27 June 2010

Relocating to Canberra - Need Information Please!

| bettina416
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I recently saw this website as I googled for information about Canberra. I am hoping this forum can help provide me with some information. My husband have received an offer to relocate to Canberra. We are both in our late 30’s, no children. I’ve done some research via web about Canberra, though I find that there’s not a lot of information. So, I figured the best way to get information would be from those who live in Canberra — either as a local or an expat relocated here.

Hope you can help on my queries about Canberra:

1) Life – What’s it like in terms of sights, attractions, things to do

2) Cost of Living – What would be a reasonable salary for a couple with no kids moving to Canberra? Monthly average for rental, food, utilities, transport (1 car only)?

3) Accomodations – Which area would you recommend to live in? Looking for safety, location (close to a lot of things without having to drive all the time)? Average rental rate for a 2 bedroom apartment/townhouse/duplex?

4) School – I’ve been working all my life. With this move, I have yet to find a job. However, I’m looking to go back to school to finish my graduate studies. My interests lie in: Human Resources, MBA, International Relations. Looking for a school with good balance of theory and practice, bonus if there is 1 semester that can be taken in European schools as part of curriculum. Choices are: University of Canberra or Australian National University — which is a better choice given what my interests are?

5) Websites/Links/Books – If you can recommend websites/blogs/links/books or other references where I can find out more about Canberra, that would really be helpful.

Sorry that I have so many questions. But, I would like to really know more about Canberra to help in our decision making.

Thanks in advance for taking time to read my very L-O-N-G post. Looking forward to hearing from the Canberra residents in this forum.

Cheers

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Kerryhemsley4:09 pm 10 Aug 10

colourful sydney racing identity said :

Alicia91 said :

I’d say don’t move here. I really dislike canberra and so does everyone else I know.
There is nothing to really do unless your into museums, art galleries, politics etc.
It is so expensive to rent and houses are expensive to buy. Then I don’t know where your moving from so it’s hard to say whether you will like it or not!The only good thing about it is peak hour traffic isn’t that busy at all!

Perhaps if you, and everyone you know (who apparently ALL dislike like Canberra) would have the decency to move away to somewhere more interesting like, say, Dubbo, people who want to live here would be rewarded in two ways, the doubling of the average IQ and a reduction in demand for housing which would reduce rental prices.

It is win-win – if you like I will charter a bus for you.

Having lived a long time in Canberra it still makes me laugh at how sensitive,defensive and parochial its born and breds are.

colourful sydney racing identity8:55 am 09 Jul 10

Alicia91 said :

I’d say don’t move here. I really dislike canberra and so does everyone else I know.
There is nothing to really do unless your into museums, art galleries, politics etc.
It is so expensive to rent and houses are expensive to buy. Then I don’t know where your moving from so it’s hard to say whether you will like it or not!The only good thing about it is peak hour traffic isn’t that busy at all!

Perhaps if you, and everyone you know (who apparently ALL dislike like Canberra) would have the decency to move away to somewhere more interesting like, say, Dubbo, people who want to live here would be rewarded in two ways, the doubling of the average IQ and a reduction in demand for housing which would reduce rental prices.

It is win-win – if you like I will charter a bus for you.

I’d say don’t move here. I really dislike canberra and so does everyone else I know.
There is nothing to really do unless your into museums, art galleries, politics etc.
It is so expensive to rent and houses are expensive to buy. Then I don’t know where your moving from so it’s hard to say whether you will like it or not!The only good thing about it is peak hour traffic isn’t that busy at all!

@ Clown Killer and Sepi — Thanks for the many useful tips!
@ Kath — Thank you for letting me know that the bus route. I wondered about that, especially since my only form of transport for a while would be a bus.

Something else to keep in mind when you’re looking at rentals is that both the ANU and UC are on the main intertown bus route which runs through the town centres from Tuggeranong to Woden to the city (which everyone calls Civic, but that isn’t marked on the map!) to Belconnen, so you could easily get a slightly cheaper place in Belconnen and hop onto a bus for 20 min to get to classes at the ANU (or vice versa).

Hmm – some home truths about Canb erra

– freezing cold in winter – although sunny. You will need real winter clothes, not just a few more layers of jumpers and a coat. you will need thick wool hiking type socks, jeans (forget skirts and stockings during winter), boots, and a real parka type jacket (forget cool looking overcoats or wool jackets – buy something that looks like ski wear = it will keep you warm.) Also a beanie, scarf and gloves.

– despite the cold it is sunny here – don’t hole up inside in winter – buy proper clothes and keep going out and about.

– rent is phenomenally expensive, and rentals are hard to get – a lot of other people are looking too, especially around February when all the students arrive.

– unless you live right near civic, woden or another major centre a car is essential.

– canberra is mostly anglo white people – ANU has a bit more diversity.

– there is not a lot to do without seeking it out and planning things in advance – the city centre is dead as a doornail on weekends and after hours. there is a lot going on, but you have to seek it out.

– the buildings are mainly 50s and 60s and onwards – not a lot of charm.

– on the positive side there are major institutions like the national gallery etc

– there is loads of open space and places to see nature, gum trees, kangaroos, parrots etc.

– downside – there are a lot of bugs and spiders around – and the odd snake, although this is pretty rare really.

– food is expensive, services (plumbers etc) are expensive and hard to get. Taxis are very expensive and hard to find. Buses are the same.

– Canberra does have loads of good restaurants, and also good theatre. The main thing with theatre is that shows that run for months in Syd and Melb only come here for a week, so you have to actually plan ahead to see them.

– Canberra is 3 hours drive to Sydney (or a bit more). some ‘new’ people just spend every weekend in Sydney. It is hard to get to know Canberra that way tho.

– Big tip – if you want to make friends with existing Canberrans, do not keep endlessly talking about how where you have just come from was much better/warmer/more exciting and going on about how you hate Canberra. (To be fair it seems to be mainly beach loving queenslanders and nightclubbing youngsters from Sydney who do this).

Pommy bastard1:18 pm 29 Jun 10

CK

You forgot: learn to drive in the right hand lane, slowly. You’ll soon build up a tail of happy motorists appreciating your skills, and celebrating by flashing their lights and beeeping their horns.

Clown Killer12:06 pm 29 Jun 10

Here’s some tips that will help you fit in when you get here:

Take your car to the mechanics and get them to remove the indicator stalk from the steering column – you won’t be needing it.

Try to find somewhere to live that’s right in the middle of everything – close to all the vibrant bars, cafe’s and nightlife – then once you’ve settled in – make complaints about the noise, and crowds and lack of free parking.

On the drive down from Sydney, get into the mood for driving on Canberra’s roads by tail-gating other cars, or better still overtake them and then drop back to about 5k’s under the speed limit.

When you go out to a restaurant with friends make sure you split the bill forensically – down to who had how many pieces of garlic bread – oh, and regardless of how good the meal and service has been – never tip more than a few coins.

Don’t bother signing up on the electoral roll – your vote doesn’t count in this town.

Start ‘acclimatising’ yourself to Canberra prices by paying an extra 15-20% every time you use a cab, buy a coffee or pay the rates.

If you need new furniture, the best value and service can be found at Frisco Furniture.

The easiest way to order wood-fired pizzas is on line.

I’m sure there’s more …

Pommy bastard10:44 am 29 Jun 10

Having watched the video, I think you’ll enjoy Canberra.

Pommy Bastard and Woody Mann-Caruso: By rainy, I meant lots of rain. Being a tropical country, we only have two seasons: dry at 22-37C (Nov-May) and wet at 22-25C (June-Oct). Throughout the year, average temp is 27C. Due to the worldwide climate change, sometimes we get rains even during the dry season… but in general it follows that pattern.

Manila (actually, the rest of the Philippines) is now entering the typhoon season. An average of 7-8 typhoons (tropical cyclone know as “bagyo) hit the Philippines every year. Typhoons carry with them strong winds ranging from 55km – 185 kms per hour, and average rainfall 81.1 in per year or 7in per month. Last Sept 2009, we experienced typhoon Ondoy (typhoon Ketsana, in the international arena), a massive storm, bringing 2 months equivalent of rainfall in 24 hours. It brought a lot of damage to property and lives. The same tyhpoon devastated Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

Woody Mann-Caruso8:58 am 29 Jun 10

What is this “rain” of which you speak?

I think it’s a noodle dish. Or maybe a kind of bus.

Pommy bastard8:03 am 29 Jun 10

bettina416 said :

Cheers from rainy Manila!

What is this “rain” of which you speak?

Hi Everyone — Thank you so much for taking time to respond to my post. I really appreciate the information that you have provided me. Special thanks to PeterW and Cegee for the websites, Astrojax for clarifying the confusing energy efficiency ratings. Beau Locks, Woody Mann-Caruso and Ryoma, I really appreciate the perspective that you’ve given. It helps to have that baseline.

From what it sounds like, I feel that living in Canberra (as with all other places) will entail an adjustment on my part. But, nothing that will kill me. ;)= Besides, if I’ve managed to live thru Manila’s traffic-laden streets , polluted air and toxic lifestyle, Canberra will be paradise! :)= Thank you all for the help!

I will keep you posted on developments! Oh, and will be back with more questions if I think of anything else.

Cheers from rainy Manila!

Hi Bettina

I think most of the replies above have answered your questions, but I love the sound of my own voice 😉

First thing – my wife is Japanese. She has run into low-level racism here, but it’s more of the ignoring her variety than aggressive. As she came from a city of millions (like Manila), her first reaction to Canberra was shock – “that’s all of it?”.

For the first few months she complained (we’d moved up from Melbourne), and then one day she and her friends went to Sydney for the day. She was very excited before she left, but on her return she gave me a big hug – and said loudly: “I LOVE Canberra!”

I was amused at this turn of events, so I asked why. She said ” We went to Sydney, and I thought it would be be exciting. It was OK, but it was also loud, noisy, crowded,expensive, and the people were so rude”. (Please note, this was what she said,not my own opinion). “Canberra is green, and has birds, and people are mostly nice, and I don’t get lost – I am glad we live here”.

Second point – Canberrans come from all over both Australia and the world. This website gives you a good indication of what it’s like: people are willing to both help newcomers like yourself, but also to get stuck into each other, and to debate things passionately. If you read other Riot Act posts, you’ll see that the conversation is not always scintillating – but it is almost always honest and off-the-cuff.

I hope, if you do come, that you enjoy your time here. Welcome 🙂

Woody Mann-Caruso2:51 pm 28 Jun 10

ask the people of flynn, holt, parts of kambah, and all the other suburbs that have had their school closed if they think this is a true statement.

Yes, that’s a very fair point. Future possible immigrants, take note: if you live in one of the more out-of-the-way streets Flynn, Holt or Kambah, your nearest public primary school will be between 450m and 2km away.

Pommy bastard2:40 pm 28 Jun 10

You know how bad a music scene can get when a mentioned highlight is the fourth rate wannabees “Garbage” touring here ten years after their heyday…

Dammit, that should say:

grunge_hippy said:

I hate when Im such a n00b.

Monster of the Deep1:32 pm 28 Jun 10

ConanOfCooma said :

Monster of the Deep said :

Also, touring bands just don’t come to Canberra. They bypass us in favour of Sydney because there’s no visible music scene here.

That’s not true. Venues in Canberra have piss poor capacity, and generally suck. Not to mention that outdoor events can only be held during certain parts of the year due to the weather…

Yeah, that too. The band Garbage came to Canberra and performed at the Royal Theatre. There were just some plastic school chairs scattered around the floor, and the lighting and sound people kept screwing up. It was embarrassing, and the singer called them out on it.

I enjoy living in Canberra, although I’ve lived here all my life so I can’t compare it to other cities. You will meet lots of new friends at Uni and both Uni’s are very multicultural places with plenty of student support.

Suburbs close to the city and Uni are more expensive to live in so don’t restrict yourself to a handful of small places when you could get a larger place a little further away – and then you can have room for family and friends to visit.

I hope you come, and I hope you enjoy our little gem of a city.

Having relocated from manila ourselves last year, don’t be put off by the funny smell here – that’s clean air!

ConanOfCooma7:52 am 28 Jun 10

Monster of the Deep said :

Also, touring bands just don’t come to Canberra. They bypass us in favour of Sydney because there’s no visible music scene here.

That’s not true. Venues in Canberra have piss poor capacity, and generally suck. Not to mention that outdoor events can only be held during certain parts of the year due to the weather…

Someone mentioned expensive parking (sorry, I’m replying by smartphone and can’t easily see who) – it’s really not to anyone who’s lived in a larger city. I suspect you will find it very cheap after living in a heavily populated place like Manilla, less than $10 per day usually.

I’m not convinced you’ll find a servuced apartment in your pruce range, and you will have much more choice in a tight market if you rent unfurnished and buy furniture – cheap furniture from Fantadtic Furniture if need be.

You don’t mention your citizenship status, but one thing to consider is that this is a goverrnment town. Your husband has a job now, but if he wants to change jobs or you finish school and want to work, and you aren’t citizens, you may find it hard to get professional work (the majority of which is working for or consulting to government). Citizenship is a requirement for many such jobs.

Woody Mann-Caruso6:38 pm 27 Jun 10

Well, there’s absolutely no comparison between Manila and Canberra. One’s a sprawling metropolis, the other…well, not 😉

Peak hour traffic is when it takes me 20 minutes to get to work instead of 15. One the weekend I can get from one side of the city to the other in 20 minutes. Entertainment tends to be on the quiet side – galleries, cafes, cinemas, window shopping, parks, cycling. There are a few nightclubs, but there are only 300,000 of us, so obviously nowhere near the range you’re used to. On the plus side, it’s utterly clean, the air is crystal clear, it’s quiet, and it’s very relaxed – too relaxed for some! If you need an urban hit, it’s only a few hours up the road to Sydney.

There’s a thriving Filipino community here, so you won’t be short of friends who appreciate tocino.

Serviced apartments can be expensive, because labour is very expensive here. Look for something with a 4 star energy rating. It’s not critical – the place could easily be comfortable with a lower rating, but it will cost more to keep warm in winter. Ducted gas heating is a must for winter (-4oC tonight), some sort of air conditioning very helpful in our hot, dry summers, good insulation makes it all cheaper in the long run.

The inner northern suburbs are a very desirable area, with a mix of prestigious older properties and very modern new developments, close to the city and Dickson (our one-street excuse for a Chinatown). Prices here are even higher than the otherwise high prices in Canberra. A 2 bedroom apartment in a new building would be around $500 in a suburb like Turner, O’Connor or Reid, dropping to $420 for a one bedroom (they tend to look something like this). Go to Hackett and you could get a charming 2 bedroom cottage like this one for $400. $600 a week would get you something quite luxurious. You also need a bond (like a security deposit) of one month’s rent – you get this back at the end of the lease if the property is in good condition.

If you lived and worked close to work and the city you could save a lot in petrol and parking. Petrol ranges from $1.15 to $1.35 a litre – when I drove to work from the suburbs to the city a 60 litre tank of gas would last about two weeks. A bus is about $2.40 if you buy a book of ten tickets, with free transfers up to 1.5 hrs from when you first board.

grunge_hippy5:29 pm 27 Jun 10

Every suburb has its own school, parks, and local shops, usually with an independent grocery chain, newsagent, chemist etc.

Maybe 10 years ago… ask the people of flynn, holt, parts of kambah, and all the other suburbs that have had their school closed if they think this is a true statement. Also, every person I know who lives in gungahlin complains about not having a local shop to go to if they need simple things like bread/milk. They always have to go to the marketplace/The G. Especially those in Franklin and Harrison. stay away from gungahlin. It’s awful. I call it the badlands.

In any case, to address coming from Manila to Canberra, it will be a HUGE difference. A friend now lives in Manila after being here and it is a massive culture shift. Not to mention weather wise!

Monster of the Deep4:40 pm 27 Jun 10

neanderthalsis said :

goodish live music scene

Sorry, but I’ve got to disagree with you on that one point. There’s a serious issue in Canberra with live music venues (and non-live ones as well) because wankers build houses nearby and then make complaints about noise. Live music is being stifled because of it.

Also, touring bands just don’t come to Canberra. They bypass us in favour of Sydney because there’s no visible music scene here.

Using the tag cloud to my right for a minute threw up some loosely related RiotACT articles:
http://the-riotact.com/?p=19990
http://the-riotact.com/?p=23302
http://the-riotact.com/?p=23050
http://the-riotact.com/?p=8974
http://the-riotact.com/?p=10608
http://the-riotact.com/?p=13895
http://the-riotact.com/?p=10606

Then again, there are some festivals like Stonefest that seem to be still going strong.

For a great resource for info on hobby/interest/leisure/community groups in Canberra, go to the Citizens Advice Bureau website at http://www.citizensadvice.org.au.

georgesgenitals4:33 pm 27 Jun 10

bettina416 said :

Additional questions:
1) How open is Canberra to different nationalities, particularly Asians? – I’ve read that the bulk of foreigners living in Canberra are mostly from Europe (ie Spain, England, Germany). Given the many government ofcs there, I’m assuming Canberra would be quite open to the cultural diversities?

Very simple answer to this one: if your background involves spicy food, and you can say ‘hello’, then you’ll be more than welcome!

Seriously though, I think Canberra is a pretty tolerant place. There are lots of people of Asian background living here, and I don’t think they are viewed differently to any of the rest of us (who also come from various places and cultures).

re Websites/Links/Books http://www.outincanberra.com.au is a good place to start, along with RiotAct

ANU has a diverse open culture. Several multicultural festivals, or there were. If you’re a boring person who likes things to come to them, you’ll probably find Canberra boring. If you go out looking for stuff, you should find it very dynamic. It’s as dull or interesting as you want it to be.

If you like bicycles Canberra has heaps of it, with a very strong road and MTB cultures. Lots of bushwalks and opportunities to commune with nature. One of the great things about Canberra is the ease of getting out of it.

1) There are plenty of sights and attractions to see around Canberra, but you will soon grow weary of these once you actually live here. For a small city, Canberra has a surprising number of trendy little pubs and cocktail bars. Also, because Canberra is a planned city, it tends to be very convenient in terms of shopping, swimming pools, restaurants etc.

2) One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Canberra was the relatively high cost of living. However, it evened out due to the higher wages I was getting in Canberra. Food and petrol, imho, are more costly in comparison to Sydney, and rent is more expensive than some of the other cities I have lived in (Wollongong and Newcastle). Despite what people have to say about Canberra’s public transport, it is actually quite good when compared to many other parts of Australia I have lived in or visited. Check out the ACTION website for more info on bus routes.

3) Canberra is generally safe but you might want to stay away from Charnwood.

4) No comment

5) I’ve always found canberra.livejournal.com a good source of information

If you are really into swimming and will have time and energy, you might like to consider masters swimming.

There are two clubs in Canberra
Tuggeranong Vikings http://www.aussi-vikings.org/
Molonglo Water Dragons http://www.aussimastswimact.org.au/

Either would be a relatively easy way to make some friends and build/maintain your fitness.

Good luck in making what is obviously a major decision.
We came here 8 years ago now and love the slower pace and relative ease of getting around. It has allowed me to cram a lot into those 8 years.

inner north would be great for your anu attendance, but if the UN position is south side, consider griffith/kingston across to yarralumlu for accommodation as this would still be a good cycle distance to anu [cycling is a great option for canberra – lots of paths to most places you want to go, avoiding eedjits on the roads…], access to national institutions and nightlife, still very close to north side eateries (drives here nothing like manila!).

as posted above, canberra is pretty safe and both inner north and inner south are equally good.

new places will be expensive but more likely to have 4-7 energy ratings; older places could be a little on the low side, but if you’re going for a serviced apartment or similar it will be new-ish, so you’re sure to be fine. as you’ll see when you lob here, the market will be tight and this may be the lesser of your considerations in getting a roof over your heads.

good luck and, in advance, welcome to this fair calm green city… 😉

One good thing about Canberra is that every suburb has nice areas within it. There’s no real ghetto to avoid – I’ve met nice people from Campbell, Charnwood, and every housing price-poin in between.

Canberra does have a few racist idiots, as do all cities around the world. But it’s a pretty safe city to live in, generally speaking. There are clubs for most nationalities here, and the local embassy could probably help you get in touch with other people from your home country if you want to maintain cultural links. There’s a Chinese bilingual public primary school and pre-school, Japanese language playgroup, and displays of Asian art in the National Gallery – that should give some indication of the high regard we have for our neighbours.

Also, do a Google for the Live In Canberra website. It’s a program sponsored by the ACT Government to help new arrivals settle into life in Canberra. Particularly good for people who don’t have children to help them break into social circles – Live In Canberra run free movie nights and other events so you can make friends with others who’ve just moved here.

@Spectra: Thanks for the link you showed re: areas in inner north and south… reading it now.

things to do: all the ‘nationals’ – museum, library, gallery, portrait gallery, war memorial, film and sound archives, both parly houses… they might be seen as touristy things but i still find them pretty interesting to visit on a quiet wkend. also there is a great cafe and restaurant culture in canberra with lots of places to dine in kingston/manuka/the city as well as places like dickson and griffith etc.

we’ve also a got a Dendy cinema which is cool as well as heaps of excellent bookshops… if clothes shopping is your thing thats slowly getting better in canberra… also dont forget that canberra is the porn capital of australia and prostitution is legal if you’re that way inclined! 😛 haha

canberra is also great in my view because its a relatively quick drive to both the snow fields at thredbo and perisher as well as close to the south coast.

sa far as schools go, i think for your interests you’d probably be better off at ANU. UC is great but i know ANU has some good IR courses and a very interesting looking peace studies post grad course. also they have a whole school devoted to asian studies which could be good if thats an area you’re interested in. also at both unis you can do exchanges but its worth looking into which overseas unis they exchange with….

websites you might find helpful:

events page at ANU – free lectures & events etc
http://billboard.anu.edu.au/events.asp?tid=1

canberra times
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/

social/night life in canberra
http://www.outincanberra.com.au/

but as neanderthalsis said this is a pretty good place to ask questions…. browsing through the site might give you a decent idea of the types of people and issues here!

just like to add my own two cents – canberra gets a lot of shit from other places but i’ve been here 7 years and i love it. its a very easy place to live, and there is more than enough to do if you’re motivated to seek things out. people are generally friendly (though canberra drivers are notoriously aggressive), the sun shines an awful lot and it’s a beautiful little city.

Dear All,

Thanks for taking the time to read my long message. I appreciate all your inputs, especially Woody Mann-Caruso and Neanderthalsis, for the extremely helpful information. I agree with what you have all said here.

@ Woody Mann-Caruso: On your question: “Where do you live now and what do you like to do?”

If all goes as planned, I will be moving from Manila, Philippines. I’m used to living in a very bustling city with 60 million people, 2 hrs daily traffic, working 10-12 hours a day, lots of pollution, but also lots of entertainment. Whether I like it or not, is another story —- it’s a love hate relationship. :)= But, I think I’ve gotten to a point where I wouldn’t mind having a slower pace, and less stress in my life.

No job yet when I get to Canberra, which is going to be the ultimate adjustment for me, as I’ve worked for multinational companies for the past 15 years. I’ve never known what it’s like to NOT work… and the thought of not having a job in a new place can be a bit scary. I do however, have a scholarship grant to ANU or UC, which should at least keep me busy, and out of trouble. :)= My husband is being offered a UN post based in Canberra.

Things I like to do: lots of history/culture/music/arts/food, travelling, mingling with people of different culture, sports (tennis, swimming & badminton), and doing community work. One that I would love, which I don’t get to enjoy as much here, would be nature and photography.

@Neanderthalsis and Urchin: Goodness!!! Those rental rates had me floored! 🙁 They are all mighty pricey, given the condition/design etc.

@Neanderthalsis: I agree with you. Could not find much information on the “come to Canberra” websites. Unfortunately, I think I live too far away to attend the expos you have, even if I wanted to. 🙁 Have you guys ever thought of bringing the expos outside Australia, particularly Asia? Given the “toxic” lifestyle and ratrace in Asia, there are really a lot who are exploring possibilities of relocating for work, and eventually, migrating.

Additional questions:
1) How open is Canberra to different nationalities, particularly Asians? – I’ve read that the bulk of foreigners living in Canberra are mostly from Europe (ie Spain, England, Germany). Given the many government ofcs there, I’m assuming Canberra would be quite open to the cultural diversities?

2) Housing – We’re not looking at houses, possibly serviced apartments and townhouses (if we’re really lucky). Based on all homes website, I’m leaning towards the northern Canberra since it will be a few miles walk to ANU. Would an AUD 400-600 be a good range already for a furnished 2BR , secure, decent living? What is the average cost per week/per month of utilities? Also, I noticed that there are energy efficiency ratings (1 to 7, 1 being lowest) — so what would be the baseline EER that I should look at when considering housing?

3) Neighbourhood – Any recommendations on nice, safe, friendly neighborhoods both in the north and south?

Thanks again for all your inputs.

Pommy bastard1:02 pm 27 Jun 10

Without knowing where you are comparing Canberra to, and what you like and enjoy, the question is moot.

Bettina416-thanks for the post. I’ve lived in Canberra most of my life, but travel extensively for work, so have a pretty good feel for other Australian cities. My first bit of advice-whether you decide you love or hate Canberra-is not to judge it against other cities. There is nothing comparable in Australia, or probably anywhere else.

Being a planned city you won’t find stuff like corner stores, because the shops will be grouped together where the shops were drawn on the plan for that suburb. Being a city with heaps of public servants and big workforce at the ANU, you’ll find that, by Australian standards, a staggering amount of people have uni degrees. Because they’re cashed up, more people have traveled overseas. There is a high rate of women participating in the workforce, and they’re also educated and earn more than femmes in other cities. It’s a totally low slung town, with heaps of bush and nature reserves as buffer zones between different town centres, which means you are able to walk from any suburb to a couple hundred acres of lovely bush, or perhaps a horse paddock. So, totally different from other Australian cities.

Once you’ve got over these and numerous other significant differences between Canberra and everywhere else, you can begin to make an assessment about whether, and how, you’d like to live here. In answer to your some of your questions:

My take on stuff to do goes like this: Canberra is small, but you’ll find something that floats your boat. When I’m in other cities, one thing I notice is that people don’t move out of their local community much. Which means that even if there are 27 ping pong clubs in their city, they’ll still go to their local one. Canberra for me is a bit like that. There are about half a dozen pubs that I go to regularly. There probably aren’t any more than that that I’d like to go to, but if I lived in Sydney, I’d still probably go to half a dozen pubs, and not really know anything much about the other ones in adjacent suburbs or on the other side of the harbour etc.

In terms of sights, you won’t find a much more beautiful city, and there are lots of free things at the national institutions, and great public lectures at ANU, CSIRO etc. One trick is getting around. The bus service is bung-arse, mainly because it’s trying to serve a very spread out population that all own cars. My advice is to find a place somewhere like Kingston or one of the Inner North suburbs where you can walk or cycle if you don’t wish to drive everywhere.

If you don’t know people here, get involved in a club, sporting outfit, volunteer group or some other such quick smart. Canberra isn’t an easy place to get to know people quickly, and there are so many transient people or punters that have only been here a few years themselves.

Canberra is also a really good place to get out of. It’s piss easy to get to the coast (much nicer, less crowded beaches than you’ll get within the same drive from most other Australian cities), super close to the snow, and three hours to Sydney, with no traffic lights once you leave Canberra until you exit from one of the tunnels under Sydney to whatever part of the city you need to be in. Simple. Namadgi National Park and the other alpine national parks are all on Canberra’s doorstep, and if you’re into bushwalking you won’t find a better place to live.

Another thing to note is that it’s a really quiet sort of town. You’d be forgiven for thinking nobody’s around. If you poke around, tho, you’ll quickly realise that this isn’t the case. For example, if I jumped on my bike and rode around the lake right now there would be heaps of people about. Likewise if I walked down to the Kingston Markets. If I went for a walk into the suburbs or parts of the CBD, however, it’d be dead quiet, in a kind of disturbing way.

As far as unis go, both ANU and UC have advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of degree you’d like and your style of learning. I’ve known people who’ve done MBAs at both institutions and been very positive. Just check it out and go and talk to people at the unis first.

Finally, regarding the whether, yes, it does get very cold. But in a lovely way. By that I mean that a winter day in Canberra will typically be cloudless with a big, beautiful sky, even if it only gets up to 10 or 11 degrees. And the spring and autumn here are just magnificent. Summer it gets as hot as anywhere else, but without the humidity.

Good luck with your move!

Woody Mann-Caruso12:20 pm 27 Jun 10

The ACTEW has a monopoly on power/water/gas and it is more expensive than other capitals

That’s not true. We have full retail contestability in the ACT energy market, and you don’t have to buy your gas or electricity from ActewAGL.

Canberra has a woeful public transport system unless you live near one of the town centres.

The public transport system is fine if you live near an express route. I’d be surprised if it was longer than a five minute walk to catch an express. If you drive, note that paid parking is scarce and expensive.

ANU has a good reputation

That’s an understatement. It’s the number one university in Australia and rates 16th-17th in the world with esteemed institutions like Stanford. The only way you can go to a more highly ranked uni is to attend an Ivy League school in the US, Cambridge, Oxford or one of the London Colleges. I think uni ladders are a pointless p.ssing contest, but if you’re looking at an MBA, then you’re in a world where jerks in suits care about this sort of thing. You can argue the toss about the ranking process, but UC isn’t in the top 200 in the world so a change in methodology wouldn’t change much. I suspect postgrad management quals from CIT would rank somewhere around the same level as Hamburger U.

neanderthalsis11:19 am 27 Jun 10

Canberra, from my experience as a recentish arrival from QLD (here for nearly 4 years now)is a largely transient town. Large numbers of people come for work or study from all over Aus, some stay, some go. It can be a hard town to break into socially, especially if you do what I did and move down here without knowing anyone. The trick is to develop a few hobbies that get you out meeting people.

1) It’s a great environment in which to live. Free or cheap entry to major exhibitions and national event, goodish live music scene, some hidden gems in unlikely places. Some good wineries about the region, some nice drives, the snow and the coast are not too far away.

2) Define reasonable salary. The ACT has the nations highest average wages and is a smallish market, so you can pay more for some things. That said, fuel and groceries are comparable to other capitals. The ACTEW has a monopoly on power/water/gas and it is more expensive than other capitals. Canberra has a woeful public transport system unless you live near one of the town centres. So try to get somewhere central to live or buy another car.

3) The housing market is tighter than a camels bum in a sandstorm. Rents are expensive and there is a lot of competition for rentals. Being a youngish and I presume professional couple you will have an advantage over groups of Uni students, but don’t bring any pets. 2 bedroom units go for $350 – 400 depending on location.

4) ANU has a good reputation but there are other options. Charles Sturt runs undergrad and postgrad business programs from CIT (the local TAFE). They have a good recognition program so you might have more luck getting previous study counted than you would at ANU or UC.

5) Best place to learn about Canberra is to lurk on this site or to come and visit. The “come to Canberra” type websites and books are generally not very helpful. There is a traveling ACT Govt funded show that does the rounds of Jobs Expos that promotes life in the ACT. My job takes me to a lot of these types of expos and the “live in the ACT” booth is always the loneliest booth in the show.

In terms of question 3, you could start with the previous threads from recent months on the subject.

Woody Mann-Caruso10:55 am 27 Jun 10

Life – What’s it like in terms of sights, attractions, things to do

Where do you live now and what do you like to do?

Looking for safety, location (close to a lot of things without having to drive all the time)?

The satellite city system means that everywhere in Canberra is the same distance from everywhere else. Canberra is a very safe city, with even minor assaults being considered newsworthy. Every suburb has its own school, parks, and local shops, usually with an independent grocery chain, newsagent, chemist etc. Ever few suburbs there’s a larger (though still smallish) shopping complex with a major supermarket. Each town centre – Tuggeranong, Woden, Civic, Belconnen – has a major Westfields-style shopping centre. There are also smaller but still substantial shopping setups at the northern and southern extremities – down Banks way and up at Gungahlin.

Having said all that, it’s a lot more convenient getting to Tuggeranong from the southern suburbs or Belconnen from the north. I wouldn’t want to travel to ANU or UC from the deep south. Where will you both be working?

Beware of people from the northside bagging the southside and vice versa. There’s no difference between them like there is in, say, Brisbane’s south or Sydney’s west. The whole city has arisen more or less simultaneously around the town centres.

Canberra house prices are the highest in the country, and you don’t get much for your money. Vacancy rates are next to zero and rents are priced accordingly. Allhomes is your number one resource for checking out rental prices – http://www.allhomes.com.au.

My interests lie in: Human Resources, MBA, International Relations.

I highly recommend the ANU’s MBA program. I don’t know much about UC’s offerings. There’s a bit of a snob war between the ANU and UC; people who went to the former tend to look down on the latter, calling it unkind things like ‘the old Canberra tech’.

for housing, etc. take a look at allhomes.com.au and try not to weep when you see the price of rental accommodations (and how little you get for your money)

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