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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.