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(29 Posts)
CatsCantFlyFast Tue 10-Jan-17 17:05:40

Anybody here from Melbourne or who has in the past, or who worked there/relocated there?

DH potentially has a job offer over there so we're contemplating a move. We've two young children (not yet school age). We have (distant) family in Australia (WA and Melbourne) and old colleagues. Was just looking for any perspectives on it as a place to live/work/bring up children. Also any advice from somebody who has done a similar move. And especially anything about spiders/snakes/sharks which the thought of is scaring me witless

FlorisApple Wed 11-Jan-17 02:23:12

Lots of Melbourne threads today! I'm a Melburnian, but lived in UK for a few years (and US) and have now returned to Oz with my Londoner DH. We're in Sydney now, but I would love to be back in Melbourne, where we spent 2 years when we first came back. I would say it's a wonderful city to bring kids up in, we had nothing but a fantastic experience of my DD in kindergarten; there are young families everywhere, and the kind of parenting you generally see is more laid back than in Britain (IMHO.) There is less stress about getting them into the right school, school places in general, less of a "them vs us" mentality between schools and parents, and I would say this is also true for the health system. However, I am a bit biased, having had a really shit few years in UK, an awful time having my DD in the NHS etc. It has probably skewed my views, and I don't think my perspective is the same as a British expat. But if you have any specific questions, I'm happy to help as best I can.

FlorisApple Wed 11-Jan-17 02:25:23

Also, I know it has been said many times before, but the absolute worst thing about migrating is missing friends and family. Don't underestimate how utterly difficult it can be. Before you go, everyone says: "At least there's skype!", but in actuality, Skype is really crap and I never seem to be able to have a proper conversation on it. Sorry to be a downer, just need to seriously take it into consideration how much you will miss people back home.

pilotswife Wed 11-Jan-17 03:02:06

I'm in Melbourne and love it. Had my babies here before we were relocated . It is a fantastic city for children and families. We have chosen to come back here and it's brilliant for teeneagers too. Yes there are spiders ( do admit to having the house and eves sprayed!), sharks - well you would be swimming in patrolled beaches with kids anyway and snakes freak me out too!
Kinders are great and so are the schools - relaxed and friendly.

PonyPals Wed 11-Jan-17 03:31:10

Have lived in Melbourne for the last 30 years! Absolutely love it
Now have a DS 13 months and it is a great place to raise a child.
Recently there are talks of childcare prices going up over the next 4 years and there are issues around finding a place but if you are in the suburbs it is much easier.

NappiesNappies Wed 11-Jan-17 04:04:13

Haven't heard much about childcare going up. It is very heavily subsidised. For us (below the poverty line) it costs us $20 a day per child. That's ten pounds.
Sadly I think there is a lot of discussion over merit of TYPES of schools - a lot of Brits seem to be on local forums asking about private schools, as if there is a fear of government schools.
Local schools are fine. Many people accept that the end result a child gets is due to their family environment.
There are no snakes unless you live near a creek or your local park is bush. Spiders are not an issue in Melbourne (sorry if anyone thinks they are, try going to the outback, all we have here is daddy long legs, huntsmen and a redback once a decade).
No sharks in Melbourne. Well, not until two days ago (see the local news). However, the good news is that no one's ever been bitten by a shark in Melbourne. Also sharks don't get children or mums or whatever hanging out by the breakers. They get surfers.

Melbourne is divided in two ways - socioeconomically between eastern and western suburbs. Many Brits choose to settle in the inner west because they're blissfully unaware of the stigma that eastern suburbs people often grow up with about the west. They also settle down along the bay to Frankston, addicted to the beach culture but the traffic and transport (and distance from the city centre) is horrendous.
It is also divided culturally, separated by the Yarra. North of the Yarra are the cool people, the hippies, the hipsters, the bohemians and the rebels. (This is all tabloid nonsense but does play out somewhat in my experience). South of the Yarra are the gold jewellery and white trouser types, nouveau riche and the old money, etc etc.

FlorisApple Wed 11-Jan-17 04:35:54

Haha! Love your description NappiesNappies! I think you're pretty accurate, actually wink
Personally, I wouldn't be sucked in by the beach suburbs; by Australian standards, the beaches are not that great, and swimming in the bay is like swimming in a warm, flat bath. Most Melburnians who go to the beach will go down the Great Ocean Road, or the Mornington Peninsula or the other side, towards Wilson's Prom.You will pay a lot for close proximity to the beach, but it might not be worth it, is what I'm saying, I guess.

CatsCantFlyFast Wed 11-Jan-17 11:51:24

Thank you all for replies, really helpful. Can I ask about housing costs. It seemed that a 3 bed rental would be a much bigger proportion of take home salary after tax than it would be where we are at the moment (greater London). Is that correct?

I take the point about friends and family, and outside of financials that's our biggest concern. It's easier for me than DH, because I don't live close to remaining family (my dad/sister) so only see them a few times a year already

FlorisApple Wed 11-Jan-17 21:06:48

Hmm...hard to say re: rental costs as a proportion of income. Certainly not in our case, but it's a few years since we were renting in London. Keep in mind that there is no Council Tax for renters here, and that water is often (not always) included in the rent. Heating costs also obviously less, but not non-existent. What I would say in general is that you will still pay a lot in rent, but you will probably get more space than in UK. There seems to be a bottom floor on rents here, as in the UK, where it is harder to get under a certain amount....the difference is space, i.e. The further out from the CBD that you go, the more space you get not necessarily the lower the rent.

CatsCantFlyFast Wed 11-Jan-17 22:19:47

Helpful, is not thought of either of those things

CatsCantFlyFast Wed 11-Jan-17 22:19:57


FlorisApple Wed 11-Jan-17 23:16:17

Also, no agents' fees - it's illegal to charge them to the tenant - no check-out fees etc. Bonds are a bit variable, usually four weeks rent. On the other hand: you will need to supply a fridge and washing machine, (dryer and sometimes dishwasher if you want them.) It's a bit stupid everyone having to move fridges with each tenancy, but generally speaking, there is less moving with rentals here, as there is not the incentive for agents to get churn like in the UK. Once you have found a place you like, it is generally yours for years if you want to stay there (this is changing with the property market booming, but still Landlords want long term tenants rather than having empty properties.)

CatsCantFlyFast Thu 12-Jan-17 22:13:33

Are there any things such as national insurance to pay, beyond income tax and Medicare or health insurance?

Which are the family friendly suburbs you'd recommend?

What things might catch us by surprise? ( such as paying for bank accounts/cash withdrawals)

FlorisApple Thu 12-Jan-17 23:14:46

No, there's no National Insurance. There is a Medicare levy, but it's basically included in your income tax overall, and not much. Actually, before I say more, caveat: I'm Australian and DH has PR, so I'm not an expert on the differences when you have a 457 visa - there are certainly different costs/tax, I think. In NSW and other states you will have to pay school fees to state schools if you are on a 457, but not in Victoria (yet!)

Health insurance is complicated, not compulsory, but if you are a high-income earner you will be penalised via taxes if you don't have it. To give you an idea, for us, a family of four, we pay $284 a month for private health, which is hospital + optional extras (dentist, optometry, physio, NOT inc Obstetrics or Gyn etc.) + ambulance. I am about to get rid of it, though, as we just don't really get any value out of it. I had my DS in the public system here, had a wonderful experience, private room with ensuite etc, and didn't pay a thing. For anything serious, you will be treated in a public hospital anyway. For allied health, I'm thinking we might as well just pay out of pocket, but then, none of us are big users. You will still have a co-pay or an excess with private health, so it's really not great value for money, but I would also say that most Australians have it.

For general GPs appointments: either you go to a Bulk Billing clinic and the appointment will be free (charged directly to the government, i.e. Medicare) or you choose a GP which can charge you between $50-70 for an appointment, and you then get $37 back from the government into your bank account overnight. Children will usually be free (bulk billed) at these GPs too. Why des anyone pay to see the GP? Bulk billing clinics tend to have a more NHS feel to them: busier, might rush you a bit, might have more locus, etc, but they are absolutely fine in my experience, especially for minor things. However, if you want a bit more choice over your doctor, you choose to pay the small co-pay. You don't have to register to see a GP, you can go anywhere. I have never had a problem getting a same day appointment here.

Anyway, back to costs. If you own a house, there will be council rates. I can't think of any other day-to-day expenses which are compulsory.

Transport and petrol is generally cheaper than the UK (and trains are a lot cheaper, but not as extensive network.)

Utilities: We live in a 3bed flat. Maximum for gas and electric will be $200 a quarter, probably a lot less.

Schools, I guess: State schools, no fees, maybe a very small voluntary contribution. Catholic Schools: fees, but not that expensive. Private schools: there is a huge range of private schools, at different price points. It used to be the case that the middle class in Melbourne always sent their kids to private schools (even on a modest income), but this is hugely changing, I think. Now that Universities have massive fees (on a debt payback system,) private school fees no longer feel like the price you pay for getting your kids into Uni.

Oh, another thing to keep in mind: Superannuation is a compulsory employer contribution scheme for your retirement. When you see salaries quoted, they are USUALLY + Super of 10%, but it's worth checking if the figure they are quoting is before or after Super. Some employers will also match a voluntary contribution from you, and this will be tax deductible. Some employers (like Universities) will have a higher rate of Super on top of your salary. It's worth clarifying exactly what they are offering. I'm really not sure, if you are thinking of coming short term, how you get your Super back when you leave - I think there must be a way to claim it.

If I think of anything else, I will let you know.

FlorisApple Thu 12-Jan-17 23:20:08

Ok, sorry, just re-read your questions!

Banks: Generally a $5 a month fee if you don't meet the minimum deposit (I think it's $2000). It's super easy to open accounts here, so shop around if they try to charge you more fees.

As for Suburbs: Where will you be working? I would base my search nearby. Melbourne, although it only has 3 million people (or thereabouts), is a massive, expansive city. The suburbs stretch out and out. The traffic has only gotten worse over the years and I would not recommend being in one of the new suburban estates on the fringes.

MelbourneClown03 Thu 12-Jan-17 23:46:48

Place marking as we're thinking of making a permanent move to Melbourne but still not utterly convinced it's the right thing to do confused

CatsCantFlyFast Fri 13-Jan-17 07:05:12

Working in port Melbourne but regular access to the airport needed. Kids are not school age yet

Huge thanks for your really detailed response

NappiesNappies Fri 13-Jan-17 09:18:31

Floris I think that there's a real problem with the frequently used language around the Medicare Levy Surcharge. I don't see it as penalising rich people if they don't get private healthcare, although that's how it's spoken about by governments and scaremongering private insurance ads. I see it more as a higher tax because you're a higher earner.

Merkin North Melbourne or Brunswick/Flemington might be good if you want to be near work AND the airport freeway (the Tulla). If you want a bigger suburban house then Brunswick West would be best. All gentrified.

FlorisApple Tue 17-Jan-17 00:29:10

Sorry for delay...apparently my internet provider hates Mumsnet and keeps eating all my posts just as I have finished them.

Yes, you're totally right, Nappies, it's so easy to fall into using that type of language without thinking of the implications of it. The reason the government uses the language of "penalised" is because they want more people to buy into the private system, but really that is ideological, as Medicare could serve the same function. In one way, the Australian healthcare system is nuts: why not just have Medicare for all like the NHS. On the other hand, I do like being able to get a same day appointment with my GP and not have to wait weeks! Our private health coverage is really a large chunk of our monthly outgoings, and I think there will be many other people like us who give it up, as it is not a product with much value.

Anyway, in terms of areas: I wrote a long post, but lost it. Basically, if you have $$$, look at Albert Park, Middle Park and maybe South Melbourne, although you won't get much space. These areas have nice Victorian terraces, and some detached houses. I think, though, if you want a bit more of a suburban house, a great spot for you might be Ascot Vale, Pascoe Vale, and maybe even Brunswick West - these are all on the way to the airport, but still relatively central. To get to airport from Port Melbourne, or that side of the city, you will probably need to go on the Western Freeway and pay a toll. That might be an expense to look into: should give you the costs, or maybe your employer will pay for an e-tag. I don't know the bayside suburbs that well, but you could also look at Elwood, or somewhere like Caulfield, Glen Iris, but these will take you in the opposite direction from the airport. Other "up-and-coming" suburbs to look at in the Inner West: Newport, Yarraville and maybe Kensington, these will be cheaper, but a bit hip too. Have a look at or for prices.

FlorisApple Tue 17-Jan-17 00:33:47

Oh, and I second Nappies, North Melbourne is lovely - I lived there for a while near the Queen Vic market and it is a great place, but getting pricey (like everywhere, I suppose.)

NappiesNappies Sun 22-Jan-17 19:47:55

I've never had to wait for a doctor's appointment, Flora, I didn't know that was a thing.

I haven't lived in Melbourne for years though. Might be different in the big city.

AnxiousAdventurer Mon 30-Jan-17 13:14:08

We are also looking into a move to Melbourne - DH has job offer, would be working in Claymore/Monash University.

Excited but also overwhelmed!

Can anyone advise on suburbs - don't want too big a commute. We would have a good amount to spend on rent I reckon. Glen Waverley, Mentone, Vermont, Blackburn, Beaumaris are some that have been mentioned. We have DD 12 so info on schools welcome too! We also have a dog - has anyone relocated UK to Australia with a dog - how easy is it to find rentals?

We like green space, cafes, independent shops, places to walk the dog...all the usual stuff I guess. Like to have things within walking distance. Are definitely not "gold jewellery and white trouser types" more scruffy Bohemian!

FlorisApple Mon 30-Jan-17 21:18:28

Hi Anxious,
Good news, so congrats, but will have to be blunt and speak in generalities, just so you have an honest opinion.

First: yes, the dog will be a big issue. It's really hard to find a rental that will take a dog, although funnily enough the state government is looking at changing the law so that landlords cannot refuse pets (with a special bond.) Not sure if they will do it; the reasoning is that so many dogs and cats are ending up in shelters because people cannot find housing with them sad I'm assuming you already know about the quarantine laws here; it's pretty hard going through the process for the dog, unfortunately. But I haven't done it, so maybe someone who has will come and tell you what it involves.

Second; and this is where I will just be direct, so that you know; Clayton is in a barren wasteground of suburbia. It is almost completely car-dependant, and your DH will probably have a commute. From what you say about yourselves, I would avoid all those suburbs mentioned - unless you realise that you will have to have two cars and get in them all the time. The public transport to Monash is a bloody pain (I speak from bitter experience) as some bright spark in the 1960s put the campus far enough away from the train station that you have to get a connecting bus for 15 minutes from the station, and the bus is never there to meet the trains so you then have an extra wait, and therefore it is really a commuter campus where the students and staff all drive and park in massive car parks.

From what you say about yourselves, I would recommend the inner North; Northcote, Brunswick East, North Fitzroy, Clifton Hill; BUT: that will mean a horrible commute for your husband up the freeway; probably paying a toll each day (or weaving through back streets and up the Eastern freeway.) Monash really is a bugger, because there are not that many suburbs nearby that I would recommend for you. Possibly have a look at Elsternwick or Caulfield, or go inner East like Hawthorn, Camberwell, Surrey Hills, Mont Albert; but these are all pretty blueblood, monied and boring "respectable." They will have independent cafes and shops (that you could possibly walk to) but they are not hip.

With your dog, I would also look at moving much further out to greenery, but accept that it means being very car dependant. Look at the moving to the Hills (aka The Dandenong Ranges); this is the catchment for many of the students who go to Monash; lovely suburbs are: Belgrave, Upwey (these have the train, but not the one that goes to Clayton South) Ferny Creek, The Basin, Sassafras, Kallista, Monbulk etc. They are mountain suburbs nestled amongst national parks and touristy towns, but nice to live in with a family. They are a little bit hippy, but still close enough to town to be suburban as well. There is one drawback (apart from cars), which is that you have to be prepared for bushfires, but this is something you will get used to.

Good luck. Hope my post does not put you off, but wanted you to go in with your eyes open!

AnxiousAdventurer Mon 30-Jan-17 22:12:13

Thanks FlorisApple. I really appreciate your honesty, even if it's not exactly what I was hoping to hear. We've obviously got a lot more investigating/thinking we need to do. I don't want to live somewhere completely car-dependent as well for my daughter - she's getting more independent here, and beginning to get out and about a bit in the neighbourhood, meet friends, take buses etc, and I don't want to take that away from her. As for us, we're not that 'hip' but I don't want to live in a completely anonymous suburb, and I'm not sure we are really rural types although I will look into the mountain suburbs you recommend. How far do you reckon the commute would be from the Mountain suburbs - or alternatively from the inner East neighbourhoods? (Wishing I could just relocate Monash at this point...)

FlorisApple Tue 31-Jan-17 00:22:25

Yes, I feel for you, as it is a real dilemma. I spent a few years going out to Monash (but mostly without a car) from the inner city and it was an absolute pain. Would your DH have to be out there everyday? Just check and make sure he would be on the Clayton campus. From what you say, I would really recommend looking at the inner North (Carlton, Nth Carlton, Clifton Hill, Fitzroy North, Northcote etc,) or possibly Elwood, Elsternwick, South Yarra, Prahran (but $$$) - these are really the only areas that will be very walkable and you can get by without a car. Actually, because of what you have said about your daughter, I would probably not go for the Hills - I grew up in the Eastern suburbs, had friends in the Hills and they were having to be ferried around by their parents for much of the time. You'll end up spending lots of time in your car. The buses are pretty dire, unless they have improved (I mean, it has been 20 years since I was a teenager!)
Have just checked the train and realised that they have renamed Clayton South station as Westall. It is on the Packenham Line:
There is a site that will give you an indication of walkability called: - it is pretty accurate.
The start of the line is extremely expensive posh suburbs: (Toorak, Kooyong, Armadale), but Malvern or Caulfield might be worth a look.

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