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The Best Places to Live in Australia as an American Expat

With its famously sunny climate and laid back culture, is it any wonder that moving to Australia is a consistently popular choice among American expats? The American population ‘Down Under’ is growing across all states and age groups, from young globetrotters to mature retirees. Air fares are getting cheaper and the growth in new communication technologies, such as Skype, mean moving to Australia from the US is no longer such a dramatic prospect. It’s now possible to have that new life in the sun and stay in close contact with family back home.

The unbelievable weather is just one of Australia’s appealing qualities. Add in healthy prospects of finding jobs in Australia’s growing employment market, good working visa options (especially for skilled workers), vibrant cities, spectacular natural beauty and of course, the surf, and you’ve got yourself one exciting adventure. The cost of living in Australia is similar to that in the States – but the quality of life on offer is second to none.

Love the idea of living the Aussie dream but no idea where to live in Australia? No worries, mate. We’ve put together a list of seven great destinations – and the reality of living there…

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Adelaide

The capital of South Australia, Adelaide, is growing in popularity thanks to its friendly country feel, pleasant climate (summers don’t reach the same scorching temperatures as other parts of Australia here) and affordable real estate. Job opportunities are good, with Adelaide recruiting a minimum of 5,000 skilled migrants a year, especially in the fields of healthcare, education and manufacturing.

Adelaide is popular with US families, many of whom choose to live in the leafy suburbs of Belair and Banksia Park. You’ll find a varied cultural scene to enjoy, with arts festivals, live music and great restaurants. Chill out at the beautiful Adelaide beaches or travel out to the nearby Barossa Valley vineyards to sample the delicious regional food and wines.

Brisbane

As Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane offers all the excitement of living in a thriving city – but is way more affordable than Sydney and Melbourne. While the urban center of Brisbane is all shiny skyscrapers, the city is also ideally placed for getting into nature. Brisbane residents are an active bunch and love to enjoy their beautiful river, whether they’re jogging alongside it or sailing on it. The rest of the ‘Sunshine State’s delights are within easy reach, with the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef among the highlights.

Brisbane’s economy is booming, with workers in hospitality, health, manufacturing and tourism the most in demand. Away from the thriving urban heart of Brisbane, you’ll find relaxed suburbs and beautiful landscapes. If you want to be close to the action, suburbs like Paddington are popular with US expats, while families might prefer quieter areas, such as Morayfield.

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Canberra

Australia’s inland capital, Canberra, has a sophisticated atmosphere that really comes alive when the country’s Parliament assembles. Although it is the nation’s capital, Canberra has fewer than 400,000 residents, giving it an almost small-town charm with its pretty tree-lined streets. Real estate is, perhaps surprisingly, some of the most affordable in the country with average house prices almost $100,000 below the national average at around $480,000.

In summer, Canberra’s residents take to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to enjoy picnics, bike rides, fishing and sailing. The city has a great restaurant and bar scene, some interesting cultural attractions, such as the National Gallery of Australia, and no end of adventure activities in the hills and bushland that surround the city.

Hobart

Historic Hobart is the second oldest city in Australia, situated in the south of the country on the banks of the Derwent River. The city is popular with those who prefer cooler temperatures, with summer temperatures a manageable 68°F, and has a lovely relaxed pace of life. Hobart has a great range of real estate, from the luxurious to the affordable, and its desirable riverside suburbs are popular with families and retirees alike. The suburb of Kingston was recently named the most family-friendly place to live in Australia.

Hobart may not have a rapidly growing employment market, but it does offer stable and steady job prospects especially for skilled expats in the industries of construction, viticulture and engineering. On the weekends, choose between the lively arts scene in town, scaling the heights of the spectacular Mt Wellington, or heading down to Sandy Bay to relax on the beach.

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Melbourne

The multicultural city of Melbourne is widely considered to be Australia’s cultural capital with a strong arty vibe, amazing museums and an endless selection of cool bars, eateries and festivals. It’s also city of sporting fans. The residents of Melbourne come from all over the world, creating many different neighborhoods from the glitzy to the family- oriented. Surrey Hills and Camberwell are popular with expats who have children, while the hipster beachfront suburb of St. Kilda attracts a younger crowd.

On the downside, Melbourne is famous for its changeable weather - you’ll often experience “four seasons in one day”. Cost of living is relatively high, although slightly cheaper than Sydney, and the employment market is buoyant, especially for expats who specialize in aviation, construction, automotive engineering, financial services and technology.

Sydney

With almost 5 million residents, Sydney is by far Australia’s biggest city - and home to some of its most iconic sights. Cruise through the harbor to see the famous opera house or join the surfer dudes down at the beautiful Bondi Beach. While the bright lights of Sydney’s central district, with its eclectic bars, restaurants and clubs, appeal to younger expats, many families choose to live in the suburbs. Western Sydney is particularly popular with American expats, while the Northern Beaches Area is great for families.

Sydney is a major player on the world stage, which has an undeniable effect on the cost of living here. Real estate prices are on a par with New York, putting it up there with the most expensive cities in the world. Sydney’s successful economy does mean that employment prospects are good, with the financial services, communications technology and creative industries all thriving.

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Perth

And topping the list, we have Perth – an easy-going but cosmopolitan city on Australia’s west coast. With gorgeous city parks, a booming economy and warm weather all year round, life in Perth is sweet. The job outlook is particularly good in the mining industries, tourism, healthcare and technology. Families are drawn to the good schools in neighborhoods like Victoria Park and Applecross, while others may prefer the cultural attractions and restaurants of bohemian Fremantle along Perth’s south coast.

Making time to play is paramount in Perth. Whether you head down to the golden sands of the city’s pristine beaches, take to the waters of the glassy Swan River, or enjoy a night of opera at the Perth Cultural Centre, you’ll always find Perth’s laid-back residents are out and about enjoying Aussie life.