Once we made the decision to go on our USA road trip, I’ve questioned whether it’s the right decision. Mostly because I love our lifestyle in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.
If you follow our life on the blog or social media, you’ve had a great insight into life in Burleigh, and it’s now possibly on your bucket list of places to visit, or possibly even live.
We travelled around Australia with eyes wide open to find a place for us to settle. There were many places we loved like Broome and Margaret River in Western Australia, and Bright in Victoria, but none of those checked off all the boxes.
So we can tell you that after 18 months of exploring Australia and living in several places in the country, and outside of them, that Burleigh and the Gold Coast is the best and the only place we’d choose to live in Australia.
We are in love with it, which is why I feel a little insane for wanting to leave it.
I’m writing this post while I’m in Denver, Colorado. Ten days back in the US has reaffirmed for me that, although I love my life on the Gold Coast, the US is where my soul most wants to be.
So I’m reflecting on my life in Burleigh and why I think the Gold Coast is a lot less the glitter strip you might imagine with retirees, schoolies and a lack of soul and much more a city full of rich gold.
The old Gold Coast
I never thought the Gold Coast would have been the place to live in Australia for me. In fact, I used to turn my nose up at it, despite Craig and I getting engaged in Coolangatta.
I felt the Gold Coast lacked a bit of depth, was more for retirees and schoolies and felt a little run down. So back in 07, we chose to live on the Sunshine Coast instead.
Most people equate the Gold Coast with Surfers Paradise, and Surfers has always felt too touristy and tacky with a 24/7 party scene that is way beyond our age (Although it has improved somewhat and does have a great ice cream store, and a few great restaurants and hotels like the QT.)
But, the Gold Coast is so much more than Surfers Paradise and has grown up tremendously over the past few years.
The Gold Coast moves from glitz to gold
Over the past six years, we’ve explored the Gold Coast more on short trips and began to see changes. We’d stay at the Southern end of the Gold Coast around Coolangatta and Rainbow Bay and fell in love with laidback lifestyle and surfing culture.
Burleigh was never on my radar, though – in fact, I used to feel that it was a bit drab and lacked something.
Until 2014 when on our road trip we stayed at the caravan park across the road from the beach in Burleigh. I saw the changes then – a growing community, a retro, vintage vibe and evolving cafe scene and one of the best family friendly beaches in Australia. No manufactured glitz, just home grown raw goodness.
When it came time to decide where to live in Australia, my inner voice spoke so clearly – Burleigh. It has everything that aligns with my soul.
It’s incredible how much a place can change – from boring to bountiful in just a few short years.
We’ve even seen huge evolution since living in on the Gold Coast in one year even. The cafe and restaurant scene is exploding, craft brew is on the rise, and the farmers market keeps getting better and better.
We have many people ask us why we chose Burleigh and the Gold Coast, after seeing the whole country. So I’ll share with you now more why we think it’s the most livable destination in Australia.
Why the Gold Coast is the best place to live in Australia
Family friendly and safe
I’ll keep this short and sweet as the rest of my points will tie into this.
The Gold Coast is a great place to live for families. I never feel unsafe, and my children have access to a wide variety of experiences, opportunities, plenty of activities and facilities, and a good-natured upbringing by the beach.
There’s not an ageing population on the Gold Coast as is commonly perceived by many people. The average age of those on the Gold Coast is 37. No wonder we feel so at home here!
Just for the record, y’all know I don’t have a great opinion of the education system, and it’s hard to impress me, but Kalyra’s school does. They’re focused on real learning, are very encouraging and supportive, they did not pressure her at all for this years’s NAPLAN test, and they do cool things like gardening, cooking, violin lessons, and night time art shows showcasing the children’s exceptional work.
Vibrant, active, outdoor lifestyle
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love to start my day meditating on my balcony and watching Burleigh come to life.
The Esplanade is packed at 5 am: walkers, runners, surfers, SUPpers, kayakers, boot campers, and those taking advantage of the free exercise stations.
On many mornings (or equally busy afternoons) we join them. This vibrant outdoor activity beckons you to embrace a fit and healthy lifestyle.
We decided not to own a car so we’d appreciate it more. We walk along the Esplanade almost every day to get to places. The girls often buzz around on their scooters and bikes, and I love that being so close to the beach and out in the sunshine, is a natural part of my day.
The council implement programs to encourage Gold Coast citizens to be fit and healthy. In fact, it is the largest active and healthy program run by a Council anywhere in Australia.
When we first moved to Burleigh, I would attend early morning boot camp on the Esplanade. They’re held three mornings a week and cost only $3 a class – and you WILL sweat, groan, and see results. My Mum often attends the free tai chi classes down at the beachfront, and there are often free, or cheap, yoga classes.
All along the beachfront are free BBQ’s and stations that even have hot water. The grass is well kept and constantly maintained to its lush green state. There are playgrounds for our girls every couple of hundred metres we walk along the Esplanade.
My mother in law and I often like to stand on our balcony and watch the boys working out the chin-up bars!
This past weekend, I competed in a mock Commonwealth Games event (which I’ll write more about later) and met many local Gold Coast professional athletes (some about to go to the Rio Olympics), and those in training at Griffith University.
All of them commented to me how the Gold Coast provided an optimal lifestyle to help them train.
The climate on the Gold Cost is almost perfect. It has enough rain to keep everything lush, but more than enough sunshine to keep you enjoying the great outdoors. And when it does storm, it’s so fantastic you can’t help but be impressed.
I’ve seen cyclonic waves roll in and take away half the beach, and I watched it all morning so in awe of the power of Mother Nature.
It has a cooler winter, but realistically, I wore a sweater/jumper about five times during winter last year. Summers are long and hot, but not so hot that I get bothered by it – again there are maybe just a handful of days I turn on the air con.
Kalyra took up surfing lessons during the past year. I’d get out in the surf with her to help, and even though I spent more time getting smashed about then assisting, I loved this time with her in the water and how being at one with the ocean helped to shape her.
One of my favourite things to do in Burleigh is a walk along the beach to Burleigh Point, otherwise known as Surfers Point. We pick up a coffee from Nook Espresso, a hole in the wall local’s favourite, and sit on the grassy hill to watch the surfers.
Surfers Point is also the place to be on a Sunday. The locals gather together bringing down their picnics and bottles of wine to hang out and watch the surfers. It’s super chilled, safe and friendly.
In March, one of my best friends scored tickets to the Corona tent at the Quiksilver Surf Pro at Snapper Rocks and dragged me along with her. Attending that event has been a bucket list dream of mine since I was a teenager. We had the best day ever, with the best seats and saw our favourite female surfer Stephanie Gilmore carve it up.
Gold Coast is home to many surfing world champs.
Mick Fanning is one and Kelly Slater (although American) has a home at Palm Beach, the next beach south of Burleigh. We’re yet to see either of them, but I have heard that pros are often found surfing Burleigh Point.
Incredible coastal walks and beauty
The walk between Greenmount Beach and Snapper Rocks and the Burleigh Headland coastal track are some of our favourite walks in Australia. They’re short and easy, yet pack in a lot of wow moments.
The beaches, particularly on the Southern end of the Gold Coast are beautiful.
One of our favourite things to do is walk around to Tallebudgera Creek, and either swim in the calm, family friendly beaches or Stand Up Paddle Board in the crystal clear waters. I think it’s one of Australia’s best-hidden gems.
The Gold Coast has many clear creeks, pristine beaches and rivers, hidden rock pools, and more canals than Venice. There is an abundance of water activities you can do. (You’ll learn more about the inland activities next)
The Broadwater north of Surfers Paradise has a fantastic playground for kids, a safe swimming beach, and activities to enjoy such as jet skiing, fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.
As I tell anyone when I give them tips on the Goldie – get down to Snapper Rocks for sunset, it’s my favourite on the East Coast.
There is something magical about sitting on those rocks, watching the surfers and their silhouettes against an orange glowing sky. I’ve often seen dolphins swimming around the point as well. There are walkers, unicycle riders, yogis, and all sorts of people watching to enjoy.
Head up to Rainbow Bay Surf Club for a sunset beer and cheap meal. The surf club maintains rustic seventies charm and with views out over the ocean and hinterland. For a moment, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a Hawaiian island.
Read More: 4 walks on the Gold Coast
Until two years ago I didn’t even know the hinterland existed. I thought it was just a mountain range in the distance. I can’t believe that ancient rainforests and mountain retreats are right on my doorstep. It’s untouched, timeless, spiritual and the place I love to go to disconnect and reconnect.
There are cute hinterland towns, adventurous activities, rainforest walks, enchanting forest, waterfalls, and spectacular views. Not to mention cooking classes, amazing fresh produce, cheese makers, and wineries.
You can escape from the blue and gold of the coast to the green of the hinterland in under an hour’s drive.
Emerging food and craft beer scene
The Gold Coast is taking off with the food scene. When we moved here, it was the only place I could get almond milk in my cappuccinos. I couldn’t even get it in Sydney (you can now).
Burleigh, in particular, seems to be on the pulse with current food trends. I can easily find gluten free, dairy free, sugar-free foods that taste great and are unique and interesting. New cafes are popping up all the time and places like Mermaid Beach, and Palm Beach are on the move for exciting eateries.
Many cafes like Commune, have a retro, eclectic vibe, and many have beautiful beach views, like Dbar on the NSW/QLD border. Justin Lane has an incredible rooftop bar in Burleigh and often has line ups to get in for their highly recommended pizzas.
Diners spill out onto the pavement of a weekend in Burleigh, and it buzzes. Fish House is noted as one of the best restaurants in Australia. We’ve not been yet but have heard the views and food is amazing.
Jupiter’s Casino has recently opened their latest restaurant, the Garden Kitchen & Bar, which we’ve visited several times in the last few months. The food is delicious as is the ambience with inside and outside seating, modern contemporary design and cascading foliage of the vertical garden walls. The outside space is fabulous for the kids to run around on and our girls enjoyed a game of croquet that was set out on the lawn for guests to play.
And food trucks are popping up everywhere from events to day and night-time markets, to festivals dedicated to feasting on their yummy and cheap fare.
The craft brew scene is also booming, with long-standing Burleigh Brewing, Balter Brewing in Currumbin, Black Hops Brewery in Burleigh and Fortitude Brewing Company in Mt Tamborine.
Access to amazing travel experiences
I love the location of the Gold Coast.
Just over the border are the NSW towns of Kingscliff and Byron Bay, in particular, the Byron Bay Hinterland. I have several friends who live in the region from Byron to Sunshine Coast, so I’m delighted I get to see them more often than ever before.
The Gold Coast has an international airport at Coolangatta. It’s an easy 15-minute Uber ride, or we jump on the express bus 777, which stops virtually outside our door. It’s effortless, and the airport is small, so it makes plane travel a lot easier with fewer lines and hassle.
We have spent some time over the past year exploring many areas of South East Queensland that are only a few hours’ drive away. We’ve been so impressed with all the places we’ve discovered – even amazing mountain retreats that get snow. Here are some of the incredible places we’ve discovered.
If you live on the Gold Coast, you are spoilt for easy getaway destinations. And it’s a beautiful place to return once your break is over.
Festivals, arts, and markets
Imagine going for your afternoon beach walk, finding a lot of people sitting on blankets at Burleigh Point with picnics and learning that Ben Lee is about to start playing!!
In case you don’t know, he’s a famous Australian musician with upbeat, groovy tunes and who I first saw play live when I was 19. I was over the moon and pulled up a patch of grass to sing along.
It was part of the Bleach Festival, whose aim is to connect the community with culture through an expression of music, theatre, dance, visual arts, outdoor events and much more.
The Gold Coast has an incredible amount of festivals, events and growing arts scene that have a casual street party vibe. Every year, Broadbeach also hosts the Country Festival and the Blues Festival, which we attended with the girls and loved.
We have not yet been to the Arts Centre but have many friends who attend musicals, cinema showings, and some of the festivals and events held there. It’s bringing a lot of culture to the Coast.
The Village Markets is one of my favourite places to visit every first and third Sunday of the month at Burleigh School. It’s a collaborative community of designers, artists, creatives, foodies and musicians providing a hip experience for those who come. There’s also other markets held along different beach fronts every weekend.
One of our favourite places to go to on a Friday or Saturday night is Miami Marketta – an outdoor nighttime gathering of food trucks and live music. We usually meet up with our friends, the kids all hang out eating lots of yummy food and dancing to music, and we can catch up in a relaxed, funky and safe place.
The newly opened Night Quarter Markets at the northern end of the Gold Coast at Helensvale have become a hugely popular and successful music venue and night market shopping area.
Every Sunday evening in James Park, Burleigh there is drum playing, fire throwing and one of the local stores brings down juggling balls, hula hoops and lots of fun things for the kids to play with.
Emerging entrepreneurial scene
We love living on the Gold Coast as we have many entrepreneurial friends doing amazing things with their own business. That means we have a lot of people who think like us we can connect to on a regular basis.
A lot of movers and shakers are moving to the Gold Coast as a place to run their business, and there is such a creative spirit and freedom here.
There are our Instagram superstar friends, Lauren Bath, Jewlzee and Gary Norris. Dan Norris is the founder of WP Curve and Black Hops Brewery, which has just opened up behind our house. The Merry Maker Sisters have just moved to the Gold Coast and transforming people into healthy, happy people.
These are just the people we know. There are many others creating their own products, services, and skin care lines. There’s a lot of fresh, creative energy here.
Alternative healthy living
Farmer’s markets abound.
I love that I get more of my produce now at my local farmer’s market (and organic at that) rather than Coles or Woolworths. I can walk to Burleigh farmer’s market, which I wrote about here, and it’s my favourite way to spend a Sunday morning.
They say that Byron Bay has a special healing energy, but I think that extends to Burleigh.
We have met some of the most amazing healers and alternative therapists on the Gold Coast. We regularly visit Matt, our chiropractor, Melanie our NLP therapist, Cheryl our chakra rebalancing and energy healer, Lani our kinesiologist and my good friend, Belinda Davidson, a white light healer who lives just on the border down in Tweed.
I love having access to this right in my hometown and is one of the major reasons I am so in love with Burleigh and the Gold Coast. Yep, my love for the US must be so damn strong for me to leave it behind.
And it’s only going to get better. With the Commonwealth Games set to be held here in 2018 and three Universities and research development, exciting growth and opportunities are on the rise.
Sigh. I must be crazy right?
The Gold Coast, especially Burleigh, has everything I ever wanted in a place I’d call home. Even though my eyes are set on a move elsewhere, it will always have a home in my heart – a large, soft chunk of it. And I’ll never stop telling people who wonderful it is.
This post was brought to you in partnership with City of Gold Coast
Be sure to check out More Gold Coast. They have a wealth of stories and information on Gold Coast lifestyle and things to see and do. It’s the resource we have used the most since living here to dive deeper into this region we love so much.