How to Decide Between Working in Sydney vs Melbourne
If you're a lover of big city life and are looking to either travel or work in Australia then you probably share the dilemma that many backpackers do of deciding which is best - Sydney or Melbourne. This is not a new argument, in fact the only reason why Canberra was built as the Capital was because a decision could not be made between the two.
The problem is they're both great cities and if they were found in a pack of Top Trump cards, though the figures would vary between points, ultimately they would be just as powerful as the other. But this may be the easiest way to assess the two and work out where best suits you.
1. Iconic Value
If asked to state landmarks of Australia, Sydney's Royal Opera House and Harbour bridge would be quick to come to mind. As well as this, worldwide Sydney would be the more famous and therefore receives a 9/10 on this rating. As a tourist seeing in person images that have been viewed your whole life is always exciting and the closest Melbourne has to offer on this front is Ramsey Street. Brilliant if you are a Neighbours fan as you can book in for a tour but otherwise on iconic levels Melbourne hasn't got much more to offer giving it a 6/10.
Home to the infamous Bondi, Sydney once again takes the lead with an 8/10. Better waves make it great for surfing or just spying on surfers and the water in this part of Australia is about as crystal clear as you can get. Not just at Bondi but it's also worth checking out other beaches like hopping on a short ferry ride to Manly. Melbourne's beaches are not far behind with a 7/10.
St Kilda being a city beach is easily reached by tram, full of tourists and unfortunately litter, is probably the main reason why Melbourne's beaches are not viewed that highly. This isn't to say that there are not some great parts, just take a car down the coast in search of your own personal winning spot. Half Moon Bay is a cute local find but if you're without a car take a train out to Brighton Beach and you're still onto a winner.
3. The Arts
Yes Sydney being Sydney, attracts class acts from around the world but Melbourne is the cultural hub of Australia and the arts scene here definitely takes precedence. The whole city is covered in old school style posters, informing you of exactly what's coming up soon and there's always heaps. Whether it's music, fashion, theatre, dance, art or something totally obscure your into, there will be a place for you in Melbourne making it worthy of a full 10/10. This of course attracts hipsters by the hundreds and if you can't tolerate this then you'd be better off in Sydney. Still great for arts but a lot more mainstream gives it an 8/10.
4. Architecture and Landscape
The two are on par here with a 7/10, yes Sydney has the obvious famous pieces of architecture but there are winning and losing parts to both cities. 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. Though when we're looking at the new, the jagged edges of Federation Square and any building nicknamed The Snot is going to be an eyesore.
People of Melbourne moan that Sydney is too buisness like and this is reflected in the architecture there, where in many spots you could indeed be anywhere in the world but the city is dotted with historical museums and of course there is that bridge and the place where people sing. Getting out of the main city to the north of Sydney is the Blue Mountains, unlike anywhere else in the world is a must for exploration but just as good but totally different, west of Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road. Expect to see some of the best views in the whole of Australia here.
5. 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. If you're easy to please and a fan of mainstream scenes then again, Sydney could be what you're looking for with it's 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. On a backpacker budget, no problem just head to Kings Cross, full of pubs, clubs and cheap nights' out.
All this combined gives it an 8/10 just under a 9/10 rating for Melbourne. If your a foody, you'll be delighted by the overwhelming amount of cafe's 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 over to suburbs such as Brunswick, Fitzroy and Prahan, you will never be short of a great night out.
Don't be tricked into thinking that just because it's Australia there is constant, glorious sunshine. 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 where it can even 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 oppose to Melbourne reaching -2 degrees on one chilly night this year, causing this rating to fall below with a 7/10.
7. Backpacker Life
Perhaps the most important factor and the two draw again with 9/10. Big cities mean plenty of jobs so with just a bit of effort you'll be sure to start bringing the money in. Though expensive cities, they are not the highest prices in Australia. Cities like Perth and Darwin or anywhere in the outback are likely to top prices you find in the South East. Sydney has Kings Cross as it's Backpacker hub, full of cheap hostels and clubs. Melbourne's equivalent would be St Kilda, which has the beach. Backpackers will still be found all over the cities and getting good accommodation whether in a hostel or house share will not be tough.
So it pretty much just comes down to personal preference to which wins the debate for yourself. This should help somewhat but if you are still feeling indecisive, flights and coaches cost around $70 between the two so you can always have an exploration of the both and try before you buy.
By Araba Adjaye