Perth at a Glance
Living in PerthiStockphoto
Perth is one of Australia’s greenest cities, with plenty of parks where you can take a break from urban life.
Living in Perth agrees with most expatriates who’ve made the decision to spend a few years in Western Australia – or to stay there forever. As we have pointed out in our guide on moving to Perth, the geographical isolation of the city and the rising cost of living are the most significant disadvantages of living in Perth.
However, most residents would concur that these aspects are more than compensated by the relaxed pace of life and the high quality of living in Perth. In 2011 and 2012, the city ranked 21st in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, ahead of such celebrated expat hotspots as Singapore, Paris, or San Francisco. The Economist Intelligence Unit appreciated Perth so much that they considered it one of the ten most livable cities worldwide.
Perth has plenty of leisure-time activities to offer – you needn’t worry about being bored. Nature lovers enjoy observing quokkas (cuddly-looking small marsupials) on Rottnest Island or the local birdlife in the Perth Hills. Athletes will take advantage of the hiking paths in the Swan River Valley or the many beaches ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. “Party animals” can jump right into the nightlife of districts like Northbridge, while gourmets might prefer strolling along Fremantle’s “cappuccino strip” to give the Italian restaurants a try.
Fans of local culture and history could explore Australia’s oldest building – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or stock up on travel books and Australian literature at Boffin’s Bookshop in central Perth. Last but not least, expat families living in Perth can give their kids the chance to pet a kangaroo in a wildlife sanctuary or to watch the koala colonies in Yanchep National Park.
In addition to various family activities, expatriate parents are provided with numerous facilities for childcare and education. If both their parents work outside the home, kids under the age of five can spend the day at a not-for-profit community center or a licensed private daycare. These kinds of childcare centers are usually open from around 8am to 6pm. Parents may thus need to plan their day accordingly.
Other childcare options that allow for more flexibility are family daycare at another person’s house or hiring a nanny or au-pair for in-home care. You can find a suitable childcare service for families living in Perth via mychild.gov.au.
Once your kid has reached the age of four, he or she can go to kindergarten for 15 hours a week on a voluntary basis. For all children who are five years old, attending pre-primary classes becomes mandatory. Pre-primary is supposed to prepare kids for the “serious side” of life in Perth, i.e. for going to primary school when they turn six. In Western Australia, primary school lasts for six years, from grade one to grade seven.
All public schools are free of charge. However, the language in the classroom is always English: If your kids are young and pick up new languages easily or if you are planning on living in Perth for a long time, this might actually be helpful. But for secondary students without a good grasp of the English language, the situation in grades eight to twelve might be rather difficult.
International Schools and Higher Education
Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of international schools available for expat students. There are five schools that offer the International Baccalaureate in Western Australia. Two of them are Montessori schools, and there’s only one international school with intensive tutoring for non-native English speakers: the International School of Western Australia is among the most expensive independent schools in Perth. If you consider home-schooling as an alternative, get in touch with the regional education office to talk about formal requirements.
Of course, if you are interested in furthering your own education, Perth offers you five universities to do so. Furthermore, the Career Centre for Western Australia has lots of information on professional and vocational training for adults living in Perth.