The 10 Best Suburbs to Live in for FAMILIES across Australia: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

In Australia’s vast and varied landscape, the quest to locate the perfect suburb for Australian families is difficult with all the information available now, demanding but ultimately gratifying. The wrong choice could lead to issues like inadequate schooling, limited healthcare access, or a lacklustre community vibe. In this article, I’ve leveraged my expertise in residential real estate to analyse and rank the top suburbs for families, ensuring you make an informed decision for your family’s future.  Below is my choice of the best places to live across Australia, they include:

10. Ballarat, Victoria – Total Score: 72/100

Lake Wendouree Ballarat, image by Ed Dunens

Ballarat combines the charm of historical richness with the comforts of modern living, albeit with some limitations in public transport and housing affordability.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 7/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 6/10
  • Family Amenities: 7/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 5/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 9/10

Ballarat is a haven for families who appreciate a blend of history and modernity. Its educational institutions are highly regarded, and the city’s healthcare facilities are robust and growing. The community spirit here is particularly strong, with frequent cultural events and a vibrant arts scene. Retail and dining options are diverse, offering something for every palate and preference.

However, challenges do exist. The housing market has become increasingly competitive, making affordability a concern for many families. Public transport, while available, is not as extensive as in larger cities, and some areas of Ballarat have experienced a slight uptick in minor crime rates, though efforts are underway to address this.

Ballarat is ideal for families seeking a culturally rich environment with strong educational and healthcare systems. It’s perfect for those who don’t mind a bit of travel inconvenience in exchange for a supportive and vibrant community life.

Interested in Ballarat?

9. Fremantle, Western Australia – Total Score: 74/100

Bathers Beach, Fremantle, image by Madeleine Holland

Fremantle offers a coastal charm with rich cultural heritage, though it grapples with higher living costs and limited schooling options.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 6/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 7/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 7/10
  • Family Amenities: 8/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Housing Affordability: 5/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 8/10

Fremantle, with its stunning beaches and vibrant street life, is a paradise for families who love the outdoors and a dynamic cultural scene. The suburb boasts excellent parks and recreational facilities, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Public transport is fairly reliable, and employment opportunities, particularly in the arts and hospitality sectors, are abundant. The community spirit in Fremantle is palpable, with regular festivals and markets bringing locals together.

On the flip side, Fremantle’s popularity has driven up the cost of living, making it less affordable for some families. Educational facilities, while adequate, are not as diverse as in other suburbs. Additionally, certain areas of Fremantle have reported minor safety concerns, although community initiatives are actively addressing these issues.

Fremantle is best suited for families who prioritise a vibrant lifestyle and cultural richness over affordability and a wide range of educational institutions. It’s ideal for those seeking an active, beachside community with a strong sense of belonging.

Interested in Fremantle?

8. Albury, New South Wales – Total Score: 76/100

Dean St, Albury, image by Thennicke

Albury strikes a fine balance between rural charm and urban amenities but faces challenges in employment opportunities and public transport.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 9/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 8/10
  • Family Amenities: 7/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Retail and Dining: 6/10

Albury, nestled on the New South Wales-Victoria border, offers a serene environment with a strong focus on family-friendly amenities. The suburb boasts excellent educational institutions and healthcare facilities, making it ideal for families prioritising these aspects. Safety is another strong suit of Albury, with low crime rates contributing to a peaceful living environment. Housing affordability is a significant advantage here, offering families the opportunity to own their homes without the financial strain experienced in larger cities.

However, Albury’s more regional location means employment opportunities can be limited, particularly in specialised fields. Public transport services are adequate but not extensive, and while the suburb offers a decent range of retail and dining options, it doesn’t match the variety found in larger urban centers.

Albury is perfect for families seeking a peaceful, affordable lifestyle with strong educational and healthcare support. It suits those who are self-employed, work remotely, or are happy to engage in local employment opportunities.

Interested in Albury?

7. Toowoomba, Queensland – Total Score: 78/100

Toowoomba Mothers Memorial Park, image by Chuckehh

Toowoomba, known for its stunning gardens and family-friendly atmosphere, struggles somewhat with public transport and employment diversity.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 7/10
  • Family Amenities: 9/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 5/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 8/10

Toowoomba, the ‘Garden City’, offers families a picturesque setting with its renowned parks and gardens, ideal for those who cherish the outdoors and community events. The suburb is particularly strong in family amenities, with numerous playgrounds, sports facilities, and community centres. Healthcare facilities are robust, and the quality of education is highly regarded. Toowoomba is also noted for its strong community spirit, with locals actively participating in various cultural and social activities.

However, the suburb is not without its drawbacks. Employment opportunities are somewhat limited, especially in more specialised industries, and the public transport system could benefit from further development. While housing is more affordable than in larger cities, prices have been steadily rising.

Toowoomba is best suited for families looking for a balance of urban amenities and a close-knit community atmosphere. It’s ideal for those who don’t rely heavily on public transport and are seeking a safe, scenic environment for raising children.

Interested in Toowoomba?

6. Norwood, South Australia – Total Score: 80/100

The Parade, Norwood, image by Andrew Owens

Norwood combines urban sophistication with suburban comfort, though it faces challenges in housing affordability and limited green spaces.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 9/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 8/10
  • Family Amenities: 9/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 6/10
  • Public Transport: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 5/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 9/10

Norwood, located close to Adelaide’s city centre, is known for its vibrant streets, excellent schools, and thriving arts scene. The suburb boasts high-quality healthcare facilities and a strong sense of safety, making it a desirable location for families. Public transport is efficient and well-connected, facilitating easy access to the city and surrounding areas. Norwood’s community spirit is evident in its bustling cafes, shops, and regular street festivals.

However, the suburb’s popularity has driven up housing costs, posing a challenge for some families. Additionally, while there are parks and recreational areas, they are not as abundant as in more suburban locations.

Norwood is ideal for families who appreciate a blend of urban convenience and suburban lifestyle. It’s well-suited for those seeking an active social life and high-quality amenities, provided they are comfortable with the housing market’s demands.

Interested in Norwood?

5. Brighton, Tasmania – Total Score: 82/100

Brighton and the Derwent River, image by J Harrison

Brighton offers a serene and picturesque lifestyle but grapples with limited employment opportunities and a smaller selection of amenities.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 9/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 10/10
  • Family Amenities: 8/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 10/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 7/10

Brighton in Tasmania, known for its tranquil environment and stunning natural landscapes, is a haven for families seeking peace and quiet away from the hustle of larger cities. The suburb boasts high safety standards and abundant parks and recreational areas, ideal for outdoor activities and family picnics. Housing affordability is another strong point, offering families the opportunity to own comfortable homes without excessive financial strain.

However, Brighton’s more isolated location means fewer employment opportunities, particularly in specialised sectors. While healthcare facilities and schools are adequate, they are not as comprehensive as those in larger cities. Additionally, the suburb’s retail and dining options are somewhat limited, though sufficient for basic needs.

Brighton is perfect for families who prioritise safety, natural beauty, and a quiet lifestyle. It’s best suited for those who are self-sufficient in terms of employment or who don’t mind a bit of travel for work and leisure.

Interested in Brighton?

4. Hawthorn, Victoria – Total Score: 85/100

Hawthorn blends affluent living with cultural richness, though it struggles with high living costs and busy traffic conditions.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 9/10
  • Family Amenities: 9/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 7/10
  • Public Transport: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 4/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 10/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Retail and Dining: 10/10

Hawthorn, located in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, is a hub of educational and employment excellence. The suburb is home to some of the best schools and healthcare facilities in the state, making it a top choice for families prioritising these aspects. Employment opportunities are diverse and plentiful, particularly in the professional and academic sectors. Hawthorn’s retail and dining scene is vibrant and diverse, catering to a range of tastes and preferences.

The challenges in Hawthorn are primarily related to its popularity and location. The cost of living, particularly housing, is high, which might be a barrier for some families. Additionally, the suburb can experience heavy traffic, especially during peak hours.

Hawthorn is ideal for families who seek a high standard of living with access to top-tier schools and healthcare. It is best suited for those who can navigate the higher costs associated with its affluent lifestyle.

Interested in Hawthorn?

3. Cottesloe, Western Australia – Total Score: 87/100

Cottesloe Beach, image by David Eastwell

Cottesloe is celebrated for its stunning beaches and relaxed lifestyle but faces challenges with high property prices and limited public transport.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 9/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 10/10
  • Family Amenities: 9/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 10/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 5/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10
  • Retail and Dining: 10/10

Cottesloe, with its iconic beaches and laid-back vibe, is a dream for families who love the ocean and outdoor living. The suburb boasts some of the best parks and recreational spaces in the country, perfect for various family activities. Safety is a strong point, with low crime rates contributing to a secure living environment. The community is tightly-knit and actively involved in local events, adding to the suburb’s appeal.

The primary downside of Cottesloe is the high cost of real estate, reflecting its desirability and beachfront location. Additionally, public transport options are somewhat limited, which might be a concern for families without their own vehicles.

Cottesloe is an excellent choice for families who prioritise lifestyle and community atmosphere and are comfortable with higher living costs. It’s especially suited for those seeking a peaceful, scenic environment close to nature.

Interested in Cottesloe?

2. St Lucia, Queensland – Total Score: 90/100

St Lucia offers a blend of academic excellence and natural beauty but is challenged by busy traffic and a competitive housing market.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 10/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 8/10
  • Family Amenities: 10/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10
  • Retail and Dining: 9/10

St Lucia, known for its proximity to the University of Queensland, is a hub for academic and research excellence. This suburb offers some of the best educational opportunities in the country, making it ideal for families with a strong focus on education. Healthcare facilities are top-notch, and the suburb enjoys a vibrant community atmosphere with plenty of amenities. Parks and recreational areas are plentiful, offering diverse outdoor activities.

However, St Lucia’s popularity has led to a competitive housing market, with property prices being relatively high. Traffic congestion can be an issue, particularly during university semesters.

St Lucia is perfect for families who value education and a dynamic, intellectually stimulating environment. It’s well-suited for those involved in academia or who enjoy being part of a lively and educated community.

Interested in St Lucia?

1. North Adelaide, South Australia – Total Score: 91/100

North Terrace Adelaide, image by Andrew Shipway

North Adelaide is a blend of historic elegance and modern convenience, with challenges in parking and a premium on property prices.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Education Quality: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 10/10
  • Safety and Crime Rates: 9/10
  • Family Amenities: 10/10
  • Parks and Recreation: 10/10
  • Public Transport: 9/10
  • Housing Affordability: 5/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10
  • Retail and Dining: 9/10

North Adelaide, renowned for its beautiful parks, heritage buildings, and vibrant cultural scene, offers an unrivalled quality of life. The suburb boasts exceptional healthcare facilities and high-quality education options. It is well-known for its strong sense of community, with residents actively participating in local events and initiatives. The availability and quality of public transport are excellent, making commuting easy and convenient.

The main drawbacks of North Adelaide are the high property prices and limited parking, especially in the more popular areas. This can be a significant factor for families considering a move to the area.

North Adelaide is ideal for families seeking a balance of historical charm and modern amenities. It is particularly suited for those who value community engagement, top-tier healthcare, and educational facilities, and are willing to invest in a premium living experience.

Interested in North Adelaide?

How I Scored Each Suburb

In the following sections, you’ll discover the detailed criteria used to evaluate each suburb, learning what factors contributed to their scores and why these metrics are crucial for families seeking the best place to live in Australia.

Education Quality

Education Quality is a vital metric, reflecting the standard of schools in the suburb. A suburb scoring 1 would have limited educational facilities or schools with poor performance records. For instance, a suburb like Blackwater in Queensland, known more for its mining than its educational institutions, might score low in this category. In contrast, a suburb scoring 10 would boast a range of high-performing schools with excellent resources. A perfect example is Armidale in New South Wales, home to prestigious schools and a university, representing an ideal environment for educational growth.

Healthcare Facilities

Access to quality healthcare is essential for family well-being. A score of 1 in this category would be assigned to a suburb with minimal healthcare services, such as remote Birdsville in Queensland, where healthcare facilities are sparse. A suburb scoring 10, like Epworth in Victoria, would have state-of-the-art hospitals and a plethora of medical specialists, ensuring comprehensive healthcare for residents.

Safety and Crime Rates

Safety is a top priority for families. Suburbs with high crime rates or safety concerns, like Wilcannia in New South Wales, would score 1. On the other hand, suburbs known for their low crime rates and safe environment, such as St Ives in New South Wales, would score a perfect 10, offering peace of mind to families.

Family Amenities

Family amenities, such as playgrounds, libraries, and community centres, are critical for a suburb’s livability. A suburb with scarce amenities, like Warburton in Victoria, might score 1. In contrast, a suburb abounding with family-friendly facilities, like Castle Hill in New South Wales, offering numerous parks, sports complexes, and community activities, would score a 10.

Parks and Recreation

Access to parks and recreational facilities is essential for an active and healthy lifestyle. A suburb with little to no green spaces, such as Karratha in Western Australia, would score 1. A suburb like Kings Park in Western Australia, renowned for its expansive parks and recreational areas, would score 10, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities.

Public Transport

Efficient public transport is crucial for connectivity and ease of commuting. A suburb with poor transport links, like Newman in Western Australia, would score 1. On the flip side, a suburb with excellent public transport options, such as Chatswood in New South Wales, offering extensive train and bus networks, would score 10.

Housing Affordability

Affordable housing is key for families, especially those looking to purchase their first home. A suburb with exorbitant property prices, like Toorak in Victoria, might score 1 in terms of affordability. Conversely, a suburb offering reasonably priced homes, like Moe in Victoria, would score 10, making it an attractive option for families on a budget.

Employment Opportunities

A suburb with diverse and plentiful job opportunities scores higher. A place like Roxby Downs in South Australia, which is heavily reliant on a single industry, might score 1 due to limited employment diversity. A suburb like Parramatta in New South Wales, with its thriving business district and varied job opportunities, would score a 10.

Community Spirit

Community spirit enhances the living experience. A suburb with a lack of community events or a disconnected populace, such as Port Hedland in Western Australia, would score 1. A suburb with a strong sense of community, like Margaret River in Western Australia, known for its festivals and local engagement, would score 10.

Retail and Dining

The availability of retail and dining options adds to a suburb’s appeal. A suburb with limited shopping and dining, like Coober Pedy in South Australia, would score 1. A suburb like Surry Hills in New South Wales, which is a hub for diverse culinary and shopping experiences, would score 10.

Research: A Blend of Data and Local Insights

The process of identifying and ranking the best suburbs for families was not merely a desktop exercise; it involved an intricate blend of quantitative data analysis and qualitative insights gleaned from various sources. This approach was crucial to my well-rounded perspective and summation of each of the suburbs.

The quantitative data came from a range of reputable sources, including Australian government reports on crime rates, education performance statistics from the Department of Education, and healthcare facility assessments from each of the state Health Departments. Housing market trends and affordability indices were referenced from leading real estate websites, including Domain and RealEstate.com.au while employment data was sourced from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports. This data provided a solid foundation for the initial evaluation of each suburb.

However, to truly capture the essence of each location, local insights were paramount. I visited many of these suburbs in my report, engaging in conversations with residents, local business owners, and community leaders. This firsthand experience enriched the research with nuances that numbers alone could not convey. For instance, the vibrant community atmosphere in North Adelaide was palpable during my visit to the bustling Adelaide Farmers’ Market, where locals gathered not just to shop but to connect and socialise. The sense of community spirit in Margaret River was similarly evident during the town’s renowned food and wine festivals, where the entire community seemed to come together in celebration.

Cafes and restaurants often serve as the heart of a suburb’s social life. In St Lucia, the bustling cafes along Hawken Drive, brimming with students and families, illustrated the suburb’s vibrant and youthful vibe. In contrast, the quiet, family-friendly cafes in Brighton, Tasmania, such as the popular Driftwood Cafe, provided a glimpse into the laid-back lifestyle that the suburb offers. These social settings offered invaluable insights into the daily lives of residents and the local culture, which played a critical role in shaping the final rankings.

Online forums and community groups played a significant role in this research. Platforms like local Facebook groups, Reddit community threads, and forums on parenting websites, offered unfiltered insights into the daily experiences of residents.  These discussions often touched upon factors important to families, such as the quality of local schools, availability of childcare services, safety concerns, and the general friendliness and supportiveness of the community.

Conclusion

This comprehensive analysis of suburbs across Australia offers a diverse array of choices for families, each with its unique strengths and appeal. Here’s a recap of my top 10 suburbs, reflecting their total scores out of 100, based on the criteria that matter most to families:

  1. North Adelaide, South Australia – Score (91/100)
  2. St Lucia, Queensland –  Score (90/100)
  3. Cottesloe, Western Australia – Score (87/100)
  4. Hawthorn, Victoria – Score (85/100)
  5. Brighton, Tasmania – Score (82/100)
  6. Norwood, South Australia – Score (80/100)
  7. Toowoomba, Queensland – Score (78/100)
  8. Albury, New South Wales – Score (76/100)
  9. Fremantle, Western Australia – Score (74/100)
  10. Ballarat, Victoria – Score (72/100)

From the historic charm of North Adelaide to the beachside beauty of Cottesloe and the academic hub of St Lucia, each suburb offers a unique lifestyle, catering to a range of family needs and preferences. Whether you prioritise education, community spirit, healthcare, or affordability, this guide is designed to help you navigate the decision of finding the best suburb for your family.

Remember, finding the perfect family home in these suburbs can be a complex task, and utilising the expertise of a buyer’s agent can significantly ease this process. A professional residential buyer’s agent can provide tailored advice, local market knowledge, and dedicated support to help you find a suitable property that meets your family’s needs and aspirations. With their assistance, you can make a well-informed decision and find the ideal place to call home in one of Australia’s top suburbs for families.

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