Melbourne is a truly fantastic city – where Sydney is perhaps a little too brash and obvious for some people, Melbourne is the perfect antidote to this.  It is a city well rooted in its past, it has some fabulous architecture and offers its residents a very high quality of life.  In 2004 it was ranked as the second best city in the world for expatriates to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and really, it’s not hard to see why!

The climate is temperate, the people are somehow calmer than those who prefer Sydney, (!), the vibe is laid back, arty and sophisticated, and on top of all of these positives, the employment landscape in the city is varied and healthy and the educational standards are exceptionally high.  All of these factors add up to make Melbourne a particularly appealing prospect for many who are moving to live in Australia.

If you too are planning a move to Australia and you want to know where to live in Melbourne, in this article we explore the city for you, and bring its main residential districts to life, allowing you to plan where you would like to reside.

The city is made up of the central business district (CBD), out from which all suburbs seem to flow.  Naturally, many professional business persons who relocate to the city are attracted to the suburbs closest to the CBD when looking for housing, this is so that they can find their way around, cut their commute times and be central in terms of accessing not only work but life in Melbourne too.  However, as is often the case, these types of residential district are also amongst the most highly priced!  Consider examining the likes of the City of Melbourne, Docklands, City of Port Philip and Yarra, and then looking more closely at the different communities therein if you too want to be located in the inner-city suburbs.

Fitzroy and Richmond in Yarra are popular – with Richmond quite a café and boutique type place overall, and South Yarra a particularly in demand address – with price tags to match.  The district has some stunning properties, it’s a short commute to the CBD and is adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Fawkner Park, meaning that families dream of living here.  Docklands and St. Kilda have been recently upgraded, the latter is a Victorian seaside suburb and thus very appealing for obvious reasons.  It was once a bit of a no go area unless you liked the seedier side of town, but nowadays it has pretty much been restored to its former glory!  The only real downside with the inner-city suburbs is the fact that median rental and purchase pricing is high-end.

If you want popular but more affordable, then the suburbs to the south east are ideal.  These suburbs do sprawl however, and so commute times can be longer and journeys can be a bit more complicated, so if you’re doing your housing search on the internet, don’t necessarily be tempted to sign up without checking out the property, the district and the accessibility of them both.  Berwick is particularly in demand as it is home to some top notch public schools, and for families the likes of Bentleigh, East Bentleigh, Cheltenham, McKinnon, Chelsea and Parkdale are in demand as they have good state schools, they’re close to the bay, considered safe and very family friendly.  However, the likes of Parkdale and Chelsea are an hour’s commute time into the CBD…

For more affordable and accessible suburbs you need to head north – however these districts are less popular and less fashionable.  For some people the opportunities they find in the likes of Craigieburn, Sunbury and Greenvale far outweigh the lack of prestige that their address carries though!  This is because gardens and houses are bigger, more spread out and generally peaceful than in some other, more popular districts!  Alternatively, for more of a balance between popularity and pricing you could try the eastern suburbs where commute times can be long, but properties are also quite spacious and relatively affordable.  Try the likes of Balwyn and North Balwyn for decent prices, decent schools – but be prepared for fairly lengthy commute times.  And finally, if you head west you will find fewer commuters and therefore less stress on the rush hour roads, decent school offerings and some affordable prices too.  Popular are Caroline Springs and Cairnlea – alternatives are historic and beautiful Williamstown with its cafes or newish Point Cook.

The thing with Melbourne is that it really does have something for everyone – you just need to spend time exploring the city and its suburbs and surroundings to make sure you get the very best out of it.  If you’re emigrating to Australia and Melbourne is your destination, we would strongly advise you to rent a property for a maximum of three months and spend all that time getting to know the city.  You will happen upon the district that feels right for you and your family, and then you can find the ideal home once you’re actually living in Australia.