The complete guide to moving to Perth

Updated: Jul 17, 2017

With a Mediterranean climate, the Indian Ocean lapping at the shoreline and a laid-back atmosphere, Perth is the ideal city for those who don’t like cities. Residents spend plenty of time outdoors, whether that’s on the water, at a thrift market or catching-up over coffee and a walk in the park. Public transport is great and you’re only a few hours away from the Margaret River wineries. Do you really need any more reason to move to Perth?

Setting up home

As Perth is sprawling, space-wise, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are plenty of neighbourhoods to choose from. When you’re house-hunting, have a think about what you need from your house – and the local area. Do you want to have a good school nearby for the kids – or is being close to the beach what will seal the deal for you? There are literally hundreds of neighbourhoods in Perth, but they all roughly fall into one of the four main areas:

Central Perth – mainly apartment living, as this is the central commercial hub, too. Big offices and financial institutions are all based here, though there are some shops and restaurants. The biggest downtime pulls here though is Northbridge, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars and a cinema.

Northern Suburbs – north of the river you’ll find more homes than apartments, and you’ll pay a lot more to be close to the coast. Many of the neighbourhoods here are well-established with plenty of places to grab weekend brunch or do a weekly shop.

Southern Suburbs – south of the river you’ll also find plenty of well-established neighbourhoods, with newer houses being built, too. South of the Southern Suburbs is Fremantle – it’s about 20km away from the centre of Perth – and it’s a really vibrant, up-and-coming spot. There’s a mix of apartments, new houses and older, Victorian cottages. Plus, there are artisan markets, clothes stores and it’s got a big café culture. There’s plenty going on in Fremantle, too – with live music, festivals and a vibrant arts scene.

Perth Hills – if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more rural, beyond the suburbs, here is the place to look. You’ll generally find larger houses here, often with a land, and some fantastic scenery.

TIP: Before putting down a deposit, try and explore the area you’re thinking of moving to. Does it fit your lifestyle: is the office/school/coffee shop easy to get to? Is there a park nearby to walk the dog?

To rent or buy:

This all depends on whether you know your move is ‘forever’ straight away, or if you want to try your neighbourhood for size before committing to buy.

Thanks to the First Home Owner Grant, if you’ve not bought before, you might benefit from a grant of up to $15,000, and depending on the price of your home, you might even be exempt from stamp duty, which can really help cut buying costs.

Grab a glass of wine and sit down with to explore the range of rental and purchasing options available in Perth. You’ll be able to see photos, check the location on a map and find out the next viewing dates. On average, you’ll find rent is about $2,000 per month, but obviously, this does depend on how exclusive your area is, and how big your home is. You’ll also need to pay a deposit, or bond, which is usually a month upfront. If you decide to go through an agent, you may need to pay them a fee, too. If you’re thinking of buying, house prices range around $450,000-550,000 on average, which is significantly cheaper than Sydney or Melbourne however in certain areas prices easily exceed rise beyond $1,000,000.


The state government supplies water, so you don’t need to arrange a connection. You can set up your account to pay by direct debit and keep up to date on things like sprinkler bans at It’s also worth pointing out that Perth can be subject to water usage restrictions even during the winter.

The energy market in Western Australia hasn’t been fully deregulated. This basically means that you don’t have a choice in who supplies your electricity. Synergy is the supplier, but you can still compare plans, to choose which is most suitable for your own circumstances:

Synergy also takes part in the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme, meaning if you use solar power, you can “sell” this energy back to the company and reduce your bills. Have a look at if you think this might be something you’d like to do.

Unlike electricity, you do have a choice of gas supplier, even if there are only two choices. Kleenheat offers mains gas supply and canisters, depending on where you live. You can enter your postcode on the website and it will tell you your options and give you information about connections and payments. You can also select your payment plan, depending on whether you want monthly direct debit or quarterly bills to help your household budgeting. only offers mains connection, but you can set up your account online, register for a connection and pay automatically over the internet.

Getting around

Public transport

Perth is home to a fully-integrated public transport system, which means you won’t need different tickets/passes for each type. It covers the busses, trains and ferries all the way throughout the city. It’s also helpfully set out in zones from the FTZ – free transit zone to Zone 7, Mandurah which will cost $10.70 from the city centre. Services usually run until around 11 pm – apart from the ferries, and there are even late-night services on a Friday and Saturday night until the early hours.

For more regional transport, check out the government website for timetables, routes and fares.

TIP: Invest in a SmartRider card. Although they cost $10 to set up, you can save up to 20% on your trips, plus it’ll only ever charge $12.50 a day.

Getting a driving licence

Moving interstate will still require you to update your driving licence. The good news is, you do have three months to do this from when you take up residency. In the meantime, if you’re driving on your home/current state licence, you’ll need to make sure you have it with you anytime you drive.

For your initial application, you will need a lot of paperwork, but it’s still a simple process. You’ll need a few forms of ID: usually your birth certificate, passport, tenancy agreement and/or electoral roll confirmation, plus proof of address. You also need to make sure the documentation is in the same name – if you’ve just got married/divorced you may need further proof. There is quite an extensive list of things the Department of Transport (DoT) will accept, so maybe have a look at this guide:

You have to make the application in person, as you’ll need to fill out a couple of application forms and have your photo taken for your WA driver card. You’ll have to pay for this, and your application. Provided you’ve no health conditions and you’re driving a car rather than a truck/van etc, expect to pay up to $150. Oh, you’ll also have an obligatory eye test.

TIP: Although you have 3 months to change your licence over, don’t leave it too late – or you’ll run the risk of having to sit both your theory and practical tests again.

Licencing your car

You’re also going to need to have your car – or other vehicle licenced when you move to Perth. Again, there’s a little bit of paperwork you should have in order, which should lead to a fairly easy registration. The DoT have you covered with plenty of info on their website, and we’d recommend having a look at this guide before you move, to give you chance to get hold of any documentation you may need:

This also tells you what to do if your vehicle needs an examination for road safety/worthiness. As a general rule, if you can provide all the necessary documentation, you shouldn’t need to have an inspection. There’s another application form to fill out and a fee to pay.

Once you’ve done the initial licence applications for you and your vehicle, you can manage your account, make necessary payments for renewals online.

Road Tolls

Currently, there are no road tolls in Western Australia, but this may change due to the increasing population.

School Options

While Kindergarten isn’t compulsory, it’s recommended, particularly if you want to guarantee your child a place at the local public school. It’s also the way most children start their education.

Legally speaking, pre-primary is the first school year, and your little one must start this before their sixth birthday. They’ll then continue through primary school until year 6 when they’ll move to secondary school and start year 7.

To enrol in a local primary, you will need to visit the school, which is a good way to get to know the staff and to check it’s suitable for your child.

The Department of Education website should be your first stop, as it’ll give you all the information you need about enrolment, and give you a list of schools close to where you live.

When your child moves on to secondary school, they’ll study 9 core subjects, including English and Maths, with technology and language programs included. Unlike primary school, each subject will have a different teacher. They’ll continue these studies until Year 10 when

there are a few more options, and you can sit down together and look at your child’s interests and strengths and develop their year 11 and 12 study program. In these final two years, students will study towards their WACE – Western Australia Certificate of Education. Students chose their pathway depending on what they’re hoping to do following high school. Courses range from Arts, Technology, Languages and Vocational courses for students wanting careers in engineering, hospitality. If you have an older teenager approaching WACE age when you move, we’d suggest having a look at the dedicated government website and set up a meeting with your new school so that staff know what pathways your child is already working on, if applicable, and you can ask any questions.

If you didn’t want to enrol your child in a government-backed school you could opt for a Catholic or independent education. This can work out quite expensive, with fees on average $25,000 - which doesn’t include things like application costs.


Electoral roll requirements – state and federal

Everyone is eligible to vote in local council elections provided you like in Perth and are on the State and Commonwealth (Federal) Electoral Rolls. If you are, you’ll automatically be on the city electoral roll. If you’re not sure, call the Western Australian Electoral Commission on 13 23 26.

If you own property in Perth but don’t actually live here anymore, you must still apply to go on the City Electoral Roll. This is something to keep in mind if you’ve bought a property, but you’re living here isn’t permanent.

You can apply to be on the voters roll at any time; however, applications do close in the 50 days running up to an election day. Voting in local government elections is not compulsory in Western Australia.

If you want to vote in State and Federal Elections, you need to be enrolled with the Western Australian Electoral Commission. Enrolment is compulsory for any Australian citizens, aged 18 and over, who have been resident in Western Australia for at least one month. Once enrolled, you are eligible to vote in Federal, State and local government elections.

Enrolment is easily done online at You will need a driver’s licence or passport number to confirm your identity.

Pets registration

When you’re bringing your furry friends interstate, there are a few things you’ll need to know:

Cats – if they’re over six months old, you’ll need to have them neutered, microchipped and registered with the City of Perth. You can register them annually, but it will save you money if you register for their lifetime. Plus, it’s one less thing to remember to do every year.

It’d currently $20 for one year, $42.50 for three years, or $100 for a lifetime. Registration runs from November 1st to October 31st each year.

Dogs – once they reach three months old they must be microchipped and registered, again, by November 1st. If you’ve had your god neutered, you’ll have cheaper registration fees. $20 for one year compared to $50 if they’re not neutered; $42.50 for three years ($120 not neutered); $100 for a lifetime ($250).

You should also know dogs are subject to more regulations than cats. In a residential area, homes can have no more than two dogs. If you’re out in public they must wear a collar with the owner’s name, address, and registration tag. Leads must be worn and can’t be longer than 2 meters. You can let your dog off-lead, but only in designated places such as Wellington Square, Totterdell Park and JH Abrahams Reserve.

Any unregistered dogs attract an on-the-spot fine of $200, and hefty fines can also be handed out for fouling, attacks, or failure to meet any of the above regulations.

Registering your dog or cat is easily done online via the City of Perth website, where you can also make online payments:

Everyday life

Recreational activities

It might surprise you to know that Perth has more days of sunshine than any other Australian capital city. This is in part thanks to a more Mediterranean climate which gives a milder winter and a warm summer. Plus, there’s the Swan River and the coast keeping things cool when the weather starts to get warmer. This means there’s no shortage of things to do in Perth. The city has such a laid-back vibe, it’s perfect for getting outdoors on your bike or hiking along the river. Kings Park and the Botanical Gardens line the riverside, which is the perfect place for a walk, picnic or a day out with the kids.

Perth also has a great nightlife scene, with the entertainment hub of Northbridge offering cafés, bars and restaurants. You’ll also find galleries, exhibition space and a cinema here, too. Elizabeth Quay is becoming more of a cool-hangout during summer months, with small festivals, family events and food trucks drawing people from all over the city.

If you’re looking for a bit of culture, Perth also has the Gallery of Western Australia, focusing on home-grown talent; while PICA offers more contemporary art, performance and exhibitions. Oh, and if it’s a bit of nature and a huge Quokka fix you’re after, Rottnest Island is home to some fantastic trails for bikes and hikes.


While the business sectors of Perth are developing and growing, thanks to more investment and migration to the west, the vast majority of employment opportunities are still in more traditional industries such as mining or manufacturing metals and ship-building thanks to the bustling port. Farming is also big business, and this doesn’t just mean cattle or sheep, but fisheries, and agricultural crops like wheat, barley and wine. Hospitality roles have increased in the last few years, thanks to an increase in national and international tourism.