If you’re contemplating a new life in Melbourne, you’re not alone. Over 100,000 people move to Victoria every year, most of them settling in Melbourne. With the endless festivals, exhibitions and concerts, great coffee, and year-round AFL fever, there’s plenty to love about Victoria’s capital. It wasn’t named the world’s most liveable city seven years in a row for nothing!
Population: 4.8 million
Best known for: culture, sport, shopping, cafes
Cost of living: $2,682.25/month for one person renting outside the city centre
Finding somewhere to live
The median weekly rent in Melbourne is $410 for a unit and $440 for a house. As with most cities, though, the closer to the CBD you want to live the more you’ll be paying in rent.
To get the best deal, consider living a little further out of the city. Even moving just one or two suburbs out can make a big difference to your weekly rent payments. The most expensive suburbs for rent in Melbourne are on the bay or in the inner north and east: Brighton East, Brighton, Albert Park, Fitzroy, Hampton, Docklands, Camberwell, Kew and Toorak.
You can save further on rent if you’re willing to share with a housemate or two. Look on Gumtree or Flatmates to find rooms in share houses. To live within 10km of the city, you’ll be paying between $150 and $250 a week for a room in a share house.
You’ve been saving your pennies and denying yourself weekly brunch dates. You’re ready to buy! Properties in Melbourne are more affordable than Sydney, but still pricier than in other capital cities. As of the start of January 2019, the median price for a house in Melbourne is $833,321, and for a unit it’s $479,306.
The five most expensive suburbs for buying property in Melbourne are in the inner east and along the bay: Toorak, Middle Park, Brighton, Malvern and Balwyn. If you don’t have few million to drop, look to areas like Footscray, Reservoir, Coburg or Heidelberg where median house prices sit significantly lower.
Choosing your new neighbourhood
When it comes to finding the right suburb for you, there are lots of things to consider. Rent or property prices are a big one, as are things like proximity and commute time to your office (if you already have work) and public transport links. If you have children, you’ll also need to consider local schools or childcare centres.
As well as the practical (and boring) considerations, thinking about your lifestyle and interests will help make sure you find an area you love. Do you like living in the city near good restaurants, cafes and pubs, or are you after something a bit quieter? Want to live near the beach, or do you prefer the suburban life? The good news is that Melbourne offers all of the above, so finding the right suburb shouldn’t be too hard.
If you’re passionate about coffee, art, good food and pub meals, the northern suburbs are for you. Places like Carlton, Brunswick, Northcote, Collingwood, North Melbourne and Fitzroy have plenty to offer for the inner urbanite, including some of Melbourne’s best cafes and Italian food, unique shops and beautiful green spaces. These inner suburbs often come with hefty rental prices (although you can get a good deal in a share house), but the cool vibes continue further north to more affordable suburbs like Coburg, Preston and Thornbury.
The inner west has exploded in popularity in the last decade, as it offers the convenience of being close to the city at a much lower price tag than the inner north or east. Suburbs like Footscray, Seddon and Yarraville have an increasing number of good pubs, restaurants and cafes, and the Maribyrnong River offers a peaceful urban retreat for walkers, cyclists, fishing enthusiasts and rowers. The inner west is also close to some nice suburban beaches at Williamstown and Altona.
Things get a little more expensive east of the city, but if you’re after the convenience of living close to the city, great transport links, and plenty of nightlife, it’s tough to beat places like Richmond, South Yarra and Prahran. For something a little quieter (and cheaper) try Abbotsford, Alphington or Fairfield. Things get very expensive once you reach the exclusive suburbs of Toorak, Malvern, Hawthorn and Kew.
If you want to live by the beach, the bayside suburbs are for you. Stretching from Port Melbourne all the way down to Frankston, you’ll find a beachside lifestyle with the convenience of suburban living. These suburbs are also some of Melbourne’s priciest, with Middle Park, Brighton, Brighton East and Hampton all sitting in the list of the city’s most expensive areas. To have the beachside lifestyle for less, look for one of the bayside suburbs with more apartments than mansions, like St Kilda or Elwood. Both have great beaches, good food and a packed calendar of events and festivities, all within striking distance of the city.
Getting a great apartment in your ideal suburb is all well and good, as long as you can pay the rent. If you haven’t already got work in Melbourne, finding a new job is going to be near the top of your to do list.
The best place to start looking for work is on job sites like Seek or LinkedIn. There are also specialist job sites like Ethical Jobs (for not-for-profit or socially-minded companies) and Pedestrian Jobs (for creative or innovative companies).
There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops all over Melbourne if you’re interested in hospitality or retail work. If a nine to five office job is more you thing, you’ll find most companies have head offices in the city or inner suburbs. There are lots of fun and socially-minded companies with head offices in Melbourne, like Thankyou, Who Gives A Crap and our friends at Greenfleet.
Remote work has opened up the opportunity to work for anyone, from anywhere, so you’re not necessarily limited to companies based in Melbourne. We love remote work at Car Next Door and have staff working in lots of cities in Australia and the world (including Melbourne!). Many companies are starting to embrace remote work, so there are more and more remote opportunities available.
There’s a good public transport network, with trains, buses and trams that are pretty reliable, especially if you live within 15km of the city. Get yourself a myki card to pay for all your travel, download a good app to help you work out the best route and find timetable information, and you’ll be navigating your way across and around town in no time!
Melbourne is an increasingly bike-friendly city. Many areas, particularly in the inner suburbs, have good bike lanes and even some streets that are restricted to bikes only. There’s also plenty of bike parking at parks and shopping centres, so for shorter distances cycling is a great option.
If you live in the inner suburbs, driving is rarely the best way to get around. But there are times when you need a car, like if you’re heading across town, on a roadtrip or need to haul more than you can carry. A car-sharing service like Car Next Door is perfect for these odd occasions. Car Next Door lets you borrow cars from real people in your neighbourhood. You can book by the hour or day, and it’s free to join.
Becoming a true Melbournian
Now you live and work in Melbourne, but to really become a local there’s a few final things you’ll need to do:
- Choose a footy (that’s AFL in Victoria) team to support - You’ll soon find that most conversations at parties and around the office water cooler revolve around sport, and more specifically AFL. You’ll be asked who you support (or ‘barrack for’) several times a week so make sure you have an answer.
- Find your best local coffee spot - Drinking coffee is a way of life in Melbourne and you’re not a real local until you have a favourite cafe and are on a first name basis with the barista.
- Wear all black, all the time - You’ll soon discover that Melbourne’s unofficial uniform is black on black on black, so invest in a few black wardrobe staples and you’ll fool people into thinking you were born here.
- Prepare for all weathers - You can delete the weather app from your phone, because you need to be prepared for all weather extremes, regardless of what the forecast says. The ‘four seasons in one day’ cliche may be overused but it’s very close to the truth. Wherever you go and whatever time of year, make sure you’ve always got an umbrella, a coat and some sunscreen because you never know what’s coming.