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A Comparative Study Between Melbourne and Sydney: The Best Cities in Australia for Students

UserMark time17 July,2015

Have you ever given a thought on which is the best city in Australia for studying? Well, Australia has quite a number of options to offer you — Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane to name a few. Sunny weather, picturesque views and spectacular beaches draw a vast number of national and international students to these cities.

So, to make your choice easy, we have zeroed in on the two most popular cities of Australia: Sydney and Melbourne. We have further conducted a comparative study on these two Australian cities as an ideal place for higher studies. While there are many similarities, each city has its own distinct qualities as well. So let’s see which city wins the race to be the best for you.

A Comparative Study Between Melbourne and Sydney


VictoriaNew South Wales
Closest City
Geelong (75 KM)Wollongong (80 Km)
Student Population

To make you 100 percent sure, we have evaluated the vital aspects of livability and university choice.

  1. Livability

Livability depends on factors like cost of living, climate, culture and transport.

  • Cost of living

Accommodation typically accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the living costs for international students who normally have tight budget. For a student living in a shared or private accommodation, the weekly budget might look like this. (Source: Figures from University of Western Australia)

Public transport, electricity, phone, internet$85
Miscellaneous Expenses$100
Total$560 per week

Considering the above calculations, here we rank the Australia’s two most preferred cities in terms of cost of living. This data is calculated on the basis of a recent survey.


So you can understand Sydney is far more expensive than Melbourne in terms of cost of living.

  • Climate
Melbourne Avrg Max 21.7 °C
SydneyAvrg Max 19.9 °C

Climate comparison between Sydney and Melbourne:

Plenty of sunshine – pleasant weather throughout the year – cooler climate than Australia’s other large cities.
Humid climate with abundant sunshine – pleasant weather throughout the year even in winter – summer days are warm and occasionally hot.
  • Culture

What Sydney has to offer you?

Sydney has a fair number of galleries, churches, theaters and museums. Sydney Opera House is a wonderful venue for concerts, musical and orchestral performances. Sydney also has an Art Gallery at New South Wales that reflects Australia’s multicultural history. Simply put, Sydney has intense cultural reputation, but it is said that Sydney lacks what Melbourne citizens enjoy.

What Melbourne has to offer you?

Melbourne is labeled as Australia’s cultural capital. Melbourne is an example of melting pot of culture. This international influence can be found in all the aspects of the city. There are great numbers of venues open to the public with its galleries in particular being some of the best in the country. This city boasts of over 100 galleries of various kinds in total. Music is the prime focus of Melbourne that is brimming with live music venues.

  • Transport
Sydney Melbourne
Pros – 1.    Bus system is adequate – sufficient number of buses.

2.    The saving grace is ferry system, based in Sydney Harbor.

Cons –

1.    The roads are poorly-planned.

2.    Train uses extremely outdated ticketing system.

3.    Driving is not better because roads are tight and difficult to navigate.

Pros – 1.    One of the best transport systems in the world.

2.    Excellent tram system - is a great alternative for getting around the central locations.

3.    You have to admit Melbourne’s public transport is cheaper than Sydney’s.

Cons –

1.    With increasing overcrowding issues, it is difficult to get tram in the rush hour.

2.    Bus system is not efficient these days.

  1. University Choice:
City Number of Universities Name of University Rank of University (According to Times Higher Education Ranking)World Ranking (According to Times Higher Education Ranking)About the University
Melbourne   71. University of Melbourne2nd in Australia33rd in the WorldCountry’s most prestigious university with international reputation
2. Monash University6th in Australia70th in the worldBoasts five campuses all around Melbourne, has second most international students
3. Royal Melbourne Institution of Technology (RMIT)14th in Australia304th in the worldBased in the city-centre, occupied building across several blocks, has highest number of international students
4. Deakin University19th in Australia360th in the worldMore teaching focused than other universities
5. La Trobe University20th in Australia401 – 410 in the worldSeveral campuses across Victoria
6. Swinburne University of Technology24th in Australia481 – 490 in the worldFamous for its vocational training courses, offers many specialized non-university courses
7. Victoria University29th in Australia701+ in the worldOffers degree courses as well as vocational courses
Sydney 51. University of Sydney3rd in Australia37th in the worldThe main campuses are situated on the outskirts of the city centre
2. University of New South Wales5th in Australia48th in the worldResearch-focused institution that performs well in terms of graduate salaries and also receives above average course ratings
3. Macquarie University9th in Australia254th in the worldHas a third of students from abroad and large exchange program
4. University of Newcastle10th in Australia257th in the worldIs an Australian public university
5. University of Technology11th in Australia264th in the worldWas formed by the merging of several inner-city institutions.

Things to do:

Sydney –

  • Witnessing performance in Opera House
  • Climbing the Harbour Bridge
  • Getting tanned at Bondi Beach
  • Partying at Marble Bar at the Hilton on George Street
  • Hanging out at Scubar as well as students’ pubs
  • Taking surf trip
  • Go kayaking, horse riding, hiking, camping etc.

Melbourne –

  • Shopping at city centers
  • Walking around the glamorous Southbank district
  • Watching live shows at local theaters
  • Checking out nearby museums
  • Wandering around Royal Botanical Garden
  • On Saturday, go for a soccer match
  • Enjoy clubbing at city center or checking out a laid back live band in a whisky bar.

Final Verdict:

Sydney Melbourne
Pros : -          Economic opportunities

-          Climate

-          Landmarks

-          Shopping

-          Nature

-          Things to do

Pros: -          More university choice

-          Melting pot of culture

-          Cultural heritage

-          Nightlife

-          Food/Drink

-          Shopping TransportCons: -          Affordability

-          Cleanliness and pollution

-          Road trafficCons:-          Climate

-          Road traffic

-          Safety

It is difficult to decide the winner between Melbourne and Sydney. Both have its great beaches, attractive nightlife and more. But in some way, Melbourne is better than Sydney. However, the decision totally depends on the interest of the students. Those enthusiastic about Botanical Gardens will find Sydney as an ideal home, whereas, students who want to be street artist will find Melbourne as a more interesting place. In terms of studying, it may come down to certain university offering courses that best matches their interests.

But whichever way you go, you will enjoy an unforgettable study experience. So it is up to you to choose between Sydney and Melbourne. Best of luck!

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