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A Quick Guide to... Living and Working in Perth, Western Australia

Posted by: Mark Burslem

It’s common knowledge that the Australian quality of life is near second to none. With good weather the vast majority of the time, it’s easy to spend a lot of your time outdoors and the access to parks and outdoor activities mean Australia is a fantastic place to raise a family.

If you’re thinking about taking an expat role in Perth – as a great many Mining professionals have before you – take a quick look at our top tips before you jet off to the sunshine.

Emergency Services: 000
Language: English
Currency: Australian Dollar ($ or A$, subdivided into 100 cents)

Count Your Pennies
It’s expensive to live in Australia, and Perth comes in just behind Sydney as Australia’s secnd most expensive city to live in. Houses cost a small fortune. Similarly, eating out, drinking and even simple evenings out such as the cinema can be very pricey, with a cinema ticket around $25. The Mining boom pushed prices up on near everything.

Visit the national parks
When you have time off, travel in Australia is fairly simple, with the roads of a great standard and domestic air travel quick and relatively easy. Consider picking up a Holiday Park Pass, which will allow you entry in a vehicle to all the parks in Western Australia – but note that you cannot take pets.

You’ll learn quickly, especially if you are able to eat out with locals or other, more long-standing expat friends, but just in case: prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents, so smaller coins aren’t in circulation, and tipping is generally not expected in Australia. Do tip if you receive great service, though!

Perth is a safe city, and most expats report that they always feel comfortable - but like any major conurbation there are precautions you should take. Northbridge, the district with the most clubs, bars, and restaurants (over the bridge, to the north side of the CBD) can be a little unpredictable later on, so stay together.

Public transport
The trains are much nicer than the buses (although the buses are of a good standard too!) – cleaner, and with guards at night to ensure everyone is kept safe. Public transport works on a zone system, so you are able to travel within particular zones on particular tickets. As with many cities, however, if you have time it’s often better to explore on foot to discover the great bars and shops tucked away from the main streets. Uber is huge in Perth, so if in doubt, just take a taxi. It’s best to avoid driving into the CBD as parking can often be extortionate, but some is free in the evenings.

The Isolation
There’s no use denying it, Perth is isolated. It’s around 4 hours’ flight from any other major cities, and depending on where you hail from, it could be a very long journey home to visit family and friends. If you’re not fond of warm (read: hot) weather, then you probably won’t get on too well, but on the other hand if you hate the cold winters of Europe, North America, and Northern Asia, you may just love the year-round sunshine and family may be more than happy to visit you!

Luckily, you’ll not struggle to make friends. There are so many expats in Perth, and Australians themselves are notoriously friendly. Joining fitness clubs, or any club relevant to your interests, will certainly help – but you might just find that your neighbours invite you for a barbecue first.

Choosing a Home
Like anywhere in the world, choosing where to live is largely dependent on your budget balanced with your commute. If you have children, schools will also be a consideration – and public schooling is based around catchment areas. Private schooling can come in very expensive. If you’re unsure of which school to send your children to, My School is helpful for rankings, but some good areas to start with include Rivervale, Applecross and Victoria Park. If you’re single, or prefer to live closer to the city, Cottesloe, Swanbourne, Mount Claremont, Nedlands and Peppermint Grove are good (albeit expensive) options. If you want to live by the sea, the south past Fremantle is much more affordable than the North – take a look at some of the smaller towns like Point Grey.

If you’re used to cooler climes, it’s a good option to choose a home with north-facing windows that catch the sun in winter but miss it in summer – and of course, do not rent or buy anywhere without air con!

Australian healthcare is good. The government runs the Medicare system, through which they will contribute part of the cost of any treatment – this can be great as it means you get to choose your doctor!

Eating and Drinking
Perth has a fantastic array of restaurants and bars around the city and surrounding areas. One of the most picturesque areas near Perth’s CBD is the jetty, but be aware that there is building work going on in this part of town at the moment. There are a number of waterfront bars here, also serving food, with great views of the water and the Perth skyline. It’s a stone’s throw from the beautiful Kings Park and Botanical Garden so you can enjoy a well-deserved drink after a walk. Kings Park is often host to family-friendly concerts, performances and events but, if you head to the park when there’s nothing going on, you can still enjoy strolling past stunning water features and an array of beautiful and exotic plants. There is a café in the grounds of the park too!

Craft breweries and local ales are big business in Australia. Heading slightly north out of the city centre will bring you to the lively marina at Mindarie where you’ll find The Indian Ocean Brewing Company, a waterfront bar serving craft ales. If you go south, you’ll find the picturesque beachside town of Fremantle with its famous Little Creatures brewery, bar and restaurant, all housed in a converted crocodile farm. Just next door are a number of fish and chip restaurants offering the freshly caught catch of the day.

Explore the West Coast
 Unlike the busy East Coast, Australia’s west coast is fairly sparse and spread out. It’s well worth heading out on a road trip north of Perth to experience the stunning views on Indian Ocean Drive. You’ll be unlucky if you don’t spot kangaroos and emus crossing the deserted roads and you can stop at the various small towns along the route, including picturesque Lancelin and Geraldton. Make sure you stop at the Pinnacles Desert, a natural sight unlike any other where you’ll see pointed rocks sticking out of the ground at gravity defying angles.

Further along the coast is Monkey Mia. With its white beaches and blue waters, this place could be described as paradise. To top it off, wild dolphins regularly come into the shore, giving bathers the opportunity to swim alongside these incredible animals. A small number of dolphins can be fed by the marine biologists based at Monkey Mia and they’ll give talks on the dolphins while they do it but, remember, these are wild animals so don’t rely on them to come up to the shore every day!

It’s also worth noting that some parts of Western Australia have more than their fair share of flies buzzing around. Nonetheless, if you’re considering a move to Perth, exploring everything the West Coast has to offer is a must!

Price Guide

3 course meal for 2, mid-range 100 A$ $77
Draught beer 9 A$ $6.91
Loaf of bread 2.79 A$ $2.14
Mid range bottle of wine 15 A$ $11.51
Gas/Petrol (1 litre) 1.21 A$ $0.93
Taxi (1 km) 1.72 A$ $1.32
Rent - 1 bed, city centre* 1,816 A$ $1394

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