Quinn recently commented that he can't visualize Perth. Unless you've gone wild with Google Earth, you might have the same issue. If you want an intro to Perth, I am here for you! Perth is a city on the west coast of Australia. It's the capital of the state of Western Australia (commonly known as "double-yoo-aye" or WA), and it is the most isolated capital in the world. WA is a huge state, the largest in Australia, but it has a population of only around 2.1 million (2007 statistic), with 1.5 million of those living in Perth and its surrounds. At the moment, the economy of WA is booming due to its natural resources (mining, oil, gas) and its economic ties to China and India. This means the government has opened the floodgates for immigrants. They estimate Perth absorbs about 50,000 people per year (50,004 including us). Despite the rapid growth, Perth has more a town-feel than a city-feel. Surrounded by awesome outdoor opportunities, people tend to be laidback and live for the outdoorsy lifestyle so readily facilitated by location along the Indian Ocean, the Swan River, and wide open bush in every direction. Surfing, windsurfing, and sailing are big here. Picnicking is a major pastime. The weather seems very Meditteranean, with 9 months of lovely and 3 months of HOT (which are December, January and February--this is the Southern Hemisphere).
Perth is located on the north side of the Swan River, and the suburbs to its west are the most desirable given easy access to downtown, the beach and the river (you can see the river to the right in the picture above, which I took from the huge and lovely Kings Park). The top three suburbs for expats like us are Dalkeith, Nedlands, and Claremont. We live in Claremont. To deal with the population boom, suburbs are spreading and growing like mad. In the western suburbs, you'll find mostly old homes, some complete tear-down/rebuilds, and a lot of sparkly new renovations. The housing market is still in a huge bubble here. Houses on our street are selling for over AU$2 million. It's a nice street with pretty houses, but ouch. BUB-BLE. It can't last. The rental market is booming in an unhealthy way (prices have climbed 100% in the past 3 years by some accounts), while the sales market is starting to stagnate. It's a bit crazy.
There are some big differences in renting here than in other places we've lived. Rent charges are calculated on a weekly basis, allowing owners to rake in a bit more than they would based on a monthly system (ex: weekly rent of $1000 is $52,000 per year versus $4000 per month at a yearly $48,000--and yes, this is a realistic example amount). Housing inspections are conducted regularly, at an average of once every 3 months. From what we hear, the real estate agent makes an appointment and then sends someone to your (rented) home and examines every little thing about how you live, right down to how spotless you keep your sink drains. Within a week of moving in, we had to complete a Property Condition Report (PCR) that detailed every little speck, scratch, dent, etc. in the house. The real estate agent completes it before you move in, and you have one week to record anything different or you are liable for any differences when you move out. Our PCR was 28 pages long, and it took me over 6 hours to complete it. I've lived in military housing that was far more relaxed than this!
That being said, we do live in a very nice house:
Given that it's worth (in the bubble) over AU$2million, I can understand the owners being a bit jumpy. Still, sheesh. Not looking forward to being inspected every 3 months.