Capital of Western Australia, the fourth biggest city and still growing – this is Perth. It is decorated by miles and miles of never-ending and impeccable coastline which forms the southern and western border. As for the eastern border, it paves the way to the Outback.

2 million people and counting. Out of this population, about a third of which were born outside of Australia, bearing proof of Perth’s popularity with expats of a myriad of nationalities, namely New Zealand, South Africa, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. As such, if you are keen on moving to this cultural melting pot of a city, do rest assure that you are not alone. For more assurance, you can read this guide.

Employment opportunities

The work culture in Perth is not unfamiliar territory if you are familiar with that of other Australian cities. One important thing to note during your job search would be that you should be wary of job advertisements that provide a geographical location that is too general. This is because Western Australia is massive and thus distances can vary greatly and furthermore, Perth is rather isolated. Hence, if you wish to find a posting within Perth, you can try to limit your search by cautiously inputting “Perth Metro”, “Perth CBD” or by postcode (60xx).

Job seekers websites

To find out more about specific job opportunities, you can go to myCareer (where you can look for jobs based on neighbourhoods) or AllStarRecruitment (which is a Perth-based recruitment agency). Furthermore, GumTree and PerthPerth are good resources for part-time or freelance work.

Job market in Perth

Unfortunately, the job scene in Perth as of this moment is not looking up, with its current high unemployment rates due to the aftermath of Australia’s mining boom. However, do not be dismayed as this economic downturn has only pushed Perth to focus more on expanding its other potential sectors such as healthcare, tourism and construction industries. Thus, if you are looking for the aforementioned jobs, Perth is the place for you. However, if you are more interested in financial, media, marketing and IT jobs, you might want to consider moving to Sydney instead as these sectors are few in Perth.

Work permit process for foreigners

If you want to work in Perth, you must first possess a work permit, unless you are from New Zealand. There is an assortment of different working work permit categories and subclasses hence you can head down here to learn more.

An employer-sponsored working permit will require you, the expat, to find an employer to sponsor you visa or you could apply for a professional visa to work and live in Australia for up to 4 years. Generally, the process to obtain a working visa involves the following:

  • Getting an employer nomination where the (future) employer sponsor must provide proof of their responsibilities and their capabilities.
  • This one is on you. You have to secure a job and sign a contract.
  • File a visa application which can be done either face-to-face or online. This process would mean that you have to submit a number of documents that testifies to your health, skills, ethics and English proficiency. All documents are required to be submitted in English.
  • You can submit the application either in Australia or abroad.

Housing and cost of living

Sites that you can visit in order to kickstart your housing search are West Real Estate, and REIWA (this site is the official homepage of one of the key real estate associations in Western Australia). Bear in mind that the the highest demand for rental housing would be during summer, between the months of November and March, hence you have to act fast and come prepared!

One strategy to secure your housing would be that you have to move quick and reduce your time on deliberation due to the fact that the Perth real estate market is extremely fast-paced and highly competitive. Usually, you will have to provide the owner of the new rental home you want to rent with, proof of your financial stability, residence permit and even a reference letter from your previous landlord.

Good news for you who is relocating to Perth, as the renting and buying costs have decreased significantly in recent times. Hence, keep those spirits high!

Schools and education system

Perth takes its education system very seriously where school is made compulsory for children aged between 6 to 15 years old. If a child is to play truant from school, they may be picked up by the local police and their parents may be subsequently fined. These policies are put in place to safeguard education and display Perth’s commitment to ensuring that every child receives a good education.

To learn more about schools, student population etc., you can visit here, where the site is updated by independent schools assessment body, ACARA (the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority).

For expats with children of a tender age, you can search for a childcare centre here and more pre-primary/kindergarten enrolment information can be found here as well.

As for those with children in secondary school, do note that when you children reaches Year 12 (the final year of secondary school), they are required to take the WACE (a senior secondary certification of education) which is recognised by all Australian universities, vocational institutions and even international universities.

Lastly, for those with college-aged children, you can rest assure that Australian universities enrol a significant number of international students. Furthermore, a big name to note would be the University of Western Australia which is one of Australia’s top universities located along Stirling Highway in Crawley.

Driving licenses and its requirements

Being mobile is a huge requirement, especially in a new location. Getting your driving license in Perth is super easy, as long as you follow these steps:


It is important to note that in Western Australia, there are a list of ‘recognised countries’ where holders of driving licenses belonging to these countries may be exempted from taking the computerised theory test and even the practical driving assessment.

Booking an appointment

You can easily book an appointment in person by going to a Driver and Vehicle Services centre or regional agent and provide the following documentation:

  • Your driver’s licence from another Australian jurisdiction (current or expired less than 5 years), or a combination of driver licence details/letter from your issuing authority.
  • Provide proof of WA residence (eyesight, medical and theory tests).
  • Required proof of identification documents.

The other steps required can be found here. If you meet all of the requirements below you will be granted a WA driver’s licence.

Healthcare systems

Perth has many public and private healthcare facilities where doctors and medical practitioners are easily available in local suburbs or residential areas. Expats should make registration a priority if they are eligible for the Medicare scheme, a national healthcare initiative that provides free or subsidised healthcare and medicinal access for Australian citizens and permanent residents. If you do get really sick, you can check this list of metropolitan hospital services in Perth. Do take note that if there’s the word ‘private’ in the hospital name, it would mean that Medicare will not cover the full cost of treatment.

Medicare benefits

Medicare gives eligible users access to free medicine and cheaper access to health care. You can get Medicare if you are a legal citizen, have applied for a permanent resident visa, or are visiting from a country with similar medical arrangements. These countries include New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Italy.

Medicare is also open to those with a visiting visa from these countries for 6 months. Unfortunately, it does not apply to student visas as students have to apply for overseas student health coverage.

Applying for a Medicare card is easy and straightforward. You simply have to:

  • Fill out the Medicare application form.
  • Print out the form, and with the requested medical documents, visit a Medicare Service Center.
  • Once you have been approved, you will be given a Medicare card that you can show during your visit the doctor.

If you do have a permanent visa for Western Australia and are thus eligible for Medicare, you have to bear in mind that it does not cover dental costs, full reimbursement for stays in private hospitals, glasses hearing aids and even ambulance services etc. Thus, another alternative would be to take out additional private health insurance.


Perth is relatively safe but it would be wise to avoid questionable areas such as Northbridge (the nightclub and entertainment district along the north side of the CBD over a bridge) as well as Wellington Square. Otherwise, the police are actively patrolling at night, especially on the weekends, and the public CCTV systems are constantly guarding the streets.

Food and culture

The sweet blend of food and culture is the very essence of Perth. All year round, there will be various rich cultural activities for you to experience. You are definitely in for a treat.

For music-lovers, you can submerge yourself in delightful live music in cultural hotspots like Perth City, Northbridge, Subiaco and Fremantle. Gyrating in the crowd along to live rock bands at trendy bars, to nodding with satisfaction along to the chilled-out jazz music crooning from wine bars and restaurants. There’s a genre for everyone.

Music aside, Perth is also an up-and-coming comedy capital, with a plethora of readily available hilarious local and international acts.

Sensationalise your taste palate with Fremantle’s famous fish and chips on the waterfront, visit authentic Asian restaurants and indulge in fancy cafes in Perth.

For more information and latest happenings in Perth, feel free to check out TimeOut.

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