Canberra is Australia’s largest inland city and, its capital. Its geographical position means it’s only two hours from the beach, two hours from the snow, two and a half hours from Sydney, and only minutes from the bush.
If you are considering moving to Canberra, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved if you decide to move to the capital of Australia.
Quick Canberra Facts:
- Population: 456,652 (2022).
- Official Language: English (de facto) with many more languages being spoken around the city, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Arabic, Filipino, Hindi, Spanish, and Korean.
- GDP Per Capita: A$94,831 (2019 estimate)
- Canada’s gift to Canberra: Canberra’s biggest flagpole measures 40m high. This Douglas Fir was a gift from the Canadian Government. When it arrived, it had to be quarantined – but where do you put a 40m flag pole? The solution was to submerge it in Sydney Harbour for a few days.
- Currency: Australian Dollar ($, AUD). As of early 2023, £1 = $1.80 AUD, $1 USD = $1.49 AUD, €1 EUR = $1.58 AUD, $1 CAD = $1.10 AUD.
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Canberra
Below are sample international container shipping rates to Australia from various countries around the world.
2. Canberra Housing Costs
Property prices in Canberra are on a par with Melbourne, and nowhere near as expensive as Sydney. Most of the accommodation available consists of detached housing, although there are apartments, especially in the CBD. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Canberra:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: A$2,600+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: A$2,200+
- 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: A$4,200+
- 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: A$3,300+
Canberra Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: A$9,600+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: A$7,600+
Canberra Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Canberra compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 24.3% more expensive
- New York is 50.1% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 32.6% more expensive
- Sydney is 52.54% more expensive
- Melbourne is 26.8% cheaper
- Toronto is 2.6% cheaper
- Paris is 15.7% cheaper
- Dubai is 1.1% cheaper
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: There’s a large selection of flat and house shares in Canberra. With a house share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house. Have a look at the following sites to search for the ideal flat/house share – Flatmates, Gumtree, All Homes and Share Houses.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: The architects of Canberra designed a city which was a collection of ‘satellite cities’ separated by nature reserves. Today, Canberra has seven mini cities each with its own CBD, shops and amenities. So, wherever you live, everything you need is within walking distance. Canberra seems to be split between those who live north of Lake Burley Griffin and those who live south. Most people recommend living south of the lake, where house prices are more expensive but the areas are considered safer and prettier. Canberra CBD is popular with young executives and couples, being close to good restaurants and entertainment. The Inner South is Canberra’s most prestigious suburb and home to Parliament House. The Inner North is a relaxed suburb which enjoys a hippy type of existence with affordable apartments and smaller houses. Franklin, Holt and Ngunnawai are areas with the most affordable housing and have all amenities and schools close by. Griffin, Red Hill and Yarralumba are some of the most expensive areas in Canberra with some amazing properties and gardens.
3. Canberra Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Canberra has a good selection of restaurants, food stores and markets.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: A$35.00 – A$40.00
- Takeout Coffee: A$5.50 – A$6.50
- Bottle of Coke: A$4.00 – A$4.50
- 1L of Milk: A$2.50– A$3.00
- Loaf of Bread: A$3.40 – A$4.50
- 12 Eggs: A$6.50 – A$7.00
- 1kg Chicken: A$12.00 – A$13.50
- 1kg Beef: A$25.00 – A$30.00
- 1kg Apples: A$4.80 – A$5.50
- 1kg White Rice: A$3.00 – A$4.50
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 4.4% cheaper and groceries are 20.9% more expensive than Canberra.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 17.6% cheaper and groceries are 4.7% cheaper than Canberra.
- London restaurants are 36.7% cheaper and groceries are 48.9% cheaper than Canberra.
- Sydney restaurants are 33.4% cheaper and groceries are 4% cheaper than Canberra.
- Melbourne restaurants are 39.6% cheaper and groceries are 2.9% cheaper than Canberra.
- Toronto restaurants are 37.8% cheaper and groceries are 19.1% cheaper than Canberra.
- Paris restaurants are 51.6% cheaper and groceries are 8.8% cheaper than Canberra.
- Dubai restaurants are 45.6% cheaper and groceries are 64.6% cheaper than Canberra.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm Market are the major supermarket chains in Canberra. There are some good health shops around the city, selling organic and whole foods for the ever-increasing vegetarian and vegan population. There are also some good independent old-fashioned grocers that sell excellent, if expensive, produce. There are lots of farmers’ markets to visit, go to Weekend Notes for days, times and places.
- Find Cheap Eats: Canberra Times, Trip Advisor, Australia and Best Restaurants all have their own guides to cheap eats in Canberra, which include everything from fine dining to vegan goodies.
4. Canberra Alcohol Costs
Canberra has bars, pubs and clubs to suit everyone, from students to politicians.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: A$13.00 – A$14.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: A$12.00 – A$13.00
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: A$6.50 – A$7.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: A$7.00 – A$8.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: A$20.00 – A$25.00
How To Drink For Less in Canberra:
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials
- There are many pubs, bars and clubs that offer specials every day. Have a look at the following sites to find one which takes your fancy – The Happiest Hour, Canberra Times, Out in Canberra and Bars and Nightclubs.
- Scour the areas around the universities to find the best alcohol deals
5. Canberra Transportation Fares
Canberra transportation system consists of a network of bus routes run by Transport Canberra. The bus service covers the city and usually runs on time, due to the lack of traffic. A light rail system is in the process of being built.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – A$4.00
- One-day ticket – A$9.20
- Monthly season ticket – A$170.00
- 7-day ticket – A$36.50
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- Buy a My Way card for discounted fares
- Buy a bike. There are many cycle lanes in Canberra and more are being introduced all the time. Cycling in the city is a pleasure compared with most cities around the world.
- Walk. Canberra is a very walkable city.
6. Cost of Internet in Canberra
Internet in Australia is expensive. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023, based on a 24-month contract:
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Canberra’s warmest month is January with an average high of 28°C. July is the coldest month, with an average high of 11°C. Canberra doesn’t suffer from summer humidity like Sydney, however, the winter brings frost and fog with it.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: A$140.00 – A$200.00
- Summer Dress: A$110.00 – A$150.00
- Running Shoes (Trainers): A$200.00 – A$250.00
- Business Shoes: A$270.00 – A$300.00
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): A$80.00
- Deodorant: A$5.50
- Shampoo: A$7.00
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): A$4.00
- Gym Membership: A$45.00 – A$120.00 per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: A$15.00 – A$20.00
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Canberra
Everyone in Australia drives on the left. Driving in Canberra is a pleasure compared with most cities around the world. Peak hours are short, as are the queues.
If you’re moving to Canberra from within Australia, you’ll be able to use your existing license for three months and then you will need to get an ACT license.
If you are relocating to Canberra from another country, you can drive on your existing license for three months and then you will need to replace it with a license from ACT. You may need to take a written test and a driving test before you can be issued a license. This depends on a number of factors such as how long you have been driving and the nationality of your license.
You can also get an International Driving Permit before you leave your home country and this will allow you to drive in Australia for 12 months.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Canberra:
- Volkswagen Golf: A$30,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol): A$2.19
- Motor Vehicle Tax: the cost is calculated on the value of the vehicle
- Other Fees (if any): Stamp Duty and other taxes may be payable depending on the value of the vehicle
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Canberra:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpoolworld, Gumtree, Coseats, Shareurride and Carpling.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Canberra
No matter where you live in Australia, you will pay the same rate of tax. To learn more about the different taxes in Australia, go to this site – the Australian Taxation Office.
Sales Tax in Australia is 10% and is added to most goods and services throughout the country. Unlike in some countries, it is always included in the marked price.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will be subject to the payment of rates based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about rates in Canberra at ACT Rates.
If you decide to buy a flat or house in Canberra, you’ll have to pay Stamp Duty.
10. Flight Costs from Canberra
If you do make the move to Canberra, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: A$1,400
- Los Angeles: A$2,000
- Toronto: A$1,500
- Vancouver: A$900
- Dubai: A$1,300
- London: A$1,100
- Sydney: A$150
- Melbourne: A$75
- Cape Town: A$1,200
- Hong Kong: A$890
Other Tips on Moving to Canberra:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Canberra but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Canberra Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling in Canberra.
- Meetups: Canberra has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup. Find groups such as Canberra Dog Walks, The Movie Group, Fun and Fitness, Canberra Young Professionals and Infrastructure Coders.
- Attend Local Events: There’s always a lot going on in Canberra. Find out what’s happening on Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Australia, Traveller and The Canberra Times.
12. Moving to Canberra with a Family
Canberra has a lot to offer families, especially those who enjoy the outdoors and the arts.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Check out Parent Effectiveness Training.
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Kingston is close to the CBD and has good schools, restaurants and entertainment. These factors, together with Talopea Park, make it an attractive area for families.Yarralumla, Curtin and Deakon, with their green spaces, cycle and running paths, are also popular with families. Griffin and Red Hill have some of the best schools in Canberra and some excellent restaurants and upmarket boutiques. Ainslie is one of the older suburbs and has some beautiful houses with well-established gardens. Ainslie, and nearby OÇonnor and Turner, are all situated within easy reach of schools, amenities and entertainment.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: Canberra Times, Where’s Sharon and Family Days Out all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Canberra for Work
People generally move to Canberra for work. If you want to work in Australia, you need to ensure you have the right visa. Visa conditions are changing, making it more difficult for people to live and work in Australia.
Canberra has the highest concentration of educated people within the city. The Australian government (both ACT and federal) is the main employer in Canberra. There are over 25,000 businesses which employ the rest of its inhabitants. There are work opportunities in many fields, including construction, public service, education, health, tourism, hospitality, sports and retail.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Canberra are relatively high. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea of how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Canberra, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Indeed, ACT.gov and Seek. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Canberra from the United Kingdom
There’s a group of Brits enjoying life in Canberra, if you are thinking of joining them, here are a few things to consider.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of Canberra with a city in the UK, you would be looking at Kirklees.
- Join Expat Groups: Internations offer ways of meeting up with other Brits in Canberra.
15. Moving to Canberra from Canada
There’s a small group Canadians living and working in Canberra. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you compare the size of the population of Canberra with a city in Canada, then you would be looking at Halifax.
- Expat Groups: If you want to find fellow Canadians in Canberra, have a look at Internations and The Canadian Australian Club.
16. Moving to Canberra from the United States
There’s a small group of Americans living in Canberra. If you’re considering making the move from the States to Canberra, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Canberra with a city in the States, you would be looking at a city a little larger than Jacksonville, Florida.
- Expat Groups: Meeting up with fellow Americans who have been living in Canberra for a while can greatly assist the integration process. Sites such as Internations will help you connect with people from back home.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Canberra you can start by comparing moving quotes here.