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City Face-Off Perth vs Darwin

City Face-Off: Perth vs Darwin

Curious to know which of Perth and Darwin is the better city for you? While these cities share a lot of similarities, like being geographically isolated, they also have a lot of differences.

If your primary concerns are safety and real estate prices, Darwin is a better choice than Perth. However, Perth is the preferable option if cost of living and lifestyle are your top priorities.

How did I arrive at that conclusion? Let’s discuss various essential factors, like costs of living and real estate prices, to compare them!

Cost of Living in Perth vs Darwin

The cost of living in Perth is lower than Darwin’s. In Perth, it’s $3,339.83 per month, but in Darwin, it’s $3,624.83.
This means that Perth’s monthly living cost is $285 (8%) lower than Darwin’s. The difference is especially noticeable if you look at their utility and grocery costs.

To help you see the cost difference more clearly, here’s a breakdown of common living expenses in both cities.

The data presented here are statistics provided by Budget Direct in September 2023.

ExpensesAverage Cost in PerthAverage Cost in Darwin
Housing (Average Rent per Month)
1-bedroom apartment (downtown)$1,626.40$1,568.06
1-bedroom apartment (low-demand suburbs)$1,277.69$1,115.28
3-bedroom apartment (downtown)$2,638.47$2,855.00
3-bedroom apartment (low-demand suburbs)$1,816.67$2,232.50
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill)
Basic utility bill $194.82$221.00
Internet plan (60 mbps)$77.44$85.57
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)$4.00$3.00
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)$139.00$86.96
Gasoline (1 L)$1.63$1.74
Milk (1 L or 1 qt)$1.69$1.55
Bread (0.5 kg or 1.1 lbs)$2.51$2.70
Rice (1 kg or 2.2 lbs)$2.66$3.00
Eggs (a dozen)$4.82$5.57
Cheese (1 kg or 2.2 lbs)$11.67$10.75
Chicken breast (1 kg)$10.78$12.00
Potato (1 kg or 2.2 lbs)$2.89$4.33
Eating Out
Fast food meal$12.75$12.95
Dinner in a mid-range restaurant (for 2 people)$85.00$110.00

As you can see, most prices in Perth are lower than in Darwin. There are a lot of reasons why that is the case, but the biggest one is Darwin’s isolation.

Make no mistake; Perth is also isolated from the rest of the country. But Darwin has a more isolated location, which makes it more expensive to transport goods and services to the city.

Fuel, in particular, is the biggest reason why most goods and services cost more in Darwin. 

Because most products you can buy in Darwin are imported from other states or outside Australia, prices in the city are especially sensitive to sudden price changes in fuel.

Real Estate Prices in Perth vs Darwin

Perth has higher real estate prices than Darwin.
According to a report published by Michael Yardney’s Property Investment Update in September 2023, the average price for a single-family home in Perth is 8.05% higher than in Darwin.
An apartment unit is also 12.7% more expensive in Perth than in Darwin.

When we’re talking about real estate prices, the clear winner here is Darwin.

Here’s a table comparing real estate prices in Perth and Darwin based on September 2023 data from Michael Yardney’s Property Investment Update.

Property TypePerthDarwin
Single-family home (inside the metropolitan area)$634,169$585,104
Apartment unit$431,474$379,918
Single-family home (outside the metropolitan area)$437,201

Diversity and Demographics in Perth vs Darwin

Both Perth and Darwin have people of various ancestries, but more people in Perth were born outside Australia.
According to statistics by the Australian Bureau of Statistics released in 2021, only 27.8% of the residents living in Darwin were born outside of Australia, which is lower than Perth’s 36%.

Let’s further examine the current demographics of these two cities. It should be noted that Perth has a larger population and land area.

Perth also has a higher population density than Darwin, which means there are more people living in each square kilometre of Perth than in Darwin.

The data listed here was provided by Population Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in September 2023.

Geographic LocationWestern AustraliaThe Northern Territory
Size (Area)6,417.9 km2 3,163.8 km2
Population 2,224,475164,230
Female Population 50.4%49.4%
Male Population 49.6%50.6%
Median Age 32 years old34.5 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth 83.8 years old78.7 years old

Besides Darwin’s lower life expectancy, there aren’t many differences between the age and sex distribution of the two cities’ populations.

But how racially diverse are these populations? For that, we’ll use the ancestry records provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in September 2023.

Nominated AncestriesPerthNominated AncestriesDarwin
South African1.4%Dutch1.5%
Vietnamese1.1%New Zealander1.1%
New Zealander1.1%

As you can see, both cities have a fair amount of minorities, but as mentioned earlier, a greater percentage of Perthites was born overseas, making the city more culturally diverse.

While Darwin may have a lower mix of races, it should be noted that it has the largest proportion of Indigenous peoples living in it among major cities in Australia.

Both cities have received a large influx of immigrants from Europe since the end of the Second World War. That’s why a significant portion of their population has English, Italian, and German ancestries.

During the past few years, both cities have also started to receive a high number of immigrants coming from all over the Asian continent.

Perth and Darwin have a high number of residents who come from Asian countries like China and India. In fact, most people living in Darwin who were born overseas came from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Perth has also started to see an increase in immigrants arriving from Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.

Career Opportunities in Perth vs Darwin

According to data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in September 2023, Perth is slightly more favourable for job seekers than Darwin.
The state of Western Australia (including Perth) has an unemployment rate of 3.6%, while The Northern Territory (including Darwin) has an unemployment rate of 3.7%.

When it comes to net income, Perth also has a slightly higher monthly average compared to Darwin.

According to Budget Direct, Perthites on average earn $5,417.28 per month, which is slightly higher than Darwinites’ $5,415.8 per month.

It should also be noted that the local purchasing power in Perth is 8.70% higher than the national average and 6.30% higher than Darwin’s.

This means that residents in Perth can generally afford to buy more goods and services compared to those living in Darwin and most of Australia.

Crime and Safety in Perth vs Darwin

Perth had more crimes than Darwin from August 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023, according to data from the Western Australian Police Force and The Northern Territory Police, Fire, and Emergency Services.
Perth had 183,772 crimes recorded, while Darwin had 11,315.
Unfortunately, both cities have experienced an upward trend in their crime reports over the past few years.

While it’s obvious that Perth has a significantly higher number of crimes compared to Darwin, we must also consider the fact that Perth is also a bigger city than Darwin, both in land area and population size.

That’s why we must also examine their crime rates.

Between August 1, 2022, and July 31, 2023, the crime rate in Perth was 82.6 for every 1,000 residents. Meanwhile, Darwin’s crime rate during the same period was 68.9 for every 1,000 residents.

With this data on hand, it’s sufficient to say that Darwin is definitely the safer city to live in.

Lifestyle in Perth vs Darwin

When it comes to lifestyle, Perth has a number of clear advantages over Darwin. It has a better climate, a more efficient healthcare system, and a more developed public transportation network.
However, one good thing Darwin really excels at is the fast commute time its residents enjoy.

To help you get a clearer grasp of what to expect when living in these two cities, I compared their weather, healthcare, and public transportation.

Weather in Perth vs Darwin

When it comes to weather and climate, Perth is the clear winner, especially if you love doing outdoor activities. That’s because Perth has a Mediterranean climate, while Darwin has a tropical climate.

Thanks to its climate, Perth enjoys calm weather on most days of the year. It still experiences all four seasons, but the city doesn’t experience the extreme heat or cold that most cities in temperate climates experience during summer and winter.

In fact, Perth is known as the sunniest city in Australia, as it experiences only a small number of heavy rains and thunderstorms every year.

Meanwhile, Darwin has a tropical climate, meaning it experiences the intense heat and heavy rains most cities near the equator experience, like Jakarta and Singapore.

Due to its climate, Darwin only experiences two seasons: wet and dry. During the wet season, which is between the months of November and April, the city faces intense thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and high humidity.

The exact opposite occurs during the dry season, which is between the months of May and October, where Darwin mostly experiences low humidity and intense heat.

For a quick comparison, the average annual temperature in Perth is only 24.8°C (76.6 °F), while Darwin has 27.4°C (81.3°F).

When it comes to annual rainfall levels, Darwin experiences a staggering amount of 1,873 millimetres of rainfall every year, while Perth only has 790 millimetres.

Healthcare in Perth vs Darwin

In a survey by Numbeo, Perth has a healthcare system index of 68.22%, which is noticeably higher than Darwin’s 57.27%. 

However, please take note that these indices were based on Numbeo’s visitor input.

In the said survey, the cities’ healthcare systems were evaluated in the following aspects. The data presented here was gathered in September 2023.

Skill and competency of medical staff75%57.35%
Speed in completing examinations and reports68.67%50%
Equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment81.79%69.12%
Accuracy and completeness in filling out reports71.05%58.82%
Friendliness and courtesy of the staff71.81%61.76%
Responsiveness (waitings) in medical institutions52.94%41.18%
Satisfaction with cost58.44%56.25%
Convenience of location75.81%64.71%

Other good things to note are the initiatives launched by these cities to improve their citizens’ health and wellbeing.

In Darwin, they launched the Aboriginal Cultural Security Framework 2016 to 2026, which aims to implement culturally secure services, including healthcare, to improve the living status of their indigenous population.

Another noteworthy initiative they’ve introduced is the Cancer Care Strategy 2018 to 2022, which is a four-year plan devised to improve The Northern Territory’s cancer care and research.

Meanwhile, Western Australia (including Perth) has also launched initiatives to improve its healthcare, like working with private hospitals so residents can enjoy free healthcare no matter whether they are.

Perth has also launched a couple of initiatives that will indirectly improve the health of its residents, like its Urban Forest Plan, which aims to improve the city’s air quality by increasing the diversity of trees and vegetation in the area.

Transportation Options in Perth vs Darwin

While it’s indisputable that Perth has a bigger public transportation network than Darwin, their population densities and sizes have a drastic effect on the average commute times between these two cities.

A survey on Numbeo reveals that Perthites have significantly longer commutes than Darwinites. Perthites on average have to spend 46.27 minutes on their daily commute, which is more than the 20.42 minutes for Darwinites.

In Perth, residents have access to three major public transportation options: buses, trains, and ferries. Meanwhile, Darwin lacks a railway or light rail transit, and residents rely mostly on buses to get around the city.

As for the actual number of people that use public transportation in these cities, it’s clear that there is a far greater number of people in Perth that rely on public transport to get around the city.

According to an .id report, it’s estimated that almost a quarter of Perth’s population primarily relies on public transport to get to work. 

Meanwhile, only 5% of people in Darwin travel by this method, according to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics.

Both cities have introduced monthly passes to incentivise public transportation use. In Darwin, there is the Tap and Ride card, which grants users a 10% discount on all bus fares.

Meanwhile, Perth has the SmartRider card, which also grants its users a 10% discount when riding public transport.

A key difference, however, is that the Tap and Ride card can only be used on buses, unlike the SmartRider card, which can be used on Perth’s train and ferry systems as well.

The SmartRider card also has different types for different passenger demographics, such as students and pensioners. Meanwhile, the Tap and Ride card only has one type of card for all passengers.

Now that we know how the residents of Perth and Darwin travel inside their cities, how about when travelling outside them?

Unfortunately, both cities suffer from the same problem, which is their isolated geography. Travelling to other major cities like Sydney and Melbourne will take residents from Perth and Darwin days when using trains and buses.

Oftentimes, travelling by aeroplane is the best option for travelling to other cities from Perth and Darwin.

Perth vs Darwin: How They Stack Up

Let’s wrap up with a quick summary of everything we talked about earlier.

FactorsThe Better CityWhy
Cost of LivingPerthThe cost of living in Perth is 8.5% cheaper than Darwin.
Real EstateDarwinThe real estate prices in Perth are significantly higher compared to Darwin.
Diversity and DemographicsPerthBoth cities have diverse populations, but Perth has a higher proportion of residents who come from overseas, resulting in a richer mix of cultures.
Career OpportunitiesPerthPerth has a lower unemployment rate, and its residents enjoy a higher monthly average net salary than those in Darwin.
Crime IndexDarwinDarwin’s crime rate is lower than Perth’s.
LifestylePerthPerth has a calmer climate than Darwin.
Residents of these two cities believe Perth has a more efficient healthcare system than Darwin.
Perth’s public transportation network is more developed compared to Darwin, but residents in Darwin experience significantly shorter commute times.

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