Moving to & Living in Canberra

Information verified correct on October 22nd, 2016

canberra_parliament_houseMoving into Australia’s capital city? Here is what you need to know to have your finances and education sorted by the time you reach the home of the Australian story.

There are plenty of big things happening in Canberra - politics, education, art, science, research and business can all create exciting opportunities and careers. In Australia's largest inland city with a population of 381,448, the location is small enough to offer a relaxed and natural environment, yet developed enough to offer all the amenities you need to feel like you're living in a contemporary world level city.

But before your relocate, the most important thing - your finances - will need to be sorted before you arrive so you can ease into your new life straight away. With almost one in five respondents in our survey stating that organising finances was the most difficult task, we’ve done the hard work and crunched the numbers for you.

What is the cost of living in Canberra?

For students

The Department of Immigration & Border Protection recommends budgeting AUD $18,610 per year to cover the cost of a single student living away from home in Australia. You can see a breakdown of potential costs below per week as recommended by the Australian National University.


$385 - $435$415 - $430

$370 - $570

On campus self-cateredOn campus cateredOff campus
Accommodation$180 - $230$330 - $345$150 - $350
Entertainment and lifestyle$0$30$30
Public transport N/AN/A$15
Mobile phone$15$15$15
Photocopy and printing$15$15$15
Other costs$20$20$20

For expats

The table below gives a rough idea of how much you’ll need per year for a modest or comfortable lifestyle. Based on figures provided by Numbeo, a budget of AUD $41,866.42 a year may be required. Note that this figure is derived from a range of assumptions that does not take into account your personal situation.


Accommodation - Apartment (1 bedroom in City Centre)$1,960.50$23,526
Restaurants - One meal at an inexpensive restaurant and one meal at a mid-range restaurant per week$110$5,720
Groceries - Includes general groceries like milk, bread, fruit and vegetables$99.50$5,174
Transportation - One monthly pass at regular price$100$1,200
Utilities - Includes basic utilities and internet$337.94$4055.28
Sports and leisure - Assumes gym membership, tennis court rent and one cinema ticket per month$110.60$1327.20
Clothing and shoes - A pair of jeans, a dress, two pairs of shoes$431.97$863.94

Other living costs you may want to consider for your family

  • A 2014 Mazda 3 sedan starts from $24,097
  • All day parking in City Zone A is $14
  • Petrol/diesel is $1.45 - $1.65/ litre
  • A ticket to the National Rugby League (NRL) Canberra Raiders game Adults $28.00-$34.00, children $12.00-$17.00
  • Typical cost of a cappuccino is $3.50 - $4.50
  • Entry into galleries are generally free
Mobile phones
  • Plans range from $30 - $100 per month
  • iPhone 6, 5.5 inch display from $999
  • Childcare is $80 - $120 per day for a full day
  • Permanent residents of Australia are eligible for a free education at Government schools, students with temporary visas may be required to pay a fee
  • Private schools can range from $5,000 - $20,000 a year
Buying or renting a property
  • Median three bedroom house price is $525,000
  • Median three bedroom house rent per week, $420
Salaries and interest
  • Average monthly salary is $5,431.88
  • Average mortgage interest rate (p.a.) is 5.22%
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Banking in Canberra

If you intend on working in Australia, you’ll need a bank account to have your wages paid into. A bank account is also handy for paying bills and leaving your money in a secure place so you can access it when you need to through an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

Depending on the type of Visa you have received, your package may have included setting up a bank account, your Tax File Number (TFN) and your superannuation.

If you have to organise your finances yourself, it’s a good idea to compare the Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) to ensure you get the best deal. Most accounts in Australia charge a monthly fee and fees for using a foreign ATM, so it’s best to find an account that doesn’t charge a monthly fee and has a large ATM network.

Click here to learn more about opening a bank account in Australia.

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Studying in Canberra

Fun facts about Canberra
  • About 25% of Canberra’s population was born overseas and thousands of international students come every year to study
  • Canberrans (the term used to described Canberra residents) on average spend three and half hours per week commuting
  • Canberra on average get 7.2 hours of sunshine
  • Canberra is a three hour drive away from Sydney
  • The median age is 35 years

Australian National University (ANU)

This world leading university is ranked as one of the best in the world based on the three foundations of Education, Policy and Research. The students at ANU are taught by active researchers at all levels of achievement and have the option of opting for a 'flexible double degree', a program launched in 2014 allowing students to combine their studies and personal interest.

State of the art teaching facilities include atomic and molecular physics labs with particle accelerators, photography and media studios to Australia's Llewellyn Concert Hall. ANU is also leading the direction in nation and international policy. Researchers work with government, industry and non-government organizations to discuss key policy challenges facing Australia today.

Available for: Exchange and international students

University of Canberra (UC)

This university specializes in preparing students for their professional life and offers degrees and qualifications that are recognized internationally. It offers a range of electives and double degrees in a number of subjects. With over 200 degrees to choose from, you can create your own career path when studying at the University of Canberra. You can browse from Business, Government Law, Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics, Arts and Design and Health.

Available for: Exchange and international students

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT)

CIT has been the premier provider for technical and further education in Canberra for over 85 years. It has six locations across Canberra with more than 1,000 staff. It currently has 25,480 students accepting international students from over 92 countries. In 2013, it was awarded ACT Large Training Organization of the Year. Courses include: art and design, beauty and hairdressing, building and construction, business management and accounting, culinary, government, health and fitness, horticulture, veterinary and science and much more.

Available for: International students

Australian Catholic University, Canberra Campus (ACU)

The Canberra campus is located 5km from the City Centre, have over 1,000 students and over 30 international students. It has a saltwater, solar heated swimming pool along with other sporting facilities. The campus also hosted the 2014 Blackfriars lecture series, established to honour the contributions of the Dominican Friars to the campus. A number of living and college communities are available for accommodation.

Available for: International students

St.Mark's National Theological Centre

With a vision to be a scholarly Christian theological community, the institution offers high quality university-based theological education, postgraduate studies and research for students in Australia and overseas. It currently maintains one of the best theological libraries in Australia and has an active program of public lectures and publications addressing Australian society.

Available for: Local students only.

Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)

UNSW Canberra is located at the Australian Defence Force Academy and has provided high quality education for both undergraduate and post graduate education. Opened in 1986, the primary aim of the campus is to provide midshipmen and officer cadets with a balanced and liberal undergraduate education in a military environment. The institution provides tertiary education and military training for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Available for: Local students only.

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Organising your employment

It’s important that you sort out or at least research your employment prospects before you arrive. The process involves contacting local employers and competing against other Australians for the same job. You may be able to increase your job prospects if you’re more flexible on the type of position that you want.

Aim to familiarise yourself with the expectations of prospective employers, the Australian work culture, writing resumes and interview skills. Canberra publishers an ‘ACT Occupation List’ that lists the skills currently in demand. However, this does not guarantee a position. A huge amount of support is available from the Government with many cultural groups in Canberra who can help you settle.

Frequently asked questions

Who do I talk to if I have questions about my Visa?

All related questions must be directed to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) or your registered migration agent.

Who do I talk to if I need an interpreter?

You can get in touch with the Community Services Directorate on 13 14 50.

Who do I talk to if I need legal assistance?

For general legal matters, Legal Aid ACT and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau can assist. Legal Aid ACT provides assistance for more complex matters.

Who do I talk to if I need careers advice?

Employment agencies are a great place to start. Not only do they provide a gateway to vacancies, but they deal with employers on a daily basis.

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