When Melbournians speak of the areas in which they live, it becomes clear that the city and its surroundings are commonly divided into four areas; The Central Business District, the Inner Suburbs, the Bayside Suburbs, and the Outer Suburbs.
Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) is a tightly clustered city centre situated at the top of Port Phillip Bay, and split by the snaking flow of the scenic Yarra River. The CBD has evolved naturally from its initial proximity to an industrial port, and now includes an interesting mix of modern buildings and roads amongst historic blue stone paved lane ways and classic Victorian style structures. Melbourne’s history as an expanding city is evident not only in the progress of built up areas, but in the spaces the city has chosen not to build on. Scattered and dotted throughout the inner city are a large number of parks, gardens and leafy green spaces that give the city an open, natural feel that ensures inhabitants will never feel hemmed in by concrete and steel.
Radiating out from the grid-patterned streets of the CBD, the inner-suburbs include hundreds of neighbourhoods that comprise the majority of residential dwelling in the city area. Divided further as the Eastern, Northern, and Western, these areas are all close enough to the city to be considered urban, while still small enough to provide a feel of community for their residents. The Eastern neighbourhoods have a long history of affluence and are still the traditional home of Melbourne residents of high status and high-income brackets. The Northern and Western neighbourhoods, situated around historic industrial areas such as the docks, breweries, and livestock yards, have traditionally been home to more working class families and newly arrived immigrants. Although the Western suburbs still carry a slight stigma of lower socioeconomic status (mostly amongst those who live in the East) the past two decades of real estate prosperity have seen property in the West raise in both value and status as gentrification takes hold and demographics rapidly change.
To the south of the city lay the Bayside Suburbs. Situated between the CBD and the bay, this area includes beachside communities (such as picturesque Saint Kilda), parkland, and exclusive water front homes. Full of interesting botiques and cafes, these suburbs are an excellent example of Australian beach living and have a mix of artistic and professional inhabitants that give these neighbourhoods their laid back charm.
Moving further away from the city centre, you will find the larger outer-suburbs, connected to the city by a network of train and tram lines as well as recently constructed Tollways. Homes in these areas are newer, sit on larger lots and are generally much more affordable than their smaller inner-suburban counterparts. With the extra room provided by outward growth, these suburbs generally feature wide, newly paved roads and large shopping centres that the narrow historic alleyways of the inner suburbs could never accommodate.
Beyond the outer ring of suburbs is the greenery of the Dandenong Ranges to the East (a vast combination of country homes and National Parks), the Coast and Vineyards to the South, or the agricultural areas to the North and West. Although some of these areas are not ideal for living (being so far from the city), they are beautiful and well worth exploring.