venues for local and international artists. 

How To Choose Where to Live In Australia

Choosing the best place to live in Australia can be difficult with so many appealing options. As with any big decision, it ultimately comes down to your priorities and what matters most to you.

If you’re looking for a young, vibrant cultural community, Melbourne or Sydney should be your top choices.

If you’re on a budget, consider Cairns or Adelaide.

If you want to live in a smaller, more tight-knit community, Byron Bay or one of the suburbs of the Gold Coast might be just what you’re looking for. If being close to the beach is an important factor, you’re in luck – all of these cities are right on the ocean!

All in all, if you’re thinking of moving to Australia and you choose any one of these cities, you can’t really go wrong. Life in Australia is of extremely high quality, and the happiness ratings are some of the highest in the world. The laid-back lifestyle is truly exemplary. If you’re moving to Australia, you can expect great weather, cheerful people, and an overall unforgettable experience.


Are you thinking of moving to Australia? We’ve been through it and know the ropes! Drop your questions in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to help in any way we can.


READ NEXT: Moving to Australia, debunking myths and misconceptions

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