Rich in history, culture, and craft beer, Ballarat is the regional little brother of Melbourne and the perfect place to settle down if you want your city with a side of scenic lakes and mountains.
Just an hour and a half from the excitement of Melbourne, Ballarat boasts beautiful Victorian-era architecture, friendly locals, and attractions galore.
If you’re a fan of city-life convenience but love yourself some postcard-perfect natural beauty, Victoria’s largest inland city could be your ideal home.
Read up on the pros and cons of living in Ballarat before booking your moving van.
Living in Ballarat: Pros and Cons
If the craft beer and old buildings don’t already have you convinced, Ballarat is packing plenty more good stuff to attract new Ballaratians. But just like most things in life, there are a few not-so-great features of this city to consider before moving to Ballarat.
Pro: It has everything you need
Ballarat is brimming with amenities, shops, parks, restaurants, and attractions, making it perfect for those who like the convenience of city life. It’s got no shortage of schools, health services, and great coffee spots, just like any big city. Seriously, it has everything you need. And if it doesn’t, Melbourne is just a quick drive or train-ride away.
Con: It offers limited career options
In a survey conducted by the Victoria State Government in 2017, the category of limited career options was mentioned in 16% of reported disadvantages of Ballarat. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: It’s always safer to secure a job before moving to any new city – and Ballarat is no exception.
Pro: Housing is cheaper than Melbourne
According to realestate.com.au, Ballarat offers pretty affordable housing – especially when compared to Melbourne’s market. In fact, the median unit price is just $265,333 – not bad when compared to Victoria’s median unit price of $515,000. The Ballarat Central median unit rental price is $270 per week, significantly lower than the state’s average of $410 per week.
Con: It can get pretty darn cold
In the same 2017 Victoria State Government survey, 18% of locals reported the cold climate as a disadvantage of living in Ballarat. It can get icier than Melbourne, after all. But we’re sure you can adapt – just don’t forget your long johns.
Pro: It’s easy to escape to nature
There are plenty of things to do in Ballarat for city slickers and nature lovers alike. Ballarat offers the best of both worlds, giving you everything you love about living in the city along with endless opportunities to embrace some natural beauty. Whether you’re picnicking at local Lake Wendouree or day tripping to Trentham Falls for a quiet hike, Ballarat makes it easy to get your fill of the great outdoors.
Best Ballarat Suburbs to Live In
Whether you’re an inner-city slicker or you’re looking for your own slice of heaven on the outskirts, Ballarat has a spot for everyone.
Soldiers Hill – Inner Suburb
If you like your amenities within walking distance, Soldiers Hill has everything you need right on your doorstep. Locals love it for its beautiful old houses, cosy cafés, tree-lined streets, and proximity to the city centre. Home to parks, playgrounds, an early learning centre, and primary and secondary schools, Soldiers Hill is perfect for young families. It’s also just a short walk to the train station if you’re looking to take a trip into Melbourne.
Ballarat East – Inner Suburb
One of the most beautiful suburbs in Ballarat, Ballarat East is known for its charming old heritage homes – many of which have undergone restorations. Getting to the neighbouring CBD is easy thanks to great access to trains and bus links, while a growing selection of cafés makes it easy to get your caffeine fix. Here you’ll find a couple of primary schools, picnic grounds, playgrounds, and walking tracks, making Ballarat East a great spot for young families or anyone who likes to spend their weekends outdoors.
Buninyong – Southern Suburb
Technically a town of its own, Buninyong is just a 15-minute drive south of Ballarat CBD. It boasts all the amenities you need – including schools, shops, restaurants, cafés, a swimming pool, and more – with the community feel of a small country town. Buninyong accommodates all lifestyles with housing options from large properties with huge family homes to cosy and compact rental units.
Ballarat’s Dining Scene
Ballarat’s main streets are serving up some pretty tasty options. From fuss-free takeaway to family favourites and fine-dining experiences, you won’t go hungry or thirsty here.
Armstrong Street North – Inner City
You know those nights where you’re keen for a feed, but you’re not really sure what you feel like? One walk down Armstrong Street North will have you asking for a menu at your new favourite spot in no time. This inner-city street is dotted with endless eateries offering a diverse range of cuisines. Be tempted by Thai or munch on some Mexican food – the choice is yours.
Doveton Street North – Inner City
Another buzzing street bursting with flavours to tempt your tastebuds, Doveton Street North has no shortage of restaurants and cafés to satisfy any craving. From authentic Asian fare to all your favourite Italian dishes, Doveton Street North is a great go-to for a family dinner or date night.
Culture in Ballarat
Believe it or not, Ballarat is no stranger to art and culture. In fact, it’s home to several spots to get your culture fix or mix things up on your next date night.
Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat
The self-proclaimed Ballarat home of live performance, Her Majesty’s has been kicking on since 1875. This grand theatre hosts local and international artists in dance, music, comedy, and more. There are even family-friendly shows for a fun day out for all ages.
Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts
Another hotspot for exciting entertainment, the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts offers a jam-packed program. Your go-to for everything from live music to musicals, this venue can also be hired for functions, with the capacity to seat and cater for up to 120 people for a 3-course meal.
Art Gallery of Ballarat
If it’s paintings and sculptures you’re after, you can’t go past the Art Gallery of Ballarat for some beautiful and thought-provoking displays. Admission is free to the permanent collection and most temporary exhibitions. The gallery also offers school programs including tours, talks, trails, and practical workshops if that’s your jam.
Ballarat has a moderate oceanic climate with 4 distinct seasons. It can get pretty chilly (like, even colder than Melbourne) thanks to its position above sea level, but it also enjoys more clear days a year than Melbourne. Be prepared for rain or shine with these tips.
Summer in Ballarat brings an average temperature of around 25°, but it can still dip to below double digits overnight, so don’t expect sweltering summer heat.
Ballarat is arguably at its most beautiful in autumn, with its tree-lined streets putting on a show of vibrant reds and oranges. You can expect the days to range from 7°C to 23°C.
You may find yourself retreating to cafés to defrost over your favourite cup. Winter in Ballarat is no joke, with temperatures ranging from 3°C to 11°C. Pack your parka and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Spring in Ballarat is pleasant and mild, but the temperature is generally still pushing to make it past the teens. You can expect temperatures to range from 5°C to 20°C
Getting Around Ballarat
Ballarat is known to be easy to get around. Everything is pretty close, and no matter where you are and where you’re going, you’re sure to find a way to get there.
Ballarat has an extensive bus network that covers the CBD and surrounding and outer suburbs. Getting around by bus is easy and affordable. And if you want to go full-tourist, there’s a visitor shuttle bus that operates from the Ballarat Visitor Information Centre, taking passengers to a number of the main tourist attractions and the nearby township of Buninyong.
The V/Line train takes you from Ballarat to Melbourne in 1 hour and 22 minutes flat. You can also catch the train to outer suburbs and beyond. (Heck, you can go all the way up to Adelaide if you feel like it.)
Wherever you are in Ballarat, a taxi is just a hail, phone call, or online order away. Taxi ranks can be found in popular areas like outside shopping centres and busy dining precincts.
And if you want to feel the wind in your hair, Ballarat is a very cyclist-friendly city.
Take some stress out of your move to Ballarat with these 10 tips.
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Tags: City Guides