According to this Bankwest quality of life ranking, the Melbourne local government area, which includes Carlton, has the lowest quality of life in Victoria, and one of the lowest rankings in the whole country.
But I don’ t want to live anywhere else. Am I mad, or is this research bad?
To be sure, city living is not perfect. It can be a bit noisy. In Carlton, the presence of public housing, charities, and hospitals serving the mentally ill means that observance of the social niceties is not as high as it might be in Ku-ring-gai, the top ranked local government area in the country. And of course deeply unsound political views prevail (though it is not as bad as the city of Yarra across the road).
But inner Melbourne has a huge amount going for it too. The mix of cafes, bars and restuarants is the best in the country. There is a an excellent selection of shops. I’m not a sports fan, but for those who are there is an unmatched concentration of sporting venues around the CBD. There are beautiful 19th century gardens (including one just down the street from me). There are plenty of cinemas and theatres. There are two good universities in or near the CBD.
So how does this place rank last? On the list of criteria I can see why Melbourne falls down: public housing reduces the employment rate, self-reported health, proportion of 16 year olds attending schools, average income, home ownership, and proportion of detached dwellings. The large student population pushes down the latter three. Both the local population and the fact that most public transport terminates in the city means that crime is probably relatively high (though I have never been a victim of it). I’m not sure how the area would go on broadband access or vounteering (probably low, given the negative correlation between recent migration and volunteering). The only measure Melbourne would do ‘well’ on would be empty homes; it’s hard to find a place here. But surely that tells you more about how people see the area than most of the other indicators.
I’m not sure if there is a trend here, but are more corporates sponsoring dubious but media-friendly research? There was the job turnover material at the weekend, and now this. The quality of life story got lots of uncritical coverage, with BankWest, which is trying to raise its profile in eastern states, tailoring press releases for each state. Newspapers should be far more critical of these stories.