Canberra named Australia’s most liveable city thanks to safety, work and education

Glynis Quinlan 29 March 2019 63

The latest Life in Australia report has named Canberra as the most liveable city in Australia. Photo by Jack Mohr.

Melbourne may have previously won the title of the world’s most liveable city but when it comes to the things which count most to Australians, Canberra is streets ahead.

The latest Life in Australia report by and Ipsos has named Canberra as the most liveable city in the country for the third year in a row – with Canberrans feeling safer living here and happier about their access to work and education than the residents of every other Australian capital city.

The ringing endorsement from the locals themselves adds to Canberra’s success in being named by Lonely Planet as the third best city to travel to in the world in 2018 and puts us well ahead of Australia’s biggest cities, Melbourne (which came in sixth) and Sydney (seventh). Perth came in second while Adelaide came in third.

However, while the report shows that Canberrans feel the most positive about their city overall, we have the second lowest ranking after Sydney when it comes to ‘affordable decent housing’ and our satisfaction with the quality of our health services has declined over the last couple of years.

Canberra is number one in Australia’s most liveable city ranking. Image by *Please note that this should be ‘median dwelling price’.

The annual report surveyed 9,515 Australians from October 1-31 last year and asked them to score their own city on 16 criteria ranging from feeling safe to public transport and social cohesion. It also asked them to score which factors they valued most in making an area a good place to live.

‘Feeling safe’ came out as the most important factor in making a city liveable with 67 per cent of respondents selecting this criterion. This was followed by having high-quality health care services nearby (60 per cent), affordable decent housing (58 per cent) and good local job prospects (41 per cent).

Canberra was the only capital city in Australia that valued high-quality educational opportunities in its top five most important liveability factors.

The city’s top five liveability factors were feeling safe (64 per cent), affordable decent housing (57 per cent), high-quality health services (57 per cent), good job prospects (41 per cent), and high-quality education opportunities (38 per cent).

Canberrans ranked the factors they valued most in making an area a good place to live. Education opportunities also came in at 38% but is not shown here. Interactive image sourced from

Canberrans feel safer but worry about affordable housing
When it comes to rating these five factors out of 10, Canberrans gave feeling safe a score of 7.2, which was the highest of all capital cities but had declined from 7.6 in 2015.

Respondents from Canberra gave the city a low rating of 4.4 for affordable decent housing (declining from 5.2 last year and the second lowest in Australia) and a rating of 6.3 for high-quality health services (declining from 6.9 last year and the fourth lowest of the cities).

Canberrans gave a rating of 5.9 for good job prospects (declining from 6.1 last year) and 6.9 for high-quality education opportunities (declining from 7.0 last year). Canberra’s highest rating out of the 16 criteria was 7.3 out of 10 for ‘access to the natural environment’.

According to the report, Australians feel less safe now about where they live than they did four years ago but this may be more to do with perceptions than reality.

“I think it’s that thing of people thinking there’s more crime going on because of reporting (on crime) versus the statistics that show there is less crime,” said’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee.

“I think it’s the way information is disseminated that’s probably making a difference. The more you hear about it, the more you worry about it.”

Safety is number one for renters and home owners
Ms Conisbee said that safety is the number one consideration for renters and home owners.

“These would be factors that would make or break, in terms of looking at a suburb. If it didn’t feel safe, you’d be very unlikely to consider that suburb,” she said.

Ms Conisbee said that data shows the housing boom has led to a notable decrease in local affordable housing with it being a big issue in Australia compared to other countries. The report said that Canberra’s median dwelling price is $595,000, which is the third highest behind Sydney and Melbourne.

Ms Conisbee said that access to health services ranks highly, particularly in rural or regional areas.

“If you move to regional parts of Australia it becomes a far bigger deal if you don’t have a local hospital, let alone a local doctor service.”

How would you rank Canberra in terms of liveability? Let us know in the comments below.

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63 Responses to Canberra named Australia’s most liveable city thanks to safety, work and education
Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:32 am 02 Apr 19

I've been here since 1973. I have access to everything I want but I don't like paying the "Canberra Premium on everything from food to housing. However since self government was forced on us though the town has grown living has actually declined.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:32 pm 01 Apr 19

Like anywhere else in the world, Canberra is a great place to live, if you have a lot of money or a strong income stream.

Having lived here for 40 years and being relatively “well off” for 30 of those, I now find that a fixed income retirement with few government “battler freebies” is becoming a challenge and this would be the same wherever you are in the world.

Besides that, two of the three factors in the post’s headline (work and education) do not apply to the growing ranks of the (invisible) retired so you will understand where I am coming from when I say it is pointless to do these sort of articles unless a broader demographic is included.

It is a “Lonely” Planet indeed.

Barb Boswell Barb Boswell 7:31 pm 31 Mar 19

Great place friendly ppl and safe but yes very expensive with real estate which is a shame i love it here but not everyone can afford it here😞

Roy Jones Roy Jones 7:20 am 31 Mar 19

Not much bush left in Canberra Barr building on it spends millions on light rail while we have the worst hospital system in the country

Michelle Presneill Michelle Presneill 4:25 pm 29 Mar 19

Elisha Clarke-Rowlands

Livable as long as you can put half your paycheck to rent

Roo Poeta Roo Poeta 8:47 pm 28 Mar 19

Both goods and bads
Goods – Bush feeling, less traffic and good social behaviour
Bads – Overpriced – if you questions why? You get a standard answer – salaries are highest in the country. Well yes salaries may be 10% higher but prices/grocery/outgoings are 50% higher a well.

Alan Vogt Alan Vogt 6:40 pm 28 Mar 19

I'd give it a B-. I wouldn't be resting on laurels.

Like all places there is great, good, not so good and decidedly average. It could always be improved.

Neil Lade Neil Lade 9:38 pm 27 Mar 19

The bush capital is alive and well. Far more so than it was in the 1960s and ‘70s when the city was a ramshackle work in progress with no great spirit. Like many other young people, I couldn’t wait to escape. I did. But I returned in the mid-1980s and love it now. It’s improved so much in the past 20 years in so many ways. However, housing prices in “inner-city” areas are very high and rent costs are ridiculous.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:03 pm 27 Mar 19

The “Median House Price” figure presumably includes apartments and townhouses (and thus should be “Median Dwelling Price”) – it is beyond belief that the median (in the proper sense of that term) price for a house (and land) in Canberra is only $595,000.

    JC JC 9:58 pm 27 Mar 19

    Normally figures for house mean just that. Often they will have seperate median appartment figures too.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:50 pm 28 Mar 19

    I think that’s an error in the article.

    That figure is the median dwelling price, not the median house price which is much higher than the figure quoted.

    Glynis Quinlan Glynis Quinlan 11:14 am 29 Mar 19

    The table with the information about ‘median house price’ was sourced from a article about their report but I have double-checked the information from a report appendix and you are quite right, it should be ‘median dwelling price’. Thanks for bringing this to our attention – it has now been corrected in the article.

Karen Feng Karen Feng 3:54 pm 27 Mar 19

VER LOW. house are small and cost too much. There's lots of Investors. But something should be done to force them to lower rent

    Kir Rin Kir Rin 7:56 pm 27 Mar 19

    Karen Feng rental property owners are effectively charged double the rates by ACT Govt’. Rents have gone up in the last couple of years as rates and land tax have gone up to ‘offset’ the reduction in stamp duty to help people buy homes.

    Jeremy Coghlan Jeremy Coghlan 9:20 pm 27 Mar 19

    Kirrin Birrin more than double!

Louise Rogers Louise Rogers 1:49 pm 27 Mar 19

I thought canberra was pretty expensive until I looked at property prices on the far north coast nsw 😣

Janet Hurley Janet Hurley 11:25 pm 26 Mar 19

It's very liveable if you can afford the housing!?

bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:13 pm 26 Mar 19

Canberra- Great Education opportunities (as long as you don’t live in Tuggeranong).

Carole Ford Carole Ford 10:13 pm 26 Mar 19

Think they may have made an error in judgement there! It seems to me that many local public services paid for by our rates etc, have been severely curtailed. The local government are short changing all of it's schools, policing, medical and health services, to mention a few. Funds for these vital services are being cut back and redirected to light rail and shockingly poor building developments. The services affected will be driven into the ground, the valued professional staff lost to alternative jobs, (or other more liveable cities). They will not recover from this and the ACT will never again be the most liveable city.

    Tracey Hembling Tracey Hembling 6:25 am 27 Mar 19

    They didn’t make a judgement. This was voted for by residents. Perhaps due to these things people might feel differently in future, or perhaps we are still happier than those in other cities despite this.

Wing Nut Wing Nut 9:31 pm 26 Mar 19

Decent affordable housing is not a positive aspect of Canberra. The rest seems pretty reasonable.

Peter Noake Peter Noake 9:22 pm 26 Mar 19

Larissa Noake. The time has come to move!!

Craig McLaren Craig McLaren 9:22 pm 26 Mar 19

Travis Cragg is right.

Carly Maree Carly Maree 9:03 pm 26 Mar 19

Expensive housing and really high crime, but good jobs and relatively low levels of traffic. I wouldn’t call it safe at all. People may point to crime stats and say it’s safer than other cities but the reality is crime is rampant. There’s a burnt or stolen car every other day! I would say crime is highly under reported which skews the stats.

    Craig McLaren Craig McLaren 9:23 pm 26 Mar 19

    Carly Maree Really high crime? Have you ever lived anywhere else?

    Craig McLaren Craig McLaren 9:27 pm 26 Mar 19

    Also, the traffic is relatively terrible. A small population and every household has at least 1 car.

    Carly Maree Carly Maree 12:38 pm 27 Mar 19

    Nick Scott exactly!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 3:32 pm 28 Mar 19

    Really high crime!! Crime happens everywhere. I doubt Canberra would have a higher crime rate than other cities. I feel a lot safer here than in some other cities I visit. Try Alice Springs and some other parts of the NT. Try some parts of Sydney.

    Carly Maree Carly Maree 7:40 pm 28 Mar 19

    Julie Macklin yeah but like Nick said it’s a lot closer to you here. I didn’t have any issues in Sydney.

Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown 8:49 pm 26 Mar 19

We relocated away from Canberra which was ideal for us as renting there is expensive, fuel prices are ridiculous, and weather wasn't great for the family.

Now live 30km from the closest beach which we can go to every weekend, fuel prices 137c/L, finding rentals that cost $100/w cheaper, i can drive 15km to work in 10minutes rather than 45minutes.

I hated the idea of moving out of the city, but my wife made me see the great side of moving.

    Judith Bunce Judith Bunce 9:08 pm 27 Mar 19

    Hi, where did you move to please?

    Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown 9:38 pm 27 Mar 19

    Judith Bunce we moved to the Far North Coast near Byron Bay

Christopher Mawbey Christopher Mawbey 7:34 pm 26 Mar 19

Expensive housing for middle to low incomes.

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