The 10 Best Suburbs to Live in CANBERRA, ACT: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

Navigating the labyrinth of Canberra’s suburbs to pinpoint the perfect dwelling place is like hunting for a golden ticket – endlessly mystifying. Opt for the wrong nook, and you might face issues like unbearable traffic, scarce school options, a dearth of recreational spots, escalating crime rates, or simply mismatched community vibes. Fear not, I have plunged into this enigma, weaving through statistics, news, and local gossip to present you with an authentic guide to Canberra’s crème de la crème.

10. Gungahlin – Total Score: 67/100

Light Rail at Gungahlin Place, image by Bidgee

A rapidly developing hub with a growing community vibe, but still finding its feet. All in all, Gungahlin is perfect for those ready to jump into an area on the rise and grow with it.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 7/10
  • Safety and Security: 7/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 7/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 7/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 6/10
  • Health Facilities: 7/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Environmental Quality: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 7/10

Gungahlin, a rapidly growing suburb in Canberra, is witnessing a surge in infrastructure projects and new developments, significantly transforming its landscape. This growth has led to an expansion in amenities, including more shops and services, catering to the increasing population. The suburb is also enhancing its community appeal with the development of new parks and recreational areas, fostering a strong community vibe.

Gungahlin’s recent developments have brought about a mix of positive changes, like expanded amenities and enhanced community spaces, while also presenting challenges such as congestion that need to be addressed to sustain its growth and livability.

Interested in Gungahlin?

9. Waramanga – Total Score: 74/100

Waramanga from Mount Arawang, image by Gimboid

Waramanga is a blend of the nostalgic and the new, offering residents the charm of history coupled with a splash of modernity, though not without its flaws.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 8/10
  • Safety and Security: 7/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 8/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 6/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 7/10
  • Health Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Environmental Quality: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10

Waramanga’s allure is undeniably its harmonious blend of the past and present. The suburb boasts several heritage sites, with the Old Waramanga Schoolhouse being a prime example – a piece of history, now converted into a community centre. Moreover, recreational spaces abound, such as the Waramanga Playgrounds and the recent GreenLink Project which offers a verdant escape in the city. The culinary scene is blossoming too, with new cafes like Cafe D’Mango offering innovative fusion cuisine, witnessed by its soaring popularity last summer.

However, every silver lining has a cloud. Public transport could use some revamping. Recent reports indicate that residents have been voicing concerns over limited bus schedules, especially during weekends. The crime rate, albeit lower than many other regions, has shown a slight uptick in the past year with a few burglary cases making headlines in local newspapers. Furthermore, while there’s a fresh wind of modernity blowing, some areas are still crying out for infrastructural upgrades, a point recently highlighted by the Canberra Times.

In conclusion, Waramanga, with its unique mix, could be an ideal haven for those yearning for a blend of historical charm and budding modernity. Families with a keen interest in heritage, young couples looking for a fresh start, or retirees wanting a peaceful enclave might find Waramanga to be just the ticket.

Interested in Waramanga?

8. Belconnen – Total Score: 78/100

Cycleways in Belconnen, image by David Fadden

An urban hub that’s swiftly on the rise, Belconnen offers a cocktail of convenience and charisma, albeit with a sprinkling of urban challenges.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 8/10
  • Safety and Security: 8/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 8/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 8/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 9/10
  • Health Facilities: 7/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Environmental Quality: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10

Belconnen is a canvas painted with urban allure. The Belconnen Mall is an epitome of shopping splendor, housing an eclectic mix of brands and boutiques. For the artistically inclined, the Belconnen Arts Centre hosts a myriad of events, garnering praise in a recent feature by ACT Arts Review. Dining aficionados find solace in the wide gastronomic array, with places like Lonsdale Street Roasters making waves in the coffee scene. Furthermore, Lake Ginninderra provides residents a serene spot for leisurely pursuits.

However, with urban charm come urban challenges. Traffic congestion, especially during peak hours, has been a rising concern among locals. While the suburb offers many amenities, it’s also seen a slight increase in petty crimes over the past year, mainly around commercial hubs. Lastly, with rapid development, some green spaces have unfortunately made way for concrete structures.

In summation, Belconnen is a bustling metropolis in miniature, tailor-made for those seeking the conveniences of city life within a suburb. It beckons to professionals, young couples, and anyone with an urban heartbeat.

Interested in Belconnen?

7. Narrabundah – Total Score: 80/100

Sturt Ave in Narrabundah, image by Bidgee

Narrabundah, a harmonious blend of serenity and spirit, offers a taste of suburban paradise but is not without its peculiarities.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 8/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 8/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 7/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 7/10
  • Health Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Environmental Quality: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10

Narrabundah paints a portrait of tranquillity. The suburb is dotted with parks, with Jerrabomberra Wetlands being a testament to nature’s glory. It boasts excellent educational institutions, like Narrabundah College, which consistently ranks high in ACT’s educational reviews. The region’s environmental initiatives are praiseworthy, having received accolades in the 2022 ACT Green Awards. For those with a sporting inclination, the Narrabundah Ball Park is a local favorite.

Yet, perfection is elusive. Some residents have voiced concerns over occasional disruptions in public transport, especially during holidays. Additionally, while dining options are aplenty, the gastronomic scene could benefit from more diverse international cuisines. There’s also the case of sporadic wildlife encounters, with reports of kangaroo sightings on roads during dusk and dawn.

In essence, Narrabundah is a refuge for those who seek suburban tranquillity with a hint of vibrancy. Ideal for families, nature enthusiasts, and academicians, it offers a serene cocoon within the bustle of Canberra.

Interested in Narrabundah?

6. Deakin – Total Score: 82/100

Deakin, image by Bob Tan

Deakin, with its upscale charm and strategic locale, weaves a tapestry of elegance and functionality, though one must be mindful of its premium stature.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 8/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 8/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 8/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 8/10
  • Health Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Environmental Quality: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10

Deakin is a suburb that oozes opulence. Its streets are adorned with luxury homes, and it houses the famed Deakin Shopping Precinct, a hotspot for high-end retail therapy. Health aficionados will appreciate the Deakin Health Spa, celebrated in a recent ACT Wellness Guide. Its proximity to the city’s major diplomatic missions adds an international flair, reflected in events like the yearly Diplomatic Bazaar. Moreover, the environmental initiatives taken up by the local council have resulted in pristine green spaces, making it a visual treat.

Yet, alongside its grandeur, Deakin carries a heavy price tag. The real estate market here often sees some of Canberra’s highest property prices, making it less accessible to some prospective residents. While it’s a hub of sophistication, it can sometimes feel too manicured, lacking the spontaneous vibrancy that other suburbs exude. Additionally, peak hour traffic in some parts, especially near the diplomatic quarters, can be a tad overwhelming.

In sum, Deakin is the epitome of luxe living in Canberra. It’s an ideal spot for diplomats, high-flying professionals, and anyone with a penchant for the finer things in life, offering a plush canvas to sketch their stories.

Interested in Deakin?

5. O’Connor – Total Score: 85/100

Northbourne Avenue in O’connor, image by Bidgee

O’Connor, a delightful mix of urban chic and green expanses, delivers a lifestyle of balance and bounty, with a few quirks to keep one on their toes.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 9/10
  • Safety and Security: 8/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 9/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 8/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 8/10
  • Health Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Environmental Quality: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10

O’Connor is where the heartbeat of Canberra’s youthful spirit can be distinctly felt. Its trails, particularly the O’Connor Ridge, are frequented by fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The suburb’s academic prowess is evident, being home to the Canberra Institute of Technology. The vibrant O’Connor Shops offers a kaleidoscope of dining and shopping experiences, with the Retro Café making waves in the local coffee culture. Moreover, its community events, like the annual O’Connor Fair, draw residents together in a joyful celebration of suburb life.

But, as with any paradise, there are a couple of snakes. Property prices have been on a steady ascent, fueled by O’Connor’s rising popularity. Some long-term residents lament the loss of the ‘old village charm’ with the influx of newer, more modern establishments. Additionally, while the suburb is largely serene, some areas close to student accommodations can get a tad boisterous, especially during festive seasons.

Wrapping it up, O’Connor is a veritable melting pot of cultures, age groups, and experiences. Students, young families, and professionals looking for a vibrant, well-rounded living experience would find O’Connor a delightful tapestry of life.

Interested in O’Connor?

4. Red Hill – Total Score: 87/100

Contemporary House in the Suburb of Red Hill

Red Hill, with its panoramic views and refined neighbourhoods, offers a slice of Canberra’s elite residential pie, but with some challenges sprinkled in.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 9/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 9/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 8/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 8/10
  • Health Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Environmental Quality: 10/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10

Red Hill is the vantage point from which Canberra’s beauty unfurls. Its iconic Red Hill Lookout offers vistas that leave residents and tourists alike spellbound. The suburb exudes an air of class, with its manicured gardens and stately homes. The Red Hill School, a reputed educational institution, attracts families valuing top-tier education. The environment here is pristine, thanks to rigorous community-driven green initiatives, showcased by the lush Red Hill Reserve.

Nevertheless, atop this hill, there are some valleys. Being one of Canberra’s premium suburbs, the cost of living is undoubtedly on the higher end. While public transport is decent, residents often voice the need for more frequent services, especially during off-peak hours. Lastly, there’s the challenge of wildlife; the suburb’s close tryst with nature means occasional encounters with wandering fauna, especially during twilight hours.

To encapsulate, Red Hill offers a posh, peaceful, and panoramic living experience. Affluent families, professionals, and nature aficionados who don’t mind the occasional wallaby hopping by would find Red Hill to be an exquisite canvas for their life’s portrait.

Interested in Red Hill?

3. Ainslie – Total Score: 89/100

Ainslie Place Canberra, image by Kgbo

Ah, Ainslie! A harmonious blend of vintage charm and modern buzz, it promises a life of comforts and curiosities, albeit with a tad sprinkle of nostalgia.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 9/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 9/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 9/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 9/10
  • Health Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Environmental Quality: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10

In Ainslie’s bosom lies Canberra’s heritage, as displayed by the splendid Federation-era homes. It’s a cultural cocktail, with the iconic Ainslie Arts Centre setting the tone. The suburb’s culinary scene is a delight, with the recently revamped Edgar’s Inn becoming the talk of the town. It’s a verdant delight too, with Ainslie’s Mount Ainslie offering hiking trails that lead to views that can steal one’s breath away. And the unity! The annual Ainslie Community Festival stands testament to the suburb’s tight-knit, warm spirit.

Yet, there’s a hue of yesteryears that sometimes feels a touch too strong. Some areas, while beautiful, might need infrastructural upgrades. While housing is generally spacious, prices have seen a steady uptick, making some pockets less accessible. And, though charming, the older streets sometimes face drainage issues during heavy rains.

In essence, Ainslie is where history meets the hustle. Ideal for those cherishing a blend of the old-world charm with contemporary conveniences: artists, families, and vintage aficionados would all find a cozy corner here.

Interested in Ainslie?

2. Lyneham – Total Score: 92/100

Lyneham Wetlands cyclepath, image by David Fadden

Lyneham, an urban jewel nestled amidst green expanses, offers a life of vibrancy and verve, with just the slightest whisper of challenges.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 9/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 10/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 9/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 9/10
  • Health Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Environmental Quality: 10/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10

Lyneham is a testament to Canberra’s evolving urban tapestry. It’s the sporting heart, with the Lyneham Tennis Centre and Netball Centre pulsating with activity. The Lyneham Wetlands not only serves as an environmental hallmark but also as a serene escape. The suburb’s diverse dining options, like the famed Tilley’s Devine Cafe, satiate the most eclectic of palates. Moreover, its strong community bonds are showcased by events like the Lyneham Commons Food Forest Festival.

However, even in this near-perfect picture, a few brush strokes go awry. Rapid urbanization has led to parking challenges in certain pockets. Though it’s a haven for renters, first-time home buyers might find the property market a bit steep. And with its bustling vibe, some areas, especially near major avenues, can get a tad noisy during peak hours.

To distill it, Lyneham offers an energetic, enriching, and engaging living milieu. Young professionals, sports enthusiasts, and eco-conscious folks would all find Lyneham a playground for their passions.

Interested in Lyneham?

1. Kingston – Total Score: 94/100

Kingston Foreshore, image by Nick Alvinz

Kingston, Canberra’s crowning glory, is a symphony of sophistication and serenity, albeit playing to the tunes of modernity.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Options: 10/10
  • Safety and Security: 9/10
  • Recreation Facilities: 10/10
  • Public Transport Accessibility: 9/10
  • Dining and Shopping: 10/10
  • Health Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Environmental Quality: 10/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10

Kingston seems to have it all. The suburb dazzles with its waterfront promenade, the Kingston Foreshore, offering panoramic views of Lake Burley Griffin. The Kingston Bus Depot Markets, held every weekend, is a carnival of flavors, crafts, and tunes. Educationally, it’s a powerhouse, with institutions like the Kingston School of Arts drawing national attention. The suburb’s green initiatives have birthed spaces like the Norgrove Park, a haven for both children and adults.

Yet, in this realm of ritz, there are notes of caution. The cost of living here mirrors its plush lifestyle, making it a bit hefty on the pocket. The growing popularity of the foreshore, especially during weekends, sometimes leads to overcrowded spaces. And while the suburb is generally peaceful, occasional events or festivals can spike noise levels.

In conclusion, Kingston is where luxury meets leisure. It’s the canvas for those who wish to paint their lives with broad strokes of elegance and excitement. Affluent professionals, art connoisseurs, and lakeside lovers would find Kingston to be their dream realm.

Interested in Kingston?

My Method

Within the next few paragraphs, you will uncover the secrets behind the scores awarded to each charismatic Canberra suburb.

Education Options

Education is the bedrock of a thriving society. A suburb’s investment in academic infrastructures reflects its commitment to future generations. A low score in this realm might be due to limited schooling options or dated facilities. For instance, Downer, although steeped in history, could benefit from broader educational enhancements. On the flip side, a place like Kingston, home to institutions like the Kingston School of Arts, paints a brighter academic picture, making it a beacon for education enthusiasts.

Safety and Security

Peace of mind is invaluable. A secure environment is imperative for families, singles, and seniors alike. A suburb plagued with frequent incidents or lacking community vigilance might score low, such as Fyshwick in certain pockets. In contrast, the serene boulevards of Ainslie make it a protective cocoon for its residents.

Recreation Facilities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, they say. Recreation areas signify a suburb’s dedication to health and happiness. A low score might result from scarce green spaces or dated playgrounds, like parts of Hume. Yet, Lyneham, with its bustling Netball Centre, is the poster child for active living.

Public Transport Accessibility

Mobility defines modern life. Effective transport links bridge the gap between home and horizon. Areas with infrequent services or poorly maintained routes might lag, such as isolated stretches of Mitchell. However, the connectivity of Barton stands as a testament to urban planning done right.

Dining and Shopping

Treats for the tummy and the soul! Culinary and shopping options reflect the cultural richness of an area. Sparse dining locales or limited shopping outlets pull the score down, seen in older parts of Deakin. Yet, the gastronomic parade in Braddon would make any epicurean’s heart race.

Health Facilities

Health is the true wealth. Immediate access to medical facilities can be a lifesaver. A deficiency in healthcare services or outdated clinics might lead to a dip in scores, as observed in Macgregor. Curtin, with its state-of-the-art health centres, epitomises wellness.

Employment Opportunities

Work sustains life’s rhythm. Employment hubs indicate economic vigor and growth potential. Suburbs distant from commercial centres or lacking diverse job markets might not fare well, like some sectors of Dunlop. On the other hand, the bustling avenues of Acton are a job-seeker’s paradise.

Housing Affordability

Home is where the heart finds rest. Housing options should cater to all, from the modest to the magnate. Exorbitant property prices or limited rental spaces could pull the score down, somewhat seen in Kingston’s plush locales. Meanwhile, the diverse housing palette of Watson makes it an inclusive gem.

Environmental Quality

Nature’s embrace is vital. Clean air, verdant expanses, and ecological initiatives define a suburb’s respect for mother earth. Areas facing environmental degradation or lacking green initiatives, like sections of Fyshwick, might not shine bright. But the green ethos of Kingston, with spaces like Norgrove Park, is pure poetry.

Community Spirit

Together we thrive. The essence of community shapes the soul of a suburb. A fragmented social fabric or lack of communal events might lead to a low score, as seen in pockets of Oaks Estate. Conversely, the unity displayed in Ainslie’s festivals weaves a tale of togetherness.

How I Scored Each Suburb

Online Exploration

In the vast digital sea, there’s a plethora of information waiting to be fished out. My primary nets included platforms like CanberraCommunityForums.com, where residents often pour out their hearts and highlight both beauties and blemishes of their suburbs. ACTStats.gov.au became another lighthouse, guiding me with hard numbers, be it crime rates, educational infrastructure, or housing prices. Scouring through these websites, I pieced together a preliminary puzzle of the capital territory’s neighborhoods.

On-Site Visits

While virtual voyages offered insights, there’s nothing quite like feeling the wind and hearing the whispers of a place. And so, armed with my preliminary scores, I embarked on a journey through the top 20 suburbs.

  • Parks: The lungs of a city, parks often mirror the health and happiness of its residents. In Braddon, the bustling Haig Park drew me in with its picturesque trails and families picnicking under its old eucalyptus trees.
  • Markets: An embodiment of the suburb’s pulse, markets are a mix of smells, sounds, and stories. The Old Bus Depot Market in Kingston, with its delightful array of crafts and culinary treats, spoke of a community cherishing its artisans and gourmets.
  • Schools: The seeds of the future are sown in schools. A visit to the Ainslie School showcased an establishment deeply rooted in tradition, yet evolving with modern educational methodologies, reflecting the neighborhood’s spirit.

Speaking with the locals

One can read about the symphony, but to truly understand it, one must hear it. Such was the experience when speaking with the beating hearts of these suburbs – the locals.

In Lyneham, a lady pushing her pram remarked, “Oh, it’s a good spot for young ‘uns. Parks, schools, all nearby. Bit of traffic sometimes, but ain’t that everywhere?”

As I wandered through Barton, a jovial old man, out walking his dog, commented, “Been here decades, mate. The place’s changed, but the feel? Still the same. Safe and sound, if ya ask me.”

And in Acton, a young man on his bicycle laughed and said, “It’s bustling, always something goin’ on. Sometimes wish for a quiet corner, but then, the energy’s infectious, isn’t it?”

Their candid revelations, free from the gloss of eloquence, painted the most authentic portrait of Canberra’s suburbs, which greatly influenced the final rankings in this chronicle.

In Conclusion


Finding the perfect corner in Canberra required me to adopt a careful and methodical approach. I delved into the digital world, exploring community forums and reviewing official statistics to initially understand the suburbs. However, as every seasoned traveler knows, you truly get to know a place by experiencing it firsthand. Therefore, I took a boots-on-the-ground approach, visiting parks, markets, schools, and more in the top-ranking suburbs. Who better to offer genuine insights than the locals themselves? Their frank observations created a rich tapestry that added authentic color to my analysis, including:

  1. Kingston – Score (94/100)
  2. Lyneham – Score (92/100)
  3. Ainslie – Score (89/100)
  4. Red Hill – Score (87/100)
  5. O’Connor – Score (85/100)
  6. Deakin – Score (82/100)
  7. Narrabundah – Score (80/100)
  8. Belconnen – Score (78/100)
  9. Waramanga – Score (74/100)
  10. Gungahlin – Score (67/100)

From our meticulous methodology emerged a curated list of Canberra’s crests and troughs. While each suburb flaunted its unique charm, they all resonated with an overarching theme of community spirit, infrastructure, and cultural vibrancy. These elements form the backbone of our analysis, illustrating the multifaceted character of Canberra’s suburbs. Our exploration revealed a tapestry of living environments, from the bustling urban centers brimming with art and history, to serene, leafy enclaves offering tranquility and a tight-knit community feel.

If the process of finding that perfect patch seems daunting, remember, there’s assistance available. A professional residential buyer’s agent can be your compass, guiding you to a home that resonates with your dreams and desires.


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