When it comes to cities in Australia, each capital has its own unique vibe, from smaller locations dotted with gardens and parklands, to huge metropolitan hubs with glittering skyscrapers on every corner. In every city, though, there’s one common thread: the CBD is often the most exciting place to be, with an abundance of shops, restaurants, transport and things to do right on your doorstep.

We spoke to three students living in CBDs across Australia to find out why they love living in the centre of the action.

CHRISTABELLE – ADELAIDE

Living in the CBD

Christabelle is a resident at Urbanest at the University of Adelaide.


When looking to move away from Canada for university, Korean-born Christabelle wanted to live in a country that was a little more temperate.

“Canada’s a very cold country – I’ve always wanted the heat,” she says. “That, and some adventure!”

Moving to Adelaide – with its Mediterranean climate, highly-regarded universities and abundance of annual festivals – Christabelle has embraced her new life in the city. Outside of studying a Bachelor of Dental Surgery at the University of Adelaide, she visits as many restaurants across Adelaide as she can, and enjoys wine in the famous Barossa Valley and shopping in Adelaide Central Market.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE CBD?

The most convenient thing is getting to sleep until five minutes before a lecture! I’m also able to get home safely after a night out, which is good because there’s always events and festivals going on, like the Adelaide Fringe, shows at the theatre and parades, like on Anzac Day. Living in the city means you’re always exposed to these social events and community festivals right on your doorstep – you never get a chance to be bored.

TYPICAL SATURDAY?

I’ll sleep in, but I have to wake up in time for the Central Market’s peak-hour sales – perfect when you’re living on a student budget. The Central Market has sales each Saturday, as it’s shut on Sundays. My friend and I will grab a coffee and shop for fresh fruit and vegetables for the rest of the week.

FAVOURITE EATERIES?

There are so many! NanYang Café – it’s Malaysian/Singaporean with homemade-style Hainanese chicken. There’s Mandoo – a Korean restaurant with delicious dumplings. Bread & Bone – it’s a burger and pasta place. For dessert, there’s Lukoumades – The Greek Donut.

FAVOURITE HIDDEN GEM?

Windy Point Lookout – the view at night is really amazing.

THREE THINGS SOMEONE VISITING THE CITY SHOULDN’T MISS?

1. The Barossa Valley. South Australia is extremely well-known for wine, so you definitely need to try and make a trip to the Barossa for wine tasting.

2. Gorge Wildlife Park and Cleland Wildlife Park. Both of these places give you the opportunity to hold a koala. For me – coming from Canada where there are absolutely zero koalas or kangaroos – getting to see these animals up close was so fun.

3. Henley Beach. Walking along the beach with an ice-cream gives you a sense of peace.

AMANPREET – MELBOURNE

living in the CBD

Amanpreet is a resident at Urbanest Melbourne Central.


Back in 2015, Amanpreet made his first trip from New Delhi, India, to Sydney to compete in the robotics competition, FIRST LEGO League. Ever since then, he wanted to study in Australia – he just had to choose a city.

“I wanted international exposure,” he says. “I was looking for a country that’s welcoming for international students, and Victoria is the education state!”

So, in 2017, Amanpreet moved to Melbourne to pursue a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash University. Outside of his studies, he has been able to check out most Victorian hotspots, but is always ready to visit somewhere new.

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE SETTLING INTO AUSTRALIA?

I was 17 years old when I moved – that was the first time I was away from home and family. It took me quite a long time to settle down, but what helped me was the welcoming nature of the people.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE?

Everything! If I have nothing to do, I just take a five-minute walk to Docklands and sit and enjoy the view. If I’m hungry and want to grab some food, there are so many good and affordable places in the CBD. It’s also in the free tram zone!

My experience at Urbanest has been fantastic. I haven’t left since the first year I arrived – I’m even in the same room.

I love the field trips. It’s quite time-consuming and expensive for students to travel so far from the city, but Urbanest organises field trips for free, or if they charge, it’s $10 for the entire day. Most recently, we were taken to the Great Ocean Road for free. We’ve been to the Yarra Valley, Mount Buller and Phillip Island. If it wasn’t for Urbanest, I don’t know if I would have seen these places.

There is such a range of international students living here, and when we get together, we get to know about so many different cultures and beliefs and how each and every person works and behaves.

FAVOURITE EATERIES

There’s Hanaichi, Dragon Hot Pot, PappaRich, Malaysian Laksa HouseOm Vegetarian is one of the cheapest places where you can find Indian food in Melbourne. You can ask for as many refills as you want.

HIDDEN GEM?

It’s not too hidden, but I really like going to Docklands – it’s an amazing view. I’ve also been to the Eureka Skydeck five times. There’s no time limit – you can just sit, relax, and watch the city. I’ve seen the sunset from up there and it’s the best view ever.

THREE THINGS SOMEONE VISITING THE CITY SHOULD NOT MISS?

1. Chinatown. It takes you out of Melbourne and makes you feel like you’re somewhere else.

2. Bourke Street Mall for shopping – no one should miss that.

3. Flagstaff Gardens.

BRICE – BRISBANE

living in the cbd

Brice is a resident at Urbanest South Bank.


Brice started his international student journey at age 15. Moving from his home in New Caledonia (a French territory in the South Pacific), Brice started boarding school on the sunny Gold Coast. Upon graduating from high school, Brice decided that he wanted to live somewhere new and bigger.

“I hadn’t been to Brisbane, which is why it was attractive to me for university,” he says. “It’s huge! When I first flew in it was very overwhelming, because I’d never lived in a city that big before. But, it’s still small enough that you can walk around the city centre and see someone you know.”

Settled into his Bachelor of Psychology at Griffith University, Brice is now a Brisbane native. He knows all the city’s hidden gems, from where to get the best burger, to secret bars hidden behind suit stores.

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE SETTLING INTO AUSTRALIA?

Australia has always been a travel destination for my family because it has its own culture, while at the same time, it has so many different cultures. That’s why I love living in Brisbane – you travel without travelling in a way, because you get to meet all these friends from different cultures.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE CBD?

I live in South Bank. While the CBD across the river is more industrial, South Bank is for living. There’s a lot of restaurants, a city beach – which is amazing in the summer because then you don’t have to drive to the beach – really nice bars, and the Parklands. There are a lot of events throughout the year around here too, and it’s all on my doorstep. Being French, I always look forward to the French Festival in South Bank.

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE?

The location is the best – you’re right in the middle of the city and you get to experience things firsthand. Urbanest also offers day trips. In February, we went to Byron Bay, which is where Chris Hemsworth’s house is!

My favourite [time] is during exams. I can look at the Urbanest activity calendar now and there are so many events to support students and [allow] them to take a break. Tonight, there’s a movie, tomorrow it’s free fruit at reception. There are pancake nights… all this stuff to help you survive exams.

FAVOURITE EATERIES?

The CBD has amazing food, but the best thing about Brisbane is that you can find great neighbourhood restaurants as well. In the suburbs, there’s a really good burger place called Ze Pickle. There’s also The Fox Hotel in South Brisbane – they do happy hour on food. You can get a double-stacked fried chicken burger – which is one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life – with potato gems for $8!

FAVOURITE HIDDEN GEM?

There’s a bar in the city called the Cloakroom Bar. The Cloakroom is actually a suit shop – it kind of makes you feel like you’re in the film Kingsman. There’s no menu; you tell the bartender what drink you like and what flavours you like, and they make you a surprise cocktail. The experience is amazing.

THREE THINGS SOMEONE VISITING THE CITY SHOULD NOT MISS?

1. South Bank Parklands. They’re so beautiful.

2. The Botanic Gardens.

3. The CityHopper. It’s a free ferry that goes all around Northgate, South Bank and the Maritime Museum. Catch it as the sun is going down – it’s very romantic.