The Outsider Gone Insider’s Guide To Melbourne

the outsider gone insiders guide to melbourne

With endless cafes, quirky bars and a vibrant events calendar, it’s easy to see why Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit. However, It’s an even better one to live in. After all, that’s the reason why tourists who flock here from all over the world, end up staying much longer than they expected; Just like me. 

My initial stint in Melbourne was only supposed to last a few months. However fifteen months on and counting and guess what, I’m still here.

So, what is it about Melbourne that makes everyone stay put? In this post, I delve into what life as a Melbournian is really like. Here is the ultimate outsider gone insider’s guide to Australian city living. 

The coffee

First things first, I have to touch on Melbourne’s coffee scene because, being the coffee capital of the world, its something of which is pretty essential to life here. 

What’s more, working as a barista myself, making and drinking coffee is something that I am really passionate about. 

It’s fair to say that most Melbournian’s love coffee but they are very picky about it. Independent speciality coffee shops run the show here and Starbucks is a big no. The norm for workers in the city is to stop for a coffee around 9, just before work. They’ll then break for another one around 2 to cure that post-lunch slump. In some of Melbourne’s most popular cafes like Dukes Coffee Roasters and Industry Beans, it’s not unusual to see a queue out of the door during the morning rush.

the outsider gone insiders guide to melbourne
Coffee at St Ali, South Melbourne

Queuing

Speaking of which, we next have to talk about queuing. Queuing is an essential part of city life in Melbourne. Be that for a table at Chin Chin, Melbourne’s award-winning Asian fusion restaurant that notoriously doesn’t take bookings, for the doughnuts at Queen Victoria Market or a scoop of gelato from Pidapipo on Cartlon’s logon street. (I’m not ashamed to admit that I once queued for almost an hour just for a scoop of their delicious pistachio gelato).  

Trams

Melbourne’s tram network is one of the oldest and largest in the world and they are the main way to get around the city and to its outer suburbs. 

Trams inside Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) are free, which was a revelation for me. This is an absolute lifesaver on those days when Melbourne’s changeable weather catches you off guard. 

The weather 

Oh, and if you find yourself visiting the city, the weather will catch you off guard. Locals say that Melbourne has all four seasons in a day and that’s true. Due to its geographical location, in which is susceptible to winds from the artic or the west, it’s not uncommon for Melbourne to go from sunny to stormy or 45 to 16 degrees in a matter of hours. Wearing layers and carrying an umbrella is essential. 

the outsider gone insiders guide to melbourne
Brighton Bathing Boxes

Suburbs

Melbourne has a lot of suburbs and the one that you choose to live in Melbourne is very important. in a sense, the geographical location you choose to live in reflects what you are like as a person.

Common stereotypes include Brunswick- Hipster, Fitzroy- vegan, Carlton North-writers and the list goes on. 

Street art 

Even though it’s a city that is both modern and clean, it would be hard not to describe Melbourne as grungy. You only need to take a wander down some of the cities iconic laneways like Centre Place, Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane to see that the city is a little rough around the edges.

However, Melbourne has embraced this side of its character, in a way that so many other cities have failed to do. Dingy laneways have made way for innovative brunch spots, street art has been embraced to form free, ever-changing public art galleries, hidden bars have been built inside of non-descript buildings, making even going out for a post-work drink, a bit of an adventure.

the outsider gone insiders guide to melbourne
Brunch at Higher Ground

Day trips and outdoor space

People may tell you that Melbourne lacks the natural beauty of Sydney but that’s not the case. There’s no end of trips that you can take from the city. Be it to the nearby beaches like Black Rock or Williamstown or further afield to The Great Ocean Road, the Yarra Valley, Wilsons promenade, The Mornington Peninsula or Philip Island. Melbournians love their city but most try to escape the city chaos at the weekends if they can. 

Living in Melbourne 

One thing that has struck me about living in Melbourne is that it doesn’t always feel like I’m living in Australia. The city lacks the grandeur of Sydney, the heat of Brisbane and the ruralness of Perth. In fact, Melbourne is so cosmopolitan and so diverse, that it’s easy to forget that you’re miles away from the rest of the world.

Melbourne is a city that’s big enough that there’s always somewhere new to explore but small enough that everything is only a 10-minute tram ride away. It’s a city that celebrates individuality, diversity and the general consensus that we work to live not live to work.

I can see that living in Melbourne for the past year and a half has changed me a lot. For example;

I’ve developed an unhealthy caffeine addiction, a habit of regular ordering dumplings on Uber Eats and a vow to not go to a bar unless it is A) hidden behind a bookcase or B) tucked down a laneway. 

These days I eat out more that I cook, I can recite the CBD street names in chronological order and I’ve even started to love Melbourne’s ‘cool change’. But somehow, I still manage to keep forgetting my umbrella…

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