Where to Live in Perth

Live north or south of the river?

South of the River Perth from Perth City overlooking the Swan River that divides north and south of the river

The Swan River separates Perth into two zones, one being south of the river and the other north of the river. At times, especially when the media is involved, whether north or south is better is often presented as a light hearted battle between those of us living one side of the river or the other.

Note that there is another option to north or south and that is east, something often forgotten in the quest to decide whether to go north or south.

This naturally brings the question of which side it is better to live on. The first section of this post will address where to live and the second part will look at where others moved to followed by finding a suburb that suits you.

Channel 9 on the Today Perth News program did a story on whether north or south of the river is better. The first minute is spent interviewing people in the Hay Street Mall (in the centre of Perth city). No one is particularly animated when answering the question and no one came up with any answers that would cause you to take action either way. Around a minute and a half into the video Stephen Cain from the City of Cockburn (south of the river) and John Carey from Vincent (north of the river) were brought on to represent each side in the fictitious battle of one side being better than the other. The responses are light hearted and fun.

Being north, south or east is simply down to what suits you. The freeway runs from far north of the river, passes near the city and goes no to the far south. The further north you go down the freeway, the newer the districts are. I guess the same can be said for south as new subdivisions continuously crop up. South of the river has a lot of older housing and so does east. If you love beaches, then north of the river offers a lot more opportunities to get close to it.

How close one wants to be near family and friends is a big factor and so is work. Public transport is worth factoring in (can be sparse in some areas), ease of shopping and closeness of other things that you may frequent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released an article (North v South), picking out elements that someone came up with as being deciding factors on which side could be better. The article concluded by lightheartedly stereotyping people on one side or the other. Note that this also excludes that east is also an option.

I am one of those who has lived east, south and north and in all my years, even when working in the corporate world I don’t remember one conversation with anyone else on whether it was better to live north or south of the river.

If you’ve always lived north of the river, chances are you probably always will. Conversely if you always lived South you’ll probably stay south of the river. Its not even just about what you are familiar with, but also how convenient it is to get to your family and friends or work. If one is to live the opposite side of the river to those you will visit, then remember there are bridges to cross which can get quite congested during peak hour and on odd public (bank) holidays when there is the mad rush of holiday makers heading down south. Unless you have reason to live one side of the river or the other, focus more on the suburb and the environment you would like to live in.

Where others went to live in Perth

First, just to give you an idea of what others have done before you, I have included some data (see table below) from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, 2014. This shows that folks born in the United Kingdom seem to gravitate to the suburbs north of the river, those from New Zealand are mostly south of the river, South African folks seem to mostly go north of the river and those from India are mixed in their choice of location. Of course, you do not need to move to the locations others have, Perth has many choices and opportunities available.

What’s the best suburb to live in Perth?

If, when you move to Perth, it is the first time you set eyes on the place then trying to select a suburb may be a little more difficult simply because you can’t see it first hand.

Some elementary considerations that might influence the suburb you choose include:

  • Where you will be working. Consider distance from work and ease/cost to get to work. Note that if you do not already have work lined up then have a quick look at job sites for common locations in your profession or you could assume that Perth city is a likely place to work.
  • Whether you have children (size of backyard, family orientated district, schools and university)
  • Whether you will have a car (convenience of public transport)
  • How much you would like to frequent a beach and if you do want to be at the beach, is it for swimming, surfing, boating, etc
  • Do you or will you have pets? Do they need more land or house space?
  • Does it matter how the houses around you are maintained? Are you particular about the appearance of the houses in the district?
  • How much gardening you want to do?
  • Your social life or the things you like to do when you go out (i.e. nightclubs, art gallery, coffee shop, garden shops, surfing, boating, fishing, horse riding)
  • What internet speed you need? Chances are that you will take a step backwards with the internet on coming to Perth. This article by Courier Mail helps gives you an insight as to how that is going for us.
  • Perhaps the inner city life is not for you. Outer suburbs can offer acres of land to enjoy and of course if you would like to go rural, then there are other opportunities there.

Let’s pick a suburb right now and check it out !

So let’s actually start looking at identifying suitable suburbs using some of the above considerations. You can do this yourself using a computer connected to the internet, preferably with two screens. Here are the websites/tools I am using for this:

  • Google maps (I have already spent the time marking maps out for you which are linked below where we go through them)
  • Realestate.com.au or domain.com.au website to assess the type of housing available for your budget
  • Journey Planner on Transperth website to check travel distances

I used my Sunday afternoon marking out some Google maps with all the train stations to make this easy for you to have an idea of where the train lines are located. This is particularly useful if you will be getting around Perth without a car and need public transport.Just keep in mind that sometimes a station is closed for works, some are being added and the odd one or two are only open for special events. You can get updated information from the Transperth website. Of course we also have buses here in Perth. You can see more on that on the article Getting around Perth with and without a Car.

Some of the train station icons are in orange. These markers indicate that they are about 30 minutes travel time from the Perth Underground station. This just makes it easier for you to get an idea of what sort of travel time might be involved in your choices.

Just for an example, I am going to choose to look at houses along the south train line (Mandurah line). The reason I have chosen the southern side of the river is simply because the train line and Kwinana Freeway run side by side giving me some good travel options (car and public transport) and because I have to start somewhere. The southern line goes to Mandurah and in between Perth and Mandurah there are so many different styles of living such as penthouses, apartments, inner suburb homes with small or big backyards, places near the beach and even properties with a few acres of land. Mandurah is about an hours journey by train from Perth.

So looking at the map with the train stations marked out on it I have decided to choose to look into Cockburn Central as it is only 30 minutes from the city (you could just as easily pick Warwick on the north or any other district). Change the map view to satellite and I see it has things that interest me such as a golf course, it is less than 20 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes to the city, has a large shopping center and so on. However, I also see it is close to the Jandakot Airport so I will need to do a little research to ensure noise levels aren’t a problem.  Searching online I will find that it is not a passenger airport and is more for charters, aviation school and such like. So there shouldn’t be any problem with excessive airplane noise but there could be the odd student pilot that crashes in the local houses (just kidding!).

Zoom in on Cockburn Central using the satellite map until you can see the cars parked on the street. You can start to get an idea of the size of houses, their backyards, the level to which the home gardens and district are maintained, local parks, beach and other things of interest and that can be picked up on the map.

Real estate website for checking out housing in Perth

When you find an area you think is appealing, go to realestate.com.au, domain.com.au or any other site you prefer that offers a large database of houses and properties to rent or buy. Enter in the suburb along with the criteria you want applied to the search results. I put a cap of $400 for a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom home with a garage in Cockburn Central and surrounding districts. These sites make it very easy with all their images to get a sound understanding of what you will get for the money and the availability of the properties.

Would you like to know more about how far your money will go in Australia and what you need to budget for accommodation? Check the Cost of Living in Perth Australia article.

Until next post folks, have an amazingly productive and fulfilling day!

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