The ultimate Sydney vs Melbourne decider list

Living in either Sydney or Melbourne is a question that pops up in most migrants or even a lot of Australian locals minds when deciding which city to call home. They are two largest cities in Australia of a similar size and population, drawing migrants from all over the world. I have (to a large extent)been happily living in Sydney for the last three and a half years. However there are days where I ponder how different or maybe better my life would have been had I gone to Melbourne. My reason for moving to Sydney was purely because work drove me here. I didn’t make a definitive choice of picking one city over the other. However in helping future movers to either city decide, or even myself once I decide to ‘settle down’ in life, I have made a list of advantage that each city offers over the other. Which of those advantages are more meaningful or of high priority to you would help you decide which city to move in.

(I’m basing this list based on my experience of living in Sydney, and my frequent visits to Melbourne and hearing from friends of their experiences living there)

Advantages of Sydney over Melbourne:

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  1. Warm and mild weather for most of the year. This one is a pure advantage in Sydney’s favour. The temperature in Sydney is always in the mild range and the humidity is not excessive compared to more northern parts of Australia. In contrast Melbourne can be quite chilly during the few months of winter and has less sunshine and more grey skies. However there is one caveat though, the temperatures vary wildly between the eastern and western edges of the Sydney region. The closer you are to the eastern (coastal) end the more mild and narrow in range the temperature is. The western end of Sydney can have quite large temperature ranges, with summer temperatures reaching 40C fairly frequently, and winter temperatures dropping below 5C on more than a few occasions in a year. But overall Sydney offers a warm and mild alternative to Melbourne’s weather for most of the year apart from a few weeks in the western edges of city.
  2. Better outdoor environment in close proximity to the city. This is a slight advantage in Sydney’s favour. While the Victoria region does offer a lot of great places to explore and experience the outdoors most of them are not in very close proximity to Melbourne. In contrast Sydney has a lot to offer in close proximity to the city. These include three national parks, hundreds of beaches, rivers, walking trails. A lot of them can even be reached fairly easily through public transport, which brings me to my next point.
  3. Better public transport. Having used public transport in both cities I would say the Sydney’s public transport is a fair bit better. There are more train lines in Sydney covering a wider area, and the frequency and capacity of trains are better than Melbourne. Sydney is one of the few cities in the world that has double decker daily commute trains. Sydney also seems to have more bus routes than Melbourne. Although Melbourne does do a few things better in public transport such as having trains run 24 hours on weekends, and a more comprehensive tram coverage in the CBD and inner-city suburbs (although the trams move at a snail’s pace).
  4. Slightly more professional/white collar job opportunities. This is one’s probably more industry dependent, but I find that there are more jobs on offer in Sydney mainly because it is a bigger finance and real estate hub, and more international companies base their Australian offices here rather than Melbourne. Not to say Melbourne is a slouch in this regard, as several of the biggest Australian companies are headquartered in Melbourne, but Sydney is just a slight bit better.

That’s all the advantages I can think of for Sydney. Now on to Melbourne.

Advantages of Melbourne over Sydney:

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  1. Cheaper real estate. This one is probably the deal breaker for most people when deciding to live in Sydney. The cost of real estate, be it renting or buying, is astronomical. A one bedroom apartment in inner Sydney won’t cost you less than $450 a week (that’s the absolute cheapest), whereas a similar apartment in Melbourne will probably cost you $350 a week or less (a 22% difference). Similarly houses in Sydney are mostly in the $1 million mark no matter which part of the Sydney region you go to, whereas in Melbourne affordable real estate can still be found in few of the northern and western suburbs. Buying a house is not as much of a pipe dream as it is in Sydney.
  2. Better nightlife, entertainment, and culture. Melbourne outshines Sydney in this aspect. The nightlife in Melbourne is comparatively better, with lots of small bars open till late at night. Melbourne also has a better dining scene with more cuisines on offer and more unique restaurants. In addition there are more events and festivals that take place in Melbourne, and they are usually on a bigger scale. Melbourne is also a bigger hub for art with a bigger theatre scene and local music scene, and a bigger draw for international art exhibitions. If you’re someone that partakes in the arts Melbourne would definitely be a better choice.
  3. Better planned city layout and better road network. Melbourne is just simply easier to navigate around since most of the city is laid out in an easy to follow grid like pattern, unlike the windy labyrinthine roads of Sydney. Also the roads in Melbourne appear to be wider with more lanes. I don’t have direct experience of driving in Melbourne, but Sydney is often gridlocked on its main roads, mainly because the roads are quite narrow and haven’t been widened from when they were initially built.
  4. (From subject personal experience) Melbourne appears to be a more socially integrated city. Based on my personal observation Melbourne doesn’t appear to be as ethnically segregated as Sydney, where different cultures tend to live in their own segregated suburbs and do not mix as much. Although this does exist in Melbourne it seemed to be less extensive than Sydney and I saw more people of different backgrounds mixing with each other and living next to each other.

That’s all the advantages of Melbourne that I could think of over Sydney. On balance living in either city is not vastly different from the other, but each of the advantages mentioned above can tilt the balance towards the favour of one city.

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University of Sydney (building)

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Aboriginal mural in inner-city Sydney

Impressive mural I found in the backstreets of Newtown, Sydney

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Australian words to know

So I don’t often write on my blog (as evidenced by my three post history) but thought I’d write this one to get my creative juices flowing again and also as a bit of an informational post.

I’ve been living in Australia for slightly over a year now and one of the several things that I’ve had to get used to, and which catches you unexpectedly is the Australian lingo. The degree of ‘Australian-ness’ people use in their speech varies a lot among the different demographics. Generally the ‘older rural dwelling and (dare I say) lower economic class of people’ speak the most Australian and the younger urban dwelling ones speak the least Australian. I would say quite a few of the latter group don’t speak Australian at all and speak a more Americanised English. However barring this minority you are very likely to encounter some Australian lingo when speaking with locals. From my experience of living in the big cities in Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) and interacting with regular city working Australians I am providing a list of words I regularly encounter that people from other English-speaking parts of the world will most likely not have heard of and will definitely catch someone off-guard when heard the first time. Some them are quite easy to figure out as they are just abbreviations of regular words (a key feature of Australian English), while others are not so obvious. Here is the list in alphabetical order:

arvo – afternoon

avo – avocado. Note: avo on toast is a popular breakfast dish served in cafes here

barbie – barbecue

bikie – a person who rides motorcycles as part of a gang.

bogan – Australia’s version of ‘rednecks’. Generally used to refer to people from poorer neighbourhoods who don’t appear very well educated or well spoken, wear cheap tattered clothes, and are just generally unsophisticated. Another related term is ‘cashed-up bogan’ which generally means an unsophisticated economically well-off person.

bottle-o – bottle shop/ liquor shop

brekkie – breakfast

brolly – umbrella (I think this one is used in the UK as well)

chook – chicken

daks – trousers

derro – refers to a poor homeless alcoholic person

doco – documentary

doona – duvet or quilt

dunny – toilet

durrie – cigarette

esky – ice box

exy – expensive

flat-white – a less milkier version of a latte. It’s probably the most served coffee in any cafe in Australia.

footy – depending on the state it refers to rugby league (Australia’s version of rugby) or Australian rules football

heaps – a lot. For eg: Thanks heaps; I have heaps of work to do

jaffle – toasted sandwich

lollies – sweets/candies

Maccas – McDonald’s

mozzies – mosquitoes

ocker – someone who speaks in an extremely Australian way and can sound a bit unsophisticated. An ocker can be from any economic class and usually tend to be Australians who’ve been here for many generations of Anglo origins.

pokies – gambling slot machines. These are found in many pubs in Australia and a bit of a social worry for the gambling addicts it creates.

rego – vehicle registration

roo – kangaroo

sanga – sandwich

schooner – a beer glass slightly smaller than a pint

servo – service station/ gas station

singlet – tank-top/ sleeveless shirt

snags – sausages. Snag sandwich is a popular barbecue dish here.

stubby – bottle of beer

thongs – flip-flops

tinnie – beer can

tucker – food. Tucker truck is a commonly used word for food trucks.

U-ee – U turn

unit – apartment

ute – pick-up truck

woop woop – any place in the middle of nowhere

There are a few more that I’ve come across but these are the most common ones that I’ve heard being used.

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Current jam: Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin

Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin

Looking forward to the album

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Song that got you into a genre

While listening to music on youtube today in an effort to rekindle my fondness of classic rock, one of the songs that I added to my playlist was ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ by Led Zeppelin. Upon listening to that song a slightly delayed reminder was sent to my brain saying that this was the track that actually got me into classic rock (i.e. timeless rock music of the 60s, 70s). Prior to that the only classic rock tracks that I had heard were ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. While I did enjoy those tracks when I first heard them as a 12 year old, I only thought of them at the time as stand out epic songs that were written by a few geniuses in music. I never really thought much at the time to explore the catalogue of these bands or to delve more into that type of music. A slight fast forward to a year or so later as a 13/14 year old I was heavily into the music of 90s rock bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis, Alice in Chains as well as some early 2000’s stuff that was current at the time, like the White Stripes, Audioslave, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age. I was quite engrossed in listening to that type of music during that time and even picked up learning to play the guitar at the time so that I could reproduce the songs of those bands. [I also happened to be listening to other rock music like Guns n Roses and Metallica during this time, as well as crappy nu-metal music like Korn and Limp Bizkit, a fad of the time]. However it wasn’t until two years later as a 16 year old that I started getting into classic rock. It started when I first  heard the track ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ through either browsing online forums relating to playing guitar (that was thing I was doing at the time) or over internet radio, the exact source which I don’t perfectly remember now. But when I first heard  the song I was quite intrigued and fascinated by it. It had a very interesting acoustic guitar opening line and catchy guitar riffs and a sweet solo. The only other Led Zeppelin song I heard prior to that was Stairway to Heaven (which I had already known to be a masterpiece). The discovery of this new and amazing track by the same band that written Stairway to Heaven piqued my interest in them and led me to start exploring their vast discography, right from ‘Led Zeppelin I’ to through ‘In Through the Out Door’. This is how my fascination with Led Zeppelin began. Rather soon after I started going down the road of exploring the other great bands of that era (Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Doors, The Who, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rush, Queen, even the Beatles whose music I had barely heard before). Thus began my fascination with classic rock. It all started with the aforementioned Led Zeppelin track.

To anyone reading my page I would love to know which song or band got you into a particular genre of music, be it classic rock or any other genre.

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Overwhelmed by information

This is my first post on my new blog, created as a space to let my creativity and writing flow. I initially intended this post to be about my move to Australia, where I moved to only about a few months back. However prior to creating this first post I decided to browse around WordPress a bit to check the list of blogs that would interest me. Well….that wasn’t the best idea. That particular train of thought resulted in me scrolling through thousands of blog pages closely linked to my interest areas (music, photography, films, sci-fi, economics, etc.). Browsing through these endless streams of bogs started to make feel a little overwhelmed with the amount information that was being presented in front of me and that I was trying to absorb. And this was only from one hour of browsing potential follow-worthy blogs on WordPress. I hadn’t even logged into my facebook, youtube, gmail, linkedin, twitter [insert other wide-userbase social media website]. Just thinking about that brought about a full blown feeling of being over-whelmed. It made me realise that we have so much information available to us at a click of a button/press of thumb that just trying to fathom the range of information and the diversity of information available would make anyone feel over-whelmed and confused. This wasn’t a problem people faced less than 12 years ago when availability of information and the presence of social media was nowhere as immense as it is today. And this isn’t a problem just faced by the first world (as people living in developed countries like to say), but in any country where people have access to the internet and IT equipment.

I guess what I’m trying to point at is with the ease and convenience of so much information available to us, which wasn’t the case as late as a decade ago, comes the problem of trying to sort through the clutter of this vast range and diversity of information. It’s a problem and task which all of us living in the 21st century have to learn to cope and deal with.

That’s all folks for my first post people! Sorry for the abrupt ending.

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