Global Survey Sparks Urban Warfare – Is Melbourne really the Most Liveable City in the World?


Recently the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) decreed the most liveable city in the world for 2012 was Melbourne.   Determining factors included political/social stability, access to good education and health care, a good infrastructure, diverse cultural events, a good natural environment and low crime rates.  Melbourne scored 97.5 per cent, only losing points for climate, culture and petty crime.

But before you pack up your belongings, book a flight and set out for a new life in this exemplary city,  allow me to update you on a few facts that will assist you to see through crystal clear glasses rather than the rosy ones that may have been donned on reading about the auspicious title bestowed upon Melbourne.

I agree that there are many good reasons to live in Melbourne and some of them are cited above ie education, health care, infrastructure and stability.  However, why the EIU believe that we are lacking in culture I have no idea.    Melbourne, like other modern cities, is a conurbation of several million people.   Almost a quarter of Victoria’s population was born overseas, and the city is home to residents from 180 countries, who speak over 233 languages and dialects and follow 116 religious faiths.    The earliest known inhabitants of this area were the Bunurong, Wurundjeri and Wathaurong tribal groups.    According to statistics Melbourne has an  Aboriginal community in the city numbering over 20,000 persons (0.6% of the population).

Melbourne also has a thriving and diverse cultural mix of sports, arts and entertainment.  Cricket, football, AFL, water sports, motor racing, horse racing, golf and tennis all hold regular international events.   Music, comedy and art’s festivals are held annually.  There are theatres, music venues, art galleries, cinemas and museums.   We have beaches, parkland, a vibrant night-life, conference facilities and trendy shopping areas (including the gentrified docklands).   Melbourne is a centre of excellence for restaurants and has hundreds of karaoke bars!   This city positively overflows with culture (and pop idol wannabees)!

However, like all places Melbourne has things to work on and improve.  For example:-

Melbourne has scored near the bottom of an international ranking of housing affordability.    As one who would like to own a house rather than rent a drafty, cold (albeit charming) weatherboard house at an inflated price and has tried to save for a number of years for a deposit, I understand this.   For the price of  an urban dwelling in Melbourne I could buy a piece of the English country side with a detached house in the middle of it.

Melbourne’s unemployment rate has risen from 4.5 per cent to 6.2 per cent in a year and despite the standard of living being good there are still many disadvantaged, poor and  homeless people.

The crime rate in Melbourne’s CBD is more than double that of any other place in Victoria.

Melbourne has MyKi – a smartcard ticketing system being rolled-out on public transport – It seemed like a good idea on paper!

Melbourne has had the wettest and coldest year since 200 BC.

Far more seriously though, the bestowing of this title has rekindled hostilities between Melbourne and other Australian cities (mainly Sydney).   ‘Urban warfare’ has been declared by various sources which, of course, would mean that Melbourne’s social and political stability may not quite as solid as the EIU would have us believe.

Overall, however,  Melbourne is a good place to live.  Do your research,  be realistic and come prepared.    Learn how to layer your clothing (the British do this well),  pack wet/cold weather gear, get those vocal chords in training and enjoy!

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10 thoughts on “Global Survey Sparks Urban Warfare – Is Melbourne really the Most Liveable City in the World?

  1. Nice research. Though I have to say, in regard to the “things to improve”…. I think every city that is a financial center has a high cost of living, because… thats where job are and where people want to live. please, name a city that’s awesome to live in that doesn’t cost a lot to live in?

    CBD crime – no good they should work on that!

    Urban warfare – par for the course. New York vs. Boston, London vs. Paris… again this is endemic to all great cities so I think they should be moot since all great cities share this (and the cost of living problem)

    The weather – sucks. But…. so does the weather in a lot of great cities because, they started as ports, and port cities often have bad weather. NY is obscenely hot in summer, frigid in winter, London is foggy and rainy, San Francisco is 66-71 and foggy EVERYDAY. Its just weather. If the weather was amazing all the time I think work rate would go down!

    I lived in Sydney for a bit and am from New York, lived in Washington, DC for a few years, and currently live in SF. I’m partial to NY and Sydney but, to each their own.

    (BTW – can another city besides NY have a 24 hr transportation metro system!)

  2. Interesting read … I though Vienna for the last 9 years – is the best place to live in the world- when the overall picture; work, standard of living, culture, health care, schools and money. Reading what you written about Melbourne – it sound very similar to Vancouver that claims be one of the 3 best places to live in world. Still I would love to visit.

  3. Determining factors included “diverse cultural events”… losing points for … “culture”… it all sounds like damned lies and statistics to me. I’m a happy-enough country-NSW born Sydney dweller but given the right circumstances (think the ship has sailed though) I’d relocate to Melbourne. I look at my love for Melbourne like a happy relationship… I’m committed and happy with what I’ve got… but there’s the what could have been of a holiday fling 🙂

  4. A great article, thanks for putting a real face on the claims. I’d love to visit the city. My wife is from California, the idea of layering clothing is foreign to her until she met me and still finds it odd! Welcome to the north country… 😉

  5. Yes, we’ve heard about the high price of property – that is quite fundamental to affordable living. Do most people rent in Melbourne? Otherwise, it does sound like the pluses well outweigh the minuses 😉

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