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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to the website Expatistan, which aggregates average prices in world cities, a basic lunch in Melbourne will set you back AU$17; a dozen eggs is $6, two litres of Coca-Cola is $3.20, two movie tickets is $38, a one-month gym membership in the CBD is $77, and a month of public transport tickets is around $143. You can compare the price of everyday items (according to the 2018 Mercer survey) in Melbourne, the USA, and China by following the links on this Victorian government website.
From the street art and general bohemianism of Fitzroy and Carlton to the $20 million mansions of Toorak, Melbourne offers newcomers a range of options when it comes to their home address. You can learn more about the suburbs of the Melbourne CBD on their website maintained by the City of Melbourne council.
For a broader interactive map of metropolitan Melbourne, visit the Victorian government’s ‘Live in Melbourne’ website here (if you would like to maintain a strong connection to your ethnic community, you can even see where in Melbourne has the highest concentration of, say, Greek, French, or Sri Lankan migrants). Finally, if you’re still stumped, this quiz claims to be able to match you with a Melbourne suburb.
Ultimately, the Melbourne suburb that suits you best will reflect your preferences, social and professional obligations, and financial resources. There is no quick way to find your perfect match, so we recommend considering your preferences before using the online resources in the next section to do some further research (this will also give you a more reliable sense of prices in your target area).
We recognise, of course, that being able to choose a suburb based entirely on personal preferences is a luxury, especially in Melbourne, so the following questions are intended to provide some clarity even when navigating the inevitable compromises of renting life:
There are a variety of tools that you can use to look for accommodation and flatmates in Melbourne, some of which are free with basic features (like Gumtree) and others of which charge a fee. Some of the more popular options include:
If you’re on Facebook, it can also be helpful to check whether or not there are any groups for individuals looking to rent or share in different regions of Melbourne.
According to the federal government’s Department of Jobs and Small Businesses, the labour market in Victoria increased by 100,200 people in the year leading up to January 2018. In fact, over the past five years, Victoria has added more jobs than any other state. Melbourne itself boasts the most highly educated workforce in Victoria (37% of employees have a Bachelor degree), and employment in the capital is expected to grow by 9.8% over the five years to May 2022.
The top five industries in Melbourne are professional, scientific, and technical services; financial and insurance services; accommodation and food services; healthcare and social assistance; and public administration and safety. Melbourne is also an emerging hub for creative industries, digital technologies, and renewable energy technologies.
When it comes to graduates specifically, the outlook is increasingly positive across the nation. In the 2017/2018 GradAustralia Top 100 report—which is based on a national survey, with roughly one-quarter of respondents coming from Victoria—about 60% of students said that they expected it to take more than three months to find an entry-level job after graduating.
This, it turns out, is a pretty accurate estimate: the most recent Graduate Outcomes Survey (published by the Social Research Centre) found that, in 2017, ‘71.8 percent of undergraduates were in full-time employment four months after completing their degree’.
Key statistic: The government anticipates that, by May 2022, there will be more jobs in Victoria for graduates in healthcare, professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and education and training (these industries will account for 70% of anticipated growth). There will be fewer jobs in manufacturing, utilities, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
Melbourne offers professional graduates relatively high average salaries that are competitive both globally and in comparison to other Australian capital cities. The following average salaries are taken from the 2018 Hays Salary Guide, which itself draws on a survey of 3,000 businesses in Australia and New Zealand that together employ some 2.3 million people. We’ve included a representative sample of salaries for popular graduate occupations: if yours isn’t listed, consult the GradAustralia website for more information. Note that the average salaries below exclude superannuation.
|Architect||$55,000-75,000||$70,000-90,000 (5+ years)|
|Entry-level design engineer||$60,000-75,000||Unavailable|
|Legal (private practice in top-tier firm)||$50,000-65,000||$75,000-85,000|
|Legal (private practice in mid-tier firm)||$50,000-65,000||$60,000-85,000|
|Legal (private practice in small firm)||$48,000-50,000||$50,000-80,000|
|Policy officer (government)||$70,000-90,000||Unavailable|
|Teacher (government school)||$65,000||Unavailable|
|Teacher (private school)||$70,000-110,000|