Living in Cairns | Discover the Perks of this Tropical City

Living in Cairns | Discover the Perks of this Tropical City

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Studying and working in Australia is a life-changing experience. The high quality of life, excellent schools, and a solid economy are attractions that thousands of world travelers fall in love with. If you are already planning your experience in the country, surely one of your big questions is where to live during your stay. Maybe you haven’t thought of this city so, now, we’d like to tell you why living in Cairns could be your best option.

Living in Cairns | All the Secrets of this Tropical City

Located in the extreme north of Queensland, this tropical city is located about 1,700 kilometers from the capital of this state, Brisbane. But, unlike the capital, here you’ll find a more relaxed atmosphere to live in, although it is still one of the greatest touristy centers of the country.

This situation is because the city is located in a privileged point, between the tropical forest and the Great Barrier Reef. Could this be the ideal place for you? Let’s find out!

Style and Quality of Life in Cairns

Quality of life

When looking for the ideal place to study and work in Australia, it may be that your adventurous soul prompts you to move away from the busy capitals, such as Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. Perhaps you want to have the great landscapes and exuberant wildlife close by, but without the bustle of these big cities. Cairns combines these possibilities and offers you much more.

As we anticipated, the geographical position of the city makes it >a magnet for millions of visitors each year. To maintain its attractiveness, the government invests in ensuring a high quality of life. You will see that in the quality of public services, clean streets, low pollution, and security.

Because it is a city with a tourist vocation, you will find a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for foreigners. Of course, you will not be short of a wide variety of green areas, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping centers.

Also, while living in Cairns, you will find the cultural life is very active. You will enjoy museums, concerts, shows, and festivals. Among the latter, you can’t miss the Cairns Festival in August, which combines local art, shows, parades, and fireworks.

And if you hate the formality of big cities, you are sure to immediately embrace the carefree and jovial lifestyle that characterizes the people of Cairns. Like them, you will go through life wearing the clothes that best suit you and visiting the places you like. Here the famous saying that characterizes the Aussies is fully experienced: “No worries, mate.”

Weather in Cairns

Weather in Cairns

If you are a fan of hot climates and sunny days, living in Cairns will be a delight for you. The average temperature ranges between 18 degrees Celsius (° C) in winter, and 31 ° C in summer. And the number of sunny days is nothing less than … 235! But, beware, each season has peculiarities:

  • Summer (December to February): It’s hot, humid, and sticky! Monsoon rains abound. With the high temperatures and solar radiation, some days are like entering a sauna and a tanning bed at the same time. Avoid going to the beaches! The dreaded sea wasps and other poisonous species flood the Australian coasts at this time.
  • Autumn (March to May). The dry season continues until the fall ends. So the climate remains warm with temperatures ranging from 20 to 29 ° C. Towards April, the heavy rains decrease, but there are strong winds until October. You still have to be careful at sea, but that doesn’t stop intrepid surfers.
  • Winter (June to August). The rains almost disappear, while thermometers oscillate between 17 and 26 degrees Celsius. The dry season begins. This means that the sea is safer and a more peaceful climate will cover the city… accompanied by a lot of tourists. Get ready for traffic!
  • Spring (September to November). The dry weather continues, but the humidity will regain ground. Temperatures will be between 20 and 29 ° C. At this time, you will witness the fantastic flowering of the jacarandas. And hope you don’t melt with cuteness as the baby koalas and kangaroos emerge from their mothers’ pouch.

Cost of Living in Cairns

Australian currency

As in all major cities in Australia, the high quality of life raises the cost of residing in Cairns. Tropical paradises are not cheap! However, here a salary of 350 AUD a week, which can be attained even in an unskilled position, will be enough to cover basic expenses and even leisure.

In this city the expenses of accommodation, food, basic services, and transportation amount to a monthly average of 1,400 AUD. So you will even have an extra to party on the weekend or escape to adventure. But, let’s see more detail about each expense:


    • Hostel – 90 AUD per night
    • Shared apartment (for 2) – 135 AUD per week
    • Homestay – 150 AUD per week
    • Individual apartment – 185 AUD per week
    • Costs vary depending on the city zone 

Food, services, and fun

  • Pantry– 80 AUD per week
  • Gas and electricity – 10 AUD per week (paid every 3 months)
  • Mobile phone and Internet – 15 AUD per week
  • Public transportation – 180 AUD per month (monthly pass)
  • >Going out on the weekend – 100 AUD
  • Kuranda Natural Park escapade – 150 AUD
  • Snorkeling on the Great Coral Reef – 180 AUD

These figures contrast, for example, with those of large capitals, such as Sydney and Melbourne. There the monthly cost of living can rise up to 1500 AUD. So the more bearable expenses are another point in favor of living in Cairns.

Working in Cairns

Living in Cairns means finding great jobs

Where to work to live in Cairns? Well, you will find a wide range of part-time jobs for foreign students. During the high season of tourism, there are many vacancies in these types of positions. So the answer to such a question will depend on your goals, your preparation, the conditions of your visa, and, of course, your attitude.

Types of Employment and Salaries

>The first option for most foreigners arriving in Cairns is to find a position in hospitality or tourism. Entering this industry is very attractive because money flows in abundance, especially when visitors arrive in droves. However, keep in mind that throughout the city you’ll also find the 10 most common student jobs in Australia. So do not close yourself to any possibilities.

To guide you on how much is paid in each type of job, here’s a list of the wages offered per hour in various job openings:

  • Waiter– 14 AUD per hour
  • Kitchen aid – 16 AUD per hour
  • Store clerk -18 AUD per hour
  • Barista – 20 AUD per hour
  • Barman – 25 AUD per hour
  • Cleaner – 18 AUD per hora>
  • Motorcycle delivery man – 20 AUD per hour
  • Childcarer – 26 AUD per hour

These figures vary according to factors such as your level of competence and experience in each sector. So don’t forget to consider becoming a professional in the sector that interests you the most if you want to get a better position or even extend your stay in Australia.

Steps for Getting a Job

One of the reasons Australia remains among the best countries to study and work abroad is that it allows you to combine them both. You earn knowledge, experience, and money at the same time! Sounds great, right? But, to access this great option when living in Cairns, as well as in any Aussie city, you must follow these basic steps.

Get the right visa

This requirement is fundamental! Your first option is the Student Visa. With it, you can take courses of more than three months and up to five years. It gives you access to the widest variety of English, vocational, undergraduate, and graduate programs. And, of course, it allows you to work up to 20 hours a week during school periods. But don’t worry because on vacation periods you can do it full time!

Another very popular option is theWork and Holiday Visa. This permit is very special because it is designed for you to vacation and work full time (40 hours a week).You will be able to earn more money to live your adventure to the fullest</strong! It lasts up to twelve months and you can extend it for a second and third year. Also, it gives you the possibility to take courses of up to four months.

The bad news is that getting it is more difficult because only a limited number is awarded each year. You must meet specific requirements, such as certifying a level of English and not having a criminal record. And we regret to tell you that you can only apply for it if you have a passport from select countries (check them outhere). If your country is not on the list, cheer up! In our article on the types of visas to go to Australia, you will surely find alternatives to make your dreams come true in the land of koalas.

Get your TFN or ABN

The TFN (Tax File Number) and the ABN (Australian Business Number) are equivalent to what in some countries we know as a taxpayer number. You must choose the one that suits your work situation, as you must pay taxes as a worker in Australia.

The TFN is a requirement that companies require offoreign students who enter to work with them part-time or full-time. On the other hand, if you opt for freelance or temporary job when living in Cairns, perhaps you might only need the ABN. But, do not be saddened by the money that the Australian treasury takes. You can also request a return for what they charge you for Goods and Services Taxes (GST).

Open a bank account

It is not mandatory to have a bank account to work on Aussie lands. However, doing so will make your life much easier. From the outset, you will be able to receive payments from your employer by immediate electronic transfer.

You will have a debit card to forget about the mess that is carrying cash. You can also save money securely while living in Cairns. We recommend that you have a spending account and a savings account. No piggy banks or saving under the mattress!

Improve your English level

Can you work in Cairns if you’re not an English master? Yes, but it will be harder for you to find a position, and your options will be limited. Remember that this is a city where thousands of Australian and foreign visitors arrive every week. So employers value the ability to communicate fluently in their national tongue, which so happens to be the most widely spoken in the world.

If you think you need to improve your skills, hurry and enroll in an intensive course the moment you arrive in this country. Learning English in Australia with native speakers and taking classes at the same time is the best way to become proficient in this language. Check out these options that we have ready for you!

Adjust your CV

As a preliminary step to looking for work in Cairns, you should make sure that your resume (CV) fits the style that Aussie employers are looking for. Leave that old-fashioned format with pages and pages full of data in the past. The Australian way dictates to keep it simple!

As in other Anglo countries, the CV is known as a resume and does not carry a photo. This implies that the document must be short and direct. Put your personal info at the head and make a statement of intent. Then, expose your skills and work experience. Sentences should be in an impersonal form. Go for a formal design.

How to Find a Job in Cairns

After completing the aforementioned steps comes one of the most feared parts for many: actually looking for a job. Even if you want to spend the whole day on the beach or sightseeing with friends, don’t forget that finding a job should be among your prioritie. So leave your fears behind and get to work.

With your CV ready in electronic format, you can start browsing job sites on the internet. One of the most popular in Australia is Gumtree, where you will find job offers in Cairns and almost every city in the country. You should also explore Indeed,SeekJobsearch and CareerOne.

In social networks, we recommend that you refine and update your information on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. On this last platform, you can join groups of foreigners looking for employment in Cairns. If you like, you can also pay to publish an ad offering your services.

Of course, you should not turn a cold shoulder on more traditional methods. Our Growers and Student Advisors assure us that >an infallible method to find a job in Aussie lands is going out on the streets and handing out CVs to companies and businesses.For more ideas, we recommend visiting centers to find job opportunities in Australia while you’re living in Cairns.

Accommodation to Live in Cairns

mny options of accommodation in Cairns

With what we’ve told you about living in Cairns, you’re probably already considering this beach town as your next destination. Maybe you have even explored some employment options that fit your profile. Very well! However, there is an important piece of advice given from traveler to traveler: do not rush to look for a room or apartment from home!

Based on our experiences and those of our Growers, arranging a rental in Australia from abroad is the worst decision. You expose yourself to misunderstandings, problems, and even scams. And you have no way to make sure that what you see in photos corresponds to reality.

Instead, we recommend that you book a hostel accommodation and stay there for the first few days. This is the safest option for you to explore the city in search of a shared flat or apartment that really suits your tastes and needs.

In Cairns, the so-called Backpackers and Bed and Breakfasters (those who stay in an accommodation that includes continental breakfast) abound. These places are ideal for a short stay and almost all have a pool. Prices range from AUD 80 to 90 per night.

Where to Live in Cairns

Once you settle into a hostel, don’t waste any more time finding a place to live in Cairns. You can choose to be close to the center, where the tourist, cultural and economic life of the city takes place. Or maybe you prefer to opt for the tranquility of the northern suburbs where you’ll be closer to nature.

Remember that, as in any modern city, rental prices increase as you get closer to the center. Thus, the cost of a single room in the center of Cairns is around 170 AUD per week. Meanwhile, renting a similar space in the northern suburbs will cost you an average of AUD 135 per week. But you don’t have to make the choice on your own, to help you decide, here are five of the best neighborhoods to live in this city.

Cairns North

From the international airport, take National Route 1, heading south, and arrive in Cairns North. The road turns into Sheridan Street, one of the main avenues in the city, lined with restaurants, bars, hostels, and apartment buildings.

If you choose to live here, you will be very close to the beaches and surrounded by green areas. Although take into account that prices increase as you get closer to the sea.

Edge Hill

Before we get downtown, let’s turn west on Greenslopes Street to Edge Hill. This neighborhood is perfect and it will be your best choice to live in Cairns if you are looking for outdoor exercise and contact with nature. As soon as you enter, you will find a large park with lakes and botanical gardens.

The atmosphere is relaxed and you can reach the heart of the city by bike, along the bay route, in less than 20 minutes. Can you imagine doing such a wonderful tour day by day?

Cairns City

Continuing south on Sheridan Street we come to the heart of Cairns. This area is the headquarters of the Central District of Business (CBD). It concentrates most of the hotels, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Hostels and student residences abound. It also houses major universities and schools.

If you don’t want to miss out on any important events in Cairns’s social and cultural life, you should definitely consider getting a place to rent here. But, as we warned you, you will also have to pay the price of being where everything interesting happens. Take into account the cost-benefit!


Is being close to parks and beaches not enough for your thirst for adventure? You may want to go even further from the center to find your ideal place to live in Cairns. The first option is 10 kilometers north, in the suburb of Freshwater, near the international airport.

Here you will find amore rural residential area, surrounded by the tropical forest. The environment is calm and safe. But the biggest attraction for lovers of physical activity is Mount Whitfield Park. On its slopes, you will find worthy challenges to your strength and endurance with four hiking trails.

The environment is calm and safe. But the biggest attraction for lovers of physical activity is Mount Whitfield Park. On its slopes, you will find worthy challenges to your strength and endurance with four hiking trails.


Even further north, 20 kilometers from the center, and at the door to the Australian rainforest, we find Smithfield. This suburb offers you a combination of closeness to nature and a student atmosphere.

The college campus in this area is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and a couple of student residences. These have cheaper prices than those in the city and the service is more careful. In addition, the regional park is very popular for mountain biking and hiking.

Best Areas to Go Out 

NIghtlife in Cairns

As you contemplate living in Cairns, you are sure to wonder where you can go for a walk, shop or party. Well, now we are going to see some of the best leisure areas in this city. Mainly, they are found in the center and in the northern suburbs.

In a coastal city, the first thing that comes to mind is finding a beach to take a dip. In the center, the most popular area for bathers is the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. It is an artificial lagoon facing the sea, with swimming pools and picnic areas.

If crowds are not your thing, we recommend going north by bike, to enjoy less crowded white sand beaches. Some of them are Machans and Holloways, 20 minutes away. Kewarra and Clifton are a 30 minute bike ride, but worth it. Just remember that in Australia you should always heed the warnings about local fauna.

Do you want to take a culinary tour? The center has the largest variety of cafes, ice cream parlors, bars and restaurants for you to try seafood dishes, grilled meats, Italian, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and much more.

If you feel like shopping, the ideal is to head from the center to the popular Smithfield shopping centers. And if you consider yourself a bargain hunter and expert bargainer, you can’t miss Cairns night markets. You read that right! The stalls are open every day from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Plans while Living in Cairns

Do you want to satisfy your hunger for adventure? Living in Cairns, you only have to travel a few miles west to explore the national parks and waterfalls in the dense tropical forest. Or you can go see the coral reefs, where you cannot miss the experience of diving and discovering the exuberant marine life.

A common plan is to go swimming at the beach in the morning, to avoid the crowds. Then go downtown for something to eat and visit the aquarium. From there you can go straight to spend the rest of the day exploring the Daintree Rainforest.

You also have the option of going to Kuranda city by cable car or train. Both means of transport are very popular because they go through the jungle. If you take the railroad, you can stop at Barron Falls.

On the other hand, if you want to discover the largest coral reef in the world, we suggest you take the boat to Green Island, 45 kilometers from Cairns, early.

At night, if you still have energy, you cannot miss the parties in the nightclubs, lounges, and bars of the financial district. To bring fire to the dance floor, you can dance from rock and roll to Latin rhythms. There are places for all tastes!

Interesting Places to Visit

Cairns and its surroundings are full of destinations for adventure, physical activity, and knowledge. We already told you what the usual leisure plans are. But indubitably, when you find out all you can see in this city, you will end up falling head over heels with it.

The first great attraction is, for sure, the Great Barrier Reef. It is a gigantic reef system that stretches 2,000 kilometers along the Queensland coast. Together, it is considered the largest living being on the planet.

To see this World Heritage Site, we suggest you travel to the Fitzroy or Green Islands. From either of the two, you will have multiple options to take a look at the marine fauna with snorkels or dive with a tank to appreciate it in detail.

On the outskirts of Cairns, another must-see is the Kuranda area, one of the access points to the great Australian jungle. As we said before, here are the terminals of the cable car and the tourist train. Without a doubt, the most popular part of this site is the gardens dedicated to the conservation of the koalas.

Going further north, just over an hour’s drive from Cairns, another rainforest experience awaits you in Daintree National Park. Here you will find the largest plant and animal reserve in Australia. Besides, it is an ideal destination for kayaking or hiking.

In the city, you cannot miss the Cairns Botanical Garden, the Cairns Zoom sports park, and the Regional Art Gallery.

Living in Cairns with GrowPro

Make your dreams come true with GrowpRo

Last but not least, there’s one aspect that will surely define whether you choose or rule out living in Cairns. To begin with, it must be said that the academic atmosphere here is more relaxed and jovial than in the great southern capitals. You will have access to the prestigious Australian education system, but there will always be time to put your books down for a while and go out and enjoy.

As for tertiary education, which in Australia includes technical and university training institutions, you will find a wide variety of courses for foreigners. The specialty of the house is related to the study and care of the environment.

Among the most recognized institutions are the James Cook University, with important research facilities on the tropics and marine life, as well as the TAFE (Technical and Further Education) campus, an organization with a presence throughout the country dedicated to providing technical training and job training; in this case, its certification courses for the hotel industry stand out.

After more than five years working with students from all over the world, here at GrowPro Experience we give them options to access the job force while also taking courses. That’s why we’ve carefully designed experiences that allow you to get the most out of your travels by combining both options.

So now that you know all the keys to living in Cairns, don’t hesitate to choose the ideal experience for you and fill out the form. Our Student Advisor team is always ready to give you a hand. By the way, don’t forget to keep an eye on the articles that we publish for you every week. Until next time!

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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