Expectations VS Reality: Canberra Edition
If we’ve met before, you’ll know I have an English accent. Born and bred in the English countryside, I moved from Bristol in the UK to Bondi in Sydney where I lived for 3 years.
Life near the beach is something most pommies expect when they move to Australia, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the sand and surf. So when the opportunity came to move to Canberra, I wasn’t sure if I would love it or live to regret it.
But having been here now for a number of years, I have to say – most of the rumours about Canberra are simply untrue.
We cop a lot of flak from people who’ve never lived here, despite being Australia’s national capital and topping Sydney and Melbourne as Lonely Planet’s third best city in the world to visit last year.
“Criminally overlooked, Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city.”
Travel expert Chris Zeiher from Lonely Planet
Canberra has far exceeded my expectations, so here are 5 myths I want to lay to rest here and now…
Myth 1: The weather is awful
I grew up in England (so I’m no stranger to the cold), but after living in Bondi I was naturally wary of Canberra and its reputation for cold weather.
But the reality is far from awful. Canberra boasts more sunny days than our adjoining capital cities, and while it may get cooler in the middle of the year, June is also our driest month.
It can feel a little frosty on the way to work, but by the time you go for lunch the sun is warm and shining – and you can be home by the fire before it gets too cold again.
In summer we have very low humidity, so while you’ll sweat it up in Sydney or Brisbane on a 35 degree day, it feels relatively mild in Canberra.
Not the mention we actually get to enjoy all 4 seasons, including a beautiful spring and winter, which you really grow to love when you live here.
Myth 2: It’s boring
As the home of federal parliament, people often believe Canberra is political and dull. Perhaps they came here on a weekday for business, and it looked like nothing was open. Or they came here a decade ago and think nothing’s changed.
It has though – and we’re being recognised globally for it. We’re second in the country for the highest number of restaurants per person, and produce some of Australia’s best cool climate wines and fresh produce.
Canberrans value local too, so it’s easy to dine out and find lots of great gems; from trendy cafes and bars to boutique beer and chocolate brands. You just have to know where to go!
We have a high population of young people because of our universities, and Canberra households earn an average $1000 a week more than the national average.
Both factors equal lots of people out and about on all nights of the week…with plenty of places to cater for it!
Myth 3: It’s hard to get around
Compared to other cities, Canberra has fantastic infrastructure. It takes roughly 20 minutes to get anywhere you want to go – with more roundabouts than traffic lights and wide lanes with an average 80km/hr speed limit.
What other capital city can you drive to work and park out front or nearby, and pay a small price for parking? Grant it I’ve noticed an increase in the past few years, but our burgeoning public transport system is helping to make up for it.
In Sydney I would leave for work at 6:30am. If I had footy training after work I wouldn’t even bother going home as it would take too long to get there. So by the time I got home on those days, it was close to 10:30pm.
In Canberra I leave around 8am to be at work by 8:30am. I go home and relax before training, and after it, I’m home in less than 15 minutes. It makes a huge difference to quality of life.
Myth 4: Canberra’s not inclusive
People often assume big cities are culturally diverse and small cities aren’t.
When you live here, diversity isn’t just accepted – it’s expected. Many people live in Canberra because they’ve come here for work (or a better life), so everyone is used to welcoming new faces.
Unlike other cities, there are no silos in Canberra with suburban pockets for different races, wages, ages, or any other socio-economic divider. We all live together across all of Canberra, and respect each other.
I didn’t have many friends outside work when I first moved here. But I joined the local footy team and met people who’ve become great friends over the years. If you don’t play sport, Canberra is full of groups and networking activities that make it easy to meet likeminded people who may become friends for life.
Myth 5: It’s in the middle of nowhere
When you live here, you quickly realise Canberra is lucky enough to be in the middle of everywhere.
We’re just a few hours’ drive from 2 major cities, the glistening South Coast beaches, the snowy mountains, and the ski fields. If you don’t want to drive far, we’ve got rowing, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, and more at Lake Burley Griffin.
Or, drive 30 minutes out to the Cotter or Tidbinbilla and go for a bush walk!