Stupid liveability index rates Hellbourne top ten

For years Hellbourne has traded on bogus global liveability indexes. Twenty years ago it was a great city of wide boulevards and uncluttered infrastructure. Even the terrible weather, expressed most commonly in an endless grey lid, seemed a plus as it drove a marvellously creative indoors culture made possible by fantastically cheap everything.

But since then every year has seen the place deteriorate. The charmingly ragged lounge bars are steadily disappearing as all forms of property and rent skyrocket. The entire city is now maddeningly crushloaded. The once pulsing CBD is empty, overbuilt and hollow. Endless McMansion suburbs with jammed roads and no rail run in every direction. The weather is still shit.

It would be curmudgeonly to deny that, relative to the rest of the world, Hellbourne isn’t still fantastically privileged. It is sliding is the point, and fast.

So, when I see this from The Economist, I cringe:

  • Auckland is now the world’s most liveable city.
  • It was 12th in 2019 but the virus elimination has boosted it.
  • Melbourne ranks 8.

How can that possibly stack up to scrutiny? I live in Hellbourne and have spent six months of the past 14 under house arrest. Yes, this is superior to watching your national hospitals overflow with the dead. But it is not very “liveable”.

I do not begrudge the rise of other Kiwi and Australian cities, though god knows why Sydney is not number one, clearly becoming islands of unCOVID is brilliant.

But Hellbourne does not belong near the top of that list anymore.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. The irony is that people say that Adelaide is like Melbourne 20 years ago. I guess this liveability index is proving it as Melbourne used to always have a podium finish 20 years ago.

        • Yes indeed. Dark shithole with asphalt coloured cars, metal in the roads and overhead and narrow ageist people who as drivers accelerated to overtake when one indicates a lane change. Coming fromSydney then Perth in. Watermelon pink with gold buttons cashmere jacket to Melbourne was a terrible shock, sneered at by the dark polyester suits everywhere, 15 year old offspring cried every weekend because nothing to do, no intelligent peers, no card games at Fremantle with 23 year old maths uni student partner and scattered others, graduate Asians coming down from uni to compete with 5000$ cards. No dining table smooth ice rink with Russian double world champion coach, no best comic shop in world with artists and writes coming for signing…no dinners on the beach at Cottesloe at 5.30 pm. Or 5 minutes from Claremont round the river to easy park for the opera.
          Melbourne was awful more than 20 years ago and closure of George’s was last straw as fell to scumminess typified by the vile exhibition building outdated by 60 years when built as representing forward architecture with stupid plates of stone stuck to sides.
          Yes 2020 onwards when it was indeed a favourite for the corporates and mid to low level expats coming here.

          In 1970s 1960s and before, Melbourne was dark, but had George’s and had a wonderful jazz and well dressed culture.Wonderful city then.
          Took me 10 years to see any positives in Melbourne, as in Cheap Eats saving us from greedy foodie husband and 4 hour dinners, easy parking compared with Sydney, simple city centre readily public transport accessed. Transport is best advantage compared with wonderful tolerant complex Sydney. Now glad for Terre Madre, Ceres, and due to recently broken arm, health support systems. Plus currently not hard to get out of city to paddocks.

  2. It is true that the 40-year federal program to completely f**k over Melbourne and Sydney has had great success. But Melbourne is still the best large city, Canberra the best small city. And “Never Go To Adelaide”, that’s a simple enough rule.

    There are many cities I could live in, large and small, in US and EU. Zurich is the only one that’s on this list.

  3. ApotheoticMalaise

    You’ve summarised Melbourne well. I love the place, but gee, it’s doing its best to make that difficult.

    I moved from Melbourne to Wellington a few years ago (and managed to get the family out of Melbourne yesterday, and back to Wellington finally). I do love both cities but accommodation in Wellington is utter garbage. Ungentrified, dark and moldy, with rent much higher than equivalent in Melbourne or Sydney. Prices are wildly unaffordable, given the lower wages, and there’s no room for lateral expansion – due to geography – nor upwards, given the CBD is built on reclaimed swampland that insurance companies are steering clear of, due to liquefaction risks. Housing is far worse in Wellington than anything in Australia (fwiw, Christchurch is a fraction of the price to buy, and post-earthquake investments are making the place increasingly awesome).

    Aside from housing, Wellington is magnificent. It’s small (about the size of Geelong), and has limited congestion. The plethora of overpaid public servants demand high quality livability. It bats way above average on food/entertainment etc. It’s walkable, and close to some of the worlds most spectacular natural wonders. The people, lovely, chill. Work culture trumps Australia’s by a factor. You will not suffocate under work pressures, like you do in Melb/Syd. It does make up for living in a dodgy house.

    • For me the dubious death of Pelligrinis Cafe owner was beginning of end after the BS FF fully [email protected] event of hooligan maroon car circle worker on Swanson St waved on by blue shirt wearing director was the beginning of the very end of what Melbourne has previously been. A grand old dame trashed by newcomers and sycophants who gleefully knocked out her fabulous set of original teeth (housing) and now every few years replaced with shiny low quality falsies that require replacement every decade due to rot:) SAD

  4. When I visited Melbourne, it reminded me of a Metropolis lifestyle.

    Work by day, Wine/Dine/Dancing by Night. A real social culture of clubs, nightlife and prestige.

    You could probably do a movie called, ” The day a Queenslander met a Melbourner ” because it really was a bizarre experience.

    I mean, Im the kind the guy at home in the bush, living the outdoors under the stars at night. I love the animals and all natures creatures.

    Here I am, stuck in a building, with blaring music and wine/dine culture, being spoken to like some kind of country bumpkin neanderthal while thinking to myself, ” These guys act privileged but most of them couldnt light a camp fire if there life depended on it ” ha ha.

    You could tell there was a lot of love in the air. It had that feel to it. Maybe because of all that cold weather.

    There was a seedy undertone, of drug syringes laying about the place everywhere, a culture of up beat arrogance. Also interesting that Melbourne seems to have an insane amount of single woman who probably will never get married in there lifetime. These woman overwhelmingly pounce on the first man they see ( I can see how me being a Queenslander, Im probably the most manliest bloke they’ve come across in years lol )… but I suspect its also a culture of free love where two weeks later, those same ladys would be pouncing on the next guy to walk through the door.

    I enjoyed catching Trams. Those where fun. I didnt see too many aussies in Melbourne. While on the Tram, I remember looking around and noticed all these people staring at me. It occurred to me that I was the only white aussie on that tram which made me a foreigner in my own Country.

    I always enjoy learning more about my own Country. I didnt hate Melbourne as much as I hated Sydney but I wont lie, there’s nothing like being back home in Queensland. Melbourne just seemed really Fake to me but not as Fake as Sydney. They where laughing at me but really, I was laughing at them.

    I guess thats why they call them States… because we are happy where we live. I dont have a problem with Melbourne ( or Sydney ) being who they are. I just dont like it when states become so corrupt or arrogant that they begin to intrude on other states… which has been happening a lot lately.

    • Unquestionably Melbourne and Sydney are no longer part of “real Australia”.
      The trouble is, unless they are excised, because of their voting power they will eventually drag the rest of Australia the same way.

      Not many will agree, but we’d be infinitely better off if Melbourne and Sydney became their own “Singaporean” self-governing city states, and the rest of us governed without them.

      • Or de-federate. WA wants to be its own country, so let’s roll it out to everyone. Given how each state has acted during Covid, we are already acting as independent countries.

      • Lord DudleyMEMBER

        “real Australia”… LOL! This is a great example of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

        They’re real Australia alright. They have almost half the population, and most of the politicians come from those cities.

    • Marry me Mathias:))
      Melbourne full to brim of newly minted [email protected] soyboys. Not a squared jawed & shouldered fella in sight with big hands & feet, sloping forehead & wide apart deep set eyes. Missed me a deep voiced man who knows his own mind & speaks it:))

    • I agree, I come from rural NSW and crave return to that and relief from not being the only white Aussie face on a tram or in the suburb where I sold a beautiful home and native garden, perfect access to everything and north mountain views, birds as I was the only white face in my street and at times in the shopping centre.

  5. Was speaking to my ex boss last night who rather curiously bought a new cafe business just outside the CBD in the Shrine area and took possession towards the end of Q1. He reckons Hellbourne is fckd and it won’t recover ‘in our lifetime’. I guess that means 20-30 years for him.

      • He bought it before the lockdowns of this year when there was probably a fair bit of widespread self delusion in the community that it wouldn’t happen again. I told him I didn’t think it was a smart idea as I was pretty sure Covid was going to be a problem for years based on quarantine bungles and slow vaccination roll out etc but I guess he had a plan (he’s getting close to retirement age), and his last venture wasn’t the success he’d hoped for, so I’m guessing there we’re a range of factors in his inability to change the method of achieving his goals (which presumably include a comfortable semi retirement somewhere).

        Although he was a very difficult person to work with I managed it and worked to keep up the relationship after I left. He’s got at least one, possibly more, failed marriage behind him and some estranged relationships with most of his kids so there are factors motivating him that might not be immediately obvious. Anyway I really hope it turns out ok for him. Eventually (I just hope his timeline fits in with Covid’s)

  6. I am from Dapto but used to live in New York and now live in Sydney.

    I think Sydney for its decline in amenity is still a great place to live compared to New York.

    I thought Yass was better but hey, you can’t have everything.

  7. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    Meh. I’m from Adelaide. Nice place to live if you’re retired or have an independent income stream (I suspect this is the criteria for these ridiculous livability indices). Other than that, it utterly sucks. The labor market is uniquely awful, especially for the young. Of course, The Economist doesn’t care about young workers in the slightest.

  8. Doesn’t the EIU survey have every sampling error/bias under the sun?

    Respondents are mainly expats living in leafy eastern suburbs who live a fantasy existence.

    It’s a terrible survey that doesn’t reflect reality. Ask residents in outer Melbourne like in Point Cook, Craigeburn, Cranbourne etc what they think of Melbourne’s amenities and you might get a very different result.

    Cafes, restaurants and big events are nice to have but they do not make a city great.

    Melbourne is an overinflated poorly planned hole and has serious governance issues across all governments. The city’s population is also asleep.

    • It doesn’t use sampling, it scores cities over factors such as crime, pollution, green space, etc. Additionally it is for the expat community rather than a working class person residing in the city.

      • Yes, I know.

        They only survey one very small cohort of a city of nearly 5 million people which is still a very big sampling bias as far as I’m concerned.

  9. drsmithyMEMBER


    Even amongst people who were born and bred in Adelaide, you’d probably struggle to find many who would rather live there than Zurich or Geneva, all else being equal.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in now