The Best & Worst of 6 Months of Living in Melbourne

I’ve been living in Melbourne for just over six months now! Yesterday, Melbourne was named the world’s most livable city for the fifth year in a row, and it’s easy to see why.  I’ve included some of the “worst” things about living in Melbourne, to give an honest account of how I’ve found living in Melbourne, but as you’ll see, the complaints are pretty minor.

Best & Worst of 6 Months Living in Melbourne

The best things about living in Melbourne

It’s a design-savvy city

Melbourne is a city that lives & breathes good design. I’m constantly turning corners and looking up from my iPhone and catching my breath, because the city pops out and twists and turns into the most beautiful shapes, which change with every step you take.

Living in Melbourne

On a smaller scale, I’ve seen so many shops solely supporting local designers, and within them so much creativity is lining the shelves. It’s not uncommon to see students sketching in the art gallery or photographers looking for that perfect shot along the river at sunset. “Design” is a pretty vague term, but essentially, Melbourne is all about the aesthetics – without skimping on substance.

City views of Melbourne

Street Art in Melbourne

It’s a green city

Did you know that you can look up ANY tree in Melbourne and find out what type it is, and it’s life expectancy?

No, not the life expectancy of that species of tree. The life expectancy of that specific tree.

This is a city committed to it’s green spaces. The entire city is lined with trees, which is particularly noticeable from a rooftop bar, when you’re struck by how much green you can see…in the city! It’s a little bleak in winter, admittedly, but in Autumn, the golden foliage makes every street glow. It is so beautiful.

Ponyfish Island Melbourne

There are also heaps of parks and gardens, four of which are on the perimeter of the city. Living in an apartment in the city, I really appreciate all the green space! The chance to escape to some fresh air, peace and quiet makes city living much easier.

Southbank Promenade Melbourne  Carlton Gardens, Melbourne

The diverse food scene

It’s not an Italian restaurant, it’s Sicilian. It’s not French, it’s all about Brittany. I’ve seen Armenian, Swiss, Danish, Polish and Croatian restaurants in Melbourne, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a cuisine not represented somewhere in the city. Melbourne is full of old school institutions that have been keeping the same customers (and their kids, and grandkids) well-fed for decades, side by side with forward-focused restaurants with innovative menus.

Chinese New Year Festival Markets Melbourne

It would be remiss of me not to mention the cafe culture here. There are so many cool cafes serving delicious, exciting food and perfect coffee, it’s hard to keep up with my favourites. You’re never far from a good coffee in Melbourne.

Magic Mountain Saloon SALAD Melbourne

The city is somewhere you want to be

The CBD is not a boring business district.  It’s just as comfortable hosting high-powered business meetings and world-class fine dining as it is being home to eccentric street art and tiny bars that pack a punch – that don’t advertise and hide behind an unmarked door because their reputation precedes them. It’s full of business people, it’s full of students, it’s full of tourists, and its’ still full of locals on weekends. City = success.

Arcade, MelbourneMonsters Inc Graffiti Hosier Lane Melbourne

Arts & Culture for everyone

I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but Melbourne has such a thriving arts scene that it’s hard not to find something that tickles your fancy. Admittedly, I’m pretty lucky because my uncle is in the orchestra and is always inviting me to great shows, but there really is something for everyone here. I’ve seen ballet, comedy, the Lion King, an opera and orchestral concerts in six short months. In the past week alone, I saw the hilarious musical Nice Work if You Can Get It and the incredible charity show, Twisted Broadway.

Hosier Lane Melbourne

The National Gallery of Victoria taught me how to enjoy art galleries. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the Louvre when I visited when I was nineteen, but I think if I gave it another shot now I might see things differently. The NGV is free, which makes it easy to visit just one or two collections, avoiding museum-fatigue, and come back another day to see something totally different. My favourite sections are the Japanese collection, the Meso American collection, the impressionist paintings and the Egyptian collection.

NGV Melbourne

Melbourne is also a UNESCO City of Literature, which basically means it recognises Melbourne’s contribution to the literary scene. In response, Melbourne established the Wheeler Centre, which has one of the most impressive public talks lineups I’ve seen!

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

There is always something on!

There is always something on in Melbourne. Despite not getting to nearly as many events as I would have liked to, it’s great knowing that on any given weekend there is probably some cool event or festival on to keep boredom at bay. Since I moved here, there’s been a Slavic Pancake Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Australian Open, Open House Melbourne, the Melbourne Fashion Festival, Scandinavian film festival, ice skating rinks set up for winter, winter night markets, White Night ( a huge light show in the city) and the Melbourne Film Festival is on now.

Queen Vic Markets | Melbourne

They’re just the first few things to spring to mind. Once I’m home from the US, I want to make more of an effort to get to more of these events – we’re so spoiled for choice, it’s easy to get complacent!

Queen Vic Markets

It’s a walkable city

I don’t have a car in Melbourne, and even though my boyfriend brought his down with us, we hardly use it. Melbourne is pretty flat, which means I’ve been walking so much more than I would have in Brisbane, which is very hilly (and also much hotter). I’ve really enjoyed walking more because you notice so many more details about surroundings, you stop in at little shops and cafes you’d never bother to drive specifically to.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

When it’s too far to walk, it’s super easy to get public transport. The trams are free inside the city now, which has made it much cheaper to hop on and off when I’m zipping all over town, and we’re really well-connected with most tram lines. I use the trams and the trains, and have avoided buses so far – I don’t miss them one bit!

The worst things about living in Melbourne

Obviously, missing family & friends

This is a personal one, but moving away from my family & friends was tough. I’ve loved the experience of moving, but I do miss seeing my mum, dad, sister and brother on a daily basis, and my best friends on a weekly basis! The upside is, it’s so much fun having them visit! Of course, this is part of moving cities and I’ve made the time (and so have they!) to maintain our relationships, even though we’re not catching up face to face.

Elephant at Melbourne Zoo

The weather

Compared to most other Australian cities, the weather in Melbourne is terrible! I shouldn’t complain because it only went below 0 degrees once, but I am very jealous of my Brisbane friends enjoying sunny 27-degree days when it’s been less than 15 for months.

Melbourne in the rain

When I moved in January, it was a cold summer, which to a Brisbane girl, felt like the middle of winter. In other words, I feel like it has been winter for six months. I am SO excited for spring! Luckily, Autumn and Spring are really beautiful and when it is sunny, it is stunning.

Carlton Gardens, Melbourne

South Melbourne Beach

Archaic smoking laws

I don’t care where you smoke, as long as it’s not blowing all over the food I’m about to eat. Brisbane’s smoking laws changed years ago, so it was a bit of a shock to have someone light up beside me at a restaurant (outdoors) and proceed to ruin my meal. Melbourne serves such beautiful food, it’s a shame that eating outdoors often puts it in harm’s way. Supposedly, they’re bringing in stricter laws about blowing smoke all over other people’s plates, but if they have already, they’re not being enforced very well. Bleugh.

Working from home

Before I moved here, I lived at home. Working from home wasn’t a problem because I had other people to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with. Now that I live with my boyfriend, who works huge hours, it is much more lonely. I’ve made some awesome friends, who I catch up with heaps, but it’s not the same as having someone around. It definitely would be easier if I was working in an office environment because I’d at least have company during the day!

I thrive on alone time, so I was surprised how challenging it has been. Humans are social creatures, so I guess it makes sense that no one really enjoys being by themselves too much! I manage it by making sure I get out of the house for quite a bit every day, whether that’s working in cafes or catching up with friends during lunch or for dinner. Just something that has taken some getting used to!

Melbourne

The upside to all this time to myself is that I’ve had the time to dive more deeply into my hobbies and interests. I’ve had so much more time to write, take photos, learn French and Italian, and most excitingly, start drawing again. If you’re interested in my work, check out my illustrated travel maps, and keep your eyes peeled because I’ll be incorporating more illustration in this blog over the coming months.

If the above are the worst things about living in Melbourne, then I’m pretty lucky! 

Autumn in Melbourne

Overall,  moving has been super exciting, challenging and rewarding. I could not have done it without the love, support and time generously given by my parents, sister and brother, my grandparents, Mel and Chloe back home, who always make the time to call. Moving to Melbourne wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without Matt & Thomas, Laura, Lauren, Liv, Jasmine and of course, David. A place is nothing without people you love.

Have you moved to a new city? What was the best/worst part for you?

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  • Breath-taking photos! Melbourne looks so amazing! Seems like there are more perks than disappointments to living in the city, as you wrote in your post. It’s hard to adjust to the weather, and there are bouts of homesickness now and then, but seeing the city’s beauty makes up for all of that.

    I’ve never really moved so far in my life, but will be soon to Europe for eight months. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Wow 8 months, have an amazing time!

  • I think you just convinced me to want to live there. It sounds like a dream city for me! And most of your worst list wasn’t even bad at all. I prefer cooler weather, so it’s even a plus! 🙂

    • Haha glad to hear it! 😀 Yeah it’s a pretty great place to live 🙂

  • Tea

    I recognize a lot of those things from when I lived in Melbourne! I think the worst thing was when I paid $2 for 1 banana … thank God I then was told about the Queen Victoria Market!

    • Hi, sorry I missed this comment earlier! Glad you could relate, and how good are the markets?! They save me soooo much money!

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t Melbourne an expensive city to live in? Cost of living is not one of the downsides of living there?

    • It would depend where you’re comparing it to, Australia has a higher cost of living than many other countries, although this is mostly offset by higher wages, better public services, etc. i.e. healthcare, fair wages. The Economist’s annual rankings takes these things into account I believe, but feel free to read up on their metrics! 🙂

  • Ash

    I moved to Melbourne 6 years ago, and I happen to come from a city that ranks among the worst in terms of liveability indexes – Dhaka, Bangladesh. I love this city, it’s suburbs with ample greenery and space, and it’s CBD with walkways and cafes. Great writing, Genevieve (and great photos, too).

    • Thanks Ash! I really love it here, particularly now that I’m back from the states and spring has arrived here, I feel very lucky to call Melbourne home! 🙂

  • Pingback: One Year of Living in Melbourne in Photos | The Wanderbug()

  • Think_again2

    I think Melbourne would be great if you come from a war torn nation, though as an Australian that doesn’t live in Melbourne, I think the place is highly overrated. I think this FB site exposes much about the ugly side of this city. https://www.facebook.com/Opposing-everything-because-Im-from-Melbourne-1571492209530380/