Sure, there are plenty of reasons to visit Canberra, home of Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. But should you plant roots in Australia’s capital?
There are a few things to consider before making Canberra your new home. We spill the beans on the good, the bad and the ugly of Australia’s largest inland city.
In a rush? Skip to the info you need:
- Pros and cons of living in Canberra
- Best Canberra suburbs to live in
- Moving to Canberra from other cities
- Canberra’s dining scene
- Culture in Canberra
- Canberra’s climate
- Getting around Canberra
Living in Canberra: Pros and Cons
Pro: Traffic isn’t a nightmare
If you’re prone to a little road-rage come peak-hour, driving in Canberra is sure to lighten your grip on the steering wheel.
Peak-hour doesn’t even last an hour, and driving from one side of town to the other takes under an hour, too. Traffics jams aren’t generally an issue in Canberra, so if your daily commute is getting you down, living in Canberra could turn your drive to and from the office around.
Con: It’s a fair hike to the nearest beach
You’re looking at around 2 hours’ drive to Canberra’s closest beach, making it quite the journey for a fun day out.
If your idea of the perfect weekend means spontaneous ocean dips, Canberra might not be able to accommodate your love for the sun, salt, and sea.
Pro: It’s a big city with a small-town feel
Love the convenience of city life, but don’t want to say goodbye to that small-town feel? Canberra offers the best of both worlds. It puts you in prime position for shopping, dining, culture and more, with the added bonus of friendly locals.
Con: Rent is pricey
Canberra’s cost of rent has recently skyrocketed, making it the third most expensive city to rent in the country (behind Sydney and Darwin).
Buying a house in Canberra is still considerably cheaper than buying in Sydney, though, so if you’re looking to move to Canberra, you might want to consider paying a mortgage over paying rent.
Pro: There’s plenty to do
While some other cities in Australia consider Canberra a bit dull or slow in comparison, you might be surprised by just how much is happening in the country’s underrated capital.
From museums and theatres to lush parks and a booming dining scene, there’s always something to do in Canberra.
Best Canberra Suburbs to Live In
From family-friendly to hip and thriving, Canberra has the perfect suburb for every lifestyle.
Yarralumla – Inner Suburb
This large, leafy inner suburb is home to a shopping centre, restaurants, a park with swimming area and barbecue amenities, and plenty more.
It also offers a primary school and childcare centre, and is known as a quiet and safe suburb, making Yarralumla a great spot for young families.
Macgregor – West Canberra
While sleepy Macgregor doesn’t offer much in terms of nightlife, shopping or dining out, it’s got plenty of outdoor amenities to enjoy, including paths for cycling and walking, playground equipment, and barbecue facilities. Most of the suburb offers decent views of the city skyline.
Housing estate ‘New Macgregor’ is home to modern residences available to buy or rent.
Lyneham – North Canberra
Hip and vibrant Lyneham is filled with character, with old heritage homes and modern townhouses. Featuring streets dotted by lush trees and plenty of nature parks and bushland, Lyneham is your city escape, just minutes to the CBD.
It offers plenty of dining options with a thriving café culture, along with convenient schools and childcare.
Kambah – South Canberra
The largest suburb in Canberra, Kambah is a delightfully surprising mixed bag of features and amenities to suit most lifestyles.
From schools and churches to Kambah Pool, a popular swimming and fishing hole, Kambah has all the excitement of city life along with the beauty of nature.
Moving to Canberra from Other Cities
Moving to the country’s capital from another Aussie city? Be prepared with these quick moving tips.
Moving from Sydney to Canberra
- Journey time: 3hr 20min drive or 55min flight
- Sydney to Canberra removalist cost: $1,625 – $2,275
- Housing costs: The median price of a house in Canberra is $230,000 more affordable than the median price of a house in Sydney ($585,000 vs. $815,000)
- Rent: Renting in Canberra is roughly $75 more affordable than renting in Sydney ($465 vs. $540 median weekly rent)
- What you’ll miss from Sydney: The nightlife
- What you’ll love about Canberra: Less traffic
Moving to Canberra from Melbourne
- Journey time: 6hr 50min drive or 1hr 5min flight
- Melbourne to Canberra removalist cost: $2,000 – $2,800
- Housing costs: The median price of a house in Canberra is $68,000 more affordable than the median price of a house in Melbourne ($585,000 vs. $653,000)
- Rent: Renting in Canberra is roughly $35 more expensive than renting in Melbourne ($465 vs. $430 median weekly rent)
- What you’ll miss from Melbourne: The culture
- What you’ll love about Canberra: The laidback lifestyle
Moving from Brisbane to Canberra
- Journey time: 13hr drive or 1hr 50min flight
- Brisbane to Canberra removalist cost: $2,375 – $3,325
- Housing costs: The median price of a house in Canberra is $100,000 more expensive than the median price of a house in Brisbane ($585,000 vs. $485,000)
- Rent: Renting in Canberra is roughly $55 more expensive than renting in Brisbane ($465 vs. $410 median weekly rent)
- What you’ll miss from Brisbane: The beaches
- What you’ll love about Canberra: More affordable cost of living
Removalist costs are based on the average cost of moving the contents of a 3-bedroom home. Prices will vary depending on your needs.
Canberra’s Dining Scene
Foodies love Canberra – and for good reason. Whether you fancy yourself a café connoisseur, a street food aficionado or a seasoned wine-and-diner, Australia’s capital has something to suit every food craving.
Civic – CBD
Canberra’s city centre, known as Civic, is teeming with eateries just waiting to top your last foodie experience.
From fresh seafood to hearty burgers and authentic Asian, Civic is dotted with restaurants, cafés and bars to satisfy anyone’s tastebuds.
Braddon – CBD
While you’re in the mood for food, wander to nearby Braddon for an exciting selection of cafés, bakeries, restaurants, and bars.
Braddon is also home to urban village, The Hamlet, offering food trucks, street food, and a buzzing atmosphere.
Manuka and Kingston – Inner South
These hotspots for dining are home to some of the city’s most popular foodie and party destinations. Whether you’re in the mood for a big brekky, a long, boozy lunch or a special night out, you’ll be spoiled for choice at Manuka and Kingston.
Wander down to neighbouring Kingston Foreshore to enjoy your meal with a beautiful water view.
Culture in Canberra
Australia’s capital doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its arts and culture scene. Hosting exciting up-and-coming local artists and world-renowned acts, Canberra sure knows how to put on a show.
Canberra Theatre Centre – Civic Sq., London Circuit
The city’s leading performing arts venue, Canberra Theatre Centre is home to world-class performing arts and entertainment. Here you can enjoy circus, theatre, dance, comedy, opera, music, and more.
Canberra Theatre Centre offers exciting shows all year round, so you can get your culture fix whenever the mood strikes.
The Street Theatre – 15 Childers St, Canberra
The Street Theatre is dedicated to showcasing local and international artists’ contemporary performances. With a strong sense of community, geography and history, The Street Theatre is your go-to cultural hub to be inspired by up-and-comers who aren’t afraid to start a conversation.
National Museum of Australia – Lawson Cres, Acton
Learn about the history of Australia’s land, nation and people at one of the city’s premier attractions. The National Museum of Australia explores Indigenous histories and cultures and European settlement through exhibitions and storytelling events.
National Gallery of Australia – Parkes Pl E, Parkes
The National Gallery of Australia exhibits a national collection of works of art that inspire and move. It includes more than 160,000 works of art across 4 main areas: Australian art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art, and European and American art.
Canberra experiences 4 distinctive seasons, with warm, dry summers and crisp, cool winters. Be prepared with our information on temperature and rainfall so you’re not caught out.
Canberra’s summers bring temperatures ranging from 12.5 – 27°C. January brings with it the hottest weather, with average temperatures around 13 – 28°C. One thing you can enjoy about Canberra (especially if you’re moving from Queensland) is its low humidity during summer.
During autumn in Canberra, temperatures drop to around 7 – 20°C, and you can expect pleasant days and cool nights. Make the most of the autumn leaves and enjoy Canberra’s many outdoor areas.
Things can get pretty chilly in Canberra throughout winter. Average temperatures fall to around 1 – 12°C, and can get below 0°C at night. The Australian Alps are your best location for finding snow during winter.
Spring in Canberra welcomes cool mornings and brisk nights, with average temperatures of 6 – 19°C. You can expect the most rainfall in November, though Canberra receives little rainfall compared to other Australian cities.
Getting Around Canberra
Driving around Canberra is generally stress-free (plenty of parking and no tollways to worry about) and a great way to see the city. But if you’d prefer to save on petrol money and spend your commute catching up on emails, Canberra’s public transport is a great way to get where you need to go.
Canberra’s bus service is reliable and affordable, offering an easy way to get around the city and the ACT. You can purchase a MyWay card as a rechargeable electronic ticket to tap on and off when catching the bus.
Wherever you’re in Canberra, you’re sure to find a taxi nearby, whether you hail one in the street or order one on your phone. Taxi ranks are aplenty in busy areas such as the airport and dining and entertainment precincts.
There are currently no trains operating throughout Canberra. However, Canberra offers trains to Sydney, Melbourne, and other areas outside the ACT.
Make your move to Canberra a little easier with these 10 tips.