In view of major contemporary concerns about urban sprawl and related externalities, this article investigates the motivations of suburban residents for choosing this lifestyle, their level of satisfaction with a low-density, car-oriented environment, and their potential interest in embracing alternative living arrangements (i.e. compact urban settings). Interviews conducted in Brisbane, Australia, reveal that the suburban dream is still very alive. A number of factors, including life stage (i.e. the child-rearing stage), lifestyle (preference for ‘peace and quiet’), space (i.e. large home and garden), affordability (i.e. exorbitant house prices in the inner city), and tradition (i.e. the Australian Dream), negatively influence suburbanites’ intention to pursue urban living. A few factors, including accessibility and, to a lesser extent, environmental consciousness and amenity (i.e. lack of safety concerns in the inner city, public transport orientation, and the good quality of city schools), positively influence people’s interest in pursuing compact urban living. Overall, the results are discouraging in terms of Australia’s urban sustainability outlook.