What Are the Most Liveable Suburbs in Melbourne?

By Joshua Chadwick July 12th
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With the COVID-19 pandemic sculpting a new landscape for day-to-day life, important traits of livability have shifted in just how valuable they are.

While being in the heart of the CBD reigned supreme previously, the desire to live somewhere with flexible working practices has shot up recently.

This is prevalent in Melbourne, as the Victorian city holds the record for the 2nd most days spent in a pandemic-related lockdown in the world with 263 combined days panning over 6 separate lockdowns (second only to Yangon in Myanmar, 405 days).

So, just how much have these continued lockdowns changed how liveable the suburbs of Melbourne are? Let’s dive into it!

Defining Liveability

To list the most liveable suburbs in Melbourne, livability must first be defined.

Thankfully, the yearly City-Pulse analysis was released late last year for 2021 by PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers), which manages to rank Melbourne’s most desirable suburbs through a list of criteria added together for a total score.

These scores are traditionally based on:

  • Proximity to Open Space
  • Medical Services
  • Access to Amenities
  • Access to Public Transport
  • Housing Prices
  • Housing Density
  • Road Safety
  • Crime Rate

However, this year’s report has added a couple of new lifestyle metrics instead of the changes to Australian life caused by COVID-19. These additional key elements are:

  • Access to Supermarkets
  • Access to Cafes
  • Access to Playgrounds
  • Average Number of People per Bedroom in a Suburb
  • Growth in Property and Rental Prices
  • Street Safety

Another large change to how a suburb is ranked is the walkability score, factoring in just how walkable a suburb is. Due to stay-at-home restrictions and new localised lifestyles, the appeal of a family-friendly suburb with close amenities, parkland, and public transport has increased exponentially.

This change has caused suburbs with points of interest within a 15-minute walk to rise, while the previous metric of points of interest within a 30-minute walk has become less desirable.

Best Suburbs For Staying Local

Local living is something many cherish even before Australia started to see more lockdowns, but the priority on staying local was only emphasised further during the pandemic.

According to PwC, previous local scores were dominated by the Melbourne CBD in its surrounding suburbs. However, recent scores are now rising in the family-friendly inner ring, with Australians favouring larger homes with open spaces which are hard to come by in the inner city.

The below ranking highlights the best suburbs for residents to live who stay in the house, whether that be working from home full time or those who do not work.

SuburbScore2021 Rank2020 RankDifference
Northcote1015+4
Heidelberg (Rosanna)9.5247+45
Essendon (Aberfeldie)9.338+5
Wantirna9.3487+83
Montmorency (Briar Hill)9.25154+149
Greensborough9.16128+122
Blackburn9.1730+23
Kew9.1812+4
Ringwood9.19117+108
Coburg8.91060+50
Mulgrave8.91189+78
Wantirna South8.91296+84
South Yarra (East)8.81327+14
Burwood8.814228+214
Eltham8.81566+51
Rowville (Central)8.816114+98
Fitzroy North8.71743+26
Malvern (Glen Iris)8.7187-11
Glen Waverley (East)8.719141+122
Camberwell8.62015-5
Prahran (Windsor)8.6216-15
Newport8.62242+20
Wheelers Hill8.62391+68
Surrey Hills – West (Canterbury)8.52416-8
Brunswick8.5259-16
Source: Future Victoria: 2021 CityPulse Analysis – PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Rising to the top of the leaderboard is Northcote, followed by its neighbour Heidelberg (Rosanna), with Coburg and Kew also featuring in the top 10 with its fellow inner-north suburbs. These Melbourne suburbs have found the perfect balance to boast more space than the average areas, great walkable access to amenities and a moderate property price performance.

Outer-ring rust

Large suburbs lingering on Melbourne’s outer fringe are fantastic options for those looking for space and the peace of not being close to the inner-city suburbs, but also fall in the rankings due to the 15-minute walking distance criteria.

These locations, however, prove to be growing in popularity since residents seem happy to live a little more remotely for the benefit of a tremendous median house price.

Best Suburbs For Commuting

For those who are constantly out and about, the commuting score ranks suburbs by accessibility to job opportunities and the best places to live when it comes to non-remote or front-line work.

Each destination is measured on how they perform against the metrics below:

  • Local Industry Gross Regional Product & Growth Rate
  • Key Amenity Access
  • Job Accessibility & Growth Rate
  • Unemployment Rate

The below ranking focuses on this access to jobs and is reflected in the scores for those in the city or on the inner-city scope.

SuburbRankingCommuting Score
Melbourne110
South Melbourne28.9
Brunswick38.8
Camberwell48.8
Northcote58.8
South Yarra (East)68.8
Brighton (VIC)78.7
Essendon (Aberfeldie)88.5
Heidelberg (Rosanna)98.4
Southbank108.4
St Kilda118.4
Malvern (Glen Iris)128.3
Kew138.2
Point Cook – North148.2
Moonee Ponds158.2
Prahran (Windsor)168
Newport178
Yarraville187.9
Coburg197.9
South Yarra (West)207.9
Port Melbourne217.9
Albert Park227.8
Richmond (VIC)237.8
Maribyrnong247.8
Surrey Hills – West (Canterbury)257.8
Source: Future Victoria: 2021 CityPulse Analysis – PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Likely to no one’s surprise, Melbourne is the stand-alone leader when it comes to commuting scores. With the CBD remaining the heart of the city with a central hub of commerce, creativity and leisure, it’s no surprise the commuting score is as high as it is.

Melbourne is loosely followed by South Melbourne and Brunswick, both boasting great opportunities for jobs and plenty of key amenities like cafes and supermarkets.

Filling the stat sheets

Top ranking “Staying Local” suburbs also feature in the top 10 with Northcote, Essendon (Aberfeldie) and Heidelberg (Rosanna), providing a great overall livability score.

Despite calls that the CBD is dying after Melbourne’s lockdowns, the city remains to be perfect for workplaces and a place for people to connect with their colleagues, clients and friends.

Best Suburbs For Walkability

A revitalised point of everyday lifestyle since COVID-19 has been walking, specifically walking within proximity to home.

This was due to lockdowns placing travel restrictions across Melbourne, forcing a different outlook on suburbs with a less-than-stellar walkability radius. For more information on how walkable a suburb is, check out our blog on walk score here!

The new walkability score assists in highlighting which suburbs provide easy access by foot, which can be found below.

SuburbRankingWalkability Score
South Yarra (East)110.0
Fitzroy29.5
South Melbourne39.5
Fitzroy North49.4
South Yarra (West)59.3
Collingwood69.1
Hawthorn East78.8
Southbank88.8
St Kilda98.8
Carlton108.7
Northcote118.7
Flemington128.6
Abbotsford138.5
North Melbourne148.5
Prahran (Windsor)158.5
Hawthorn168.5
Kensington (VIC)178.4
Moonee Ponds188.4
Heidelberg (Rosanna)198.4
Elwood208.4
Albert Park218.2
Wantirna228.1
Burwood238.1
Melbourne248
Port Melbourne258
Source: Future Victoria: 2021 CityPulse Analysis – PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

The trend of scores doesn’t seem to vary that much, as the city-based and inner-ring areas still dominate the scores for most walkable suburbs, especially the side of east Melbourne and the eastern suburbs as a whole.

South Yarra (East) leads the way with the top score of 10, with the access to facilities by foot proving to be greater than the suburbs below it (even its western counterpart couldn’t hold a candle).

Out-Melbourning Melbourne?

Northcote continues its strong showing overall with the 11th rank and the CBD sees a drop from the commuting score to 24th in walkability.

Top 10 Most Liveable Suburbs

Now that the scores have been tallied between staying local, commuting and walkability, it’s time to determine the most liveable suburbs in Melbourne.

These suburbs have been narrowed down to a select few that prove to be more liveable for those who can work flexibly, whether that be working from home or remaining a strong real estate contender for commuters.

SuburbRankingOverall Score
Northcote110
Essendon (Aberfeldie)29.5
Heidelberg (Rosanna)39.5
South Yarra (East)49.4
Brunswick59.3
Camberwell69.3
Kew79.2
Melbourne89.1
Brighton (VIC)99.0
Malvern (Glen Iris)109.0
Source: Future Victoria: 2021 CityPulse Analysis – PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

As seen above, this year’s most liveable suburbs are primarily located in Melbourne’s inner north-east suburbs after a dominant showing in the previous three tallies. With great scores in all 3 categories, Northcote tops the rankings, followed by Essendon (Aberfeldie) and Heidelberg (Rosanna).

South-east suburbs that are within close proximity to the CBD like South Yarra – East and South Melbourne also present well in the overall rankings, thanks to their combination of employment opportunities and ease of access to local amenities.

In summary, what makes a city liveable is subjective to each individual and what they value. If someone values good school locations and green spaces over being beachside with close train stations, then their ideal suburb will differ from others.

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Joshua Chadwick

Joshua Chadwick

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