By DAMIEN NGUYEN
The people are friendly but the traffic and public transport could be a lot better, according to Monash students asked about Melbourne taking its seventh straight title as most liveable city in the world.
The idea of “liveability” is too subjective and difficult to judge accurately, some argue about the annual survey by the international weekly publication The Economist.
Others raised questions about what part of Melbourne was being judged and the methodology, which focuses on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
But overall, the response was positive.
“I think that title just refers to all aspects and it may not be the best in any of them, but across the board it’s quite high. It’s an easy place to live,” said Harry, a Hawthorn native.
Melbourne’s sporting venues, its multiculturalism and the decent work opportunities were some of the most popular reasons students cited for the city’s high liveability.
Maddie, a Caulfield resident, likes the city’s diversity.
“Everyone’s really welcoming and there’s a lot of different kinds of food, things to do. In the city, there are so many things happening like in New York or London,” she said.
However, students also mentioned poor public transport and internet connectivity as areas of improvement. In fact, complaints about Melbourne’s public transport were a consistent factor across all interviews.
Harry said Melbourne’s traffic was bad due to “heaps of people driv[ing] because public trains aren’t as good as they could be” and said the city should focus on creating “more ease of public transport and other modes of transport like cycling.
Shifu, of Wantirna, said it was “hard to say” if Melbourne deserved the title of most liveable city.
“What separates us from sixth place is less than a percent, according to the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit). I think it would be quite arrogant for anyone to claim their city is the most liveable with absolute certainty given the subjective nature of liveability.”
Matthew from Clayton had similar thoughts.
“As the title is based on an arbitrary set of criteria, and as Melbourne fits this criteria, I think Melbourne deserves the title,” he said.
When students were asked about the city’s negatives, many replied that the transport system needed improvement, that the weather was poor and that for some, “not enough things (were) open late enough”.
“I’m not really sure. Beyond having access to all the basic needs to live a life, liveability is pretty subjective. Melbourne is great as it is, but there’s always more improvements to be had,” said Shifu.
But many of these issues were “nitpicking”, and overall many students found it hard to find anything to complain about.
Nithila, a Sri Lankan international student, said: “This is a huge difference (compared to her hometown) with the kinds of people you meet, diversified crowds and the opportunities are good here.”
Deepa, an international student from India, said she chose Melbourne because of “numerous” positive reports.
“People are so friendly here, in India, you can’t smile at someone, they’ll just think you’re a creep. But here, I can just smile at someone and go ‘hi, how you’re doing?’” she said.
“I’ve always heard that it had won ‘most liveable city’ and it feels like it. I can see why because there’s so much to do,” she said.
For Darby, a former Mildura resident, one of Melbourne’s greatest drawcards was the sport facilities and culture.
“We’ve got Formula 1, tennis, AFL, Olympics have been here, the Commonwealth Games have been here – it offers a hub of sports,” he said.
Glen Waverley local Haeni, who has lived in five different cities and considers Melbourne the best, said the the city had the right “balance between decent public transport and cityscape and greenery” and that Melbourne was not just defined by its CBD like other cities.
“All the suburbs have their quirks. I like to think the available variety of things to do and interesting people you can come across in Melbourne defines it.”
“Just from how welcoming it is, to many different kinds of people and how it’ll try and cater to them. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be easy for them, but at least we’re open-minded,” she said.