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

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


Melbourne Sydney
Victoria New South Wales
Closest City
Geelong (75 KM) Wollongong (80 Km)
Student Population
213,714 319,000

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.

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)

Rent $200
Food $175
Public transport, electricity, phone, internet $85
Miscellaneous Expenses $100
Total $560 per week
Annually $29,120

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.

City Weekly Annual
Melbourne $565 $29,385
Sydney $637 $33,117

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

Melbourne Avrg Max 21.7 °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.

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.

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   7 1. University of Melbourne 2nd in Australia 33rd in the World Country’s most prestigious university with international reputation
2. Monash University 6th in Australia 70th in the world Boasts five campuses all around Melbourne, has second most international students
3. Royal Melbourne Institution of Technology (RMIT) 14th in Australia 304th in the world Based in the city-centre, occupied building across several blocks, has highest number of international students
4. Deakin University 19th in Australia 360th in the world More teaching focused than other universities
5. La Trobe University 20th in Australia 401 – 410 in the world Several campuses across Victoria
6. Swinburne University of Technology 24th in Australia 481 – 490 in the world Famous for its vocational training courses, offers many specialized non-university courses
7. Victoria University 29th in Australia 701+ in the world Offers degree courses as well as vocational courses
Sydney 5 1. University of Sydney 3rd in Australia 37th in the world The main campuses are situated on the outskirts of the city centre
2. University of New South Wales 5th in Australia 48th in the world Research-focused institution that performs well in terms of graduate salaries and also receives above average course ratings
3. Macquarie University 9th in Australia 254th in the world Has a third of students from abroad and large exchange program
4. University of Newcastle 10th in Australia 257th in the world Is an Australian public university
5. University of Technology 11th in Australia 264th in the world Was 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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