Choosing where to live in Australia after your visa has been granted is a very exciting part of the migration process.
The internet and Google Maps make it a lot easier to do than a decade ago, but it’s still a tricky decision.
It’s also a question I see asked time and time again online, so here’s my advice on how to choose a suburb to live when you move to Australia.
How To Choose A Suburb To Live In When You Move To Australia
The first place to start is your budget.
Where will you be realistically able to afford?
Most people start off renting when they move to Australia and I highly recommend this. It gives you time to get to know an area before making the leap and buying a property. You may hate living there or you may get a job in a totally different location than you expected, making your commute a nightmare.
To find out what you’ll be paying for rent in different areas head to Real Estate.
Here you can search by area and property type to see what you’re looking at rent-wise for a home in Australia.
Rent is paid by the week here, not the month like in so many other countries (greedy Aussie landlords!), so don’t make that mistake when budgeting for rent.
If you do your research, you should be able to narrow down potential areas you could be working in your chosen city or town.
Some of you are lucky enough to move over with a job already lined up and that makes choosing a suburb to live even easier.
Commuting can be time-consuming here, depending on how far you need to travel. Many people choose to try and minimise the time they spend commuting by living as close to their work as they can afford.
Of course, this can be trickier if you have a partner who is going to work somewhere completely different to you! Then there may be other factors which influence where you ultimately choose to live.
Look at the main places you’re likely to be travelling to. Besides the obvious work travel, you might be planning to spend your weekends at the beach or attending particular sporting activities or clubs.
Get online and look at where those places are, whether it’s the local hockey club, golf course or surf lifesaving club, and work out how far you would be prepared to travel to these places. Then you can try and find a location that works for the whole family.
If you are hoping to use public transport for work commuting, get to know the train lines and which ones you’d likely be using.
Taking the train can be less stressful than driving, but it does depend on how long you’ll spend taking public transport as opposed to driving. Usually, you’ll need to add a bus journey on one or both sides of your trip, and this can make the overall travel time a lot longer.
If you want to avoid an extra bus journey, look at areas which are adjacent to the train line and then houses which are in walking distance to the stations.
Schools & Universities
If you have children, schooling is likely going to be an important factor that affects your choice of suburb when you move to Australia.
Many local government primary schools are excellent, but it can be harder to find suitable government high schools (just like many other countries).
Look at what schooling options are available in the areas you are considering. Think about how far you’d be prepared to drive to a good school, remembering you’ll be doing that drive twice a day for years to come.
Many kids here take public transport to and from school as well so if you’re considering schools outside of the areas you’ll be living, find out what the best route for them would be to take that would be simple and safe.
Besides schools, what else do you need nearby?
Is it good doctors, dentists, a vet, shops, parks for the kids to run around or cafes?
Do you want to be able to walk there, or would you be happy to drive?
See what’s available in the areas on your shortlist and see if you’re happy with them and the distance away they would be from potential properties.
Think about what sort of lifestyle you want from your new life in Australia.
Are you coming for the laid back, beachy lifestyle?
Do you want to be the heart of the city surrounded by bars and restaurants?
Would you prefer a more relaxed, rural life in the country with wide open spaces between you and the neighbours?
By simply looking on Google Maps (the satellite version), you’ll soon get a feel for the area and if it’s somewhere you could see you or your family settling.
BUT make sure to visit these areas in person before signing on the dotted line for a rental. They may be very different in real life as opposed to on your computer screen.
Spend the first 2 weeks of your move to Australia traversing the city you’re in to see what places are like in real life.
Choose Areas You Could Afford To Buy In
Finally, my biggest tip when it comes to how to choose a suburb to live when you move to Australia is this:
Choose areas that you could potentially afford to buy one day.
If you choose to rent in expensive areas, you’ll start to build a life there and get settled with schools, friends and your surroundings.
When you one day want to buy a property, it would be devastating to have to give that all up just because you can’t afford to buy in the area. It could mean uprooting kids from schools they love, losing your daily routines and habits, and possibly losing local friends as well (Perth people are rubbish at keeping in touch if you move more than 20 minutes away).
Generally, the rental costs follow the house prices – more desirable areas cost more to rent as well as buy.
But if you want to rent in fancy areas where you couldn’t afford to buy that’s totally fine too.
Perhaps when it comes time to buy you’ll be ready for a change of scenery and have different needs anyway. But be prepared to move later on if the suburb you live in is unaffordable for you.
Are you making the move to Australia soon? Has this blog been useful?
Or are you already settled in Australia? How did you narrow down where to live when you arrived?
Let me know, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!