- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Melbourne Guide (PDF)
The cosmopolitan city of Melbourne is a friendly and fascinating city for expats to relocate to and is positively brimming with attractions and activities to enjoy. Fabulous shopping opportunities, a pumping nightlife and an eclectic mix of restaurants and eateries are complemented by a variety of entertainment venues, world-class sports facilities, highly anticipated annual events and luxurious spas.
Melbourne’s nightlife is fairly evenly spread across the city with cocktail lounges, underground dance clubs, pumping bars and live music venues dominating the scene.
Shopping in Melbourne
Melbourne has a reputation as a city devoted to shopping. Whether one has a liking for elegant arcades, bustling markets, quirky laneways or shiny megamalls, expats will find something to help them to spend big or even save big.
Melbourne loves a market, which explains why the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere is located right in the CBD.
Queen Victoria Market has been serving up fresh produce and hawking clothes, shoes and various trinkets since the late 1800s. Shoppers will find plenty to taste, try and buy in hundreds of on-site stalls. Many locals travel to the markets to buy fish fresh from the ocean, but it is also possible to find almost any ingredient imaginable here, from fragrant herbs and vegetables to delicious cheeses and spices.
Expats will find markets in the Melbourne suburbs as well, ranging from fresh produce or farmers’ markets to arts and crafts or trash and treasure markets. Chances are one won’t have to travel far to find their local market, and it’s easy to become a fan of the convenience, savings and atmosphere which the big markets offer.
Arcades and laneways
This is where one can find the true heart of Melbourne – the twisting laneways and hidden arcades host unique boutiques and oddity merchants which often make it difficult to pull tight on the purse strings. It is possible to live in Melbourne for years and still stumble across a great shopping find in a laneway, so it can be fun to devote a day of aimless wandering around the city centre just to see what can be discovered.
Sports in Melbourne
Melbourne is well-known as the sporting capital of Australia. AFL, or Aussie Rules as the locals call it, is by far the most popular sport played in the city. Expats can join a team, or opt to spend a weekend in Melbourne attending one of many AFL games held from March to September at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or Etihad Stadium. Don't forget to buy a beer and a pie; it is a local tradition, and expats should indulge to get in the spirit.
With seating able to accommodate over 100,000 spectators, the vibe at the MCG is electric. Watching a cricket game at this venue is an essential experience so don't pass up the opportunity, particularly if a touring international team is in town.
Soccer is also popular, and games are held from August to February. Additionally, the tennis at the Australian Open in January is definitely a sporting highlight, regardless of whether one is a tennis pro or simply a professional people watcher.
Nightlife in Melbourne
The hidden laneways are a distinctive part of Melbourne, and this is where newly arrived expats will find a cross-section of drinking establishments catering to countless different crowds; from cool lounges playing funky tunes and upmarket bars, to backpacker pubs and edgy watering holes.
Once the working week is over, it is normal for those who have put in hard hours to head straight to happy hour at their favourite bar or pub. From then until the weekend draws to a close, expats are sure to find locals having social drinks either in the city or close to the city centre.
►Weekend Breaks in Melbourne is a must-read for tips on short getaways near the city
Are you an expat living in Melbourne?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Melbourne. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Ren Atkins is a freelance copywriter who specialises in helping small businesses and start-ups find their marketing voice and get heard. Originally from Sydney, Ren is now a devoted Melbourne-dweller who appreciates the city’s love affair with coffee, food and all things cultural and creative.
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