Living in Canberra: Australia’s Best-Kept Secret

July 2, 2024
Living in Canberra

Key takeaways:

  • Canberra offers a high standard of living with a vibrant cultural scene and top-tier educational institutions.
  • The city is known for its high property prices and rental costs, making it one of the most expensive places to live in Australia.
  • Canberra’s cold winters, limited nightlife, and competitive job market are notable drawbacks.
  • Despite the challenges, Canberra’s quality of life, green spaces, and community make it an attractive place to live.

Moving to a new city or country is a big step, and choosing the right place to call home can make all the difference. Living in Canberra offers a unique lifestyle that balances modern amenities with stunning natural beauty.

Canberra was the second best city in the Quality of Life scale, beating several other Australian cities. It was the only non-European city in the top ten, thanks to its high life expectancy rates and some of the best and equally paid jobs globally.

As Australia’s capital city, Canberra boasts a rich cultural scene, world-class educational institutions, and all types of fun, recreational activities that cater to all ages and interests.

Why Choose Canberra?

Imagine living in a place where you can enjoy the vibrancy of a multicultural city while being surrounded by expansive green spaces and picturesque national parks.

Canberra is just that—a liveable city known for its high quality of life, low crime rates, and friendly community.

With a mix of historical landmarks, such as the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House, and modern attractions like the National Gallery and Canberra Centre, there’s always something to explore.

What to Do in Canberra: A City of Festivals and Events

One of the highlights of living in Canberra is the variety of events and festivals that take place in town throughout the year.

The National Multicultural Festival is a major event that celebrates the city’s diverse cultures through music, dance, food, and art.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience the rich tapestry of other cultures that make Canberra such a dynamic place to live.

Other notable events include the Floriade, an annual flower festival, and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, where hot air balloons fill the sky. And the music event Spilt Milk Canberra, which draws some of the best known global artists.

The Great Outdoors

Living in Canberra

Canberra is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some top spots to enjoy the great outdoors:

  • Lake Burley Griffin: Ideal for boating, kayaking, and picnicking. The lake’s surrounding paths are perfect for cycling and walking.
  • Mount Ainslie: Offers breathtaking views of the city and is a popular spot for hiking.
  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve: Great for wildlife spotting and bushwalking.
  • Namadgi National Park: A bit further out but offers stunning landscapes, hiking trails, and Aboriginal rock art sites.

Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene

Canberra’s arts and culture scene is thriving, with numerous galleries, museums, and theatres to explore:

  • National Gallery of Australia: Home to an extensive collection of Australian and international art.
  • National Museum of Australia: Offers engaging exhibitions that showcase Australia’s history and culture.
  • Australian War Memorial: Combines a shrine, a world-class museum, and an extensive archive.
  • Canberra Theatre Centre: Hosts a variety of performances, from drama and dance to comedy and concerts.

A Food Lover’s Paradise

Canberra’s food scene is diverse and vibrant, catering to residents of all tastes and budgets:

  • Local Markets: Such as the Capital Region Farmers Market, where you can find fresh produce, gourmet foods, and local crafts.
  • Fine Dining: Restaurants like Aubergine and Ottoman Cuisine offer exquisite dining experiences.
  • Cafes and Bistros: The city is dotted with charming cafes and bistros, perfect for a leisurely brunch or a quick coffee.

Sports and Recreation

Living in Canberra: Sports
Canberra raiders is the city’s professional rugby team | Source:

Sports enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them active in Canberra:

  • Canberra Raiders: The city’s professional rugby league team, offering exciting matches to watch.
  • Australian Institute of Sport: Provides top-notch facilities for a variety of sports.
  • Recreational Activities: From golf courses to tennis courts, there’s no shortage of ways to stay fit and healthy.

Housing in Canberra

When it comes to finding a place to live, Canberra offers a range of options to suit various budgets and lifestyles.

However, it’s important to note that Canberra is one of the most expensive cities in Australia to rent in. The city has a consistent flow of university students and government workers coming through putting a strain on the supply. This is turn pushes up rental prices.

Here’s a look at some of the housing choices available:

  1. Apartments and Units
    • Ideal for students and young professionals.
    • Located close to universities and the city centre.
    • Modern amenities and often within walking distance of shops and public transport.
    • Cheaper suburbs include Lyons, Chifley, Scullin.
  2. Townhouses
    • Great for families or those wanting a bit more space.
    • Often found in suburban areas with access to parks and schools.
    • Typically include private gardens and communal facilities.
  3. Detached Houses
    • Perfect for those seeking more privacy and space.
    • Available in a range of styles and sizes.
    • Located in both central and suburban areas.
  4. Luxury Homes
    • High-end properties with premium features.
    • Found in exclusive suburbs with stunning views and extensive gardens.
    • Often come with additional amenities like swimming pools and large outdoor spaces.
    • Suburbs like Kingston, Griffith, and Barton are close to Parliament House and offer a premium lifestyle, reflected in higher rents.

Best Suburbs in Canberra

Living in Canberra: Best suburbs

Choosing the right suburb can significantly enhance your living experience. Here are some of the best suburbs in Canberra:

SuburbMedian House PriceKey Characteristics
Forrest$3,800,000Most expensive, luxurious lifestyle, close amenities
Barton$2,172,500Near Lake Burley Griffin, high rental yields
Red Hill$1,550,000Expansive green space, proximity to city centre
Yarralumla$2,007,500Large blocks, green spaces, near Lake Burley Griffin
Lyons$1,400,000Panoramic views, family-friendly

For more detailed insights, you can check out our guide on the best suburbs in Canberra.

Rental Market in Canberra

Renting in Canberra can be a great option, especially for those who are new to the city. It’s still the second most expensive city to rent in Australia – behind Sydney.

New data shows Canberra’s rental prices were flat in 2023, with the median weekly rent for houses down 2.2 per cent to $680 in 2023, compared to $695 the year before.

Here are some tips to help you find cheap rent in Canberra:

  • Start Your Search Early: The rental market can be competitive, so it’s best to start looking well in advance.
  • Use Online Platforms: Websites like provide a comprehensive list of available rentals in Canberra and other Australian cities.
  • Consider Different Suburbs: Expanding your search to different areas can help you find more affordable options.
  • Inspect Multiple Properties: Attend as many inspections as possible to get a feel for the market and available options.
  • Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rent, especially if the property has been on the market for a while.

Buying a House in Canberra

If you’re considering purchasing a property, Canberra’s real estate market offers various opportunities. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Understand the Market: Stay updated with the Canberra property market update to make informed decisions.
  • Set a Budget: Determine your budget and stick to it. Factor in additional costs like stamp duty, legal fees, and inspections.
  • Get Pre-Approved: Secure a mortgage pre-approval to streamline the buying process.
  • Hire a Local Real Estate Agent: They can provide valuable insights and help you find the right property.
  • Inspect Thoroughly: Always inspect properties thoroughly and consider getting a professional building inspection.

For more tips and advice, visit our guide on buying a house in Canberra.

Disadvantages of Living in Canberra

While Canberra offers many benefits, it’s essential to consider some of the drawbacks as well:

  • High Cost of Living: Canberra is one of the most expensive cities in Australia, with high property prices and rental costs.
  • Cold Climate: Winters in Canberra can be quite cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing.
  • Limited Job Opportunities: The job market can be competitive, especially for positions outside of government and education.
  • Lack of Nightlife: Compared to larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra has fewer nightlife options.
  • Isolation: Canberra is somewhat isolated geographically, requiring travel to reach major cities or coastal areas.

FAQs on Living in Canberra

Is Canberra expensive to live?

Canberra ranks as the most expensive Australian city for residents, according to the latest data from Numbeo. It holds the 21st position globally in terms of living expenses.

Is Sydney or Canberra better to live?

Based on Oxford Economics city rankings, Canberra surpasses both Sydney and Melbourne in terms of quality of life, making it a preferable choice for many looking for a higher standard of living.

What do I need to know before moving to Canberra?

Before relocating to Canberra, consider the following:

  • The city is bifurcated by Lake Burley Griffin into north and south, each with distinct characteristics.
  • Schooling options should be a priority in your planning due to the city’s educational standards.

Is Canberra liveable?

Canberra is acknowledged globally for its sustainability, ranking third in healthiness and fourth in innovation among world cities.

Soho is your expert team in Australian real estate, offering an innovative platform for effortless property searches. With deep insights into buying, renting, and market trends, we guide you to make informed decisions, whether it's your first home or exploring new suburbs.
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