How bad is my quality of life?

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.

10 thoughts on “How bad is my quality of life?

  1. The survey is pointless and the media reporting abysmal.

    Surely the media could have had a quick look at how it was done. They could have had a quick look at the parts of the press release that showed what was assessed.

    It also shows the problems with statistics made from subjectively weighted indices. The importance that they have achieved is unwise. US university rankings, the HDC and others may be better, but they are still of dubious utility.


  2. Newspapers should be far more critical of these stories.

    Why should they? This is exactly the sort of tripe which bored office workers love to read. They’ll get plenty of click-throughs, though not as many as the recent bigfoot hoax.


  3. Melbourne was mentioned on Radio National’s The Religion Report today (worth listening to):

    “Stephen Crittenden: John, are these communities where there exists a degree of the violence, substance abuse, child abuse, alcohol, community disarray, that we’ve seen so much of in the media in the last year or so?

    John Bradley: Look, yes, and working at Borroloola, all this is present. But I think what’s important, and we need to understand, is that other things also exist in these communities, that they’re not all dark, horrible, dangerous places, otherwise we could call Melbourne a dark, horrible, dangerous place.”

    Bankwest’s survey doesn’t seem to take into account whether you have enough water – my memory of Melbourne last summer was of a parched, brown, desperate place. And Carlton is too far from the beach.

    I see my modest shire is in the top 10% in Australia – but unfortunately I live on the wrong side of the highway in a hovel while on the other side of the highway is the glorious Swan River and streets of millionaires. So the samples are a bit too big to be meaningful for individuals.


  4. I love that detached dwellings category. I think I moved to Cranbourne, Pakenham, Knoxville, or some of those other new housing estates I don’t even know the names of. It’s obviously going to offer a better quality of life than a nice penthouse with a view in the city or Port Melbourne.


  5. A cursory look at the Canberra rankings shows how wrong it can be. The two bottom ranked Canberra LGAs were South and North Canberra. Anyone who has lived in Canberra knows that these two areas have the most expensive housing and wealthiest suburbs in Canberra (Forrest, Yarralumla, Turner, Campbell etc).
    However, their rankings are lower because of Canberra’s unique decentralised system of public housing where all but two suburbs in Canberra have public housing.
    Very few would suggest that quality of living in Conder (which is in the Tuggernong LGA) is higher than in Forrest.
    You aren’t mad – the research is bad.


  6. This is cracked. I’m a Sydney sider but I’d far rather live in Carlton than Ku Ring Gai (where the hell is that? middle of nowhere, surrounded by jungle) and some of the old folks homes mentioned more favourably in the survey.


  7. Inner Sydney is much more interested than Ku-ring-gai and all the north shore suburbs . You’re in the suburbs as soon as you go OTB (over the bridge). Mind you, there are nice areas such as Kirribilli, and Wahroonga is lovely, but inner Sydney’s the place to be.


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