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Moving to Adelaide

From the rolling hills of the winelands to the pulsing energy of the city centre, Adelaide has much to offer expats – particularly those looking for an Australian city slightly off the beaten path.

While Adelaide has historically held a stigma as being far removed from the rest of Australia, many expats find it to be the perfect antidote for the stress that so often plagues big-city dwellers. Beyond Adelaide's natural beauty, the city's uncluttered urban geography adds a sense of space and luxury. Large parklands, wide streets and classic suburban housing styles make for a refreshing and wholesome way of life that expats tend to enjoy.

On the economic side of things, Adelaide has billions of dollars of projects in the pipeline, many of them in the mining and defence industries. Expats looking for work in the city would do well to approach firms related to these sectors, as well as those in the healthcare-, retail- and social assistance sectors – disciplines that employ the largest workforce in the city. 

Salaries in Adelaide are generally less than those in the other areas of Australia, but this is balanced by an overall lower cost of living. The city has some of the most affordable housing prices of any of the mainland Australian capitals, and expats will have a range of accommodation types to choose from. The city centre of Adelaide is generally the priciest area, but expats will be glad to find that there are plenty of cheaper surrounding suburbs to choose from, many of which are only a 10- to 20-minute drive away from the CBD.

The lifestyle in Adelaide is enviable, with wine farms close enough for a quick visit or a weekend away. This, combined with the favourable weather in the region, makes Adelaide an enjoyable place to live. For those looking for a respite from frenetic city living, Adelaide is well worth considering, the city's relaxed lifestyle the perfect balm for strung out expats from big cities.

Weather in Adelaide

Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with cool winters and warm summers. The city's typical temperature in summer is around 84°F (29°C), though higher temperatures have become common in recent years. Due to its coastal location, the city enjoys a series of alternating land and sea breezes that greatly influence average seasonal temperatures and can offer some relief from scorching summer days.

The wettest month in Adelaide is June, but in general, and especially in summer, rainfall is infrequent and sporadic, leading to droughts in the area. With rising temperatures over the past decade or so, bushfires and heatwaves have become more common than they once were.

In the case of extremely warm weather, expats should be sure to look after themselves by applying high-SPF sunscreen and staying hydrated.

 

Pros and cons of moving to Adelaide

Relocation to any city has its ups and downs, and expats will find that Adelaide is no different. That said, Adelaide remains a popular city with expats and has many pros which seemingly outweigh the cons.

Here are a few of our perks and pitfalls of moving to the South Australia capital.


Accommodation in Adelaide

+ PRO: Cheaper areas not too far from the city

Although Adelaide has over a million inhabitants, few people live in the actual city centre. Most live in the eastern suburbs or on the coast, where it is sometimes actually cheaper than inland neighbourhoods. These areas are still close enough to Adelaide's city centre that expats will be able to reach the centre by bus or tram easily in under an hour.

- CON: Accommodation is expensive

It is no longer a secret: Australia is an expensive country to live in, and accommodation is a big part of this expense. This means that expats will need a good job to cover the cost of accommodation. While money goes much further here than in larger Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, it's by no means a cheap place to live.


Food in Adelaide

+ PRO: Heaps of eateries

Whether an expat enjoys pub food, spicy food or healthy food, they are sure to find a favourite spot in Adelaide. There is an abundance of restaurants, food trucks and other good eateries in Adelaide's city centre and in its neighbourhoods.

- CON: Pricey meals

Eating out in Adelaide can be a pricey endeavour – whether eating at a fancy restaurant, in a food court or even just grabbing a takeaway sandwich, bills for eating out tend to sting a little.


Working in Adelaide

+ PRO: Good work-life balance

Although salaries in Australia may not be as high as in other expat locations around the world, the country is well known for its good work-life balance. As a result, working in Adelaide gives expats a chance to truly enjoy their stay in Australia in a more laid-back environment.

- CON: Tricky to find a first position in Adelaide

Fresh off the plane expats in Adelaide require determination and dedication to get the ‘Holy Grail’ of a first Australian job. Because most employers prefer to hire local job seekers or expats with previous experience in an Australian-based company, it becomes a bit difficult to get a foot in the door. Once an expat gets their position, they often keep it long term, knowing how complicated it was to get it in the first place, and loath to go through the process again.


Travelling in Adelaide

+ PRO: Many options for road trips

Driving around Adelaide along the coastline is a wonderful experience. With outstanding landscapes and magical scenery, road trips are an absolute joy.

- CON: Domestic flights are pricey

Travelling interstate is unfortunately expensive from Adelaide. A trip west to Perth could cost more than flying to Indonesia. There are many flights every day, but prices increase significantly closer to the departure date.

+ PRO: Good public transport system

Whether an expat hops on the tram from Glenelg all the way to North Adelaide or catches one of the many buses and trains to Adelaide suburbs, it is quite easy to get around.

- CON: Frequency of public transport

Even though it is easy to catch a bus, it is not convenient to have to wait, sometimes up to an hour, for the next one. Expats might need to catch a bus, then a train and finally the tram to reach their destination. 


Entertainment in Adelaide

+ PRO: Activities for every personality type

There's plenty to see and do in Adelaide. Hiking, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding are available for the sportive and adventurous – then there's cheese and wine tasting for the foodies, and a cultural district and a large range of shows in the heart of the city for the culture addicts.

+ PRO: Great selection of local beers, ciders and wines

Adelaide is the perfect spot for sipping great local beers, ciders and wines. This region is surrounded by vineyards, which make driving around the state of South Australia even more enjoyable, with plenty of opportunities to pop into a wine farm for a tasting.

Working in Adelaide

Adelaide is a great place to work and is an ideal location for families and those seeking a balance between lifestyle and career. Salaries are generally slightly lower than in other major Australian cities, but then so is the cost of living. The pace of worklife is another perk, with Adelaide having a more laid-back and less frenetic approach to work that isn't as easily found elsewhere in Australia.


Job market in Adelaide

Several large business sectors have a significant presence in the city, most notably Australia's defence industry. Other major industries in the city include healthcare, social assistance, retail, manufacturing and production sectors.

Unfortunately, the big established industries aren't enough to keep Adelaide at the forefront of Australia's economy and the city has a relatively high unemployment rate and lower wages as compared to other major cities. The South Australian government is eager to attract expats to jobs left open by locals leaving to larger cities in search of better pay and more job opportunities.


Finding a job in Adelaide

Expats who are interested in working in Adelaide can consult the classifieds for job opportunities, and utilise online options. Alternatively, going through an agency can help expats to secure a job.

In order to work in Adelaide, expats will need the appropriate visa to legally take up work. This can be a complicated undertaking, as evidence of a job offer is generally required before a work permit is granted to most expats.

Accommodation in Adelaide

Expats will find that accommodation in Adelaide is much cheaper than in Sydney or Melbourne. As in most cities, though, both rental and purchasing prices are more expensive close to the city centre with lower prices to be found in the outer suburbs.

Before setting out on their house hunt, expats should take a number of factors into account and decide what to prioritise. Transport links, proximity to work and school, budget and lifestyle should all be considered – in some cases it may be necessary to sacrifice one aspect for another. 


Types of accommodation in Adelaide

Adelaide is a city placed under the hills and most of the houses are in low one- or two-storey buildings; only directly around the city centre does one find taller apartment buildings. Both furnished and unfurnished options are available, though unfurnished accommodation is more common.

Expats moving to Adelaide should expect housing that is modest but pleasant. A large portion of the accommodation available is rather old though, and renovated accommodation can be pricier.

Adelaide winters can get quite chilly, while summer brings along some scorching days. When looking for accommodation, we advise keeping an eye out for places with heating facilities as well as air conditioning or ceiling fans.


Finding accommodation in Adelaide

The best place to start a house search is usually the on internet, where expats will find plenty of property portals to browse. This can give a good idea of what's available within various price ranges, but we'd definitely advise that expats do not sign or pay anything before seeing the accommodation in person.

Many expats initially stay in short-term accommodation in Adelaide while they search for something more permanent. At this point, local newspapers, real-estate agents and word of mouth can all be useful tools in finding the perfect new home.

Unlike many other countries, rental prices in Australia are typically quoted per week rather than per month. To avoid any surprises, make sure to double check what the terms are. Rent is typically either paid fortnightly or monthly.


Renting accommodation in Adelaide

Making an application

A system known as the "100-point identification check" is used countrywide for a number of administrative applications, including rental applications. Several forms of proof of identity must be submitted as part of the application. Different documents are allocated different point values, and must add up to 100 points.

Since the market moves fast, expats should prepare this documentation ahead of time so that they can submit their application as soon as they find something they like.

Leases

Most leases in Australia are for a period of 12 months, although it may be possible to negotiate a shorter or longer lease term if necessary.

Deposits

When signing a lease, tenants will need to pay a deposit (known as a bond) of four to six weeks' worth of rent. At the end of the lease, costs for damages to the property will be deducted from the bond, with the remainder returned to the tenant.

Utilities

In most cases, tenants are responsible for all utilities on top of the cost of rent. This includes electricity, water, gas and internet, though some landlords include water as part of the rental cost.

Areas and suburbs in Adelaide

New arrivals in Adelaide are likely to find that one can get almost anywhere important within 20 minutes. For expats moving from busier cities, this will often come as a pleasant surprise. The fact that Adelaide is a smaller metro should make getting around easier – however, Adelaide’s public transport network is limited in places and many expats choose to invest in a car. 

Expats generally choose to rent property in Adelaide to get a feel for the city before buying, or in the case of only staying for a relatively short period of time. There is a range of options when it comes to choosing where to set up one's home in Adelaide.


Popular areas and suburbs in Adelaide

Adelaide

Medindie, Walkerville and Prospect

Medindie, Walkerville and Prospect are suburbs in the north of Adelaide. They are close to the city centre and provide a range of housing options, from large luxury homes to apartments and townhouses. These areas are a short commute from the city centre and are well served by public transport. 

Medindie and Walkerville are popular with wealthy expat families because of the proximity to some of Adelaide’s top private schools. Prospect is a little less well established so rental prices may be slightly cheaper than in Medindie and Walkerville.

Brompton

Brompton is a bohemian area in northern Adelaide, popular with arty types and students. It's a stone's throw from Adelaide city centre and is well served by a number of trains and buses. With plenty of houseshares in the area, Brompton is perfect for young expats who are in Australia on a working holiday or gap year.

Burnside and Kensington Gardens

Burnside and Kensington Gardens are suburbs that lie to the east of Adelaide. The areas are renowned for their beautiful tree-lined avenues. These suburbs are particularly suitable for expats with young children as there are lots of parks and community facilities.

For active types, Hazelwood Park and Langman Reserve provide great opportunities for hiking and mountain biking at weekends. Burnside is also particularly popular among older expats and retirees, and the area has a strong sense of community.

Springfield and Netherby

To the southeast of Adelaide are areas such as Springfield and Netherby. These green and leafy areas are nestled at the bottom of the Adelaide Hills and have stunning views over the Adelaide plains.

Springfield and Netherby aren't far from Adelaide's city centre and well catered for by the public transport network. Adding to the appeal of this area for families is the number of prestigious schools in the area. Thanks to the beauty of their location, the areas of Springfield and Netherby have become some of the most affluent areas of Adelaide.

Glenelg and Brighton

Glenelg and Brighton are two examples of great beachside suburbs that lie to the west of Adelaide. These are popular areas with expats of all ages. fulfilling their dream of living by the sea. The western suburbs of Adelaide are connected to the city by public transport networks. Demand for property is quite high in these areas and rental prices reflect this. 

Golden Grove

Golden Grove is a northeastern area of Adelaide. In recent years, this suburb has started to attract lots of new residents because of its large green spaces, modern housing and low crime rate. The area has a nice mix of locals and expats, and is home to everyone from young families to professionals and retired people.

Although Golden Grove is further out than many of Adelaide’s other suburbs and not as well served by public transport, many expats choose to settle in the area because of the favourable rental costs. 

Healthcare in Adelaide

As is the case with the rest of Australia, Adelaide has modern, well-equipped hospitals with highly trained staff. There are also a number of quality teaching hospitals in Adelaide, and many of the city's hospitals are connected to a university.

Australia's public healthcare system, Medicare, provides subsidised or fully funded medical treatment to those who qualify. Citizens of Australia and New Zealand, as well as holders of certain visa categories, are usually eligible for these services. Those on shorter-term visas will usually not be covered under Medicare and will need to take out private health insurance instead.


Hospitals in Adelaide

Burnside Hospital

www.burnsidehospital.asn.au
Address: 120 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens

The Memorial Hospital

www.thememorialhospital.org.au
Address: Sir Edwin Smith Avenue, North Adelaide 

Parkwynd Private Hospital

www.parkwyndprivatehospital.com.au
Address: 137 East Terrace, Adelaide

St Andrew's Hospital

www.stand.org.au
Address: 350 South Terrace, Adelaide

Education and Schools in Adelaide

Expats moving to Adelaide can take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of high-quality public and private schools in the city. The compulsory schoolgoing age is 6 to 16, though in practice many children attend school beyond the compulsory years.

Those who want their child to study at an international school in Adelaide should be aware that their choices will be limited, and it will be important to start the application process as far ahead of time as possible.


Public schools in Adelaide

Students attend public schools within their designated school zone, which is determined by residential address. It can be difficult to change public schools without physically moving.

Government schooling is free for long-term residents of Australia but those in the country on temporary visas will have to pay a flat fee to attend. There are also additional costs for materials. This can add up to a fair amount, and temporary-visa holders may be better off going for a Catholic school. Though private, Catholic schools are sponsored by the church and their fees are lower than what the government charges non-residents.

English is the language of instruction in government schools but some schools offer language-immersion programmes where teaching is in English, along with an additional language, such as French or Chinese.


Private schools in Adelaide

Private schools in Adelaide appeal to those interested in religious instruction, alternative teaching and learning styles, as well as to international students who are not permanent residents of Australia. There are scores of private schools to choose from, with a wide price range. Private school fees are typically expensive, with the notable exception of Catholic schools, which are funded by a combination of donations, state funding and fees.


International schools in Adelaide

Unlike in the larger Australian cities that have a number of international schools offering expat students the option of continuing to study the curriculum of their home country, international options in Adelaide are limited. There is just a handful of international schools in the city, most of which offer the International Baccalaureate.

As demand for places at these schools is high, expat parents need to make their applications as soon as possible. Most international schools in Adelaide have long waiting lists. Fees at these schools tend to be high and parents will also need to budget for additional expenses such as uniforms, school trips, extra-curricular activities and textbooks. 

Lifestyle in Adelaide

Adelaide remains one of Australia’s best-kept secrets and although locals are happy to keep it that way, nowadays it has a justly deserved reputation as a gourmet food and wine capital with great festivals. It’s equally known for street art, independent galleries and a thriving theatre scene.


Shopping in Adelaide

Rundle Mall is the major city shopping precinct and leading department stores and boutiques are all located here, as well as banking facilities, cafés and everything else expats might need.

Adelaide Arcade houses a range of speciality shops. It also boasts cinemas, designer stores and restaurants galore and epitomises the best that Adelaide has to offer.

There's also a great selection of markets in Adelaide. A local favourite for fresh produce is Adelaide Central Market. This is a place to savour everything gourmet that Adelaide and its wider region have to offer. Other popular markets include Gilles Street and the North Adelaide Vintage and Fashion Fair. 


Restaurants in Adelaide

Whatever one’s budget or eating preference there is a range of restaurants in Adelaide to explore. From award-winning restaurants to more humble offerings, there is something for everyone in this city. Those who are willing to travel a bit further afield will discover that restaurants located on Adelaide's wineries offer special dining experiences too.


Nightlife and entertainment in Adelaide

While Adelaide's nightlife doesn't quite compare to the thriving hubs of Melbourne or Sydney, there's still plenty to keep the night owls entertained. The club scene in Adelaide is eclectic and things heat up on weekends. Options range from wine bars and gastropubs to nightclubs and rooftop bars.

Theatre-goers will have plenty of opportunities to catch a good musical or stage performance at one of Adelaide's entertainment venues. Theatres around the city all host a range of productions and expats should check the latest listings to find something that tickles their fancy. 

See and Do in Adelaide

Expats moving to Adelaide may be pleasantly surprised at the range of things to see and do in the city. Adelaide is widely misconceived as a place of little entertainment compared to larger Australian cities such as Sydney, and while it's perhaps smaller and less frenetic, the city in fact packs a punch when it comes to the quality and variety of its attractions. 

There's something to suit all tastes. Nature lovers, culture vultures and everyone in between will find that the city is home to a number of must-see sights.


Recommended attractions in Adelaide

Adelaide Botanic Garden

For a relaxing day out, visitors can wander through this public garden of over 100 acres. On-site attractions include a Victorian-era greenhouse known as the Palm House, as well as the National Rose Trial Garden. Here, roses are grown and tested for compatibility with the Australian climate. 

Adelaide Festival Centre

As Australia's first multipurpose art centre, there is plenty for lovers of the arts to soak up at this venue. The centre boasts multiple theatres, a playhouse, an amphitheatre and art exhibition spaces. A number of annual arts festivals take place here, interspersed by a diverse schedule of top-notch musicals, plays, operas, dance shows and stand-up comedy.

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is an extremely popular wildlife facility offering visitors the chance to see a diverse array of over 2,500 animals. The zoo's beloved giant pandas are a highlight, and visitors can also expect to see Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, emus, Tasmanian devils and even adorable quakkas. There are plenty of exciting activities offered by the zoo, including overnight camps and close-up animal encounters.

Art Gallery of South Australia

Dating back to 1881, the Art Gallery of South Australia is the foremost art institution in the region and hosts more than 40,000 local and international works of art. Those wanting to get to know their new home better should check out the Australian art section, which is comprised of both indigenous and colonial Australian art dating back to the start of the 19th century.

Barossa Valley

Often said to be the unofficial wine capital of Australia, the Barossa Valley is definitely worth a visit. Located just an hour away from Adelaide, visitors can sample wines from some of Australia's most popular winemakers as well as visit the area's boutique cellars. Though the valley is particularly well known for its red wine – Shiraz in particular – it also produces some excellent white wine grape varieties, including Riesling and Semillon.

What's On in Adelaide

There is always something going on in Adelaide, and the city plays host to a number of exciting annual events. Every year, locals and tourists alike come together to enjoy the festivals and celebrations that put Adelaide on the map. 

Here are some of the best annual events in Adelaide.


Annual events in Adelaide

Adelaide Fringe (February/March)

The largest open-access arts festival in the southern hemisphere, the Adelaide Fringe Festival is not to be missed. This month-long extravaganza features more than 6,000 artists from around the world performing in marquees, pubs, warehouses, theatres and pop-up venues across the city. The programme includes over 1,200 different events, so festival-goers have a wide selection to choose from.

Adelaide Festival (February/March)

Going back nearly 60 years, this acclaimed cultural event features an array of performances. Attendees can enjoy opera, theatre, dance and cabaret performances, as well as visual art forms such as fine art and new media.

Barossa Vintage Festival (April)

This fantastic five-day festival draws visitors to the Barossa Valley wine region just outside Adelaide. This celebration of the region's food, wine and culture hosts an array of events spread out over several days and makes for a perfect family outing.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival (June)

This unique public festival, featuring top artists from the cabaret-, music- and theatre worlds, is the largest of its kind globally. Tickets might be on the pricey side, but the festival has loads of entertainment options and offers a not-to-be-missed experience.

Shipping and Removals in Adelaide

Expats considering shipping items to Adelaide will first need to decide what to lug along on their move to Australia. Shipping can quickly become expensive, and Adelaide has plenty of resources to purchase items upon arrival.


Shipping smaller items to Adelaide

Expats moving to Adelaide should remember that if they have less than 20 boxes it is not worthwhile shipping through a commercial shipper. The private companies are more expensive than local post offices, so it’s vital to consider all the options and conduct the proper research beforehand. Expats should consider air mail when they need items delivered quickly, or if they don’t mind higher costs.


Shipping pets to Adelaide

Shipping pets to Australia can be a complex process. The relevant bio-security regulations relating to one's country of origin must be met, and a microchip implanted on the animal for identification purposes. Owners will also need to pay for air transport and the relevant documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Adelaide

Moving to a new country is always a daunting experience, and expats often have all sorts of questions regarding life in their soon-to-be home. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about moving to Adelaide.

Are there many international schools in Adelaide?

There are only a few international schools in Adelaide, but there are many excellent public and private schools also available to expats.

What's the weather like in Adelaide?

Adelaide has a welcoming climate made up of pleasant, warm summers and mild, short winters. In the hotter months, expats will find themselves with over 10 hours of sunlight, and plenty of opportunities to soak up sun on the many beautiful beaches. Most of the rain in Adelaide falls between April and October.

How does healthcare in Adelaide work?

Good quality healthcare is available in Adelaide. Some expats may be entitled to Medicare, the Australian public health system. Those who aren't should take out private health insurance.

Are there a lot of things to do in Adelaide?

Whilst Adelaide may not be as busy as other Australian cities, the city offers plenty in the way of annual events and sightseeing.

Will I need a car to live in Adelaide?

Adelaide has a dense city centre and an extensive suburban area. Expats who live and work in the city centre will not need a car, but those living further out may find that it makes life easier. Adelaide has a reliable public transport system, and additionally many places are walkable.

Getting Around in Adelaide

While public transport in Adelaide is available, services aren't as extensive or regular as one would find in Australia’s larger cities. For this reason, while many commuters are happy to use public transport close to the city centre, they find it useful to have their own car as well, especially those who live further out.


Public transport in Adelaide

An integrated train, tram and bus network make getting around in Adelaide fairly easy. The cost of public transport in the city is reasonable, especially in comparison to other Australian cities.

Buses

Adelaide has a comprehensive bus system, but commuters often complain that the buses are slow or late. One of the city's most popular bus systems is the O-Bahn Busway, a guided bus route around the city. In addition to this, there is a free City Connector bus service that services the Adelaide CBD and North Adelaide.

Tram

The Adelaide tram network was once extensive, but has now been significantly reduced. Although the tram network is limited, it does serve as a novel option for those wanting to avoid traffic congestion in the city centre.

Train

Adelaide Metro’s train system consists of only a handful of lines, including interstate lines to Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Darwin. Though the trains and tracks are slightly outdated, they generally run on time.


Taxis in Adelaide

There are a number of taxi companies in Adelaide. Taxis can be hailed on the street or pre-booked by phone. Rates vary from company to company. Charges increase at night and on weekends. Ride-hailing services such as Uber are also operational in Adelaide and are sometimes more convenient than regular taxis.


Driving in Adelaide

Although it is possible to walk or use public transport close to Adelaide’s city centre, the system is somewhat limited and service outside the city is infrequent. Many expats find it useful to buy a car. This is often the most practical way to get around Adelaide, especially if living in the suburbs.

Expats can drive on a licence from their home country for a period of 90 days after their arrival in Australia. After this, a South Australian driver's licence must be obtained in order to continue driving legally in Adelaide.


Cycling in Adelaide

Adelaideans love to cycle, although they tend to do so more for fun rather than function. Similarly, while the city has some great recreational cycle routes, cycle routes for commuters are limited. There are a few disjointed cycle lanes around the city but the options aren’t always practical or safe.