Best Cities in Australia to Live, Work, and Study – Metro & Regional

Are you looking for a reference which are the best cities in Australia to live, work or study? Look no further. We have done the research and compile it for you.

Best Cities to Live in Australia

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index 2019, this is the ranking of the best cities to live in Australia:

1. Melbourne

Melbourne had been ranked as the Most Liveable City in The World continuously since 2011. However, in 2019, the ranking dropped to no.2 after Vienna, Austria.

In 2016 Melbourne achieved perfect scores in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Expats love to live in Australia because of the quality of life, ease of settling in, and destination to work.

You can find anything you need to have a good life in Melbourne. Melbourne has numerous prestigious universities including Melbourne University which is the Best University in Australia according to Times Higher Education World University 2021 Ranking and QS Graduate Employability 2020. Monash University is also one of the top 100 universities in the world.

In terms of healthcare, Melbourne also has the best hospitals in Australia: Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Alfred, St Vincent’s Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, and others. For the kids, Melbourne has Royal Children’s Hospital, which one of the best hospitals for children in Australia.

It will be okay if you don’t have a car when you live in Melbourne. The public transport system in Melbourne is good enough, with the option of tram, train, or bus. Although if you live in the outer suburb, a car would be handy.

Melbourne is also one of the Safest Cities in the World, according to Safe Cities Index 2019.

With such strengths, no wonder Melbourne is the fastest growing city in Australia in terms of the population. In recent years, it has been the number 1 destination city for immigration. Hence Melbourne has well diverse demographic. If the growth rate continues, Melbourne will be the most populous city in Australia, overtaking Sydney.

2. Sydney

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Architecture

In the 2019 ranking, Sydney claimed the third position of the Most Liveable Cities in The World. Surprisingly The Economist Intelligence Unit also ranked Sydney as the Safest City in Australia in 2019, whereas Sydney is the most populous city in Australia. Most Australians would doubt that.

Sydney is also one of the best cities to work in Australia. It was ranked 11th in the world for economic opportunity. No wonder many immigrants come to Sydney to work. Sydney has the third-largest foreign-born population of any city in the world after London and New York City.

3. Adelaide

City of Adelaide | Capital City of South Australia | City of Adelaide
Credit: City of Adelaide

Adelaide was ranked 10th in the Most Liveable Cities in the World 2019. It has also been rated as Australia’s safest city according to Suncorp Bank Family Friendly City Report. It had the lowest crime rate at 2365 incidents per 100,000 population.

With affordable housing, beautiful beach, good universities, and is safe, Adelaide is definitely one of the best cities to live in Australia.

Best Cities to Work in Australia After COVID-19

Source of data: ABS Labour Force

COVID changes everything. Previously New South Wales only had a 4.6% unemployment rate in Dec 2019. But in August the unemployment rate rose to 6.7%. Interestingly in the Northern Territory, the unemployment rate dropped from 5.3% in December 2019 to 4.2% in August 2020.

Therefore, looking at the latest unemployment rate, the best cities to work in Australia would be Canberra and Sydney.

Employment in Northern Territory relies heavily on Lchthys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, where there are a large number of people work on a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) basis. As these workers are not resident in the NT, they are not included in the NT’s labour force figures or population figures. Hence the unemployment rate statistic may not be a good indicator of whether the region is a good place to work.

The unemployment rate in Tasmania may also not reflect the true indicator of whether or not it would be easy to find a job in Tasmania, due to the small population in Tasmania. Even though the unemployment rate is currently low according to the data above, it is predicted to hit 8.6% with the coronavirus restrictions (source: ABC News).

1. Canberra

Old Parliament House, Canberra

As you might have already known, Canberra is the capital city of Australia, where the Federal Government of Australia is based. Because the city has a high proportion of public servants, the Commonwealth Government contributes the largest percentage of Gross Territory Product and is the largest single employer in Canberra. Just under a third of Canberrans are employed in the public sector, working in government departments such as the Treasury. Other major sectors of employment are Health Care (10.54%), Professional Services (9.77%), Education and Training (9.64%), Retail (7.27%), Accommodation & Food (6.39%), and Construction (5.80%).

Canberra also has the highest average level of disposable income compared to other Australian capital cities. The gross average weekly wage in Canberra is $1,827, whereas the national average is only $1,658.

2. Sydney

Sydney, Australia, Sydney Harbour

As the most populous city in Australia, Sydney has well diverse industries. So although COVID-19 affects the Accommodation & Food Services, and Recreation industry significantly, Sydney (NSW)’s unemployment rate is still better than Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Greater Sydney’s Gross Regional Product is estimated at $433.30 billion. In 2018/2019, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services are the largest industry. Followed by Finance and Insurance Services, Construction, and Health Care and Social Assistance. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney, and the city is promoted as Australia’s financial capital and one of Asia Pacific’s leading financial hubs.

Best Cities to Study in Australia

1. Melbourne

Melbourne, Night Shot, Station, City

Melbourne is definitely a student city. No other city in Australia has many universities as in Melbourne. It is the home of Melbourne University, Monash University, RMIT University, Victoria University, Deakin University, La Trobe University, Swinburne University, Australian Catholic University, and other private colleges and universities. Most of them are in the Top 500 universities in the World.

Geelong Grammar School also has a campus for ELC to Year 6 in Toorak, Melbourne. Prince Charles, Rupert Murdoch, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin (previously King of Malaysia), Portia de Rossi (partner of Ellen DeGeneres), and John Gorton (ex Australian Prime Minister) are alumni of Geelong Grammar School.

There are other prestigious secondary schools to choose from, such as MacRobertson Girls High School, Melbourne High School, Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC), and Haileybury College.

With the number of quality schools and universities, no wonder Melbourne was ranked 3rd in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 after London and Tokyo.

2. Sydney

The University Of Sydney, Harry Potter

In Sydney, you can find the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Macquarie University, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of Western Sydney, Australian Catholic University, as well as some private universities and smaller campuses of other public universities.

The population of Sydney now is highly educated. 22.5% of the working age Sydney residents have Undergraduate or Postgraduate qualifications. The most common fields of tertiary qualification are Commerce, Engineering, Society and Culture, Health, and Education.

Sydney was ranked 9th Best Student Cities in the world in 2019. by QS. Students love the high quality of life in the city, employment opportunity, beautiful sceneries, various open spaces, and proximity to the beaches.

Best Regional Cities in Australia

There are 2 different definitions of “Regional Cities”. Regional Cities in general means cities outside Metropolitan areas. However, the Department of Immigration Australia considers most locations of Australia outside major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane) as designated regional areas for migration purposes.

So if you are looking to live in a metropolitan city, which still fits the criteria for Regional Area for immigration purposes, you may like to live in Adelaide, Canberra, or Hobart.

If you are looking for the Best Regional Cities that are outside Metropolitan areas, here is Australia’s Most Liveable Regional Cities according to RMIT University:

Top performing regional cities by liveability measures.
Source: RMIT University

As you can see above, Wollongong, Ballarat, Launceston, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Toowoomba are the Most Liveable Regional Cities based on Social Infrastructure, Access to Public Transport and Supermarkets, Distance from Alcohol, Public Open Space, Local Employment, and Housing Affordability.


Sea, Stanwell Tops, Wollongong, Sydney, Coastal, Cliff

Wollongong is the third-largest city in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle, and the 10th largest city in Australia, with a population of 295,669 in 2016. It is a multicultural city with people from different backgrounds. It has beautiful beaches and a relaxed lifestyle.

The housing is more affordable than in Sydney, on average. Currently, the median house rental price is $520 per week and $428 per week for units.

In March quarter 2020 the unemployment rate of Wollongong was 6.2%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer in 2018/2019.


tourist riding coach

The housing in Ballarat is affordable. Its median price for renting a house is $340 per week, whereas units rent for $290 per week.

In the 2020 March quarter, the unemployment rate in the City of Ballarat was very low: 3.2%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer, making up 18.7% of total employment in 2016 Census. Followed by Retail Trade, Education & Training, Manufacturing, and Accommodation and Food Services.


Launceston - Find Out The Things To Do and Must See Attractions

Houses in Launceston rent out for $375 per week, and units rent for $310 per week.

Unemployment rate in March 2020 quarter was quite high, at 6.8%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer, generating 7,248 local jobs in 2018-2019, followed by Retail Trade, Education & Training, Accommodation & Food Services, and Construction.


sitting woman wearing pink sweater and black leggings during daytime

Median house rent in Geelong is similar to houses in Outer Western suburbs of Melbourne: $415 per week, and the units rent for $400 per week. But it varies which suburb of Geelong you live in. You can find 4 bedroom house in Corio for $350 per week, or $290 per week for a 2 bedroom units.

In June 2020, the unemployment rate in Greater Geelong was 3.7%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer in 2016 Census, followed by Retail Trade, Construction, Education & Training, and Manufacturing.


Statue, Gold Digger, Bendigo, Gold

Similar to Ballarat, you can find houses with rent of around $340 per week or $290 per week for a unit in Bendigo.

In the March quarter 2020, the unemployment rate in City of Greater Bendigo was 4.6%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer, making up 17.9% of total employment in 2016 Census. Followed by Retail Trade, Education and Training, Manufacturing and Construction.


Toowoomba, Warwick, Queensland, Train

Houses in Toowoomba City rent out for around $320 per week, whereas the units rent for $250 per week.

In the 2020 March quarter, the unemployment rate in Toowoomba was 4.6%. Health Care and Social Assistance was the largest employer, generating 13,583 local jobs in 2018/2019. Followed by Education & Training, Retail Trade, Construction and Manufacturing.


Menzies Research Institute, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Hobart provides all the convenience of city living without the traffic and the noise hassles of other capital cities. The houses rent out for $520 per week, whereas the units rent for $500 per week.

Unlike Launceston, the unemployment rate in Hobart was much lower at 3.8% in March 2020 quarter. Public Administration and Safety was the largest employer, generating 10,171 local jobs in 2018/2019. Followed by Health Care and Social Assistance, Education & Training, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, and Retail Trade.