Regional cities the place to be for families

The sedate Tasmanian city of Launceston is the country's most family-friendly place, according to new research.

The research that compared Australia's most populous 30 cities on indicators such as access to schools, health, childcare, income and housing, found the northern Tasmanian city easily came out on top.

Photos: Australia's family friendly cities

The lucky children who live there attend the least-crowded schools, according to the report by Suncorp Bank, while the city has a low-crime rate, affordable housing and good childcare services.

Half of the top 10 family-friendly cities were smaller regional centres - Victoria and New South Wales' top entry was the twin-cities of Albury-Wodonga, which did well on housing affordability, health and a sense of community.

INTERACTIVE MAP: See how your city ranked. Click each marker to learn more about the statistics that went into the rankings.


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Regional cities had a better balance of job opportunities, income, school sizes and lower crime rates, said Suncorp Bank head Craig Fenwick.

''They're certainly showing up our international hubs like Sydney and Melbourne, which fall short on many of these measures,'' Mr Fenwick said.

Rob Chippindall, 30, has lived in Melbourne and Sydney but moved back to his home town of Wodonga four years ago to raise his first child, Hannah, who is now three. He said Albury-Wodonga offered all the opportunities in the world for his daughter.

''I just thought, yeah, I may as well move back here and raise my daughter,'' he said.

''I loved it as a kid. It was good. Just playing with mates, down at the creek. We used to take our inflatable boat down there and float down the creek. I didn't really like the city and liked the smaller-type country towns.''

'WE'RE THE BEST': What the mayors have to say about their family-friendly cities.

Mayor Albert van Zetten, Launceston City Council:  “I was very pleased to (be) ranked number one, it’s something we have known here for quite some time. We have a low crime rate and great education from primary school through to university. We have low-cost housing and great community, cultural attractions and sporting facilities. Whatever you are into, there is something to do and all without the troubles that come with living in a big city.”

Mayor Alice Glachan, Albury City Council:  “We are making the best of city of city living (by) giving people all the benefits of a city but with none of those capital-city detractors. We have a beautiful city with a fantastic region and have a warm and welcoming community, which many people who come to work out here never want to leave.”

Mayor Steve Kons, Burnie City Council: “For a small regional city with a population of 20,000, we have excellent facilities and have made significant moves forward in the last two decades. We have a public hospital, an expanding university, a cheaper cost of living, good industry and job opportunities. But we also have a safety and peace of mind that a lot of larger cities don’t have, plus our traffic jams only set us back by two minutes.”

Mayor David Smith, City of Bunbury: "We have great sporting and recreational facilities, great education facilities, employment security and a strong and diverse economy. We go out of our way to keep the community involved and we make a special effort to reach out to those who are disadvantaged or affected by disability and include them in all aspects of our community.”

Mayor Rod Kendall, City of Wagga Wagga: “What gets Wagga Wagga and other regional cities ranked high is the 'roundness' you get in regional cities. They have all the services that you need but they are still small enough for a sense of community. Wagga is a great spot to live and a great place to raise kids. The community spirit shown in the face of the recent bushfires was incredible and shows the friendly and involved nature of the community.”

Mayor Paddi Creevey, City of Mandurah:  “We are close enough to metropolitan centres but still able to maintain that small town feel. We are blessed with beautiful environments for recreational activities and the council and the public work together to keep a strong sense of community.”

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, Wollongong City Council: “I think we should have been ranked higher. We are an easily accessed city, we have 17 patrolled beaches, some 400 parks, lots of recreational activities, excellent childcare services and great educational facilities. We do have high youth unemployment... however we are working towards improving this."

Deputy Lord Mayor Brad Luke, Newcastle City Council: “The ease of living is what makes Newcastle such a family friendly place. We have all the facilities a family would have in Sydney but without the traffic and other problems. You can be working nearly anywhere in Newcastle and it will only take you 20 minutes to get home. That's more time you get to spend with your family.”

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