It all depends what you want. Sydney is the obvious choice, sure, but Perth might be a better choice if you’re jobseeking.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of Australia for expatriates. There’s the 21, 000 miles of coastlines, sub-tropical rainforests, and the Great Barrier Reef; there’s actual sunshine, to say nothing of Christmas barbecues on the beach. And of course there’s Australia’s history as a British outpost. There’s also a huge country -the sixth largest in the world – with a population of just 22 million, meaning the great outdoors – and in Australia it really is great, in both senses of the word – is on tap. Extractive industries let the Australian economy survive the global economic meltdown almost unscathed.
It’s not that easy to get into Australia – see the Australian Visa Process page for more detail on that – but once you’re in, where should you go?
Sydney is the New York of Australia – a thriving financial hub and home to fully one third of the country’s financial jobs. It’s beautiful, it’s vibrant, and it’s home to a thriving arts and culture scene that features fine galleries and museums, theatre that ranges from tiny experimental outfits to the great and the good, a wide range of top quality restaurants and a lively cafe culture. There’s a festival coming up almost all year, and when you throw in good public transport and great healthcare, plus the picturesque suburbs surrounding the city proper, you can easily see why so many people want to live in Sydney.
And there’s the rub: so many people want to live in Sydney that prices there are very high. You’ll be looking at AU$1m for a 3-bed house – median house price runs AU$600, 000 – or apartments priced at AU$9, 650 a square metre in the city centre, falling to around AU$6, 500 in the suburbs. If there’s a single factor that holds most people off from moving to Sydney, it’s that.
Perth is a very different city. Roughly a thousand dollars per square metre cheaper to buy property in, it’s slightly more expensive for utilities – about AU$50 a month – due in part to being the most physically isolated large city on earth, a 29-hour, 2, 700km drive from nearest neighbour Adelaide.
If Sydney is the New York of Australia, Perth is the country’s San Francisco, a relaxed set-up featuring a cosmopolitan city scene with a laid-back coastal feel. (Incidentally, Perth beat San Francisco in the last Mercer Quality of Living Survey!)
One way perth falls short of Sydney is in the availability of school places for international students, and you can be facing expensive education fees – on top of Perth’s high cost of living.
So what if you don’t want to live in Sydney or Perth?
Maybe Hobart or Adelaide would be for you.
The big difference between Australian cities in terms of cost of living is house prices; apart from that there’s not more than 15% variation in the price of most commodities and services city to city.
Hobart offers homes costing an average AU$350, 000 – about 40% less than Sydney. Canberra will cost a similar amount to Sydney.
There’s more to Hobart than lower house prices, though. Tasmania’s capital city features historic sites and the gorgeous Mount Wellington Lookout, and with a population of 217, 000 it’s big enough to support a thriving cultural scene too. You’ll need to fly across to the rest of Australia, and the climate won’t be the warmest – it’s Australia’s southernmost city, after all.