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A Comprehensive Guide to How to Live in Perth Without a Car

A Comprehensive Guide to How to Live in Perth Without a Car

Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, is a place famous for its beautiful beaches, amazing attractions, and wonderful people. 

However, it also carries the reputation of being a car-centric city, where your options for travelling around the city aside from driving a car are severely limited.

But is that true, though?

Let’s take a closer look and see whether it is possible to live in Perth without owning a car. Also, we’ll share tips you can use to enjoy living in the City of Lights even without a vehicle of your own!

Can I live in Perth without a car?

Can I live in Perth without a car

Yes, living in Perth without a car is possible, although it comes with a few caveats. That’s because while the city has a solid public transportation network, there are still places in Perth that you can only reliably reach via car.

Unfortunately, the statement that Perth is a car-centric city is, in fact, true. 

After the end of the Second World War, Perth’s local government gravitated towards transforming the city into one that resembles the bustling American metropolises of Los Angeles and Dallas (Kill Your Darlings).

This has led to Perth prioritising the funding and construction of massive motorway and highway projects to link its disjointed suburbs with one another. 

Sadly, now Perth also suffers the same issues most American cities experience, like road congestion. These problems cost Perth $19 billion in 2016 alone (Infrastructure Australia). 

With Perth’s car-centric infrastructure network, you’ll need to live within the city’s inner suburbs, as those are the areas that have easy and reliable access to Perth’s public transportation network.

Thankfully, the local and state governments have noticed the growing problem of keeping Perth as a car-centric city, and they have now introduced many initiatives and projects to begin shifting the city away from its outdated car-centric policies.

One example of this is the launch of the Perth Active Transport Program, which aims to increase the usage of active transport solutions in the city, like cycling or walking, by improving Perth’s primary and secondary bike networks (Infrastructure Australia).

Perth has also begun a massive push to drastically improve its public transportation network to reduce car usage within the city. 

One of the city’s most recent public transportation projects is the construction of the new Perth City Link Busport, which will make bus travel easier and more convenient for people travelling to and from the Perth CBD (GHD Insights).

Aside from a new major bus station, a new major rail line is also underway, which will connect Perth’s northeastern suburbs to the Perth CBD. 

Dubbed the Morley-Ellenbrook Line, this 21-kilometre train line will begin at Bayswater and end at Ellenbrook (METRONET). Without any delays, this new line will be made open to the public in 2024.

Furthermore, the city has also replaced its ageing train signalling network with a fully automated one that will help keep Perth’s trains running more efficiently and on time (Public Transport Authority).

In conclusion, I can definitely say that living in Perth without a car is possible, but only if you can choose to live close to the city’s public transportation nodes. 

For now, living in the city’s outside suburbs without a car is hard, at least until Perth’s massive public transportation projects are completed. 

Tips on How You Can Live in Perth Without a Car

Tips on How You Can Live in Perth Without a Car
Young, handsome man entering a car, holding luggage, his friends sitting in car and waiting for him

Now that you know living in Perth without a car is possible, I’ll be giving you some tips to ensure your car-free living in the city remains as hassle-free as it can be!

Pick suburbs that have most of what you need

Of course, it’s best to live in a suburb that already has most of what you need. Most suburbs that have their own shopping centres, schools, and train stations are near the Perth CBD.

Some amazing suburbs that are near Perth’s train lines are Claremont, Leederville, Mount Lawley, and Kewdale. These suburbs already have complete amenities, so a trip to the Perth CBD is oftentimes unnecessary.

Alternatively, you can also pick cheaper options like Nollamara and Westminster. They may not be as well-developed as the ones mentioned earlier, but they have bus routes that can take you to the Perth CBD within 15 minutes.

Lastly, if you aren’t really planning on visiting the city centre, then maybe living in the outer suburbs of Perth that have good amenities and infrastructure may suit you better, as house prices there are often the cheapest you’ll find in the city.

Some examples I can think of are Armadale and Parmelia. They have well-developed town centres and train lines that can take you to the Perth CBD within an hour if needed.

Use public transportation

Living without a car in Perth means you’ll need to rely on public transport to get to most places you want to go. Thankfully, the city’s public transportation system offers a lot of ways to do so.

The three main public transport options available in Perth are trains, buses, and ferries. All three are operating under Transperth, which is supervised and managed by the city’s Public Transport Authority.

A good thing about Transperth is that it has a smartcard ticketing system that allows you to seamlessly use all of these public transport options without having to buy a ticket every time you ride a new one.

Known as the SmartRider card, this card grants you an automatic 10% discount on all fares within the city. If you sign up for the card’s autoload feature, that 10% discount is raised to 20%.

You can activate your SmartRider’s autoload feature by registering your card with the official Transperth app, which is available on both iOS and Android

Use a bicycle or walk to your destination

Another amazing thing you can do to avoid using a car in Perth is to rely on biking or walking to get to your destination, especially if it’s less than a kilometre from your home.

The most obvious perk you can enjoy from biking or walking is that you save so much money that you could’ve spent instead on gas or fares. Not to mention, you’re helping save the environment by not producing CO2 emissions while you travel!

Also, regularly cycling or walking significantly improves your health over time. According to Healthline, cycling can lower your cholesterol, improve your balance, and ease feelings of stress and anxiety.

There are many suburbs in Perth where you can walk or cycle safely thanks to their wide pathways and dedicated bike lanes. The three most walkable suburbs in Perth are Northbridge, Highgate, and the Perth CBD (The West Australian).

Always plan your trips ahead

Unfortunately, a problem that comes with not having a car is that you won’t have the freedom to travel easily to different parts of Perth. That’s why planning your trips ahead is essential, especially if you need to get to your destination on time.

Luckily, planning your trips in Perth is very easy thanks to Transperth’s JourneyPlanner feature! This handy tool (available on both PC and mobile devices) only needs you to input your journey’s start and end points.

The program will then look for the best public transport options you can use to get to your destination. You can select a method of transportation, and it will modify its suggestion to only include the ones you prefer!

Aside from JourneyPlanner, Transperth’s website also provides regular updates on any track closures or bus route cancellations. Make sure to check their website regularly, especially after a heavy thunderstorm!

Compromise on meeting locations you can easily access

Old friends meeting. Three friends meet each other in beer pub
Old friends meeting. Three friends meet each other in beer pub

Another problem that arises from living in Perth without a car is some places in the city will be too much of a hassle for you to visit. That’s why you’ll often find yourself compromising on meeting locations with your friends.

And that’s totally okay! Don’t be afraid to tell your friends or significant other that their addresses are too far from you and, if possible, that you meet instead in a park or shopping centre that is near a bus, train, or ferry station.

In the end, the compromise will be beneficial for you two, as the shorter commute time means you can spend more quality time with each other. You’ll also look fresher for your meeting, as you’ll avoid the stress that comes with long commute times.

However, if your friend isn’t willing to compromise, then don’t be afraid to politely turn them down. Explain to them carefully why you can’t come and ask them when they can make the time to travel to a location closer to you.

Rent a car for trips outside the city

Lastly, should you need to travel to places in Perth where public transportation is not available, you can always rely on renting a car, hailing a cab, or using a ridesharing app to get to your destination.

Many rental companies in the city can provide you with a wide variety of vehicles, like vans, that you and your friends can use to travel to Perth’s outer suburbs. 

There are also plenty of taxi services you can use that allow customers to hire their drivers for long periods.

As for ride-hailing apps, a couple I can recommend to you are Uber, Ola, and GoCatch. 

As a safety precaution, I suggest you inform a friend or family member first before using any of these services.

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