Lifestyle in Melbourne

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 and 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 1878. 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 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 the unique boutiques and oddity merchants that often make it difficult to pull tight on the purse strings. It’s 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.

Block Arcade, running between Collins and Little Collins Streets, is a lush tile and glass space dating back to the late 19th century. Nearby on Bourke Street is the Royal Arcade, the city’s oldest shopping arcade.

Flinders Lane is the place to explore when looking for one-off clothing items or unique pieces from emerging designers; and Cathedral Arcade offers quirky trinkets, jewellery and cool clothing.

Shopping centres

Melbourne is synonymous with hidden shopping gems, but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t take its malls and shopping centres seriously too.

Starting in the city centre, retail enthusiasts will find Bourke Street Mall is the shopping heart of Melbourne. Two of Melbourne’s biggest department stores – David Jones and Myer – are located here, along with several well-known chain stores.

For a bigger urban shopping experience, try Melbourne Central on Swanston Street. Originally the home of a lead pipe and shot factory, this complex has nearly 300 stores. The interestingly-designed glass cone encases the heritage-listed shot tower, so don’t forget to look up between aisle hopping.

Bargain shopping 

Thanks to the city’s numerous outlet shopping strips, Melbourne has long been known as Australia’s best location for hunting down a discount or discovering a brilliant bargain on quality items.

The outlets still buzz today, most notably those in Bridge Road in Richmond and Smith Street in Collingwood, but bargains have recently become a lot easier to find within Melbourne’s Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) shopping centres. There are DFOs in the city centre and suburban locations where one can make huge savings on clothing labels as well as homeware, shoes, books and kitchenware.

If new arrivals are not sure where to start, they’ll find a range of Melbourne shopping tours to help them explore the city’s finest – or cheapest – shopping experiences. 

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's 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.

Bars 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 with countless different vibes catering to countless different crowds; from cool lounges playing funky tunes, to upmarket bars, to backpacker pubs, to edgy watering holes.

Once the working week is over, it's normal for those that 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 Melburnians having social drinks either in the city or close to the city centre.

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Our Melbourne Expert

RenAtkins's picture
Ren Atkins
Sydney, Australia. Melbourne, Australia
Ren Atkins is a freelance copywriter who specialises in helping small businesses and start-ups find their marketing voice... more

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