Melbourne: A City Guide for International Students

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Photo of the beautiful Melbourne city

Melbourne is a vibrant city which already hosts around 280,000 students. It’s often called Australia’s best student city, and we can certainly see why.

A truly international city, Melbourne features various cultures from all over the world, evident in the huge selection of activities, food and events.

To help you experience a bit of everything that Melbourne has to offer, we’ve put together a guide, with something for every international student.

Universities

There are nine universities in Melbourne. They are:

The University of Melbourne and Monash University are renowned around the world, both ranking inside the top 60 universities in the world.

However, all of these universities are excellent educational institutions. It goes without saying that when it comes to choosing where to study in Melbourne, there are plenty of options.

Photo of Victoria University in Melbourne

Work

There is a thriving job market in Melbourne, with plenty of work available in the hospitality, financial and construction industries.

A number of websites are available for job hunting, including www.seek.com.au, www.careerone.com.au and www.gumtree.com.au

As a student, you’re probably looking for part-time or casual work. In that case, the hospitality industry is ideal. 

The wages in Australia are among the highest in the world, and in a hospitality role for example, you can expect to be paid around $20 to $25 per hour.

Accommodation

Most of the universities in Melbourne offer student housing.

However, if you’re looking for your own accommodation outside the university system, Melbourne has a buzzing share house culture.

It’s not a cheap city for renters though, so it’s important to be thorough when searching for a place to live. The further you go out of the CBD, the cheaper rooms become.

Websites such as www.flatmates.com.au and www.gumtree.com.au are useful for finding accommodation, or friends to partner up with.

In terms of price, rooms can vary greatly. For instance, you could be paying anything between $150 and $300 per week for a room in a share house, depending on the location. 

Photo of an old Victorian house in an inner suburb in Melbourne

Cost of Living

Melbourne is an expensive city, but comparative to the wages that you can earn it’s reasonably affordable.

And it goes without saying that as an international student, you’ll want to try everything this exciting city has to offer!

In terms of food, a basic lunch will cost between $10 and $15 dollars, including a drink. Fast food meals hover around the $10 mark.

Similarly, a pint of beer costs between $10 and $14, depending on where and what you decide to drink.

In terms of getting around, a weekly Myki pass for the public transport system in Melbourne is $44. However, do note that in the Melbourne CBD, trams are completely free.

This is a great scheme that benefits all students, international and local.

Transport

Melbourne is serviced by Tullamarine international airport. 

From the airport, the SkyBus runs to 6 different locations in and around the city. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the city centre from the airport.

Trains run throughout the city and the suburbs of Melbourne. Whilst the metro can’t compare to cities like London, Tokyo and Singapore, it gets you from A to B.

On the other hand, trams are far more frequent in the city and inner suburbs, and cheaper, as are buses.

Photo of Melbourne's vintage tram

Sights

Melbourne is full of interesting things to see.

If you’re artistically inclined, check out the National Gallery of Victoria, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) or the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

As well as that, there are some fantastic museums in Melbourne, including the Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, the Old Treasury and Scienceworks.

Because Melbourne is a bay city, there are a number of beaches close by. For example, St Kilda, Brighton and Elwood beaches are all a short tram or train ride from the CBD.

In the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens and the Carlton Gardens are all excellent parks for a picnic or afternoon drink.

Activities

In Melbourne, there’s an activity for every international student!

For instance, market culture in Melbourne is thriving; Queen Victoria, South Melbourne and St Kilda are excellent for a spot of shopping and some tasty food.

If you’re a fan of music festivals, you’ve come to the right city. St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Electric Garden and St Kilda festival are all inner-city highlights. 

Outside Melbourne, Falls Festival, Groovin’ The Moo and Meredith are vibrant events.

For the film buffs, there are some excellent theatres in Melbourne, including the Cinema Nova, The Sun Theatre, The Rivoli and The Astor. 

In addition, Australian Centre for the Moving Image is another must-see (ACMI).

Sports

There’s a reason they call Melbourne the ‘sporting capital of the world’. 

Sports fans will be delighted with the variety of events that are played at any one time, with plenty of action all year round. 

For example, popular events include the Formula One, Melbourne Cup (horseracing), the Australian Open (tennis), Boxing Day cricket and the AFL grand final in October.

There are many stadiums to tour in Melbourne. The most notable is the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has a remarkable sporting museum and a wealth of history.

Photo of Melbourne cricket ground

Nightlife

Melbourne simply has the best nightlife out of any Australian city.

Excellent smaller live music venues include The Forum Theatre, The Corner Hotel, Howler and The Esplanade.

On the other hand, larger gigs are performed at Rod Laver Arena or Marvel Stadium.

For the best cocktails, head to The Black Pearl in Fitzroy, or 1806 on Exhibition Street in the central business district.

In summer, check out one of the many excellent rooftop bars, such as Naked for Satan in Fitzroy, QT in the city or Bomba.

Or if you’re looking for a spot to dance the night away, head to Boney, The Night Cat or Club Retro on Lonsdale Street. 

Melbourne’s nightlife is diverse and caters for all tastes.

Around Melbourne

Melbourne is situated in the southern state of Victoria.

If you’re able to venture out of the city, there are all manner of beautiful natural sights waiting.

For instance, the Great Ocean Road is simply a must-see, and is breathtaking all year round. It is a 243km stretch of ocean-side road which begins in Torquay, which runs through many coastal towns.

On the other hand, for a cosy winter getaway, The Grampians are ideal. This is a collection of rocky mountains and outcrops, with phenomenal views.

To the east, Wilsons Promontory and Philip Island are excellent summer destinations.

However, if you prefer the snow, head to the ski resorts at Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek or Mt Baw Baw for a spot of skiing or snowboarding.

Photo of the beautiful twelve apostoles in the Great Ocean Road in Victoria

Now, you’re well prepared to go out and make the most of your stay in Melbourne. Enjoy!

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