When you’re raising a family, your needs evolve and what you want out of a home is quite different from the things you held dear previously.
Living in an area with a local coffee shop where the barista knows your name might still rank towards the top of your list.
But other property features, such as a backyard for the kids to play, off-street parking to safely offload the kids from the car, and proximity to good schools and plenty of parks are suddenly on your radar.
For many families, trying to find the ideal suburb in Melbourne to raise a family is a trick question to answer.
Fortunately, we’ve looked at amenities, public transport, schools, local facilities, and more to help you work out where your next family home might be.
1. Bentleigh – great schools
In this affluent suburb located around 13 kilometres southwest of the CBD, residents have everything they could possibly on their doorstep.
But this comes with a price tag: the median house price in Bentleigh is over $1.7m, making this more affordable for renters than homeowners.
The premium suburb of Brighton is just a short distance away, and locals have access to Southland and Chadstone shopping centres. Bentleigh has two railway stations.
St. Paul’s Primary School, a Catholic co-ed primary school, is located in Bentleigh alongside a 95-year-old Church of the same name.
The suburb is also home to Our Lady of Sacred Heart College (OLSH), a Catholic girls-only secondary school, and Bentleigh West Primary School.
Located just north-east of the city, Northcote has developed a reputation as a vibrant, diverse and multicultural neighbourhood.
An inner-city suburb, the centre of Northcote is High Street, home to a number of eclectic cafés, restaurants, supermarkets, shops, and entertainment venues.
For school-aged families, there are a number of schools here: Northcote Primary School, Northcote High School, Santa Maria College (an all-girls high school), and St Joseph’s Primary School.
The suburb also offers a number of public transport options, including trams, buses, and trains, but it’s also a very rideable suburb, with Northcote known for its “bike culture”.
Overall, Northcote has a strong feeling of community, with festivals, events, and arts activities lighting up the streets all year-round.
3. Malvern – Glen Iris
Post code: 3146
Whether it’s a café to get a cup of coffee to kickstart the day, local restaurants to visit on the weekend, or shops and beauty parlours to relax, Malvern and Glen Iris are overflowing with everything locals need.
A residential suburb around 10 km south-east of central Melbourne, Glen Iris was formerly part of two municipalities: Camberwell and Malvern.
With the creation of the amalgamated municipalities of Boroondara and Stonnington, Glen Iris became its own neighbourhood, but it shares many traits with Malvern.
Here, residents have easy access to public transport including both trains and trams, with Malvern Shopping Centre and local shops to help you stock up on essentials.
Families can choose from a number of schools, including Glen Iris Primary School, Sacre Couer Catholic School, and Saint Roch’s Primary School.
4. Glen Waverley
Glen Waverly ticks all the family boxes when it comes to living in an area where there are plenty of shops, supermarkets, cafes, parks, reserves, and restaurants.
But it also has that extra quality that families are seeking: that neighbourhood, community feel that makes you feel connected to those around you.
There is a mix of older couples and young families living here, alongside creative types and students who wish to live in close proximity to Holmesglen TAFE.
With a number of quality schools, including Glen Waverley Secondary College, Glen Waverley Primary School, and Wesley College Glen Waverley, it’s a sought-after place to live.
All of this comes at a price after the recent property boom, with the median house price sitting at around $1.6m.
However, rentals are much more affordable; as of April 2022, you can pick up a 3-4 bedroom family home for around $600-$700 a week.
Commonly regarded as one of Melbourne’s most prestigious and exclusive suburbs, Camberwell is a sought-after area for well-heeled families to reside.
The median house price is $2.6m, so it’s not accessible to all budgets, but those who can afford it get to enjoy a suburb with a mix of grand homes, including lovely historic residences and new, more modern homes.
A number of train stops also lie within the suburb’s boundaries, along with several bus routes.
These are areas the local government has pinpointed for growth and investment, meaning they’re likely to enjoy continued upgrades to roads, amenities, and facilities.
Altona is situated less than 20km from CBD. It’s easily accessible to the city via major arterial roads and public transport and offers plenty of recreational areas and open spaces.
The suburb is home to a broad mix of residents, including long-timers who have lived in Altona their whole lives, through to newer residents who have arrived to enjoy everything this beachfront suburb has to offer.
Many homes here are on large blocks, with quiet streets setting the perfect backdrop for children to ride bikes and play.
Over time, the area is becoming more gentrified and cafe culture has emerged, with old houses being replaced by new townhouses, units, and apartment blocks.
Located around 5km east of the centre of Melbourne, Kew is a leafy inner suburb that borders the Yarra River.
It used to be a city in its own right, until 1994, when the cities of Kew, Hawthorn, and Camberwell were amalgamated to form the City of Boroondara.
Kew is considered to be a safe and friendly suburb with plenty of local amenities, including shops, grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants.
It doesn’t quite have the same energy and activity as inner-city suburbs that are closer to the hustle and bustle of the CBD, which makes it popular with families who wish to be close to the city, whilst also enjoying a more laid back lifestyle.
Local schools include Kew Primary School, Sacred Heart Kew Primary School, and Trinity Grammar School, an Anglican day and boarding school for boys.
Essendon is considered a great suburb to raise a family, as it’s in close proximity to several good schools, childcare facilities, and a number of good cafes and shops.
Schools include Essendon Primary School, Essendon North Primary School, St Therese’s School, and more.
Essendon offers solid public transport options including trains and trains, giving residents access to both the CBD and the airport.
The streets of Essendon are home to some of Melbourne’s most grand and historic properties, perched along beautiful tree-lined streets that could rival the inner-east favourites such as Kew and Hawthorn.
The difference here is the price: the median house value is around $1.8m and in Essendon North, it’s $1.35 – still not “cheap”, but far lower than the more exclusive suburbs to the south.
Situated around 24km east of the CBD, Wantirna is a family-friendly suburb with plenty of kindergartens, childcare centres, and primary and secondary schools within walking distance.
In recent years, a number of developers have built apartments and complexes in the area, so this suburb is now a mix of freestanding homes with lovely gardens and big backyards, alongside more modern building structures.
A convenient place to live, residents are in close proximity to Westfield Knox, East Link Freeway, and schools such as Wantirna Secondary College and The Knox School.
A hilly suburb, it has plenty of green, open spaces and parks, and offers mountain views.
Balwyn is a popular eastern suburb with families, young professionals, and retirees alike who enjoy living a suburban lifestyle, with a mix of parks, gardens, and green spaces.
With a great community feel and a small shopping precinct with all the necessities, Balwyn is on the quieter side.
It’s also on the more exclusive side, boasting quiet, leafy streets, picture-perfect streetscapes, and stately homes.
The median property price is around $2.8m for houses and $900,000 for units.
For many, the suburb’s huge appeal also lies in its schooling, as Balwyn is home to many some of the most prestigious schools in Melbourne including Balwyn High School, Balwyn Primary School, and Fintona Girls’ School, Greythorn Primary School, and more.
The suburb is serviced by a number of trams and buses.
11. Ascot Vale
Named after the famous British racecourse, Ascot Vale has evolved over time into a vibrant, multicultural community that is popular with families young and old.
With a number of parks and reserves that take advantage of the Maribyrnong River, along with cafes, restaurants, trendy shops, and health and wellness facilities, Ascot Vale is the suburb of choice for families who want to live in an area with a close-knit, the neighbourhood feels, without giving up any of the amenities they desire.
There are a number of local private and public schools together with childcare centres, and plans are in place to develop the Riverside Sports and Recreation Precinct, also known as the Riverside Golf and Tennis Centre, a multi-million dollar council facility that aims to “enhance the character, functionality, and safety of the precinct”.
A multicultural suburb situated less than 10km north of the CBD, Coburg is a rapidly gentrifying suburb offering plenty of parks, green open spaces, and cafes.
When a suburb gentrifies, it means the area evolves to include more sought-after amenities such as shops, cafes, restaurants, and recreation facilities.
This is all happening in Coburg, a suburb that is also close to other sought-after neighbourhoods like Brunswick.
The Coburg Farmers Market and night market are always busy, and local families can enjoy old-style entertainment at the Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-in.
In terms of access, Coburg is home to three tram lines and two train stations, with easy access to Melbourne airport via the freeway, and local schools include Coburg Primary School and Coburg High School.