Living in Adelaide

by Mark Benson on March 12, 2010

in General Information

Over the last few years there is no doubt that the number of expats living in Adelaide has increased significantly with more and more people looking to experience life in one of Australia’s more prominent cities. Situated in the State of South Australia, Adelaide is in many ways the centre of the state and is the fifth largest city in Australia with a population of around 1.3 million people. Situated in the south eastern area of the country Adelaide is a coastal city which has many attractions with regards to tourism and industry.

So what exactly does Adelaide have to offer those looking to relocate to Australia?

The history of Adelaide

Adelaide has a history which goes back to 1836 when it became one of the earlier planned capital centres for British visitors to the shores. Named after Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV, Adelaide has a history which is varied and lively and continues to attract more and more expats to this very day.

Having become the centre for British expats moving to the region in 1800 it did not take long to build trade links with the rest of Australia which was to prove critical to the growth of the region both in population and economy. Even though Adelaide has been overtaken by other more prominent cities in Australia there is no doubt it is still one of Australia’s best-known and best loved cities and indeed economic prosperity in the region continues to grow.

The climate in Adelaide

As we have touched on in some of our earlier articles regarding Australia there is a varied climate in the region with Adelaide officially classified as a Mediterranean climate. The peak periods for warm weather had are November, December, January and February with most of the rainfall (although often unreliable) falling in the winter months. Of the state capital cities in Australia Adelaide has by far and away the driest weather with events such as frost and severe cold weather very rare to say the least.

While the weather conditions in Adelaide may not suit all expats there is no doubt that the vast majority are in some way attracted by the warm climate in Australia, something which is well defined in the Adelaide area.

The population of Adelaide

With a population approaching 1.3 million Adelaide is the fifth largest city in Australia although of late it has shown below average population growth compared to Australia as a whole. While many of the more prominent cities in Australia continue to attract enormous numbers of expats the non-Adelaide born population of the city is around the 25% mark, less than areas such as Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. However, the city still continues to attract expat interest with the more prominent ethnic groups including English (7.3%), Italian (2%), Scottish (1%), Vietnamese (1%), and Greek (1%).

Unsurprisingly, English is by far and away the more popular language in the area although there is a prominent Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese presence. Quite why the population of Adelaide has not grown as much as some of Australia’s other prominent cities is a mystery to some.

Working in Adelaide

As with the vast majority of state capitals in Australia, Adelaide is the centre of government services although there is also a large manufacturing, defence technology, commodity export and service industry presence. It is interesting to see that more than 50% of cars produced in Australia are manufactured in and around the Adelaide area with significant exposure for the likes of General Motors. Even Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation still considers Adelaide it’s “spiritual home” despite the fact the head office was moved elsewhere some time ago.

The Adelaide economy was dealt a huge blow back in 1992 with the collapse of the State bank which effectively held back the state authorities in the preceding years, perhaps one reason why recent population growth has been below the average of Australia’s other popular cities. However, the state has now replenished government coffers and regained its AAA+ rating credit rating leaving the authorities more scope to invest for the future and continue to build on the firm foundations of the Adelaide economy.

The transport network of Adelaide

Those living in Adelaide will be aware that the city authorities claim you can travel between any two points in Adelaide within 20 minutes. While the “20 minute city” claim may be a little exaggerated in some instances, there is no doubt that Adelaide has a very well drilled and comprehensive transport network. Aside from the road network there are trains, buses and trams not to mention the nearby airport and sea travel options.

To give you an example of the transport network within Adelaide, and the surrounding region, there are 18 trams, 7000+ bus stops, over 800 buses, 85 stations, 170 different bus routes and a growing number of “park and ride” opportunities. Even though Adelaide may not have seen population growth in line with other prominent cities within Australia over the last few years there is no doubt that the transport network is in place for significant growth in the future.

Property prices in Adelaide

Even though we have just experienced one of the worst ever worldwide economic downturns in living history the Australian property market has bounced back quicker than the vast majority of countries around the world and there appears to be significant demand for Australian property. Over the last month we have seen an increase in Adelaide property prices in the region of 3.2% and while many experts see no end to property price increases in the short term there is no way in which prices can continue to push ahead at such a rate.

When compared to the likes of Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, the Adelaide property market on the face of it looks to offer greater value for money. However, it is worthwhile remembering that while Adelaide does attract a number of expats to the region it is not as prominent in this field as the likes of Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. These other cities in Australia have seen above-average salary growth due in the main to the influx of highly skilled immigrant workers, although that is not to say Adelaide has not shown growth itself over the last decade.

Education in Adelaide

Those looking at potentially living in Adelaide will also need to be aware of the education facilities in the area, especially if they have young families. Thankfully this is an area in which Adelaide and local authorities have prospered of late in an attempt to make Adelaide “Australia’s education hub”. The city has seen an above-average increase in both national and international students and many foreign institutions are now looking to open up their own education facilities in and around the region.

Primary and secondary education

There are two specific education systems in the State of South Australia with the government operated system and an independent private network of Catholic schools. However, all schools in the state provide education under the South Australian certificate of education with a very high standard of teaching available across the board.

University education

As we touched on above, Adelaide itself is looking to become “Australia’s education hub” and as such there is a very impressive and growing university presence. The University of Adelaide with around 21,000 students is the third oldest in Australia and one of the powerful “group of eight” in the country. There are also many other university style education facilities in the region and significant investment by local authorities, national companies and international companies look certain to ensure an ever higher standard of education will be made available to those living in Adelaide.

The culture of Adelaide

While Adelaide was one of the first British expat colonial sites the impact and presence of the English has been diluted somewhat over the years with significant numbers of Germans, Italians, Greeks, Dutch, Poles and other European nationalities represented in the region. However, there is still very much a British theme to Adelaide perhaps more so than many other prominent Australian cities.

As a consequence Adelaide, while not showing the same growth in expat numbers as other Australian cities, is now being more recognised as an interesting port of call for those looking to relocate to Australia.

Cost of living in Adelaide

The cost of living in Adelaide compares favourably to the larger Australian cities such as Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra although like all of Australia’s business centres there has been an increase in the cost of living over the last few years. After suffering a fatal financial collapse back in the 1990s, the state of South Australia is now very much back on its feet and the local economy in Adelaide has shown significant growth of late.

However, one of the downsides to economic growth is an increase in the cost of living and while property prices have increased in the region, forcing some Australian nationals to look further afield, the problem is nowhere near the levels seen in other areas of Australia. Situated on the coast and with an impressive transport network there is no doubt that Adelaide is well-positioned for the future and should begin to attract greater numbers of expats in the months and years ahead.

Sydney is by far and away the most expensive city in Australia in which to live and living in Adelaide is becoming a more realistic choice for expats moving to the country. Even though the difference in the cost of living in some of Australia’s larger cities will reduce in the years to come, at this point in time many people believe Adelaide offers excellent value for money and the opportunity to be part of an area of Australia set for impressive economic growth.

Socialising in Adelaide

As you might expect for city which has strong connections to the UK and the British culture, there is much to do in and around Adelaide with a large number of shopping centres, restaurants, nightclubs and other hostelries. Even though the city is not the largest in Australia (number five in the country) it does offer a vibrant and exciting social life and there are a number of pockets of expat groups dotted in and around the city.

In simple terms, whatever style of nightlife you’re looking for there is certain to be something to fulfil your needs in Adelaide at a lesser price than that found in many of Australia’s other cities.

Attracting expats in the future

Even though the 1992 collapse of the State bank affected local government investment for sometime afterwards, there has been a marked growth in the Adelaide and state of South Australia economy of late. Even though unemployment is higher than many other areas of Australia the authorities are very keen to attract more and more expats to the region to fill a number of key employment positions. As a consequence it is likely that more and more expats will consider Adelaide in the future due to a mixture of employment prospects, economic growth, location and the lower cost of living when compared to the likes of Sydney, Melbourne, etc.


Living in Adelaide is an option which more and more expats are looking to consider due in the main to a lower cost of living compared to other cities in Australia, employment prospects and good old-fashioned economic growth. There is also a very prominent British culture to the region, which goes back to the 1800, although the Adelaide population of today is more multicultural than ever before.

If you are looking to retire to Australia, begin a new career in Australia or indeed move your family lock stock and barrel to the country then Adelaide is an area of Australia which demands consideration. Life is not as hectic in Adelaide as it is in some other cities of Australia and the population are renowned for being a little more laid back although this should not take deflect from the impressive growth in the local economy, investment by local authorities and attractions which Adelaide has in abundance.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobby March 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

This is a great article. Keep me updated.


admin March 16, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Yes I agree and thanks for your comments


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