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shy_guy

Life in Canberra

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Hi All,

I'm a brit thinking about moving to Oz and I have a potential job opportunity at ANU. Unfortunately I get the impression Canberra is not that great a place to live, as it can be quite quiet, quite cliquey, and just generally difficult to make friends. Can people give me a low-down on life there - both the good and bad points!

To give a bit of background on me: I'm 38, I live in Reading (as a reference town) and if I pursued a job over there I would be moving on my own. I'm not a huge fan of massive cities, like London, but Reading is about as quiet as I can handle. Ideally I'd like to live somewhere on-par with say Bristol or Edinburgh. In terms of interests I enjoy the outdoors, and I'm a big fan of rock climbing, but I hear climbing is a bit limited there. My clubbing days are long gone too, and I prefer a chat with friends in the pub, cafe, or small house gatherings. I am a little shy, which I understand will make things difficult anywhere, but my impression is it's especially difficult to meet people in Canberra. It would be good to get a realistic expectation of life over there, the likelihood of building a good social life, etc...

Thanks in advance for any information offered!

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A lot of people in Canberra work in government services. I have heard that these days it is a lot better (more lively) than it used to be and there is some nice countryside round there. For me it is a big town rather than a city and there are some on here who live there and love it. I think if you have a job arranged you would be ok because you will be introduced to people etc. It isn't that big compared with Sydney and Melbourne.

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It's as good a place as any if you have to live in Australia. It's probably going to be better than Reading given my recollection  of Reading! 

There's plenty going on but you have to put yourself out there to participate and that takes work. Plenty of bush close to ANU and you can nip up Black Mt in your lunch time if you want exercise. There will be climbing somewhere but it's not something I've ever been interested in. There are gigs, plenty of restaurants, lots of sporting  clubs, pubs, and organisations to cover pretty much any interest. 

You're probably going to make most connections at work or if you have particular interests then at a club or gathering associated with that. Your capacity to make friends is going to be up to you but yes, on balance its much like any other city and making good friendships in a city is a bit hit and miss. Smaller towns are probably better for that. After 4 decades there I have very few friends - lots of acquaintances but few friends - I was 30 when I went and I think that maybe was too late to find the sort of friendships I have here in UK, formed when we were all young and going through the same developmental angst. However you find friendships in the unlikeliest of places so you never know. 

It is still essentially a public service town and there is a degree of "what level are you at" "where do you live" "how much did your house cost" but you don't have to play those games if you're not brown  nosing your way up the PS ladder.

If you get bored with Canberra its not far  to Sydney or the beach or the snow and a lot of folk leave town at the weekend for various things.  You could do much worse. I assume this would only be a temporary job anyway as it's a position you are being offered.

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7 hours ago, starlight7 said:

A lot of people in Canberra work in government services. I have heard that these days it is a lot better (more lively) than it used to be and there is some nice countryside round there. For me it is a big town rather than a city and there are some on here who live there and love it. I think if you have a job arranged you would be ok because you will be introduced to people etc. It isn't that big compared with Sydney and Melbourne.

66% plus are in private industry, and many more are in the military 

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7 hours ago, shy_guy said:

Hi All,

I'm a brit thinking about moving to Oz and I have a potential job opportunity at ANU. Unfortunately I get the impression Canberra is not that great a place to live, as it can be quite quiet, quite cliquey, and just generally difficult to make friends. Can people give me a low-down on life there - both the good and bad points!

To give a bit of background on me: I'm 38, I live in Reading (as a reference town) and if I pursued a job over there I would be moving on my own. I'm not a huge fan of massive cities, like London, but Reading is about as quiet as I can handle. Ideally I'd like to live somewhere on-par with say Bristol or Edinburgh. In terms of interests I enjoy the outdoors, and I'm a big fan of rock climbing, but I hear climbing is a bit limited there. My clubbing days are long gone too, and I prefer a chat with friends in the pub, cafe, or small house gatherings. I am a little shy, which I understand will make things difficult anywhere, but my impression is it's especially difficult to meet people in Canberra. It would be good to get a realistic expectation of life over there, the likelihood of building a good social life, etc...

Thanks in advance for any information offered!

Lived in Reading (Tilehurst) now live here.  Plenty of rock climbing, and a 4WD is mandatory.  Ignore the negative folk (no shortage of them here).  So much going on, it’s simply impossible to go to everything.  It’s the place for an outdoors person, not so much for ‘city types’. 

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11 hours ago, shy_guy said:

Hi All,

I'm a brit thinking about moving to Oz and I have a potential job opportunity at ANU. Unfortunately I get the impression Canberra is not that great a place to live, as it can be quite quiet, quite cliquey, and just generally difficult to make friends. Can people give me a low-down on life there - both the good and bad points!

I'm not that familiar with Reading but from what I've seen of the place, Canberra would be livelier.  

I lived in Sydney for over 30 years and went to Canberra for work fairly frequently.  I really liked it.   It has a reputation of being boring and fuddy-duddy but that's usually by people who've never even been there. 

I found Canberra people friendlier than Sydneysiders, to be honest.   Difficulty making friends is a common complaint made by migrants, but it's not surprising when you think about it.  Friendships happen when people have things in common, and you're arriving from a different culture with a different attitude.  You'll need to put yourself out there and track down people you have something in common with.  

https://canberraclimbing.org.au/

https://www.meetup.com/cities/au/canberra/social/

Edited by Marisawright
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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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2 hours ago, Marisawright said:

I'm not that familiar with Reading but from what I've seen of the place, Canberra would be livelier.  

I lived in Sydney for over 30 years and went to Canberra for work fairly frequently.  I really liked it.   It has a reputation of being boring and fuddy-duddy but that's usually by people who've never even been there. 

I found Canberra people friendlier than Sydneysiders, to be honest.   Difficulty making friends is a common complaint made by migrants, but it's not surprising when you think about it.  Friendships happen when people have things in common, and you're arriving from a different culture with a different attitude.  You'll need to put yourself out there and track down people you have something in common with.  

https://canberraclimbing.org.au/

https://www.meetup.com/cities/au/canberra/social/

Bryce Courtenay lived in Canberra until his sad death from illness.  He and his wife moved here from the upmarket eastern suburbs of Sydney, which quite shocked the hoi poloi.  Once when he was asked by a journalist, why he was living in Canberra he replied, when I used to walk the dog in Sydney, passing strangers would  only talk about one thing, the price of real estate.  Here in Canberra the passing strangers stop and talk about anything and everything going on in the world.  I prefer that....  

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I must go and visit again, sounds nice now. Haven’t been since early 1990s. Also, at least you can drive there without stuffing around at airports, not so far as Sydney.

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1 hour ago, starlight7 said:

I must go and visit again, sounds nice now. Haven’t been since early 1990s. Also, at least you can drive there without stuffing around at airports, not so far as Sydney.

It’s large, and a guide is useful.  

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1 hour ago, starlight7 said:

I must go and visit again, sounds nice now. Haven’t been since early 1990s. Also, at least you can drive there without stuffing around at airports, not so far as Sydney.

Good! It's not nearly as bad as it is painted. It's much maligned in fact!

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Been living here since we moved out to Australia from Bristol in 2012. Nice place to live and if you like big city comforts without the hassle then Canberra's a perfect fit. The lack of traffic, for now at least, is wonderful and I certainly don't miss queuing on the M32 😂 There's some lovely hiking spots within reach both in and around Canberra itself or just outside like Mt Tennent. The pub and cafe culture is ever increasing but mostly exists in Braddon so if that's you're thing bear that in mind for where you look to live.

You do need to get and out and about though if you're wanting to meet people and create a social group. I joined a football club and most of my social circle is from there. People aren't just going to fall into your life so it'll initially take a lot of effort but it is doable :)

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On 06/02/2020 at 22:51, shy_guy said:

Hi All,

I'm a brit thinking about moving to Oz and I have a potential job opportunity at ANU. Unfortunately I get the impression Canberra is not that great a place to live, as it can be quite quiet, quite cliquey, and just generally difficult to make friends. Can people give me a low-down on life there - both the good and bad points!

To give a bit of background on me: I'm 38, I live in Reading (as a reference town) and if I pursued a job over there I would be moving on my own. I'm not a huge fan of massive cities, like London, but Reading is about as quiet as I can handle. Ideally I'd like to live somewhere on-par with say Bristol or Edinburgh. In terms of interests I enjoy the outdoors, and I'm a big fan of rock climbing, but I hear climbing is a bit limited there. My clubbing days are long gone too, and I prefer a chat with friends in the pub, cafe, or small house gatherings. I am a little shy, which I understand will make things difficult anywhere, but my impression is it's especially difficult to meet people in Canberra. It would be good to get a realistic expectation of life over there, the likelihood of building a good social life, etc...

Thanks in advance for any information offered!

This is worth a read regarding liveability ratings.

https://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/AU8.html

ANU is a town within itself now, massive investment.  You sound as if you're made for Canberra.  Lots of outdoors stuff, lots of cultural stuff, almost too many cafes and coffeeshops, and enough pubs and clubs (not like UK nightclubs) now....but you can do as much or as little as you please, it's very relaxed.

The City is expanding at a very fast pace, cranes everywhere and they're building higher.  Apart from that, it's very spacious and spread out.  It'll never be Sydney or Melbourne...but living in a place of 500,000 is more intimate than 7 or 8 million.

The good thing about ANU is that there are thousands of new residents every year, so they're well setup for integration. 


"Nationalism is an infantile disease, it is the measles of mankind." Albert Einstein

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On 06/02/2020 at 11:51, shy_guy said:

Hi All,

I'm a brit thinking about moving to Oz and I have a potential job opportunity at ANU. Unfortunately I get the impression Canberra is not that great a place to live, as it can be quite quiet, quite cliquey, and just generally difficult to make friends. Can people give me a low-down on life there - both the good and bad points!

To give a bit of background on me: I'm 38, I live in Reading (as a reference town) and if I pursued a job over there I would be moving on my own. I'm not a huge fan of massive cities, like London, but Reading is about as quiet as I can handle. Ideally I'd like to live somewhere on-par with say Bristol or Edinburgh. In terms of interests I enjoy the outdoors, and I'm a big fan of rock climbing, but I hear climbing is a bit limited there. My clubbing days are long gone too, and I prefer a chat with friends in the pub, cafe, or small house gatherings. I am a little shy, which I understand will make things difficult anywhere, but my impression is it's especially difficult to meet people in Canberra. It would be good to get a realistic expectation of life over there, the likelihood of building a good social life, etc...

Thanks in advance for any information offered!

If I were you I would do some research.....I live not far from Reading and if you think Reading is quiet I would say you will find Canberra to be very remote....isolated and extremely quiet. I Lived in Perth for 3 years.....it has a population of about 2 million.....I found it quiet and isolated.....Canberra has a population of about 400,000.....it is about 10k from one side to the other and not a lot more after that......There are lots of people on here that live in Canberra and can give you an idea of what life is like there......I can only compare our area (Berkshire) to Perth (which is bigger than Canberra).....Do your research.....go and visit if you can.....what a lot of people do not factor into their move is the isolation of a lot of Australian cities and Australia in general.....good luck!

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7 hours ago, kungfustu said:

If I were you I would do some research.....I live not far from Reading and if you think Reading is quiet I would say you will find Canberra to be very remote....isolated and extremely quiet. I Lived in Perth for 3 years.....it has a population of about 2 million.....I found it quiet and isolated.....Canberra has a population of about 400,000.....it is about 10k from one side to the other and not a lot more after that......There are lots of people on here that live in Canberra and can give you an idea of what life is like there......I can only compare our area (Berkshire) to Perth (which is bigger than Canberra).....Do your research.....go and visit if you can.....what a lot of people do not factor into their move is the isolation of a lot of Australian cities and Australia in general.....good luck!

It certainly isn’t quiet. We have a guest from Sydney and he’s amazed at all the ‘stuff’ going on. Also It’s 40k and expanding top to bottom.  North Canberra was the fastest growing area in Australia last year, that’s a downside.  

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5 hours ago, Bulya said:

It certainly isn’t quiet. We have a guest from Sydney and he’s amazed at all the ‘stuff’ going on. Also It’s 40k and expanding top to bottom.  North Canberra was the fastest growing area in Australia last year, that’s a downside.  

To be fair, when we came 8 years ago it was extremely quiet.we couldn't find anything open the night we arrived from Sydney except a bottle shop and an Indian resturant.  The change since then though has been stunning.  I think 70,000 more people, with projections of a gradual increase of another 300,000 before i drop dead.  A lot of people who haven't been here since a school trip would be shocked.

The big change for me, apart from all the change in the North, is the CIty and the economic change. It was already rich, but there weren't enough people living in the middle and so why would any businesses setup and bother to stay open past 9.30pm?  In the next 10 years it will be unrecognisable.  I probably can't think of anywhere else in Australia that is going to change as radically. Certainly nowhere in the UK.


"Nationalism is an infantile disease, it is the measles of mankind." Albert Einstein

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Just back from visiting our son in Canberra.  No shortage of busy bars and restaurants both in the centre (civic), Braddon, Dickson, Manuka etc.  Also theatre, galleries and the fabulous War Memorial Museum ( two visits and we still haven’t seen half of it!), music venues, orchestra, sports, skiing.......

Ok so a long way from the coast, more of a weekend away than a day trip but not dull if you don’t want it to be.

Son works at the ANU in the Politics Dept.  they are a friendly bunch and socialise outside of work, the campus is in a lovely spot walkable to the centre and the river, lakeside.  It is also being expanded and redeveloped with new buildings and facilities. 
 

A bit like Adelaide where I live people like to put it down and say it is boring and quiet,  most of those people visited decades back and things have changed. 
 

We went on a little road trip recently and stayed in Geelong, people in Adelaide asked us why on earth we wanted to go to such a rubbish place!  I don’t think they would recognise the vibrant flourishing place it is now.

The ANU is a good place to work, which department would you be in?


So many wineries ......so little time :yes:

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40 minutes ago, Slean Wolfhead said:

To be fair, when we came 8 years ago it was extremely quiet.we couldn't find anything open the night we arrived from Sydney except a bottle shop and an Indian resturant.  The change since then though has been stunning.  I think 70,000 more people, with projections of a gradual increase of another 300,000 before i drop dead.  A lot of people who haven't been here since a school trip would be shocked.

The big change for me, apart from all the change in the North, is the CIty and the economic change. It was already rich, but there weren't enough people living in the middle and so why would any businesses setup and bother to stay open past 9.30pm?  In the next 10 years it will be unrecognisable.  I probably can't think of anywhere else in Australia that is going to change as radically. Certainly nowhere in the UK.

Sorry, it wasn’t quiet 8 years ago, or 20 years ago for that matter.  It’s just so spread out and secretive people miss everything.  They still do.  The city where a guide is near mandatory.

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3 hours ago, Bulya said:

Sorry, it wasn’t quiet 8 years ago, or 20 years ago for that matter.  It’s just so spread out and secretive people miss everything.  They still do.  The city where a guide is near mandatory.

I'd agree with that, Even 40 years ago there was still quite a lot going on if you knew where to look. The only problem we used to have was to find somewhere for dinner on my husband's and my birthdays! They're both on public holidays and our choices were limited - not so now though. 

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Having never been there, I have it on great authority that there is a big building in Canberra that it is full of hot air and cold hearts...

Cheers, Bobj.

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4 hours ago, Dusty Plains said:

I hear the new Light Rail in Canberra is very popular for getting about? 

It certainly is.  Now to start on Stage 2 heading south.  

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4 hours ago, Bulya said:

It certainly is.  Now to start on Stage 2 heading south.  

Following mostly the reserved rail corridors as nominated by Walter Burley Griffin, eg the median down the middle of Adelaide Avenue, and other areas. 

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1 hour ago, Dusty Plains said:

Following mostly the reserved rail corridors as nominated by Walter Burley Griffin, eg the median down the middle of Adelaide Avenue, and other areas. 

Commonwealth making it hard for stage 2 as they want wireless (no cables) which will add 20% to the cost.  ACT residents will get hit again!

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