The BobinOz Quick Guide to Choosing a City in Australia

Which city should I live in in Australia?

I love sentences with in in two places next each other. Anyway…

This is another question I am frequently asked, but like love, cities are also in the eye of the beholder. What do you like? Hot, not so hot or cold? Busy, bustling and crowded or laid-back, quiet with countryside? Beach or mountain? Wet or dry? Dust or rock?

Enough already!

Here’s the BobinOz quick guide to choosing a city in Australia.

But remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder, if he still lived in England, would probably choose Cornwall.

Okay, let’s take a look at some of Australia’s cities. I must make it clear that I have only listed the 8 capital cities from our states and territories here. If you want information about any other Australian city or town, please check out the relevant Australian State and look at the comments on those pages.

If you can’t find any information about the particular city or town you are interested in, ask about it in the comments, somebody who knows it well might see it and help you out.

Sydney

Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and I have been there a couple of times, but it’s not for me. It’s very busy, verging on overcrowded and traffic is quite congested. Some people love it there but it reminds me too much of all the reasons why I wanted to get away from England. It’s also very expensive.

On the other hand, the people who live there and love it do so for the very reasons I’m not so keen. Some people love buzzing, bustling cities. There is no doubting it is the financial hub of Australia and for many people coming over for their work, Sydney is the only choice.

If I had to leave Australia or live in Sydney, I’d live in Sydney, so it’s not that bad. But I do have a choice, so I don’t.

Update: Then in November 2012 I took a mini break in this city and literally saw The Other Side of Sydney. I also checked out The Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Melbourne

Melbourne is a city I really like the look of, full of culture and history with a real good buzz around it. I’ve only been once when I stayed for three days. Not long enough. I loved the trams, the layout of the city with its grid like system, and the diversity of the culture.

There seemed to be a lot going on as well, musically and entertainment wise. Plenty of venues full of character, it has the vibe of a city full of creativity. And as a bonus, within an hours drive you could be at the start of the Great Ocean Road, a stunning six hour oceanfront drive covering some 240 kilometres. It’s one of Australia’s biggest attractions.

But Melbourne is also well-known for his cold winters and four seasons in one day. I prefer my winters warmer, so for that reason, as much as I like it, no, I don’t live there.

Perth

Perth, for me, is way too isolated. Apparently, 40% who emigrate here from the UK choose Perth. I’ve never been, but the people I have spoken to who have, say there is not actually much there. And it is very much separate from the rest of Australia. As I said, isolated.

Did I mention isolated? Let me put that into perspective. Brisbane to Perth is 4341 km.
Sydney is 3957 km away, Melbourne 3425 km and Adelaide 2696 km. It’s about as close to the rest of populated Australia as London is to Moscow. Perth has a wonderful climate and I’m sure the beaches are lovely, but it’s not for me. But what do I know? I’ve never been.

Matt has been though, he’s lived there for 11 years. Click this link to see what Matt thinks of Perth. Elizabeth is also a fan, you can read her views here.

Update: I have now been to Perth, spending five days in the city and a further five days visiting the surrounding areas. If you want to know what I thought of it, have a look at these posts:

Adelaide

I have been to Adelaide, once, and I thought it was fantastic! The people were really friendly and it’s a very compact, small city with great beaches close by. The weather is likened to that of the Mediterranean and it is a much quieter city than the others. Easy to get around, very little traffic congestion and not very expensive compared to the other cities. On the downside, many of the locals there also told me there’s really nothing to do.

One of my readers, who had lived in Adelaide for five years, commented “Honestly, you could fire a cannon down my street most of the day and not hit anyone – and I lived within ten mins of the CBD.” So he thought it was quiet too.

So I wouldn’t cross Adelaide off of your list, but if you’re keeping it on there, you’ll probably need to be the kind of person who enjoys a quiet life. I was there during the summer and loved that it didn’t get dark till about nine o’clock of  an evening. But I hated that there were so many flies trying to bounce off of my face.

The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast, believe it or not, is a city. It is famous for Surfers Paradise, but that’s not the only beautiful beach in the area; check out Labrador, for example.

Where Perth and Adelaide are quiet, the Gold Coast is bustling with things to do. Surfing aside, the area has who knows how many theme parks, including, Dreamworld, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild Water World, Warner Bros. Movie World, WhiteWater World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, David Fleay Wildlife Park, Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise Country.

It’s also an area big on sport with the Gold Coast Indy 300, V8 Supercars and the Magic Millions carnival, a major horseracing event here in Australia. Yes, there’s a lot to do, its action town but it also has some glorious hinterland. The property there is quite expensive, but don’t let that put you off. It’s the place to go to live the dream! And if you get bored, you can drive to Brisbane. It’s only an hour and a quarter away.

The Sunshine Coast

But north of Brisbane, about an hour and a half drive, is the Sunshine Coast. More stunning beaches and fantastic hinterland, but this time in more quiet surroundings. Dare I say it, a bit classier than the Gold Coast? No, perhaps not, that would be asking for trouble.

Maybe a better way to put it would be that where the Gold Coast is very commercialised, the Sunshine Coast is much quieter and understated. Of the two, my vote would go to the Sunshine Coast, in particular Mooloolaba and Maroochydore for their great beaches and rivers.

I love the Sunshine Coast but I have heard that it can be quite difficult to find work out that way and the commute into Brisbane is too much.

Canberra

I’ve never been, but this is what I have discovered/been told. No beach, full of politicians, cold and boring. My best Aussie mate was born there and lived there until he was 18, when he joined the Army. At that age, I think he would have joined anything to escape Canberra.

He left the Army years ago, but never went back to Canberra. Well, he does occasionally to see his mum. So the obvious question to any of you considering Canberra is….. why?

Update: But as I have said, I’ve never been to Canberra, so don’t listen to me. Maybe you should listen to Andrea who has made a comment below, she lives there and she thinks Canberra is one of the best cities in the world; well, her actual words were “when it comes to living and settling down, I cant think of anywhere else in the world!

I wouldn’t go that far, but having re-read my summary above, I can see I’ve been a bit harsh. To find out what Andrea thinks, click here.

Darwin

Darwin is supposed to be like paradise, but of course, very hot and humid and home to the crocodiles. Not for the faint of heart. It’s another place I’ve not yet been to, but I’m really looking forward to visiting.

But the emphasis is on the word visiting, I don’t think I could live there. You just about can’t swim anywhere, other than a swimming pool. Sharks, killer jellyfish and crocodiles on the other hand, swim where they like. Who is to stop them? Probably too hot for most people, but you won’t be moaning about the traffic.

Update: I now have to Darwin, went in the middle of winter, July 2013 and if you want to know what I thought about it, check out the following posts:

Hobart

Tasmania is an island off of Australia’s mainland with Hobart as its capital, but I haven’t been yet. I’m going in July, so I will know more after that visit and I’ll come back and update this page. What I’ve seen of it, it looks as quiet as Cornwall, but with the remoteness of deepest Scotland.

It would be very cold and quite isolated compared to the rest of Australia, so if you’re going to give it a go, be sure to take a coat. You’ll also need to like boats, fishing and country walks. Not for me, but for some of you I’m sure it would be your slice of paradise.

Update: Well, yes I did go to Hobart and absolutely loved it and all of Tasmania. I could go on about it here, but it’s easier if you go to the following posts if you want to know more about this part of Australia:

Brisbane

That leaves Brisbane, where I live. I do think Brisbane has it all; fantastic climate, a modern look and access to glorious beaches an hour or so drive north and south. It has a suburb to suit everyone. If you like busy, choose one of the inner suburbs. If you like the coast, go Bayside or one of the eastern suburbs. If you like big wide open spaces, go western suburbs and yet still enjoy 35 to 40 minutes drive to the city. I think it’s a great place to bring up children too.

Brisbane is my choice, that’s why I live here. But where YOU live in Australia is a big decision to make and only you can make it for yourself.

So there you have it, my (completely worthless) roundup of the cities of Australia. How can one man who hasn’t been to half of these places (update: I have now) and not yet lived in Australia long enough and is not even an Australian citizen (update: I am now) even have an opinion? I am sure many seasoned Aussies, including my mates mum living in Canberra, would greatly disagree with me.

To those who do, please leave a comment here or on any of the other city specific pages of this website and let me know your opinion. The more opinions we have, the more we are helping others to decide.

But Australia is more than just major cities; there are hundreds more large towns and even more smaller ones to choose from. So I will leave the last word with one of my regular readers AND more seasoned Aussie, Gordon, who said “For me, comparing big cities is like comparing turnips with cow pats regarding which one tastes better.”

Needless to say, Gordon doesn’t live in a big city, and you don’t have to either. Check out my list of towns by state and you’ll see just how much choice you really have.

More useful links:

I have written a couple of posts following surveys about which are the best cities to live in. Be sure to read the comments below each of these posts, they are full of some great additional information …..

I also have a more comprehensive roundup, which includes annual weather charts and more, for each of the following cities. Please click on a link below to read more.

Which city should I live in in Australia?I love sentences with in in two places next each other. Anyway…This is another question I am frequently asked, but like love, cities are also in the eye of the beholder. What do youlike? Hot, not so hot or cold? Busy, bustling and crowded or laid-back, quiet with countryside? Beach or mountain? Wet

or dry? Dust or rock?

Enough already!

Here’s the BobinOz quick guide to choosing a city in Australia.

But remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder if he still lived in England would probably choose

Cornwall.

Sydney.

Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and I have been there a couple of times, but it’s not for me. It’s very busy,

verging on overcrowded and traffic is quite congested. Some people love it there but it reminds me too much of all the

reasons why I wanted to get away from England. It’s also very expensive.

On the other hand, the people who live there and love it do so for the very reasons I’m not so keen. Some people love

buzzing, bustling cities. There is no doubting it is the financial hub of Australia and for many people coming over for

their work, Sydney is the only choice.

If I had to leave Australia or live in Sydney, I live in Sydney, so it’s not that bad. But I do have a choice, so I

don’t.

Melbourne.

Melbourne is a city I really like the look of, full of culture and history with a real good buzz around it. I’ve only

been once when I stayed for three days. Not long enough. I loved the trams, the layout of the city with its grid like

system, and the diversity of the culture.

There seemed to be a lot going on as well, musically and entertainment wise. Plenty of venues full of character, it has

the vibe of a city full of creativity. And as a bonus, within an hours drive you could be at the start of the Great

Ocean Road, a stunning six hour oceanfront drive covering some 240 kilometres. It’s one of Australia’s biggest

attractions.

But Melbourne is also well-known for his cold winters and four seasons in one day. I prefer my winters warmer, so for

that reason, as much as I like and no, I don’t live there.

Perth

Perth, for me, is way too isolated. Apparently, 40% who emigrate here from the UK choose Perth. I’ve never been but the

people I have spoken to who have been there say there is not actually much there. And it is very much separate from the

rest of Australia. As I said, isolated.

Did I mention isolated? Let me put that into perspective. Brisbane to Perth is 4341 km.
Sydney is 3957 km away, Melbourne 3425 km and Adelaide 2696 km. It’s about as close to the rest of populated Australia

as London is to Moscow. Perth has a wonderful climate and I’m sure the beaches are lovely, but it’s not for me. But what

do I know? I’ve never been.

Adelaide.

But I have been to Adelaide, once, and I thought it was fantastic! The people were really friendly and it’s a very

compact, small city with great beaches close by. The weather is likened to that of the Mediterranean and it is a much

quieter city than the others. Easy to get around, very little traffic congestion and not very expensive compared to the

other cities. On the downside, many of the locals there also told me there’s really nothing to do.

One of my readers, who had lived in Adelaide for five years, commented “Honestly, you could fire a cannon down my street

most of the day and not hit anyone – and I live within ten mins of the CBD.” So he thought it was quite too.

So I wouldn’t cross Adelaide off of your list, but if you’re keeping it on there, you’ll probably need to be the kind of

person who enjoys a quiet life. I was there during the summer and loved that it didn’t get dark till about nine o’clock

of leaving. But I hated that there were so many flies trying to bounce off of my face.

The Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast, believe it or not, is a city. It is famous for Surfers Paradise, but that’s not the only beautiful beach

in the area. Where Perth and Adelaide are quiet, the Gold Coast is bustling with things to do. Surfing aside, the area

has who knows how many theme parks, including, Dreamworld, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild Water World, Warner Bros. Movie World,

WhiteWater World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, David Fleay Wildlife Park, Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise

Country.

It’s also an area big on sport with the Gold Coast Indy 300, V8 Supercars and the Magic Millions carnival, a major

horseracing event here in Australia. Yes, there’s a lot to do, its action town but it also has some glorious hinterland.

The property there is quite expensive, but don’t let that put you off. It’s the place to go to live the dream! And if

you get bored, you can drive to Brisbane. It’s only an hour and a quarter away.

The Sunshine Coast.

But north of Brisbane, about an hour and a half drive, is the Sunshine Coast. More stunning beaches and fantastic

hinterland, but this time in more quiet surroundings. Dare I say it, a bit classier than the Gold Coast? No, perhaps

not, that would be asking for trouble.

Maybe a better way to put it would be that where the Gold Coast is very commercialised, the Sunshine Coast is much

quieter and understated. Of the two, my vote would go to the Sunshine Coast, in particular Mooloolaba and Maroochydore

for their great beaches and rivers.

I love the Sunshine Coast but I have heard that it can be quite difficult to find work out that way and the commute into

Brisbane is too much.

Canberra.

I’ve never been, but this is what I have discovered/been told. No beach, full of politicians, cold and boring. My best

Aussie mate was born there and lived there until he was 18, when he joined the Army. At that age, I think he would have

joined anything to escape Canberra.

He left the Army years ago, but never went back to Canberra. Well, does occasionally to see his mum. I rest my case.

Darwin

Darwin is supposed to be like paradise, but of course, very hot and humid and home to the crocodiles. Not for the faint

of heart. It’s another place I’ve not yet been to, but I’m really looking forward to visiting.

But the emphasis is on the word visiting, I don’t think I could live there. You just about can’t swim anywhere, other

than a swimming pool. Sharks, killer jellyfish and crocodiles on the other hand, swim where they like. Who is to stop

them? Probably too hot for most people, but you won’t be moaning about the traffic.

Hobart.

Tasmania is an island off of Australia’s mainland with Hobart as its capital, but I haven’t been yet. I’m going in July,

so I will know more after that visit and I’ll come back and update this page. What I’ve seen of it, it looks as quite as

Cornwall but with the remoteness of deepest Scotland.

It would be very cold and quite isolated compared to the rest of Australia, so if you’re going to give it a go, be sure

that you like boats, fishing and country walks. Not for me, but for some of you I’m sure it would be your slice of

paradise.

Brisbane.

That leaves Brisbane, where I live. I do think Brisbane has it all, fantastic climate, a modern look and access to

glorious beaches an hour or so drive north and south. It has a suburb to suit everyone, if you like busy, choose one of

the inner suburbs. If you like the coast, go Bayside or one of the eastern suburbs. If you like big wide open spaces, go

western suburbs and yet still enjoy 35 to 40 minutes drive to the city. I think it’s a great place to bring up children

too.

Brisbane is my choice, that’s why I live here. But it is a big decision to make and only you can make it for yourself.

So there you have it, my roundup of the cities of Australia. But one man’s poison is another’s pleasure, so try to read

between the lines to give yourself an idea of which city you would like to live in.

But Australia is more than just major cities; there are hundreds more large towns and even more smaller ones to choose

from. I’ll leave the last word with one of my regular readers, Gordon, who said “For me, comparing big cities is like

comparing turnips with cow pats regarding which one tastes better.”

More useful links:

I have a more comprehensive roundup which includes annual weather charts and more for each of the following cities.

Please click on the links to read more.

Sydney
Melbourne
Brisbane
Perth
Adelaide
Gold Coast
Sunshine Coast
Canberra
Hobart
Darwin

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{ 394 comments… add one }
  • Kella September 30, 2016, 6:11 am | Link

    Hi Bob,

    This post is super helpful. Thank you. My husband and I intend on moving to Australia in a few years time and would like your opinion on the best city to move to between Melbourne and Brisbane. We are from the Caribbean and enjoy everything nature including the beach, rivers, fishing, hiking etc. We want a place with lots of entertainment and activities both indoor and outdoor, like parks, zoos, museum, pubs, great dining etc. We wish to be close to the city but also enjoy a little peace and tranquility preferably with some tree or park surrounding. I’m a finance professional so would need to be in a city with corporate feel but not as hectic as Sydney. Being from a tropical island we would prefer warmer weather but if we an adjust to the unexpected weather of Melbourne that would be ok. We also would like the area to be a great place to start a family. Grateful for your opinion.

  • Haroon September 17, 2016, 4:34 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I’m a GP in the UK and have a few job opportunities in Australia (DWS areas mainly)
    There are jobs all over at the moment, so it’s kind of down to me where in Australia I’d want to apply. Me and my wife enjoy our peace and quiet, but like to be close enough to big cities with lots happening, so we can dip in and out. We do love the beach, and would love to live somewhere with a view/pool. Any thoughts on which cities fit the bill? At the moment we’re thinking around Melbourne or Gold coast. Any thoughts?
    Thanks in advance

    • BobinOz September 19, 2016, 1:50 pm | Link

      Melbourne is a great city, but housing is expensive and if you prefer your weather a bit warmer, then you may well be better off positioning yourself close to Brisbane. If you do that, I’d suggest you take a look at the Sunshine Coast instead of the Gold Coast.

      Gold Coast is not the place to go for peace and quiet, and you’d get a much nicer house with a view and a pool by choosing the Sunshine Coast instead. Both are the same distance from Brisbane for when you need your injections of city life.

      Hope that helps, Bob

      • Haroon Butt September 19, 2016, 7:17 pm | Link

        Thanks Bob, given me some food for thought. 🙂

  • Maximillion September 16, 2016, 6:24 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I am 19 years old and i’m from The Netherlands. I loved reading your website, very interesting.
    I have the thought about moving to Australia for a very long time and have the plans to move too.
    But like i said, im just 19 and i do not really have explored ‘life’ very good.
    The plan is to go for ‘a year off’ very soon. Probably when im turning 20 or 21. My first thoughts about moving would be Brisbane or The sunshine coast(when i was reading the blog). This might be a big question to answer, but where do you see the best opportunities for me and what place should be the best to explore the life in Australia?

    Thank you in advance!

    Max

    • BobinOz September 16, 2016, 8:43 pm | Link

      You might like to read my pages about Working Holiday Visas and Backpacking in Australia.

      Lots of youngsters come here for a year on that kind of visa, it’s a great way to see this country so you can get to decide whether you want to live here more permanently or not. It’s difficult to say where the best opportunities might be, but generally they are in Melbourne, Sydney, perhaps Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

      It’s not just about opportunities though, it’s also about having fun and I’m sure you’ll have that in all of those places. Hope that helps, Bob

  • sam September 4, 2016, 7:39 pm | Link

    Hi! I am looking at moving to Australia. Its just an idea at the moment but all my family want this. I am an Early years teacher and my partner is an external plumber and can do all aspects of street works. I have two children 10 and 8. Which in your opinion will be the best place for us to live that will have work for us both and good schools whilst still having good weather and lots to do for the children? Thank you in advance

    • BobinOz September 4, 2016, 11:36 pm | Link

      My advice would be to go to whichever city you have the best opportunity of finding work in, and that is often a moving target. To research it, check out my page called Getting a Job or a Sponsorship.

      All Australian cities have good schools and lots to do for the children, good weather depends on what you regard that to be. Some cities are too hot for some people, some not hot enough. It depends what you want.

      Before you start choosing where to live though, I would check into whether or not you would qualify for a visa first. See my page about Visas.

  • Mohammed August 31, 2016, 3:17 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I am a Nigerian coming to Australia for master in engineering courtesy of Nigerian government scholarship. Can I come with my wife?
    What is the financial requirement on my part, since I am the only one being sponsored.

    • BobinOz August 31, 2016, 4:52 pm | Link

      I do not answer these kind of questions, only MARA registered migration agents are allowed to do that. Please see Would I Qualify?

  • Lee July 4, 2016, 1:45 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I have lived in both Sydney and Melbourne about 20years and I’m sick of this cold weather. We are thinking to move in Brisbane but I have a question to ask. How often & how bad do you get cyclone or storm during summer? I worried about that. No one complained about that so I guess I’m thinking too much or I don’t need to worry about it at all.. Please give me an answer. Thanks Bob

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