The 10 Best Suburbs to Live in CAIRNS: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

Identifying the best suburbs in Cairns is no easy task, as each suburb has its unique charm and challenges. Making the wrong choice could lead to issues such as lack of local amenities, poor transport connections, or limited community engagement. My research, has drawn from a range of authoritative sources and personal insights as a residential real estate professional, offers you a trustworthy guide through the suburban landscapes of Cairns, Queensland.

10. Yorkeys Knob – Total Score: 67/100

Yorkeys Knob, a coastal suburb, offers a mix of serene beachside living and some urban challenges.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 8/10
  • Schools and Education: 6/10
  • Local Amenities: 7/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 5/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Community Engagement: 6/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 6/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Yorkeys Knob, a hidden gem, boasts of an idyllic beach setting that is a haven for kite surfers and beach lovers, as seen in the recent “Cairns Beach Festival”. The suburb has a growing number of cafes and shops, enhancing its local amenities. The housing market here offers a range of options, from affordable units to beachfront homes, attracting diverse residents. The community spirit is bolstered by events like the annual “Yorkeys Knob Community Fair”.

However, Yorkeys Knob is not without its drawbacks. The crime rate, although not exceedingly high, has seen a slight uptick as reported by the “Cairns Post”. Public transport options are somewhat limited, making it a challenge for those without private vehicles. Additionally, while there are some local healthcare facilities, more complex medical needs require travel to central Cairns.

In conclusion, Yorkeys Knob is ideal for those seeking a laid-back, beachside lifestyle, particularly suited for retirees or families who enjoy outdoor activities. However, those heavily reliant on public transport or requiring frequent, specialized medical care may need to consider these limitations.

9. Kewarra Beach – Total Score: 70/100

Kewarra Beach combines the allure of coastal living with some urban conveniences, yet has room for improvement in certain aspects.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Schools and Education: 7/10
  • Local Amenities: 6/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 5/10
  • Public Transport: 5/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 6/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Kewarra Beach is a picturesque locale, with its pristine beach often featured in tourism brochures. The local schools, such as Kewarra Beach State School, are well-regarded, providing quality education. The suburb has a growing range of amenities, including quaint cafes and local shops. Additionally, the area is known for its tight-knit community, often hosting local events and beach clean-ups.

However, residents have expressed concerns about the increasing crime rate, a trend highlighted in recent local news reports. The public transport system is somewhat lacking, making commuting challenging for those without cars. Additionally, while there are basic healthcare services, residents often travel to nearby suburbs for more specialised care.

Kewarra Beach is best suited for families and individuals who prioritise a beach lifestyle and community feel but can manage with limited public transport and healthcare facilities.

8. Trinity Beach – Total Score: 72/100

Trinity Beach, known for its scenic coastline, offers a balanced suburban experience but faces challenges in certain areas.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Schools and Education: 7/10
  • Local Amenities: 7/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 6/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 5/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Trinity Beach is renowned for its stunning beach, a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The area boasts several reputable schools and a range of amenities, including local markets and dining options. Community engagement is high, with events like the Trinity Beach Fair drawing crowds. Employment opportunities have been on the rise, particularly in the hospitality sector.

On the downside, the suburb has seen some safety concerns, with a slight increase in petty crimes reported by the “Cairns Regional Council”. Public transport services are adequate but not extensive, and the healthcare facilities in the area are basic, requiring residents to travel for more specialized services.

Trinity Beach is ideal for those who value a strong sense of community and beachside living but may not be the best fit for those seeking extensive public transport options or immediate access to specialised healthcare facilities.

7. Edge Hill – Total Score: 75/100

Edge Hill offers a blend of urban convenience and natural beauty, with certain areas needing attention.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 7/10
  • Schools and Education: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 8/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 7/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Recreational Activities: 9/10

Edge Hill is a suburb that strikes a fine balance between urban living and proximity to nature, as evidenced by the popular Botanic Gardens. The suburb boasts excellent schools, with Edge Hill State School being a standout. Local amenities are plentiful, including a range of cafes and boutique shops. Community engagement is strong in Edge Hill, with frequent local events and initiatives.

However, housing affordability is becoming a concern, with prices rising due to its popularity, as reported by the “Cairns Property Market Review”. Public transport options are available but not as comprehensive as in more central suburbs. Additionally, while crime rates are relatively low, there have been occasional reports of petty crimes.

Edge Hill is most suitable for families and professionals who value a mix of nature and urban amenities but are comfortable with moderate public transport options and the current housing market prices.

6. Redlynch – Total Score: 78/100

Redlynch, nestled amidst breathtaking mountainous landscapes and offering a harmonious blend of suburban amenities and natural beauty, presents a captivating living experience.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Schools and Education: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 8/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 5/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 7/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Recreational Activities: 9/10

Redlynch is known for its stunning mountainous backdrop and lush greenery. The suburb has reputable educational institutions, such as Redlynch State College, making it a favorable choice for families. Local amenities are satisfactory, with a range of shops and eateries. Community engagement is high, with various local events and activities fostering a strong sense of community.

On the downside, Redlynch is somewhat lacking in public transport, making commuting to other parts of Cairns a challenge for those without private vehicles. While the area is generally safe, there have been sporadic incidents of low-level crime. Housing prices are relatively affordable but have been on the rise.

Redlynch is ideally suited for families and nature lovers who are looking for a peaceful suburban life with a strong community feel but can manage with limited public transport and night life options.

5. Freshwater – Total Score: 80/100

Freshwater, with its lush environment and charming character, excels in many aspects but has areas for improvement.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Schools and Education: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 7/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Community Engagement: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Freshwater is a picturesque suburb, known for its leafy streets and heritage charm. It hosts some of Cairns’ best educational facilities, including Freshwater State School. The suburb’s local amenities are growing, with quaint cafes and boutique stores. Community engagement is a standout feature, with events like the Freshwater Festival drawing locals together.

The suburb’s main drawbacks are in housing affordability, where prices have been steadily increasing, and public transport, which is less frequent compared to more central areas. While it boasts a low crime rate, there are occasional reports of petty thefts and vandalism.

Freshwater is ideal for families and individuals who appreciate a close-knit community atmosphere and natural beauty but can manage with the housing prices and the public transport limitations.

4. Brinsmead – Total Score: 82/100

Brinsmead offers a harmonious blend of suburban living and natural surroundings, though not without its shortcomings.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Schools and Education: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 7/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 6/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Community Engagement: 8/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 7/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Brinsmead is known for its scenic hills and ample green spaces. The suburb features some of the best schools in Cairns, such as Brinsmead Primary School, making it a top choice for families. It offers good local amenities, including parks and shopping centers. Employment opportunities have been on the rise, particularly in the small business sector.

However, Brinsmead faces challenges in public transport, with limited routes and frequencies. Housing affordability is moderate, but the demand for properties in this attractive suburb has led to a steady increase in prices. Safety is generally good, but like many suburbs, it experiences occasional petty crimes.

Brinsmead is most suitable for families and professionals who seek a balance of nature, good education, and suburban comfort, but are willing to compromise on public transport options and rising housing costs.

3. Palm Cove – Total Score: 85/100

Palm Cove, known for its picturesque beachfront and relaxed lifestyle, excels in many areas but has its limitations.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Schools and Education: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 8/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Housing Affordability: 6/10
  • Community Engagement: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Palm Cove, with its stunning beach and palm-lined esplanade, is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. The suburb offers quality education options and a variety of local amenities, including upscale restaurants and boutique shops. The sense of community is strong, evidenced by events like the Palm Cove Markets.

The main issues in Palm Cove are housing affordability, with property prices being quite high due to its popularity and desirability. Public transport is available but not as comprehensive as in the city center. Safety is generally good, though there are rare instances of minor crimes.

Palm Cove is best suited for those who value a beachside lifestyle and are looking for a community-oriented suburb. It’s ideal for retirees and professionals but less so for those on a tight budget.

2. Whitfield – Total Score: 88/100

Whitfield stands out as a suburb that balances urban amenities with a serene environment, though it has its share of challenges.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 9/10
  • Schools and Education: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 10/10
  • Public Transport: 7/10
  • Housing Affordability: 7/10
  • Community Engagement: 9/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Whitfield is a highly sought-after suburb, known for its tree-lined streets and heritage homes. It boasts some of Cairns’ most reputable schools, like Whitfield State School, making it a top choice for families. The suburb features excellent healthcare facilities and a variety of local amenities, including cafes and shops. Community engagement is strong, with regular neighbourhood events and activities.

One of the main drawbacks of Whitfield is the rising cost of housing, which might be a concern for some buyers. While public transport is available, it is less frequent than in more central areas. Safety is a strong point, with low crime rates and a strong community watch presence.

Whitfield is ideal for families and professionals who are looking for a balance of quality lifestyle, good education, and strong community bonds, but who are also in a position to afford the higher property prices.

1. Cairns North – Total Score: 92/100

Cairns North excels as the top suburb in Cairns, offering a mix of urban convenience and natural beauty, with minimal drawbacks.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Natural Beauty: 10/10
  • Schools and Education: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety and Crime Rate: 9/10
  • Public Transport: 8/10
  • Housing Affordability: 8/10
  • Community Engagement: 10/10
  • Healthcare Facilities: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 10/10
  • Recreational Activities: 10/10

Cairns North is an ideal suburb for those seeking the perfect balance between a vibrant urban life and tranquil nature. It’s close to the city center, yet far enough to offer a peaceful living environment. The suburb boasts excellent schools, robust healthcare facilities, and a plethora of local amenities, including diverse dining and shopping options. Employment opportunities are abundant, particularly in the healthcare and hospitality sectors.

While Cairns North is quite safe, like any urban area, it experiences occasional petty crimes. Housing affordability is better than in some other high-demand suburbs, offering a range of options for different budgets. Public transport is more accessible here, making it easier for residents to commute.

Cairns North is the top recommendation for a wide range of residents, from families to young professionals, who are looking for a suburb that combines the best of Cairns in terms of lifestyle, amenities, and community atmosphere.

How I Scored Each Suburb

In this section, you will discover how each suburb was meticulously scored across various criteria, helping to determine their ranking in our top 10 list.

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty is a measure of the aesthetic appeal of each suburb, including its landscapes, parks, and overall cleanliness. This criterion is vital as it contributes significantly to the quality of life and well-being of residents. A suburb scoring 1 in this area might be heavily industrialised with minimal green spaces, like Woree. Conversely, a suburb that scores 10 would be one with stunning landscapes and well-maintained public spaces, such as Trinity Beach, known for its picturesque coastline.

Schools and Education

Schools and Education assess the quality and accessibility of educational institutions within the suburb. This is crucial for families with children, impacting long-term living decisions. A score of 1 would be attributed to a suburb with limited or poorly-rated educational facilities, such as Manoora. On the other hand, a score of 10 would go to a suburb with a range of highly-rated schools, offering diverse educational opportunities, like Whitfield.

Local Amenities

Local Amenities evaluates the availability and quality of local facilities like shops, cafes, and restaurants. This aspect greatly influences daily convenience and lifestyle satisfaction. A suburb scoring 1 might have very few amenities, requiring residents to travel out for most needs, such as Edmonton. In contrast, a suburb like Cairns North, scoring 10, would boast a vibrant mix of amenities catering to all daily needs and lifestyles.

Safety and Crime Rate

Safety and Crime Rate focuses on the level of safety in the suburb, considering crime rates and community perceptions of safety. Safety is paramount for resident peace of mind. A suburb with a score of 1 would have a high crime rate and poor community sentiment regarding safety, like Westcourt. A score of 10 would be given to a suburb with very low crime rates and a strong sense of community safety, such as Whitfield.

Public Transport

Public Transport looks at the availability and efficiency of public transportation options. This is essential for connectivity and accessibility, particularly for those who don’t drive. A suburb like Bungalow, scoring 1, would have limited or inefficient public transport. A suburb scoring 10, like Cairns North, would have diverse, reliable, and frequent public transportation options.

Housing Affordability

Housing Affordability considers the cost of living in the suburb, particularly in terms of housing prices. Affordability is key to ensuring a suburb is accessible to a diverse range of residents. A score of 1 would be assigned to an area with prohibitively expensive housing, like Clifton Beach. A suburb scoring 10 would offer a range of affordable housing options, making it accessible to a wider demographic, such as Manunda.

Community Engagement

Community Engagement assesses the level of community involvement and the presence of local events and initiatives. A strong community enhances the living experience. A suburb scoring 1 in this category might have a low sense of community or few communal activities, such as Portsmith. A suburb like Edge Hill, scoring 10, would have a vibrant community with regular events and active resident participation.

Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare Facilities rates the availability and quality of healthcare services within the suburb. This is crucial for residents’ health and well-being. A suburb like Bentley Park, scoring 1, might have limited healthcare services, requiring residents to travel for medical needs. A suburb scoring 10, such as Cairns North, would have a range of accessible, high-quality healthcare facilities.

Employment Opportunities

Employment Opportunities evaluates the availability of job options within or near the suburb. Employment prospects are essential for the economic well-being of residents. A suburb scoring 1, like Machans Beach, might have limited employment options, requiring longer commutes. A suburb scoring 10, such as Cairns City, would offer diverse and plentiful employment opportunities.

Recreational Activities

Recreational Activities considers the availability of leisure and recreational options, such as parks, sports facilities, and cultural venues. This aspect is vital for the overall lifestyle and enjoyment of residents. A suburb scoring 1 might have minimal recreational facilities, like Kanimbla. In contrast, a suburb like Palm Cove, scoring 10, would offer a plethora of recreational activities, from beachfront walks to local arts events.

My Research: Combining Stat with Community Perspectives

The journey to compile this list of Cairn’s best suburbs has been an intricate blend of quantitative data and qualitative local insights. My approach was multifaceted, ensuring a comprehensive and relatable analysis for potential residents. I combined statistical data with these local insights, ensuring a balanced and relatable perspective. Each suburb was scored on the ten criteria based on this comprehensive research, reflecting both the numerical data and the qualitative experiences gathered from each location. 

I engaged with a variety of physical locations across Cairns, spending time in each suburb. This hands-on approach allowed me to observe firsthand the nuances of each area – from the bustling streets of Cairns North to the tranquil beachfront of Palm Cove. I visited local landmarks, such as the Cairns Botanic Gardens in Edge Hill and the Redlynch Central Shopping Centre, to gauge the amenity offerings and community vibe.

In addition to on-ground exploration, I delved into a wealth of research materials. This included data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for objective measures like crime rates and employment opportunities. Local news articles, particularly from the ‘Cairns Post‘, provided up-to-date information on community events and local developments. I also referenced real estate market reports for insights into housing affordability trends in each suburb, checking this detail against real estate databases like Domain and RealEstate.com.au. .

The local flavour of Cairns was a crucial aspect of my research. I visited popular cafes and restaurants to understand the lifestyle offerings in each suburb. For instance, the charming Collins Avenue café in Edge Hill and the iconic Beach Almond Beach House in Palm Cove gave me a taste of the local culinary scene. These visits helped me to comprehend the lifestyle quality and community engagement in these areas.

In Conclusion

In my exploration of Cairns’ suburbs, I’ve uncovered a diverse array of living options, each with its unique qualities and characteristics. Here’s a summary of my top 10 suburbs recommendations for Cairns, reflecting the distinct features of each unique suburb:

  1. Cairns North – Score (92/100)
  2. Whitfield – Score (88/100)
  3. Palm Cove – Score (85/100)
  4. Brinsmead – Score (82/100)
  5. Freshwater – Score (80/100)
  6. Redlynch – Score (78/100)
  7. Edge Hill – Score (75/100)
  8. Trinity Beach – Score (72/100)
  9. Kewarra Beach – Score (70/100)
  10. Yorkeys Knob – Score (67/100)

Each suburb has been carefully analysed and scored based on a range of criteria to provide you with a comprehensive guide to the best living options in Cairns. Remember, choosing the right suburb is crucial to enjoying your life in this beautiful region.

If you’re in the process of finding the perfect place to call home in Cairns, a professional residential buyer’s agent can be an invaluable resource. They provide expert advice, deep local knowledge, and can guide you through the complexities of the real estate market. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant life of Cairns North or the tranquil shores of Palm Cove, a buyer’s agent can help you find a home that aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and needs in one of these top Cairns suburbs.


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