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Melbourne is a coastal city encircling Port Philip Bay in the Australian state of Victoria. It is known for its natural beauty, which is complemented by the angular and avant-garde designs of its iconic skyscrapers.
For expats, moving to Melbourne means immersing themselves in one of Australia's most multicultural and cosmopolitan centres. Waves of immigration have led to the establishment of enclaves for British, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Indian communities, each with its own unique character, distinctive customs, festivities, food and art.
Living in Melbourne as an expat
Like any urban hub, Melbourne thrives on the luxuries of the good life such as a vibrant cafe culture and trendy nightlife, a huge selection of shopping malls and eateries, as well as art galleries and speciality stores. Melbourne is also an immensely attractive city with beautiful historical buildings, cobbled European-style lanes and equally eye-catching public parks and gardens.
The job market in Melbourne is broad and offers many job opportunities, particularly in healthcare, IT, science, engineering, education and construction. The work culture in Australia might take some getting used to, as it tends to be more relaxed, informal and egalitarian than what expats may be accustomed to.
Accommodation in Melbourne is generally quite expensive, especially high-rise apartments in the city centre. Expats with children usually prefer the more spacious – and affordable – housing in the suburbs of Melbourne. The property market moves fast in Melbourne, and it may take a little time for expats to find, apply for and be approved for accommodation well suited to them.
Public transport in Melbourne is efficient and well maintained, making it easy to get around. The city offers transport in the form of trams, trains, buses and taxis. Expats living far out from the city centre may find having their own vehicle useful.
Newcomers will be glad to hear that healthcare in Melbourne, like the rest of Australia, is largely government-funded and universal. That said, certain aspects may not be covered, so we suggest expats still get health insurance.
Cost of living in Melbourne
Life in Melbourne is expensive, and the cost of living might deter some expats. In fact, the once-sleepy southern port city is now ranked among the top 60 most expensive cities in the world, and expats will need to keep this in mind when looking for work and negotiating salaries. Accommodation is especially expensive and expats should consider the area in which they settle down carefully. Luckily the public transport system makes moving about easy and relatively cost-efficient.
Expat families and children
When it comes to deciding where to live, Melbourne's expats generally prefer the leafier outlying suburbs with their quiet streets and proximity to schools. Government schools in Melbourne are free for residents and citizens, and education is generally of excellent quality throughout Australia. Non-government schools are often Catholic schools, but private schools are also an option, though often expensive. There are a few international schools in Melbourne, but none that teach the curricula of other countries; only those that offer the International Baccalaureate.
Three main pastimes excite and unite Melbournians regardless of background: sport, food and wine. The city presents a fantastic lifestyle – it has repeatedly been voted as one of the world’s most 'liveable' cities, and with good reason. There are also countless of opportunities for nearby family getaways and weekend breaks in Melbourne.
Climate in Melbourne
The weather in Melbourne can be erratic and unpredictable. The city has a temperate oceanic climate and severe weather conditions can be a problem. The winter months are cool, but snow is rare.
Melbourne is a friendly, diverse city with much to explore and good living conditions. Expats moving here will have a good time and may be pleasantly surprised by the conviviality of the locals. Many expats live a happy, fulfilling life in Australia’s capital, and many often stay much longer than anticipated.
►For common queries, check our our FAQs about Melbourne page
►Find out what working in Melbourne is like
"There’s a good reason why Melbourne is regularly voted in the top three most liveable cities. It offers a wonderful lifestyle and plenty of work opportunities." Scottish expat Marvin recently moved to Melbourne with his wife. Read his advice on living in Melbourne.
"We love the culture of Melbourne, the vibrant city centre, the great cafés, the proximity to beautiful beaches, wineries, wildlife and the availability of good food." American expat Christie shares her Melbourne experience here.
Are you an expat living in Melbourne?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Melbourne. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
For anyone starting a new life abroad, ensuring access to good quality healthcare is essential. Cigna Global are specialists in providing international health plans for expats, ensuring you have access to quality care and support whenever you need it. Cigna’s health plans can be tailored exactly to meet the individual needs of you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.