Australia’s capital city may be smaller and less known than some other cities, but that works in its favour. Canberra is open and welcoming to new ideas, and new people, perhaps because it’s so new itself. This peaceful, innovative hub is famed for its liveability and is perfectly designed for students.
Here are 10 awesome reasons to consider Canberra your home away from home.
1. Canberra is a cultural hub
Culturally, Canberra has a rapidly growing arts scene. At just a glance, the Canberra Writer’s Festival is an annual event that brings authors, publishers and readers together to share and develop their ideas. Meanwhile, Enlighten Festival is a key highlight, transforming the city with stunning illuminations, street performances, and a dazzling hot-air balloon event.
Check out what’s on in Canberra in 2024 with the city’s online events calendar, which includes a variety of music, food and sporting events. Or, for experiences that we know international students will love, check out our year-round guide to Canberra’s best events and attractions.
2. Canberra has Australia’s best museums and galleries
Canberra is home to some of Australia’s largest and most impressive historical and educational institutions, including famous galleries.
The National Museum of Australia holds some of the most significant objects and events in the country, while the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery are two of the best spots to visit for those interested in both classical and modern artwork.
Established in 1993, The National Dinosaur Museum Canberra lets visitors explore a collection of rare, prehistoric fossils that uncover part of Australia’s deep past. Fast forward to the present, Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre, offers interactive and hands-on experiences with over 200 innovative exhibitions.
3. Australia’s political centre
The Australian Federal Government and many of its related departments are based in Canberra, making it a popular destination for students interested in law and policy. The Museum of Australia Democracy and Parliament House (offering guided tours) are two of the most important political stops for anyone interested in government operations.
4. Canberra is surrounded by natural beauty
Easy to walk around, the city centre is beautifully shaded with trees and broken up by green space. Open spaces, such as Commonwealth Park, Canberra Arboretum, and Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve, are proven to help people de-stress and stay healthy.
If you’re interested in nature walks, camping or outdoor adventure – then you’ll love exploring the rest of the ACT. Only a short drive out of town, you can access some unforgettable areas of native forest. Mt Tennent in Namadgi National Park is a 15km hike, only one hour from Canberra, and has breathtaking views that look out across natural bushland and rolling green hills.
5. Canberra is one of Australia’s most affordable cities
Canberra has a high standard of living at a generally lower cost than other major Australian cities. Lower expenses mean that your money will go further. You can allocate more of your budget to entertainment, trips and exploring the city!
6. Canberra has plenty of on-campus accommodation
In Canberra, international students are provided the support they need to find stress-free, affordable accommodation.
The University of Canberra (UC) and Australian National University (ANU) offer an accommodation guarantee. At UC, all first-year domestic and new or continuing international students are guaranteed places in student housing. At ANU, accommodation is guaranteed to first-year, first-semester international undergraduate students.
This takes the pressure off new students, helping you settle in seamlessly and be immediately immersed in the student community.
7. Canberra is Australia’s most educated city
With such a high proportion of students living here and being home to two of Australia’s top universities, Canberra’s population is some of the most highly educated in the country. For example, the University of Canberra’s ranking is in the top 21 per cent of universities worldwide, and they’ve placed in the top five universities in the world for reducing inequalities, while ANU is a proud member of Australia’s Group of Eight – a collection of the country’s top-ranking universities.
This has turned Canberra into a hotspot for academia, thought leadership and innovation. The city is a hub for new ideas, professional networks, and student connections.
8. Canberra is well-connected
Canberra has been thoughtfully designed to help people from across the region move with ease.
Canberra is a cycling city, making this an affordable and safe option for many residents. There are heaps of friendly bike paths around town and a great selection of bike hire companies for when you first arrive. With relatively little traffic for a major city, commuting is accessible and easy. Canberra’s exceptional light rail system makes moving around simple and efficient.
Placed almost halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, living in Canberra means accessibility to both these major cities. The distance from Canberra to Sydney is about three hours by car, and the distance from Canberra to Melbourne is about seven hours by car. Alternatively, both destinations are about an hour by plane.
9. Canberra is a diverse, multicultural city
Many people in Canberra were either born overseas or have family living internationally, making Canberra a diverse and multicultural place. One in four Canberrans speak a language other than English and the city typically hosts 15,000 international students from over 100 countries. This strong cultural and linguistic diversity means the city has a distinct character and identity.
Many international students meet people through communities and student societies on campus. Both UC and ANU offer a huge selection of clubs for students to try. A student group is an awesome way to meet new friends, find like-minded people, and develop your creative or athletic skills.
10. Canberra is one of Australia’s safest cities
Canberra has some of the lowest crime rates in Australia. As a liveable, walkable, connected town, residents can feel safe exploring. As a student, it is important to feel comfortable and secure in your community, which makes Canberra an awesome place to live for international students.
Visit the Study Canberra website for more awesome reasons to live in Australia’s capital.