Considering the move to Australia? Which city is for you?

Comparison of cities in AustraliaWhilst the recent leadership and cabinet changes have raised confidence amongst many South Africans who had previously considered leaving, there is still enough uncertainty surrounding issues such as land expropriation to cause some SA nationals to at least consider their options for going elsewhere.  Australia is the top destination for South Africans moving abroad, and with its similar climate and language and coastal lifestyles, it’s easy to understand why.  If you are considering a move to Australia, here’s some background to the major cities to help you choose your ideal destination.


The Economist Intelligence Unit produces an annual Global Liveability Ranking, based on “the challenges facing an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide”.  In 2017, cities in Australia and Canada both scored very well on the rankings, with 6 of the top 10 cities being from these two countries.

Melbourne took out the top spot for the 7th year in a row.  Other Australian cities making the top 10 were Adelaide (equal 5th with Calgary, Canada) and Perth.  Sydney slipped out of the top 10, ranking 11th in the 2017 list.

Housing Affordability

According to analysis undertaken by, the most affordable Australian capital cities for homebuyers are Hobart, Adelaide, Brisbane & Perth. Melbourne, Canberra & Darwin are the next most affordable cities, while Sydney is only affordable to those earning over AUD100,000 per annum.

Australian house prices

These affordability’s are based on the median house prices in each capital city (shown in Rands):

Median house prices in Australia
Source data:

Cost of Living compares the cost of over 50 different elements including food, housing, transport and entertainment, and calculates each city’s “Price Index” value by comparing their cost of living to the cost of a central reference city (which has an index value of 100).

There are few surprises in the data when looking at the figures for South African cities, all of which are calculated to have a lower cost of living than their Australian city counterparts.  Amongst the Australian cities, Sydney comes out top again, driven primarily by the high cost of housing (either rented or purchased).

Comparative cost of living of Australian vs South African cities

Average Salaries

On the flip side of the costs of housing, food etc, here are the average monthly salaries (in ZAR terms) of the states of Australia in November 2017.

Average Weekly Salaries in Australia by state November 2017
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics


Of course choosing to move you and your family to another country is more than just a financial decision.  Each of the cities in Australia has positive and negative aspects, as with any city around the world.  Considering the move?  Try before you buy, and go and visit your preferred options and get a feel for them.  Chat to locals, expats, estate agents, the barista who makes your coffee, headmasters/headmistresses of schools and colleagues. Visit the local sports facilities, beaches, national parks, food markets and, if your timing is right, visit one of the many festivals celebrating food and culture held throughout the year.  Chat to South Africans who have moved to Australia, and chat to those who have moved back as well.  Maybe you will decide to stay after all?  But if you do decide to go, you will have plenty of information behind you to help you and your family make the most out of your move.

For a lighthearted comparison of your options, check out Australia’s 10 best cities, ranked by an impartial American.