I can’t speak for other cities, but we Sydneysiders have been known to have a little bit of a joke about Canberra in the past if we’re speaking truthfully. But those days are over–for me, and soon you–because we’ve been doing some looking into what living in Canberra is actually like. Turns out, they’ve been hiding some of Australia’s best kept secrets. Canberra has one of the best, if not the best, living standard in the country. It has the best-educated workforce, the highest average income, the lowest unemployment rate and the lowest crime rates in Australia. On top of that, it gets on average 7.2 hours of full sunshine a day, compared to the 6.6 that Sydney gets (I’m feeling a bit ripped off, personally).
It’s been said that Canberra has the feel of a large country town, but offers all the benefits of a modern city, vibrant and alive. The New York Times said what it “lacks in big city tousle, it makes up for in big-sky beauty, breezy civic pride and a decidedly hipster underbelly.” There’s a heap of students living there, so the average age skews younger than most other capital cities, and it certainly caters for them.
We spoke with Gabby Macgregor, a 20 year old who’s been living in Canberra her entire life. She says:
“There are plenty of places all over town to eat and drink, a lot of history and discovery to be found at places like the war memorial, national museum, old Parliament House, and all of that is quite central. Canberra is the easiest place to get around, well planned out and structured in that sense. It pretty much has something to offer everyone regardless of likes or dislikes. Unless you’re after a nice day relaxing on the beach, we only have the rivers and dams for that!” (If you do find yourself craving some beach time, it’s 2 hours to Bateman’s Bay.)
Canberra is home to many of Australia’s most important national and cultural landmarks and institutions, like the National Gallery, Old and New Parliament Houses, and the National Film and Sound Archive.
And yes, Canberra is a well planned out city. This might sound like a boring factor, but really, we’ve all tried to navigate the public transport and rush hour traffic of our disorganised hometowns too many times not to appreciate the thought.
Caitlin Strain, another longtime Canberra resident, told us when it comes to the feel of the city,
“There’s 3 degrees of separation here. You can’t leave your front door without running into someone you know or someone who your friends and family know.”
She also talked about the events and nightlife Canberra has to offer for everyone from young adults to young families. Festivals are year-round, and events like the Skyfire fireworks and a winter ice skating rink with live entertainment brings Canberra alive during the seasons.
Caitlin also told us,
“There’s something for both the fast paced and slow paced lifestyles and no need to really compromise on that.”
Turns out, between the up-and-coming thriving lifestyle and the underbelly slow and steady of the city, there’s enough to go around for everyone. Canberra is a much more complex place than we had given enough thought to and there’s good reason more people keep deciding to call it home.