If you’re considering 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.
Australian lifestyle is known worldwide to be laid back, healthy, and pretty safe, so it’s no wonder many travelers 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 where young professionals flock to 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 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 center is $2,600.
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.
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 another best place to live in Australia. Diversity is everything in Melbourne and the expat community is thriving. It’s a hub for artists, hipsters, and anyone in a creative field.
If you are outgoing and like to try new things, you’ll have no problem meeting people and finding exciting things to do in Melbourne.
Like Sydney, Melbourne is located right on Australia’s beautiful coast. The city 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 not as pricey as Sydney, Melbourne is still a relatively expensive city.
The average monthly cost of living for an expat is estimated at $2,200.
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, the city 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 awesome 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 $2,100 (although we lived here on a lot less).
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 Western Australia, the country’s most underrated region. Visit Penguin Island, Serpentine Falls, or 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 the best place to live in Australia.
Monthly expenses in Perth will set you back by about $2,600 for an expat resident.
Read Next: Things to do in Perth, Western Australia
Adelaide, SA: Best City for Students
The hub of Southern Australia, Adelaide is another city that shouldn’t be overlooked by those looking to find the best place to live in Australia. 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 one of the most affordable cities to live in Australia, with monthly costs averaging just around $1,700.
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. Living in Hobart is a fantastic option for those who want to explore Tasmania’s mind-boggling beauty.
From Hobart, you can easily do activities 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 well as it is home to an upbeat student community.
Monthly living expenses in Hobart would add up to around $1,800.
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 $1,600 per month.
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, this city 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 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 $2,700 per month.
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.
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.
It’s nearly perfect weather and paradise 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 gastronomy and entrepreneurial hot spot, making it an awesome place to live and work in Australia. This city is somewhere in the middle when it comes to affordability.
Expect to pay around $1,900 in living expenses each month, especially if you don’t need to be right on the beach.
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, culture-rich 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 way people live is truly exemplary. If you’re moving to Australia, you can expect great weather, cheerful people, and overall unforgettable experience.
BEFORE YOU GO: DON’T FORGET TRAVEL INSURANCE
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially in a country like Australia. Whether you just plan to explore the cities, do a little bit of hiking, or go extreme (think surfing, scuba diving, or even skydiving) being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. We learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way and now we never travel without coverage.