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INNER CITY LIVING

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Perth’s older inner-city suburbs are pretty much the Mecca for first-time renters. From Leederville through Maylands, there’s a thorough mix of new and old architecture, ancient delis and hipster trinket stores, that gives rise to the closest scene Perth’s got to Montmartre: pop up galleries, street festivals, and culture-savvy locals, wearing vintage (either out of nous or necessity).

For every blindingly expensive family mansion in Mount Lawley, there’s a trendy hole-in-the-wall, or a Bohemian share house.

For first homebuyers, though, it can be a tricky to snag a space. With the old-school Australian dream being a veranda, four bedrooms and a generous backyard, space occupied by older houses is desperately in demand. Given WA’s tradition of pushing suburbia further and further outwards as the population booms and the train lines expand, it’s hard to find a first place that isn’t an hour away from the city centre.

And while life further into the hills or up and down the coast has its definite perks – it features a hell of a lot more of the landscape and space most people love about Australia – being that far away from the commercial and cultural hubs can serve as a stark reminder of Perth’s place as an isolated capital rivalling Reykjavik. Even more so if you’re young, into nightlife, and aren’t prepared to land yourself a $60 cab fare every time you’re out for a bender.

Perth isn’t as boring as it used to be, though, and alongside all the dolewave, yardstocks and small bar sessions and future bass parties, powerful interests are taking note. Especially in the last few years, the arts scene has flourished – we’ve seen ice rinks, William St celebrations, brand new festivals (Fringe, Beaufort St, Winter Season) and renewed interest in old ones (PIAF, Telstra Perth Fashion Festival). Whether that’s the hand of Lord Mayor Scaffidi dropping inflatable igloos or the redoubled efforts of existing festival heads or the State Government (which, while spawning the sickeningly obsequious Elizabeth Quay, struck gold with the State Theatre Centre), Perth City is flourishing.

Property developers are starting to take note, and they’re building upwards. Brewer St’s got a brand new set of apartments, the corner of William and Roe’s seeing development. North Perth seems to have a new project spawning each day. It can be sad for a hobo-romantic to see colourful old houses thinning out (some days, it even seems like the asbestos has charm), but it is an incredible opportunity for people prepared to forgo the traditional Castle package for the parks, nightlife and energy of the city.

ZOE KILBOURN