Life in Regional Areas of Australia: South Australia vs Northern Territory

Living in Australia is a dream of many people around the world. But have you heard of the regional areas of Australia? There are plenty of great reasons to choose to start a new life in this vibrant country with different options of visas that will depend on your objectives, nationality, age and profession.

A type of visa that is being pretty much on focus now is the Regional Skilled Visa, a provisional visa which requires holders to live and work in a regional area of Australia for some time and obtain the Australian Permanent Residence. The definition of Regional Australia will be simplified in November 2019 to include all of Australia except for the following metropolitan areas: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.

In order to distribute the migrant population outside Australia’s major cities, the national government has designed a new agreement to attract skilled migrants to regional areas across the country named DAMA (Designation Area Migration Agreements). The South Australia and Northern Territory regions have opened up their doors for migration and skilled overseas workers for sectors facing skill shortages.

Now, if you are interested in knowing better what the South Australia and the Northern Territory have to offer and maybe consider to live in these regions, check our review and comparison of each area and find out good info and opportunities to get moving!


With 1.7 million people, the South Australia State ranks fifth in population in the country with the majority of residents in Adelaide. Adelaide is the capital and biggest city there, full of culture, events and entertainment, home of historic buildings, abundant parklands and botanic gardens.
South Australia has an arid and semi-arid climate, perfect for grapes crops. More than half of Australia’s wines are produced in the South Australian wine regions including the famous Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. If you are a wine lover, this is your dreamy place!
Road trips and scenic drives are on the top of the list of this beautiful area. In the Coastal Way road trip you can cruise more than 700 km of coast, going surfing, fishing, camping and bushwalking till the jam-packed area of Yorke Peninsula. Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula are other great spots to surf with a number of breaks suitable for beginners through to advanced surfers.

Going to the Northern Territory, you will find very different scenery and weather.
It is sparsely populated, with only 246,700 inhabitants, and has both a tropical (in the North) and desert (in the Centre) climate. In the deserted area is located the two incredible natural rock formations of Australia, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are sacred to the local Aboriginal peoples and must-see spot. Don’t miss watching a sunrise or sunset of these intense red rocks with the surrounding desert landscape, absolutely breathtaking!
Another place renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites is Kakadu National park, with a protected area of flora, fauna, wildlife and stunning views.
Darwin is the capital and largest city of the Northern Territory, located very close to South East Asia and Indonesia (watch out surfers!) and with more job opportunities available. The two largest economic sectors are mining and tourism.

While South Australia delivers a relaxed and diverse lifestyle based on cosmopolitan culture, fantastic coastline and some of the world’s best wineries, the Northern Territory offers a unique way of life surrounded by its outstanding nature, hot weather and intense local culture.


South Australia is a great choice if you are willing to develop your career, build a business or raise your family. The state has been presenting economic growth over the last two decades and the forecast is still positive and optimistic for the next years.
The strong industries of South Australia’s economy are mining, energy, health services, manufacturing and agriculture, being ranked as a world-leading minerals & energy asset holder and a global food and wine exporter.
Do you want to know the greatest news? South Australia is opened and demands new skilled migrants to build a diverse and productive economy across a wide variety of industry sectors. You can find the high-demand professions listed on State Nominated Occupation List and check if you can be part of this skilled workforce. Occupations are chosen based on the current skill shortages and the likely demand for those skills in the future in the region.

The Northern Territory is abundant in natural resources and its economy is based on the sectors of mining, construction, manufacturing and public services. The mining industry production is dedicated to minerals, petroleum and energy, employing over 4,600 people. Tourism is also an important economic driver for the Northern Territory, including the sectors of accommodation, food services, culture and transport.
Despite being a remote area of Australia, the Northern Territory offers nomination for General Skilled Migration and programs for permanent residents and citizens who live in other states of the country. The occupations listed are the ones suffering from skills shortage in the area, you can find the complete list here.
Darwin, the tropical capital and the largest city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, is a good option to start a new life in the area and look for job vacancies.

Cost of Living

Expatistan is a platform that calculates the cost of living for any city in the world. It has ranked the main cities in Australia, from the most expensive to the least. The last ranking published in May 2019 is:

1. Sydney
2. Canberra
3. Melbourne
4. Darwin
5. Gold Coast
6. Brisbane
7. Cairns
8. Perth
9. Newcastle
10. Hobart
11. Adelaide

Numbeo is another source that provides the ‘basic costs of living’ per city to help you plan ahead.

As we can see, the average costs in Darwin are higher than in Adelaide. However, the monthly average salary in the Northern Territory capital is AUD $4,819, while in the South Australia capital is AUD $4,090, which makes everything proportional.

Now that you have got a general view of both regions, it will be easier to think about the possibility of going to the regional areas of Australia and maybe take advantage of the DAMA benefits provided by the Australian Government.

If this article inspired you to get to know better the chances available in the Northern Territory or South Australia, drop us a line at and we will assist you with visa advice, studies recommendations and much more.
Are you living in Regional Areas of Australia and want to share your experience? Please leave us a comment below!

We see you in Australia, mate!



Georgia Carajeleascov

A nature lover and curious at heart always looking for the next trip and cultures to see. A marketing specialist with digital and strategy skills, helping brands to develop their soul and presence.

Do you need help with your student visa?

Contact Puravida Study for advice.

enquire now