Five ways Tauranga beats Melbourne – and five ways we don’t

Scott Macleod | Account Manager Lifestyle

Wind surfing

Blink account manager Scott MacLeod shifted from Melbourne to Tauranga late last year. He’s found lots to love about living in the Bay, but there are a few things he misses. Here’s his take on the things that are better here – and better there. 

BETTER HERE

Pies are cheaper and yummier

Top of my list is the pie situation. Seriously, if I’m going to pay $6 for a pie then it better be damn good. That’s the going rate for even a mediocre pie in Melbourne (I’m looking at you, Pie Face). Contrast that with Tauranga, where little bakeries all over town are cranking out big lumps of meaty, crusty goodness for around $4.

Weather

Australia’s hot and dry, right? Not so in Melbourne, where you’ll either roast or freeze. Mostly freeze. The winters over there approach Wellington for wind-chill and rain. Good ol’ Tauranga is lovely in summer and a mid-weight jacket is usually enough to ward off winter.

People

Melbournites are mostly pretty decent sorts, but they’re definitely wrapped up in their own little worlds. That’s to be expected, given that there are nearly 4 million of them. Tauranga’s a place where it’s quite normal to strike up conversations with strangers in shops, food joints and at the pub. Cheers to that.

The Mount

Both cities have great beaches, but only the Mount pulls it all together with a beachfront restaurant strip, easy walking from sand to shops, and an iconic mountain offering great views all along the coast.

Supermarkets

Melbourne “supermarkets” are sorry little things. Most Woolworths, Coles and IGA stores in Melbourne are half the size of our Pack ‘n’ Save on Cameron Rd. And Melbourne supermarkets don’t sell booze – most are affiliated with a nearby liquor store, but shopping twice is a hassle when you’re pushing a trolley-load of groceries.

BETTER THERE

Cycle lanes

Melbourne has great cycle lanes for both commuting to work and weekend recreation, with the 30km Capital City Trail being a personal favourite. Bike lanes are mostly separated from traffic, and this makes the whole peddling experience much safer in Melbourne than it is here. It’s surprising that a city as small as Tauranga should be so dangerous for cyclists, with the harbour bridge area being especially perilous.

Incomes

No secrets here – Aussies get paid more for doing less. The standard working week in Melbourne is 37.5 hours, salaries are 50 per cent higher than they are here, and employers pay an additional 9.5 per cent into superannuation funds.

Cost of living

Melbourne can be cheaper than here. We paid $400 a week for a tidy, fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment in the posh Chapel St area, which is similar to what you’d pay in Tauranga for less salubrious digs. Although Aussie supermarkets mostly suck, they do have a chain called Aldi that sources dirt-cheap goods that are often half the price you’d pay in Tauranga. Electronics are much cheaper in Oz.

Property prices

Central Melbourne apartments can be snapped up for under $500,000, and some of these are similar in size and superior in quality to apartments selling for over $600,000 in Mount Maunganui. On the whole, Melbourne property prices are probably a little higher than here – but not when you take incomes into account.

Going out

Stand-up comedy. Small theatre companies. A Bohemian arts district. Italian restaurants with first-generation immigrant cooks and staff. A whole suburb full of Vietnamese restaurants. Consistently top-notch tucker. These are all areas in which Melbourne beats Tauranga. Sure you find a good feed here if you hunt around, but most restaurants are hit-and-miss and you’ve got to live here a while to know about the hits.