Moving to Australia? Where will you live?

If you’ve made the bold decision to move to Australia on a permanent basis, we’re fairly sure you’ll have given plenty of consideration to where you will live once you make the big switch. It’s unlikely that you will turn up at Melbourne Airport with just a suitcase and no clue as to where you will work, study or live.

There are many wonderful places to reside Down Under, so you really are spoilt for choice. Unsurprisingly, a lot of expats opt for the hustle and bustle of large cities, with the 2011 Census suggesting that 65.5 per cent of the overall population were based in capital cities. Around 13.7 per cent – the second largest chunk – lived in coastal centres, which is no shock given the sheer majesty of Australia’s stunning coastal areas.

Of course, your job, study location or family ties will probably have a huge bearing on your decision, but it’s still worth considering your options. Here’s a handy guide to what you can expect in different parts of Australia.

Moving to New South Wales?

Although an internationally-significant city, Sydney is like a series of different towns joined together with each area having a distinct character due to the historical development of the city. While it is officially the most expensive city in Australia, this does not seem to deter migrants from making it home, with Sydney still being the top choice of locations.

The greater Sydney metropolitan area includes 656 suburbs and localities which are part of 38 local government areas, each consisting of several suburbs. Geography dominates Sydney’s real estate market and greatly affects property prices. Proximity to the water determines the prestige end of the market. In fact some commentators have said there is a ‘salt water effect’ in Sydney where areas close to waterways are the most expensive. In general the further one moves away from the coast and the harbour the less expensive the property prices. Another important factor is proximity to good public transport and distance from the CBD.

Renowned for its stunning architecture, cosmopolitan way of life and extravagant New Year’s Eve parties, there is a lot of hype surrounding Sydney, but it more than lives up to it.

Of course, there is more to New South Wales than Sydney, and there are many smaller towns in the state that provide homes for a plethora of expats. These include Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Goulburn, Griffith, Orange, Tamworth, Taree and Wagga Wagga.

Moving to Victoria?

There’s little doubt that Melbourne is the jewel in the crown of the state of Victoria. Seemingly a permanent fixture in global ‘Best places to live’ surveys, the city is famed for its sporting passion and love of fashion.

Melbourne is a firm favourite among young professionals, and has a distinctly cool vibe that is not too dissimilar to Manchester in England – only with far better weather! Much has been made of the high cost of living in Melbourne, but these concerns are often overblown.

The city has a strong property market and has good transport links, which means you won’t miss out on anything if you decide to buy a property in the suburbs. Like New South Wales, Victoria is awash with wonderful places to live, and many expats prefer the more laidback lifestyle that you get in the state’s smaller towns.

Moving to Queensland?

Queensland has long been a firm favourite among holidaymakers, but it’s also a popular spot for migrants who are looking to set up a new home in magnificent surroundings.

Thanks to its all-year-round great weather and attractive outdoor lifestyle, the state is an excellent option for expats, and with the mesmerising Great Barrier Reef stretching along its vast coastline, Queensland is heaven for nature enthusiasts.

If the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast – which are both popular among retirees – are not for you, then Brisbane might be more to your liking. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and has a population of 2.2 million people. Located on the Brisbane River some 23km from the coast, the city is perfect for families who are looking to start a new, exciting life Down Under.

Moving to Western Australia?


Western Australia is the largest state in the country and is a very different prospect to easterly regions.

Many expats are blinded by the allure of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but the fact remains that Perth is every bit as vibrant, picturesque and welcoming as those cities. With a population of 1.7 million – a figure that is likely to grow sharply in the coming years – Perth is an ideal place for migrants to lay some roots.

More skilled engineers are moving to Western Australia, as the region has vast untapped sources of natural gas, which will be an increasingly important form of energy in the future. As such, the wages offered to miners in this part of Australia can be mind-blowing, and with more money pouring into the region, the quality of housing, transport links and amenities will soar. Granted, this is likely to force prices up, which is obviously far from ideal for people who don’t work in the mining profession, but there’s no doubt that these are exciting times for Perth and Western Australia in general.

Moving to South Australia?

Like the western parts of the country, South Australia is also home to its fair share of mines, which means employment opportunities are always cropping up. Official figures show that employment is 20 per cent higher than ten years ago, and the region is building a reputation for being a cutting-edge technology hub, with more international companies moving to this part of the world.

The capital city is Adelaide, which has a distinctly multicultural vibe. This is understandable given the large number of migrants who move here from across the globe. They are attracted to the warm climate and the fact that house prices are generally much cheaper than in other capital cities throughout Australia.

Adelaide is not seen as a trendy city in the same way as Melbourne and Sydney, but it compensates for this with large swathes of green parkland, more affordable properties and plenty of amenities.

Moving to Capital Territory?


Many people mistakenly think that Sydney is the capital of Australia, but this honour is actually bestowed upon Canberra. Known as a “garden city”, Canberra has a clever geometric design that ensures it blends in with the surrounding landscape. This makes it one of the most intriguing capital cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

With a population of 367,000, this is Australia’s largest inland city. Again, it doesn’t hold the same glamourous appeal as some of the nation’s larger cities, but it is still an extremely pleasant place to live.

Moving to the Northern Territory?

Not everybody appreciates big city life. If that’s the case, then maybe you should consider the Northern Territory.

What it lacks in amenities and population, it more than makes up for in stunning scenery and natural charm. The two most populous areas are Alice Springs and Darwin, which can both be described as up-and-coming cities, and are increasingly popular among the expat fraternity. Darwin is becoming particularly swanky, with the beautiful waterfront continuing to undergo a great deal of modernisation and regeneration.

The vast distances between major landmarks and cities in Australia mean that a lot of people feel a little cut off in the Northern Territory, which is worth considering before you make your move.

Moving to Tasmania?

Last but not least, we have Tasmania, which is a simply stunning part of the world. In all honesty, it’s not the first place that your average expat will think of when they plot their permanent move Down Under, but it is welcoming of migrants and has plenty going for it.

The capital is Hobart, which is the second oldest state capital city in the country and has a population of just over 211,000. It has a lively arts and restaurant culture, and is a popular tourist hotspot.

Tasmania is probably more suited to expats who are looking to wind down and enjoy a slower, more relaxed pace of life, rather than somebody who is still very career-driven and wants to be in the thick of the action.

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