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Moving to Melbourne

What to know if you're moving to Melbourne

Are you planning to relocate to Melbourne? Australia’s second-largest city beats its rival Sydney in many respects. Expatriates appreciate the quality of life and the city’s diverse heritage. The InterNations GO! guide on moving to Melbourne introduces the metropolis, visa types, and residential areas.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

All about Australia

There are several steps required to move to Australia including house hunting, shipping your household items, and getting your necessary visa and immigration documents in order. Unless you are from New Zealand, requirements for relocating to Australia will include a visa if you intend on living and working here.

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Relocating to Melbourne

  • The metropolitan area of Melbourne has a population of over 5.2 million people.
  • SkillSelect is how Australia manages their skilled migration program; the government of Australia only takes the applicants with the highest points into consideration.
  • There are 31 municipalities in the greater Melbourne metro area, including 15 inner city suburbs.

The Capital of Victoria

Moving to Melbourne, you have decided to live in Australia’s second-most populous city with 5.27 million people, coming second only to Sydney with 5.25 million. Melbourne is not only the capital of Victoria, Australia’s smallest and most densely populated mainland state (right after the capital territory). The city is also its economic powerhouse.

Melbourne used to be the center of Australia’s “rustbelt”. However, since the 1980s, it has gradually mastered the transition from a focus on manufacturing to a thriving service sector. Lots of visa-holding expats find employment in the revived urban economy. But they profit from more than just the city’s job opportunities.

A move to Melbourne is an attractive option, due to the high quality of living in the metropolitan area. Nicknamed both “Australia’s unofficial cultural capital” and “City of Gardens”, Melbourne boasts a lively arts and entertainment scene, a good variety of annual cultural festivals and sports events, and plenty of open green spaces.

Expats moving to Melbourne will be happy to hear that the Economist magazine deemed Melbourne “the world’s most livable city” for the fifth consecutive time in 2015, outstripping 139 other cities.

History and Geography

The history of this much appreciated city begins with a sad fact. In 1835, the first European settlers in the area founded their village on land theft. They squatted on the territory of the Aboriginal Wurundjiri nation, whose members were gradually decimated due to dispossessment, diseases, and frontier violence. The British settlement, however, prospered, living up to the city’s later motto: vires acquirit eundo — Latin for “she gathers strength as she goes”. With crowds of diggers and miners moving to Melbourne, it soon turned into the “Marvellous Melbourne” of the gold rush years.

Nowadays, Melbourne is a flourishing 21st-century metropolis. About 75 percent of Victoria’s populace is concentrated in Greater Melbourne, rather than the state’s rural regions. Located around Port Philipp Bay and the mouth of the Yarra River, the Melbourne metro area now includes 31 municipalities. It is divided into three areas, according to their distance from the city center: Inner Melbourne, Metropolitan Melbourne, and Outer Melbourne.

Population and Climate

As an expat resident, you will join the ranks of 5.2 million people who live in the metropolitan area today. According to the 2011 census, 31 percent of all Melbourne’s inhabitants were born overseas. The Anglo-Celtic (i.e. English-Irish-Scottish) heritage of the first European colonists has long given way to a multicultural society.

In some municipalities, the percentage of foreign-born residents is far higher than the national average of 28 percent. For example, in the city center of Melbourne 41 percent of all inhabitants were born outside Australia. Migrants who move to Melbourne are from countries as different as Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, the UK, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Vietnam, and Italy.

Unfortunately, the weather in Melbourne is as varied as its population. The oceanic climate results in rather moderate temperatures. The yearly average ranges from 10°C (minimum) to 19°C (maximum). However, the weather is also extremely changeable. When you move to Melbourne, you will soon find out why Melbournians joke about “four seasons in one day”. So, make sure to pack your suitcase accordingly before moving to Melbourne.

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Visas for Melbourne, Australia

If you would like to move to Melbourne as a foreign assignee or immigrant, you first need to figure out the correct visa you will need. There are the many types of visas available. The official “visa finder” from the Australian Department for Immigration and Citizenship can help you find the correct one for your stay in Melbourne. The criteria for choosing the right visa include:
  • your nationality
  • the country where you live and where you apply from
  • the duration of your stay
  • your reason for coming to Melbourne (e.g. “for business”, “to live and work there”, or “to live with my partner/child/parent”)

Visa Options for Melbourne: Temporary Work Skilled (457)

Despite the many visa options available to applicants, two or three specific visas will apply to most expatriates interested in relocating to Melbourne.

The first of these options is the so-called “Standard Business Sponsorship (Temporary Work Skilled) Visa” (No. 457). This name is quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Don’t worry about the bureaucratic-sounding visa title, though! Just remember the number 457. If you are an expat on an intra-company transfer or with a limited job offer from an Australia-based company, this is the visa you need.

In the year 2013, 126,350 of the 457 visas were issued. In 2015, there were numerous changes to the 457 skilled visa program. For an example, one major change was that the Australian government started focusing on and monitoring the 457 visa sponsors. This strengthened the requirements for companies bringing temporary workers from overseas.

The 457 visa enables you to live and work in Melbourne for up to four years. You can leave and re-enter the country as many times as you want. What is even more important, you are also allowed to bring your secondary applicants with you, that means your spouse (including unmarried and/or same-sex partners), unmarried children under the age of 18, and elderly relatives that are dependent on your financial support. These secondary visa holders can then live, work or study in Melbourne as well, until the 457 visa expires.

Temporary Work Skilled (457): Eligibility

You need to fulfill certain requirements in order to receive a 457 visa for a temporary stay in Australia. These criteria are as follows:

  • You must have a job offer from a legally entitled employer in Australia, who has officially applied to sponsor you. You need to accept the offer and sign the contract before you can start your application.
  • Moreover, you should have a suitable professional background for the sponsored job. If you need a specific license for selected professions or a skills assessment for certain trades, take care of that first. (Ask your Australian embassy/ consulate or the DIAC for further information on skills assessment tests, etc.)
  • You also need to make arrangements for medical insurance cover (more on that in our article on living in Melbourne) and fulfil some health requirements. The latter may include a general check-up exam, a chest x-ray for TBC, and, in some cases, blood tests for HIV and other diseases. The blood tests mostly apply to medical staff, though.
  • As proof of your English language skills, you should take the IELTS exam and achieve at least five points in each of its four parts.
  • Lastly, you need proof of your good character (i.e. in some cases, a police certificate), and you must sign an Australian values statement to respect the local way of life and obey the local laws.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary back-up documents before you start the application process. You can also apply for an Australian visa online with the DIAC.

Other Visa Options: Skilled Migration

In July 2012, the Australian government introduced an important change to their skilled migration program. If you are interested in moving to Melbourne as a skilled worker, business person, or investor, and want to settle there on a permanent basis, you need to enter your data into the official SkillSelect data base.

The national or regional government then invites only the people with a specific occupation and a high number of points for other factors (e.g. age, language skills, etc.) to submit their visa application. When a certain quota for a field of employment has been reached, they will issue no more invitations over a certain time period. Without an invitation, you can not apply for a permanent visa.

Please note, though, that even a permanent visa only allows you to reside and work in Melbourne permanently without a previous job offer. You still need to find a way to earn a living once you have moved there.

Residential Neighborhoods in Melbourne

Once you have successfully arranged your visa application, you will probably want to consider where in the Melbourne area you’d like to live. This decision is most likely dependent upon the location of your workplace, and maybe your partner’s job or your children’s school. These are some of the key factors to help you determine in which part of the greater metropolitan area to settle.

The Municipalities of Greater Melbourne

As mentioned on the first page, the vast Melbourne metro region includes 31 smaller municipalities. Most of them are located outside the Inner Melbourne area:

  • Northern metro area: Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whittlesea
  • Eastern metropolitan Melbourne: Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Yarra Ranges
  • Southeastern metro area: Bayside, Cardinia, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Frankston, Glen Eira, Kingston, Monash, Mornington Peninsula
  • Western Melbourne region: Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Metton, Moonee Valley, Wyndham

Within the scope of this introduction to Melbourne, we can unfortunately not introduce all these smaller cities, towns, and shires in detail. Below, we will briefly present the four municipalities of Inner Melbourne and some of their popular residential suburbs.

Please note the use of suburb in Australian English: It does not refer to an outlying part of a city, but it just means district or neighborhood.

Inner Melbourne: The City of Melbourne and Port Philipp

The City of  includes the city center and 15 inner-city suburbs. Single expats and couples without children may opt for the suburbs of ,  (Central Business District) or  when looking for a new home. Accommodation in these areas often caters to high-income residents. Younger “DINKS” (couples with a double income and no kids) flock to the new developments of the Docklands. East Melbourne attracts an older, more established population.

Multi-cultural and green  have a fairly young demographic structure. This is due to their proximity to the University of Melbourne campus and the many national and overseas students that live in the area. An equally young population composed of students as well as professionals in their 20s and 30s can be found in , a popular shopping, nightlife and entertainment district. Expat families with kids, on the other hand, might prefer the gentrified suburb of  or the less expensive rentals in , according to their budget.

Among the seven suburbs of , southeast to central Melbourne, some foreign residents could be particularly interested in . This suburb is home to a number of overseas consulates, and is thus relevant to expats working as diplomatic staff. Moreover, densely settled  and the formerly industrial area of  are both experiencing population growth. They may address the needs of house hunters better than, for example, the commercial areas of busy and touristy .

Inner Melbourne: Stonnington and Yarra

Also located southeast of Central Melbourne, but further inland than Port Philipp, the City of  includes another eight suburbs. Their population mainly consists of white-collar residents. Most of them are employed in management positions or work as professionals. Thus they fit the profile of a high-qualified expat pretty well.

As an established residential area, the Stonnington district of  might be of potential interest to older residents and families with older children. The latter could also be attracted by ’s private schools. However, the younger urbanites flock to the rental accommodations of  or South Yarra. With 35% of its residents born overseas,  has Stonnington’s highest percentage of foreign inhabitants, too.

Confusingly enough, the suburb of South Yarra does not belong to the City of , which is adjacent to the eastern part of central Melbourne. Choosing from its ten suburbs, more affluent expats might go for gentrified ,  or , with its gardens, golf course, and sports facilities. Families with small kids often settle in , a mixed industrial and residential area with lots of open space. Suburbs like  and , though, feature not only a large Vietnamese community, but also more lower-income households than the rest of Yarra.

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

Updated on: August 30, 2016

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