Moving to Perth

Perth

Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 4 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 4 out of 5

  • Property affordability 4 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Perth is known as “Australia’s biggest town”. It might look like a city (because it is a city), but it’s got the chilled out atmosphere of somewhere much smaller. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Melbourne and Sydney, Perth is much less busy. Only 2 million people live there (which is very low by Aussie standards), so you can walk through the centre without tripping over everyone else. Life on the West Coast is slower than life on the East, but that’s all part of Perth’s charm. It’s a quirky, arty, up-and-coming city with some stunning beaches, world-class wine and a lot of sunshine. We bet you can’t wait to get stuck in. Read on to find out more about emigrating to Perth and life in the city.  

Perth skyline

The Perth skyline in the sunshine

A little bit of geography

Perth is situated on the southwest coast of Australia, literally on the opposite side to all the other famous Aussie cities. It’s part of the absolutely massive state of Western Australia, which is about one third of the whole country. The city itself is famously flat, home to the Swan River and an Indian Ocean coastline. Perth’s beaches are beautiful (think turquoise water and white sand).

Here’s a sad fact for you: Perth is one of the most isolated cities on Earth. The nearest major city (ie. one with a population of more than 100,000 people) is Adelaide, located a whopping 1,324 miles away. It’s actually quicker for Perthians to fly to Jakarta, Indonesia than it is for them to fly to Sydney, which is over 2,000 miles away.

A little bit of history

The Aborigines got there first; experts reckon people have been living in Perth for nearly 40,000 years. The Brits were late to the party, moving into Perth on 4th June 1829, which is why the first Monday in June each year is a public holiday in Western Australia. Somebody saw the hot sun and white sand and it reminded them of Scotland, so Perth took its name from the Scottish city.

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Cost of emigrating to Perth

The major container terminal in Perth is the Port of Fremantle. Check out these estimated prices (sourced from WorldFreightRates.com) for shipping from London to Fremantle. The rates are based on the movement of a full container load of household goods worth £40,000 (or $55,000), which is the average value of the contents inside a three-bedroom house (estimated by Admiral Insurance).

Container typeEstimated cost
20ft container£1604.92
40ft container£2128.74

Please note: these prices do not include add-ons such as professional packing/unpacking, door-to-door delivery and basic insurance cover. Most of our shipping suppliers include these services in their prices, so expect their quotations to be higher than the estimates given here.

If you’d like a better idea of how much it will cost you to move your belongings to Perth, fill in the form at the top of this page and up to six of our suppliers will get back to you with their best price. Easy!

Before you get too excited about Perth, it might be wise to check that you can get a visa. UK citizens have a fairly easy time when it comes to short-term visits, but if you want to move to Perth long-term then it’s less straightforward. There is a huge number of different visa types that you can read about here.

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

If you own a UK passport, this mean you’re entitled to a free Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa for Australia. Whoopee! The ETA visa allows you to make multiple 90-day trips into the country and it lasts for a year. If you like Oz so much that you decide to stay, you need to get a proper working visa.

Skilled migration visa

The Aussies keep a constantly updated list of in-demand skills. If you’ve got ‘em, they’ll have ‘em! Keep an eye on the Australian Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Australian Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and see if anything jumps out at you. If you think you can help with any of their skills shortages, you can make an Expression of Interest (EOI) on SkillSelect. After that, it’s up to an Australian state to nominate you.

Sponsored work visa

This is the one for you if you can’t find anything quite right on the STSOL or MLTSSL. You need a licensed Australian employer to sponsor you, which means you need to find a job first. This will probably involve a lot of online job hunting and a few late-night Skype interviews, but it’s worth all the hard work if you really want a new life in Australia. See further down the page for advice on job-hunting in Perth.

For an indication of what fees to expect for each type of visa, check out the pricing estimator on Australia’s Home Affairs website.

Who lives in Perth?

Perthians, that’s who! There’s a real mixed bag of people living in the city.

In the big Australian census of 2016 (the most recent one), we learnt some pretty cool things about the diversity of the folks in Perth. Only 34.7% of residents named Australia as their country of birth, which is no way near the national average of 66.7%. Perth is clearly a happy home to expats from all over the world. The most popular countries of birth (after Australia) were England (5.4%), China (4%), India (2.6%), New Zealand (2.5%) and Malaysia (2.3%).

There’s a real mix of languages too, especially from countries in Southeast Asia. After English, the most common are Mandarin (6.6%), Cantonese (2.3%), Italian (2.3%), Korean (2%) and Vietnamese (1.7%). Unsurprisingly, the Asian food scene in Perth is spectacular. Check out our top food recommendations for Perth near the bottom of the page.

The beach on Rottnest Island, Perth

People enjoying the beach on Rottnest Island, about 20km off the coast of Perth

Climate

Perth wins Australia’s sunshine competition. Of all the country’s major cities, Perth comes out on top with about 2,300 hours of sunlight each year. If you’re looking for a lovely tan, you know where to go.

Summer (December – February) is one big heat blast. Temperatures typically range between 17.5°C and 30°C, although they have been known to soar as high as 40°C. The ocean breeze that blows from the seaside town of Fremantle (known as “the Fremantle doctor”) provides some much-needed relief from the heat. Rain is rare.

Autumn (March – May) is when things get a little less intense. Temperatures are more pleasant, ranging somewhere between 13°C and 26°C, and the rains ramp up a bit.

Winter (June – August) is when your friends in the UK are enjoying summer; it’s very strange. Winters in Perth are rather mild affairs, with temperatures generally falling between 8°C and 19°C in the daytime. However, things can get fairly frosty at night if the cold Antarctic air blows in. Another sad fact: snow has never fallen in Perth.

Spring (September – November) is perfect for seeing Perth in bloom, with wildflowers popping up across the city’s parks and nature reserves. You’ll also feel the weather start to warm up, with temperatures typically ranging between 11°C and 23°C.

Getting around the city

Perth is very flat and compact, which doesn’t sound exciting but it’s perfect for walking around. In the 2016 census, over a quarter of Perth residents said that they walked to work, which is way better than the national average of 3.5%. However, we don’t all wake up with a spring in our step – sometimes you just need a bit of public transport to keep you going. Here’s what Perth’s got to offer.

Public transport

You need to know about Transperth, who run almost all of the public transport services in Perth. Transperth have created a Free Transit Zone (FTZ) in the middle of the city, in which all public transport is absolutely free.

If you’re moving to Perth permanently, get yourself a SmartRider card. It costs AUD$10 to buy, and after that you just top it up with credit. It’s 15% cheaper than buying individual tickets and there’s a daily cap too.

There’s a very colourful bus system called Central Area Transit (CAT), so the buses are affectionately known as CATs. They come in different colours (red, blue, yellow and green) and some of them have huge black cats painted on the side of them. Who said bus travel can’t be fun? The CATs service the Free Transit Zone, so they’re free to use.

Of course Perth has trains. They service the city’s outer suburbs, so it’s helpful for residents who live a bit further out from the centre. Naturally, the ones that pass through the FTZ are free to use. Check out the rail map here.

You can also use the ferry to cross the Swan River and get from the north to the south side of the city. There’s a ferry every 20-30 minutes between Elizabeth Quay Jetty and Mends Street Jetty. If anything, it’s just a nice way of seeing the city.

Driving a car

People in Perth just love driving their cars, despite the wonderful public transport system. The 2016 census showed that 33% of residents drove to work, so you’ll certainly have a bit of company on the roads.  If you’re living in Perth as a temporary visitor then you can drive using a valid UK driving license. However, if you intend to live in Perth permanently, you will need a proper Australian driving license after three months. Go Aussie or go home!

Airports

There are two airports in the city: Perth Airport and Jandakot Airport. Most commercial flights fly into Perth Airport, so you don’t really need to know about the other one. Perth Airport is the fourth busiest airport in Australia (in terms of passenger movements), located about 10 km east of the city centre and accessible by Transperth buses.

Healthcare

Feeling peaky in Perth? Not a problem. Australia has a popular healthcare system called Medicare and it’s not too dissimilar from the NHS. It’s based on a mixture of public and private services, and citizens pay a levy of 2% of their income to fund it. However, you only have to pay part of the levy if your income is lower than AUD$27,475 (after tax), and you don’t need to pay anything at all if your income is below AUD$21,980 (after tax).

Medicare covers you for all essential medical treatment and also partly covers the cost of GP consultations. Beyond that, people need to fund any further treatment with private medical insurance, and this includes ambulance travel.

Australia has a Reciprocal Health Agreement (RHA) with several countries and the UK is one of them. This means you can rock up to Australia and use Medicare like any other Australian, and the Aussies can do the same with the NHS when they come over to the UK. Despite this, you still need to have some kind of private health insurance cover before you are allowed to enter Australia.

Cost of living in Perth

By global standards, all the major cities in Australia are on the pricey side. Perth is no exception, although it’s more affordable than its big brothers on the east coast. The 2016 census showed that the median weekly income for people aged over 15 was AUD$949, and that median weekly rent was AUD£430. Check out the table below for an idea of living costs in Perth (sourced from Numbeo).

ItemTypical cost
Three-course meal for two people at inexpensive restaurant£46.25
Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught)£5.61
Cappuccino (regular)£2.47
20-pack of Marlboro cigarettes£14.02
Public transport monthly pass£82.87
Petrol (1 litre)£0.78
Monthly gym subscription£33.69
One pair of jeans (Levis 501 or similar)£52.91

Best neighbourhoods in Perth

Living “in Perth” sounds great but it’s a bit vague. Where in Perth are you going to live? We’ve picked out some of our favourite Perthian neighbourhoods for you to consider. It’s all about whether you want to be near the parks, the beach or the city centre. According to Reiwa (a Western Australian real estate company), in March 2018 the median house price in Perth was AUD$515,000.

Fremantle

Situated to the southwest of the city centre, Fremantle – known as “Freo” – used to be a rough port town on the outskirts of Perth. Now the city has grown, Freo has essentially become another suburb, and it’s got a lot nicer. The streets are full of lovely colonial-era buildings, so it’s a nice escape from the super modern feel of Perth’s city centre. There are loads of quirky independent shops, artisan coffee joints and outdoor cafes. It’s a wonderful slice of continental Europe on the east coast of Australia. Unsurprisingly, Freo is a popular place with tourists, so you’ll have to get used to them. The current median house price in Freo is AUD$785,000 (source: Reiwa).

Cottesloe

Just a few miles north of Fremantle is Cottesloe, a seaside suburb that has become famous for its magnificent beach. The pearly white sand stretches for over a kilometre, providing the perfect place for residents to kick back at the end of the day. There’s also a wonderful promenade full of little cafes, shops and bars. Unsurprisingly, the houses right by the sea are the crème de la crème of Cottesloe’s properties. Just imagine stepping out into your back garden and seeing the Indian Ocean. The current median house price in Cottesloe is a hefty AUD$2,155,000 (source: Reiwa), but you get what you pay for. Another popular Perthian seaside suburb is Scarborough, which is absolutely nothing like the English one.

Mount Helena

This one’s for the families who want something a bit more affordable. Mount Helena is located about 35 km east of Perth, so it’s not got any beaches. Instead, it’s got more green space than you’ll know what to do with. Living in Mount Helena means you’ve got the beautiful Leschenaultia Conservation Park right on your doorstep, and you’re just north of the huge Beelu National Park. If you’ve got kids to raise, giving them a place to run around and be free is important. Being further away from the centre means you trade the hustle and bustle for peace and quiet. Plus, the house prices are much more affordable. The current median house price in Mount Helena is AUD$470,000 (source: Reiwa).

Finding a job in Perth

Perth is big on its services. The 2016 census showed that more Perth residents worked in professional, scientific and technical services (14%) than any other sector. After that, accommodation & food services (13.6%) and healthcare & social assistance (10.5%) were the next most popular.

Almost every major Australian company has an office in Perth, so there are loads of opportunities to work for the big dogs. There are some huge international mining companies with their head offices in Perth, such as BHP BILLITON.

If you’re looking for a job in Perth, it’s a good idea to start online. There are loads of helpful resources available. Check out Hays and Adzuna, which are both Australian jobs websites with specific sections on Perth. There are also some handy Perth-based recruitment agencies who can help you, such as All Star Recruitment.

Things to do in Perth

For a city so isolated, it’s quite important that there’s stuff to do in Perth. Fortunately, you’re never going to get bored on the west coast. Everyone’s got weekends to fill, and there’s more than enough in Perth to fill it with. What’s more, the sunny weather means the beach is (almost) always an option. Check out some of our favourite things to do in Perth.

Enjoy the Swan River

Perthians don’t know what they’d do without the Swan River. It flows right through the middle of the city, looking beautiful and providing something for everyone. Some people use the river for sailing and jet-skiing, while others go for something a bit slower, such as ferry cruises and fishing. You can also head a few miles up the river until you reach the Swan Valley, a gorgeous green landscape full of world-class wineries. Or you can head down the river until you meet the Indian Ocean. Decide what you want and the Swan River will give it to you.

Go to Rottnest Island

Ever heard of a quokka? It’s a cute fluffy marsupial that’s found almost exclusively in Western Australia, and it’s just adorable. A bunch of them live on Rottnest Island, which is Dutch for “rat’s nest”, because the Dutch guy who first saw them thought they were just big rats. The island is just 19 km offshore and you can take a ferry there. Loads of celebrities have been there for selfies with the quokkas, famous for their smiley faces. Rottnest Island is also great for snorkeling over coral reefs, diving through shipwrecks and sunbathing on beaches.

Explore the Pinnacles

When it comes to weird national parks in Australia, the Pinnacles takes the cake. It’s a load of tall, pointy rocks in a desert and tourists love it. You’ll find these limestone spires in Nambung National Park, located a three-hour drive away from the city. It might sound like a slog but it involves travelling down the Indian Ocean Drive, one of Australia’s most beautiful car journeys.

Check out the Fremantle markets

We did mention that Freo gets a serious number of tourists. The historic port town is a wonderful place to walk around, from the arty streets to the old markets. Fremantle Markets opened in 1897 and they’re still going today, selling everything from designer clothes to fresh fish and veg. Once you’ve had enough of all the bohemian cafes, you can get your sand ‘n’ sea fix at Freo beach.

A quokka on Rottnest Island

A Rottnest quokka peers into the distance

Where to eat in Perth

Perth’s food scene is as good as anywhere else in Oz (the locals might even say the best). Here are some of the best places to go and get your belly full.

Sayers Sister (236 Lake St, Northbridge, Perth)

Fancy a breakfast done properly? Go to Sayers Sister, the gem inside the residential area of Northridge. It only opened in 2012 and has since become a Perth institution. Locals and tourists alike go there for top notch grub. The long concrete table running through the middle of the cafe means a lot of socialising goes on, so get ready to mix with strangers. There’s also a whole load of stylish decor, from bare brick walls and sleek metal chairs to huge hanging lanterns. Menu highlights include the baked apple waffles, leek & parmesan croquettes, pan-fried gnocchi and seared barramundi.

Friends Restaurant (Hyatt Centre, Fortescue Centre, Perth)

This place sounds like it’s themed around the popular US sitcom, but it’s way too classy for that. Friends Restaurant is where you go if you want a meal with Swan River views and jazz accompaniment. The experience is meant to be “sophisticated but friendly”, with fine art on the walls and exceptionally warm service. We recommend going the whole hog and choosing the eight-course degustation menu for AUD$285, where each dish is matched with a five-star wine. The food journey includes sauteed pumpkin, kangaroo loin fillet and the extremely popular chestnut & Manjimup truffle soup. You’ll often see the owner wandering around the restaurant and happily grating truffle onto people’s meals (with their consent).

Wok & Ladle (Shop 8 232 Hay St, Perth)

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and a bit less Australian, head to the Wok & Ladle. This tiny Thai cafe has captured the hearts of Perth’s locals, serving up sensational food with super fast service. They have a BYOB policy, so the off-license across the road is particularly handy. The Wok & Ladle’s classic Red and Green curries are sublime, but you should also try their pad thai, peppercorn squid and ‘Drunken Noodle’.

Perth nightlife

There’s no point wasting all those sweet, warm Perth evenings sat inside; the city is full of exciting bars and clubs. Here are some of our top picks for nightlife in the city.

The Ellington Jazz Club (191 Beaufort St, Perth)

Do you like jazz? Of course you do! The Ellington Jazz Club has got loads of it happening all the time; seven nights a week and about 600 shows each year. The jazz never stops. They put on special early evening sets so people can pop in after work. The venue is fairly small, chilled out, dimly lit and very atmospheric. Once you’re sat down in there (or stood up; the tables are limited), you’ll feel more like you’re in a 1960s American speakeasy than a 21st-century Perth bar. They serve a bit of food, such as pizza and cheese platters, but the real reason people are there is the ice-cool jazz.

Hula Bula Bar (12 Victoria Ave, Perth)

Head down some small steps on Victoria Avenue into a basement and you’re in the Hula Bula Bar, advertising itself as “a tropical paradise in the heart of Perth”. When it comes to Hawaiian-style decor, this place doesn’t mess around; the array of flowers, plants, beach huts, tiki masks and wooden carvings is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a Pacific Island party shack right in the centre of Perth. Talented baristas will make you extra sweet rum cocktails, and of course they’re all wearing Hawaiian shirts. Every week there’s Tiki Tuesday, Island Nite Wednesday (for the reggae fans) and Rhum Club Thursday.

Jack Rabbit Slim’s (133 Aberdeen St, Perth)

If the name of this place rings a bell, it’s because it’s also the name of that diner in Pulp Fiction. It’s got the same kind of 1950s American diner-style furniture, too. We’re talking red leather seats and a black & white chequered floor, plus the walls are covered with vintage American advertisements. However, this isn’t just a place to eat. Walk through the diner and you’ll find yourself in a pumping neon-lit club. The venue plays host to loads of bands and DJs and it’s open until 5am every morning. If this isn’t enough for you, there’s also a retro arcade games room at the back of the club. The alcoholic milkshakes will get you feeling drunk and sugary at the same time.

Expat communities in Perth

We understand that starting life in a new city can be tough. That’s why you might want to speak to like-minded people who’ve done the same thing as you. Online forums are the answer, putting you in touch with fellow expats who are happy to share their advice. Check out the helpful people on the Perth Poms and Internations forums.

Next steps

If you’d still like to know a bit more about Perth, take a look at some of these cracking reads.

Perth: A City Again (2012) by Jeremy Duncan – charts the up-and-down history of Perth throughout the 20th century.

Perth (2015) by Frances Andrijich – a gorgeous collection of photographs of Perth, from the streets to the beaches.

Cloudstreet (1991) by Tim Winton – a novel about suburban life in Perth.