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Moving to Perth

Expats moving to Perth will soon discover the many charms of Australia’s fourth-largest and fastest-growing city. Perth is the capital of Western Australia, which is by some margin the largest state in Australia. The southern and western border is formed by miles of seemingly endless, faultless coastline, and the eastern border is the gateway to the Outback.

There are over 2 million people living in Perth, about a third of whom were born outside Australia. The largest proportion of expats living in Perth are from Britain but the city is also a popular destination among expats from New Zealand, South Africa and India. With such a diverse population, new arrivals should have no problems meeting fellow expats and settling down.

Although the aftermath of the mining boom has made the job market in Perth somewhat less attractive than it has been in the past, there are still opportunities for those in the city's developing sectors such as healthcare, tourism and construction.

While the cost of living in Perth is fairly high, expats may be comforted by the fact that the city is far cheaper than other major Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Accommodation will naturally be a major expense but if expats are willing to commute, good deals can be found in Perth's outlying suburbs.

Overall, Perth has a lot to offer and is generally considered well worth the high cost of living. Its sunny weather, excellent quality of life and beautiful seaside environment are just a few of the things that make Perth such an attractive expat destination.

Weather in Perth

Perth experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers, and cool, wet winters. Perth receives rainfall seasonally and is recognised as one of the sunniest major cities in Australia.

Summers are from December to February. Temperatures can often reach 86°F (30°C) and higher. The summer temperatures are made bearable by the sea breeze from the southwest, known locally as the 'Fremantle Doctor'.

Winters are from June to August, with the weather cool and wet. Rainfall and thunderstorms are commonplace during this period. The average temperature during winter ranges between 46°F (8°C) and 68°F (20°C).

 

Pros and cons of moving to Perth

Perth is an extremely popular expat destination. The incredible scenery, great healthcare system and well-established public transport are just a few of the perks of living in this city. But, as with any city, Perth has got its ups and downs. Here is a list of pros and cons of moving to Perth


Cost of living in Perth

+ Pro: High standard of living

Expats in Australia generally enjoy a high standard of living and usually earn good salaries, particularly if their field of expertise is in high demand. This allows them to afford pricey accommodation and other luxuries.

- Con: High cost of living

Although not as expensive as other Australian cities, the cost of living in Perth is above average. In fact, Perth is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world. As mentioned though, high salaries usually offset this.


Lifestyle and Culture in Perth

+ Pro: Large expat community

With a third of the population of Perth born outside of Australia, it’s generally easy for expats to meet and befriend fellow expats. Aussies are also a friendly and welcoming bunch, and any expats embracing the local culture will find themselves being considered an honorary Aussie in no time.

+ Pro: Great weather

Perth’s warm and sunny climate is definitely one of its major drawcards. Although the summer months can get rather hot, the ocean breeze offsets the stifling heat that can make some of Australia’s other major cities unbearable at times. Lasting only three months of the year, winters in Perth can be chilly, but never so cold as to be unpleasant.

+ Pro: Stunning beaches and scenery

As well as boasting some of the county’s most beautiful beaches, Perth is surrounded by national parks and wineries that are well worth a visit. The best part? Most of these scenic spots are only a 10-minute drive from the city centre.

- Con: The city is rather isolated

Although Aussies living in Perth have a great lifestyle with plenty to see and do, it is one of the most isolated cities in the world, in terms of its location. This may make people feel somewhat disconnected from the rest of the country, as even a ‘quick trip’ to Sydney requires a four-hour flight.


Healthcare in Perth

+ Pro: Quality Healthcare

Perth has a high-quality healthcare system, with both private and public cutting-edge facilities that are well-resourced and efficient. Medicare, a tax-funded public insurance programme, affords accessible – if not free – healthcare for all people, regardless of their income.

- Con: Long waits for hospital procedures

Despite the efficiency of the hospitals in Perth, expats may experience long waiting times for medical procedures, which can be quite frustrating.


Getting around in Perth

+ Pro: Public transport is reliable and affordable

Expats living near a train station or a bus stop will have no problem getting around the city. Public transport in Perth is reliable and inexpensive.

- Con: Certain areas hard to reach without a car

Although the public transport system in Perth is good, it does not reach every corner of the city, which can make getting around without a car hard for people living in the outlying areas. Although taxi services and Uber do run in Perth, they are a lot more expensive than taking the bus or a train.

Working in Perth

Although Perth was once the driver behind much of Australia's wealth, economic expansion in the city has slowed down a great deal in the last few years. This is mostly due to the aftermath of Australia's mining boom which, at its peak, was a major industry that brought mining workers to Perth in droves. Since the boom's collapse, unemployment rates in Perth have risen higher than many other urban centres in Australia. 


Job market in Perth

In response to its economic downturn, Perth expanded other sectors, such as the healthcare, tourism and construction industries. Expats looking for work in the city would do well to look for jobs in these sectors.

Positions in areas such as finance, media, marketing and IT are somewhat scarce in Perth, and more easily found in Sydney. 


Finding a job in Perth

There are a number of resources that expats can utilise in order to find a job in Perth. These include the local classifieds, online searches or contacting a recruitment agency.

It can also be helpful to contact companies in the area directly. Making a personal connection can go a long way should a position open up.


Work culture in Perth

The workplace style in Perth is similar to that of the Australian culture in general – namely, relaxed and egalitarian. Staff relations are generally informal and direct. Office drinks after work are common and are a good way to get to know colleagues. Generally, Australian companies have a relatively flat structure and expats may notice bosses happily joining the rest of the office on such occasions. Expats should make an effort to join in, too.

Accommodation in Perth

Accommodation in Perth comes in all shapes and sizes. Expats will need to decide what kind of property they prefer, what kind of housing they can afford, and in which area or suburb of Perth they’d like to be located before beginning their search.


Types of accommodation in Perth

Expats will find that there are plenty of housing options available in Perth. It ranges from furnished and unfurnished apartments (known as flats), to houses, studios and luxury apartments. The standard of accommodation varies significantly depending on the area.

It is worth noting that houses in Perth are built to keep their residents cool and not warm, and central heating and double-glazed windows are therefore a rarity. To keep warm in winter months, it helps to look for houses that get a lot of natural light, have north-facing windows or have put the more modern tenets of insulation into practice.


Finding accommodation in Perth

Expats will find that they may be required to do most of the house hunting themselves. Resources such as newspaper classifieds and internet searches are helpful in finding some options.

Alternatively, working with a real-estate agent can make the process simpler and may yield better results than going it alone. Estate agents also often have access to property listings before they go on the open market.


Renting accommodation in Perth

Viewings for accommodation in Perth are usually at set times, and if the property is well priced, expats should expect to be viewing with a number of other people. Many properties are managed through an agent and references will usually be required alongside extensive proof-of-identity documentation. These standards are enforced throughout Australia to protect against identity fraud.

In property listings, rental prices are typically quoted on a per-week basis. Rental payments may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, so this should be clarified before signing on.

Utility bills are usually not included in the rental price and are the responsibility of the tenant to pay.

Areas and suburbs in Perth

The best places to live in Perth

Finding an area or suburb in Perth that matches an individual's accommodation priorities can be a challenge. The city is growing fast. House prices are climbing at astonishing rates in some parts and demand for apartments in the fashionable districts is voracious. That said, there are parts of the city where expats can still unearth a gem.

Ultimately, the suburb an expat chooses will depend on their budget and how much commuting they can put up with. At the end of the day though, every expat (whether it's a young professional with a little extra cash, a family looking to live near the best schools or a retiree keen for sun and sea) is sure to find a suburb in Perth that fits the bill.


Coastal suburbs in Perth

Perth

Matilda Bay

A beautiful suburb perched on the edge of the Swan River, Matilda Bay is a popular residential area. The combination of the lush surroundings and the close proximity of the CBD gives Matilda Bay residents the best of both worlds.

There's plenty to do in Matilda Bay, particularly for those who enjoy the outdoors. New arrivals looking to make some friends should consider joining one of the local watersport clubs based in Matilda Bay. Even those who aren't athletically inclined are sure to be glad to have easy access to the riverside on scorching summer days.

City Beach

City Beach is a modern waterside suburb with easy access to a range of community amenities. The area's local beach, also called City Beach, is said by many to be Perth's best beach.

This area is particularly popular with expat families as the home of two international schools: International School of Western Australia and Japanese School in Perth. There are also plenty of good public school options in the area.


City living in Perth

Perth

Highgate

Situated just north of Perth's CBD, Highgate is a great choice for expats looking to live in a lively area with a short commute to work. Highgate is well known as a diverse cultural district packed with restaurants of all flavours. Art lovers are sure to enjoy the area's many galleries, not to mention the vibrant street art waiting to be discovered in back streets off the beaten path.

Northbridge

Young expats who love a good night out will feel right at home in Northbridge, Perth's main nightlife district. The streets are lined with everything from upmarket cocktail lounges to laid-back bars, not to mention mouth-watering restaurants offering some of Perth's best Asian fare. Convenience is key in Northbridge, and expats should be able to get around easily here.

Healthcare in Perth

Australia's national Medicare scheme provides free or subsidised public healthcare and access to medicines for Australian citizens and permanent residents. Only certain visa categories are eligible for Medicare coverage. Eligible expats moving to Perth should make registration a priority in order to take advantage of the high standard of healthcare associated with the country's public sector. Those who aren't eligible for Medicare should opt to for comprehensive private medical insurance.

Perth has a large number of public and private healthcare facilities. Unless expats have a medical condition needing specialist treatment, it is generally more convenient to make use of doctors and medical practitioners in their local suburb or residential area.


Hospitals in Perth 

Bethesda Hospital

www.bethesda.org.au
Address: 25 Queenslea Drive, Claremont

Glengarry Private Hospital

www.glengarryprivate.com.au
Address: 53 Arnisdale Road, Duncraig

Mount Hawthorn Medical

mthawthornmedical.com.au
Address: 405 Oxford Street, Mount Hawthorn

South Perth Hospital

www.sph.org.au
Address: 76 South Terrace, South Perth

Education and Schools in Perth

As in greater Australia, children can attend a public school, a Catholic private school, an independent school or an international school in Perth.

Children in Perth tend to start school early, and most attend kindergarten. School attendance officially becomes compulsory from age 5 and remains so until students turn 16.


Public schools in Perth

Any child of age in Perth is eligible to attend a public school, regardless of their parents' visa status. However, the parent's visa status is likely to affect the fees associated with doing so.

Generally speaking, foreigners in the country on a permanent visa are entitled to send their children to public schools in Perth tuition-free. Those in Australia on a temporary visa, however, will likely have to pay an annual tuition fee if they want their child to attend a public school.

School attendance is not strictly based on neighbourhood, but children are almost guaranteed a spot at their local school. This includes expat children, provided their parents are on a permanent visa or qualifying temporary visa. However, area zoning for schools can be strict and schools may be quickly filled up by qualifying children in the zone.

Although expats may choose to apply to send their children to schools outside their local area if they wish, the fact that they are not guaranteed a spot can create a lot of uncertainty. This is particularly true of popular schools with good reputations. For this reason, parents with a particular school in mind should research school zones thoroughly before deciding where to live – sometimes simply living on a certain side of the street is enough for a child to be categorised as external to the area. 


Private and independent schools in Perth

Many of the city's private schools are Catholic. Catholic Education West Australia is the organisation responsible for coordinating the administration, curriculum and policy of these schools. Although Catholic students from the local area around the school are given preference, non-Catholic students may be admitted if there is space.

Non-Catholic private schools may be categorised as "independent schools", and include schools of other religions and schools that follow a particular educational philosophy, such as Montessori.


International schools in Perth

With just a handful of international schools available in Perth, parents who wish for their children to continue studying their home curriculum may be out of luck, as all but one of the city's international schools teach the International Baccalaureate as opposed to the curriculum of a foreign country. Japanese parents, however, will be glad to know that there is a Japanese school in Perth.

Perth's international schools offer a high quality of education but this comes at a price; their fees are typically well above those of local schools. In some cases, parents may be able to negotiate an education allowance as part of a relocation package. This kind of financial support can be very helpful, although parents should keep in mind that there may be additional expenses above and beyond school fees, such as uniforms and textbooks.

Lifestyle in Perth

New arrivals in Perth will find that the city has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle and shopping options. Whether one prefers spending the day trawling through designer outlets, enjoying a cold beer by the river, trying some exotic culinary delicacies or hitting the beach, there really is something to suit every taste.


Shopping in Perth

Perth is similar to other big cities when it comes to shopping opportunities. Expats can find everything from pedestrianised shopping villages and sprawling malls to quaint weekly craft markets and independent boutiques.

The Hay Street Mall and the Murray Street Mall are best thought of as a pair, running parallel to one another in the city centre. Together they house more than 900 shops.

Visiting local markets in Perth is a pleasant experience. Shoppers will find that many successful small businesses begin their journey showcasing items at one of Western Australia’s marketplaces. Most suburbs have their own farmers' markets, where residents can purchase fresh produce throughout the year.


Nightlife in Perth

Perth is home to a large number of pubs and nightclubs which cater to a variety of tastes. Northbridge is the main nightlife district of Perth and has a great atmosphere on weekends. Joondalup, Scarborough and Fremantle also have a handful of party venues.


Eating out in Perth

Whether one is after an elegant dining experience overlooking the river, tasting locally crafted wines, or eating humble fish and chips while watching the sun go down, Perth has it covered.

The city’s vibrant multiculturalism is evident in its culinary offering. Naturally, seafood plays a major role too. Expats looking for a taste of home will be sure to find a range of international cuisines such as Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, French and Italian food available.

The favourable climate lends itself to al fresco dining and it's common to see people congregating outside bars after work.


Arts and culture in Perth

Expats will find a variety of cultural attractions available to keep them entertained during their spare time with a whole host of museums, art galleries and exhibitions scattered throughout the city.

A favourite activity among Perth residents is catching a classic movie at one of the city’s outdoor cinemas. This is a unique experience and a must for all expats living in Perth.


Outdoor activities in Perth

Expats moving to Perth can expect a lifestyle that reflects a bold appreciation for nature and a mutually appointed respect for modernity.

Belts of waterways, green parkland and miles of sandy white beaches exist in perfect harmony with a compact central business district. The result is an airy and easy-going culture shaped around stunning landscapes and an enjoyable work environment.

The city’s Mediterranean climate makes for great outdoor options; expats who enjoy picnicking, water sports, hiking and jogging are sure to find plenty to do in Perth.

See and Do in Perth

Expats who relocate to Perth will discover that, along with the glorious weather and the wonderful stretches of pristine beach, there is a multitude of fun attractions too. Here are some of our top picks.


Recommended attractions in Perth

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Since 1895 this gallery has been home to the pre-eminent holdings of Western Australian art, craft and design. Visitors can view traditional and contemporary Australian indigenous art as well as some pieces of international art. Entrance to the gallery is free, and it's situated in a perfect spot for visitors to pop over to the Western Australian Museum to take in even more of the region's culture and history.

London Court

Located on a small pedestrian street, London Court features beautiful Elizabethan architecture providing a glimpse into the country’s colonial past. Visitors should also make a stop at one of the charming small shops and cafés on either end of the lane.

Penguin Island

Located in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park just south of Perth is this unspoilt reserve that is home to a penguin colony of more than 1,000 birds. Visitors may also spot dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and pelicans while on the island. 

The Perth Mint

Australia’s oldest operating mint, the Perth Mint used to make gold sovereigns for the British Empire. Today, visitors can watch molten gold being made into bars, view the largest collection of natural gold nuggets in Australia (including the Golden Beauty nugget) and see the pressing of precious coins. A highlight is the Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin, certified by Guiness World Records as the largest and most valuable coin in the world.

Perth Zoo

One of the world’s best small zoos, the Perth Zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals of over 160 species. The zoo is involved in a number of conservation efforts including breeding and protection programmes. Visitors to the zoo can view highly protected endangered species such as Tasmanian devils, red pandas and lemurs.

What's On in Perth

There is always something happening in Perth, and the city plays host to a number of exciting annual events. Every year, locals and tourists alike come together to enjoy the festivals and celebrations that put Perth on the map. 

Here are some of the city's most exciting yearly events.


Annual events in Perth

Fish and Sips Festival (February)

This festival brings together the best of West Australia's wine and seafood for a truly delicious weekend. Renowned local chefs whip up a variety of local seafood dishes, including oysters, barbecued crab, ceviche and squid. Guests can also enjoy specially paired seafood-and-wine tastings.

Perth Festival (February to March)

One of the longest-running annual cultural festivals in Australia, the Perth Festival is a must-do for art lovers. Some of the world's greatest artists in theatre, contemporary music, classical music, opera, visual arts, literature, film, jazz and dance take part in this spectacle over a four-week period.

Fremantle International Street Arts Festival (April)

Australia’s only dedicated street festival takes place in Perth each year in April. Local and international street artists flock to the city to take part in the festival in comedy, busking, street theatre and circus acts to dazzle and thrill the audience.

Kings Park Festival (September)

This spring festival celebrates the beauty of Australian wildflowers and native plants. During the festival, visitors can view spectacular displays of wildflowers in full bloom throughout the area of Kings Park and the Botanic Gardens. The city also puts on an array of free entertainment and market stalls. 

Perth Royal Show (September)

An iconic festival in Perth, the Royal Show allows city slickers to get a glimpse into country life with displays of diving and racing pigs, live milking stations, cattle competitions and carnival rides.

Shipping and Removals in Perth

There are many customs regulations that have to be followed when shipping or freighting possessions to Australia. The Australian customs authorities will usually require extensive documentation, including a detailed inventory listing the value of the goods.


Air-freight and sea-freight to Perth

The two main options for sending one's goods to Perth are air-freight and sea-freight. The latter is the preferred option as it is considerably cheaper, although may take up to four weeks longer than air freight when sending from Europe or North America. Many expats who wish to bring goods from another country generally opt to ship their essentials by air, with items that aren't needed as urgently being shipped by sea.


Shipping pets and household goods to Perth

Expats must be aware that all household goods and personal effects will be subject to customs inspection and clearance. Household goods can generally be imported duty-free provided that they have been owned and used for at least 12 months prior to the owner's departure for Australia.

Shipping pets to Perth may require quarantine and necessitates careful planning. It is recommended that expats enlist the help of a pet relocation specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions about Perth

Moving to a new country is always a daunting experience, and expats often have all sorts of questions regarding life in their soon-to-be home. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about moving to Perth.

Does Perth suffer from water shortages?

Yes, dire water shortages have plagued Perth for several years. In addition to imposing restrictions and advocating for conservation, the government has imposed price hikes on water usage to try curb consumption.

What are job prospects like in Perth?

In the past, most expats working in Perth were hired to work in the city's booming mining industries and would arrive with a job already secured. But now that the mining boom is beginning to slow down, such jobs are becoming scarce.

The city of Perth is now putting effort into expanding other sectors with potential, such as healthcare, tourism and construction. Expats are more likely to find work in these industries than in the mining industry. Overall, the rate of unemployment in Perth is often higher than the national average, so expats should be prepared for a possibly challenging job search.

How can I meet people when I arrive?

Australians love sports and the outdoors. To meet locals, expats can join a sports club and will soon get to know a circle of people with common interests. For those with children, it is a simple matter of meeting other parents through playgroups and kindergartens. Australians are known for being friendly, and it's common for the whole office to go out for drinks after a day's work – another excellent way to meet people and make friends.

Will I need to drive in Perth?

While the public transport network in Perth may not be as extensive as those found in Sydney or Melbourne, most expats find it sufficient for getting around the city on a day-to-day basis. While owning a car is by no means a necessity in Perth, expats with children will find having a car useful. It is also useful for those who are keen to explore the city and its outlying areas.

Getting Around in Perth

The Perth metropolitan area has a reliable and inexpensive public transport network which makes getting around the city simple. This network is made up of buses, trains and ferries, though the ferry system is limited and isn't commonly used by expats.

Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those encountered in larger Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, most expats find it is worth investing in a car to make getting around in Perth a bit easier.


Public transport in Perth

Tickets

The public transport network in Perth is run by Transperth, which has an integrated ticket system. The Transperth network is divided into zones – passengers wishing to use the network buy a ticket valid for a certain number of zones. The ticket can then be used on any bus, train or ferry (or any combination of the three) to travel within the selected number of zones. There is a time limit for these tickets, the length of which depends on how many zones are to be crossed.

Commuters also have the option of purchasing a SmartRider card, which automatically calculates the fare and deducts it from preloaded credit. If planning to use the service frequently, SmartRider cards are the best option as they offer a generous discount compared to cash fares.

Buses

Perth has a small but reliable network of bus services that cater for those living in the suburbs and run between bus and train stations.

There are also buses that run on the Central Area Transit (CAT) route. Travel on the CAT route is free of charge. The large air-conditioned buses, each a different colour, are marked with a distinctive black cat logo and operate every eight to 15 minutes on certain routes linked to major facilities and attractions. Expats will find that CAT buses are a great way to get around Perth.

Trains

Perth has a great rail network which caters for those living in outlying suburban areas as well as those in the city. All trains stop at the central Perth railway station in the city centre on their way to or from the surrounding suburban stations. Train services are frequent, but during peak hours Perth station can get crowded.

SmartRider holders can travel for free on trains within the Free Transit Zone, but travellers without SmartRider cards will have to pay a fee to travel on trains within this area.


Taxis in Perth

There are a number of local taxi services operating in Perth alongside big-name companies such as Uber. To avoid possibly long waits at the taxi rank, it's best to order a cab ahead of time via phone or online.

While tipping taxi drivers in Perth is not customary, adding a small gratuity is always appreciated.


Cycling in Perth

Perth is a cycle-friendly city and has good infrastructure for cyclists. Perth’s bicycle network has a metro-wide system of bicycle paths and is growing continuously.

The facilities available to cyclists in Perth include bicycle paths that run alongside railway lines, shared paths running parallel to major roads, and scenic routes through green parks. 

Bicycles can usually be taken on Transperth trains, with some exceptions during peak hours. Bicycles are not permitted on buses, though.


Driving in Perth

Many expats, especially those with families, will find it useful to have a car in Perth. Most of Perth’s major freeways and highways are toll free, unlike in many other Australian cities. Road conditions and infrastructure are good in Perth and the surrounding areas. 

While the police are rarely seen out patrolling the roads of Perth, expat drivers should be aware of manned mobile speed cameras operated by public servants, which are prevalent.