For the past six years, the highly-respected Global Liveability Rankings from The Economist Intelligence Unit has seen Melbourne crowned the world’s most liveable city. It’s an honour that not only recognises the world-leading infrastructure and facilities, but also the quality of life enjoyed by the proud residents of the Victorian capital. But what is it that makes life in Melbourne better than any other city in the world?
Together with the locals, international visitors are quick to rave about Melbourne’s dynamic art scene, its gourmet cuisine and diverse culture, its promotion of fine wine, micro-brewing and weekend farmers’ markets, its friendly chic precincts and welcoming leafy suburbs, its breathtaking blend of classical architecture and modern design, its passion for fashion, and of course the city’s all-consuming obsession with coffee and sport.
Education and academic opportunities also send Melbourne’s liveability ranking through the roof. With the number of outstanding private and state schools spread across the city and no less than seven internationally-renowned universities based in the metropolitan area (as well as higher-education colleges and vocational training centres) its no wonder that every year, Melbourne attracts almost 100,000 international students to its universities alone, as quoted by Australian Universities.
With the largest tramway system on the planet, few residents of inner-metropolitan Melbourne are more than a few minutes walk from a tram-line, train station or bus route (or all three). Then there’s the motorway network that feeds thousands of cars into and out of the city every day, notifying drivers via electronic screens every few kilometres of the expected travel time to key intersections. And for the environmentally conscious, an array of bikeways and bike-lanes line city streets, skirt the rivers and criss-cross the host lush, green, shaded parklands.
Which brings us to those parklands… so many parklands. Back in the 1990s, Victoria was known as the Garden State, and while that strapline has disappeared from car number plates, the temperate climate, rich soil and civic appreciation for all things botanical has ensured that the Melbourne’s suburbs are wrapped in swathes of green open space where friends picnic, children (and dogs) run freely, families host barbecues, autumn trees turn gold and amber, sports teams vie for bragging rights, and those who want to feel a sense of ‘escape’ curl up with a good book under a towering gum and breathe in the fresh, clean air.
Warmer cities may mock Melbourne’s temperamental weather and the apparent chilliness of its winters – a claim that most people from Northern Europe, Britain, Canada and upper USA would scoff at since Melbourne never sees sub-zero temperatures – but summers are invariably glorious with perfect beach weather and long balmy evenings, spring and autumn present a kaleidoscope of colours, and winter invites weekend pilgrimages to the nearby ski-fields and July school holidays in the snow. It is said that Melbourne can experience four seasons in a day, but remember, one of those seasons will be summer.
Defining a city’s liveability is a complex challenge, and one that always sees us compete with the likes of Vienna, Vancouver and Toronto, as well as the scenic beauty of Sydney. But with six years of leading the world, Melbourne’s position is clearly justified, and a title we should all be proud of and grateful for.