While tourists passing through the Gold Coast might be wowed by its fabulous, almost unbroken, 57 km stretch of beach and its raging nightlife, moving to the city permanently will reveal hidden depths to this Queensland metropolis - the sixth fastest growing large city in Australia.
Source: Flickr | Paul Bica
Traditionally a mecca for surfers - the Gold Coast has exceptional surf breaks - and tourists from within Australia and abroad, the city has recently developed a much broader base of industries ranging from ICT to sports and is adding to its population at a rate of 3.4% per year.
The Gold Coast has more than just glorious beaches, shopping, bars and clubs of Surfers Paradise; it also has five theme parks, over 600km of purpose built canals with homes on the waterfront, 40 golf courses and hundreds of restaurants.
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But the Gold Coast’s chief delights are not man-made: the Coral Sea is home to turtles, dolphins and whales; the tidal waterways contain islands, beaches, dunes and sandbars, cover 860 km, and allow for a lifetime of exploration. A 30 minute drive away in the Great Dividing Range to the west, you can hike in Australia’s highest mountain range and see some of its most spectacular waterfalls, or spot wild koalas in the foothills.
Anyone who dismisses the Gold Coast as a mere tourist town has never stayed for very long.
Moving to the Gold Coast from the UK
A person or family moving from the UK to the Gold Coast should have no trouble settling in and making friends. Not only do most Australians declare an English, Irish or Scottish ancestry, but 6.6% of the Gold Coast’s inhabitants were born in the UK (at the last count in 2011).
The climate of the Gold Coast will allow you to kiss British winters goodbye forever - the temperature rarely drops below 10 °C even in the winter months of June, July and August! Embrace summers where temperatures regularly soar into the high 30s with a soft ocean breeze.
Source: Flickr | alexxis
A rapidly growing population and economy means that employment opportunities are plentiful for workers with the right skills. Property prices are also low after the global financial crisis and the Queensland government offers a grant of 15,000 AUD for people buying or building a new home.
The biggest problem faced by UK expats is choosing where to live and the distance to friends and relatives back home. With Brisbane only just over an hour away by road to the north, the Gold Coast could be a suitable location for commuting to Queensland’s largest city. Stray as far south as Tweed Heads and you’ll find yourself in a different state - New South Wales - with daylight savings time, different laws, taxes and school system.
The Gold Coast real estate market has also been helped along by several major development projects; including a new area hospital, a 1.8 billion AUD passenger train project and the expansion of Pacific Mall, Queensland’s largest shopping centre.
The median house price on the Gold Coast has risen by 10.7% over the past year and currently sits at around 510,000 AUD, which is a bargain compared to London’s median house price of £500,000 (1,09,000 AUD) at the time of writing.
The cost of renting a 1 bedroom apartment, either inside or outside the CBD, is almost 50% cheaper on the Gold Coast compared to London, while renting a 3 bedroom apartment is on average 55-65% cheaper. Buying an apartment here is a staggering 70% cheaper per square foot compared to London.
Source: Flickr | Amanda Moffatt
Considering that every part of the Gold Coast is within a stone’s throw of world-class beaches and gorgeous natural areas, it is hard to go wrong when choosing a place to live here. The following are a few of your many great options:
- Family friendly: Ashmore/Benowa - close to beaches, parks, the M1 and just minutes from Surfer’s Paradise, you won’t find a better place to raise a family than here. There are a number of great schools, plenty of hiking and biking trails, an area skate park and the nearby Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens is a hit with local families. Even the local pub is family friendly, featuring a child-proof outdoor play area and a resident face painter to keep the little ones happy.
- Upmarket: Paradise Point - boasting some of the area’s best views, an array of luxurious housing, as well as a cute local village, it is easy to see why the rich like it here. Close to popular beaches, yet secluded enough to be largely tourist-free; Paradise Point also provides bridge-free water access for those large luxury boats. The median house price here currently sits at around 774,305 AUD, while the median unit price is roughly 484,713 AUD.
- Hip and trendy: Broadbeach - even though it is swarming with tourists all year round, trendsetters love being where the action is and there is no more vibrant place than here. While the vast majority of homes are apartments, you will find cute cafes, gourmet restaurants, beautiful parks and one of the world’s most impressive beaches. It sure isn’t cheap, but this area’s fantastic mix of hip locals and international visitors creates a truly unique atmosphere.
- Up and coming: Arundel - situated close to beautiful Southport, Arundel is one of the best kept secrets on the Gold Coast. Soon to be serviced by the Mass Transit System, this growing area is also home to a brand new hospital and an expanding university. Featuring wide, leafy streets, plenty of shops and schools, and the Helensvale railway station nearby, it is only a matter of time before Arundel starts to boom.
Schools and Education
Despite what you may have heard, the quality of education in Australia more than lives up to UK standards and Gold Coast schools are no different.
One of the biggest differences is the terminology used, as public schools in the UK are essentially the equivalent of private schools in Australia, while UK state schools are closer to Australia’s public schools.
Source: Flickr | Sarah Harris
As far as curriculum goes, Australian students tend to have more group study and independent projects when compared with the highly academic curricula of their British counterparts. Like the UK, Gold Coast schools consist of primary and secondary components and school uniforms are the norm.
The Gold Coast is home to more than 80 schools, comprising private, public and religious options. There is also an array of post-secondary education, such as the wide network of TAFE colleges and three world class universities, namely Bond University, Griffith University and Southern Cross University.
Comparing the Gold Coast vs London
While temperatures in the Gold Coast are considerably warmer than in London all year round, the residents of Surfers Paradise are not exempt from the summer blues. Every so often thunderstorms and heavy showers in the Gold Coast can last for up to a week or more between November and March. But let’s face it, it’s still sunnier than England!
Source: Flickr | Aaron
Residents of the Gold Coast report a better standard of health care, less crime, less pollution and lower commute times, on average, than Londoners.
In terms of cost of living, Gold Coast prices on the whole are considerably lower than in London. Property and rent are both more affordable with respect to the average salary while the cost of getting around and utilities like gas and electricity are also much reduced.
When compared with London, the cost of groceries, restaurants and gasoline are considerably cheaper on the Gold Coast, as are gym memberships, movie tickets and most forms of transportation.
Groceries do cost more, though there is a general agreement that the fresh produce of Queensland is of a higher standard than in the UK capital.