Best places to live in Australia on your overseas experience
Looking for where to eat, sleep, work and play in Australia’s cities? Join the backpacker brigade in some of the best places to live in Australia.
Living in Australia is like nothing else. The splashing of ocean waves, the "g'days" from friendly locals, the sizzle of a beach-side barbecue – they all make for a life-changing experience Down Under. Discover the best spots for backpackers in Australia in each of our major cities; find out about living in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Cairns, Canberra and Byron Bay.
Living in Sydney
If you're coming to Australia for a sand and surf lifestyle, then Sydney’s beachside suburbs are for you. Settle around the popular golden sands of Bondi and Coogee in the east, or Manly in the north. These seaside neighbourhoods might be known for their leisurely lifestyle, but you'll also find the buzz of beach bars, cafés and local markets.
Looking to stay in the thick of things? Head to Sydney’s inner-city suburbs of Glebe, Newtown or Kings Cross. Expect to marvel at the inexhaustible selection of ethnic restaurants, gay-friendly bars, cosy coffee shops and health food stores, or choose to dance the night away at one of Sydney’s many nightclubs.
Living in Perth
Living in Perth is all about the outdoors, whether strolling to pick up your morning coffee or taking a quick ocean dip after work. For those who enjoy culture and nightlife, Northbridge is a great option; you'll find a number of hostels, bars and nightclubs there. Perth's historical roots lay in Fremantle, along with weekend markets, craft breweries and food trucks. If you're a bona fide beach lover, you might prefer to base yourself along Cottesloe Beach, where you can spend your days swimming, snorkelling and surfing.
Living in Melbourne
Melbourne is considered by some to be the best city to live in Australia, and has even been ranked as the world's most livable city more than once. It's home to a thriving live music scene, late-night bars and laneways dotted with cafés and coffee shops. Just twenty minutes from the city centre is the creative neighbourhood of Fitzroy. A haven for vegans and coffee-lovers, this precinct is host to a wealth of trendy bars, art galleries and independent retailers. If the ocean is calling to you, consider the beachside neighbourhood of St Kilda. A blend of city and coast, here you can enjoy al fresco shopping, live music and salty sea air.
Living in Brisbane
Fortitude Valley – just the Valley to locals – is where you’ll find Brisbane’s counterculture and nightlife pulse. The once-gritty streets are now lined with fashion boutiques, theatres, live music venues, and loads of great places to eat and drink. Despite its gentrification, there’s still a diverse cultural community and bohemian flair. If you want to be surrounded by vintage shops, artists and quirky cafés, settle down in West End. Known as the alternative side of town, there's always something interesting to stumble upon here.
Living in Darwin
Darwin’s backpacker scene is alive and kicking on Mitchell Street – a palm-shaded strip of hostels, hotels, bars, cafés and tour offices in the compact city centre. You’ll find most of your fellow travellers here, planning their trip to Kakadu or beating the heat at one of its many watering holes. Mitchell Street is a quick 15-minute shuttle bus from the airport. Once there you’ll find no need to leave – pool bars, open-air pubs and budget restaurants are all within easy reach.
Living in Adelaide
You’re walking distance to most of Adelaide’s attractions in the cosmopolitan East End. Known as the suburb of trend-setters, East End is ideal for working holiday makers wanting an urban yet relaxed experience. Spend your weekends visiting galleries, museums and elegant colonial buildings along North Terrace, ride hire bikes through Rymill Park and the Botanic Gardens, and tuck into some of the country’s best wines on Rundle Street.
Living in Cairns
Cairns is an unabashed party town, and the eight blocks between the oceanfront esplanade and McLeod Street comprise one heaving party district. The esplanade is lined with upmarket hotels, restaurants and bars, while the back streets are packed with more budget-conscious establishments. You'll feel like you're on a never-ending holiday as you hop between the hostel pool bars, enjoy live music in a beer garden or dance to local DJs. Tour operators are readily on hand for when you want to book your excursion to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest.
Living in Canberra
Australia's capital city of Canberra is constantly increasing its status as a culture and lifestyle hub. The city is filled with students, backpackers and young professionals who take full advantage of the breweries, galleries and bike paths on offer. Not only is Canberra home to iconic government buildings and art museums, but it's also an easy road trip from wineries, national parks and ski resorts. Better yet, Canberra is one of the most affordable places to live in Australia.
Living in Hobart
Living in Tasmania is like living in several places at once. Charming cities sit alongside epic wilderness, and weekend breaks can lead to everything from coastal cliffs to quirky art museums. Hobart's Salamanca Place is one of the best places to live if you want a little bit of everything. The city offers galleries, theatres and historic pubs, but you don't have to venture far to get back to nature.
Living in Byron Bay
With its glorious beaches, new-age lifestyle and energetic music scene, Byron Bay is a time-honoured stop for travellers along Australia’s east coast. The epic waves of the Pass and Wategos Beach have been attracting surfers for years, but artists, writers, hippies and healers also make their home here. If you're after the ultimate Aussie beach town – Byron Bay is it.