Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Vlad Stoikovich
There are 321 suburbs in Melbourne, Australia, an overwhelming figure if you’re deciding where to plant roots in the city. Luckily, whether you’re a student or retiree, love the outdoors or prefer art museums and creative vibes, this post makes recommendations on where to live in Melbourne based on your life stage and interests.
When weighing up a great suburb, there are many factors to consider. Price inflation in the post covid era has meant concern for the cost of renting, rates or buying property is increasingly at the forefront of people’s minds. In addition, facilities, commutability, a sense of community, and aesthetic appeal all influence liveability to varying extents.
In Aussie culture, there is no shortage of comedic satire, and many of Melbourne’s suburbs have been the brunt of stereotyping at some time or another. These recommendations aim to silence the noise and prioritise the needs of each and every individual mover. The bottom line, however, is neighbourhood culture. A suburb might tick every box on paper but if you don’t gel with the local culture, lifestyle, and your neighbours, it may be best to keep looking. Take these recommendations as the best place to start when planning where you want to live in Melbourne.
The Best Suburbs for Students in Melbourne
For many university students in Melbourne, this is their first time living in the ‘big smoke’, at the very least, their first time living away from home. The suburb you settle in can have a big impact on your university experience.
The northern suburb of Brunswick is popular among students because of its proximity to RMIT University and the University of Melbourne. One of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs and full of Victorian-era houses, the influx of students in Brunswick has made it the perfect blend of old and new. Embracing its student population, Brunswick has evolved into a lively suburb with a live music and theatre scene, trendy cafés, and craft breweries. For Aussie craft beer, make sure to visit the Alehouse Project, Thunder Road Brewery and Temple Brewing Co.
Brunswick is well-suited to pedestrians and has stellar public transport options. The medium rent in Brunswick is $625, relatively affordable for students when split among flatmates. First-time homebuyers may be pleased to know the median house price has seen a 3.7% decrease over the past 12 months.
Brunswick Rating: 8/10
Busy students juggling exams and part-time work may prioritise convenience in the hunt for a neighbourhood. The inner-city suburb of Richmond ranks highly for convenience. Major supermarkets, Asian grocery stores, and eateries are minutes from your doorstep if you live in Richmond.
Sports enthusiasts rejoice! The Melbourne Cricket Ground, with a capacity for over 100,000 spectators, is located in Richmond. The stadium is regularly filled by passionate football fans many of whom are supporting Richmond’s own team. If you prefer a night on the town, the bars and restaurants on Swan Street are popular among students.
The median rent in Richmond is $690 while the median house price is $1,420,000, down 4.1% over the last 12 months.
Richmond Rating: 7/10
Another suburb close to Melbourne’s north-side universities is Carlton. Famously known as Melbourne’s Little Italy, Carlton also happens to be the root of Melbourne’s city-wide coffee addiction. In 1928, Australia’s first commercial and European coffee machine was installed at Café Florentino, a Carlton locale. Students might enjoy grabbing a cuppa and studying at a classic Italian Café, or let’s be real, using that caffeine buzz to pull you through an all-nighter.
Carlton has great medical services such as the Royal Women’s Hospital and Royal Dental Hospital, as well as a convenient tram system. The median rent is $650. The median house price is $1,450,000, down 5.7% in the last year.
Carlton Rating: 9/10
The Best Suburbs for Young Professionals in Melbourne
Many of the best suburbs for young professionals are in the heart of Melbourne. Living near the city centre offers great commutability to and from work, and exposure to the experiences and social hubs (including the best brunch spots!) that make city living in your 20s and 30s a memorable experience.
Only 6km from the CBD, Northcote is a great suburb for young professionals. The suburb has bohemian vibes, complimented by beautiful art deco and Edwardian architecture. For young professionals seeking their tribe, Northcote has a great community spirit. During the covid-19 lockdowns, Northcote residents banded together to support small businesses. The Northcote Social Club is one of the suburb’s most frequented pubs, perfect for meeting new people, jiving to live music or relaxing on the outdoor deck.
Northcote Rating: 7/10
The affluent, inner-city suburb of South Yarra is Melbourne’s re-imagination of New York’s Manhattan. There are thriving café, nightlife, and shopping scenes. For vintage boutiques to high-end designers such as Australia’s own Zimmerman, check out the shops in and around Chapel Street and Toorak Road. Young professionals in South Yarra are close to abundant job opportunities, ideal to get a kickstart in your career.
Claiming a postcode in South Yarra is priced at a premium because of its excellent liveability. The median house price is $1,925,000, which is a 16.3% drop from the past 12 months.
South Yarra Rating: 9/10
If the glitz of South Yarra isn’t for you, the edgy suburb of Collingwood in East Melbourne is also a great option for young professionals. A once gritty, working-class suburb, Collingwood has seen a turn-around in recent years. While many old factories are still in use, the suburb boasts an abundance of tattoo parlours, alternative vintage shops, and live music venues such as the Tote Hotel. Collingwood’s own Smith Street, famed for its retail, nightlife, and hip vibes, was voted the coolest street in the world by Timeout Magazine in 2021.
Collingwood has a strong sense of community as many residents band together in support of their local AFL club, the Collingwood Magpies. Unfortunately, violent crime rates and property crime rates in the suburb are relatively high for Melbourne, something for newcomers to consider.
The median house price is $1,253,000, up 1.7% in the last year.
Collingwood Rating: 6.5/10
The Best Suburbs for Families in Melbourne
Growing a family is a beautiful stage of life and one that can be enriched by settling down in a perfect family home. Many families consider great community, a safe environment, and good schools when deciding on a neighbourhood.
11km north of the CBD, Reservoir feels like a countryside haven but has the conveniences of big city living. Kids have plenty of green spaces to enjoy and there is also a small lake. Beloved by locals, the Preston market allows local traders to sell their produce and wares on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Offering great bang for your buck, the median house price in Reservoir is $876,500, down 7.3% in the past year.
Reservoir Rating: 8
Quickly becoming a suburban hotspot for families, Doncaster East is another great choice. 15km East of the CBD, the outlying suburb of Doncaster East is well positioned for growth and development. Now is the time to snatch up a local postcode. Doncaster secondary school is one of a few good state schools in the area. Additionally, there are shopping centres, restaurants, and playgrounds.
The median house price is $1,517,500, up 0.5%, however, there is a diverse range of properties in the area to suit many budgets.
Doncaster East Rating: 7
If your family loves a good ole Aussie brunch, consider Hawthorne or Hawthorne East. On lazy weekend mornings, locals populate the Straw Café and Porgies Café. Residents range from families with young kids to students attending the local Swinburne University. Despite its student population, Hawthorne and Hawthorne East are peaceful suburbs with historic homes, tree-lined hilly streets, and dotted with pretty Hawthorne bushes.
Residents also pay for proximity to the CBD. The median house price in Hawthorne East is, $2,699,000, up 10.2%, while in Hawthorne it’s $2,375,000, down 11.2%.
Hawthorne and Hawthorne East: 7
The Best Suburbs for Retirees in Melbourne
Weighing up where to spend your golden years and enjoy your freedom from a 9-to-5 is a tricky decision. Many retirees want to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life, but not live too far from beloved family members.
Kew is surprisingly peaceful considering its central location, 5km from the CBD. Victorian and Edwardian-style homes are complimented by wide, green streets that are well-maintained by the city council. A recreational paradise, Kew has plenty of options for staying active including Hays Park, Studley Parke, Victoria Park, Stradbroke Park, and Willsmere-Chandler Park. Golfers may be enticed by the stunning Green Acres golf club, featuring 18 holes.
One of Melbourne’s most prestigious suburbs, and the 8th most expensive, Kew is home to many politicians and athletes. The median house price is $2,800,000 reflecting a rise of 7.9% in the past year.
Kew Rating: 8
If you prefer sea views over Kew’s greenery and rolling hills, don’t pass on Williamstown. Overlooking Hobsons Bay, Williamstown arguably offers the finest views of Melbourne City. The cheerful maritime village was established as Melbourne’s first seaport in 1837. To learn more about the suburb’s history, visit the Williamstown Historical Museum, curated as a labour of love by Williamstown’s Historical Society. The suburb is also well-connected to Melbourne’s city centre by ferry or train.
The median house price is $1,530,000, down 7.3% over the last 12 months.
Williamstown Rating: 7.5
Claiming the highest population of retirees, the southern suburb of Hampton has a lovely, mature community. Originally a working-class neighbourhood, many new developments, shopping centres and cafes allow Hampton to compete with its beachside neighbours in regards to liveability. Facilities include several high-quality retirement homes and the Linacre Private Hospital.
The median house price in Hampton is $2,300,000, a 5.2% drop since last year.
Hampton Rating: 7
The Best Suburbs for Lovers of the Outdoors in Melbourne
Contrary to popular belief, city living and soaking up the outdoors aren’t on opposite ends of the spectrum. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, Melbourne has several suburbs that may be ideal for you.
It’s hard to believe Albert Park is an inner-city suburb within walking distance from the CBD. On the stunning Albert Park Lake, locals can enjoy a day of kayaking, canoeing, sailing, rowing, fishing, or birdwatching. There are green spaces and nature trails, and most are dog-friendly so you never have to leave your best friend at home. Only for a few days in March, locals ditch the nature trails to watch the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix hosted in Albert Park.
Be warned, although Albert Park has a below-average violent crime rate for Melbourne, the suburb’s large heritage style-houses are the target of an above-average property crime rate. The median house price is $2,500,00, up 8.7% over the last 12 months.
Albert Park Rating: 9
A popular destination among backpackers, St Kilda has more to offer than its reputation for lively nightlife and beachside parties. The St Kilda beach stretches 700 metres between the St Kilda Marina and St Kilda Harbour. Lovers of the outdoors are spoilt by cycling trails, decent surfing, and many options to try out water sports… Be warned, the St Kilda’s penguin residents may try and join the fun. For a more relaxed way to spend time under the sun, there are many patio brunch spots, or you can bring the family to the historic Luna Park with plenty of carnival rides. Other attractions include the Palais Theatre for live music or the art-deco Astor Theatre which regularly hosts alternative film festivals.
The median house price in St Kilda is $1,625,000, down 5.7% over the past year.
St Kilda Rating: 8
26km North-East of the CBD, Eltham is a wee slice of countryside. The suburb doesn’t have direct highway access so commuting can be a pain. What it lacks in the commuting department, Eltham makes up for with an abundance of green parks, lakes, cycling trails and picnic spots. Don’t forget to bring some extra slices of bread in your picnic basket as locals love to feed the ducks.
Now may be a good time to invest in Eltham as changes are underway. Formerly an uneventful suburb, Melbourne’s influence and café culture is beginning to take over. Currently, the median house price is $1,230,000, down 4.7% from last year.
Eltham Rating: 6.5
The Best Suburbs for Creatives in Melbourne
Melbourne is warmly thought of as Australia’s creative capital (if not it’s coffee capital!). Where do the artsiest, the most passionate creators find community in Melbourne?
Many artists gravitate to the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy. Teeming with art galleries, street art exhibitions, live music performances and tattoo artists, Fitzroy is sure to satisfy your creative spirit. In terms of liveability, Fitzroy is not for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia as the suburb is one of the most densely populated in Melbourne. Fitzroy, however, ranks highly for walkability and has three tramline services.
The median house price in Fitzroy is $1,505,130, a 1.0% drop from last year.
Fitzroy Rating: 7/10
Brunswick claims the honour of being featured on this list for a second time as it is also a great fit for creatives. The suburb is crowded by young artists, the most talented of whom display their work in the local Counihan Gallery, Beinart Gallery or Brunswick Street Gallery. Fitting to the suburb’s hip reputation, live music events, trendy up-scale restaurants, speciality coffee, and craft breweries are popular amongst Brunswick residents. If you prefer to draw your creative inspiration from nature, Brunswick Park has lush greenery and a small waterway.
Brunswick Rating: 8
To experience creativity beyond gallery walls, served up on a plate instead, consider Prahan. The ultimate foodie paradise, Prahan delivers fusion restaurants, pop-up eateries, themed bars, and cosmic cocktail concoctions. Mr Miyagi, a Japanese fusion restaurant, is one of the many establishments with queues down the street every Friday and Saturday evening. For the fashion-obsessed, shop the new trends on the infamous Chapel Street and vintage gems on the lesser-known Greville Street.
The median house price is $1,725,000, which reflects a 4.2% drop over the last year.
The Best Suburbs for those Seeking Luxury in Melbourne
If luxury in abundance is what you’re looking for, there are several Melbourne suburbs you ought to consider.
Topping the list of Melbourne’s most expensive suburbs, relocating to Toorak will see you living among Melbourne’s rich and famous. Take a walk down Toorak’s streets and you will see ornamental gates concealing luxury modernist-style mansions, and impressive square footage. Located 5km from the city centre, Toorak’s central location means access to the finest shopping and dining is at your fingertips.
Claiming a postcode in the star-studded suburb will set you back $5,900,000 on average. However, the most expensive home in Toorak, located on Georges Road, sold for circa $80,000,000 in 2021.
Toorak Rating: 8
Brighton is synonymous with beachside bliss. From idyllic beaches to large Victorian and Gregorian-era homes, Brighton presents a luxurious combination. While Brighton is said to have an exclusive feel, that doesn’t stop Melburnians from flocking to Brighton Beach. Beachgoers soak up the sun and admire the 82 colourful bath boxes dotting the sand. Another popular location in Brighton is Dendy Park. The parkland reserve doubles as an outdoor physical recreation facility with tennis courts, running tracks, and playgrounds. Bring your pup as dogs are not required to roam with a leash.
The third most expensive suburb in Melbourne, Brighton’s median house price is $3,235,000, down 4.6% over the past 12 months.
Brighton Rating: 9
South Yarra is perfect if you’re seeking luxury but don’t want to pay the price tag of a property on Melbourne’s ‘top ten most expensive’ list. Close to all the city’s amenities, South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s most liveable suburbs. Chapel Street and Toorak Street in South Yarra are bustling hives for shopping, entertainment, and dining. An emblem of South Yarra is the Jam Factory, an old jam production factory refurbished into an upscale mall with a multiscreen cinema.
In addition to liveability, South Yarra’s prestige owes to its old money origins which are reflected today by some of the best-preserved Victorian terrace houses in Melbourne.
South Yarra Rating: 9
The Best Suburbs for Multiculturalists in Melbourne
Are you passionate about travel and are culture curious? Or have you moved to Australia from abroad, currently looking for an understanding community and taste of home? Like any big city, Melbourne is home to many cultures, and certain pockets of the city have an even higher concentration.
Adjacent to the city centre, Carlton is fondly known as Melbourne’s Little Italy. During the 1950s Gold Rush, many Italians immigrated to Melbourne to better their chances for prosperity. The Italians settled in Carlton, forming a tight-knit community that thrives up to the present day. Make your way to Lygon Street or Elgin Street, near the iconic La Mama theatre, to gratify your tastebuds with the best dishes Italian cuisine has to offer. Pizza, pasta, risotto, cannolo, gelato… you name it! Tutti deliziosi! For a balanced lifestyle, Carlton has several gym facilities including Anytime Fitness, ZAP Fitness and Carlton Baths. The suburb is also well-serviced by public transport and tramlines.
Carlton Rating: 9/10
Another suburb with a Mediterranean feel is Oakleigh, inhabited by the largest population of Greeks outside of Athens. Locals stay true to their Hellenic roots, even celebrating Greek Independence Day on the 25th of March with a lively festival. Don’t be surprised to hear the Greek language spoken in public as 88% of Greek Australians are fluent in the language regardless of birthplace. This Southern suburb has been rapidly developing in recent years, with more and more restaurants, eateries and small businesses being established.
The median house price in Footscray is $1,392,999, down 3.1% in the past year.
Oakleigh Rating: 7.5/10
Surpassing its past representation of seediness, Footscray has become one of the best places to live in Melbourne. Home to immigrants from the Mediterranean, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and Africa, the inner-city suburb boasts impressive cultural diversity which happens to be well reflected in its cuisine. It’s not often you’ll find Eastern European dumplings, Vietnamese pho, Ethiopian injera bread or a gelato stand all within a short walk of one another. For fresh produce, visit the large Footscray market from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Other amenities in Footscray include the local park, gyms and Footscray hospital.
The median house price in Footscray is $1,392,999, a 3.1% drop since last year.
Footscray Rating: 8
How to choose the suburb that’s perfect for you in Melbourne, Australia
Online resources such as the Crime Statistics Agency (Victoria) provide up-to-date information about crime rates in different areas. You can also ask local residents or real estate agents for their insights.
Local council websites often have information about planned developments, zoning rules, and local strategies. This can give you an idea about how the suburb might change in the future.
Online forums, local newspapers, community websites, and social media groups can offer insights into the lifestyle and culture of different suburbs. Visiting the suburb and speaking to locals can also be very informative.
Online property websites can give you an idea about the average rental prices and house prices in different suburbs. For other living costs, such as groceries or utilities, you might need to do a bit more research or ask local residents for their experiences.
Consider factors such as historical property price growth, rental yield, vacancy rates, and future infrastructure projects. Consulting with a real estate professional or a financial advisor could also provide valuable insights.
The importance of public transportation will depend on your personal needs. If you don’t own a car or prefer not to use one regularly, proximity to trains, trams, and buses would be a significant factor. Melbourne has a robust public transportation system, especially in the inner-city suburbs.
This depends on your lifestyle and work needs. If you work in the CBD and want a short commute, a suburb close to the city would be ideal. However, suburbs further out often offer larger properties and more green space, and might be closer to beaches or mountains, if that suits your lifestyle better.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority provides school reports and ratings. Also, consider the proximity of schools, availability of extracurricular activities, and if the suburb falls into the zone for the school you prefer.
Yes, visiting the suburb will give you a feel for the local community, atmosphere, amenities, and the general lifestyle it offers. Try to visit at different times of the day and week to get a comprehensive understanding.
You should consider factors such as proximity to work or school, public transportation access, housing affordability, crime rate, local amenities (like shops, restaurants, parks), the feel of the community, and school zones if you have children.
Vlad Stoikovich is the General Manager of HomeMove, with more than twenty years in the Melbourne removalist industry, you won’t find anyone with more experience or greater integrity.