The 10 Best Suburbs to Live in the INNER NORTH of MELBOURNE: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

Pinpointing the finest suburb in the Inner North of Melbourne is no easy feat; it’s like choosing a gem from a dazzling array, each with its own unique sparkle. The wrong choice can lead to daily commute woes, unanticipated lifestyle compromises, or being out of sync with the local community vibe. Rest assured, this guide is crafted with meticulous research, tapping into a wealth of local knowledge and up-to-date data, providing Australian couples with a reliable compass for their suburb selection journey.

10. Coburg – Total Score: 67/100

Coburg offers a rich tapestry of cultural diversity and community spirit, albeit with a pinch of urban sprawl and escalating housing costs.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 6/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 7/10
  • Green spaces: 8/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 7/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 8/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 5/10
  • Housing affordability: 4/10
  • Employment opportunities: 6/10
  • Health care facilities: 8/10
  • Family friendliness: 8/10

Coburg is celebrated for its multicultural fabric, reflected in its diverse culinary scene and community events. The suburb is blessed with abundant green spaces, like the Coburg Lake Reserve, offering residents a serene escape. The transport network is commendable, efficiently linking Coburg to the city centre. Local schools, while varied, generally maintain a strong community focus, fostering a sense of belonging among families.

However, Coburg grapples with rising property prices, making it challenging for new buyers. Traffic congestion, especially during peak hours, is a growing concern, as reported by recent traffic studies. Safety, particularly in certain pockets of the suburb, has been flagged in community forums, with a noted uptick in petty crimes.

Coburg is ideal for those who thrive in a culturally vibrant environment and appreciate green spaces and community ties. It may be less suited for those seeking more affordable housing options or a quieter, less bustling neighbourhood.

9. Brunswick – Total Score: 70/100

Brunswick combines its bohemian charm with a practical urban lifestyle, though it contends with gentrification and increased living costs.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 6/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 8/10
  • Green spaces: 7/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 9/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 6/10
  • Housing affordability: 4/10
  • Employment opportunities: 7/10
  • Health care facilities: 7/10
  • Family friendliness: 8/10

Brunswick is a hub for artists and musicians, evident in its vibrant street art and live music venues. The suburb’s café culture and diverse culinary scene are second to none, offering residents a plethora of dining options. It boasts excellent public transport links, making commuting to the city a breeze. The community is known for its inclusivity and social awareness, creating a welcoming environment for newcomers.

However, as Brunswick becomes more popular, it faces the challenges of gentrification, including rising rent and property prices. Traffic congestion, especially on Sydney Road, is a growing issue as noted in recent urban studies. While generally safe, there have been concerns about petty crime in certain areas, as reported in local news.

Brunswick is suited for those who appreciate a vibrant, culturally rich lifestyle and don’t mind the hustle and bustle of a popular suburb. It may not be the best choice for those seeking a more tranquil environment or affordable housing.

8. Northcote – Total Score: 72/100

Northcote is a charming blend of peaceful residential life and lively cultural hotspots, though it faces challenges with rising property prices and occasional social issues.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 7/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 8/10
  • Green spaces: 7/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 7/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 8/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 7/10
  • Housing affordability: 6/10
  • Employment opportunities: 7/10
  • Health care facilities: 7/10
  • Family friendliness: 8/10

Northcote is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, showcased in its well-maintained parks and community events. The suburb offers a range of quality educational options, from primary to secondary levels. It’s a foodie’s paradise with a diverse range of eateries and organic food markets. Northcote’s High Street is a cultural beacon, hosting numerous art galleries and music venues.

Property prices in Northcote have been steadily increasing, making it less accessible for first-time homebuyers. The area has experienced some social issues, including debates over urban development, as highlighted in recent community forums. Traffic congestion is occasionally problematic, particularly on main roads during peak times.

Northcote is ideal for families and those who enjoy a community-oriented lifestyle with a touch of urban flair. It may be less suitable for those on a tight budget or seeking a quieter, less dynamic environment.

7. Thornbury – Total Score: 74/100

Thornbury offers a quaint, community-focused lifestyle, balanced with an up-and-coming social scene, though it grapples with gentrification and limited green spaces.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 7/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 7/10
  • Green spaces: 8/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 8/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 5/10
  • Housing affordability: 7/10
  • Employment opportunities: 8/10
  • Health care facilities: 8/10
  • Family friendliness: 8/10

Thornbury is increasingly recognized for its burgeoning café and restaurant scene, attracting a younger, vibrant crowd. The suburb maintains a strong sense of community, evident in its frequent local markets and community events. Educational facilities in Thornbury are well-regarded, providing a solid foundation for family life. The suburb is also gaining a reputation for its eco-friendly initiatives and community gardens, fostering a sustainable lifestyle.

With its rising popularity, Thornbury faces challenges of gentrification, which has led to an increase in living costs and housing prices. The availability of green spaces is somewhat limited compared to other suburbs, a point of concern for outdoor enthusiasts. Some areas are experiencing growing pains with the influx of new developments and residents, occasionally leading to community disputes.

Thornbury is a great fit for those who appreciate a tight-knit community with a modern twist. It might be less appealing for families seeking extensive outdoor activities or those looking for more affordable housing options.

6. Fairfield – Total Score: 76/100

Fairfield is a serene, family-friendly suburb with a touch of riverside charm, though it faces challenges with limited public transport options and a quiet nightlife.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 8/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 6/10
  • Green spaces: 9/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 7/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 8/10
  • Housing affordability: 5/10
  • Employment opportunities: 7/10
  • Health care facilities: 9/10
  • Family friendliness: 9/10

Fairfield is renowned for its peaceful residential areas and excellent schools, making it ideal for families. The Yarra River provides a picturesque backdrop, with ample opportunities for outdoor activities like cycling and picnics. The suburb has a low crime rate, contributing to a safe and secure environment. Fairfield’s local shops and cafes offer a quaint, community-focused shopping experience.

Public transport options are more limited in Fairfield compared to other inner north suburbs, which might be a drawback for those commuting to the city. The nightlife is relatively quiet, potentially less appealing to those seeking a vibrant social scene. Property prices are on the higher side, reflecting its desirability but also limiting accessibility for some buyers.

Fairfield is perfectly suited for families and those who value a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle close to nature. It may not be the best match for young professionals or those who rely heavily on public transport.

5. Preston – Total Score: 78/100

Preston offers a dynamic blend of cultural diversity and growing urban sophistication, though it faces challenges with rapid development and changing demographics.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 7/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 8/10
  • Green spaces: 7/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 8/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 8/10
  • Housing affordability: 8/10
  • Employment opportunities: 7/10
  • Health care facilities: 8/10
  • Family friendliness: 9/10

Preston is known for its lively market scene and diverse food options, reflecting its multicultural heritage. The suburb has witnessed significant urban renewal, bringing in new cafes, bars, and boutiques. Its transport connections are robust, making it an attractive option for commuters. Preston also boasts several quality schools, catering well to families.

The rapid pace of development in Preston has led to a shift in the suburb’s demographic and character, sparking some local debate. This growth has also impacted housing affordability, with prices trending upwards. There are concerns about increasing traffic and parking issues as the suburb becomes more popular.

Preston is ideal for those who enjoy a vibrant, culturally rich environment and don’t mind the changes brought by urban development. It may not be as suitable for those seeking a more stable, established community or more affordable housing options.

4. Clifton Hill – Total Score: 80/100

Clifton Hill is a quaint, leafy suburb known for its village-like charm and community spirit, but it struggles with higher property prices and limited nightlife options.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 8/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 7/10
  • Green spaces: 9/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 9/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 10/10
  • Housing affordability: 5/10
  • Employment opportunities: 7/10
  • Health care facilities: 8/10
  • Family friendliness: 9/10

Clifton Hill is cherished for its abundant greenery, including well-maintained parks and tree-lined streets. The suburb maintains a strong sense of community, often hosting local events and festivals. It’s recognized for its safety and peaceful atmosphere, making it a popular choice for families. Local amenities, though not as extensive as larger suburbs, provide a cosy and convenient lifestyle.

However, the desirability of Clifton Hill has led to a significant increase in property prices, posing affordability challenges. The suburb’s nightlife is relatively subdued, which might not appeal to those seeking more vibrant evening entertainment. Some residents have expressed concerns about the changing character of the suburb as new developments emerge.

Clifton Hill is well-suited for families and individuals seeking a tranquil, community-oriented environment with a touch of greenery. It may be less appealing for those on a tighter budget or looking for a bustling nightlife.

3. Carlton North – Total Score: 82/100

Carlton North combines historic allure with a lively cultural scene, though it grapples with parking issues and a busy atmosphere.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 8/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 9/10
  • Green spaces: 9/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 9/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 9/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 8/10
  • Housing affordability: 6/10
  • Employment opportunities: 8/10
  • Health care facilities: 8/10
  • Family friendliness: 8/10

Carlton North is renowned for its vibrant cultural life, epitomised by its diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. The suburb’s historical architecture and leafy streets add to its charm. Its proximity to major universities and the city center makes it an attractive location for professionals and students. The community is active and engaged, often coming together for various cultural and social events.

However, the popularity of Carlton North has led to parking difficulties and a generally busy atmosphere, especially near major shopping strips. The cost of living and housing in the area is relatively high, reflecting its central location and amenities. Some residents have noted the challenge of maintaining the suburb’s unique character amidst ongoing development.

Carlton North is ideal for those who appreciate a lively, culturally rich environment with historical charm. It might be less suitable for those seeking a quieter suburb or more affordable living options.

2. Parkville – Total Score: 85/100

Parkville is an oasis of greenery and academic prestige, but wrestles with limited commercial amenities and higher living expenses.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 9/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 8/10
  • Green spaces: 10/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 8/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 8/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 9/10
  • Housing affordability: 6/10
  • Employment opportunities: 9/10
  • Health care facilities: 9/10
  • Family friendliness: 9/10

Parkville is celebrated for its expansive parks and gardens, providing a serene environment rarely found so close to the city center. It is home to some of the country’s top educational institutions, making it a hub for academic excellence. The suburb is well-connected to Melbourne CBD via efficient public transport. Its reputation for safety and tranquillity makes it a sought-after location for families and professionals alike.

However, Parkville’s residential nature means fewer shopping and dining options, potentially necessitating trips to neighbouring suburbs for more variety. The cost of living here, particularly real estate, is among the highest in the Inner North. The serene atmosphere also translates to a quieter nightlife, which might not appeal to everyone.

Parkville is ideal for those who prioritise a peaceful, green environment and value educational opportunities. It may be less appealing for those looking for vibrant nightlife or more affordable housing options.

1. Fitzroy North – Total Score: 88/100

Fitzroy North epitomises the quintessential inner-city lifestyle with its blend of historic charm and modern conveniences, albeit with a premium on space and cost.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Quality of schools: 8/10
  • Public transport accessibility: 9/10
  • Green spaces: 9/10
  • Local amenities (shops, cafes, etc.): 9/10
  • Community and cultural vibe: 10/10
  • Safety and crime rates: 10/10
  • Housing affordability: 6/10
  • Employment opportunities: 9/10
  • Health care facilities: 9/10
  • Family friendliness: 9/10

Fitzroy North offers a dynamic urban experience, with an array of cafes, bars, and boutiques lining its streets. The suburb’s historical architecture and tree-lined avenues add to its appeal. It has excellent public transport connections and is known for its progressive and inclusive community. Green spaces like Edinburgh Gardens provide a welcome retreat from the urban hustle.

The popularity of Fitzroy North has led to higher property prices, making it less accessible for some. The bustling nature of the suburb means it can get quite busy, particularly on weekends. Despite its many positives, the area does experience some urban challenges like parking difficulties and occasional petty crime.

Fitzroy North is perfect for those seeking a vibrant, community-focused urban lifestyle and who don’t mind paying a premium for the location and amenities. It may not be the best fit for those seeking a quieter, more affordable suburb.

How I Scored Each Suburb

In the following section, you’ll discover the methodology behind how each suburb in the Inner North of Melbourne was evaluated and scored, shedding light on what makes a suburb stand out or fall behind in this competitive landscape.

Quality of Schools

The quality of local schools is a crucial criterion, reflecting the suburb’s commitment to education and the future of its younger residents. A suburb scoring a 1 in this category might have schools struggling with low academic performance and inadequate resources. For example, a suburb like West Melbourne, not in the top 10, might score low due to limited primary educational facilities. Conversely, a score of 10 would be awarded to a suburb with a range of high-performing schools, both in academic and extracurricular activities. An example is North Melbourne, known for its excellent schools, though it didn’t make the top 10 list.

Public Transport Accessibility

Access to efficient public transport is key to suburban living, impacting daily commutes and connectivity to the city. A score of 1 goes to suburbs with sparse, unreliable transport options, like Maidstone, causing inconvenience to residents. A 10, on the other hand, represents a suburb with a well-integrated public transport network, such as Essendon, offering frequent and varied transport modes, although it’s not in the top 10.

Green Spaces

Green spaces contribute significantly to the quality of life, offering recreation, beauty, and environmental benefits. A suburb scoring 1 in this area, like Docklands, may have very limited or poorly maintained parks. In contrast, a suburb like Alphington, though not in the top 10, scores a 10 for its abundant and well-kept parks and nature reserves.

Local Amenities

Local amenities, including shops, cafes, and other conveniences, are essential for a comfortable suburban life. A suburb scoring 1, such as Laverton, might lack variety or quality in its amenities. A score of 10 is given to suburbs like Kensington, which boasts a vibrant mix of shops and cafes, even though it didn’t feature in the top 10.

Community and Cultural Vibe

The community and cultural vibe of a suburb can define its character and appeal. A score of 1 goes to suburbs that lack community engagement or cultural diversity, like Brooklyn. On the other hand, a suburb like Yarraville, not in the top 10, exemplifies a strong community spirit and rich cultural diversity, earning it a 10.

Safety and Crime Rates

Safety is a paramount concern, with lower crime rates contributing to a suburb’s desirability. A suburb like Braybrook might score 1 due to higher reported crime rates. A 10 would be awarded to a suburb like Aberfeldie for its notably low crime rates and sense of security, although it’s not in the top 10.

Housing Affordability

Affordable housing is key to attracting a diverse range of residents. A suburb like Toorak, known for its high property prices, would score a 1 in affordability. A suburb scoring a 10, such as Fawkner, offers more affordable housing options, though it’s not in the top 10 suburbs.

Employment Opportunities

The availability of local employment opportunities can greatly enhance a suburb’s appeal. A score of 1 might be given to a suburb like Derrimut, with limited job prospects. On the other hand, suburbs like Footscray, offering a wide range of employment opportunities, score a 10, despite not being in the top 10.

Health Care Facilities

Access to quality health care facilities is a crucial aspect of suburban living. A suburb scoring 1, such as Tullamarine, might have scarce health care services. A suburb like Moonee Ponds, with its excellent health care facilities, scores a 10, even though it didn’t make the top 10 list.

Family Friendliness

Family friendliness encompasses aspects like community support, safety, and activities for children. A suburb like Sunshine North, which may lack sufficient family-oriented services and activities, would score a 1. A suburb scoring a 10, like Ascot Vale, is known for its family-friendly parks, community events, and supportive neighbourhood atmosphere, even though it isn’t in the top 10.

My Research: Unveiling the Gems of Melbourne’s Inner North

The foundation of this article is built upon a meticulous blend of quantitative data and qualitative local insights, ensuring a well-rounded perspective on each suburb’s unique characteristics and livability.

The quantitative data was sourced from reputable databases and local government reports. These include property price indexes, crime statistics from the Victoria Police, and educational performance reports from the Department of Education and Training Victoria. This data provided a solid, objective foundation for evaluating each suburb on the predetermined criteria.

On the qualitative side, I immersed myself in the local culture and community spirit of the Inner North of Melbourne. This involved visits to popular local haunts, like the bustling Auction Rooms café in North Melbourne, known for its artisan coffee and vibrant atmosphere. Conversations with local residents and business owners were invaluable, offering insights that you just can’t get from data alone. For instance, the warmth and community vibe of places like The Brunswick East Wine Store, where locals gather to unwind and catch up, painted a vivid picture of the suburb’s social fabric.

I also delved into recent local news articles and community forums, which provided current and relevant insights into each suburb’s developments, challenges, and achievements. This included reading through community discussions on platforms like the Northcote Social Club’s social pages, cross-referencing this with real estate databases like Domain and RealEstate.com.au.  To ensure a balanced view between lived experience and the hard statistics, which often reflect the pulse of the community’s concerns and interests.

Lastly, a significant amount of time was spent walking the streets of these suburbs, experiencing their ambiance firsthand. From the serene parklands in Fitzroy North to the eclectic vibe of Sydney Road in Brunswick, these firsthand experiences were crucial in understanding the true essence of each suburb. Local cafes like Wide Open Road in Brunswick and Tin Pot Café in North Fitzroy were not just stops for coffee but invaluable touchpoints for observing and engaging with the community.

In Conclusion

In summarising the top suburb recommendations in the Inner North of Melbourne, I have explored a range of factors that significantly contribute to the overall quality of life. I carefully analysed and scored each suburb, uncovering the unique attributes that make each one stand out in 2024, including:

  1. Fitzroy North – Score (88/100)
  2. Parkville – Score (85/100)
  3. Carlton North – Score (82/100)
  4. Clifton Hill – Score (80/100)
  5. Preston – Score (78/100)
  6. Fairfield – Score (76/100)
  7. Thornbury – Score (74/100)
  8. Northcote – Score (72/100)
  9. Brunswick – Score (70/100)
  10. Coburg – Score (67/100)

These suburbs represent the best of the Inner North, each offering its unique blend of lifestyle, community, amenities, and environment. Whether you’re seeking the vibrant cultural vibe of Fitzroy North, the serene greenery of Parkville, or the family-friendly atmosphere of Fairfield, there’s a suburb to meet a wide range of preferences and needs.

For those in the process of choosing their ideal suburb or looking for assistance in navigating the property market in these areas, the expertise of a residential buyer’s agent can be invaluable. A buyer’s agent can provide tailored advice, deep market insights, and support throughout the property buying process, helping you find a suitable property that aligns with your lifestyle goals and investment criteria.


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