I’m sure you, or perhaps someone close to you, has told you how they ‘really want to move to Melbourne’ and that ‘Melbourne is so much better than Perth’.
As someone that did the big move from humble P-town to ‘The Big M’, I’ve learnt a few things about moving there that people don’t really mention. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Melbourne, and all the great things people say about it are true. But I also think that if you’re going to make a decision about whether you actually want to uproot your entire life to a city 2700km away, it should at least be an informed decision. So I’ve made a list of all the things that Melbourne sucks at.
What people will tell you: The Coffee/Food/Alcohol is cheaper
What they won’t tell you: Living arrangements are worse
For sure, the food is cheaper (and better) in Melbourne. But the minimum wage is also lower, public transport is more expensive, and (contrary to popular belief) rent is not cheaper. When house hunting, I looked at a whole lot of poo palaces before I found a house that was reasonably priced, close to the city, and not the size of a shoebox. I once went to a house in Fitzroy where one of the rooms smelled distinctly of rotting wood (for about $200/week). With public transport also being slower, you think you’re a good distance from the city, but it actually takes you a solid thirty minutes to tram it in. This all being said, unlike Perth, you don’t have to go into ‘the city’ to actually go somewhere good, there are countless cute bars and pubs all over the suburbs. But houses are also smaller, so if you’re a size queen like me, you might have a problem with that, too. When jumping into a new city, most people don’t take into consideration just how difficult it actually is to find a house. I can’t think of a single friend that didn’t live somewhere awful before they finally found a house that worked for them (if they ever did).
What people will tell you: Melbourne has trams
What they won’t tell you: Trams really suck dog buns
Never has my appreciation been so strong for both Transperth and buses, as when I moved back from Melbourne. I mean, trams are cool, right? The convenience of being able to just jump on a tram is pretty nifty, they come a lot more frequently than buses, they run later at night, and ‘all the cool cities have them’. But nobody mentions that they are often cramped, and either old and decrepit ,or new and clumsily designed. They are so incredibly slow, and they break down and cause delays more often than they should. To be honest, I wouldn’t say that Melbourne’s transport is any better than Perth’s, especially considering that the Myki system (equivalent of the Smart Rider) is a hot sweaty mess. You can’t pay for tickets on trams, and you can’t top up your Myki on trams. You have to already have a Myki topped up at one of the Myki top-up machines (which are sparsely located), top up your Myki at the nearest 7-11 (which can easily be a 30 minute walk away), or top up online (but the website is probably broken). And if you get caught without a valid Myki, the transit guards will show you no sympathy and hit you with a $200 fine (no matter how legit your excuse is).
What people will tell you: Melbourne is fun
What they won’t tell you: Moving is painful
Moving to a new city is exciting. You get to go to new places, meet new people, experience a whole new level of culture that Perth doesn’t quite offer. But moving is also painful and exhausting. It takes it out of you emotionally, and it’s exhausting financially. You will spend a fucktonne moving all of your crap over to Melbourne, you might have to fork out more than you want on accommodation, and you will probably be unemployed for longer than you intended to be. You might also not have the support network of friends that you are used to in Perth, and being away from friends long term is harder than you might think. I was there ten months, and I never really settled in. The holiday sheen of Melbourne never really wore off; by the end I was still exploring new and exciting places and doing some cool stuff. But while I did make some great friends there, it takes a very long time to find a social circle that you feel comfortable in.
What people will tell you: There’s so much to do
What people won’t tell you: Say goodbye to house parties (and also your money)
It’s true, there’s so much to do there. It’s actually absurd how many festivals there are, all the time. And they are a whole lot of fun. There are also so many effortlessly cool bars, restaurants, and arty things going on. However, the one catch of having fun bars and festivals in a new city is that they aren’t nearly as fun if you’re friendless. Melbourne can be confusingly lonely in that sense, with so much to do, but sometimes nobody to do it with. And there’s such a strong network of Ex-Perthians that you’ll eventually find yourself being friends with all the same people, all over again. When you do find yourself going out lots, you will also find that you’re spending a buttload of money on drinks, all the time. Gone are the days of hanging out with a cheap sack of goon – you could easily be spending $100 a week on drinks (like I was). More importantly, nobody ever mentions the serious lack of house parties in Melbourne. Almost all of the ones I went to were small and awkward, and only a handful were actually fun. The pros of having 500 facebook friends in Perth who all already know each other is that you’re more likely to get invited to parties more often, with people you already know you like.
I do believe that Melbourne is an amazing place to live. There’s so much to do, it’s overflowing with a real creative energy, and if you’re left wing, it’s great to be surrounded with more likeminded people. However, like anywhere in the world, it’s not perfect (Perthect?), and since nobody else was being real, it was left up to me. I love Melbourne, but I love Perth more – the end.
Words by Michael Trown