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If you’re thinking of moving to Australia and considering living in Melbourne, you’re probably wondering what the lifestyle is like there, and how it compares to other Australian cities.

On The Economist’s Global Liveability Index, Melbourne ranked most liveable city in the world for seven years running until Vienna knocked it off in 2018! With the next Australian entries that year being Sydney in fifth place and Adelaide in tenth, that makes Melbourne Australia’s most liveable city!

While I haven’t tried living in Melbourne myself, I’ve explored the city on a fair few occasions and also have a British friend who’s lived there for over ten years and loves it.

To help those of you thinking of moving to Melbourne, I’ve written this overview of the city to add to my “Where to Live in Australia” series.

Keep reading to find out if Melbourne lifestyle could be for you!

Where is Melbourne in Australia?

Melbourne is situated on the south-eastern coastline of Australia, in the state of Victoria. Its closest other state capitals are Canberra, about a seven-hour drive northeast; Sydney, around nine hours northeast; and Adelaide, approximately eight hours’ drive northwest. You can also hop on a ferry to Tasmania.

Map of Australia - living in Melbourne.

In the surrounding areas lie coastal towns, scenic drives, and even a skiing region in the Snowy Mountains!

How Big is Melbourne?

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, and its population of 4.8 million makes it the second-most-populated city in Australia (Sydney is the first). Compared to smaller cities like Perth and Adelaide, it feels absolutely huge!

I distinctly remember arriving by car at the end of my Adelaide to Melbourne road trip following my even more isolated Perth to Adelaide road trip, and feeling like we were in Bangkok rather than Australia, with all those big buildings!

Melbourne city at night - learn about living in Melbourne.
Melbourne CBD and beyond viewed from the Eureka Skydeck

Despite the skyscrapers, Melbourne has also retained a large amount of character-filled, heritage architecture though. It’s a very interesting city to explore compared to the more modern-looking cities like Brisbane and Perth.

Living in Melbourne: Weather & Seasons

The first thing to note is that Melbourne lies very far south on the Australian coastline. Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, south means cold and north means hot! But it gets a bit more complicated than that.

In fancy terms, Melbourne has a temperate oceanic climate. It has some very hot days in summer, but also much colder winters than most of the other capitals. Melbourne is known for being the city with four seasons in one day, as the weather changes so quickly and dramatically!

Black Rock Beach on a hot summer's day in Melbourne.
A summer’s day at Black Rock Beach in Melbourne

During my two-week summer visit to Melbourne I experienced stifling 40 degree heat that dropped to 15 overnight, a sudden wind so strong that everyone on St Kilda Beach was forced to get up and leave, and a weird dust storm with winds so severe I genuinely thought we were in the midst of a natural disaster!

When I returned in the winter it was 5 degrees in the daytime and mostly rainy. So in summary, the weather is variable to say the least!

Melbourne weather in winter: locals wrapped up warm getting coffee.
Wrapping up warm in the cold Melbourne winter

The average maximum temperature in Melbourne is 26.0 degrees in the hottest month (January), and 13.5 degrees in the coldest month (July). Overnight, the average minimum in January is 14.3 degrees, and in July, 6.0 degrees.

Per year, Melbourne has an average of 49 sunny days (as a comparison, Perth has the most with 139), and 100 rainy days (of at least 1mm).

Daylight Hours in Melbourne

Unlike Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Victoria has daylight saving. So you’ll get much lighter summer evenings in Melbourne than in some of the other cities.

In the height of summer in Melbourne, the sun goes down around 8:45pm, a good two hours later than in Brisbane and an hour and twenty minutes later than in Perth!

In midwinter the sun sets just after 5pm in Melbourne, as it does in most of the other capitals. Compared to the UK, Australia has more daylight hours during the winter, but less in the summer.

Melbourne Beaches

While you’re probably aware of Melbourne’s urban attractions, you might also be wondering if it has any beaches on offer. While Melbourne can’t compete with Sydney’s 100-plus beaches and long, craggy coastline, or the big white Miami-style beaches of Perth, you can still enjoy a good old beach day in Melbourne.

Rather than face out onto the open sea, Melbourne lies on the edges of large Port Phillip Bay. There are a fair few beaches along here such as St Kilda Beach, Brighton Beach (with its famous, colourful bathing boxes) and Black Rock Beach amongst others.

St Kilda Beach in Melbourne - guide for those thinking of moving to Melbourne.
St Kilda Beach, probably the most well-known beach in Melbourne

If you’re willing to drive a bit further out, there’s an array of beaches on the Mornington Peninsula (about an hour from the city) which face both into the bay and out to sea. There are also some great holiday towns to the west, such as Torquay and Anglesea.

Living in Melbourne: Things to Do

Being such a large city, there are plenty of things to do in Melbourne. If you’re into food and coffee, you’ll find lots of quirky cafes along Melbourne’s famous laneways and out in the suburbs.

Melbourne is also known for its arty vibe. You can visit a choice of galleries as well as enjoy street art at places like Hosier Lane. There’s also lots of cultural events, festivals and live music.

Melbourne Midsumma Festival - Melbourne life.
Midsumma Festival in Melbourne

The city has beautiful botanic gardens as well as markets and interesting historical architecture. For more ideas on things to do in Melbourne, check out the blog post below.

15 Things to Do in Melbourne

Trips from Melbourne: Holiday Destinations

Even though Melbourne is a big city, you don’t have to travel far to step into nature. There’s stunning scenery at nearby Wilsons Promontory National Park, and the famous penguin parade at Phillip Island.

To the west, there’s plenty of coastal attractions heading towards Adelaide, including rock formations and seaside towns along the well-known Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road Itinerary: Top 12 Attractions

Great Ocean Road sign - a great trip from Melbourne.
The famous Great Ocean Road sign near Melbourne

In the winter you can ski at the Snowy Mountains, or fly up to Queensland to enjoy some winter sun at places like the Gold Coast or Whitsunday Islands.

Melbourne Real Estate

Melbourne has lots of attractions, but unfortunately its high cost of property isn’t one of them. Only Sydney has a higher cost of living in terms of housing prices vs income.

Property prices in most Australian cities have been decreasing over 2018-19, but according to this house price report by Domain, the median house price in Melbourne as at March 2019 was still $809,468, compared to $563,666 in Brisbane and $529,997 in Perth.

Inside a period home in Melbourne.
Inside a Melbourne Airbnb home I stayed in

This property report by Livewire from June 2019 shows that the price to income multiple for Melbourne was 8.1, compared to 10.0 for Sydney and 6.5 for Brisbane.

In terms of what kind of properties Melbourne has to offer, there is a huge mix. Along with more modern apartments and houses, there are also plenty of older properties with plenty of character, similar to in Sydney.

I hope this blog post has given you a better idea of what life in Melbourne could be like! To compare Australia’s two biggest cities, read my blog post on Sydney vs Melbourne living.

Lisa Bull
Written by Lisa Bull

Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.