Why I don’t like Perth

November 20, 2009 · 21 comments

This is an actual event

This is a logo of a couch surfing event

This year the most time I’ve spent in one place is Perth in Western Australia. Whilst I’ve written about the city and things to do here, I’ve not given my opinion on the place, so here it is: It sucks.

Perth is the place to come if you like a quiet life and want to earn some money and do business, it is popular with immigrants for this reason. However whilst it has some qualities to it, it’s not somewhere I’d recommend visiting.

Isolation

Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world (in the biggest state as well, 4 times bigger than Texas, and bigger than Western Europe), it’s closer to Singapore than any other Australian state capital, this becomes more obvious by monitoring flight times too. If you like swinging cats, this is the place to be.

Too Much Space

The sheer amount of space means Perth is a low rise city; there is just no need to go vertical when there is so much horizontal space. Whilst this allows vast amount of sunlight to coat the city, it means to get anywhere long distances must be travelled which builds up cost of living here too.

Cost of Living

In fact due to the business like aroma of the city, it is an expensive place to be, whether you live in the center or not, you’re subject to the dining out and transport costs which are equal to those who earn the money here.

Little for Visitors

Perth regularly comes in the top 10 of lists such as ‘Most liveable cities in the world’ But I don’t see it on any must see destination lists. The truth is there is minimal things to do in the city and just as many things do to in the surrounding area.

However despite costs, with enough attractions for visitors, a city can be worth the expense, but Perth just doesn’t provide this. As an example, the 2″ thick Lonely Planet guidebook to Australia dedicates just 2 sides of a bible thickness page to Perth, such is the lack of attractions here.

Neighbouring city Fremantle with a population of approximately 7600 (1600x smaller population then Perth) actually rivals if not betters attractions that Perth itself offers and it has more history. The Fremantle Prison is a prime example.

Perth Wheel

Perth Wheel

Attractions in Perth consist of a some bells, a wheel and a mint. Whilst there is other attractions about, they all require leaving the city, such as visiting Winerys, Fremantle or Rottnest island all requiring a day trip each.

So if you plan to spend a long time in Australia, my advice is don’t settle in Perth and head east.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon OD November 21, 2009 at 3:24 AM

Thanks for the write-up Rob; I had actually heard great things from some of the other backpackers while I was in Oz, and felt like I had really missed out. It’s interesting to hear your perspective now and compare!
.-= Shannon OD´s last blog – A little adventure…Off-roading to the Cliffs of Moher =-.

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Amanda, traveling wedding photographer November 21, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Thanks for the warning! I clicked on your link from a comment on matador. I’m saving your blog to read more.

Amanda

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Candice November 23, 2009 at 3:43 AM

hmmmm, i think i’ll go there and we can compare notes later. ;)
.-= Candice´s last blog – Three-line book review: “Bitter is the New Black” (and other crap) =-.

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AdventureRob November 23, 2009 at 5:44 AM

Opinions are like arseholes, we all have one! Lots of people like Perth, but really there is nothing to it in my opinion, There has to be a really good reason for me to return.

Thanks as ever for comments everyone :-)

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Lauren Quinn November 24, 2009 at 9:52 PM

What a refreshing blast of honesty. Too often, I feel like travel writers try to be too polite, and would rather say nothing about a destination than something negative. Sounds like Perth is the armpit of Australia. Never on the list, but definitely not on now!
.-= Lauren Quinn´s last blog – Street Art Pictures: London, Spain, Morocco and Portugal =-.

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Lis Sowerbutts November 30, 2009 at 9:02 AM

This post caught my eye over at Hospitalera’s blog. I think its a fair review and I have just spent 2 years living in Perth so mine is an informed view! We have lived near Scarborough and for 6 months of the year we are within walking distance of a fantastic beach for people who aren’t very good at surfing but like to splash about. The climate is almost perfect – though the last winter has been a bit crappy (comparitively – I now find 15C cold – been here too long!) but in general its dry, not grey, and although hot in the summer we have survived without a/c in the flat by living near the ocean (makes a signfiicant 5C difference!).

The state is awesome -but huge – much better coral reefs than Queensland up north,.

OTOH I have never got used to paying $20 for fish and chips for 2! Or paying $30 for a “cheap” meal out! The insane shopping hours (we don’t do Sunday we are Perth – but we do in the north of the state go figure) and daylight saving has been banned! We drove to Adelaide last Xmas and couldn’t believe how cheap the wines of the Barossa were compared to Margaret River and how cheap and easy eating out was – and Adelaide is not known for its nightlife!

All in all we’ve had a good time in Perth- easy to get work, great place to setup an online business because you won’t get distracted – but yes at the end of the day Dullsvile definitly!

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AdventureRob November 30, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Lauren – I tell it like it is :-D I think the length of time spent in a place affects opinion though, spending a day somewhere doing touristy things doesn’t show you much about anywhere really, I developed this opinion more from living here for a bit, but ‘home’ writing is not as common as ‘travel’ writing which is typically done when the visitor is in a good mood.

Lis – Thanks very much for your comment. It sounds like you got the location to live sussed ;-) I couldn’t quite afford to live near the beach though!

I’ve not really explored the state to be honest, however that will be coming soon, as I’m leaving Perth in less than 2 weeks now (and not by air).

Ahh yes! The shopping hours! How did I forget them :-D 6pm? What? That’s bed time here in Perth! Never realised the northern cities acted like the rest of the world, at least Perth is isolated in this case and it’s not the whole state.

Lack of daylight savings takes away the confused panic and excitement twice a year of if you’re getting an extra hour in bed or not.

It is easy to pick up work with a bit of effort though, I had 3 jobs here yet spent most of the time unemployed as I have been working on updating this website mainly.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – BBQs and Kangaroos =-.

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Blakesjourney December 9, 2009 at 1:32 PM

Boldly slamming a city! Adventure Rob does it again! lol I love your ‘tell it like it is’ attitude, absent of synicism. Keep it real.

Blakesjourney / tbd
.-= Blakesjourney´s last blog – Spain Songs: 50 Glass Bottles =-.

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AdventureRob December 10, 2009 at 5:29 AM

Thanks, telling it as it is, is the way to be \m/
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – How Not to Travel Across the Outback =-.

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kiaran finn December 18, 2009 at 3:34 AM

Might not be a back packers paradise admittedly but there’s no where else I’ve ever been that i’d prefer to live. Weather, beaches, laid back, wineries, sport, cafe’s, employment, and relatively blended population mix-don’t be put off visiting by some of the responses-i visited 20 years and never went back!! LOL!!
.-= kiaran finn´s last blog – Primo Vacations-What’s The Story? =-.

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Sophie December 19, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Hm… interesting.
Normally, I think people form opinions of a city – or an entire country, even – way too quickly. Since you’ve lived in Perth long enough to have had 3 jobs, you’ve earned the right, though.

Perth is actually on my list of cities to see, though not at the top. Seems a week-long side trip (from Singapore) should suffice, then – incl. Freemantle, Rottnest, wineries and all.

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AdventureRob December 20, 2009 at 2:10 AM

Kiaran – It is often voted one of the best places to live, I can see where you are coming from, I just don’t think it’s overly great to visit.

Sophie – A week is good enough to see all the bits, I preferred Singapore myself.

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Perthie February 7, 2010 at 2:53 AM

As someone who was born and lives in Perth, you’re 100% spot on. The cost of living reflects the incomes of the high-income earners: the people who rent a shop space, that gets tenanted by a couple, opening a fish n’ chip shop that needs to charge $20 for a meal to *just* cover their rent. It costs me usually $200 a week for food (groceries & takeout) for a couple!

There are nice places to visit for the traveller, beautiful scenery down south, interesting people to meet and lots of heritage. But if that’s not your thing you’ll be bored by the long distances and lack of life. In the city there’s snippets of culture like the recent Laneway concerts (trying to be Melbournesque) and the funkier life in Mt Lawley, but you need to know where to go which isn’t convenient for the traveller.

Personally, I’m saving up to move to Melbourne. Just have to get out of here! I’m so bored and starved of any culture, life, dirt, and suffocatingly conservative views on shopping, daylight and life in general.

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AdventureRob February 9, 2010 at 1:17 AM

Thanks very much for your comment. Always nice to get a locals view, like Lis above. I think the travel books like Lonely Planet need all this local information to improve on these small things to do.

Good decision with Melbourne, it’s my favourite Australian city.

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The Dame April 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM

Hmm, Ive been living here for two years and while I felt the same way when I first got here always complaining that its boring, I love it here now. I love the slower pace, I love the gorgeous beaches, I love that I can get away. I dont go out and I rarely eat out, but if I want to, its there. For me, having a car and an awesome set of friends makes it a great place to live.

But yes, as a traveller, passing thru would be better because you wouldnt want to miss the beaches here :)
.-= The Dame´s last blog – I just applied to volunteer in Thailand =-.

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AdventureRob April 28, 2010 at 7:23 AM

Fair enough about the slower pace, people have different requirements for that, I wouldn’t say I had an issue with that in Perth though. I’d be living in Fremantle if I was in that part of the world though.

In regards to getting away, even in the UK (which is 62x more populated/land mass than WA if everyone in Australia lived there) you only had to drive 20 minutes out of a city to get away from things.

I agree having a car and an awesome set of friends can make a place, but you could have that anywhere over time ;-)
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Mid-Week Photo: Aboriginal with Didgeridoo =-.

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saurav June 4, 2010 at 8:16 AM

if u want to see and experience some real adventures and breath taking natural scenes. i would recomment go to nepal.. It is cheap to go arnd.

I am living in perth now,, to work / earn money its koo.. But when it comes to holidays.. —- :( this is the useless place to be except for the beaches

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AdventureRob June 5, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Thanks for comment saurav, I’ll be sure to check out Nepal one day, nice food there too I assume :-)

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Ian [EagerExistence] January 13, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Just used Google+ personalised feature to find this post…

Perth is my home city. Sure it can be a little dull, and there aren’t that many great tourist attractions… but surely that’s no way to see every destination? Perth has some great little bars, the people are very friendly, and the sun shines almost every day of the year. And, its the hub of all things WA.

Over in Perth, we don’t like to spend too much time drinking at cafes or shopping downtown, instead we like to get outdoors, and out of the city even. It’s what I suggest to all the tourists I meet, and the CouchSurfers. It’s not hard to get around in Perth, we have a great Bus network (and an average Rail network).

Spend a couple of days headed north to Lancelin, or further afield up to Geraldton. Or, head south to Busselton, Margaret River, etc.

But I can appreciate Perth more — now that I’ve been travelling for 10 months — than the 20 years I lived there.
Ian [EagerExistence]´s latest blogpost – Beach Holiday in Phuket, Thailand

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AdventureRob January 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Thanks very much for your comment Ian, always good to get a locals opinion.

But your comment kind of proved my point, you need to go outside Perth to get the most out of it, and that just raises the cost of things. If people are passing through, then it’s a decent enough place to visit, but no-one ‘just passes through’ Perth unless they are heading somewhere else in WA because of the isolation of it.

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