Saunders 1865 | Moving to Melbourne

Moving to Melbourne

Are you moving to Melbourne? Situated on the bay of Port Phillip on Australia’s southern coast, Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria and certainly one of Australia’s most beautiful and historic cities. During the Victorian gold rush, it became the second largest and wealthiest city in the world, and today it’s celebrated for its cultural heritage and the high quality of life it offers. It also regularly tops the lists of best places to live in the world.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Melbourne report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

Watch a short video that explains our VIP Destination Support Package

Putting Melbourne on the Map

Melbourne lies on the southern coast of Australia, within the shelter of a vast natural bay called Port Phillip. It covers an area of nearly 4,000 square miles of coastal plain, with the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges looming beyond it in the distance. Outside of the high-rise CBD, the city is a low level sprawl of 31 municipalities, with a population of nearly 4.5 million. Because it sits on the boundary between the hot inland climate and the cooler coastal region, it has a deserved reputation for unpredictable weather—cold fronts rolling in cause frequent gales, storms, hail and rain. The locals are used to seeing ‘four seasons in one day’!

Melbourne‘s geography means that Melburnians have a high reliance on cars, especially in the outer suburbs, but it’s also one of Australia‘s main transit hubs with a good transport infrastructure.

  • 3.6 million private vehicles share 13.8 thousand miles of road, which means Melbourne has one of world’s highest lengths of road per head.
  • Congestion during peak hours is a major problem for the city. However, parking is generally not a problem.
  • There’s an extensive network of highways going around Melbourne and linking it to other cities, including the Hume Freeway to Sydney.
  • Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world, covering 28 routes and 1,813 stops. They run mainly in the centre of the city, but there are tram routes to the outer suburbs.
  • The rail system includes 16 commuter lines, as well as 7 passenger lines to other parts of Australia. Flinders Street and the Southern Cross Station are the main railway hubs.
  • 50 different bus companies have franchises to run services in Melbourne and there are 300 bus routes.
  • The Port of Melbourne is Australia‘s largest cargo port, and it also services cruise ships and a ferry service to Tasmania.
  • The city has four airports, including Australia‘s second busiest.
  • Melbourne Airport is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment, which will include the construction of a third runway.
The Areas

Whatever you’re looking for, you should find it in Melbourne—from Victorian terraces to modern loft apartments, there’s a wide choice of property styles spread over 485 suburbs. The first task is to work out where you want to live, a decision which will be governed by where exactly you’ll be working and whether you need certain amenities such as schools for your children. As with every major city, the centre is expensive and the suburbs become cheaper the further out you go. Urbanites should head for the centre, Docklands or Southbank. If you need room for the family, we suggest looking in the Northern, South and South Eastern Suburbs. Although Melbourne has a reputation as an expensive city to live in, as the Australian dollar continues to weaken, expats may find they have extra spending power when it comes to rent.

The Hoddle Grid
This mile by half mile rectangle is Melbourne‘s CBD, and contains five of Australia‘s six tallest buildings. Residential developments are going up in the area, but the apartments are necessarily cramped and expensive.

To the west of the Hoddle Grid, Melbourne‘s docklands have been redeveloped for luxury urban living. Swanky apartment buildings command top dollar as it’s walking distance from the CBD. Life here will be convenient and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Yarra River.

Port Melbourne
South of the grid, Port Melbourne has been gentrified to offer sophisticated waterside living—for those who can afford it. Again, it’s highly convenient if you work in the CBD.

South Yarra
Lying a couple of miles south-east of the CBD, South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s smartest suburbs with its most prestigious addresses—Domain Road, Walsh Street and Fairlie Court. If you’re looking for a historic mansion, this is the place to come to, though it also has some fantastic art deco properties, too.

Close to South Yarra, Prahan has a similar vibe, as well as being home to one of Melbourne’s main gay villages. The housing stock is mainly Victorian, and the area has a good choice of shopping and eating out.

Way out to the west of the city, past the industrialised zone, Altona is a seaside town where rents are reasonable and the beach is beautiful. Life here is relaxed and it’s great for families but the downside is a 25-minute commute to the centre of the city.

Williamstown offers smarter beach living than Altona and it’s closer to the city centre. The beachside park is popular with locals and tourists and the place has a historic vibe that extends to plenty of Victorian housing. This makes it a little pricier than most western suburbs but it has a lot going for it. Families love it, while the burgeoning café culture is drawing chilled young professionals here too.

Eight miles southeast of the centre, Brighton is probably Melbourne‘s smartest beach suburb, popular with local celebrities and wealthy businessmen. Excellent private schools and a safe environment give it family appeal, while good transport links take the pain out of the daily commute. As one of the city’s best suburbs, the rents here are high, but the lifestyle is smart and sophisticated.

Five miles or so north of the grid, Coburg‘s industrial past has been gentrified and the area’s popular with both young professional and families. Choose between Victorian and Edwardian houses, or hip apartments. The area has great multi-cultural credentials and it’s more affordable than other central districts.

Situated on the bay some nine miles south of the city centre, Sandringham is at once smart and relaxed, with a great family-friendly vibe. Chic restaurants, historic houses and a charming village centre add to its appeal and its prices. There are also good schools here, so it ticks all the boxes for families.

Only five miles from the CBD, Hawthorn is certainly another world. Here’s your classic leafy suburb with large historic houses, a sprinkling of mansions and an air of academia, thanks to the university being situated here. On the whole, it’s expensive, but there are cheaper pockets where students live.

Popular with singles and young couples, Brunswick is a little edgy and a lot of fun. The nightlife is good, and the area’s popular with an artistic, creative crowd. Most of the accommodation is in small Victorian terraced houses, though there are some larger places to be found towards the west. The city centre is only five miles away by tram.

Yarraville offers a charming small-town vibe, just four miles from the CBD. Eclectic shopping and a vibrant restaurant scene attracts urban hipsters and smart families alike. Houses are small and parking tight at the centre, but the fringes offer more space, and it’s one of Melbourne‘s more popular inner suburbs.

To the east of the grid and within walking distance, Richmond is a large residential suburb offering a variety of properties and rent levels. Parking can be a problem but it’s so central and well-served by public transport, one could conceivably live here without a car. If you’re looking for character in the heart of the city, make Richmond your first stop.

Who Lives Here and Why?

More than 60 percent of the 4.4 million Melburnians were born in Australia, with UK, Indian and Chinese nationals the next largest groups. There’s also a sizeable Greek community in the city, the largest Greek-speaking population outside Europe. The majority of the population give English as their first language, with Chinese and Greek being the next most common. Melbourne is currently outpacing Sydney as a destination for immigration into Australia, as well as attracting more incomers from other Australian cities and states. As a result, the city’s population is growing by about 70,000 people per year, and it may overtake Sydney in future years.

Melbourne is, however, an expensive city to live in—the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked it at number four in 2013. It has a strong economic sector, with concentrations in finance, manufacturing, research, IT, education, logistics, transportation and tourism. A large number of Australia‘s most important companies headquarter here, and Melbourne boasts Australia‘s busiest cargo port and second busiest airport. This means the work opportunities in the city are good. Expats will need an employer sponsor, a skilled visa or a business visa to get a job, but it’s a very multicultural workplace for those that can qualify. There is demand for manufacturing, scientific and technical professionals, while one of the biggest employers of expats is the education sector. Engineers, IT professionals and healthcare workers are also particularly needed.

As a wealthy city, Melbourne ranks highly for education, healthcare, entertainment and sport. It looks upon itself as Australia‘s cultural capital, and it’s the home of Aussie rules football, Australian contemporary dance and the country’s film and television industries. It has been recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature and is a major centre for street art, music and theatre. Furthermore, there are several national and state parks in and around the city, which add to its lifestyle appeal.

The Best Bits

Melbourne is certainly one of Australia‘s most vibrant and exciting cities to live in. Culture, sports, nightlife, architecture, natural beauty, beaches—it’s all on your doorstep, waiting to be enjoyed.

  • Melbourne‘s sporting calendar includes Aussie Rules football, cricket, soccer, the Australian Open tennis championship and, of course, in November you’ll want to take a punt on the Melbourne Cup, Australia‘s most prestigious horse race.
  • Eating and drinking is an art form in Australia‘s second city, with a huge choice of amazing restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from. If you hate cooking, you simply won’t need to!
  • To get a sense of the size of the city, take a trip up to the top of Melbourne‘s tallest building to the Eureka Skydeck. The views are simply stunning.
  • Melbourne is an outdoor city. From the parks and gardens in the city centre to the national and state parks around the edges, there’s plenty of green space to be enjoyed.
  • Melbourne is a great cultural centre with an abundance of festivals, drama, musicals, comedy, music, art, architecture, literature and film. Annual festivals to attend include Moomba, Australia’s largest free community festival, the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne is also the second UNESCO City of Literature, and hosts an annual writing festival.
  • The city is home to at least 460 music venues, opera and the ballet.
  • As well as having Australia‘s most extensive stock of Victorian buildings, Melbourne also boasts 612—and counting—high-rise towers.
Bringing the Kids

As Melbourne regularly tops the lists of the world’s best cities to live in, it’s an ideal place to bring your family. It’s a cultural melting pot with beaches, parks and, at least in the outer suburbs, spacious houses and gardens. Even the climate’s kid friendly! And you’ll find adventures and activities to suit all types of children, from sporty to artistic to bookish.

There’s a good choice of public and private education options in Melbourne, and if you have children, making a decision about where you want them to go to school needs to precede your decision on where in Melbourne you’d like to live.

  • Melbourne is home six of the top 20 high schools in Australia.
  • The city is at number four in a ranking of top university cities—there are seven public universities, of which the University of Melbourne is Australia‘s top university.
  • The school year has four terms and runs from late January to early December.
  • The public schools in Melbourne insist on school uniforms.
  • Public schools are free to permanent residents and those on a 457 visa. International students have to pay full fees.
  • School attendance is compulsory from five years to 17.
  • Primary school intake is based on catchment areas.
  • Secondary schools offer the Victorian Certificate of Education. However, expat children who will return to their home countries might rather take the International Baccalaureate.
Relocating to Melbourne

Although generally referred to as Australia‘s second city, there are plenty of people for whom it’s Australia‘s best city. Melbourne has it all—period housing and a skyscraper skyline, national parks and beaches, a food lover’s paradise and a cultural scene that ranges from street art to opera. If you’re sporty and you love the outdoors, this is the place for you. But you’ll love it just as much if you’re the sort of person whose nose is always in a book. Green leafy suburbs and good schools make it a great place for families, while professional couples and singles will love the buzz of the central suburbs. Melbourne is a multicultural melting pot with a huge zest for living—and a city that will welcome you with open arms.

At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Melbourne, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.


Family friendly
Good Schools
Green space
Natural Beauty
Average Monthly Rent - Melbourne
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre A$1,765
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre A$1,368
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre A$3,384
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre A$2,146
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.
UK +44 20 7590 2700
Saunders 1865