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The Newcomers Guide to Perth

Author Bill Bryson claims that Perth is the most remote city on earth. If you haven’t been there, this may conjure up images of tumbleweeds and ghost towns, but this is far from reality. It may be just over 2000km to the nearest big city, Adelaide, but that by no means makes this a one-horse town.

What’s in Perth?

As the capital city of Western Australia, Perth offers rather a lot. Bright blue skies, and long beaches; summer Christmases spent barbequing around a pool; cosy coffee shops and shopping for big brand items at the mall or scouting for interesting, quirky finds at a local markets. Weekends can be spent visiting the zoo, art galleries and city parks. In the evenings you can pop into top restaurants and vibrant bars, and enjoy some live music. And that only just begins to cover it.

The climate

It’s the southern hemisphere, which means winter in July and summer in December. Expect balmy highs of up to 40 degrees Celsius, with December to February being the hottest months with little rainfall except for the odd thundershower that occasionally results in floods. Rain mostly comes in the winter months of May to September (it is the fourth wettest Australian capital) when temperatures can range from below freezing to a comfortable daytime high of 25 degrees Celsius.

Moving to the suburbs

On a positive note, property prices are fairly stable and rentals are currently at an all-time low, so property in Perth is being snatched up as soon as it hits the market. The downside to this, however, is that property owners aren’t selling. With prices likely to rise soon, owners are reluctant to sell just yet. Although there are some high priced areas, buyers willing to invest in houses in the older suburbs are likely to get a lot more for their money. This may mean buying a “fixer-upper”, but it also means a good return on investment. Building land in areas like Victoria Park, South Perth, and Scarborough is scarce, which means in a few years’ time, house prices in these areas will increase, but for now it make them good investment areas.

Finding employment

The population explosion after World War II has contributed to a major increase in commerce and employment opportunities. Western Australia, as a whole, has big mining, gas and oil sectors, so jobs in these areas are easier to come by than some other industries; although retail and trade are other areas where there are high job prospects. Being a capital city, Perth is home to some of the bigger financial institutions in the territory, so if you’re in the banking and accounting line of work, chances of finding employment are relatively good. Medical personnel and nurses in particular, are always in high demand, as are experienced teachers.

Things to do

Where to begin? Perth has a plethora of entertainment options. Apart from its beautiful beaches, where most people spend their summer days, and playing host to plenty of sporting events, Perth also boasts the largest inner city park in the world. Kings Park measures 4.6 square km and runs adjacent to Swan River.

If you’re an avid foodie, then there are great restaurants in Perth that cater for all the reasons a person needs to eat good food. If its breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner you’re hungry for, you will find amazing restaurants offering more culinary greatness than you will be able to sample in one visit.

Perth Zoo is a popular family day out. It has been in operation since 1898, and has been open to the public every day since. In the first nine months of opening, 53 000 visitors paid their money to see a couple of monkeys, an orang-utan, two lions, a tiger, and four ostriches. A century and a bit later, the zoo has increased its collection so substantially that it is now divided into three main zones: Australian Walkabout, Asian Rainforest, and African Savannah, and houses thousands of different species of animal.

Culture features prominently on a list of things to experience in Perth. The city hosts a number of festivals and exhibitions throughout the year, which attract thousands of visits and top international talent. Opera and ballet and symphony orchestras can be seen at a number of theatres like the Perth Concert Hall and the Black Swan State Theatre. Music features highly on the Perth resident’s events calendar, and there are plenty of live music venues to watch loads of successful local artists and emerging talent.

Getting around

Perth has plenty of public transport options. Buses, trains and ferries are all run by Transperth, which includes the Free Transit Zone, a no-pay system within the city centre. There the rail systems have recently been upgraded, with new contact points and twice the length of lines. If public transport isn't your thing you could hire a car until you find your feet.

Bill Bryson may have been right about Perth’s isolation, but this doesn’t mean a thing to the residents of this great city, and to those who have visited. In fact, it has more than likely enhanced rather than had a detrimental effect on the wonderfully vibrant, yet laid-back lifestyle of this great Western Australian capital city.

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