Sarah Johns moved to Perth six years ago from Hampshire, UK. She lives in Perth’s northern suburbs, and prior to that lived in the city. Here’s her take on life in Perth.
Personally, I love the way of life here: Perth has some of the world’s best beaches, best food, best wine and most glorious weather. Australians and Perth people in particular are very friendly.
The lifestyle is relaxed – that is really the best word to explain the way things are here.
Perth people tend to get together a lot at one another’s houses: throw a BBQ together, drink some beers and enjoy each other’s company, all without spending much money. How much does a packet of sausages and a bottle of wine cost? This is one thing about Perth that I love, a social life without always having to go somewhere and spend money; much better if you make friends with someone who has a pool, or buy a house with a pool yourself. You still have all the bars and nightlife if you want.
And yes, Australians do mix with people from overseas. Most people are quite welcoming, and if they were having a BBQ at their place would not mind you bringing a friend or your partner etc. Many people say the more the merrier and open their house up to you. Of course you will find some miserable people or unfriendly people just like you would anywhere in the world, but generally Australians are a welcoming bunch. My group of friends has a New Zealander, a Scottish girl, and an Irish girl mixed in with Australians, to give you an example.
You will start saying “soccer” instead of “football” and “pants” instead of “trousers” before you know it!!
Western Australia’s coastline boasts some of the world’s best beaches, ranging from the small and secluded to large family ones; there’s good surf at some, and gentle waves at others. Take your pick of the one that suits you best.
If you would like to spend time on the beach, and you don’t live in a beachside suburb, most beaches have car parks and are easy to get to via train or bus. Parking is free at most beaches, other than the really popular/big ones where you might have to pay to park.
One of the big complaints about living in Perth is how behind it is with many things. Until recently we didn’t have Sunday trading, supermarkets shut at 6pm on a weekday and if an international band toured Australia you could bet they didn’t come to Perth. Things are slowly getting better with the influx of fly-in-fly-out workers and immigrants making Perth re-think itself a little.
Now you’ll find supermarkets opening 8am – 8pm Mon – Fri, 8am-6pm Saturday and if you’re lucky 8am-5pm Sunday too.
While Perth might sometimes be a bit slower than other cities, the fashions a bit behind the times, and shopping hours not 24 hours, for some this is actually its charm. Western Australia or WA for short is sometimes nicknamed Wait Awhile (WA). So if you are after a bustling metropolis in line with Sydney or London, then Perth really isn’t the place to come. Not to say Perth doesn’t get busy, it does. But it’s no London.
The cost of living in Perth has shot up. Not so great if you are not in the mining industry earning all those dollars. Having said that, remember than socialising in Perth is cheap, if you adopt the BBQ-at-a-mate’s-place attitude.
If you like swatting your hand across your face hundred times a day to wave away persistent flies then come to Perth! Flies and mosquitoes do come out in force usually during spring and early summer then lessen somewhat when the middle of summer kicks in.
Flies are a pain in bum but not enough to stop you going out. Most houses have ‘fly screens’ on doors and windows allowing you to open the windows but keep the flies and bugs out. Just take some fly spray/insect repellent if you go out when there are lots of flies about.
The middle of summer can mean weeks of warm weather and blue sky but it can also bring thunderstorms and lots of wind; it can also mean 40 degrees C, 7 days in a row. Not so good if you work outside, or do not have air con in your home. Sometimes, Perth really does just get way too stinking hot. I guess we do have the stunning coastline to head to when it gets too hot, but the heat can be an issue for some people. If you don’t have air con, sleeping at night is hard. Drinking in the hot sun can be dangerous: young people maybe having a Sunday ‘Sesh’ – Sunday afternoon drinking in the heat = not good! But mostly you acclimatise and just grin and bear it. Most of the summer in Perth is pleasantly around 30 degrees, we only really get the odd week or two of plus 40 degrees, so you get on with it.
Because of the heat during summer, the Perth landscape is very dry and brown, so if you are after lush green hills, you’re looking in the wrong place.
And the myth that Australia is hot all year round is false, unless you live in the Northern Territory I guess. In mid-winter the average daily max in Perth is 17 degrees C and the average nightly minimum is 9 degrees C: quite similar to May in London.
Perth winter may be milder than in the UK it can get as low as -1 degrees C at night. Some people do not have heating in their homes, which can make them uncomfortable in a cold spell. Perth pubs like to keep their doors open even in winter. This can be frustrating, because unlike the cosy, warm pubs in the UK where you walk in and are hit by a gust of heat, sitting in a pub in Perth in winter can mean keeping your coat on.
Overall, I should say though that Perth’s weather is some of the best in Australia.
Perth is the most isolated city in the world. It’s quicker to fly to Bali than it is to Sydney. Sometimes, you will feel homesick, and sometimes no matter how much the sun is shining, how good the wine is and how great the beaches are, it just cannot make up for the homesickness you may experience: you are so far from all your loved ones back in the UK. Most of the time, if you are happy with the life you have created for yourself in Perth and you know that overall you have made the right decision, then the wave of homesickness will pass. Things like Skype and low cost airfares make this easier.
OUT AND ABOUT
There is a lot of development happening here and in the surrounding areas, including new apartment blocks, new land releases and new job opportunities – the mining boom in WA has brought both advantages and disadvantages to Perth.
Out and about, the coast line right down the whole of Australia’s west coast, all the way from Albany to Exmouth is stunning. You have colder, wetter terrain in the South of the State, and hot, dry sunburnt country in the north.
Closer to Perth, the Swan Valley wine region and further south the Margaret River wine region offer spectacular views, scenery, red and white wines as well as some great food. Imagine a lazy Sunday afternoon at the Swan Valley sipping a Chardonnay.
If you are into thrill seeking then Perth has a V8 car track, bungee jumping companies and many other activities.
WA also has some fantastic bush walking tracks including day walks to week long hikes.
Sarah shares her thoughts on transport and education here.
Perth is not the place for you if you want a big and busy city or you are younger and want to “live it up”. But if you want a quiet lifestyle with a touch of city life then it probably is.
Perth lifestyle is best summed up as relaxed, changing, growing and warm.