Regional vs City: Where you should study in Australia

by IELTS — November 20th, 2019

Want to move to Australia to study? Read more about whether you’ll be more suited to study in the bustling major cities or in regional areas.

With warm summer breezes and sandy beaches, Australia has continuously proved itself to be a popular country for studying abroad. The latest statistics from the Department of Education show that there were almost 400,000 enrolments for higher education institutions in 2018 with student visas, which is also an 11% increase from the previous year.

If you’re looking to come to Australia to study, there are several options for you to choose from for where you can live and study. If you enjoy the bustling hustle of the city, you may want to live and study in one of the major cities, but if you would rather be immersed in nature and go on hikes on your days off, regional areas of Australia may be more suited to you.

Read the IELTS Guide to Migration

Book IELTS for migration

Migration Definitions

The table below defines the locations that make up: Major cities, Cities and major regional centres, and Regional centres and other regional areas.



Major cities


Cities and major regional centres

Gold Coast
Sunshine Coast Canberra Newcastle/Lake Macquarie
Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong

Regional centres and other regional areas

All other locations

Source: Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs

We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of living in regional areas of Australia vs living in the major cities.

Cost of Living

Australia is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. If you’re considering moving here to study, you most likely to need to consider accommodation and day-to-day living expenses. The prices of accommodation in Australia varies depending on where you live.

On-campus accommodation for students at the University of New South Wales (major city – Sydney) can cost up to $750 a week, whereas the most expensive on-campus accommodation at the University of Wollongong (major regional centre – Wollongong) only costs up to $500 a week. That’s $250 savings every week, $1000 or so every month!

Even if you’re considering other accommodation options that aren’t on-campus at your university, prices are always going to be a lot more expensive in and around the major cities. Generally, the further you move away from the Central Business District, the cheaper accommodation will cost. This may be a major cost factor for you on top of your university fees as a student.

Employment Opportunities

You may think that because the central business districts are located within major cities that employment opportunities are plentiful. Although this is true, keep in mind that competition is high, and it will be more difficult to obtain a job without the right experience and skills. Whereas, if you were applying in your local or surrounding suburbs within regional centres or other regional areas, your chances of landing a job will be a lot higher.

The recent changes to the definition of regional Australia, which now classifies Perth and Gold Coast as major regional centres rather than major cities, will provide even more opportunities for students and encourage them to study in regional vicinities. As part of the regional incentives, students who apply to study and live in these areas will have access to the Regional Occupations List which will provide many more job opportunities compared to non-regional lists. Another additional benefit would be that students studying at regional universities will be eligible to access an additional year or 2 years (depending on the location of the university) to work in Australia post-university.

Study in Australia

Work in Australia

Other Considerations – Recreational Activities, Sports, Shopping, Entertainment, Public Transport

Living in a major city means having easy access to everything you need for day to day activities. Shopping centres, gyms, cinemas, food, and everything else is at walking distance! Everything exists within the central business district, and If it doesn’t, public transport is ample and travelling outside of the city would only require a little effort.

However, many other areas outside of major cities have had major developments to keep up with technology and modern advancements. In most places, you’ll be able to find an abundance of centres for recreational activities, gyms, shopping centres, public transport options, and many more. Being classified as a “regional area” doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to access these facilities.

If you’re the type of person who wants to be involved in a community, regional areas would be more likely to be able to provide the opportunity to integrate. Major cities have a population density that makes it nearly impossible to be communal. When you’re welcomed into a community, you’ll be able to form connections with others from various ages and backgrounds and these networks could also assist finding a career opportunity for post-study work.

So, you may be enticed to live in major cities, despite the high living costs and low success in employment. But, living in regional areas of Australia proves to have its benefits. If an extra year or two of post-study work is a crucial benefit for you, making the choice to study at a regional university will be easy. However, for others, you may need to do a bit more research to see which would be right for your lifestyle.

To work or study in Australia, you may need to complete an approved English language proficiency test.


Book your IELTS test

Need help with your student placement?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.