While Sydney is associated with buzz and 24/7 working culture, Melbourne has a thriving social atmosphere, a coffee culture — and a place where no matter how busy you get, there’s always a time to catch up for a coffee with family and friends. A city which is probably best known for its trams and a multitude of laneways — filled with plenty of amazing cafes, boutiques, and street art.
The CBD (Central Business District, simply referred to as «the city») sits on a neat grid of parallel roads and laneways, but a word of warning — beware of the Google Maps Navigator, as it tends to lose its head in the city (particularly around Exhibition St) and will make you drive around in circles (literally!).
The city is bordered by the Yarra River on the south end (Southbank), a railway line on the west side, a park (Fitzroy Gardens) on its east side, and Victoria Road, which runs all along the Northern side of the CBD — a major artery and traffic bottleneck (especially during peak hours) to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Each part of the CBD has a dedicated purpose and function, it’s well laid out with many attractions.
With a strong Asian population, Box Hill is a true ‘China Town’ and a Central Business District in its own right. The numerous Asian restaurants and retailers in its shopping district have contributed to the visibility of this aspect of the suburb’s demographics since the 1990s. Located 14km east of the city, it’s a city buzzing with excitement — a fresh construction development around every corner — with its real estate much sought-after by Asian and international buyers.
There is a real mix of property styles in this area, from traditional bungalows to high-rise apartment buildings and everything in between — there are purely commercial pockets to leafy, tree-lined streets. Box Hill has a number of public transport options, including both trains, buses, and trams connecting to the city and other parts of Melbourne.
Bri-i-i-i-ghton. The way it rolls off locals’ tongues tells you instantly that this bayside suburb, located only 11 kilometres from Melbourne, is more than a little posh — it’s abundant with pristine beaches, leafy tree-lined streets, views of the Melbourne city skyline, and offers some of the best cafes and restaurants in Melbourne. Brighton has a truly relaxing coastal feel and being so close to the city, makes it a highly desirable suburb to live and work.
The gem of this suburb is its treasured and respected architecture with a variety of grandiose estates and parks to explore. The brightly coloured bathing boxes define the shoreline and are a unique trait of Brighton. The yacht clubs and golf courses are also popular, and parking is free for residents in summer to truly enjoy the local beaches.
Probably the best inner-city suburb with everything you could ask for. Despite the fact that there are a gazillion businesses based in the suburb, it manages to maintain a charming atmosphere. Lygon Street is where you’ll find the best restaurants in town — especially if you’re into Italian (this is why it’s often referred to as ‘The Little Italy’), immortalised in song by Skyhooks in the 1970s, it’s the main artery of Carlton and the suburb’s lifeblood.
The area has a vibrant mix of fashion boutiques, bookstores as well as cinemas (including IMAX), Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Centre. It’s also a walking distance to Victoria Markets and the Shopping Malls in the CBD.
Famous for the Collingwood Football Club as this is where it was founded in 1892 (now based at the Melbourne Cricket Ground). Collingwood is one of Melbourne’s hippest areas and its blue-collar origins are evident in its workers’ cottages and converted warehouses, which today house offices, galleries, cafes and quirky shops. The area is a hub for Melbourne’s music scene, with venues like the Tote Hotel staging regular punk and indie gigs. Smith Street is packed with lively restaurants and bars, as well as vintage stores.
Collingwood is also emerging as one of the inner city’s hot areas to dine out, joining the likes of Fitzroy, Carlton and St Kilda, catering to a young, hip and hungry crowd — but also to foodies who flock from all over to enjoy the amazing food on offer at Collingwood.
Dandenong is a rapidly changing town currently undergoing a massive facelift — it’s expected to become a major business hub by 2030, which will offer a city lifestyle with high-rise apartments scattered throughout its own Central Business District.
Whilst it’s located 30 km south-east of the City, it’s conveniently close to the M1 (Monash) freeway and princess highway if you need to get to the city in a hurry — this takes around 1/2hr (outside of peak hours) — the area is also really well serviced by trains and buses.
Dandenong is like a microcosm of a city, with its own major shopping complex, pool and recreation centre, theatre and its iconic market — Melbourne’s second oldest — which best showcases the suburb’s multicultural dynamism.
Heavily redeveloped, as part of urban renewal project (completed in 2015), the previous docks are now home to several of Melbourne’s modern landmarks, including Marvel Stadium (a.k.a. Docklands Stadium) and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. The area contains several high-rise office and mixed-use apartment buildings. It’s a strong commercial district hosting a myriad of large-scale events at the Stadium on regular basis.
Docklands have fantastic free public transport options and immediate access to Melbourne highways to the airport or south-eastern suburbs. Enjoy the incredible water views surrounding the entire span of the suburb whilst you walk (only 15min) to the CBD.
Despite being smack in the middle of central Melbourne it has a several green spaces to enjoy on your time off — this includes the Ron Barassi Park and Docklands Park. There’s also a public library (Library at The Dock) when reading or researching is your cup of tea. There’s a bustling village atmosphere in the place and the suburb is still continuing to evolve with a number of new apartments going up. The upgrades and renovations to Harbour Town are also adding value to the experience of living and working in the area, not to mention the planned construction of a new cinema and supermarket coming to the area soon!
Doncaster is fast becoming a major business hub. It has the largest (design winning) shopping centre in Melbourne — Westfield Doncaster. The suburb sits on a hill — which is also the highest point in the city’s metropolitan area — overlooking a magnificent view of the Melbourne city skyline.
It’s fair to say Doncaster, 15 kilometres east of the CBD, is something of a late bloomer. Suburbia didn’t come here until the late 1960s in the form of single-level brick and brick veneers houses — settling on sizeable blocks of land (approx. 700 m2). Built on top of fruit groves, planted on the area’s rolling hills a century ago, mostly by German settler orchardists.
Now, following the lead of other eastern mid-ring suburbs, the neighbourhood is experiencing a sudden boom in high and medium density accommodation. New luxury family homes and townhouse developments are re-landscaping streets. But, it’s the high-rise developments — particularly clustered around Doncaster Hill, one of the highest points in metropolitan Melbourne, and home to shopping mecca Westfield Doncaster — that plan to transform the suburban into the urban over the next decade.
Take a moment and have a look at the highlights that Heidelberg has to offer and you will be hard-pressed to finds another suburb like it. Located only 11km from the city, it’s one of the largest Medical precincts in Victoria which include Austin/Mercy Hospital and Warringal Private Hospital. It has its own shopping mall and some of the best parklands in outer Melbourne with Warringal Park, Yarra River and also a host of football/cricket ovals all in one place.
This area is truly ripe for some serious development, the already thriving Heidelberg West Business Park is home to over 600 diverse businesses including manufacturing, construction, automotive and wholesaling, the area has one of the highest concentrations of jobs (over 4,5K) in Melbourne north-east and has the potential to become an even greater magnet for investment, jobs services and business.
Located just 9km north of the CBD and only a 20min train rain ride to the city, Preston has always been a strong commercial district, and now even more so with new development planned all around the area, including the removal of the rail crossing (currently causing massive congestions during peak times). The removal (and elevation of the railway line, planned to be completed by 2022) will make it easier to get around the local area and improve east-west connections across busy arterial roads.
Bell Street seems to serve as a clear border between the two faces of this suburb. The south of Bell St. is sought after by residential buyers who want to be closer to the affluent Thornbury and generally, closer to the CBD. The other side is more commercial, closer to the airport and sought out by businesses for their office, warehousing, and manufacturing locations.
Regardless of your personal motives for settling in Preston, there’s a lot of infrastructure improvement occurring and a clearly visible effort by local authorities to create a better (more desirable) image in order to attract potential residents and businesses alike. It seems as if every day, there’s a new cool cafe opening up or a world-renowned business moving in.
The best part about living in Richmond is that everything is within walking distance — even to the city if you’re feeling adventurous. You will always find open shops and bars here, you never have to check the train timetable, there will be one within 5 minutes to wherever you want to go. Residents are respectful of each other, although many of them feel pushed out by all the commercial development in the area.
Based just outside of Melbourne’s CBD, St Kilda is an affluent area popular among young, urban professionals. It has a laid-back bohemian vibe, a premier beachside including an iconic theme park — Luna Park. St Kilda is also a hot spot for tourists with fantastic train and tram links into the city and neighbouring areas.
If you’re looking for the best view in town — especially whilst dining out — head over to Southbank.
Located on the bank of the Yarra River, it overlooks the entire city skyline. It’s just magical, especially at night when the entire city is awash with light. In the evenings, don’t miss the fire show which happens on the hour (across the riverbank between Spencer Street and Queens Bridge Street). Composed of mostly high-rise towers, the Suburb is just over the road from Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and the awesome DFO (Direct Factory Outlet).
Southbank has so much to offer, the most worthy of mention is the riverside entertainment complex which includes the world-famous Crown Casino (host for the annual Aussie Millions poker tournament), high-end restaurants, bars, entertainment, day spas and riverside promenade all at your finger-tips.
Sunshine is one of the oldest parts of Melbourne with a high number of small to medium manufacturing/trade shops and factories. It is also Melbourne’s inner suburb, which offers a lot of potential for future development and growth. It’s probably one of the very few inner-suburbs which doesn’t suffer from constant traffic congestion.
It is now both a low-density residential suburb and one of Melbourne’s principal places of employment outside the CBD. Many heavy and light industrial companies are situated in and around the area and it’s an important retail centre in Melbourne’s west. Apart from Sunshine’s street shopping strips, there are two shopping centres, the Sunshine Plaza and the Sunshine Marketplace, which houses a large cinema complex — Village Cinemas.
In 2013, Sunshine was identified as the key growth centre of Melbourne’s west, with the new metropolitan planning strategy to encourage government and private-sector investment in the former industrial heartland. The development of the new regional rail service through Sunshine boosted the area’s already strong public transport links and aided the development of new research and employment precincts. Although the plan called ’Sunshine Rising’ was implemented by 2017, the government continues to develop further plans for investment into Sunshine.
Tullamarine is next door to the Melbourne Airport but it is not in line with the flight paths of the airport so noise pollution from aircraft is extremely low. The suburb includes a small residential pocket and an industrial area with global aerospace businesses headquarters located there including Schweppes Australia and Zagame Automotive who bought the property from The Age (Melbourne Newspaper) for a reported $16M.
Located 17km north of Melbourne CBD, it’s only a 5min drive to the airport and about a 20min drive to the city. Tullamarine has quick and easy access onto Tullamarine Fwy, Calder Fwy and Western Ring Rd which will link you with quick access to the CBD and greater Melbourne region.
It remains largely a commercial district with a good mix of offices, warehouses, and manufacturing type businesses in the area.