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Is it Better to Work in Sydney or Melbourne?

People tend to prefer Sydney and Melbourne. These cities have been around for quite some time, and as such, have established economies, robust job markets, and thriving populations.

As far back as anyone can remember, the question of "where to live and work — Sydney or Melbourne?" has been debated. Which one is preferable for starting a business, having a family, and advancing one's career?

The animosity between the two cities predates both. As the final decision comes down to individual preferences, you'll need to do some research to determine which option is best for you.

FAQs About Sydney And Melbourne

Melbourne is slower paced in comparison to Sydney, there are jobs in both cities, and it depends on your industry, qualifications, skills, experience and profession. Try doing your research to see what suits you first, and then go in for the jugular of working out the job situation.

Sydney and Melbourne offer the highest job opportunities in Australia; Canberra is a Government and university town with few businesses; Brisbane has jobs but not as many as Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney wins. Sydney is the most spectacular city in Australia with amazing harbour views, better weather and picturesque beaches. However, Melbourne has many of the hippest and coolest suburbs in Oz, and on average most people live in suburbs of a better standard than Sydney.

Melbourne has a well-developed job market, making it easier to find a workplace, even unskilled workers. While not cheap, the average house in Melbourne is around A$100,000 less than in Sydney. Accommodations are the biggest expense in Melbourne.

It's not easy. Unless you are well connected in your field, more than likely, you won't get a job offer easily. Our job market runs on connections and internal references. Although, if you keep going at it for a couple of years, eventually you will land a good and secure job, the hardest part is the first couple of years.

How To Decide Between Working In Sydney Vs Melbourne

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The problem is that both of these cities are significant in their own right and would be equally formidable if they were included in a pack of Top Trump cards, despite minor differences in their individual point totals. This, however, may be the simplest way to compare the two and find the option that best suits your needs.

Jobs in Melbourne and Sydney are not the same. Melbourne and Sydney are both important to Australia's economy, but different sectors have flourished in each.

According to Dominic Perrottet, the state treasurer of New South Wales, the state added nearly 180,000 new jobs in 2015. This represents an increase of roughly 5 percent.

The home service industry is booming in Sydney and Melbourne, providing excellent opportunities for investment and expansion.

Services like gardening, cleaning, and handyman work thrive in Sydney and Melbourne because of the cities' thriving housing markets, which attract more investors.

Home services have reached an all-time high as part of the service industry's recent boom in the last couple of years. It would be wise to start a cleaning or gardening company in both cities. If you're an immigrant to Australia, this could be a fantastic opportunity: you won't need any Australian work experience or certifications, and you'll get paid well while having the possibility to grow your business.

How To Find A Job In Melbourne

It can be challenging to find work in Melbourne. The hardest part of becoming employed is the first for most international students.

Being a local can help you land a job because most companies value local experience and references. After that point, things will begin to improve.

Those who are relocating to Victoria (VIC) are encouraged to establish contact with businesses there in advance. You should look them up online and try to get in touch with them. Through these associations, you will be able to locate a job more quickly.

Ford, Holden, and Toyota all have manufacturing facilities in or near Melbourne, making it an attractive location for those working in the automotive industry.

Lucky people who work in banks also (but even more in Sydney). The city of Melbourne is home to two of Australia's four largest banks.

In addition to being home to the headquarters of Australia's largest company, BHP Billiton, the city also boasts a thriving biotech sector. The country's largest port is located in Melbourne as well.

How To Find A Job In Sydney

Business professionals will find the best job prospects in Sydney. Sydney also provides 25% of Australia's GDP as the country's financial capital.

Sydney's banking sector is the largest in Australia, and it pays well to be a part of it. The twenty largest international banks all have their main offices in Sydney.

The manufacturing sector ranks second after the financial sector, but retail is by far the largest employer. This diversity helps the city attract people from a wide range of backgrounds and occupations.

Since certain pests prefer urban territories and the city of Sydney only treats public areas for pests, it is a good place to launch a pest control company.

Average Pay

As both cities are expensive to live in, pay plays a major role when choosing where to live. You will have to pay the bills, and the difference between both cities is big.

20% of the richest households account for 61% of household wealth in both cities.

Average Salary In Melbourne

The average salary in Victoria is around A$75,000.

Wages in Melbourne may be 5% to 10% lower than in Sydney, but renting a place to live is typically 30% cheaper in Melbourne. However, this is highly dependent on the specific suburb one chooses to call home.

Average Salary In Sydney

Being a city that is financially growing, the average yearly salary in Sydney is above A$80,000. 

Of course, as the industries are well developed, and the jobs are more demanding professionally, you could easily surpass the median salary.

Travel Time To Work

In recent years commuting has become like a second job (it turns out it can even be bad for you). People can travel hours to work, and this is where Melbourne is the clear winner of both cities.

Average Commute Time Melbourne

 It is no problem, as most of the city is covered by the tram system (comfortable and the best in Australia).

With the help of public transport, going to and from work is easy and fast.

Average Commute Time Sydney

Sydney has notorious traffic. Again, the distance in commute is around 15 km, but it takes much more time than Melbourne. That is if you're travelling by car. The streets are small, and gridlock is much more likely to happen.

However, if you can take the daily ferry to the centre, it can be very nice. It can also be a great way to start the day.

Living Expenses Comparison

Both cities have their pluses and minuses. It depends on the individual and their needs which city is better for them. For example, Melbourne might have cheaper housing options, but Sydney can provide more professional growth.

Cost Of Living In Melbourne

Melbourne's thriving economy makes it simple for anyone to find work, regardless of their level of experience or education. The average Melbourne home costs about A$100,000 less than the average Sydney home, which is not a small difference.

The cost of lodgings in Melbourne is high. A typical one-bedroom apartment in Melbourne costs about A$2,500 per month to rent. The rent is different in different areas. It costs about A$30 per person to eat out, plus another A$17 for a concert or show. The price range is A$120-A$150 per night for two people.

Cost Of Living In Sydney

Living accommodations are where people spend most of their money. An 85 ft2 apartment will cost around A$3,800 per month. Buying a home can be extremely expensive, costing more or less around half a million.

Going out, a dinner, gig, and a drink will cost around A$100 for two. Consider the cost of utilities, which depending on what and how much you use, can be around A$300 per month.

Decide Between Working In Sydney Vs Melbourne

Iconic Value

Both the Royal Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, New South Wales, are instant classics and must-mention responses when asked to name iconic Australian landmarks. In addition to this, Sydney is the more well-known city in the world, earning it a 9 out of 10 in this category. And the closest thing that Melbourne has to offering seeing in person images you've viewed your whole life is Ramsey Street, which is always exciting for tourists. If you're a fan of the TV show Neighbours, you'll love the fact that you can schedule a tour of the set, but otherwise, Melbourne only gets 6/10 for its lack of iconic attractions.

Let's say that during your time in Australia on a work and travel visa, your top priority is financial stability. In that case, while you might be tempted to uproot your life and relocate to Sydney, you should keep in mind the high cost of living there. About a ten percent increase in salary from Melbourne is typical. Of course, this is subject to the nature of the job you end up with. The hospitality industry is a popular career option.


Guests to Melbourne will find themselves conveniently close to the world-famous Great Ocean Road. This is a memorial drive commemorating the First World War that stretches for 243 kilometres. All the cool stuff you can do and see is right there in the vicinity. Bells Beach, the (less than) Twelve Apostles, and The Bay of Islands are all must-sees. You can go on a helicopter ride over the rain forest if you like, or you can go hiking.

Bondi Beach in Sydney is one of the world's most famous, so it's no surprise that the city ranks highest. The water in this part of Australia is as clear as it gets, and the better waves make it ideal for surfing or at least spying on surfers. It's not necessary to spend all your time at Bondi; there are plenty of other beaches to visit, such as Manly, which is just a quick ferry ride away. The beaches in Melbourne are not far behind, scoring a 7 out of 10.

It's easy to get to St. Kilda by tram, and it's always crowded with tourists. Unfortunately, litter is probably the main reason why Melbourne's beaches aren't regarded that highly. Not that there aren't any good parts; drive down the coast looking for a jackpot and you'll see what I mean. Half Moon Bay is a great place to visit if you happen to be in the area, but if you don't have a car, you can still find a great time by taking the train to Brighton Beach.

The Arts

Sydney, being Sydney, does draw some big names from around the world, but Melbourne is Australia's cultural capital and has the better arts scene.

Every major international artist performing in Australia will make a stop in Melbourne, so you can see a show there any night of the week. The importance of live music venues to Melburnians is a reflection of the city's strong cultural identity. In addition to its impressive street art, Melbourne is home to numerous museums, galleries, and theatres. If you're a bit more on the unconventional side, you'll feel more at home in Melbourne than in Sydney.

There are always a tonne of vintage-style posters plastered all over the city, announcing upcoming events in precise detail. So whether you're into music, fashion, theatre, dance, art, or something completely off the beaten path, Melbourne has something for you. No surprise that hundreds of hipsters flock there, so if that kind of thing bothers you, perhaps Sydney is a better option. Even though it has become much more popular, it is still fantastic for the arts and earns an 8 out of 10.

Architecture And Landscape

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The two are on par here with a 7/10, Sydney has the obvious famous pieces of architecture, but both cities have winning and losing parts. With the old, Melbourne's Public Library is grand and impressive as well as Flinders Street Station and Bourke Street's Royal Arcade are going to please history lovers. However, when we're looking at the new, the jagged edges of Federation Square and any building nicknamed The Snot will be an eyesore.

People of Melbourne moan that Sydney is too business-like, which is reflected in the architecture there, wherein many spots you could indeed be anywhere in the world. Still, the city is dotted with historical museums. Then, of course, there is that bridge and the place where people sing. Getting out of the main city to the north of Sydney in the Blue Mountains, unlike anywhere else in the world, is a must for exploration but just as good but different; west of Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road. Expect to see some of the best views in the whole of Australia here.

If you want to keep the tourist vibe going, settle down in Sydney rather than Melbourne. Sydney is much more exciting in terms of sightseeing. Besides the world-famous Sydney Opera House, check out Darling Harbour, Port Jackson Bay, and Circular Quay. In addition, you can take a boat tour around the bay, visit Powerhouse Museum, or chill out at the Chinese Garden of Friendship if you love tranquillity.

Culture Diversity

Tourists and international residents flock to Sydney in droves. Perhaps you would feel more at home in Sydney, where a larger percentage of the population was not born in Australia compared to Melbourne. People who leave their home countries to live abroad typically hail from the United Kingdom, China, India, and New Zealand. Try not to worry too much about making new friends. The people of Australia are famously warm and welcoming, so you won't be on your own.

Food, Drink And Nightlife

Aussies like to dress to impress, so if you're looking for a night out in either CBD, you better take your dancing shoes. On the other hand, if you're easy to please and a fan of mainstream scenes, then again, Sydney could be what you're looking for with its bigger clubs and metropolitan bars and eateries. Down by the harbour's are great spots to chill, take in good views and enjoy tasty food. No problem, head to Kings Cross on a backpacker budget, full of pubs, clubs, and cheap nights' out.

The food scene is incredibly versatile. Name a cuisine, and you'll find it here: Italian, Greek, Lebanese, and above all, Asian of all sorts. Every day, you can visit some of the best foody spots without breaking the bank. You definitely won't be hungry if you settle in Melbourne.

All this combined gives it an 8/10, just under a 9/10 rating for Melbourne. If you're foody, you'll be delighted by the overwhelming number of cafes at every corner, crack and crevice. More than you'll ever manage to sample, along with the hidden bars that will slowly reveal themselves to you over time. Central Melbourne may not have as good clubs as the centre of Sydney, but you will never be short of a great night out over to suburbs such as Brunswick, Fitzroy and Prahan.


Let's tackle the issue of the weather. Sydney has approximately 230 sunny days, and Melbourne has 185. Temperatures are similar in both cities: they range from 8°C to 17°C in July (the coldest month) and 19°C to 26°C in January (the hottest month). Sydney has more rainfall, but it's also sunnier. It all depends on personal preferences, but generally speaking, Sydney is definitely a better pick if we consider the weather.

Don't be tricked into thinking there is constant, glorious sunshine just because it's Australia. The southern half distinctly receives all four seasons, and if you are in Melbourne, this is often known to happen all within one day. Though the temperature fluctuates, the summer months are beautiful but do watch out for those days that surpass 40 degrees! Hot still in Sydney, it is known to rain more than a favourable amount, but it still beats Melbourne with an 8/10just for those special winter days that bring highs of 20 degrees as opposed to Melbourne reaching -2 degrees on one chilly night this year, causing this rating to fall below with a 7/10.


It's more affordable than Sydney, and it has way more options, ranging from high-end clubs to dingy bars. It's also the football capital of the country, so if you'd like to visit amazing sports events, Melbourne is your city.

Backpacker Life

This time, they're tied on what's arguably the most crucial factor (9/10). Jobs are plentiful in major urban centres, so you can expect to see financial gains with minimal effort. Even though these are major metropolitan areas, their costs are not the highest in Australia. Prices in the South East are likely to be lower than those in cities like Perth and Darwin or anywhere in the outback. The Kings Cross neighbourhood of Sydney is the epicentre of the city's backpacker scene. St. Kilda is to Melbourne as its beach is to Sydney. You can expect to see a lot of backpackers in the cities, and it won't be hard to find a nice hostel or room in someone's house.

Your budget for rent should be a major factor in selecting a new place to call home. You can save a significant amount of money on rent alone by moving to Melbourne from Sydney, where the average apartment costs about 30% more. You can expect to pay about $1,800 in Melbourne and $2,600 in Sydney for a centrally located one-bedroom apartment.

And if you're a fan of walking, jogging, and swimming, Sydney is a better option than Melbourne. While Melbourne may be the better option on a dry day, Sydney's superior public transportation system makes up for any precipitation. Sydneysiders use it more frequently than Melburnians for this very reason. Without a doubt, Melbourne's lacklustre public transportation system is one of the city's biggest drawbacks.

Although excellent coffee can be found in other parts of Australia, the best coffee in the country can be found in Melbourne. In contrast to impersonal chain coffeehouses, each individual cafe has a unique atmosphere and vibe. If you're new to the coffee scene, find a café with an atmosphere that speaks to you and then decide what kind of coffee you want to drink. Melbourne is the place to broaden your horizons in terms of hot beverages by sampling something new, like a matcha latte.

Those who enjoy being in the great outdoors will love Sydney. It's beautiful and sunny and has a great beach. We tend to divide the world into urban areas and natural areas and assume that these two spheres are mutually exclusive; however, this is not the case in Sydney. The locals place a premium on leading active, healthy lives, and eating well. So, if you're the type to spend your time basking in the sun, Sydney is the place to be.


What Visa Do You Need To Work In Australia

Finding work in both cities at the moment can be a bit hard, especially if you're looking for employment. It depends on the industry you're looking for work in and what you can do.

For NSW, three visas allow you to work legally. These are the Business Talent (subclass 132) visa, Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188/888) visa, or the Significant Investor visa (you can also read our in-depth post about the Significant Investor Visa).

In Victoria, an employer can nominate you for a work visa if you're a highly-skilled worker. The visa types are Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) and Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489). Not everyone is eligible for skilled visa nomination; you can find all visa requirements for both professionals and graduates.


Simply put, both cities have their pluses and minuses. While Melbourne can be more welcoming to people interested in raising a family, having a stable job, or running a business, Sydney offers amazing opportunities to people who travel often, want to live in Australia's most populated city, and enjoy the real hustle and bustle.

The final decision on where you want to live is up to you. There is no "one" winner as we're all different. Ask yourself – what do you enjoy, and what would you like to change where you live right now?

At the end of the day, if you're young, try both. Sydney and Melbourne have plenty of people living there to allow residents to develop big businesses and live comfortably.

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