4 Reasons To Call Canberra Home In 2024, According To a Local

By Maisie Gray

There's a whole lot to love about our nation’s cosy capital Canberra—far beyond its politicians and well-designed roundabouts.

This glorious melting pot of gram-worthy bars, cute cafes, incredible wineries, and stretches of unspoiled greenery takes the cake for all things lifestyle. And with golden beaches and snowy-topped mountains just a short drive away, Canberrans get to have the best of both worlds, but without the crowds and chaos. 

To help explain what makes life in Canberra so special, we recruited the help of Urban List’s Director of Operations, People and Culture—and ex-Queenslander turned Canberra-convert—Courtney Barnard (AKA Courty B), to share why making the move to this overlooked city has been a massive win for her and the whole fam. 

Following a career opportunity offered to her husband, the Barnards decided to pack up their car with the three boys in tow, wave goodbye to their fellow city slickers, and say hello to a calmer life brimming with new possibilities. Here's why they haven't looked back.

Nature On Tap 

Known as the bush capital, Canberra consistently comes out on top when it comes to nature reserves, mountain ranges, and botanical gardens. With breathtakingly beautiful trails lining more than 60% of the region, getting outdoors and having a daily stretch of the legs is a given when you live in the capital.

Whether it is rugging up and heading for a hunt around their local rock pools, taking a stroll around the pristine water playground of Lake Burley Griffin, grabbing the bikes and burning some energy at Stromlo Forest Park, or waving hello to the area’s furry locals, the Barnard fam loves the increased ability they have to breathe in some good old fresh air. 

“We go for walks every afternoon around our local nature trail Cooleman Ridge and love spending any spare moment we have outdoors. The best part for me however is the doors it's opened up to spend some quality time with my three growing boys,” Courtney says. 

Top-Notch Dining On The Daily 

Canberra’s reputation as a food-loving capital is no joke. When it comes to cheap eats that'll leave you checking prices, cellar doors that'll happily consume your entire Saturday, laid-back yet luxurious restaurants loved by locals, or the best in fine dining, in the capital you can choose your fighter. 

For a day on the plate of Canberran connoisseur Courty B, there's no better way to start your Sunday than with a trip to the Haig Park Markets. Here you'll encounter the most insane selection of artisanal pastry-encased goodies, and dumplings that'll leave you forced to go back for seconds. 

"As foodies we're certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to delicious eats in Canberra. We have an ever-growing list of spots we want to try—including some of the wineries right on our doorstep," Courtney explains. 

When lunchtime rolls around, be sure to hit up Dickson Asian Noodle House. This wallet-friendly gem is adored by locals for its exceptional Malaysian, Thai, and Laotian cuisine. Think all things stand-out Asian classics like pad thai, Hokkien noodles, and chow mein-style stir fry. 

If a much-needed date night is pending, take a stroll down Bunda Street where you'll find yourself spoiled for choice between Bar Beirut, Akiba, and many more superior spots to sip. Once you've quenched your thirst, head up to Leyla Bar and Rooftop for the most insane views of the city, and continue your evening with uniquely crafted cocktails and delicious tapas bites like boquerones, calamares frites and lamb pinchos. 

The best part? No matter your choice in location, you'll rarely need to stress over an hour-long wait or settle for a 9 pm booking, just enjoy taking it easy and stroll on in. 

Entertainment To Fit Every Agenda 

From the National Museum of Australia to Canberra GlassWorks, Canberra is home to some of the country's best art galleries and museums. Combine this with an endless array of events for the whole fam—when culture and top-tier entertainment are on the cards, Canberra can keep up with the best. 

Whether it's an atmospheric Raiders game, a matinee at the Canberra Theatre Centre, or a night of all things illuminance at Enlighten Festival, after living in Canberra for over a year, Courtney has quickly learned there's no shortage of standout ways to spend your weekends. 

“There's always something happening in Canberra to entertain the fam and celebrate all things arts and culture. What I love the most is the effort that goes into the celebration of diversity, after living here you can understand that this is a massive part of what makes the city what it is," Courtney shares. 

A Calmer Pace Of Life  

When you're used to the confinements of city living, it's hard to wrap your head around satellite suburbs and big backyards so close to the CBD. But if you're keen for extra lawn space so your precious pooch can stretch its legs, or are waiting for the excuse to build that creative studio you've always dreamt of having (for a fraction of the price), in Canberra, space and the possibilities it brings are endless. 

An increase in space means less time spent in painful traffic jams, and no more queue-induced stress headaches that a thousand yoga classes can't relieve. This save on time was a major draw card for Courtney and her family.

“We're spending more time together as a family than we ever have. The change of pace has been incredible and it also means I don’t have to leave somewhere 45 minutes before I need to be a few kilometres down the road!” 

For more on why locals love living in the capital and how Canberra might be the right place for you, head here

Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with The ACT GovernmentThank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.

Image credit: Urban List, Courtney Barnard, Bar Beirut, Enlighten Festival

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.