Living in Perth agrees with most expatriates who have 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, those contemplating starting a life in Perth will be happy to hear that the latter shows signs of improving.
In the 2015 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, the city’s standing fell from 37th to 48th place. This change is primarily due to the depreciation of the Australian currency. Although Perth is more affordable than Sydney or Melborne, which ranked 31st and 47th on the scale, the average rent for a one room studio in the city center is around 2,000 AUD. Luckily there are less expensive options available on the outskirts. Hence, if you want to find a new home in Australia with a relatively low cost of living, Perth might just be the right place for you.
Moreover, most residents would agree that these aspects are more than compensated by the relaxed pace of life and the high quality of living in Perth. The Economist newspaper appreciated Perth so much that they considered it one of the ten most livable cities worldwide in 2015, along with Melbourne and Sydney.
Perth has plenty of leisure-time activities to offer, and there is always something to suit everyone’s tastes. One popular option for animal lovers is to observe quokkas, which are small marsupials endemic to south Western Australia, on Rottnest Island or to go birdwatching in the Perth Hills. Athletes can take advantage of the hiking paths in the Swan River Valley or the many beaches, which are ideal for running, swimming, snorkeling, and surfing.
There is also a rich nightlife in Perth; the most popular nighttime district is Northbridge, which offers some of the best-known bars and night clubs in Western Australia. Another popular destination is the cappuccino strip, which is renowned for its abundant street side cafés and restaurants. During the weekend nights, the cappuccino strip is one of the popular centers of entertainment for residents and tourists in Perth. A typical night in this area usually offers open mic nights, cabaret, and a variety of music.
Fans of local culture and history could explore Australia’s Freemantle Prison, an Australian convict site and 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 have the opportunity to take their children to tour one of the many wildlife sanctuaries or to even go camping in the Yanchep national park, where they would be able to see koala colonies.
In addition to various family activities, expatriate parents are provided with numerous facilities for childcare and schooling. If both of their parents work outside the home, children up to the age of five can spend the day at one of Perth’s many not-for-profit community centers or in a licensed private daycare. Other childcare options that allow for more flexibility are at-home daycares or hiring a nanny or au-pair for in-home care. You can find a suitable childcare service for families living in Perth on one of the following websites:
Once your child has reached the age of four, he or she can attend kindergarten for 15 hours a week on a voluntary basis. For all children who are five years old, attending pre-primary classes is mandatory. Pre-primary classes prepare children for primary school and are necessary to ensure that children adapt well to educational settings. After pre-primary classes, when children are six years old, they are enrolled in primary school. In Western Australia, primary school lasts for six years, from grade one to grade six. After primary school, children are able to move on to enroll in secondary education.
The language in the classroom is always English; if your children learn 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. If this is the case, it is recommended to find an international school that fits your child’s needs.
As of 2015, Western Australia set forth a new tuition taxation fee for foreign residents holding a 457 visa with children enrolled in the public school system. The new fee is 4,000 AUD per year for each family, regardless of how many of their children attend school. You will be able to read more about this new fee via, Western Australia’s Technical and Further Education website.
Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of international schools available for expat students. There are eight 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 your regional education office to talk about formal requirements.
If you are interested in furthering your own knowledge, living in Perth will provide the perfect opportunity, with the city containing five universities. Furthermore, the Career Centre for Western Australia has lots of information on professional and vocational training for adults living in Perth.
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