17 Great Reasons to Migrate or Move to Perth and Western Australia
Why so many expats are moving to Western Australia and why you should too.
If the vast expanse of Western Australia (WA) was a separate nation, it would be the world's 10th-largest (bigger than Algeria, smaller than Kazakhstan). Most of WA's population clings to the coast, yet you can wander along a beach here without seeing another footprint or be one of a few scattered campers stargazing in a national park.
There's something unfettered and alive about this state, a frontier spirit that's free from the baggage of east-coast concerns. Rich in natural resources and a mining and technology powerhouse, it is home to some of Australia’s largest companies and has some of the highest paying jobs.This is also an ancient land and its Aboriginal cultures are more visibly present than in much of the rest of Australia.
The state's fertile southwest is a playground of white-sand coves, rampant wildflowers and lush forests abuzz with wildlife. Up north in the big-sky, red-dirt Pilbara and Kimberley you'll encounter gorgeous gorges and mesmerising waterfalls. In between is 12,500km of truly spectacular coastline.
The real estate industry love to say it’s all about “lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle” and they’re spot on when it comes to living and working in Perth, the very isolated capital city of Western Australia. With the city’s relaxed pace of life and warm, friendly atmosphere, you’ll feel like you’re on a permanent albeit working holiday. Combine that with the lovely weather and it will soon become apparent that there are many excellent reasons to move to Perth or elsewhere in Western Australia (WA).
Perth sprawls across the hinterland between the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean. The original settlement hugged the lower reaches and the mouth of the Swan River, famous for its colonies of black swans. The bird is the state’s official bird emblem.
Isolated though it may be, Perth is nonetheless blessed with a great climate, great beaches (there are 19 of them in total), beautiful parks and nature reserves – the crowning glory of which would have to be Kings Park – wineries and more! This makes it ideal for those who love an outdoor lifestyle.
There is an excellent network of perimeter highways that get you from north to south, east to west, without having to go anywhere near the Central Business District (CBD) and its traffic. A modern suburban railway runs from north to south, and from east to west, backed up by a network of buses for commuters who want to leave their car at home.
Even though Perth sprawls, its outermost suburbs are still within an hour’s driving distance of the city centre. Many Perth residents enjoy a rural, or semi rural, lifestyle but are able to easily commute to work or shop in the city.
Furthermore, nowhere in Perth is more than an hour and a half’s drive from either the beaches or the hills. That makes living in Perth pretty unique and special.
Apart from these, here are 17 more reasons to live in Perth or WA. In fact, your decision to relocate there could just be the best lifestyle decision you’ve ever made!
#1: Plenty of Work, particularly if you have a high demand skill
Western Australia is Australia’s mining powerhouse and there is a current skills shortage. Although Queensland is likewise a major contributor to this sector of the economy, it can’t match WA’s massive iron ore operations in the Pilbara.
Perth is home to a number of Australia’s largest corporations and has a thriving corporate sector. Fortesque Metals Group, the 4th largest iron ore producer in the world, has its headquarters in Perth. Wesfarmers is another giant in the Australian corporate landscape that was founded, and is still headquartered, in Perth (Wesfarmers owns, amongst other things, the major supermarket chain Coles and its various brands, and the Bunnings hardware chain).
For medical professionals, Western Australia Country Health Service (WACHS) is the world’s largest health service covering a vast region through a network of hospitals and clinics which are always looking for experienced specialist doctors, general practitioners and junior doctors. These offer excellent career opportunities with some of the best salaries in Australia in addition to the unrivalled opportunity to learn rare skills in remote and rural medicine.
#2: On the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa List
Perth has just been added to the list of eligible destinations qualifying for the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. This means skilled migrants from countries like the UK can opt to migrate to Perth rather than regional Western Australia and still qualify for a regional visa.
#3: Highly competitive salaries
Salaries and wages in Perth and Western Australia are very competitive. Notably WA continues to boast the 2nd highest average full-time earnings in Australia, second only to the ACT with its highly paid politicians.
Furthermore, 6 of the top 10 local government areas that are home to Australia’s top bracket income earners are in WA. Ashburton in the Pilbara tops the list courtesy of the mining activities located there but the other 5 are all leafy eastern suburbs of Perth.
What does this mean for skilled migrants? That you should be able to command top dollar for your services by choosing to live and work in Perth, or WA!
#4: Thriving Hub for Technology, Innovation and Start Ups
Perth and WA is a humming hub of technology and innovation that has catalysed the development and creation of a large number of digital and technology start-ups. Much of the technological boom comes courtesy of mining and its associated industries, which are arguably amongst the biggest users, and developers, of technology.
Many of the major mining companies are actively involved in funding and co-developing useful technologies. Many have operations in Western Australia and are keenly supporting local WA talent and technology.
Perth has seen a real boom in the tech and innovation space, with a growing number of entrepreneurs, networking groups and co-working spaces popping up. Perth is also home to technology festivals and there are a number of sponsored programs for creative initiatives. Over the past 8 years, more than 400 digital and internet start-ups have formed.
#5: Short Commutes
Most working Perth people, unless they’re fortunate enough to work from home, are faced with a daily commute to and from their place of employment. That may be by car, and if you work somewhere accessible by one of the freeways or major highways, Perth does suffer from its fair share of peak hour traffic snarls. However, it’s nothing like that experienced by motorists in many other major cities.
Alternatively, you may opt to use public transport. Perth has a reasonably good bus service that covers most of the major population centres and popular suburbs. There is also an electric train service that, by Australian and even international standards, is pretty good. The trains are quiet, modern, spacious, well maintained and nowhere near as crowded as what you’re probably used to, even in peak hours. If you are used to London’s Tube at peak hours, you’re definitely in for a pleasant surprise.
#6: Quality, Affordable Housing to Buy and Rent
Whilst the overall lower cost of living in Perth makes it an attractive destination for migrants, that’s not all that’s now eminently affordable in Perth! The state’s housing and property market has fallen considerably since the last mining boom pushed prices up and made it the most expensive capital city in Australia to buy a home.
Recent figures indicate the reverse is now the case. Overall, Perth property prices are down by over 20% from the peaks of 2014 and the city now has the cheapest houses and property of any Australian capital city. Indeed, the average house in Perth has lost around AU$100,000 in value over the past 5 years.
For the 3 months to August 2019, the median price for Perth houses was AU$437,558, an 8.8% drop from the same time last year. Regional WA hasn’t fared much better with an 11.6% drop in prices over the past year.
Whilst this may be bad news for Perth and WA locals who want to sell property, it’s good news for migrants who want to migrate to Perth, or WA! You should be able to sell your home in the UK or elsewhere for a tidy sum and buy a very nice property indeed in a location of your choice in Perth.
Newer Homes Available
Another surprising advantage of buying a house in Perth is that they are typically newer than those on the East Coast. Being newer means they’re also more modern and coupled with their affordability, could just provide the incentive you need to choose migrating to Perth over another Australian city. A relatively new house, more choices of locations due to the current housing market slump, and at an affordable price.
If you’d prefer to rent, at least until you work out where you want to set down more permanent roots, Perth is your best and cheapest bet there too. The median Perth house rental was just AU$365 a week in June 2019 whilst units are a touch lower at AU$310 per week.
That compares more than favourably with other capital cities. In Sydney for example houses are renting for an average of more than AU$500 a week and units aren’t much cheaper. Renting a house in Melbourne and Brisbane will set you back over AU$400 a week (units are $410 and $380 respectively) whilst Adelaide is around AU$380 for a house and $310 for a unit.
#7: Cost of Living Lower than Other Australian Cities
Every year The Economist Intelligence Unit puts out a report on the cost of living in the world’s major cities. For the last few years, Perth has come out ahead of Australia’s other major capital cities – Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart.
That means when it comes to affordability, living in Perth is now cheaper than living in any of those other Australian cities. This is despite the perception many people have that Perth is expensive, something that came about due to the mining boom in the mid teens with its inflated wages and salaries.
#8: Great for Families
If you have a young family, or are thinking about starting one when you move, migrating to Perth and WA will let you bring them up in safety and security. It’s an amazingly family friendly city with a multitude of sporting and recreational facilities for children and teenagers, an excellent education system, good health facilities (including a dedicated children’s hospital), and plenty of open spaces for them to enjoy exploring.
From Perth you can head off on a family friendly adventure in any direction and know that wherever you end up, there will be plenty to see, do, and experience. From world famous ancient attractions in the north to the picturesque South West, or visiting historic inland towns like York, there’s no shortage of fascinating places to take them on weekends or school holidays.
Even if you decide to hang around home, there are water parks, amusement playgrounds, activity centres, sports centres, community swimming pools, movie theatres, wildlife sanctuaries, great walking and biking trails, and dozens of local parks to keep them occupied.
#9 Excellent Education: Kindergarten to University
WA’s education system is on a par with that on the east coast. Modern, fully equipped public schools are dotted around the suburbs and there are also a number of highly accredited private schools.
For migrants, this focus on thinking outside the square and considering different options for school age children who may not fit into the current system means that somewhere in Perth there will be exactly the right school for your child.
WA has 5 universities, all of which are located in Perth. Notre Dame has a global reputation for providing Australia’s best ‘quality of education experience’ and ‘skills scale’. It also ranks first for providing the best international student experience, an important consideration for new migrants living in Perth, or considering migrating to Perth.
Curtin University has an internationally renowned reputation for conducting world-class research and training. Murdoch University has its acclaimed School of Veterinary Medicine – some of the country’s top veterinarians, particularly equine vets, are Murdoch Uni graduates.
The University of Western Australia, WA’s oldest university, is Australia’s only member university of the Matakiri Group of universities. It is also a member of the Group of Eight.
Multi-campus Edith Cowan University rounds out the 5 WA universities. ECU is an amalgamation of the former WA Colleges of Advanced Education and provides a large range of vocational training and certifications.
#8: Mediterranean Climate
Queensland may be called the Sunshine State but Australia’s sunniest capital city is actually Perth which has more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital city.
Unlike Brisbane and Queensland, the coast of Western Australia’s warm, sunny climate with its dry summers and wet winters is Mediterranean rather than tropical, meaning there is far less humidity. Therefore, if you enjoy basking in the dry warmth of countries around the Mediterranean Sea, moving to perfect Perth or the southern half of Western Australia offers you the opportunity to enjoy this climate on a more permanent basis.
# 9 The Best Beaches and Nature
Given that many expats who migrate to Perth and WA have chosen to live in coastal suburbs, we presume the quality of the beaches there played a role in their decision to head to those areas. And for good reason as it turns out!
Perth’s beaches are internationally acclaimed. They’re clean, spacious, and quite often empty. The sand is soft, white, and fluffy compared to the heavier yellow gold sand of east coast beaches. Sparkling deep blue and aquamarine water reflects Perth’s pristine blue skies, creating a visual feast that one never grows tired of looking at.
Summers in Perth can be hot but that early rising sun provides plenty of opportunities for getting out into the fresh early morning air before the heat sets in. Depending on where you choose to live and work in Perth, you could enjoy early morning bush walks in the hills complete with stunning views out over the city as the sun rises behind you.
Alternatively, closer to the coast there are plenty of picturesque walkways along the pristine beaches Perth is known for. Marvel at the contrast between white sands, blue Indian Ocean waters, and clear clean early morning skies. As we mentioned at the start, nowhere in Perth is more than an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from either of these destinations.
Perth also has plenty of parks around the suburbs that are likewise excellent early morning destinations for early risers. If you live and work in the city itself, head to Kings Park and its breathtaking views out over the Perth CBD and the sparkling waters of the Swan River.
# 10: Friendly People
West Australians are a warm, friendly, laid back bunch on the whole. They’re used to being forgotten about by the rest of the country and, whilst they prefer to think WA stands for Way Ahead, they accept that Wait Awhile is equally applicable.
That’s because life is a lot more relaxed in Perth. This is particularly noticeable when you step off the plane after flying in from one of the other state capitals. There is less traffic on the roads, fewer people in a perpetual hurry to be someplace else, and just a generally chilled out ‘vibe’ about the place. If that’s what you’re looking for in your new home down under, choosing to live and work in Perth is a wise decision.
#11: Fresh Food
Many people who have lived in Perth and other Australian capital cities invariably say the same thing. The quality of fresh food generally in Perth is better, particularly when it comes to dining out.
Other cities do have the good stuff but it tends to be pricey and only found in a few of the top restaurants. In Perth, you’ll find the same quality of food in a lot more places without having to pay top dollar for it.
Part of the reason for this is that Perth is surrounded by agricultural areas on 3 sides and by the ocean (seafood) on the 4th. These areas are within easy driving reach of the city so it’s not difficult to source very fresh locally grown produce. That’s a major consideration if you have a young family.
Perth is a foodie’s dream, offering up some of the best dining experiences you’ll find anywhere in Oz.
Just to the north of the Perth CBD is Northbridge, a precinct famous for both its nightlife and its culinary offerings. Notably, the area abounds with ethnic cuisine outlets, many of them world class and very popular with Perth’s own migrant communities. That’s always an indication of authenticity and quality.
Simply pick a favourite cuisine, and you’re sure to find an eatery somewhere in Northbridge that makes it. As an added bonus, Northbridge’s central location and proximity to public transport means it’s super easy to get there for a great night out, no matter where in Perth you may live.
However, you’ll also find that trendy eating spots offering the latest in culinary and dining adventures are springing up elsewhere around Perth too. You may in fact discover that your favourite is tucked away no further than your local shopping centre, and there’s one of those in almost every Perth suburb now.
In the wine producing world Western Australia is well known for its world-class Margaret River vineyards and vintages, which are located just a few hours drive south of Perth. However, what may not be quite so well known is that Perth also has vineyards and wineries within its own boundaries.
The Swan Valley was one of the first areas of Perth to be settled and early wine growers quickly established vineyards on the gravely well-drained slopes of the Swan River. Today, many of these vineyards still exist, complete with their own cellars offering locally grown and produced wines to the public.
So if you find yourself fancying a drop of red (or white) but aren’t overly keen on a drive down to Margaret River, just head to the Swan Valley instead. You’ll also find a huge selection of restaurants, cafes, boutique breweries, gourmet goods, and souvenir shops as you wind your way along beautiful West Swan Road.
The Chocolate Factory
Whilst you are meandering along West Swan Road, do not miss THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY! A visit to this place at least once in your lifetime is a must do, especially if you’re a chocolate fan (and who isn’t)! Their chocolate is to die for, the settings and gardens are beautiful, and it’s conveniently located within cooee of all the other culinary attractions on West Swan Road.
Wine and cheese go together like pretty much nothing else so it’s not surprising the Swan Valley also offers up some excellent cheese tasting experiences as well. So if you’re worried about missing your favourite British cheese just wait to you try the local varieties here! There are several cheese factories in the area that offer tastings to go with a drop or two of wine.
All in all, a weekend afternoon or three spent exploring the Swan Valley and all its gastronomic offerings is not a bad way to relax and unwind after a busy working week. Or to prepare for the forthcoming one. And the best part is that it’s all within an hours drive of anywhere in Perth. That’s something you’ll be hard pressed to find in any other Australian capital city!
Melbournians like to claim they know a thing or three about coffee. However, for the coffee aficionados amongst you, there’s a whole lot to love about Perth’s coffee scene too. One of Australia’s best-loved coffee chains had its humble beginnings in Perth and is still head quartered here. Today there are more than 130 of the popular Dôme cafés around Australia and 5 other countries.
Dôme coffee ranks right up there amongst the best of the best, and more importantly, you’ll probably find you’re never very far away from one in Perth. In fact, when you land in sunny Perth there’s one tucked away in the airport terminal. There’s another one in the Perth domestic terminal.
If for some reason you can’t locate your local Dôme, don’t panic. Perth has many other excellent coffee houses and coffee shops, including Gloria Jeans outlets plus locally owned specialist coffee shops where the owners take a great deal of pride in producing the best coffee you’ll taste anywhere!
Incidentally, one coffee chain you won’t find in Perth is Starbucks and for good reason. Perth coffee fans, like most Australian coffee drinkers, didn’t take kindly to the sweeter (and more expensive) Starbucks style of coffee when it first arrived on their shores.
Australians learnt their coffee loving habits from Greek and Italian immigrants who brought with them the art of making perfect espresso. Espresso is the key ingredient in Australia’s favourite coffee brew, the flat white. Therefore, coffee chains and shops established by descendants of Australian coffee making pioneers (like Dôme) were able to hold their ground against the ‘foreign intruder’.
In 1971 an enterprising Swedish migrant by the name of Maud Edmiston found she missed the delectable Swedish pastries and cafés found in her home country so much that she opened her own shop. That shop, the inaugural Miss Maud Swedish Pastry House, was located in a Perth CBD arcade and morphed into an 18 outlet strong chain of delicious pastry houses and a catering service.
Miss Maud pastries, cakes and other scrumptious goodies are now familiar items on catering tables around Perth and definitely something you must try when you arrive in Perth. Especially if you have a sweet tooth!
There are plenty of other similarly excellent businesses dotted around Perth. In fact, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cakes, pastries and most types of delectably delicious deserts.
We’ve touched on Perth and WA’s super collection of local wines from Margaret River and the Swan Valley already but if you’re not into grapes there are plenty of alternatives. Perth has a collection of boutique and craft breweries that rank amongst the best in the country, if not the world.
Names like Little Creatures, Nail Brewing, Mash, Gage Roads, Feral Brewing (who produce the award winning Hop Hog) et al consistently make the Top 20 list of craft breweries. Other names you’ll no doubt become familiar with include Duckstein, a German speciality brewer, and Elmar’s In The Valley.
Whisky fanciers will enjoy the bourbon-style product of Whipper Snapper Distillery. The Great Northern Distillery produces a mean drop of Canefire Rum and for gin and vodka drinkers there is Wild Swan Distilling.
Alternatively, you could hook up with one of the many home brewing outfits around Perth and learn how to make your own. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a lot to offer beer fans in Perth
#12: Closer to Asian Holiday Destinations
Courtesy of its location on the remote west coast of Australia, Perth is far closer to popular Asian tourist destinations like Bali and Phuket than other Australian cities. Bali in fact is just a short 3-hour plane ride away. That’s the same length of time it takes to fly to Adelaide, Perth’s closest neighbouring Australian capital city. Yes, Perth really is that isolated, which is something many born and bred West Aussies find very convenient.
Therefore, if you feel the urge to jet off overseas somewhere exotic, and to the north east of Australia, you’re at least 3 hours closer than you would be if you lived in another state or city. That translates into cost savings on your airfares, less time spent on the plane, and of course not having to change planes. Simply head straight to Perth’s international terminal and board your flight.
#13 : Port City Freemantle
Perth’s port city Fremantle, or Freo as you’ll come to know it as if you migrate to Perth, has been granted the honour of making Lonely Planet’s top 10 world cities to visit. Today Freo enjoys a reputation as a cosmopolitan destination for lovers of craft beers, excellent coffee, fascinating maritime history, and interesting shopping experiences.
It is also a remarkably well-preserved example of a port streetscape from the 19th century. Some say the best in the world. A wander around the port city’s streets will take you past heritage buildings like the famous Fremantle Prison and transport you back in time to when the port was a bustling hive of maritime and convict activity.
Housing options in Fremantle are also delightful with heritage style cottages alongside rows of modern terrace housing. Will you perhaps find your next home amongst them?
# 14: Sports
Love your sport, particularly footie? Perth is the home of Perth Glory, one of Australia’s top football teams. A word here – ‘football’ in Oz could refer to one of several different codes. Traditionally Aussie’s have been in the US habit of calling football ‘soccer’. This is to differentiate it from the other footie codes here – Rugby and Australian Rules Football (AFL).
However, the AFF has now decreed it is to be called ‘football’, thus bringing the country into line with the rest of the football playing world. Therefore, in order to avoid confusion as to which code you’re talking about, it’s best to refer to Rugby as either Union or League, and Australian Rules Football as AFL.
Either way, whatever sport you’re interested in, you’ll undoubtedly find a team to join if you decide to migrate to Perth. There is a comprehensive network of junior sports and athletics as well, just perfect for the kids and getting them out into that beautiful Perth weather. Just another thing that makes Perth the perfect family friendly place it is.
#15: Six Star Hotels
Obviously if you’re migrating to Perth, staying in hotels is not going to be something you’ll do much of. Nevertheless, we thought we’d mention that Perth is now home to 2 of Australia’s select group of 6 star hotels. Friends and rellies flying over to visit you in Perth from the UK can stay in style. Six star style!
One of the hotels is COMO The Treasury hotel in the CBD. This elegantly understated hotel is considered the best city hotel in Australia. The other one is Crown Towers Perth across the river in Burswood; it also has the distinction of being Perth’s most expensive hotel as well.
#16: Closer to UK
Moving half way around the globe certainly has challenges but if you choose to migrate to Perth, you’ll have the comfort of knowing it’s the closest Australian city to the UK. Just a mere 17 hours (16 and a half in ideal weather conditions) away in fact.
Perth is 3 hours closer to London than Adelaide, 4.5 to 5.5 hours closer than either Melbourne or Sydney, and 6 hours closer than Brisbane. That could be a deal breaker if you’re travelling with kids!
#17: Biggest UK Expat Community
It’s official! Perth now has more UK migrants living there than any other state or city in Australia, and probably the world! In fact, the handful of ‘proudly Pommy’ suburbs strung along Perth’s northern coastline are home to the ‘biggest concentration of Brits outside the UK’.
It’s not hard to see why this is! These suburbs are close to beautiful beaches, within easy access of the Perth CBD, new, trendy, loaded with facilities like shopping centres, schools, sporting complexes and various other recreational facilities. They also boast the fastest growing local football (soccer) club in Perth.
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