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Moving to Cairns – Ray White’s Complete Guide (Tips and Tricks)

By Rhys Southern

Moving to Cairns

Cairns is a city in Australia, located in the North of Queensland. The city is considered a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and boasts a very tropical climate. Cairns also has a Tjapukai Indigenous History and Culture Centre, which tells the story of the indigenous Torres and Aboriginal people.

The Cairns Esplanade is full of restaurants and bars, and also comes with a beautiful lagoon. In the North-western region of the city, is the Daintree National Heritage park. The parks spans beaches, gorges and mountainous rainforests. This article will be discussing what to look for when moving to Cairns, the pro’s and cons of moving to Cairns and some other important information about this Far North Queensland hub.

Rush Hour

For a regional city, Cairns still gets peak traffic from the Southern Corridor and the Northern Beaches on weekday mornings. For newcomers considering on moving to Cairns, it is important to keep in mind if they do require to commute through the Cairns CBD for work.

Geography

Cairns is a large city and is quite spread out, it stretches from Palm Cove in the North to Edmonton in the South. It is important for newcomers to research places before visiting them in Cairns (such as gyms, schools, offices etc).

Transport

Typically, the transport in the city is done by car. However, buses are also available and regularly used by the local community. Having your own vehicle is more beneficial than relying on buses or public transport. There is no subway or metro infrastructure in Cairns.

Suburbs

The Northern beaches suburbs (Palm Cove south to Holloway’s Beach and minus Smithfield) are the only suburbs that reside on the beach.

Achieving a beachfront property on the south side is tough to do by foot, however, there are several Waterfront or Waterview properties available throughout Cairns.

Nightlife

The nightlife took a hit during COVID, but generally, Cairn’s nightlife is vibrant and active. Restaurants, nightclubs, and bars are dotted through the CBD. Suburbs like Trinity Beach and Palm Cove are popular for restaurants and cafes without the hustle and bustle.

Suburbs in Cairns

Near the heart of Cairns, you will find Freshwater, which is a residential suburb and offers excellent access to the International Airport, CBD, and the Northern Beaches.

The locals consider Freshwater one of the best suburbs in the city, as it features some of the best housing in the city. The suburb also has highly revered educational institutes such as a primary school and a college.

The suburb offers several restaurants, bars, and parks as well. While the CBD is typically a busy place, Freshwater is a calm and tranquil suburb, despite the fact that is located in the centre.

Edge Hill, is a suburb close to Freshwater, and here you will find the Botanical Gardens of Cairns. This beautiful suburb showcases some of the most beautiful horticultural marvels in the state of Queensland.

Edge Hill’s character is different from Freshwater and puts you right in the centre of the action. The suburb offers excellent nightlife, sports centres, and parks.

When you move towards the Northern parts of Cairns, you will eventually come across Kewarra Beach. Kewarra Beach removes you from the tourist destinations and shows you how is it like to live in Cairns for the locals.

This area provides several facilities, for growing families such as parks, quiet shops, childcare, and a beautiful section of beaches that is mostly uncrowded.

Now that we have discussed Cairns, let’s find out if it is worth living in Cairns:

Is it worth living in Cairns?

Cairns is a hotspot for tourism and people go there to spend their vacations. However, is it worth living in Cairns? What your reasons are for going to Cairns, you should consider the pros and cons given below:

Pros

Cairns is close to the Rainforests

If you love living in a big city but hate seeing a skyline of manmade buildings, then Cairns is a city you will enjoy. In Cairns, you will find everything you ever wanted, and you will be just minutes away from the lush green rainforests.

You can easily escape the busy city suburbs and get some fresh air in the surrounding natural parks.

Cairns has Great Beaches

There are a bunch of stunning beaches in Cairns:

  • Yorkeys Knob (15 min drive from CBD)
  • Machans Beach (15 min drive from CBD)
  • Trinity Beach (25 min drive from CBD)
  • Palm Cove (30 min drive from CBD)
  • Kewarra Beach (25 min drive from CBD)

Great Day Trip Opportunities

Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and several other nature and forest parks.

This gives people countless day trip opportunities. When you are not shopping in the city, you can go to different places such as Barron Falls or Walsh’s Pyramid.

Cons

Cairns is Humid

If you love warm weather all year round, then Cairns is your place. However, the humidity can become intolerable in the city, especially during the wet season.

While most places in Cairns have air-conditioning, if you don’t have a cooling system, expect to sweat.

If you are planning to move to Cairns then is it essential that you have an air conditioning system and shade at your place.

Traffic can be congested

The peak hour traffic in Cairns CBD can be bad, especially on the Bruce Highway. Congestion on the roads can often be seen during peak seasons such as school holidays. To reach the office on time, you will need to leave early.

Is it expensive to live in Cairns?

Cairns is the fourth most visited city in Australia behind Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. The main reason so many tourists visit Cairns City annually is because of the Great Barrier Reef. However, Cairns has also found a way to keep people coming back to the city.

Cairns has developed the perfect balance of traveller comforts and local charms, which offers a harmonious environment. However, how expensive is it to live in Cairns City? Let’s find out:

What is the monthly cost of Food?

Finding food that fits your appetite and budget is easy in Cairns City. Cafes with sweet pastries and coffee drinks exist in every corner of the city. The restaurant scene is bursting with top-rate International and local cuisine establishments.

Eating out without spending too much is possible. Sitting down at a place like Thi Thi Vietnamese in Cairns City will cost roughly 15 dollars for an entree and beverages.

You can also visit the Night markets on the Esplanade, where you fill find Asian hawkers selling delicious and fresh food for 10 dollars or less.

What is the monthly cost of Entertainment?

The cost of entertainment in Cairns varies significantly, and it often depends on what you like to do and the places you want to visit. Private tours and day trips will cost you about 180 dollars, depending on your chosen activity.

You can also catch a ferry at Fitzroy island for as little as 69 dollars and explore the surrounding area. Fitzroy Island is a four-square km island and also has an accessible tropical rainforest that covers almost 97 % of the island.

The island also has its own coral reef system, part of the Great Barrier Reef, and white sandy beaches. Cairns City also has the awarding-winning, Zoom Wildlife Dome. The entrance fee to the park will cost you 26 dollars and a variety of activities and experiences can be chosen once inside.

If nightlife is your vibe then for a good night out, you can visit several bars and clubs along the Cairns Esplanade.

This area is popular among backpackers and the best place to meet fellow travellers. Typically a beer costs 6 dollars, whereas a cocktail will cost you 13 dollars or more.

What is the monthly cost of Transport?

Travelling in Cairns can be difficult, however Sunbus, the local transport company, offers service throughout the city and stops at all the top spots.

A single trip from a zone can cost you 2.20 dollars, and a paper ticket, which is valid for two hours, can cost you 4.40 dollars. Your monthly bus travel bill will probably end up being 70 dollars.

The good news is, the cycling community is growing rapidly in the city, and there are many scenic pathways. There are many shops in Cairns city where you can rent a bicycle for 40 dollars or less/per week.

What is the monthly cost of Housing?

Since Cairns is a hotspot for tourists coming to Australia, finding a room to live in the city is relatively easy. There are several accommodations you can choose from, ranging from 11 dollars per bed in a hostel dorm to 609 dollars in a deluxe king suite at the gorgeous Green Island Resort off the coast of Cairns.

If you want to come to Cairns to work abroad, and want to stay in one place, you can rent a shared house or an apartment. The housing costs in Cairns are reasonable, and you can get an Air BNB or shared house from 650 dollars per month.

However, if you wish to rent an apartment, then you will need to pay at least 1200 dollars per month for a city centre location. However, apartments outside the city centre can cost from 900 dollars per month.

Renting vs Buying in Cairns

According to the data collected by Tropic Now, it is cheaper to buy a place to live in Cairns rather than rent one. Figures show that on average a homeowner must pay 28.5 % of his income to finance rent, compared to 27.4 % to service a mortgage.

In 2019, the median price for a house in Cairns was 409,000 dollars. The cost of a unit is considerably lower at 211,000 dollars. The median rent for houses is 420 dollars per week and 300 dollars per week for units.

Is Living in Cairns Good?

There is no doubt that lately, Queensland has seen an immigration boom. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, play, and work. Compared to other Australian states, Queensland was relatively lax in terms of social distancing restrictions and lockdowns.

Cairns is located roughly 1700 km from Brisbane and feels like a different city when compared to its southern counterparts. Cairns is armed with natural beauty and is a cultural melting pot. Right now, living in Cairns city is hot in demand.

As the 5th largest city in the state of Queensland, experts predict that the population of Cairns will soon reach 160,000. For the last eight years, the population growth rate in Cairns has been steady and increasing gradually.

However, why is living in Cairns good? We will tell you why, here are four reasons why living in Cairns city is the best decision:

Warm Weather

While the hot rain and humidity levels in the summer might not be everyone’s cup of tea, you cannot deny that one of the reasons for living in Cairns is heading over to the beach or waterfalls in the summer months.

Even in winters, the average temperature in Cairns is 27 degrees. If you can withstand the wet season, you will love living in Cairns.

Heaven for Nature Lovers

When you live in Cairns, you have access to several natural wonders, the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world, and the Great Barrier Reef.

While North Queensland is crocodile country so you need to be careful about where you swim, you can still explore the world-class flora, reefs, creek beaches, and waterfalls.

Cultural Melting Pot

More than 1/4 of Cairns’ population have both of their parents living overseas. The city has a wide variety of international students, migrants, and Indigenous Australians that call the city their home.

The cultural practices, food, and customs are extremely diverse. To find out how complex the area’s multiculturalism is, go to the inner city night market.

Relaxed Lifestyle

You can leave your heels at home and put on thongs when going out at night. It maybe is the hot and humid conditions, but life in Northern Queensland is a little bit slower and casual.

It is easier living in Cairns than in other Australian cities. It is also easier to make friends in Cairns every time you leave home.

Why is Cairns a Good Place to Live?

Now that we have discussed everything that Cairns has to offer, let’s discuss why Cairns is a good place to live and why you should migrate to the city:

Cairns is Sponsored by the Regional Migrate scheme

If you are a skilled worker and looking for a place to migrate to, then Cairns is the place for you. Under the migration scheme, the employers in Cairns can nominate you, as a skilled migrant, for a temporary or permanent visa. These visas are priority-processed, which means they will arrive earlier than other visas.

The James Cook University has a Campus in Cairns

James Cook University is among the highest-ranked tertiary institutions in the world. While the university offers several types of courses, it specialises in science. This university has been recognized for its research in environments, tropical ecology, biodiversity, and marine sciences.

The university is bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest helps along in the research. So if you are a science enthusiast, you should definitely enrol in the university.

Cairns is full of World Heritage Rainforests

Who needs the basic city view when you have beautiful rainforests? Just a fifteen-minute drive from Cairns you will come across the West tropics rainforest. If you are a nature lover and love to be immersed in nature, then there are plenty of spots for you to explore in Cairns.

If you don’t like hiking, then you can go take the Skyrail which goes all the way up to the forest’s canopy and enjoy the breath-taking views.

The Hot and Humid Tropical Weather Lasts all Year

If you are someone who hates the winter, then Cairns is just the place for you. Even in winters, the average temperature in Cairns is 22 -27 degrees. In fact, the temperature in Cairns has only dropped below 10 degrees twice.

So if you want to live in a tropical location where you can go for a swim all year round, Cairns is the place for you.

The Beautiful Beaches

The beaches are the highlight of Cairns, and it is this highlight that makes Cairns the beach city. In Cairns Esplanade, which is just off the city center, you can talk a walk along the Esplanade, have something to eat at a local cafe or you can swim in the manmade lagoon that overlooks the ocean.

If you take a drive 20 minutes north of Cairns, you will come across Trinity Beach, which is sheltered by a pair of headlands. This beach is not overcrowded like the Gold Coast for example, and is renowned for its calm and relaxing atmosphere.

If you want a beach with a bit more excitement, then you will need to take a short, ten-minute drive further north and you will reach Palm Cove. Here you will find Mini-Hawaii, a wide-open and large beach bordered by several palm trees. At Palm Clove, you will find several cafes and restaurants that offer fresh and delicious meals to appeal to exactly what you’re looking for.

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