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Students sitting on bean bags in College Row UWA - A guide to budgeting in Perth

A guide to budgeting in Perth (and the city's best free activities)

16/06/2022 |

According to the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Perth is the most affordable major capital city in Australia. It also ranks highly on various quality-of-living scales thanks to its beautiful climate and accessible outdoor lifestyle. 

If you’re thinking about moving to Perth, we’ve put together a guide to some of your expected costs as well as a list of fun and free activities in the WA capital city.

What to expect

Ahead of your move to Perth, think about your budget and how much it will cost to live a lifestyle you want. Everyone prioritises different things, so knowing what’s important to you and what you could do without will help you define what to spend where. 

Some things to consider include:

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Household bills (water, gas, electricity, internet, phone)
  • Study supplies (books, stationery, memberships, subscriptions)
  • Health insurance and medical appointments
  • Entertainment (movies, takeaway, going out)
  • Personal (medication, clothing, beauty, hair) 


Accommodation costs can vary depending on whether you want to share a place or have your own space. Depending on the location, you can expect to pay anywhere from $175 per week for a room in a share house, up to $750 for an apartment to yourself. Make sure you check whether household bills are included in your rent or not, as they may be extra.

Helpful accommodation links:

Other accommodation websites:


The cost of public transport in Perth can vary, but it’s worth purchasing a SmartRider card which will make your journeys on the bus, train or ferry cheaper. All international students get 40% off all public transport and can cost as little as 72 cents for one journey. In Perth you will also have access to the free CAT bus service, making getting around the CBD even cheaper. 


If you plan to shop and cook at home, your food budget could be as little as $20 a day per person. If you plan to go out to eat, you’ll find breakfast options starting at $15, coffee for around $4.50, and simple dinners starting at $20 a meal. 

Remember to calculate your budget with a small buffer so that you have room to move and to ensure you’re not struggling to stick to your budget.

The top free activities in Perth

Like many students in Perth, if you’re keen to stick to a tight budget, Perth has an amazing array of both free and affordable activities, events and community initiatives that you can enjoy all year-round.

Art and culture 

If you’re an avid art fan, the good news is there’s plenty on offer that’s entirely free of charge! 

Entry into the Art Gallery of WA and Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) is free, and some events and special exhibitions have cheaper student tickets. The State Theatre and Perth Cultural Centre often run free community events and entertainment, and it’s worth keeping up to date with UWA’s events calendar for student exhibitions, workshops and club nights. Find out more here.

When the Perth Comedy Festival, Fringe World Festival and Perth Festival are in town, you’ll be hard-pressed to get to every free event on offer, as there are so many to choose from. It’s worth grabbing a free program and registering (if required) for the events you’d like to attend to avoid disappointment.  

Outdoor activities 

Perth’s beaches are absolutely stunning. White sand and turquoise waters hug the coastline, and often you’ll be lucky enough to find a spot all to yourself. Cottesloe is the most well-known, offering terraced grassy areas, pine trees and iconic architecture. North of there you’ll find Scarborough, known for its impressive waves, live music scene and skate park, climbing wall and basketball court, all of which are free to use. Take your pick and visit one of our beaches in the late afternoon, to enjoy a picturesque sunset over the Indian Ocean. 

Kings Park has numerous walks, monuments, sweeping views and gardens to explore, absolutely free of charge. You can walk through the bush paths, climb the DNA Tower, see the city from various lookouts, enjoy the botanic garden and stroll around the ponds and fountains. Don’t forget to take the Lotterywest Federation Walkway to take experience walking on a glass bridge above all the native trees.

There are lots of other opportunities to go walking and hiking in and around Perth. You can choose from easy footpaths to challenging hikes and everything in between. Try the walking trails along the coast or around Bold Park and the Swan River, where sealed footpaths make it easy to follow your chosen route. Further off the beaten track, the walks at Bells Rapids, Lesmurdie Falls and the Swan Valley help introduce you to the stunning countryside surrounding Perth.

Parkrun is an awesome volunteer-led initiative that organises free weekly events. The idea is to get together with other runners for a timed five-kilometre run. It’s non-competitive and helps you build and improve your running in a social environment.


Fremantle Arts Centre is home to some of the best live music from local and internationally famous musicians. During the summer months, the Arts Centre runs free Sunday afternoon live music in its beautiful garden setting. You’re encouraged to bring a picnic and a blanket to join in the summer afternoon fun. 

Northbridge Piazza, just a short walk from Perth train station, offers free cinema nights during the warmer months. Get there early to grab a bean bag or bring your own cushions and blankets to get comfy and watch a classic movie with friends. 


The Institute of Advanced Studies at UWA runs free educational events year-round. These public lectures and events showcase interesting visiting and local scholars, artists, writers and public figures, who share current research and new ideas and encourage enlightening discussion and debate. You can find the full list of events here.

When studying at UWA, you will have the choice of joining over 160+ student social clubs and societies. Some of these clubs are course and faculty specific, giving you the opportunity to attend free events to help you network and learn new relevant skills. 


Volunteering is absolutely free, and it’s good for your community – what more could you want? Research shows that volunteering is as good for you as it is for the people you’re helping, so being an active part of your community is a great way to look after your wellbeing. 

There are so many incredible initiatives you can get involved in while you study. Find out more on the Volunteering WA website.

Want to know more about what life in Perth is like? Visit the international students page on our website, contact our Future Students Centre by submitting an online enquiry through askUWA or chat to a current international student


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