The question I’m often asked about my recent time in London is “Which do you think is better? London or Melbourne?”
Having spent only a few months in London, I’m in no way qualified to provide an expert opinion on the good, the bad and the ugly – instead, I will provide my unqualified opinion based on 5 months experience.
Also, before I forget, I’m not going to compare the obvious aspects like the weather. Let’s not go there because it’ll just drag down the mood of this article.
Before we left, we heard constant remarks of ‘Oh, London is such an expensive place!’. I’d understood this to clearly mean Rent and general expenses – including grocery shopping. I do have to say, however, that grocery shopping in London is comparable to the cost of that in Melbourne – if not a little cheaper.
I nearly had a breakdown the other day because I just wanted to head down to M&S (Marks & Spencer) to pick up an awesome meal deal of those pre-made meals to pop in the oven. I did NOT want to cook. But alas, I was in Melbourne – there is no M&S and there is no comparison to the food available there.
And it’s not just M&S that provide these super awesome ready-made meals. Waitrose, Tesco and the like all offer these wonderfully tasty, relatively healthy and cheap meals that you simply need to heat up. I’m talking bangers and mash in gourmet sauce, fish & chips, BBQ Pork Ribs, Pad Thai, the list goes on.
They’re not your typical ‘lean cuisine’ style meal either. They’re actually blooming nice and generally quite balanced (with your good old servings of vegetables).
Online grocery shopping is far superior in London too – with deliveries available within 1 hour slots – you don’t have to wait around all day either – groceries delivered to your door (including a sneaky few bottles of Rose or Prosecco!). Special mention to Michael from Ocado delivery!
Comparing all of this to the grocery landscape in Melbourne – which is dominated by 2 players plus Aldi – It pales in comparison. My partner and I have remarked regularly that we were most definitely eating better in London than we do in Melbourne.
Surprisingly, the winner is London. Horror stories of terrible fresh produce and high prices proved to be false and we ate like royalty.
I think I’ve mentioned this before – but hands down – London’s transport system is far superior to that of Melbourne. More people to move, but oh my do they move efficiently. (Ignoring the upcoming tube and bus strike!)
I’m not going to labor on this point too much – you can read my observations here.
London, of course. It’s a city where you cannot walk faster than the public transport.
General Vibe of the City
The first few days upon return to Melbourne were a little disconcerting. We walked around the streets and were perplexed. Where was everybody? Did something happen? Was there a plague which caused everyone to be housebound?
No, of course. London is a much more populous place – that goes without saying. But I did have a revelation. I LOVE crowds! Take them away from me and I’m left with a smattering of slow-moving tourists that just seem to be physically incapable of moving in a straight line.
I mean, in London, you have to know where you’re going or you GET OUT OF THE WAY (lest you be trampled). Melbourne is a little bit more forgiving in that regard, and therefore, my frustration levels are increased when I need to get somewhere.
From a balanced point of view, Melbourne has this cool chilled out vibe. It’s a world-renowned vibe but to my surprise, an acquired taste. You’ve really got to be in the mood for it.
This is a tough one. London is exciting, dynamic and busy! There’s always something to do and you always seem to be travelling somewhere. There are other obvious concerns that come with living in a big international city. Melbourne is so cool, but sparsely populated. Things close and the city empties – but the bars ramp up.
I think this one has to be a tie. Each city is amazing, but for different reasons.
Melbourne wins. London has its pearls, but gee – Melbourne is the product of years of immigration from all over the world with cultures allowed to flourish. You can find every cuisine and it’s very close to authentic. There’s not much that has been ‘anglo-fied’ to the point that it’s no longer recognisable from the original dish.
Food is still quite expensive in Melbourne, but again, comparable to London prices.
London has its charm, but the middle ground is dominated by chain restaurants and bistros. Pubs are even part of chains now, so finding something unique and delicious is a difficult task unless you want to pay through the nose.
Melbourne, of course. It is Australia’s home to wonderful food and should take its place on the world stage. And of course, don’t forget the Dim Sims, which only seem to be available here.
Overall – where would I rather live?
Where I am in my life right now, I’d love to be back in London. I’m looking for opportunity, excitement and something different. London is of course close to so many European destinations and even the US & Canada. I can’t imagine getting bored there but the massive trade-off is being away from family and friends.
What’s your experience?
Where would you rather live? Have you been somewhere in the world where you would move to in a heartbeat?
Let me know in the comments (and of course, if you disagree with any of my opinions!).