Moving to the ACT: What to know

Written by in ACT on June 6, 2017

The Australian Capital Territory is a tiny but significant region nestled in inland New South Wales.

It has the honour of being the only state in Australia that is landlocked, sitting at just over 2,400 square kilometres in total, meaning it’s also the smallest. Canberra is not only the capital of ACT, but it’s also the nation’s capital and the political hub of Australia. The name ‘Canberra’ even comes from the Aboriginal word Kamberra, meaning ‘meeting place’.

So what do you need to know about moving to this unique part of the country?

An alien city that feels right at home

If you’re moving to the ACT, it might feel otherworldly at first. The surroundings are almost alien in their beauty, and the pride taken in maintaining something as simple as the rows of neatly trimmed hedges is obvious.

The population of ACT is less than 400,000, so it’s quiet, but the locals are very friendly. The ACT is eclectic and rich in Australian history, and there is always something interesting to do. Between visiting the new and old Parliament House, the museums, art galleries, pubs, restaurants, you’ll never be lacking for day trips.

According to, well, almost everyone, the ACT is a wonderful place to live. On a list of cities with the highest quality of life, Canberra has claimed the number one spot more than once. While the rental market can be notoriously tricky to get into and housing prices can be quite high (though still nowhere near as expensive as Sydney), that’s about the only black mark against relocating here.

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What’s missing? The beach

If you’re a beach or ocean lover, you may be somewhat disappointed here, because the ACT has no coastline. At all. However, the ACT has governmental control over the NSW region of Jervis Bay, which is only an hour and a half drive away.

Lake Burley Griffin, a man-made lake, surrounds the capital city of Canberra and is also a great spot for fishing, sailing or rowing. And if you’re a ski-bunny instead of a surfer, you’ll be pleased to know that the snowfields are just as easy to get to.

The weather can feel like four seasons in one day in Canberra, and in winter it’s known to get pretty cold, with a daily average of roughly 12°C. Summer is very hot, but not humid, so if you’re coming from Brisbane or Sydney you’ll love it.

Schools and education centres are among the best in Australia, with the Australian National University – one of the main reasons people might choose to relocate to the ACT – sitting at the top of the pile globally. The public transport system here has a little room for improvement, but with scenery as beautiful as it is, you won’t mind walking instead.

The ACT might take some getting used to if you aren’t familiar with such a relaxed, quiet lifestyle, but it’s a beautiful place that has something to offer everyone.

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