Why are more people moving to Melbourne than Sydney?

There has always been a great rivalry between the two East coast cities Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest capital cities of Australia. However it might not be too long now until Melbourne will overtake Sydney in terms of its population.

Although Sydney might be home to almost 5 million people, Melbourne is actually growing at a faster rate than Sydney (18% faster) and is expected to be Australia’s largest city by 2050. So what is it about Melbourne that is attracting a greater following?

Firstly, Melbourne has recently been ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability survey as the world’s most liveable city for the fifth year in a row and it’s easy to see why. The city has something to appeal to everyone whether you love the arts and culture, coffee and delicious food, diverse sports or first class shopping; it is hard to get bored living here.

Melbourne actually has many larger sporting stadiums including the MCG and there is a real passion for sport in this city whether you love cricket, AFL, rugby, the Grand Prix or tennis, whilst the city’s laneways are always abuzz with people enjoying their morning coffee, breakfast or lunch.

Ok, so the weather might not be as hot and sunny as Sydney (there is less rainfall though in Melbourne), but it’s definitely not putting off people from living here. Nearly 1 million people moved to Melbourne since the 2001 census, whilst in comparison, Sydney has attracted just over 750,000.

It is interesting to note that more people are staying put in Melbourne, whilst there is a greater level of interstate migration, with more people in particular moving out of Sydney. During 2013-14, New South Wales saw a population loss of 6,900 persons, whilst Victoria actually grew by 8,800 persons according to the ABS. In fact since 2001, there is a difference in population growth of over 20,000 people per year.

Much of this population growth is happening within the inner city areas in Sydney and Melbourne where the city centres have developed and become a hub for jobs and more and more people are looking to live close by to take advantage of easy commutes to work and easy access to important amenities.

Today, there is now very little difference in the number of jobs in sectors such as healthcare, education and professional services and the number of jobs has grown in both cities which is attracting a new migrant workforce. However, manufacturing jobs in Sydney has fallen more than in Melbourne. The only difference would be that Sydneysiders on average earn more than those living in Melbourne.

Both cities are also multi-cultural, although Sydney is more culturally diverse and receives more international visitors every year. Nearly a quarter of Victoria’s population was born overseas and has the second largest Asian population in Australia and is also home to the largest Indian and Sri Lankan communities in the country. Melbourne is also a popular destination for students and the city is home to some prominent universities including The University of Melbourne and RMIT University.

Another reason as to why Melbourne might be growing faster than Sydney is to do with the cost of living and the affordability of housing. Sydney has become the most expensive capital city in Australia to buy a home, whilst Melbourne in comparison is still relatively affordable, although new apartments might be much smaller in size. The median house price in Sydney is now over $1 million, whilst in Melbourne it is approximately $670,000. However, in Melbourne there are still pockets in suburbs where you can buy a property that is still in close proximity to the city for an affordable price, whilst those in Sydney are looking further out west and down south.

It will take some time until Melbourne becomes the largest city in Australia with predictions of this happening between 2030 and 2050. Sydney will of course benefit from a higher natural population increase due to being the bigger city, but Melbourne is likely to benefit more from interstate migration. Currently, Sydney is almost at 5 million people, whilst Melbourne is not far behind with a population of approximately 4.5 million.

Globally, the trend for urbanisation is becoming more apparent and a greater number of people worldwide are flocking to live in the big cities and with Melbourne being regarded as the most liveable city in the world, this city status is sure to tempt more people to live here, especially if they love their coffee, sport and fashion!

In order to prepare for this massive population growth, Melbourne will have to closely look at its housing to ensure there will be enough residential dwellings to cater for this population rise alongside its transport network and services to cater for its increased population effectively.
Published on 15th of September 2015 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich


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