What is a regional area in Australia?

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘regional area’? Most likely, you imagine a small, sleepy town in the middle of nowhere with nothing fun to do. No exciting nightlife, no spectacular nature parks – in short, nothing to write home about.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about regional areas: What they are, and why they aren’t what you might have imagined.

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What is a regional area?

A regional area is any town, small city or area that falls beyond Australia’s major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Regional areas in Australia

Australian cities are classified into three categories:

Category 1

Major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Category 2

Cities and major regional centres of Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart.

Category 3

Regional centres and other regional areas.

While the regional definition is broken down into these three categories, the Australian Government offers regional incentives to individuals who migrate to areas classified as Category 2 or Category 3.

You can find a list of postcodes for designated regional areas here.

What are the benefits of studying in a regional area?

Thinking about pursuing your studies in a regional area? Great choice! There are several benefits of studying in a regional area in Australia, including:


When you live in a smaller city, your cost of living is much more affordable. Rent in urban areas such as Sydney and Melbourne tends to be very expensive, but it is noticeably lower in regional cities. Similarly, food and public transport costs are generally lower in regional areas of Australia, meaning you can enjoy your new home without doing damage to your savings.

Stronger sense of community

In smaller cities, it’s easier to meet and get to know the people around you, which leads to a more close-knit community feel. For instance, your class sizes at university will likely be smaller, giving you more opportunities to chat with your classmates and stand out to your professors. In regional areas, you won’t feel like just a number, but rather a valued member of the community.  

Balanced lifestyle

Australia is well-known for its easy-going, relaxed way of life. Popular everyday activities include going to the beach or taking walks along the coastline. While this can be hard to come by in the biggest, busiest cities, regional areas in Australia preserve and value this kind of lifestyle.

Universities, VET providers and colleges in regional Australia

Regional areas are home to a variety of post-secondary education providers, including universities, colleges, and TAFE institutions. Across these campuses, you’ll find a wide selection of specialty course offerings. For example, if you study in Adelaide’s Barossa Valley, you can pursue a winemaking degree. Similarly, TAFE campuses in South Australia all feature unique specialisation facilities. TAFE SA Adelaide houses a fashion design and manufacturing workshop, the Elizabeth Campus has an automotive workshop, and the Gilles Plain Campus includes a Veterinary and Applied Science Centre.

Regional visas in Australia

Studying in a regional area can set you on a path to permanently settling in Australia. There are a number of visas you can only get when you have lived and/or studied in a regional area, including Skilled Regional visas (subclass 489 and 887), the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491), and the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191).

Studying in a regional area will also grant you an additional five points on the points test issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for skilled migration visa and permanent residency applications. Additionally, after completing your studies, you will be eligible for the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which allows you to stay in Australia for two to five years post-study. Studying in a regional area will grant you an additional year or two on this visa.

What makes Adelaide a great regional area in Australia for study?

Renowned as one of Australia’s most liveable cities, Adelaide is known as the city designed for life. In fact, in 2021, Adelaide was ranked the third most liveable city in the world! One of the key factors that contributes to this reputation is its low cost of living. Adelaide is 14 per cent more affordable to live in than other major cities and boasts the lowest average rent in Australia. 

Another factor is Adelaide’s vibrant nightlife. From rooftop restaurants to decadent dessert bars, there’s no shortage of fun things to see and do in Adelaide. You can also check out any of Adelaide’s incredible dance floors if you need to shake off some stress from school.

Adelaide also has an excellent health and safety record. Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and holds a high standard of hygiene regulations for its food and water supply. It is safe to walk around the city at night, but you should still take normal precautions if you plan to do so. Adelaide also has a network of CCTV security cameras throughout the city, giving you extra reassurance that you will be safe no matter where you are.

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