City of PerthPopulation forecast

This forecast has been updated with 2016 Census dwelling counts and the 2016 Estimated Resident Population. More information can be found here.

Skip to content

City of Perth

Drivers of population change

Development history

The City of Perth is the primary commerical, cultural and transport hub for the greater Perth metropolitan area. Settlement dates back to 1829 when the Swan River colony was established. The City developed slowly from its colonial beginnings, but growth was spurred by the discovery of gold further inland towards the end of the nineteenth century. Growth in the post WW2 era has been further spurred by the resources sector and the wealth created over many decades.

Like other Australian cities, the original settlement contained a variety of land uses, but over time as the urban area expanded outwards the City developed as a key industrial and commercial centre. Residential functions declined in importance as people moved to the suburbs, and this resulted in population decline over much of the twentieth century. This pattern has reversed since the 1990s, starting with the redevelopment of former industrial areas in East Perth into housing, and more recently, construction of high rise apartments in the CBD and West Perth. The rapidity of growth and change is largely due to the attraction of central Perth for employment, education and lifestyle opportunities. These factors, as well as the nature of the dwelling stock (typically one and two bedroom apartments) are especially attractive to young adults seeking rental accommodation in an inner city location.

Migration patterns

The movement of young adults in and out of the City dominates the migration profile. Similar to other Australian cities, inner city living is increasingly popular and this has created demand for housing in close proximity to employment centres and tertiary education institutions. In recent years the mining boom has also played a role in this increased demand for inner city housing. The City gains population from parts of suburban Perth, as well as interstate (especially Sydney and Adelaide) and overseas. The City loses population to neighbouring councils, and many of these will be local moves as they have similar attractors to CBD living. However there is also a loss of young families to suburban Perth, which suggests that young adults will move out of the area once they reach the family forming life stage. There is some evidence of in-migration of older couples and singles, but on the whole media driven myths of empty nesters trading in their suburban home for an inner city apartment in large numbers are generally not supported by the data.

Historical migration flows, City of Perth, 2016-2011
Historical migration flows, City of Perth, 2016-2011
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

Population and household forecasts, 2016 to 2036, prepared by .id the population experts, March 2019.

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question “where did the person usually live 5-years ago.

Housing role and function

As mentioned above, young adults are the main driver of population change in the City, and this role is assumed to continue into the future. Not only is the City the major commercial and employment hub in metropolitan Perth, but it is also strategically located in terms of access to universities, and to a lesser extent, the airport. These acts as pull factors for young renting households - both students and young professionals. The nature of residential construction in the City i.e. high density apartments primarily with one of two bedrooms, is also more suitable for and attractive to younger, smaller households

Housing supply

More than 10,600 dwellings have been assumed in the forecast period (2016-2036) with development rates generally declining over time as available land supply (particularly major sites) is exhausted. Signficant residential supply has been identified on specific sites such as CityLink, Elizabeth Quay and the Riverside Precinct. However, in light of more modest population growth in Western Australia over the last two years, it is assumed that some projects may be deferred to the medium to long term, and that vacancy rates in the existing dwelling stock may increase in line with reduced demand. Regardless, the City of Perth is forecast to record moderate to strong growth over the forecast period, rising from 26,950 in 2016 to 48,752 in 2036.

Other resources