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Adelaide | © Normangerman/Wikimedia Commons
Adelaide | © Normangerman/Wikimedia Commons

The Most Affordable Cities in Australia To Move To

Picture of Tom Smith
Updated: 9 February 2018

Let’s face it: Australia isn’t cheap. In fact, according to price aggregation website Numbeo, Australia is the 12th most expensive nation on earth, pricier than Sweden, Belgium and Austria. But it is possible to escape this bruising cost of living by moving to one of these seven affordable cities.


Despite a recent boom in the property market — probably due to desperate home-buyers fleeing the mainland — Tasmania remains the most affordable state in Australia to buy a house, with the median house only chewing up 23.8 per cent of average earnings. Prices in the Tassie capital have boomed over the past 12 months but Hobart remains a much more affordable option than Sydney or Melbourne — and its growing reputation as an ‘it’ destination brimming with contemporary galleries and unique food and drink experiences, only enhances its appeal.


The nation’s capital is an affordable place to move to if you’re earning the big bucks like the majority of Canberra’s residents, who tend to work in professional jobs in politics and public service. With a median weekly income of $998, Canberrans earn about $300 a week more than the average Australian — which goes a long way even when things like housing and food are a little more expensive. Long derided by Australians as a boring town where only politicians would want to live, Canberra is currently enjoying a renaissance thanks to its booming hospitality scene.


The median house price in metropolitan Adelaide is $465,000 — and to put that in perspective, there is literally not a single suburb in the whole of Sydney that has a median house price beneath half a million dollars. It’s about 20% cheaper to live in the South Australian capital than Sydney or Melbourne — and that’s only one of the reasons why Adelaide is such an attractive city to move to, with world-class wineries on its doorstep and stacks of things to see and do in the city centre.

Gold Coast

Of the 11 Australian cities that Numbeo placed under the microscope, the Glitter Strip sparkled as the most affordable, almost 20% more affordable than Sydney. And this sunny corner of South East Queensland offers a great lifestyle too — the Gold Coast is home to a 66km stretch of golden coastline featuring some of the best beaches you’ll find anywhere in Australia, not to mention raucous nightlife and plenty of other outdoor attractions.


For decades, you would’ve had to pay someone to swap sunny Sydney for smoggy Newcastle, a gritty mining port two hours’ drive up the M1. But these days, hordes are trading Australia’s most expensive city for its far more affordable neighbour, which has undergone a major resurgence over the last decade. Coal seems to be have been replaced by another black substance — coffee — as Newcastle’s biggest industry, complementing a vibrant cultural scene, energetic nightlife, diverse restaurants, and some of the best city beaches anywhere in the country.


Much like Newcastle, Wollongong is another old mining town on Sydney’s doorstep that offers beautiful beaches and a lively city centre at a much more affordable price tag than the massive joint 80km up the road. Illawarra’s stretch of rugged coastline plus Wollongong’s median house price of $700,000 — a fraction of Sydney’s whopping $1.2 million — lures a lot of city slickers south for a sea change.


It isn’t as cheap as it once was, but Cairns is another great escape from the crushing cost of living in Australia’s major capital cities. Home to around 150,000 residents, Cairns’ median house price of $490,000 is a big drawcard for those who’d rather spend their savings exploring tropical North Queensland rather than paying off some monstrous mortgage. Cairns is considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and is a compulsory stop on any visitor’s Australian itinerary — and all those tourists contribute to a bustling city with a gorgeous esplanade that’s bathed in sunshine 12 months a year.