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The complete guide for graduates moving to Melbourne

Jaymes Carr

Moving to Melbourne as a graduate offers exciting opportunities and a unique lifestyle. Make a smooth transition with our comprehensive guide for grads.

For seven straight years, from 2011 to 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey has identified Melbourne, a city of 4,900,000 in the south-eastern state of Victoria, as the most liveable city in the world. The survey takes into account stability, healthcare, culture and environment, entertainment, tourism, sport, education and infrastructure—all of which are outstanding in Victoria’s capital.

Melbourne is one of the fifteen Global Financial Centres. The city is often informally referred to as the ‘culture capital’ of Australia in recognition of its various achievements: Melbourne was the site of the worlds first ever feature film (The Story of the Ned Kelly Gang) and the birthplace of Australian impressionism, Australian contemporary dance, and Australian film. Today, Melbourne remains a powerful force in global arts, finance, and culture, and is also well-known for its street art, local music scene, and cafe culture.

Pros and cons of living in Melbourne

Pros

Cafes for days

It’s basically impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne, so it’s no surprise that several international publications have named it the cafe capital of the world. With more than 1,600 cafes and restaurants, and a new one opening every week, you’ll never need to go far in Melbourne for a terrific brunch or perfect espresso.

Melbourne hosts a range of major sporting events

Since hosting the Olympics in 1956, Melbourne has fiercely defended its reputation as the sporting capital of Australia. Today, it hosts several major international sporting events each year, including the Australian Open (a Grand Slam tennis tournament), the Melbourne Cup (the world’s richest two-mile horse race), the Australian Grand Prix (Formula One), and the Australian Masters (a major golf competition). Melbourne is also considered the Australian home of cricket and AFL, hosting both the annual AFL Grand Final and numerous cricket competitions.

There’s always plenty to do

As the cultural capital of Australia and a city with a bustling social scene, there’s never any shortage of things to do in Melbourne. Whether you’d like to enjoy a performance by a world-class local institution, like the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, or get involved with an annual event (for example, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival or the Melbourne Marathon), you won’t find it too hard to fill your schedule with exciting things to do.   

Extensive public transport

With 209 suburban train stations, numerous bus services, and the world’s largest tram network, the public transport system in Melbourne provides an affordable alternative to commuting via car within the CBD and surrounding suburbs. Of course, it’s not without problems, such as overcrowding on some lines due to the rapid growth of Melbourne’s population. However, recent and ongoing infrastructure projects, such as the 2018 completion of the Mernda rail extension promise to increase capacity and connect new areas of Melbourne to the public transport network.

Cons

The weather is great (until it’s freezing cold, or raining, or above 40°C)  

The climate of Melbourne is notoriously changeable (hence the classic Crowded House song ‘Four Seasons in One Day’). While winters are relatively mild (snow is rare and temperatures range from seven to fifteen degrees celsius), sudden cold fronts can cause heavy rain, sudden temperature drops, and severe weather, such as thunderstorms and hail. Summer averages a maximum temperature of 25°C but is punctuated by days of intense heat, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40°C.  

The high cost of living

In the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Melbourne ranked as the 58th most expensive city in the world. Not so bad, right? However, if you focus on specific expense categories, a clearer picture emerges of why Melbourne can be such a pricey place to live. For example, the 2018 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey found that, when it comes to accommodation, Melbourne is the fifth most expensive city in the world.

Melbourne is remote (from the rest of the world)

If you’re in London, you can travel to Paris in about two and a half hours. By comparison, if you’re in Melbourne, a two and a half hour trip will take you to Sydney, Auckland, or other domestic locations. Still determined to visit Paris? Get comfortable: you’ll be travelling for at least 23 hours, and as many as 42. There’s no getting around it—as great as Melbourne is, the city is also remote from the rest of the world, which can be a bit of a downer if you’re an avid traveller.

If you drive, you will eventually find yourself shouting at a tram that can’t hear you

Melbourne has the world’s most extensive tram network. However, 74% of Melbourne’s commuters drive to their primary occupation, while 35% of commuters in the city centre walk to work. At its best, the city’s transportation infrastructure works well, and everybody can get to work on time. At its worst… well, if you have the experience of being stuck behind a tram or nearly flattened by one, you’ll understand why seasoned Melbournians eventually develop unflappable patience and a sixth sense for approaching vehicles.  

You will be expected to love AFL

If you’re planning to move to Melbourne and you don’t know what AFL is, that’s okay: until, of course, you realise that everybody is talking about it all the time.  As many as four AFL matches are played each week in Melbourne, drawing around 40,000 spectators each. Some of the major teams include Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, and Western Bulldogs.

Rent and cost of living

In 2018, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey, which takes into account some 200 international expatriate destinations, ranked Melbourne as the 58th most expensive city in the world overall. Of course, the ranking shifts when you focus on specific expense categories: then you discover that Melbourne has some of the world’s most expensive rental accommodation, but comparatively affordable local meat and fresh produce.

How much is rent in Melbourne?

In March 2018, the median rent for metropolitan Melbourne rose to $420 overall, with the city’s most expensive area being inner Melbourne (median rent of $479 per week) and it's most affordable being southeastern Melbourne (median rent of $370 per week). In metropolitan Melbourne, the median price for a one-bedroom flat was $360 per week, while the median price of a four-bedroom house was $450 per week. Houses tend to be the dominant rental property type in outer metropolitan areas, whereas flats are more prevalent in areas closer to the centre of Melbourne.

Given the ongoing fluctuations in the Melbourne rental market, it’s a good idea to consult up-to-date information when considering your own move. The best place to start is with the Victorian state government’s Department of Health and Human Services, which publishes a quarterly rental report covering metropolitan and regional areas.

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