There was a time when Australia was a relatively cheap destination. It cost a lot to get here, but once you did it was half the price of London. Things have changed. The cost of living in Australia is high and Australian cities now boast prices on a par with many North American/North European cities.
Australia has a relatively high minimum wage (AUS$18.93 an hour, well in excess of UK or US), and that obviously is reflected in the prices.
Numbeo.com puts Perth around 12 percent cheaper than London overall, which I think is probably about right. (This is not including rent of course, which is what pushes the cost of living so high for London).
Perth is a little cheaper than Sydney or Melbourne, but barely enough that you’d notice.
Free (or nearly free) things to do in Perth/Fremantle
As a seasoned cheapskate I am always looking for free and/or cheap things to do in any city I visit. Perth has proved somewhat of a challenge but it is possible to enjoy plenty of things without spending a lot of money. It just depends what you like.
Let’s start off by saying that Perth is not a destination for anyone limited to a tight budget. A quick Google search of ‘free stuff in Perth’ landed me broadly the same type of results; there are beaches to visit (huge choice available) and picnic areas/hiking trails to explore (again massive choice, although you often need some kind of transport to get to them).
What makes Perth, and Australia generally, cheaper is the weather; when it is warm and sunny it is much easier to enjoy free outdoor activities like hiking and swimming, rather than spending money on ‘wet weather entertainment’ such as cinemas, pubs and shopping.
Luckily getting out in nature (whether it be beach or mountains) whilst still getting home to the creature comforts of the city at the end of the day is one of my favourite things to do.
Getting around for free
There are four CAT buses prowling around Perth (plus a further two in Fremantle) and these are free. They have a distinctive cat logo and are colour coded so that you know which route they take, making them virtually idiot-proof. There is also a free transit zone in the city, although I found it complicated knowing what is free and what isn’t.
Both Perth and Fremantle are well adapted to pedestrians and cyclists, with shared pathways around the city and beaches, which is another great free way of getting around.
There is an abundance of parks in both Perth and Fremantle. As well as the huge and popular Kings park and botanical gardens, I also enjoyed Hyde park near trendy Northbridge…
… South Perth’s Sir James Mitchel park (great views of the Perth skyline from the south bank of the swan river)…
… and Manning park in Fremantle (great bird activity).
Wherever you are staying there is most likely a great park nearby.
One of my favourite lunch option is to buy something in the supermarket and go sit in the park to eat, although the weather was sometimes a little windy for this in September.
Free Art and Culture
If you enjoy art, Gallery of Western Australia is free, and surprisingly good. In fact many smaller galleries dotted around are also free.
There is always plenty of street art around. Good places to find it are Northbridge…
… and Leederville …
… but there are pieces dotted around everywhere.
Western Australia museum has been recently refurbished and now charges admission fees. Worth it though.
There is a plethora of outlet stores hanging out in Harbour Town. You can even get there for free on the yellow cat bus.
Note: In my next post I will be contradicting all this by posting my personal budget for my month in Fremantle. Clearly, I don’t always take my own advice.