Australia’s most livable cities

Australia is a pretty fine place to live (and if you’re following these blogs you’ll realize I’m getting over my post travel blues). Obviously as an Australian I’m biased in saying so but heck, even the annual “Most Livable Cities” lists by Mercer, the Economist and Monocle’s think so. Who are they you might well ask, well read more about them here. I might not be as knowledgeable as the said lists but I’ve actually lived quite a few places abroad and travelled to a few more, and, I rate living here too.

Interestingly Melbourne, and even old Perth, make the world lists but what about our other cities and towns? There are plenty I could picture myself living in, others I think would be better to visit and some I wouldn’t touch with a barge poll. As most travellers reading this blog and utilizing the VIP Backpackers network are going to come to Australia at some point – of course you are, don’t deny it!! – I thought I’d give you my list of livable places in Oz.

Fellow Aussies – feel free to fire away about my rankings!

Melbourne, Victoria
Melbourne rates in almost every international study of livable cities and I’m not arguing with them. The only thing that could be improved about Melbourne is the weather which plain sucks at times – so be prepared. But you can’t beat the diverse range of food, sporting and cultural performances here and an almost limitless array of festivals. You just can’t get bored in Melbourne. St Kilda would have to be one of the best places to base – artisan markets, swimming, cool architecture and close to the city.

Brisbane, Queensland
I had to give my hometown a bit of a plug. Yeah okay maybe it’s not as interesting for short term visitors but hang about in Brisvegas and you’ll find there’s plenty going on, and along with Perth, it has to have the best climate of any capital city and a laid back attitude to match. With fantastic city markets, diverse eating areas, a wonderful sports scene, bush land to explore right in the city, an emerging art/cultural scene and gorgeous islands and coastland nearby, Brisbane is way up there on the list of livable cities. If you come, check out places to live in Fortitude Valley, New Farm, Paddington or West End.

Perth, Western Australia
This is the city with the beach and nope it’s not Sydney. I’ve rated it higher simply because you aren’t sharing the sands with thousands like at Bondi or Manly and the coastline is far longer and more dramatic. Perth has also got that laid back vibe that Sydney is lacking. And like Brisbane it has totally come of age. Fremantle would have to be the place to hang; gorgeous historic buildings and markets, some seriously good seafood and plenty of cute houses to choose from.

Sydney, New South Wales
Sydney is definitely the most attractive city to visit in Australia. Every time I go I have to see some of its great landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, take a ferry ride to Manly, go market shopping in Paddington, eat out in Newtown… the list is endless. But it’s all pretty expensive and frankly for me, just too busy. Sorry Sydney, I do love you. If you’re wanting a job though, this is a good place. Try beach side suburbs like Manly or Bondi and in the inner city, New Town rates.

Byron Bay and hinterland, New South Wales
If you don’t surf, work in tourism or grow vegies (or green things) Byron might not do it for you. Byron’s become a little touristy for me these days although I never say no to a cold one at the Beach Hotel or the tunes at the Easter Blues & Roots Festival. However I’m more of a NSW hinterland nut. There’s nothing better than climbing Mt Warning, swinging by a few of the markets in Nimbin or Bangalow and checking out some of the region’s crazy mailboxes or eclectic galleries. The countryside in this area is just gorgeous. You could probably wile away the rest of your days in this area.

Kununurra, Western Australia
I’ve spent a bit of time up in the Kimberleys and totally dig Kununurra. This is a fair dinkum outback town where you can eat fresh barramundi and enormous tbone steaks, watch kids kick a football down the main street, splutter in the dust of 53 metre long road trains and chat to every shopkeeper on the two block shopping radius. It might lie in one of Australia’s most remote corners but there is plenty to do here and as you might have gathered, people are friendly. On the outskirts of the town are wetlands with birdlife to rival Kakadu, the boating and fishing haven of Lake Argyle, amazing gorges and national parks, farm or work stays on cattle stations and plenty of action in the local pubs.

Alice Springs, Northern Territory
It don’t get much more central on the continent than the Alice. But as most visitors find, there’s a suprising amount to do and even an incredible local arts scene. The Alice is a bit of a melting pot these days and loaded with tourists working in the bars, cafes and hostels. Feel free to join them by all means. Life’s a bit slower out here but very enjoyable. There’s a weekend market, a couple of crazy annual festivals such as camel racing and beanie making and you’ll get a fantastic insight into indigenous culture.

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Just in case you’re wondering about the national capital, nope you wouldn’t catch me hanging out here with Rudd and friends. Happy to visit, see Parliament House, pay my respects at the War Memorial but it’s a wee bit cold and there’s just not enough going on for my liking.


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at

2 thoughts on “Australia’s most livable cities

  1. Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

    Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. 🙂

    Robert Shumake

  2. I’ve done some travel in Australia now and I think Kununurra would be a pretty cool place to live, I liked it up there. Everyone was so friendly and the pubs rock. I wouldn’t live in the big capitals and Byron is a bit touristy long term although I guess if you like surf it’s a good option.

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