For the first time in over 100 years, Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as Australia’s biggest city. Melbourne last held this title in 1905.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the most recent consensus of 2021, Melbourne had a greater population than Sydney. Melbourne’s population stood at 4,875,400 – with Sydney being home to 18,700 fewer people. This is due to a recent update made by the ABS to Significant Urban Area classification. This is measured by including all touching suburbs with a population of 10,000 or more.
With the inclusion of Melton, not only is Melbourne more populous than Sydney, but it has been since 2018.
However, when looking at the total size of the greater regions of Melbourne and Sydney, Sydney is still in the lead at 5.26 million to Melbourne’s 4.98 million. Even this is set to change. The Federal government predict that Greater Melbourne will be more populous than Greater Sydney by 2030.
But while some are tying this down to a simple ‘technicality’, it could be argued that this is more than a symptom of just boundary changes.
How migration differs in Sydney and Melbourne
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Macquarie University demographer Professor Nick Parr said, “Far more people have moved out of Sydney going to other parts of Australia, especially to the rest of NSW, Queensland and Victoria, than have moved to Sydney from elsewhere in Australia.”
Not only has Melbourne had smaller losses in this regard, but it has also had higher levels of international migration. Melbourne’s population last swelled during the gold rush of the late 19th century. Liz Allen, demographer at the Australian National University, highlighted that Melbourne has attracted many overseas workers, especially those from India. You can hear more than 200 languages in Melbourne. Roughly 35% of those in Melbourne were born outside of Australia, compared with 27% for the rest of Australia.
Furthermore, Melbourne has the status of the best student city in Australia as well as one of the best cities globally, and is known for pulling in students from all over the world.
Additionally, Melbourne has a cheaper cost of living, particularly for housing. According to numbeo, consumer prices (including rent) in Melbourne are 13.5% lower than in Sydney. Excluding rent, prices are 3.7% lower in Melbourne – illustrating just how expensive housing in Sydney is.
Fun fact: it is named after Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. Located on Melbourne’s northwestern fringe, Melton has seen significant population growth in the last ten years. From 2011 to 2021, it grew by 61%. It has the largest growth rate in all of Victoria.
It is 35 kilometres west from the Melbourne Central Business District. By car, that journey is roughly 30 minutes. The train is just under an hour and costs upwards of £8.
Melton’s key industries include retail, construction, and manufacturing. But perhaps the key to its attractiveness is that it is a pleasant, residential area with lots of green space. The Melton Botanic Gardens are beautiful, with fauna from Australia, America, and Africa. Then, for kids, there’s Animal Land’s Children Farm and the Woodlea Playground. According to realestate.com.au, over the last year, the median price for a home in Melton is $495,000. An increase of 3.1%.
And now, if you purchase a property in Melton, you can officially say that you have a home in Melbourne.