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Moving to Canberra (A Complete Guide)

Aerial view of Canberra
An aerial view of the beautiful city of Canberra

As the capital city, Canberra has plenty to offer. In recent years it has become a much more fashionable place to live, with plenty of opportunity for adventure and excitement. As a planned city, its residents are blessed with a fantastic lifestyle, and yet the city is small enough that you can easily get around and discover what it has to offer. If you are thinking about moving to Canberra, you will likely be keen to know how best to make that move go to plan. In this guide, we are going to look at everything you might need to know about moving to Canberra.

Finding A Home in canberra

Because the city of Canberra was designed purposefully around its centre, you will find that hunting for a home is actually pretty straightforward compared to a lot of other towns and cities. Canberra is known as being the kind of place you can get around in no time at all, with some locals joking that you can get from anywhere to anywhere within twenty minutes. So finding a home might not be too much of a challenge in Canberra.

Districts of Canberra

Canberra has been designed to have many small communities with a lot of green space in between, so you essentially have many districts and areas to choose from. There are numerous suburbs around the main business centre, each with its own distinct style and character. Canberra has eight major districts, and those consist of yet smaller suburbs. One of the older districts is to be found in North Canberra, with some of the buildings in that area even being heritage-listed. This is also the best district to live in if you want to be close to the city, which will be important if you are keen to have the stores and restaurants close to your home.

In terms of the options for housing in North Canberra, you can expect to find pretty much every style from chic little apartments to grand houses. And you can expect to see plenty in the way of historical buildings too. That is also the case for South Canberra, which is home to the Old Parliament House and other buildings of significance. Or you might consider Kingston, which has seen plenty of changes and is now a great place to live. Alternatively, if you want something that looks more like a postcard, try Tuggeranong.

Parliament House in Canberra
Parliament House in Captial Hill, South Canberra

To Rent Or Buy?

One of the main decisions you always need to make when moving is whether you are going to rent or buy. When it comes to living in Canberra, you really can do either and you will find that there are plenty of options for both. It is worth knowing, however, that renting can be quite pricey in Canberra, with the cost in some suburbs almost reaching Sydney prices.

At the moment, the average rent cost in Canberra is around $578 a week, but of course the further you live away from the centre, the cheaper this rate will become. Much of the rent in the more suburban parts of Canberra is around $400 a week instead. If you want to save money on renting in Canberra, you can always think about trying out different options like flat-sharing or house-sharing. If you are moving to Canberra as a student, you should find that most of the student accommodation is pretty affordable - and very close to the colleges and university.

Of course, some people would simply prefer to buy a property in Canberra, and if you have the means of doing that then you will find that it is a wonderful city to think about buying property in. But as with any other location you might move to, you need to make sure that you are prepared for a few key things, and that you have done your research.

The most affordable way to get on the Canberra property ladder is by buying an apartment. The average price of an apartment in Canberra is around $472,000, whereas you might well be paying more like $750,000 for a house in the same area. If you are keen on buying a property, make sure you have considered the different suburb options carefully.

Inner South

The Inner South suburb is known for its iconic attractions, as mentioned previously - the Old Parliament House and National Gallery of Australia being two of the major ones. You’ll find trendy Kingston here, with its waterfront restaurants and cafes and plenty of shopping options. There is also Forrest, a prime spot for many families, with some top schools to choose from.

Inner North

At the north side, you find some of the oldest suburbs in Canberra, with the most popular probably being Braddon, a quirky and hip little part of town that many flock to and which somehow retains a quiet air.

Belconnen

If you are to be studying at the University of Canberra, you will find it here at Belconnen, so that is probably where you will want to stay too. You should find it easy enough as there is a huge array of properties to choose from here, including some affordable student options. It is also a good option for young families.

Gungahlin

If you are looking for something of a more modern district, then you might want to consider moving to Gungahlin. This trendy side of Canberra is like a town unto itself, with its own centre containing a library, medical facilities, schools, and places to eat and drink. It’s a beautiful part of town that would suit a family or just on your own.

Tuggeranong

Sunset in Tuggeranong
Picturesque sunset over the Tuggeranong countryside

For those who prefer to be out in the countryside, you will definitely want to think about living in Tuggeranong. This part of town sits on the backdrop of a range of mountains known as the Brindabella, and as a town it contains everything you might need to live happily and peacefully for many years.

Woden

Woden also has plenty to offer, although it is especially popular for diplomats, being home to the Commonwealth Government departments. There is also the Canberra Institute of Technology there, and Woden Plaza Shopping Centre.

Western Creek

Finally, we have Western Creek, which is a beautiful, peaceful and relaxed community that almost feels like its own place entirely. With plenty of bushland but still good links to the city, you can be sure that this has a little of everything. You will find a mix of apartment types and sizes, so no matter what you are looking for it is probably here.

Finding Work

As well as finding a home in Canberra, you will also need to find some work. You might well be moving to Canberra as a result of changing jobs, or you might need to find work once you get there. You could even be a student looking for some part-time work on the side to help fund your studies. Whatever your situation, the main thing to know is that there are plenty of options for work in Canberra, and with those amazing transport links you will pretty much have the whole city to choose from, no matter where you end up living.

One of the primary industries in Canberra is government, as it is obviously the centre of the ACT. Whether you want to work in administration, as an executive, or even in the government you will find plenty of opportunities of all those kinds here in Canberra. You also have plenty of private sector jobs to choose from, including work in the ICT, building and infrastructure, health and hospitality, retail, education and tourism.

It’s also worth knowing that you can expect to earn a decent living, no matter what job you might pursue in Canberra: the city has the highest per capita income in all of Australia. To get your job search started, you can think about setting up a page on Linkedin, and get searching on local job finding sites like seek.com.au or jobs.act.gov.au. Take a look around today and see what kinds of jobs you might end up getting into.

canberra Living Costs

Before you move anywhere, it is always wise to have a strong idea of what kind of living costs you can expect, and that is just as true of Canberra as anywhere else. As of April 2020, the estimated monthly cost of living in Canberra for a family of four is $6,236. The estimated cost for a single person is $3,371. This means that living in Canberra is cheaper than 50% of the cities in Oceania, but Canberra is more expensive than 72% of cities in the world, sitting at a place of 73 out of 253 cities. However, if you are moving within Australia, you will find that your cost of living is unlikely to change very much, as it does sit at exactly halfway.

Of course, that depends where you are coming from. If you are moving from any other major city you will find that there is not much difference between living costs - especially compared to Sydney or Melbourne.

Education Options in canberra

Australian National University
The Australian National University is considered one of the top in the nation

If you are moving with a family, or you are thinking of going to college or university, then the good news is that there are plenty of schooling and education options which you can look into. Canberra has some of the best schools in the country, and you will find that it is simple enough to find a good school for your child if necessary. There are a range of public and private schools, so no matter what your situation is you should be able to find a suitable one. 

All in all, there are around 80 public schools run by the local ACT government. Every child from 5 years of age is offered a place at a public school - or of course you have the option of choosing an independent school if you prefer, including some which are run by the Catholic church. There are also secondary colleges, which take on kids from 12-18 or so. You can find a full list of schools in the area at education.act.gov.au/home.

If you are thinking about attending university, there is of course the University of Canberra - and plenty of accommodation nearby it too. You can study a range of subjects there, including in the fields of art and design, business and law, government, education, health, and science and tech. The university’s 2020 ranking is 193rd in the world (out of 1,397).

Getting Around in canberra

As we have seen already, Canberra is known for being amazing with its public transport. It is a purposefully designed city with great transport links and it is obviously fairly small, so you can be sure that you can get from place to place easily enough. Locals joke that you can get anywhere in 20 minutes - and that isn’t too far off the mark. Specifically, you have plenty of options for transport around the city. 

While there is no metro rail service, there are many buses - and these are the main and most popular form of public transport in the city. A daily ticket is currently around $9.40. There is also the city-wide MyWay smartcard, which makes travel easier and cheaper. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, there are taxis too, or you can drive a car if you prefer - though that might not be the best in the city centre.

All in all, Canberra is a wonderful place to live with plenty to offer. If you are planning on moving to Canberra, you will need an experiences and trustworthy removal service to help make the process as easy as possible. That’s where Chess Moving come in. Chess have over 100 years of experience moving to and from Canberra. We have an office in Canberra as well as every other capital city and some regional locations. For more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. You can use the online contact form or call 13 14 69 to speak to one of our friendly team members for an obligation free quote.

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