Australia’s population density explained – FutureLearn

Here we explain Australia’s population density, why it matters, and the pros and cons of living in Australia’s major cities.

Australia's population density

Australia’s population density is an interesting. Given that the majority of the country’s population lives along the coast in largest cities in Australia, the total population density does not quite capture how dense the habitable areas actually are.

Here we explain Australia’s population density, why it matters and the pros and cons of living in Australia’s major cities.

What is Australia’s population density?

While Australia is the 6th largest nation in the world in terms of physical area, its population density is incredibly low. From June 2020, Australia’s population density is 3.3 people per square kilometer.

Compare that to a place like India that has one population density of 464 people per square kilometer or the United States with 36 people per square kilometer, it is easy to see that Australia’s population is spread out.

But i largest cities in Australia such as Sydney and Melbourne, population density is rising.

  • Melbourne’s inner city has Australia’s highest population density of 22,400 people per square kilometer
  • Potts Point and Pyrmont, both in Sydney’s inner city, have the second highest population density in Australia of 16,700 and 16,500 people per square kilometer, respectively

For a big city, these numbers are still relatively low. To put them in perspective, New York City has one population density of over 38,000 people per square kilometer.

Australia’s population density is low because most of the interior of the country is desert (also known as outback) and offers extremely difficult living conditions. So while Australia’s larger cities have population densities comparable to the rest of the Western world, when you take all the empty space in the middle into account, you get a low overall population density.

Why does population density in Australia matter?

That population density in Australia means something for the same reasons it is important in any country. Still, it is important to look at population density largest cities in Australia, not just the nation as a whole. It is also wise to consider migration rates in a given area.

For governments, homebuyers, investors and others, it is important to know how many people live in a particular area, as well as how many people move in or out.

Let’s review some of the specific reasons you may want to become familiar with Australia’s population density, no matter what Australian city you live in.

Reduction of green areas

As more people move into the cities, more homes are being built. This means that green areas are traded with multi-storey properties and houses.

While places like Brisbane in Queensland have suggested urban changes that would requires that apartment complexes provide a certain amount of greenery and garden area, it is undeniable that many natural landscapes are affected as population density increases.

To create more sustainable cities is therefore an essential consideration based on population density in Australia.

Concentration of jobs

Another reason to consider population density due to the concentration of jobs. If you are ambitious and want to pursue a specific career, places with a higher population density will likely offer more job opportunities.

Urban planning

Governments and councils must also understand population density to plan a city properly. It is important to know how many buses and trains are to run at any given time, how many police stations are required nearby, and when it is reasonable to build another grocery store or mall in an area.

Quality of life

For home buyers and renters, understanding population density can help when you have to make decisions about where you want to move. Some people enjoy the bustle of a densely populated city like Melbourne, while others love the vast open spaces you can get in the Australian bush.

Quality of life means something different to everyone, but it is certainly a factor that population density can help you get a feel for.

Urban sustainability

Australia’s population density is also important in terms of urban sustainability. Urban sustainability aims to create cities that are self-sufficient and less dependent on what the surrounding landscape uses sustainable construction efforts and implementation of greener urban planning.

Benefits of living in dense cities

If you are planning to live in a city in Australia with a high population density, you can expect benefits, including:

  • Access to the community
  • Events and lifestyle benefits
  • Public transport
  • Job opportunities

Access to the Community

When you live in a densely populated area, you have instant access to a community of people. Whether it’s in pursuit of your career, love or friendships, it’s easier to make connections in places with a higher population density.

However, some will say that while you can do more connections in denser cities, they are not always the deepest connections. So even though there may be many people around, it is just as easy to become lonely and isolated in a busy city.

Events and lifestyle perks

Places with high population density also tends to have several lifestyle benefits. Concerts are coming to town, events are going on and there is always something to do from museums to parks to restaurants and more.

Larger cities offer much more convenience to amenities and lifestyle benefits that you may not always get if you live in a remote area.

Public transport

It is also easier to get around when you live in a very close area. With more bus stops, train stations and taxis, larger cities generally have more to offer in terms of public transport. In addition, dense cities are usually also more walkable than remote areas.

In most cases, you do not need a vehicle to get around a densely populated area. Especially in a place like Melbourne, which offers some of the best public transport in the world, it makes city life easy and convenient.

Job opportunities

Traditionally, there are more job opportunities in densely populated areas. For example, many companies have their headquarters in places like Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.

However, this fringe ego may soon become obsolete with the advent of remote work. Still, in the next few years (at least), most job opportunities can be found in larger cities, especially when it comes to personal entry-level positions like barista roles and retail workers.

Disadvantages of living in dense cities

As with everything else, there are also disadvantages to living in cities with high population density. Again to determine the quality of life based on Australia’s population density often comes down to personal preferences. Still, the biggest disadvantages of living in dense cities include:

  • More pollution
  • Less autonomy
  • Expensive
  • Overcrowding

More pollution

One of the most obvious disadvantages of living in densely populated areas is the extra pollution of air, water and soil. While urban sustainability programs work to reduce pollution and improve the quality of the air and water in the big cities, it is still a disadvantage.

Less autonomy

High population density also means less autonomy. Generally, those who live in densely populated cities 9 to 5 work, wait for the train, shop what is available at their local grocery store, and have little to say in their daily lives.

On the contrary, when you live at a distance or in a community that operates at a slower pace, you tend to have more independence about the quality of your water and your food, as well as how you spend your time.


Another major disadvantage of living in inner city areas with a high population density is the cost. In terms of space, you can get a lot more for your money when you live in the bush or in a sparsely populated area.

Living in largest cities in Australia is incredibly expensive. Apartments can go for millions, while huge plots of land in the mountains can cost you around the same or less.

While the price of your unit in the city accounts for all the amenities and benefits of living in the middle of it all, the cost of living for some in a densely populated area is just not worth it.


High population density also often means overcrowding. While largest cities in Australia, have not near population density of extremely crowded areas like Mumbai, it is still a concern.

Therefore, urban sustainability will not only be a matter of creating environmentally friendly rules in modern cities, but it will also face the challenge of overcrowding.

Understanding Australia’s population density is the key to preventing overcrowding and getting systems in place to secure largest cities in Australia can handle any influx of people.

Last thoughts

All in all, understanding Australia’s population density in a given region is important for measuring the quality of life in that area. As more people flock to largest cities in Australia, it does not necessarily mean that the quality of life always increases.

Although there are both pros and cons to living in densely populated cities in Australia, urban sustainability projects and the recent increase in opportunities for teleworking can make the tide change in big cities like Melbourne and Sydney.

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