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Where To Live in Australia

Where To Live in Australia

Where Should I Live In Australia?

Should I live in Melbourne or Sydney? Brisbane or Adelaide?

Whether you're moving to Australia from overseas or moving interstate, choosing where you want to go or live in Australia is not straight forward. Australia is a big place, as if you didn’t know. Australia has big cities, it has small towns. It has beautiful beaches and it has vast outback. Australia also has a good selection of islands. In this post you will find some useful information about the four big cities in the Eastern half of Australia: Sydney; Melbourne; Brisbane and Adelaide.

woman with Australian flag on a beach 


Melbourne is the arts and sports Centre of Australia.

Population: 4.969 million

Distance: Melbourne to Sydney – 963 km. Approx. 11 hours drive, 12 hours by bus, 1hr 20mins plane.

Sydney is a glitzy and confident city with a stunning harbour.

Population: 4.966 million

Distance: Sydney to Adelaide – 1310km. Approximately 20 hours drive, 24 hours bus, 2hrs plane.

Brisbane is a bit of a ‘can-do’ city with a laid back feel and plenty of sunshine.

Population: 2.475 million

Distance: Brisbane to Sydney – 1010km. Approx. 12 hours drive, 14 hours by bus, 1hr 20mins plane.

Adelaide is often described as a city with a country town feel.

Population: 1.357 million

Distance: Adelaide to Melbourne – 730km. Approx. 9.5 hours drive, 10 hours by bus, 1hr plane.



Where Sydney’s strengths are beaches and sunshine, Melbourne culture is more about the arts, books, design, sports, cafes and bars, with great shopping, and good town planning. Melbourne is the most European city in Australia, it has been rated sixth in the top 10 list of sustainable cities by the influential New York based Ethisphere Institute, and voted the second best city in the world to live in.

Melbourne skyline

What is the Cost of living in Melbourne?

The cost of living in Melbourne is cheaper than Sydney. Excluding rent the cost of living for a single person is approximately $1,400. This rises to approximately $4,800 for a family of four.

Houses and rents are cheaper than Sydney, and so is public transport. The eastern and inner south eastern suburbs tend to be the wealthiest. The outer eastern suburbs are family magnets. The outer south east attracts young families on lower to middle incomes. The inner north and inner west appeal to the cafe crowds and older professionals, and to people in their 30s and 40s starting families.


Food is generally of a high quality with great restaurants in just about every part of Melbourne, but especially the city centre and inner and mid range suburbs. Both Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay chose to open their Australian restaurants in Melbourne.


The arts play a big role in Melbournians’ lives. The Concert Hall, Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Ian Potter Gallery of modern Australian art, and a few other smaller galleries and theatres are within walking distance of each other.

Melbourne bars

There are a huge number of small and sophisticated bars in the city and inner suburbs. Many in the city are tucked away in tiny, narrow lanes and are very creatively designed and furnished.

Comedy and live music 

Melbourne is Australia’s comedy and live music Centre.


Melbourne’s true religion is sport. This is the home of Australian Rules Football and its sacred ground is the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). During footy season (March to September) hundreds of thousands of people set aside the weekend to go and watch a game at a footy oval, at home or in a pub, to barrack for their team. The MCG holds 100,000 people and regularly fills to capacity. For some this is brilliant. For non sports lovers, it can be hell.


The beaches in Melbourne are bay beaches – so there is no surf. They are nowhere near as spectacular as the beaches in Sydney, and some would even call them unappealing. To do some surfing, you’ll need to travel to the Morning peninsula, Phillip Island or the Great Ocean Road. That can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on where you live in Melbourne, and the traffic. But the trip is worth it because beaches along any of the coastlines are superb and huge.

Trams, trains, buses

Melbourne’s public transport system is user friendly with a single ticketing system; but the trains, trams and buses tend to be overcrowded during morning and evening peak times. Melbourne is divided into two travel zones: Zone 1 takes in the inner and most middle suburbs. Zone 2 takes in the middle and outer suburbs.


When it comes to the way people dress Australians generally have a relaxed style about them. Melbourne, however, tends to be more stylish. You won’t see so many thongs (flip flops) and shorts or mini dresses in the city as you would in Sydney.

Melbourne is very multicultural. Most areas of Melbourne have a good mix of people from all different backgrounds.


Melbourne has four distinct seasons, some would say there are four seasons in one day.

Summer – temperatures range from low 20s to 45C. Melbourne has dry summers. January and February are the hottest months. Usually after three hot stinking days in a row, there tends to be a cool change. Overnights can range from 12C to 30C.

Autumn – temperatures are in the high to low 20’s. March and April can be sublime with temperatures in the mid 20s, and blue skies. Overnights can range from 10C to 18C.

Winter – it is cool, not cold. Temperatures range from around 9C to 16C. The wind is a killer. It can be bone chilling. When forecasters say Melbourne will have a top of 14C, what they mean is the temperature will slowly rise to a top of 14C, stay there for about 10 seconds, and then go down again. Overnights can range from 2C to 10C.

Spring – Temperatures can range from 15C to the low 20s. It can be windy but generally the skies are blue. Overnights can range from 8C to around 15C.



Sydney is Australia’s largest city and the most popular destination for overseas tourists. It is Australia’s most expensive city, so big bank accounts are often needed, and where people tend to have flashier homes and cars. It is a confident and stunningly beautiful city but not necessarily a well-planned one.

view of Sydney Harbour

Cost of living

Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia. The east and lower north shore suburbs tend to be the most expensive for rentals and property. The inner west appeals to the cafe crowd and arty type professionals. The west is a magnet for families on lower to mid incomes. The outer south west has a bad reputation. The south is a magnet for families on mid to higher incomes. The north shore is also popular with families but it’s not cheap to live there. The northern suburbs are popular with families on mid to high incomes.

The outdoors

Because of its warm weather, Sydney has a big focus on beaches and outdoor living. All the beaches are great, most are surf beaches and are easily accessed by train or bus. On weekends and warm days, the beaches fill to capacity.

Sydney Harbour

The harbour is one of the most stunning harbours in the world and travelling on the ferry, to and from work or for fun, is fab. There are some excellent walking tracks along the harbour that provide sensational views of Sydney.


The food in Sydney is generally good to very good with plenty of outstanding cafes and restaurants. There is a great fresh seafood market, and plenty of quality farmers’ markets.


Sydney has plenty of large pubs with beer gardens. Small bars are almost non-existent here.

Village feel: There are more suburbs here with a village feel (than Melbourne), and that’s because they do not have major roads cutting right through them.

Who lives there: Sydney has a more transient population than Melbourne so finding share accommodation here is easier because there is more to choose from.

Sydney is a multicultural city, but because of the high property prices all round, many new migrants gravitate to the outer suburbs. This means most of Sydney’s inner city and the mid distance suburbs tend to be less multicultural and more Anglo than in Melbourne.


Where Melbourne is into Aussie Rules Football, Sydney is huge on rugby. There are two varieties: League (which some say is the sport of the working class), and Union (said to be the sport of gentlemen). Either way, blokes who play this sport tend to have thick necks. Aussie Rules Footy players are more lean.


Transport in Sydney is comprehensive but the ticketing system can do your head in. Unlike Melbourne where one ticket will get you access to all forms of transport, in Sydney, there are a whole range of tickets.


While Melbourne tends to have the best reputation for shopping, Sydney really is just as good.


The climate is subtropical with more greenery year round.

Summer: is very humid with temperatures in the low 20s to low 30s. If you do not live in a house or apartment with decent ventilation, your furnishings, clothes and sheets will feel wet for several months of the year. Oh yeah, this is cockroach season too. Overnights range from mid teens to low 20s.

Autumn: low to high 20s, blue skies, warm breezes, sun showers, low humidity. Overnights range from 14C to low 20s.

Winter: the weather in winter can get cool but generally, its anywhere from 17C to mid 20s. Most winters have sunny skies. You may see Sydney siders walking around with gloves on in 17C. Hilarious!! Overnights: 11C to 15C.

Spring: Hello, this is gorgeous weather time. Low 20s to high 20s. Blue skies, sun, warm breeze. Bliss. Overnights 11C to low 20s. It can start getting humid in November, which sees the cockroaches coming out.



Brisbane is an easy going city that has changed considerably in the last few years. It used to be thought of as dull, but is now cosmopolitan and a popular alternative for those who like Sydney’s weather but not its cost of living. Brisbane is a warmer option than Sydney or Melbourne. Housing here is cheaper than in Sydney but more expensive than Melbourne. It also has a large number of suburbs within 1 – 5km of the city centre with fab architecture.

Brisbane skyline

Cost of living 

Eating out in Brisbane is dearer than in Sydney or Melbourne. Public transport is the cheapest of the three cities. Housing is cheaper than Sydney but dearer than Melbourne.

The outdoors

Brisbane’s warm climate means it’s possible to spend most of the year doing outdoor activities and walking around in thongs (flip flops not G-strings!). Summers can be incredibly humid, even unbearable. There’s easy access to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for weekends away.

Village: there are a few suburbs in the inner city which have a great village feel. New Farm, Fortitude Valley (James Street), Bulimba, Rosalie and Manly.


Brisbane has the fortune of having plenty of Queenslanders (large timber homes on stilts with Victorian architectural lines). The inner city suburbs have seen an explosion in apartments. The outer suburbs have plenty of brick family homes.


Brisbane is home to Australia’s best fish and chips shop. The fish here is very good, and there is always a good supply of fresh fruit and vegies. While there are some outstanding cafes and restaurants, on the whole the food culture in Brisbane is still not as diverse as Melbourne or Sydney. Good food culture suburbs: Paddinton, Rosalie, New Farm, Fortitude Valley and Bulimba.


There is a lively but smallish arts scene in Brisbane. Because it is smaller, it also feels more accessible. Brisbane’s cultural precinct is at South Bank and it is a total winner. There’s the state museum, library, gallery of modern art and a few other interesting offerings. New Farm is another strong arts area. The Powerhouse at New Farm is a big and popular cultural centre with a good bar and restaurants.

Bars and Pubs

Brisbane has plenty of pubs that spill over with young drunken things on hot summer nights. The more refined types with bigger budgets tend to schmooze at bars. Because of Brisbane’s warm weather, beer gardens are a huge feature and many provide live music on Sunday afternoons.


Rugby – of the Union and League variety. Suncorp is the venue for rugby games. There is one Aussie Rules Football team (Brisbane Lions) and games are held at the Gabba (also where cricket matches are held). Almost everyone in Queensland prefers rugby to Aussie Rules.


The Brisbane River winds its way from Moreton Bay to the inland, dividing the city into north and south. It’s a wide, brown  river with expensive real estate on its banks. Many tourists and locals use the city cat and ferries as transport.


There is a good transport system in Brisbane. The train and bus networks are extensive. The city cat/ferry service is efficient and clean. Prices are cheaper than Sydney or Melbourne.

Clothes: Most of the year has warm weather, though winter (June – August) can get chilly overnight requiring heating. So don’t go throwing away your winter woollies.

Pet peeve: the road system is confusing. Road names will change with each bend in the road and until you get used to driving on them, the roads can do your head in. The signage is not as good as it could be so expect to get lost unless you have a good GPS or good instincts.


Brisbane has a sub-tropical climate which means warm and mild winters, and warm to hot and very humid summers. The cockroaches like it here, as do big spiders.

Summer: 17C –  low 20s overnight. Day time temperatures are usually in the low 30’s during the day. Very humid. Sunscreen and hats are essential

Autumn: 12 – 20C overnight. Low to mid 20’s during the day.

Winter: 10 – 15C overnight. 15C – low 20s during the day. Blue, sunny skies.

Spring: 12 – 18C overnight. Low to high 20s during the day. The humidity begins building up.



Adelaide is a friendly city with stunning beaches, the picturesque Adelaide hills, impressive architecture and plenty of appealing leafy suburbs. The food and wine culture here is sophisticated, but far from arrogant. Adelaide is an easy city to get around and nothing seems too far away. It is especially great for families and oldies. However, if you don’t fit into either of those categories, and if you didn’t grow up in Adelaide, you may find the city of churches, as it is known, quiet, dull and hard work.

Adelaide skyline

Cost of living: 

Adelaide is one of the most affordable cities in Australia. The inner suburbs are the most expensive. The further out from the city you go, the cheaper the rents tend to be. The eastern suburbs are the most prestigious. The beach suburbs can also have high price tags, as can some parts of the hills. Some northern and southern suburbs tend to attract lower income people, or have high concentrations of single parents and people on unemployment benefits.


The food in Adelaide is generally of a high quality. The whole city has a well educated food palette. The Central Market in Gouger St is one of the best things about Adelaide where fresh, high quality local grown produce can be found year round. The city Centre and the inner suburbs have very good cafes and restaurants. The beach suburbs too have a strong food culture. But there aren’t as many suburbs in Adelaide with a strong café culture as there are in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.


Adelaide has a strong arts culture. Because of the city’s smaller size, accessing the arts venues is easy and during big events, the whole city appears to get involved. WOMAD (World Music festival) is the best musical festival in Australia and it is held annually in Adelaide. There’s also the arts festival, fringe festival, buskers festival, film festivals, and more.


 most of Adelaide’s nightlife is city based. Hindley Street has plenty of clubs and bars and tends to have a bit of a seedy feel. Rundle St appeals to the more arty, alternative set.

Live music: 

Adelaide has always had a small but devoted live music scene.


There is a strong sports culture in Adelaide and for the most part AFL is the most popular spectator sport. Adelaide has two AFL teams: Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide. Many kids grow up playing some sort of sport.


The older suburbs have plenty of bigger homes and smaller cottages built out of limestone in the Victorian architectural style. These houses can be stunning.


Adelaide’s beaches range from very good to spectacular. There are long stretches of sand in the northern suburbs, and west and south of the city. Because of the smaller population in Adelaide, the beaches are never overcrowded. If you like going nude, head south to Maslin Beach where a small section of the beach has been set aside for nudists. Beach suburbs include: Aldinga, Brighton, Glenelg, Semaphore.

Trains, trams and buses: 

Buses are the most popular form of transport in Adelaide and there are dozens of routes that cross through the city, suburbs and Adelaide hills. There is one tram line that goes from Glenelg (a beach suburb) to the city Centre. There are several train lines but they are not that cheap or frequent which keeps patronage low.

Multicultural: This is a fairly multicultural city. Some of the inner west suburbs including MILE END and THEBARTON have a strong Mediterranean presence. More recent migrants have tended to move to the cheaper mid and outer suburbs.

Clothes: this is not the most fashion centric city in Australia. In fact those prone to being critical will even say Adelaide is rather daggy (uncool). The variety of clothing in Adelaide is not as great as Sydney or Melbourne, but it could be worse.


Adelaide has a very Mediterranean climate with four distinct seasons. The winters are cool and crisp and the summers are very dry and usually have an unbearably hot spell.

Summer – temperatures range from low 20s to 45C. Every year there is usually a two week spell where the mercury does not drop much below 38C. January and February are the hottest months. Overnights can range from 12C to 33C. It is very difficult to live in Adelaide without air conditioning.

Autumn – temperatures are in the high to low 20’s. March and April are sublime with temperatures in the mid 20s, and blue skies. Overnights can range from 10C to 18C.

Winter – it is cool, not cold. Temperatures range from around 12C to 16C. The rain comes in short bursts and it is nowhere near as windy as Melbourne. Winters are slightly milder than in Melbourne. Overnights can range from 4C to 12C.

Spring – Temperatures can range from 15C to the mid 20s  with intense blue skies. Overnights can range from 8C to around 20C.

Which one is your favourite city? Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide?

We hope this information can be useful to help you make your decision on where to live in Australia and remember eSkip for all your skip bin hire needs when you get here!


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