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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Perth

Prestigious universities, an incredible local region and affordable living make Perth an oasis of cosmopolitan living on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

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As the state capital of Western Australia, Perth is known as being the most isolated city on the planet. This doesn’t stop it from being a fantastic student city. The incredible natural environments surrounding the city and a warm, welcoming community make it an increasingly popular place to study.


With a population of nearly two million people, Perth has built a reputation for academic excellence and attracts around 40,000 international students each year to four world-class universities.


Perth has the Indian Ocean on one side and the Australian Outback on the other. It's a hub of food, entertainment and culture, and Perth has almost everything you could need for miles in every direction. 


Whether it’s pristine white sand beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving or bushwalking, Western Australia offers adventurous students some of the best of the country’s natural treasures. Students in Perth could find themselves in wineries or wildlife sanctuaries, if they aren’t relaxing in the city and its numerous cafes, parks, or local markets.


Perth hosts four internationally renowned universities, which between them offer innovative degree programmes that rival anything the other major Australian universities can offer.


With one of the lowest costs of living to be found in Australia and a great public transport network, Perth offers students a relaxing and enjoyable study abroad experience that many other cities can’t.


What is Perth like?


Location and demographics


Perth is found in the southwestern corner of the Australian mainland. Like many Australian cities, it’s located on the coast. The city is built around the Swan River and follows its course to the Indian Ocean. The nearest major city to Perth is Adelaide, which is still over 2,000km away in a straight line. 


Culture and history 


The Perth area and Western Australian region have been inhabited for over 35,000 years, with the Aboriginal Noongar people being its original inhabitants. European settlers arrived and established the city of Perth in 1829 as the Swan River Colony.


Over time its useful location on the west coast allowed it to prosper due to international trade in mining, agricultural and manufactured products. 


In the 20th century, the city continued to grow into a modern community that ranks highly in global liveability indexes, placing in the top 10 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit Survey 2021 and beating Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.


Perth is a diverse city, with over 40 per cent of the population being born outside of Australia and over 65 per cent of the population having at least one parent born overseas.


Get more information on how to apply to study in Australia.


What universities are in Perth?


Perth has several world-class universities based in the city, so you have a strong selection of valuable degree programmes to choose from during your time there.


The University of Western Australia is a research-focused institution that is among the top 100 universities in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2022As a member of the elite 'Australian Group of Eight', it offers internationally valued degrees and has a campus just 10 minutes away from the city centre.


Curtin University also calls Perth home and is in the top one per cent of universities globally (Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021). With over 50,000 students, it’s Western Australia’s largest institution and is a magnet for international learners, who make up more than a third of its student population. It’s known for its research-focused learning model and rich connections to the industry, making for a good graduate career.


Another institution in Perth is Murdoch University. It is one of the top 100 young universities in the world (QS Top 50 Under 50, 2021). The institution offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that are known for their professional, hands-on elements. Impressive facilities are on offer including a working hospital, veterinary clinic, nursing wards and working farm environments.


Explore more universities in Australia.


What does Perth offer students? 


What transport is available? 


Perth is known for its reliable transport system and offers students a variety of ways to get around the city and wider region. There are completely free buses around the city centre, as well as trains and ferries which are affordable and regular.


Although it’s a remote city, Perth’s international airport means that you’re never far away from other cities in Australia and the world.


What entertainment and food is there?


Perth is a cosmopolitan city that is a hub for the arts, including music, theatre, art, festivals, and film. International performances and events, as well as local festivals and markets, are always a part of Perth’s social calendar. The city also has a rich heritage of Aboriginal art and culture, allowing you to connect with the region’s roots.


Perth and the region around it are famous for their high-quality food and drink, and students can explore different wineries or organic producers around Perth when they aren’t relaxing in a café, restaurant, or pub in the city.


What accommodation is there?


You’ll be able to find modern accommodation options through your university during your time in Perth, with a range of conveniently located options that are equipped with everything you need. You can also privately rent accommodation, which is more affordable compared to other cities in Australia.


What public services are there? 


The government in Western Australia is dedicated to helping international students get the most out of their time there, with the International Student Travel Portal and helpful websites like StudyPerth offering a range of advice and links to useful services.


How much does it cost to live in Perth?


The general cost of the city


Perth is a significantly cheaper place to live in compared to other cities like Sydney or Melbourne. It’s a great student city due to having affordable accommodation along with free or discounted public transport while still offering loads of things to do and see. As a result, you’ll get more out of your student budget.


Find out more about the living costs in Australia.


Student budget


As a single international student living in Perth, you can probably expect to pay between AUD 450 and AUD 1,200 a week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and most other living costs. This will change depending on your lifestyle and accommodation type while living in Perth.


Need more information on tuition fees?


Financial requirements


The Australian Department for Home Affairs asks international students to demonstrate that they can access a minimum of AUD 21,041 per year before they can start their studies in Australia. This is equivalent to AUD 1,753 per month.


Need help with finance? Read more about the top scholarships in Australia.


What can you see and do in Perth?


Perth is often thought of as an oasis, and it’s no surprise why. The city is extremely safe, and friendly, and its impressive skyline sits above characterful neighbourhoods and lush parklands. In Perth, you’ll find a rich, cosmopolitan community that enjoys living in the middle of thousands of miles of incredible ocean, valleys, and bushland.


With a day in Perth, you might choose to visit the Art Gallery of Western Australia, showcasing more than 17,000 different pieces of art across indigenous and modern art. After that, a picnic in the gorgeous Kings Park, a protected botanical garden that has hundreds of species of native plants along with great views of the city.


One of the most famous markets in Australia, the Freemantle Market, is on every weekend and has a selection of more than 150 stalls offering local food and drink, organic products, and hand-made crafts. If that wasn’t enough, Perth has a huge array of bars, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy.


Outside the city, the hills and valleys around Perth are home to award-winning vineyards and stunning nature trails. There's also a great variety of seasonal food straight from the fields. That’s not to mention the huge amount of nature reserves, white sand beaches and ocean activities that are available just a short journey away from the city centre.


With excellent study options and a safe, vibrant urban community set within some of the best natural landscapes Australia can offer, it’s easy to see why Perth is one of the most liveable cities in the world and a great choice for international students. 


Find your ideal degree in Perth and Australia using our course matcher tool


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