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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 borders are formed by miles of seemingly endless, faultless coastline, while the eastern border is the gateway to the Outback.

Living in Perth as an expat

There are more than 2 million people living in Perth, about a third of whom were born outside of Australia. The expat community living in Perth is diverse and includes residents from Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, China and India among others. With so many expats calling Perth home, new arrivals should have no problem meeting fellow foreigners and feeling welcome.

Although the aftermath of the mining boom has made the job market here 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.

Accommodation in Perth is varied and easy to come by, though fairly expensive. That said, those expats who are willing to commute can get good deals in Perth's outlying suburbs.

Plus, commuting is made easy by the city’s reliable bus network, extensive rail facilities and a number of taxi services. Families, or those who wish to explore beyond the city’s limits, may find owning a car useful, and with good roads and signage, driving is a breeze.

Public healthcare in Perth is excellent and benefits from Australia’s universal healthcare scheme, Medicare. Expats on resident visas are eligible for free or subsidised healthcare in public hospitals, while certain medicines are also covered.

Cost of living in Perth

Although Perth is cheaper than many other Australian cities, the average cost of living is still relatively high. That said, the standard of living in Perth is well worth the cost and, in most cases, expats earn good enough salaries to live more than comfortably here.

Expat families and children in Perth

Perth offers many great schooling options for expat children, including excellent (and free) public schools, private schools, independent schools and a few international schools.

The lifestyle in Perth is laid-back, interesting and eminently family friendly. Parks abound, and families can explore all manner of museums, galleries, restaurants and outdoor activities. The city also has loads of entertainment aimed specifically at kids, with a variety of water sports being particularly popular.

Climate in Perth

Perth has a pleasant Mediterranean climate and enjoyable weather almost all year round. Summers are hot and sunny, but tempered by the ‘Fremantle Doctor’, while winters are cool, but not unpleasant.

Overall, Perth has a lot to offer and is generally considered well worth the high cost of living. Its quality schooling, excellent standard of living 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, 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) or 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, with average temperatures between 46°F (8°C) and 68°F (20°C). Rainfall and thunderstorms are commonplace during this period.


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. Since the mining boom's collapse, unemployment rates in Perth have risen higher than in many other Australian urban centres. That said, for expats with the right skillsets, there are plenty of opportunities to be had in Perth.

Job market in Perth

In response to its economic downturn, Perth expanded other sectors, such as the healthcare, tourism and construction industries. Those with expertise in administration, safety, and mining are also likely to secure employment.

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, social networks 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 later.

Work culture in Perth

The workplace in Perth is similar to that of the Australian culture in general: 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 relatively non-hierarchical structures and expats may notice bosses happily joining the rest of the office on celebratory 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 they can afford, and in which area or suburb of Perth they’d like to settle in before beginning their search.

Types of accommodation in Perth

Expats will find that there are plenty of housing options available in Perth. These range from furnished and unfurnished apartments (known as flats), to houses, studios and condos. 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. 

Finding accommodation in Perth

Expats will find that they may be required to do most of the house hunting themselves. Online property portals, social networks and newspaper classifieds are a good starting point.

Alternatively, working with an 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

Making an application

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. Applicants must also submit extensive proof-of-identity documentation according to the 100-point check. According to this system, various documents are assigned a number of points based on importance, and these must add up to 100 points for the application to be considered.

Leases and deposits

In Perth, leases are generally for a year. A month’s rent is usually required as a deposit and is refundable at the end of the rental period. At the end of the lease, any costs for cleaning or repairs to damage that the tenant is directly responsible for will be taken out of the deposit.

Paying rent

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 the perfect area or suburb in Perth can be a challenge. The city is growing fast, house prices are climbing at astonishing rates, and demand for apartments in the fashionable districts is also soaring. 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 on sun and sea – is sure to find a suburb in Perth that fits the bill.

Coastal suburbs in 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 residents of Matilda Bay the best of both worlds. There's plenty to do here, particularly for those who enjoy the outdoors. New arrivals looking to make some friends should consider joining one of the local watersport clubs. Even those who aren't athletically inclined will 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. This area is particularly popular with expat families, as it is home to two international schools: International School of Western Australia and Japanese School in Perth. There are also plenty of good public schools in the area.

City living in Perth



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. It is also 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 some of the back streets.


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 a selection of excellent restaurants, including 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. Expats with permanent resident visas should take advantage of the high standard of universal healthcare in Australia. Those who aren't eligible for Medicare should opt for comprehensive private medical insurance.

Perth has a large number of public and private healthcare facilities. Unless expats have a medical condition that requires specialist treatment, it is generally more convenient to make use of local doctors and medical practitioners.

Hospitals in Perth

Bethesda Hospital
Address: 25 Queenslea Drive, Claremont

Glengarry Private Hospital
Address: 53 Arnisdale Road, Duncraig

Royal Perth Hospital
Address: Victoria Square, Perth, Western Australia 6000

South Perth Hospital
Address: 76 South Terrace, South Perth

Education and Schools in Perth

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

Children here tend to start school early, and most attend kindergarten. School attendance is compulsory from age five to 16.

Public schools in Perth

Any child is eligible to attend a public school, regardless of their parents' visa status. That said, the parent's visa status is likely to affect school fees.

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 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.

Area zoning for schools can be strict and spots may be quickly filled up, particularly in 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 institutions. Although Catholic students from the school’s local area are given preference, non-Catholic students may be admitted if there is space.

Non-Catholic private schools are known as ‘independent schools’, and include organisations of other religions and particular educational philosophies, 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. Some language-specific schools are available in Perth, including a number of Japanese schools.

Perth's international schools offer high-quality education, but at considerable cost. 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, field trips and textbooks.

Special-needs education in Perth

Students with special needs are well catered for in Perth. The WA Institute for Deaf Education works with the parents of students with hearing impairments to either provide special educational support or even placement in specialist schools. Students with visual impairments or developmental disorders can similarly choose either support in the mainstream schooling system or specialised schools. A list of possible specialist schools and available support can be found on the Department of Education’s website.

Tutors in Perth

Several reputable tutor companies are available in Perth. Students with difficulty in a certain subject or struggling to adjust to a new schooling system can benefit greatly from individual attention. Some excellent tutoring services in Perth are Ace Tutoring and My Tutor.

Lifestyle in Perth

New arrivals in Perth will find that the city has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle and shopping. Whether expats prefer browsing designer outlets, enjoying a cold beer by the river, trying some culinary delicacies, or hitting the beach, there is something to suit every taste.

Shopping in Perth

Perth has a wide range of shopping opportunities. Expats can find everything from shopping villages and sprawling malls to quaint weekly craft markets and independent boutiques. The Hay Street Mall and the Murray Street Mall run parallel to one another in the city centre, and together they house more than 900 shops.

Visiting local markets in Perth is also 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 farmer's markets, where residents can purchase fresh produce throughout the year.

Nightlife in Perth

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

Eating out in Perth

Whether newcomers are 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, including Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, French and Italian. The favourable climate allows for al fresco dining and it's common to see people congregating outside bars after work.

Arts and culture in Perth

Expats will find a whole host of museums, art galleries and exhibitions scattered throughout the city to keep them entertained during their spare time. A favourite activity among Perth residents is catching a classic movie at one of the city’s outdoor cinemas.

Outdoor activities in Perth

Belts of waterways, green parkland and miles of white sandy beaches exist in perfect harmony with a compact central business district. The result is an airy and easy-going culture shaped by stunning landscapes and a good work-life balance. 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 glorious weather, the city plays host to a multitude of sights and fun attractions. Here are some of our top picks.

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Visitors to this historic gallery can view traditional and contemporary indigenous Australian art as well as some international pieces. Best of all? Entrance to the gallery is free.

London Court

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 cafes on either end of the lane.

Penguin Island

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

Perth Zoo

The Perth Zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals of over 160 species and is involved in a number of conservation efforts including breeding and protection programmes. Visitors can catch a glimpse of rare species such as Tasmanian devils, red pandas and lemurs.

Whats on in Perth

There is always something happening in Perth. Below are some of the city's most exciting annual festivals and celebrations.

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 local seafood dishes, including oysters, barbecued crab, ceviche and squid. Guests can also enjoy paired seafood-and-wine tastings.

Perth Festival (February to March)

One of the longest-running annual cultural festivals in Australia, the Perth Festival sees 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 has local and international street artists flocking to Perth every year to take part in a celebration of comedy, busking, street theatre, thrilling circus acts and more.

Kings Park Festival (September)

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

Where to meet people and make friends in Perth

Perth is full of opportunities to meet people. From sports clubs to social clubs, below are some of the best options for new arrivals.

Volleyball Western Australia

Have fun on the volleyball court while making new friends. With programs ranging from competitive indoor leagues to outdoor social volleyball games, any expat can fall right in and begin playing.

Swan River Rowing Club

Get out on the water every Sunday morning with the SRRC's Learn to Row program. Hardened rowers can join one of the more experienced rowing squads and even compete in Masters tournaments.

Perth Bushwalkers Club

Break away from the bustle of the city and join the Perth Bushwalkers as they take in the natural beauty of Western Australia. Newcomers are always welcome and expats will have no trouble making new friends.

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.

Airfreight and sea freight to Perth

The two main options for sending goods to Perth are airfreight and sea freight. The latter is the commonly preferred option, as it is considerably cheaper, although it may take up to four weeks longer than by air 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, and then send less urgently-needed items 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 they have been owned and used for at least 12 months prior to arriving in Australia.

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

Frequently Asked Questions about Perth

Moving to a new country can be 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 expat life in Perth.

Does Perth suffer from water shortages?

Yes, dire water shortages have plagued the city for several years. In addition to imposing restrictions and advocating for conservation, the government has imposed price hikes on water usage to try and 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 is now putting effort into expanding other sectors with potential, such as healthcare, tourism and construction, and 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 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 – an 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 keen to explore the city and its surrounds.

Getting Around in Perth

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

Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those 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


The public transport network in Perth is run by Transperth and uses an integrated ticket system. The Transperth network is divided into zones, and passengers buy tickets that are valid for a certain number of zones. The tickets can 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, depending on how many zones are crossed.

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


Perth has a small but reliable network of bus services that largely cater for those living in the suburbs. Some buses also run on the Central Area Transit (CAT) route – a route that is completely 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 lines linked to major facilities and attractions. Expats will find that CAT buses are a great way to get around Perth.


Perth has an excellent rail network that caters for those living in outlying suburbs 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 the stations 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.

Taxis in Perth

There are a number of local taxi services operating in Perth alongside big-name ride-hailing services such as Uber. To avoid 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 bicycle-friendly city with good infrastructure for cyclists. The city has a continually-expanding system of bicycle paths that includes 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 children, 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 surrounding areas. While the police are rarely seen patrolling the roads, expat drivers should be aware of manned mobile speed cameras operated by public servants.