If you choose to move to Australia and you want to live and work here properly, then choosing which city to settle down in to do so is a pretty daunting task. I’m no expert as I have only travelled up the east coast so far but I have spent quite a lot of time in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne- three of the most popular big cities on the coast for travellers. In this post I’ll give you my honest opinion on what I love about each place, what I don’t love so much and my favourite areas/must sees in each, before trying to conclude on which one I would recommend the most.
- It has a small, homelier feel compared to Sydney and Melbourne. It feels less daunting, less crowded and less touristy which can be a comfort.
- It’s a cheaper option than Syd and Melb- public transport costs less and the accommodation is much more reasonable so if you’re budget conscious this is a real plus side.
- It gets seriously hot here in summer so you’ll certainly get a tan living here.
- There’s a lot less to do here in terms of festivals, food and craft markets, pop-ups and sporting events.
- It’s not on the coast which is a shame as I feel like that’s an important element of the Australian lifestyle and on those boiling days a beach would be an absolute blessing.
- Personally I found it actually TOO hot on those summer days- it’s so difficult to sleep unless you have great air conditioning and if you have hair that hates humidity, like myself, then it can be a nightmare.
- Southbank is lovely and leafy and perfect for an evening stroll as the lights of the city look beautiful from here.
- Fortitude Valley is a student and backpacker area with lots of bars, clubs and reasonably priced little restaurants. I loved the atmosphere here, especially on a night. Read about my favourite restaurant in the valley here!
- Mount Coot-tha is an amazing place to get a look out at the whole city.
- There’s a great food scene here- the Asian food was particularly good and I even managed to discover a few things that I had never tried before.
- The shopping is fantastic with huge versions of all the main shops and lots of cute, unique Australian brands mixed in.
- Sydney has the most ‘touristy’ sights to see (see more of those here) and I feel like you can never forget that you’re in Australia with the opera house and the harbour bridge right there.
- Its climate lies somewhere in between Brisbane and Melbourne so it’s generally a nice level of warm, without being too humid.
- THE BEACHES. Too beautiful.
- The whole harbour is gorgeous and feels so unique to Sydney.
- There’s heaps of natural beauty and stunning walks that accentuate that, such as the Bondi to Coogee or Manly to Spit walks (links to both posts on these included!) – a must do.
- I’m clutching at straws here, but I suppose the only con is that it is the most touristy place so it can get very busy and there’s someone snapping a picture on every corner (not that this really bothers me!).
- The Blue Mountains are an insanely beautiful part of NSW that you HAVE to visit while you’re here- so breathtaking!
- Queen Victoria Building is a beautiful shopping centre in the CBD that’s just so quaint and pretty and has beautiful architecture.
- Surry Hills is a very cool area, just on the edge of the CBD- it has great bars, restaurants and cute, authentic houses that just sum up Australia to me.
- The Rocks- Australia is a pretty new country still but the best place to go to get a bit of history is The Rocks- the first place that British settlers made their home, it has a great free museum detailing the history and the most historical buildings in Australia.
- ALL of the beaches in Sydney are insane but Coogee was definitely one of my favourites so I’d 100% recommend it. Other beaches I adored include Watson’s Bay, the famous Bondi and the lovely Manly.
- The Grounds of Alexandria are my favourite place in Australia to eat, relax, and admire millions of beautiful flowers.
- Melbourne manages to have an even better food scene than Sydney, in my opinion. I particularly love the Greek quarter for some seriously good food.
- Like Sydney, there’s heaps of shops selling absolutely everything and it’s a really pleasurable shopping experience due to the way the city is laid out with lots of large, air-conditioned malls.
- Melbourne CBD has free trams going all around the city, which is really handy and makes it such an accessible place.
- There is ALWAYS something to do in Melbourne- from music events, to food festivals, to beach parties.
- The climate is really moderate compared to the rest of Australia and there’s rarely very extreme heat, which is much more preferable for me.
- It has a very European feel- you’ll find lots of cute alleyways and authentic Italian restaurants hidden down adorable little side streets, similar to those you’d find in France or Italy.
- It’s super cultural and artsy- the graffiti streets are testament to that.
- Some people may not like that it’s a lot colder than it is higher up the east coast.
- It feels a lot less authentically Australian- I often forget that I’m not in Europe living here!
- Although there are some lovely beaches, they are a lot less naturally beautiful than those in Sydney in that the sand is duller, the sea is less blue, and they seem to be much smaller.
- Melbourne is known for having tonnes of cool suburbs to explore- highlights for me so far have been Fitzroy and Brunswick.
- The Southbank is really pretty and there’s lots of lovely places to eat and drink lining the river.
- Brighton beach is really pretty and unique with all its little beach huts.
- Queen Victoria Market is a great place to get cheap, fresh produce in the day and on Wednesday evenings it transforms into an insanely good street food market that’s the perfect place to go for some delicious dinner and drinks.
- Hosier Lane is probably the biggest and most famous of the many streets full to the brim of ever-changing graffiti.
- Although I haven’t yet got round to doing it- the Great Ocean Road is meant to be incredible.
In summary- I think all of these cities have a lot to offer and it obviously depends on what you most want to get out of where you live.
If you like something more peaceful- Brisbane, if you’re all about the beach life- Sydney, if you’re a serious foodie- Melbourne.
If I had to choose my favourite, I would discount Brisbane as there just wasn’t quite enough going on for me- but I’d find it VERY difficult to choose between Melbourne and Sydney. My verdict- split your time in half and stay equally in each, it would be a shame not to try both.