Perth: A City Guide for International Students

Perth is technically the most isolated state capital city in the world.

However, it has a population of two million people, thirty-five thousand of which are actually international students. Moreover, it can be considered a ‘gateway to Asia’, due to its location.

It’s not a surprise that it draws so many students from across the globe, either. In fact, it’s been one of the top 15 liveable cities in the world for some time now.

This is due to the great quality of life, culture, infrastructure and of course education – the prime consideration for any international student.

Photo of the city of Perth

Universities

There are five universities in Perth, all which are quality institutions.

They are the Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia.

In total, these universities educate about 134,000 students.

Work

The job market in Western Australia was in fact, the strongest in all of Australia in 2018. The state saw 2.6% growth in jobs during that year. This is great news for international students looking to settle in Perth, as well as domestic students and any other job seekers.

In terms of finding a job in Perth, it’s a similar story to other capital cities. Utilise websites such as www.seek.com.au, www.gumtree.com.au and for hospitality work, hand your resume into bars and cafes in person.

This will always be appreciated by the managers of these establishments.

Photo of Perth's Shopping Arcade

Accommodation

The rental market in Perth is much smaller than the market in Melbourne or Sydney, as is to be expected in a smaller city. However, it’s cheaper overall, which is of great benefit to international students.

For example, a room in shared house in Perth will cost around $150 to $250 each week, depending on the location.

On the other hand, a one-bedroom flat or studio can set you back as much as $1,400 each week.

To find a room in shared accommodation, it’s best to use the usual websites; www.flatmates.com.au, www.gumtree.com.au

If you’re hunting for a studio or one-bedroom flat, www.domain.com.au or www.realestate.com.au are both excellent options.

As well as these options, it’s worth exploring on-campus accommodation for international students through your university.

Alternatively, some universities organise shared accommodation off-campus for students, both international and domestic.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is quite uniform throughout Australia. Therefore, in Perth, the expenses you need to allow for on a weekly basis will not differ too much from other cities.

For instance, allow up to $100 for groceries each week. Public transport will cost you about $20-30 each week, and expect to pay roughly $200 for rent.

A pint of beer can cost between $8 and $12, depending on where or what you are drinking.

Photo of the Embargo Bar in Perth

Transport

The public transport in Perth consists of buses, ferries and trains.

Like other state capital cities, Perth has a free transit zone in the city (for buses), which is fantastic for students commuting within the central area of Perth.

When it comes to trains, there are 5 lines, all of which are accessible at Perth Station. They are the Armadale Thornlie Line, Fremantle Line, Joondalup Line, Mandurah Line and Midland Line.

When it comes to paying for public transport, you should purchase a SmartRider card. This works out to be 10% to 20% cheaper than paying for tickets each trip.

The card can be topped up at train stations, and some selected retailers. 

Sights

Perth is a beautiful city, and as a result, there are plenty of wonderful sights to take in.

For excellent views and astounding gardens, head to Kings Park and the Botanic Garden. With 400 hectares of parkland, you’ll be sure to find a quiet spot to relax.

Fremantle Prison is a little macabre but worth the visit. It holds great insights into prison life throughout Perth’s history and is a 30-minute drive from Perth city.

Perth Mint is another historical sight, offering a fascinating glimpse into the history of gold in the former colony.

Perth Zoo is yet another Australian world-class animal sanctuary. Only three kilometres from the city centre, it has a huge array of wildlife to check out.

And for a more artistic experience, Perth Cultural Centre is home to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, which holds a large variety of artwork from Australia and the Pacific.

Photo of the cityscape in Perth

Activities

With excellent weather and fresh air, there are numerous outdoor activities to experience in and around Perth.

One affordable and easy activity is to take a ride on one of the TransPerth ferries. If it’s a sunny day, this is a fantastic way to relax and take in Perth from the Swan River.

Another great way to enjoy the stunning Swan River is to hire a kayak, and spend a couple of hours paddling around.

Alternatively, you could take advantage of the great weather, and head to the beach! 

Cottesloe beach is only a 15-minute drive from the city and is one of the most popular beaches in Perth. For surfers, Trigg Point is a great option, as is world-famous Scarborough.

Most of these outdoor activities are a great option for international students, as they are generally free, or at least very affordable.

Nightlife

There are a number of fantastic watering holes throughout Perth, with something for every nighttime reveler.

If you’re looking for a flash rooftop bar, Bob’s Bar should satisfy your needs. It’s named after former prime minister Bob Hawke, who loved a drink.

Bar Lafayette in Brookfield Place is a French-inspired cocktail bar, ideal for some post-study drinks or even a date.

For that NYC speakeasy feel, Varnish on King is your place. It has a wide array of American whiskeys and carries a fantastic drinks list.

If it’s time to strap on your dancing shoes, head to Hula Bula Bar, The Court (the ultimate Perth dance spot), The Ellington or Jack Rabbit Slims.

Around Perth

There are a number of excellent destinations to explore around Perth.

The famous Swan Valley is a fertile area, with excellent wine and artisan food. You can get there by taking a ferry or cruise from Barrack Square Jetty.

Fremantle is only a 30-minute drive from Perth city centre, but has a wealth of history, as well as beautiful beaches. It’s a must-see.

A little further afield is Margaret River. This small town on the coast is home to stunning scenery, world-class beaches, and fantastic wineries. It’s a 3-hour drive from Perth.

Last of all, is Rottnest Island. It’s here that you can take a picture with a quokka, those friendly little creatures who love to smile! 

Rottnest is accessible by ferry from Fremantle, Hillarys Boat Harbour or Perth Barrack Street.

Photo of Perth's Vineyards

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