Melbourne has topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s most liveable cities
list for two years running, a position most residents concur with
enthusiastically. Situated on southern Australia’s Port Phillip Bay at the mouth
of the Yarra River, the Victoria state capital has buzzy waterfront districts,
green parks, numerous art galleries and narrow alleys, all of which give the
city a rich and varied street life with distinct and charming neighbourhoods.
What is it known for?
Melbourne may be Australia’s second city (after Sydney) -- and there is a fair
bit of rivalry between the two -- but residents deem their fair town first for culture,
arts, festivals, food and fashion, and for having a more genteel quality of
life than their brash sister 870km to the north. The city’s leafy streets and
Victorian suburbs are filled with cafes that serve up perfect flat whites (similar
to a latte) and short blacks (espressos), while impressive developments are
filling the waterfront neighbourhoods with fresh residential and commercial
has something for any culture hound, from near weekly festivals to graffiti-filled laneways containing some of the best
street art in the world. Ethnic groups from Asia and the rest of the world who
have settled in areas like Footscray in the west of the city make Melbourne a
great multicultural and multi-cuisine magnet. “We have hip little bars and
grungy, funky pubs, fabulous restaurants, plenty of green space and it doesn’t
get as stinking hot as the rest of Australia,” said Jenny Webby, an IT manager and
lifelong resident. “There are great beaches and always something cultural going
historic Flinders Street Station in Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD),
the decade-old Federation Square has become a gathering place for performances
and cultural events, despite initial criticism of its seemingly jumbled-up architecture
and design. The square is now considered one of the world’s best public spaces
and it hosts more than 2,000 events a year, drawing people from all over Australia.
Melbourne’s tram system connects the CBD with the city’s suburbs and there are
many dedicated bike paths and bike lanes on the roads. “It is easy to cycle
everywhere, particularly north of the river,” Webby said.
Where do you want to live?
Districts close to the CBD are very popular, including those in the inner south
of the city such as the beachfront St Kilda, and those north of the Yarra
River, such as Fitzroy. “Eight out of the 10 most searched suburbs to rent are
located close to the city, in affluent, fashionable areas like St Kilda, Richmond,
Hawthorn, Elwood and South Yarra,” explained Tom Ainsworth,
head of sales for the property site realestate.com.au.
The majority of popular areas are within an 8km radius of the city centre.
suburbs such as Berwick and Pakenham “are well-priced and appeal to first-home
buyers and families”, Ainsworth added. “Then a significant portion of people are looking at
regional areas including Geelong to the west and Mornington Peninsula, Mount
Martha and Mount Eliza [southeast of the city].” Empty nesters and others
looking for low-maintenance lifestyles are considering townhouses and luxury
apartments in the bayside suburbs, as are foreign buyers interested in
investment properties. “Within inner bayside and CBD markets, we’re finding 30% to 40% of
our buyers are coming from overseas,” explained Torsten Kasper, managing director
of estate agents Chisholm and Gamon. “Shrewd buyers look for suburbs that
neighbour growth suburbs, as there is generally a flow-on effect. For example,
East St Kilda is getting the benefit of the rise of St Kilda. We’re also seeing
people looking at North Melbourne and West Melbourne.”
For short getaways, people head down the coast to Mornington Peninsula or west to towns along the Great Ocean Road such as Torquay and Lorne. The scenic Yarra Valley,
which is home to numerous wineries, is 90km east of the city and country towns such
as Castlemaine, Daylesford and Kyneton in the Macedon Range are an hour to two
hours drive from the city.
Airport is the second busiest in Australia and serves numerous domestic routes
around the country — the one-and-a-half hour Sydney-Melbourne route is one of
the Asia Pacific’s most travelled. The city is a Qantas hub and has direct
flights to many international destinations, such as London, about a 23-hour
flight, and Los Angeles, roughly a 15-hour flight.
The property market is steadily improving in Melbourne. “We’re certainly finding that there’s more buyer depth
in the market, which we didn’t see a few months ago,” Kasper said. The cost of
a two-bedroom apartment varies from suburb to suburb, but in North Melbourne
they go for around $400,000 Australian dollars, in East St Kilda they cost roughly
$450,000 Australian dollars and in Elwood expect to pay upwards of $500,000
Australian dollars. Townhouses and small homes in North Melbourne are between
$600,000 and $800,000 Australian dollars, while in Ellwood they can reach $1
in popular neighbourhoods range from $450 to $800 Australian dollars per week,
while townhouses range from $600 to $1,000 per week.
an arts and music weekly with a club and events guide
Footscray Food Blog: ethnic and local foodie happenings
in Melbourne’s western suburb
Meet Me on the Streets: blog highlighting street fashion
from around town