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Should I move to Canberra?

By SydneySider - 30 March 2015 70

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I own my own villa in Oxley Park suburb of Sydney and currently living there with a 7-year-old and my wife who stays at home. We are on PR right now and I will be getting my citizenship likely in December this year. I am an experienced Oracle DBA and currently employed and work from home.  But I might need to search for a job in near future, though not sure when.

I am always fascinated by the 20-minute image of Canberra and kinda like small city aura around it. I don’t want to spend 90 minutes in my car or train to work one way and I want a quiet, laid-back, decent living. What I read about Canberra tells me that it matches my preferences.

Now I am at crossroads. Should I sell my Sydney villa and buy something in Gungahlin area (or any other decent area, suggest plz)? My max limit to buy is 460K including all expenses. Would I be able to get a newish 3 bed room house with bit of a backyard?

The real confusion comes when its employment. Would I be able to get a job in Canberra? It’s not big as Sydney and its not economic hub like Sydney as I understand. What if I sell my house in Sydney, buy in Canberra and then I don’t find a job there?

Please be nice and suggest what should I do? One thing is for sure that Canberra is my type of city and I really like it. It doesn’t mean that I abhor Sydney, but its too crowded and expensive in terms of real estate I guess. Thanks.

What’s Your opinion?


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70 Responses to
Should I move to Canberra?
vintage123 9:06 pm 30 Mar 15

Be careful not to be misled by some of the advertising on allhomes, particularly regarding house and land packages using the land rent option. In bonner and moncreif for example there are a tonne of listings for house and land packages for say 399k or 449k. THIS PRICE DOES NOT Include the land, it is just the build cost. The land rent scheme is only used in the ACT, so you would not have heard of it in Sydney. For example the place on allhomes at bonner 137 Ida west west is the land rent price, this is the build only cost, you pay that price but you don’t own the land, you have to then pay rent for the land. To buy this place outright would be around $750k to $800k. The problem with the land rent scheme is it is skewing the data on canberra home prices, making them look cheaper than what they really are.

rubaiyat 8:35 pm 30 Mar 15

Aragornerama said :

There are no really bad suburbs in Canberra, so you’d be ok wherever you go.

Not quite true. We like to think so. Otherwise I agree with everything else you say.

thatsnotme 8:04 pm 30 Mar 15

SydneySider said :

Thank you for the responses. I and my wife are glued to these responses as we don’t know anybody in Canberra and would appreciate as much info as possible.

This Saturday I came to Canberra and looked at few properties in Bonner, Ngunnawal, and also in Macgregor. We were surprised to see that prices in Macgregor for 3 bed room house in new condition were around 400K, whereas in Bonner similar properties were around 460K.

Real estate agent told us that Macgregor, especially new Macgregor is like St Marys in Sydney and Bonner is like Strathfield in Sydney. Is that right? Is new Macgregor not a good area to live?

Please also suggest is it better to buy a new house in Macgregor or an old house in Ngunnawal?

Should I wait one more year and get my citizenship and then move to Canberra?

regards

I live in Old Macgregor, and don’t know a whole lot about what living in New Macgregor’s like, but we’ve never had any issues at all living here. In the old part, I think it does depend to some extent what street you live in – there are some streets that obviously have a lot of Government, or ex-Government housing, that look a bit messier and rougher. My street has lots of privately owned places, including a handful of owners who were here when the suburb was originally built in the early 70’s and have stayed ever since. It’s quiet, safe, with good facilities nearby. The commute into the city’s not bad either.

As for employment though, and especially seeing as you’re not a citizen yet, hold off. I’d say you should look for and secure a job before you sell up and move. You can always rent for a while, before finding a new home down here. 99% of your employment opportunities as an Oracle DBA will be in Government – we don’t really have much of the big private business that might use your skills down here, and as others have mentioned it might be tough to get a clearance as a non-citizen.

Good luck – I love living in Canberra, and can see why you’d want to move, but you really need to set it all up before making the decision.

Ryoma 7:14 pm 30 Mar 15

Sydneysider, I concur with what is being said by the other posters here.

I’d suggest two other things, too. Firstly, come and visit during winter. I don’t know what your background is, but the climate here is quite different to Sydney. It is a lot drier all year round, and (at least where I am, in the northern part of the city, weeks can go past without rain. The winter is also a lot colder than anything much of coastal Sydney experiences, but if you live out west in Sydney, then it won’t come as such a shock. Canberra is windy in spring, (along with magpies swooping), summer is usually warm to hot (though not as humid as Sydney, autumn is just delightful, and winter is cold, although often clear and sunny.

But my real point here is that visiting in winter will give you a better perspective on life here. If you have only visited during the warmer parts of the year, then you will have seen people out and about a lot more. In winter, while there is activity, it tends to be less visible….and, depending upon where you are, it can feel like a ghost town at times.

Also, keep in mind that there is a lot of population turnover here. What this can mean socially is that it is not always easy to make new friends. On one side because some people feel that they are only here for a limited time, so they keep to themselves. On the other side, it can also mean that those who are well established see no need to make new friends. If you are newcomers here, it really will be up to you to join clubs and get involved in various interests. Using http://www.meetup.com/ will help too.

My second suggestion is that you actually rent for a time. That way, you have some capital to live on while you check out the job situation, without finding you have bought a giant millstone and no way to pay for it. As others have said, employment here is very soft at present and the city lacks other sectors beyond those paid for by public monies (i.e. government and universities) big enough to generate economic growth on a larger scale. As such, there is no guarantee that buying housing here would generate a return. I have seen my rent drop by 20% in the last 18 months…

If things turn out well for you after a year, then you’ll know more about if you wish to stay, and if buying a house is a good idea. If not, you will have more flexibility in making your next move.

In any case, good luck with whatever you decide 🙂

Aragornerama 6:50 pm 30 Mar 15

There are no really bad suburbs in Canberra, so you’d be ok wherever you go. That said, unless you’re really hankering for an isolated country vibe I’d skip Macgregor. Ngunnawal is better located, with the Gungahlin Town Centre and Gungahlin Pond within walking distance.

If you’re willing to compromise slightly on the size of your garden, some more central suburbs should be within reach. Harrison is the closest Gungahlin suburb (probably a 15 minute drive to Civic; perhaps more in traffic), is within walking distance of central Gungahlin, and has plenty of nice looking places inside your budget. The inner Belconnen suburbs (Bruce, Aranda, Macquarie, Page and Cook) are pleasant and should have the odd house/townhouse you can afford. All are only a quick drive from the centre of Canberra. Finally, Watson in the inner North is worth considering. It’s close to Dickson, an easy drive/bike ride to Civic, and is nice enough. The houses there are likely to be older than Gungahlin, but it’s the most central location within your price range. They’re all good options, so I’d encourage you to check out the neighbourhoods yourself and go with your instincts.

Regarding employment, most jobs in Canberra are in the public service. You won’t be able to get in until you’re a citizen. They’re also not hiring at the moment, due to a hiring freeze applied by the current government. I’m not sure how much longer it’ll last, but you’re unlikely to find a job here until you get citizenship anyway.

Good luck!

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 6:45 pm 30 Mar 15

You’ll find it heaps easier to get a job in Canberra once your citizenship comes through. Despite what some say, there are plenty of IT jobs if you’re good at what you do.

Also, don’t just look at houses northside, there are lots of options for well-priced homes. Don’t discount Queanbeyan, either. It’s closer to the city time-wise than half of Canberra, has some very nice streets, and thanks to it’s reputation as being ‘struggle-town’ a couple of decades ago is still well priced compared to most of ACT.

rubaiyat 6:34 pm 30 Mar 15

SydneySider said :

Please also suggest is it better to buy a new house in Macgregor or an old house in Ngunnawal?

Just spoke to my son. I wasn’t aware of Ngunnawal as a place to live, but apparently it has a really rough reputation. Check it out carefully.

Back to whether you should move to Canberra? Get that job first, then move, as close to the job as you can afford. Rent temporarily whilst you settle in then after having got a feel for the place, buy.

rubaiyat 5:58 pm 30 Mar 15

SydneySider said :

Please also suggest is it better to buy a new house in Macgregor or an old house in Ngunnawal?

Should I wait one more year and get my citizenship and then move to Canberra?

Macgregor and that corner of Belconnen are the cheaper and seedier parts of Canberra. No way as bad as the worst parts of Sydney, but by our standards almost Housing Commission level. My son in Spence nearby, would really like to move away. He has been broken into and the neighbour is a piece. Every suburb however has its good and bad, even Spence and Macgregor will have better houses.

Macgregor’s prices are depressed because it is so far out, in a city of such small population.

Ngunnawal is not that old so the houses can’t really be that old either. Just watch out for construction quality. If it is possible to have worse than Sydney, Canberra has managed.

One thing you have to allow for in Canberra is prices for most things are higher than Sydney. Petrol is at least 10¢ more a litre, rates are high and also because it is a cold climate heating takes up a lot of your energy bills. Especially as few houses are actually built for this climate or facing north. Groceries are also higher. We do get cheaper Internet though.

If you are intending on starting a family it is a good place though, far better than Sydney.

rubaiyat 5:37 pm 30 Mar 15

watto23 said :

Same for commutes from Belconnen. These would be the 3 places to buy in that price range. The inner suburbs are not likely to be available for the amount you suggested, but look on http://www.allhomes.com.au and do some research.

Belconnen is no better than Gungahlin, in fact probably worse, depending which part of Belconnen. The traffic jams start in the west and wind their way all the way to past Civic for my son, and he is an earlier starter.

The lesson in all this is, is this is just the beginning. The bad town planning with limited winding main roads and the dependency on cars for long commutes has been a recipe for the same traffic snarls the world over.

The crazy thinking of people who have become hooked on cars is that this is somehow temporary and/or is someone else’s fault and will somehow get better.

It won’t.

Do something now about public transport or suffer the consequences.

SydneySider 5:29 pm 30 Mar 15

Thank you for the responses. I and my wife are glued to these responses as we don’t know anybody in Canberra and would appreciate as much info as possible.

This Saturday I came to Canberra and looked at few properties in Bonner, Ngunnawal, and also in Macgregor. We were surprised to see that prices in Macgregor for 3 bed room house in new condition were around 400K, whereas in Bonner similar properties were around 460K.

Real estate agent told us that Macgregor, especially new Macgregor is like St Marys in Sydney and Bonner is like Strathfield in Sydney. Is that right? Is new Macgregor not a good area to live?

Please also suggest is it better to buy a new house in Macgregor or an old house in Ngunnawal?

Should I wait one more year and get my citizenship and then move to Canberra?

regards

vintage123 3:50 pm 30 Mar 15

Madam Cholet said :

vintage123 said :

….and the commute is better but not by that much…..

Wow. Where are you communting from/to? I come into the City from Calwell every day – three days in a car and 2 days on a bus. My trip even on the bus is only 35 minutes. When I use the car I’m leaving my son at school at nine and walking into my office at 9.30. That to me is quite a bit different from 90 minutes one way.

To the OP…if you don’t want to spend time commuting I would not go far North. If you look at Allhomes you will find a reasonable amount of houses/townhouses (not necessarily new), that will fit in your price bracket…but it is of course about adjusting your expectations, especially if you want to move cities without a job. Renting will not be easy if you have no work to speak of, and buying I would hazard a guess would put you in a similar boat.

I think you have the right take on Canberra. But I would say that as I detest Sydney (having lived there for 10 years).

I was basing the morning drive from gungahlin to the airport which now takes my friends over an hour. On the 460k budget including expenses I would think the OP will be either way north, East or way south. Same old story limited budget, backyard expectations and don’t want to commute. If they move to banks it will take ages, if they move to Dunlop it will too. They could land rent a place at moncreif however the commute to city is 45 mins and to the airport it’s an hour. Was just saying I don’t think its the 5 minute cheap housing solution people think it is.

watto23 11:18 am 30 Mar 15

I can say that good Oracle DBA’s are hard to find. The company I work for was looking for them recently and didn’t find too many. There will be jobs in Canberra for that skill set. The real issue for you is you will need to be a citizen in order to get a security clearance. Pretty much all jobs in Canberra in IT require clearances, because the clients are mostly government. Now I have no idea on your nationality, but I do know of an Indian immigrant who got their clearance, within a few months of being a citizen.

I’d suggest any move shouldn’t be made lightly so by the time you get your citizenship, you’ll possibly be ready to move. Also Gungahlin is the newest part of Canberra. The houses are typically more crammed in with smaller yards. There is a lot of traffic issues with the area, but it does have the NBN and at this stage is the first area to get light rail in 2019. That said my commutes from Tuggeranong are often as quick or quicker because we don’t have the traffic congestion. Same for commutes from Belconnen. These would be the 3 places to buy in that price range. The inner suburbs are not likely to be available for the amount you suggested, but look on http://www.allhomes.com.au and do some research.

Madam Cholet 10:41 am 30 Mar 15

vintage123 said :

….and the commute is better but not by that much…..

Wow. Where are you communting from/to? I come into the City from Calwell every day – three days in a car and 2 days on a bus. My trip even on the bus is only 35 minutes. When I use the car I’m leaving my son at school at nine and walking into my office at 9.30. That to me is quite a bit different from 90 minutes one way.

To the OP…if you don’t want to spend time commuting I would not go far North. If you look at Allhomes you will find a reasonable amount of houses/townhouses (not necessarily new), that will fit in your price bracket…but it is of course about adjusting your expectations, especially if you want to move cities without a job. Renting will not be easy if you have no work to speak of, and buying I would hazard a guess would put you in a similar boat.

I think you have the right take on Canberra. But I would say that as I detest Sydney (having lived there for 10 years).

La_Tour_Maubourg 10:16 am 30 Mar 15

Not sure about Gungahlin, however “New” Macgregor in Belconnen is relatively new, has all amenities nearby and might not be as terrible to commute into Civic of a morning.

vintage123 3:26 pm 27 Mar 15

I would stay in Sydney. Jobs are scarce in canberra at the moment, houses are more expensive than your budget and the commute is better but not by that much. Yes it’s more relaxed here and there are some better services such as education and health but it’s probably not the fantasy land you think it is.

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