Home » Australia » An Expat Guide To Coastal Towns And Cities In Australia

An Expat Guide To Coastal Towns And Cities In Australia

Many of the country’s most famous destinations are located on the coast. While Australia is a huge country, there are vast swathes of it that many expats will not get to visit and they do not have large towns or cities in them for work purposes (though they do have lots of mining operations which offer expats well-paid jobs).This expat guide to coastal towns and cities in Australia will focus on the best-known areas that attract the majority of expats, plus a few of destinations that expats may not be aware of.


First up is the excellent destination of Sydney with its famous landmark buildings, like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It’s also home to a fabulous firework display every New Year’s Eve to welcome in the New Year.

However, there are lots of opportunities for expats in the capital of New South Wales with dozens of impressive suburbs to live in and lots of beachside towns to choose from as well. The neighbourhoods tend to be trendy and welcoming and the schools are very good for those expats moving ‘down under’ with their family.

As Australia’s largest city, Sydney offers expats a high standard of living in a culturally diverse and friendly place to live. There’s also a thriving theatre and music scene along with various events and music festivals to enjoy.

It should also be noted that Sydney pays well for expats but it’s also a dearer place to live than many other Australian cities for everyday items, such as a coffee and restaurants. It’s also worth noting that there are other excellent coastal towns nearby including Newcastle and Wollongong though most expats congregate around the beach areas at Coogee and Bondi.

Get Our Best Articles Every Month!

Get our free moving abroad email course AND our top stories in your inbox every month

Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.


While (slightly) smaller than Sydney, there’s a lot to recommend Melbourne as a trendy location with lots of culture. Indeed, the city is often ranked as being the world’s best liveable city with lots of heritage and lots to offer expats looking for opportunities.

It’s also easy to travel around the city. It has one of the world’s largest tram networks with more than 250 kilometres of track. Along with a high standard of living, there’s also a multi-cultural population, lots of green open spaces and a very busy events calendar.

Expats living here will find this is a city that literally has something for everyone and it’s a great destination for families as well as single expats.

Melbourne is often compared to Sydney and expats may need to sit down and decide which is the better location for them between the two cities.

Melbourne offers more events and culture as well as entertainment whereas it’s generally agreed Sydney has better beaches and better temperatures.


There is an excellent beach culture and laidback atmosphere in this highlight of the Gold Coast. As the capital of Queensland, there are lots of opportunities for expats. It’s the biggest city in the state, and the third-largest in Australia though it is smaller than Sydney and Melbourne. It also doesn’t have the same feeling of hustle and bustle. Its easygoing nature means it is a great place for expats wanting to put down roots in the country.

Located in the Sunshine State, Brisbane’s weather is warm and there’s a wide range of nature and cultural attractions and lots of leisure activities too. It’s also a tourist hotspot with a thriving number of attractions including the neighbouring seaside resort casinos and live music venues.

For expats looking for excellent beaches and a good relaxed lifestyle, there is a lot to recommend Brisbane.


The capital of Western Australia has excellent sandy beaches and friendly neighbourhoods, which help make Perth a hugely attractive prospect for expats. There’s also lots of culture available here too with the seafront suburb of Fremantle offering expats a great location to settle. There’s the relaxed town of Mandurah to the south and Joondalup to the north with great attractions in their own right.

For many expats, Perth offers scenic beauty and cultural activities in a relaxed city with excellent facilities for education, transport and health care. It is, however, quite a pricey city in which to live though there are lots of bars, cafes as well as restaurants.

As with many Australian cities, Perth is geographically isolated (it is, apparently, the most isolated city in the world) so expats should expect to spend a lot of time and effort travelling to other areas. Items that have to be imported will be pricey too.

It’s also the country’s fourth largest city but its isolation lends itself to a great lifestyle and lots of well-paid jobs. It has a well-deserved reputation for being an excellent location for relaxing and enjoying its beautiful surroundings.


Located in South Australia, Adelaide is considered to be something of a cosmopolitan coastal capital with lots of parkland, galleries and famous museums. Indeed, it has a good reputation for being one of the world’s most liveable cities with lots of cultural events and plenty of festivals to enjoy.

Adelaide has been a popular choice for expats from all over the world for many years and this is reflected in the cultures on offer. The seafronts are often described as majestic and expats get to enjoy excellent levels of health care with good infrastructure and excellent transport networks. There are great vineyards and outdoor eating places to enjoy as well.

For many expats, Adelaide offers newcomers a big city feel but in a small town. It’s nowhere near as bustling as Sydney, for instance, and its laidback atmosphere is one to enjoy. Adelaide also ranks highly for this reason as one of the world’s most liveable cities.


There’s a lot to recommend for expats in Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. It has several beaches and a very popular waterfront area. Again, it’s an Australian city with lots of culture on offer and plenty for expats and their families to do.

As a former frontier outpost, Darwin has lots of history and it’s also the gateway to the huge Kakadu National Park. It should also be appreciated that this is the only tropical capital city in Australia and it is popular with tourists looking for a unique holiday.

Darwin is a small city and its suburbs are spread out over a large distance. Its proximity to South East Asia is reflected in the opportunities available. The nearby city of Palmerston is also worth a visit. Though both destinations are warm and dry throughout much of the year, they can attract monsoon-like downpours.


Famous for its location close to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is in a tropical part of the country with the city’s esplanade offering a wide variety of restaurants and bars and there is also an impressive saltwater swimming lagoon in the northwest of the city.

Cairns is popular with expats as it offers a relaxed atmosphere and a tropical climate with opportunities to enjoy cultural events in a lovely setting. It’s the country’s 14th largest city and has been enjoying regular growth over recent years, which means there are great opportunities for expats who move here. This is another Australian city that sprawls over a large area – it’s around 52 kilometres or 32 miles from north to south with a relatively small population.


It’s not one of the better-known Australian coastal cities but Townsville offers variety and lots of opportunity. The city has a modern look and feel. Like many Australian cities, it’s close to a national park with the Billabong Sanctuary being home to the likes of crocodiles, wombats and koalas.

For those who like activities at sea, the Magnetic Island is fairly close offshore and a national park with lots of wildlife. Many expats in Townsville also enjoy the pier and water park.

Locals call it Queensland’s second capital city (after Brisbane) and again, it’s a city that sprawls over a large area. While the city centre is busy, there are lots of attractions and events there to keep expats occupied. It’s also close to the Great Barrier Reef, which makes this a major centre for those who like snorkel, sail or dive.

Expats looking for a diverse and thriving city to pursue their career should consider Townsville, which offers opportunities and a laid back lifestyle.

Australia's largest and most attractive cities for expats

Interestingly, even though many of Australia’s largest and most attractive cities for expats are located on the coastline, the country’s capital Canberra is located inland. It’s surrounded by farmland and forests as well as impressive nature reserves and the country’s modern Parliament House. Again, Canberra, like many Australian cities, offers lots of opportunities for expats to enjoy the country and develop a career.

We mentioned previously that Australia is also home to a great number of impressive seaside towns. Australians looking for a family break may head to the likes of Torquay in Victoria.

Torquay bears little resemblance to its English namesake. It’s a surfing capital that’s extremely popular with families. It has a lot of watersports to enjoy and a sheltered Front Beach. Even Point Danger is a safe destination in this popular little town.

Also in Victoria is Sorrento, which is extremely popular with younger expats, with a thriving nightlife and lots of culture on offer too. This town also has loads of heritage and old buildings and is a great location for beach holidays.

Small Australian coastal towns worth living in

Other small Australian coastal towns worth living in or even just visiting include the excellent Port Macquarie in New South Wales, which also has excellent beaches, impressive wildlife parks and the potential for sea fishing to catch dinner.

New South Wales also plays home to Kingscliff, which has an impressive mix of golden beaches and a rainforest with lots of locations to explore and enjoy. There are some excellent hiking routes and lots of family activities too.

Even within the large cities, there are some very good smaller suburbs that stand in their own right as a town to attract an expat’s attention. Many towns and cities on Australia’s coast either have a European feel or a distinctly Aussie vibe.

The cost of living is a huge factor for many expats and while many destinations offer a good standard of living, it can be expensive to rent a property. For instance, a small flat on the outskirts of Sydney may cost around AU$400 every week (£250 or $305), which is considered cheap. Expats will soon find that property that is close to beaches is the most expensive – as well as hard to find.

Lesser known Australian towns and cities

Obviously, the lesser-known Australian towns and cities, especially those destinations that are further away from the coastline are cheaper for renting accommodation but most expats will be heading to the areas with excellent career prospects and a high quality of living.

Also, one of the big attractions for an expat moving ‘down under’ is that they will find it easy to settle and make friends. The lifestyle is laid back and it is easy to access health care when necessary.

When it comes to putting together an expat guide to coastal towns and cities in Australia the sheer breadth of lovely towns and impressive cities dotted around the coastline means no guide will do all of these excellent destinations the justice they rightfully deserve; this is a shame since many of them have the characteristics and impressive offerings that many expats will come to know and love.

Latest Videos

Expat Focus Financial Update February 2024 #expat #expatlife

Expat Focus 28 February 2024 2:53 pm

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Important: No API Key Entered.

Many features are not available without adding an API Key. Please go to the YouTube Feeds settings page to add an API key after following these instructions.