IELTS One Skill Retake is now accepted in all Australian states!


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.

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.

Cities like Gold Coast, Perth, Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong are now considered regional and provides international students with an option to gain an additional 5 points by studying in a regional location.

* Scroll table to view all definitions




Major cities

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane

No access to any regional area incentives

Cities and major regional areas

Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart

- Priority processing of regional visas
- Access to the Regional Occupations List – more jobs compared to non-regional lists
- International graduates with a bachelor or higher qualification from a regional campus of a registered institution will be eligible to access additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa

Regional centres and other regional areas

All other locations

- International graduates with a bachelor or higher qualification from a regional campus of a registered institution will be eligible to access an additional 2 years in Australia on a post-study work visa.
- Priority in negotiating region-specific Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs)

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.

Study in Australia

Young girl at Sydney Opera house

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.

Live and work in Australia

Recreational Activities, Sports, Shopping, Entertainment and 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 within 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.

Trams in Melbourne - Australia

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 in 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 IELTS for Australia

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for changes that may apply to you. If you are interested in Australian student visas, work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent.