By Abbey Jane
Taken from the Aboriginal word jillong, which means “the place of the native companion” Geelong offers no fewer job opportunities, cultural sensations or dynamite-strength lattes than lady Melbourne – with considerably reduced bloody traffic.
Take it from the CEO of Geelong’s Chamber of Commerce, Ben Flynn, who barely needs prompting when talking to our city’s livability. “We have this beautiful natural environment combined with a thriving metropolitan city and great logistics. We’re marching forward in every way, but we never get too big for our boots. We still have a sense of community exclusivity and with that, an almost romantic parochialism.”
Whether it’s the picturesque beaches, fresh sea air, booming economy, real estate opportunities, haute cuisine, winding river walks, artistic flair, aspirational schools, community feel or superstar AFL team, we’re claiming the title of the world’s most liveable city. Let us count the reasons.
1. We have a North-facing beach
99% of Victoria’s beaches face south or south-east, meaning most Victorians spend their beach visits with the sun shining on their backs. Not in Geelong. Our pretty city faces full North onto the deep sapphire waters of Corio Bay.
Our sunshine beams down towards us, reflecting off the ocean to illuminate us like a glittering jewel in the crown of Victoria. This is exactly why, on a brilliant day, locals and tourists alike flock to photogenic Eastern Beach and the 1930’s heritage-listed art deco waterfront, circular boardwalk, open-air swimming pools and diving towers. Any kids that aren’t taking epic dives off the swimming floats spend the day turf-surfing and tumbling on the sloping greens of Eastern beach hill.
Up a little higher, you’ll find the expansive Eastern gardens and Geelong Botanic Gardens. Established in 1851, the latter rivals Melbourne’s botanical gardens on a smaller scale, featuring perfectly manicured velvety-green lawns, topiaries, rose garden, 19th-century fountains, a tropical greenhouse, fernery, teahouse and open-air auditorium. It boasts over 30 trees on the National Trust Significant Tree Register.
2. A place to call purchased
The pandemic driven implementation of remote working has fuelled a mass metropolitan exodus. We agree. Why work in the city when you don’t have to? Better yet, move to a smaller city within commuting distance from Melbourne and enjoy a more laid-back, seaside lifestyle.
Property investment across the state might be surging, but regional areas are still affordable when compared to Melbourne’s jaw-dropping, whopping median house price of a cool million.
According to official statistics by the City of Greater Geelong, the median house price was $641,000 in the March 2021 quarter. This keeps Geelong firmly in the affordability bracket for younger buyers as well as families seeking decent-sized homes without forking out a family fortune.
However, don’t leave it too late. As more buyers are priced out of Melbourne and property prices continue to swell across the board, the majority of properties are selling 20% over the reserve. Not busy this weekend? Hit the Princes Highway for a property prospecting weekend.
3. And You Get a Job
Everyone gets a job. Big industry is on the rise in Geelong and as more organisations relocate or set up trade in the Greater Geelong area, the job opportunities just keep coming.
As Sara Taylor-Wilson from Kardinia Property explains, Geelong is a hot prospect when it comes to regional relocation.
“Over 660 people are moving here every month,’ she explains. ‘It is especially promising as major corporations continue to set up and expand within the region. So far, we have government bodies including the NDIS, WorkCover and the TAC. Our economy is strong and business is booming across the board.”
Post-pandemic, the CBD is once again bustling with life. Unlike more remote regional areas, Geelong boasts a broad range of industries that appeals to workers seeking roles in more niche or creative industries.
4. Can’t Talk. Eating.
We’ve come a long way from Smorgy’s, when a serenade from Salty the Seal preceded a bain-marie of roast beef washed down with a half-carafe of claret. Today, foodie fanfare is all about locally caught seafood and first-class farm produce from agriculturally rich Western Victoria. When it comes to the coffee game, we’re full-strength players, with multiple CBD and suburban cafes vying for the title of best brew. Want a toasty with that? Head to Toasty. This essential eatery is dedicated solely to melting, gooey, cheesy toasties.
Igni leads the charge with fine dining and their fire-themed cuisine attracting gastronomes from across the country. Frenchies will find their bon temps at St Jean’s Bistrot, Plume, Le Capucin Cafe and Le Fournil French bakery. The European fare doesn’t end there, with both the CBD and culturally rich Pakington Street boasting cucinas, bistros, trattorias, cafes, ristorantes, gourmet deli’s, grills and bars.
Craving a classic pot and parmi? Friendly pubs can be found on most corners. Of course, it wouldn’t be a seaside city without delicious, paper-wrapped parcels of golden fish and chips. The waterfront is a veritable sea of seafood options, complete with bags of mussels sold fresh from the boat. For seafood with a sea view, head to the Geelong Boat House, the Geelong Yacht Club, King George Fish & Chips, Sailor’s Rest or the Wharf Shed.
5. We Have Holiday Spirit
That’s the Spirit of Tasmania to you. At least we will. The famous Apple Isle vessel will be permanently relocating its embarkation point to Geelong, bringing job opportunities and of course, tourism. The current Port Melbourne site has an expensive lease and space constraints, while passengers have had to deal with traffic issues getting to and from the inner city port.
The move to Geelong is a welcome one that will eventually result in lower operational costs for the Tasmanian government. TT-Line Chairman Mike Grainger said the “move to Geelong provided the company with a unique opportunity to enhance the passenger experience.” The move will commence after the Station Pier lease ends in 2022.
The addition of the Spirit will further prove our iconic status as the getaway gateway of Victoria. Just twenty minutes out of town will take you to Bells Beach, the Great Ocean Road and the edge of the Otways National Park. Drive fifteen minutes South and you’re sipping and supping on the Bellarine Peninsula, stocking up on award-winning cool-climate wines. In historic Queenscliff, explore grand buildings before hopping on the Queenscliff-Sorrento Ferry for a spot of dolphin spotting.
6. We’re Cat People
Want to barrack for a team with a fighting feline premiership chance? We are Geelong, the greatest team of all. Formed in 1859, the Geelong Football Club is the second oldest continuously existing club at a professional level of any code in the world. Today, we boast 9 AFL premiership flags and 7 VFA premierships. In 2020, Geelong introduced its AFLW team to the league.
Our home ground at Kardinia Park, affectionately called The Cattery, is an architectural wonder. The giant razor lights touch the sky, with white curved steel ‘claws’ reaching over the stadium. The refurbished 36,000 capacity stadium hosts no less than 11 home games a year and delivers an exciting footy experience, without the MCG snack prices. You might even spot the friendly players around town.
7. Art of the City
We were once a motor city, famous for pumping out Fords. Today, we are an official UNESCO City of Design, sitting alongside other recipients including Berlin, Montreal, Dubai and Istanbul. As reported by creative.vic.gov.au, “The designation recognises the design history of Geelong and surrounds, from the region’s Aboriginal heritage to its history in textiles and wool production; automotive design and manufacturing to designs that have revolutionised surf culture. It also celebrates innovations currently being made across the region in advanced manufacturing and virtual reality.”
To be honest, we aren’t surprised. You haven’t seen a library quite like the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre. The distinctive dome took out the Woods Bagot Award for its environmentally sensitive design. Architecturally, there’s plenty to take in. The recently refurbished Geelong Arts Centre seamlessly blends old and new to create an inviting hub. Together with the Geelong Gallery, the three buildings form the ultimate triple threat in our arts and culture epicentre.
Not convinced? You’ll just have to come down and check out the world’s most livable city for yourself. See you soon.