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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 and miles of 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 which were born outside Australia. The largest proportion of expats living in Perth are from Britain but the city is also a popular destination amongst expats from New Zealand, South Africa, China, Indonesia, Vietnam 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. 

Many youngsters move to Perth as it is ultimately a young, outdoor-oriented city. Perth is also known for its down-to-earth, sports-orientated culture, which is perfect for families and lovers of the sun-bleached beaches.

Overall, expats will find that Perth has a lot to offer. Its sunny weather, excellent quality of life and beautiful seaside environment are just a few of the reasons that it is 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).

 

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, the city of Perth has begun to work on expanding other sectors that have potential, 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.

Mining workers are no longer in high demand, so it's unlikely to find a job in this sector in Perth. Financial, media, marketing and IT jobs are also scarce – these are 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. 


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


Types of property 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. Thus, central heating and double-glazed windows are 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. 

For expats on short-term assignments, renting is more common than buying property. For those who are considering buying, one upside of Perth's recently declining economy is that housing has become more affordable. Expats will certainly find that properties in Perth have better value for money than those in Sydney or Melbourne


Finding property in Perth

Expats will find that they may be required to do most of the house-hunting themselves. Resources like 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. Real estate agents also often have access to property listings before they go on the open market. However, employing an agent does usually come at a cost of around 10 to 20 percent of the rental cost.


Renting property 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.

Rent for accommodation in Perth is payable monthly and is typically payable at the end of each month to the real estate agent or landlord. Utility bills are usually not included in the rental price and are the responsibility of the tenant to pay.

Areas and suburbs 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. This being said, there are parts of the city where expats can still find a gem or two.

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 the young professional with a little extra cash, a family looking to live near the best schools or a retiree after the sun and sea – will find a suburb in Perth that fits the bill.


Professional living in Perth

Professionals who are looking to live close to the city centre of Perth have a great deal of freedom in choosing an ideal neighbourhood. The good highway system in Perth means that one can invest in or rent a property some distance from the middle of town, but still not spend ages on the motorway every morning to get to work.

Coastal areas such as Cottesloe and Swanbourne offer expats a good mix of natural beauty and easy access to the city centre. Professional expats who prefer to live further from the beach will likely find that areas like Subiaco and Mount Claremont are better suited to their needs


Family-friendly areas in Perth

Expats moving to Perth with young children or teenagers will find that their choice of neighbourhoods will largely depend on the proximity to good schools, especially since public schooling in Australia is based on catchment zones.

Generally speaking, expats can find a set of schools to investigate by cross-listing neighbourhoods that fall within their budget with the schools in the area. Good starting points for expats with children would be Victoria park, Applecross and Riverdale. 

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 take out comprehensive private medical insurance in its place.

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 

Fremantle Hospital

www.fhhs.health.wa.gov.au
Address: Alma Street, Fremantle

Midland Public Hospital

www.midlandhospitals.org.au
Address: 1 Clayton Street, Midland

Mount Hospital

www.mounthospital.com.au
Address: 150 Mounts Bay Road

Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

www.scgh.health.wa.gov.au
Address: Hospital Avenue, Nedlands

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 six and remains so until students turn 17.


Public schools in Perth

Any child of age in Perth is eligible to attend a public school, regardless of their parent's 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 may also be entitled to free tuition, but this is dependent on the exact category of visa held. Those not on eligible visas will have to pay an annual family 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 the wrong 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. The Catholic Education Office 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 or vocational schools.


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 most of the city's international schools only offer the International Baccalaureate.

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

Expats will find that Perth is similar to other big cities when it comes to shopping. One will find everything from pedestrianised shopping villages to quaint weekly craft markets.

The Hay Street Mall is a popular place to shop in the city. Shoppers will find a range of speciality stores all under one roof. Myer and David Jones are the main department stores in Perth and branches can be found both in the city centre and suburbs.

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 for expats with a variety of tastes. Northbridge is the main nightlife district of Perth which has a great atmosphere at weekends. Joondalup, Scarborough and Fremantle also have a handful of party venues.

The tradition of a "Sunday Session" at the pub is a Perth institution. Thanks to the great climate, expats will find that beer gardens overlooking the Swan River are a major part of the Perth drinking scene.


Eating out in Perth

With an immense variety of restaurants, Perth may not have the same swagger as Sydney but holds its own grains of culinary genius regardless. Not to mention the Winelands of the Swan Valley which are just a short drive from the city.

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 an extensive range of dining options.

Perth’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 amongst Perth residents is catching a classic movie at one of the city’s outdoor cinemas. This is a unique experience and 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 enthralled by 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 find that, despite the glorious weather and the wonderful stretches of pristine beach, there is only a modest selection of man-made attractions. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t much to see and do in this little city in Western Australia.


Sightseeing 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.

Caversham Wildlife Park

A trip to Caversham Wildlife Park is a must-do for animal lovers and is an excellent pick for a family day out. For a truly memorable experience, visitors to this park can get up close and personal with koalas, wombats and kangaroos. 

Kings Park and Botanic Garden

With over 1,000 acres of parkland and gardens, the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens is home to over 80 species of birds, a State War Memorial, the Royal Kings Park Tennis Club and a reservoir. 

London Court

Located on a small pedestrian street, the London Court features beautiful Tudor-style architecture providing a glimpse into the country’s colonial past. Visitors can experience 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 which is home to a penguin colony of more than 1,000 birds. Visitors may also spot dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and pelicans while at 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.

Perth Zoo

One of the world’s best small zoos, the Perth Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals of over 164 species. It features exhibits such as African Savanna, Asian Rainforest and Australian Walkabout.

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 annual events:

Perth International Arts Festival (February to March)

One of the longest-running annual international multi-arts festivals in Australia, the Perth International Arts Festival is a must-see 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 Street Arts Festival (April)

Australia’s largest street festival takes place 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)

A great spring festival which 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 which allows city slickers to get a glimpse into country life. The Perth Royal Show includes food and wine pairings, arts and crafts displays, carnival rides and plenty of free live entertainment.

Shipping and Removals in Perth

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

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.


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.


Customs in Perth

Expats must be aware that all household goods and personal effects will be subject to customs Inspection and Clearance. Items that one has owned for 12 months or less will be under more intense scrutiny. Refrigerator and air conditioning equipment are also thoroughly examined in line with the Ozone Protection and Greenhouse Gas Management Act.

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 the past few years. In addition to imposing restrictions and advocating for conservation, the government has imposed price hikes on water usage to try curb consumption. There are also sprinkler restrictions in place.

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. However, 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 has increased over the past few years, so expats should be prepared for a possibly challenging job search.

How can I meet people when I arrive?

Australians are big sports and outdoors people. 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 travel further afield.

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 network is very small and of limited use).

Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those that one would find in larger Australian cities like 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 for all commuters. 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 very busy.

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.

Fares for local taxis are regulated by the state government and all local companies charge the same rate, though travellers should note that fares are higher in the evenings and on weekends.

Expats catching a taxi in the entertainment precinct after a night out should be aware that one might end up waiting at a taxi rank for up to two hours on a busy evening, so it's best to order one specifically via phone or the internet. If unable to order a taxi and faced with waiting for one to come along, it is far safer to catch a taxi from a secure rank than to hail one right outside a club or bar. 

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 be taken on Transperth trains, except for during peak hours – however, they cannot be brought onto Transperth buses.


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.