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What You Need to Know When You’re Moving to Melbourne

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  • Alain Nguyen

    It was easier getting to know other expatriates in Melbourne with this platform and to share our previous experiences in Australia.

You have to carefully consider the pros and cons of the relocation process as part of your move to Melbourne. One element that needs consideration is the remote nature of the city: as the capital of Victoria State, Melbourne lies at the southern tip of the island of Australia. It takes around nine hours to drive to Sydney, and around 7 hours to drive to the Australian capital of Canberra. This distance from major cities, plus from other countries, can make shipping your goods to “the land down under” a long process.

Yet, the relative isolation that makes moving a difficult task is also an exciting draw. Expats love that Melbourne is close to beautiful beaches and still maintains wide access to cultural activities, like ballet and opera. The time spent making sure your relocation is successful (even the application process to import your pet may take up to two months) will be worth it when you can enjoy meeting friends over brunch or visit one of the many sports stadiums to watch a game.

Read this guide to find out everything you need to know before moving to Melbourne. Explore the visa you will need and how to get it, plus learn our best tips and advice to make your relocation as smooth as possible.

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Relocating to Melbourne is a dream for many expats, particularly those from the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Italy, and Germany, who make up some of the city’s largest expat communities. Almost 90,000 people emigrated to the city in 2018, to join the 58% of Melbournians who have one or more parents born overseas.

Clearly, Melbourne is a popular destination. The city regularly features in the top places to live in the InterNations Expat Insider survey, and immigration is projected to help the city grow rapidly over the next decade. But, why move to Melbourne? And, once you have decided to move there, what do you need to know to plan your relocation?

Things to Know Before Moving to Melbourne

There are pros and cons to any international move, especially those to islands where belongings have to be flown or shipped in. We look at some of the specific positives and negatives that you should consider when you are planning your move to Melbourne.


  • A fantastic education system. Melbourne has many renowned schools in its public education system and it is accepting of expat children. No matter your visa status, your kids will be able to attend a public school.
  • World-class healthcare. Melbourne is home to some of the leading hospitals in Australia. Expats moving here do not have to worry about accessing medical facilities or specialists, as the city will likely have an expert who can help you.
  • A warm welcome. Australians are known to be open and friendly, and Melbournians are no exception. It is not just the locals, either: there is a thriving expat scene and tolerance of diversity, with Melbourne being known as the most multicultural city in Australia.


  • Shipping your belongings might take longer than you think. Melbourne is at the southern tip of Australia, making it relatively isolated from other large cities and other countries. Plan accordingly when you ship your belongings, or you might have to wait a long time for them to arrive.
  • Strict pet relocation rules. Every pet arriving in Melbourne must go into quarantine for ten days. This is on top of the huge list of required vaccinations and an import application process that can take up to two months. Find out more about pet relocation in our Moving with Pets to Australia
  • Cost of living. Higher wages in the city mean that your living expenses should be covered. Unless you have a well-paying job, however, you will find that saving money is hard. You may have to trade a night out for a night in more often than you would like.

In general, expats who speak English will generally find it is easy to move to Melbourne and integrate into Melbournian culture. You can make friends easily, learn about the history and culture quickly, and partake in all the activities that make Melbourne so fun. Finding a job and a home is also likely to be easier as, in general, business is conducted in English. Similarly, it is not hard to move to Melbourne if you are a native Mandarin or Cantonese speaker with English competency. There is a large Chinese community in the city, and many street signs are written in both English and simplified Chinese characters.

Tips and Advice for Moving to Melbourne

Making the leap and moving to this international city is a big decision. Feel prepared for your move by reading our tips and advice for moving to Melbourne, or contact us if you would like to book a relocation consultation call to discuss your move in more detail.

Do You Need a car?

An extensive public transport network means you are unlikely to need to own a car to commute in Melbourne. On the other hand, if you have a young family then owning a car will be more necessary to get around the city in the quickly changing weather and to avoid crowded public transportation. Find out more in our Driving in Australia guide.

Can You Find a School Easily?

Any child living in Australia is eligible to attend the public school system. This is great news for expats: Australia boasts one of the best education systems in the world outside of Asia and tuition is usually no more than a few hundred Australian dollars per year. For most public schools, you need proof of your address, proof of your child’s age, and to be able to demonstrate their current level of education.

There are also many renowned private and international schools in Melbourne. These usually require children to take an entrance exam and cost more money (more than 10,000 AUD (6,550 USD) per year). Learn more about international schools in our Education in Australia guide.

Can You Bring Pets?

If your pet is not on a banned breeds list, you will be able to bring them with you to Melbourne. This involves following an import process that takes months, including fully vaccinating your pet and placing them into quarantine. You can read about the entire process in our Moving with Pets to Australia guide.

Once your pets have arrived in Melbourne, you should be aware that your pet has to be microchipped and registered with a local council or you can be fined 330 AUD (215 USD). Dogs must also be on a leash when being walked in public, including playgrounds and BBQ areas, and you should always clean up after your dog. Eight parks across the city have off-leash areas for dogs; you can find a map of these parks at the City of Melbourne website.

Visas and Work Permits

There are many types of visas and work permits available if you want to move to Melbourne, depending on your situation and qualifications. If you are looking to move long-term to this city, however, you will most likely need a Skilled Worker Visa or Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.

To qualify for one of these two visas, you must meet criteria including:

  • Have a job in one of specific occupations listed at the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.
  • Be under 45 years of age.
  • Pass a health check.
  • Satisfy the Australian points system check.
  • Understand and speak competent English.

A full list of visas available as well as more information about the health check, points system, and details of how to get the visa are found at our Visas & Work Permits Australia guide.

Requirements and Documents

You can move to Melbourne on a standard Australian visa with no other documentation needed. However, you may be eligible for a Victorian visa nomination from the Victoria State government, which will support your visa application. This nomination can increase your chances of successfully applying for a visa.

To qualify, you must satisfy all of the criteria for the Australian visa you are applying for. You must also meet the criteria set by the Victorian government to be nominated. This can be for either a business or skilled workervisa. Finally, you must make a commitment to settle in Melbourne (or the state of Victoria) permanently. Learn more at the official Victoria Government website.


What is it like living in Melbourne? It is the question every expat wants to know the answer to. We look in-depth about life as a Melbournian and how to live in Melbourne. This guide to living in the city covers everything from safety for different groups of people, including women living alone and the LGBT+ community, to how much transport costs. Our top tip is to buy a Myki card, which you can use to pay for traveling on the tram, train, or bus.

You can also discover important tasks that should be on your to-do list and will help you settle-in within the first few weeks, including information about Tax File Numbers (TFNs) and Medicare. For instance, did you realize that you must have a TFN to work and set up a bank account? These smaller matters are easy to forget when you first move to a new city.

If you are more concerned with how to find a home in this city, our guide explores four great neighborhoods. Learn all about what it is like to buy or rent in areas ranging from the upmarket Malvern district to the low-cost area of Sunshine. We also explore how the average cost of rent (around 420 AUD or 280 USD per week) differs across the city, and what it takes to ensure that you secure your dream home. Read more about Living in Melbourne.


Melbourne is a relatively expensive place to live, and most expats find that working in the city is necessary. If you do not have a job lined up and are interested in getting a job in Melbourne, or you want to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur in this vibrant city, this section covers all the important things to consider. It features specific information on the job market here, and how to give yourself the best possible chance of scoring your dream role. Focuses include networking and where to look for recently open roles.

If you are not sure where to begin, we also look at the bigger picture. Find out in this section about average salaries in Melbourne, and the jobs that are in demand. Growing industries include healthcare, construction, and professional services; if you are trained in these roles, you may be able to gain easy entry into and live a comfortable life in the city. We also explore five of the most popular co-working spaces across the city for start-ups or freelancers looking for desk space. Read more about Working in Melbourne today.

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

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