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Moving to Adelaide

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

Living in Adelaide as an expat

While Adelaide is known for 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. Along with Adelaide's natural beauty, its uncluttered urban geography adds a sense of space and luxury. Large parklands, wide streets and classic suburban housing styles make for a refreshing way of life.

In terms of economics, Adelaide has billions of dollars of projects in the pipeline, many of them in the mining and defence industries. Expats skilled in these sectors, as well as those in healthcare, tourism, food production, and manufacturing should have no problem finding work in the city.

Adelaide has relatively affordable housing, and expats will have a range of accommodation types to choose from. The city centre is generally the priciest area, but expats will find plenty of cheaper surrounding suburbs to choose from, many of which are only a 10 to 20-minute drive from the CBD.

Public transportation in Adelaide may not be as extensive as in other capitals, but the city centre has plenty of trams, buses and a train network. Even though a car is not always necessary, expats may find having their own vehicle quite convenient, especially those in the suburbs.

The healthcare in Adelaide is excellent, with well-equipped hospitals and well-trained staff. Permanent residents and locals are covered by the universal healthcare programme called Medicare, whereas ineligible new arrivals should strongly consider private health insurance.

Cost of living in Adelaide

Salaries in Adelaide are generally lower than those in the other major Australian metros, but this is offset by an overall lower cost of living and a great quality of life. In fact, Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey places Adelaide at 106th out of 226 cities surveyed. This places the cost of living in Adelaide on par with that of Perth and well below that of Australia's most expensive city, Sydney (56th).

Expat families and children

Adelaide offers an array of great schools. Public education is free for permanent residents and the quality of these schools is generally excellent. Catholic and non-Catholic private schools are available, but international schools are rare and expensive.

The lifestyle in Adelaide is enviable, with wine farms close enough for a day visit, and plenty of family-friendly getaways nearby. Residents of the city can fill their time exploring the city’s multitude of restaurants, shopping centres and nightlife venues. Getting out and about in nature is also a popular pastime here, with multiple hiking trails just waiting to be discovered.

Climate in Adelaide

The Mediterranean climate in the region makes Adelaide an enjoyable place to live. Summers can be hot, but the sea breezes often counter the heat and winters tend to be mild. Rainfall in Adelaide has decreased significantly over the years, making droughts quite common occurrences.

For those looking for a respite from frenetic city living, Adelaide is well worth considering. The city's relaxed lifestyle is the perfect remedy for strung out expats from big cities, and the high standard of living is an attractive prospect for any expat.

Weather in Adelaide

Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with cool winters and warm summers. The city's typical summer temperature is around 84°F (29°C), though higher temperatures during heatwaves 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 rainfall is generally infrequent and sporadic – especially in summer – 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 apply high-SPF sunscreen and stay 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, the city remains popular with expats, and its pros far outweigh its cons.

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

Accommodation in Adelaide

+ PRO: Cheaper areas not too far from the city

Although Adelaide has more than a million inhabitants, few people live in the city centre. Most live in the eastern suburbs or on the coast, where it is often surprisingly cheaper than inland neighbourhoods. These areas are still close enough to Adelaide's city centre to be reachable by bus or tram in less than 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 cost. This means that expats will need a good salary 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 grub, spicy dishes 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 various 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, restaurant bills tend to sting.

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

Expats fresh off the plane require determination and dedication to get the ‘Holy Grail’ that is 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 that first 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 along Adelaide's 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 with plenty of opportunities to pop into a wine farm for a tasting, which makes driving around the state of South Australia even more enjoyable.

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, house prices tend to increase the closer they are to the city centre.

Before setting out on a house hunt, expats should consider transport links, proximity to work and school, budget and lifestyle. In some cases, it may be necessary to sacrifice one aspect for another.

Types of accommodation in Adelaide

Adelaide is at the foot of a range of hills and most of the houses are in low one or two-storey buildings; taller apartment buildings are only common in and around the city centre. Furnished options are available, though most properties are unfurnished.

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

Adelaide winters can get quite chilly, while summers bring along some scorching days. We advise keeping an eye out for places with heating facilities and air conditioning or ceiling fans.

Finding accommodation in Adelaide

The best place to start a house search is usually online property portals. These can give expats a good idea of what's available within various price ranges and in different suburbs. Local newspapers, estate agents and word of mouth are also useful tools in finding the perfect new home. Many expats initially stay in short-term accommodation at first, while they search for something more permanent.

We strongly advise expats not to sign or pay anything before seeing the accommodation in person.

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 proof of identity documents must be submitted, each with a certain point value. These must add up to 100 points for the application to be successful.

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 and deposits

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.

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

Paying rent

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


In most cases, tenants are responsible for all utilities, such as water, electricity, waste removal and gas, along with the cost of the rent.

Areas and suburbs in Adelaide

The best places to live in Adelaide

Adelaide is blessed with a huge variety of neighbourhoods and suburbs, and new arrivals are sure to find an area that suits their priorities and lifestyle.

The compact nature of the city also means that a house hunter’s search won’t be limited to areas close to their workplace or their kids’ schools, as it rarely takes longer than 20 minutes to cross Adelaide.

Expats tend to rent, at least at first. We recommend newcomers do the same and only commit to buying once they’ve settled into their new life and have acquainted themselves with the many different neighbourhoods of Adelaide.

Popular areas and suburbs in Adelaide

Family-friendly areas in Adelaide


Medindie, Walkerville and Prospect

Medindie, Walkerville and Prospect are suburbs in the north of Adelaide. They are close to the city centre and boast a wealth of different 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 their proximity to some of Adelaide’s top private schools. Prospect is a little less well established so rental prices may be slightly gentler than in Medindie and Walkerville.


Brompton is a fun bohemian area in northern Adelaide popular with arty types and students. It's a stone's throw from Adelaide city centre and is well connected by 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 to the east of Adelaide that are renowned for their beautiful tree-lined avenues. They are particularly popular among 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 over weekends. Burnside is also home to many older expats and retirees, and the area has a strong sense of community.

Springfield and Netherby

To the southeast of Adelaide are 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. Neither are from the city centre, and both are easily accessible by public transport. There are a number of prestigious schools here, adding to the area’s appeal for families. Thanks to the beauty of their location, Springfield and Netherby have become some of the most sought-after areas of Adelaide.

Coastal suburbs in Perth

Glenelg and Brighton

To the west of Adelaide lie Glenelg and Brighton, two wonderful beachside suburbs popular with expats of all ages. Both suburbs are connected to the city by public transport networks, and demand for property here is quite high, which is reflected in the rental prices.

Golden Grove

Golden Grove is in the northeast of Adelaide. The downsides are that it’s quite far from Adelaide’s city centre and public transport here is limited. The upsides are its abundance of green spaces, modern housing, low crime rates and favourable rental prices. The area has a balanced mix of locals and expats, and is home to people from all walks, including students, young families, professionals and retirees.

Healthcare in Adelaide

As is the case in 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 healthcare facilities are connected to universities.

Australia's public healthcare system, called Medicare, provides subsidised or fully funded medical treatment to permanent residents and citizens of both Australia and New Zealand. Those on shorter-term visas will usually not be covered under Medicare and will need to take out private health insurance instead.

Adelaide has several pharmacies, some of which remain open until 12am. The city also has an emergency department in almost every hospital, with excellent medical staff and equipment.

Hospitals in Adelaide

Burnside Hospital
Address: 120 Kensington Road, Toorak Gardens

The Memorial Hospital
Address: Sir Edwin Smith Avenue, North Adelaide 

Parkwynd Private Hospital
Address: 137 East Terrace, Adelaide

St Andrew's Hospital
Address: 350 South Terrace, Adelaide

Education and Schools in Adelaide

Expats moving to Adelaide can choose between plenty of high-quality public and private schools. The compulsory school-going age is 6 to 16, though in practice most 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 or catchment area, which is determined by residential address.

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.

Government schooling is free for permanent residents of Australia, but those on temporary visas will have to pay a flat fee to attend. Additional costs for materials are also required, and these can add up to a fair amount.

Private schools and independent schools in Adelaide

An alternative for temporary-visa holders is to send their children to a private Catholic school. Though private, Catholic schools are funded by a combination of donations and state funding, meaning fees are often more reasonable.

Independent schools, on the other hand, are those private schools that aren’t religiously affiliated, but which have their own educational philosophies, and alternative teaching and learning styles. There are scores of independent schools to choose from, but they are typically expensive, and parents will often have to factor in additional costs of textbooks, field trips and uniforms.

International schools in Adelaide

Adelaide only has a handful of international schools, most of which offer the International Baccalaureate programme.

Demand for places at these schools is high and waiting lists are long, so expat parents need to submit their applications as soon as possible. Fees at these schools tend to be exorbitant and, again, parents will probably have to budget for additional expenses such as uniforms, school trips and other extra-curriculars.

Some specialised schools offer language-immersion programmes where English curricula are accompanied by an additional tongue, such as French or Chinese.

Special-needs education in Adelaide

Schools in Adelaide ensure the well-being of special-needs students by disrupting their educational experience as little as possible while providing the necessary support.

Non-specialised schools offer internal interventions that include attending a special class or disability unit. Where more support is needed, specialised schools dedicated to meeting special educational needs are also available.

Tutoring in Adelaide

A variety of tutoring companies operate in Adelaide. Some specialise in a particular subject, such as maths or science, while others offer a full bouquet of services. Tutors can be the ideal solution for children adapting to a new curriculum and schooling system or those preparing for university entrance exams.

Some reputable tutoring companies in Adelaide include Tutors SA and High Performance Learning.

Lifestyle in Adelaide

Adelaide used to be one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, but the secret’s out and nowadays it enjoys a well-earned reputation as a gourmet food and wine capital. It’s equally known for its street art, independent galleries and thriving theatre scene.

Shopping in Adelaide

Rundle Mall is the major city shopping precinct, with leading department stores, boutiques, banking facilities, cafes and everything else expats might need.

Adelaide Arcade houses a range of speciality shops. It 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 the city. A local favourite for fresh produce is Adelaide Central Market. Here, expats can 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

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 in Adelaide's wineries offer special dining experiences too.

Nightlife and entertainment in Adelaide

While the city’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 venues.

See and do in Adelaide

While Adelaide is perhaps smaller and less frenetic than the major Aussie metros, the city packs a punch when it comes to the quality and variety of its attractions.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

For a relaxing day out, guests can wander through this public garden of over 100 acres. Visitors can check out the Victorian-era greenhouse known as the Palm House and take a stroll through the National Rose Trial Garden.

Adelaide Festival Centre

There is plenty for art buffs to soak up at this multipurpose cultural venue. It boasts multiple theatres, a playhouse, an amphitheatre and exhibition spaces. Several annual art festivals take place here, along with top-notch musicals, plays, operas, dance shows and stand-up comedy.

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is a responsible wildlife sanctuary that cares for a diversity of critters, including quakkas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, Tasmanian devils and even giant pandas. The zoo also offers overnight camps and close-up animal encounters.

Barossa Valley

Visitors of Barossa Valley can sample wines from some of Australia's most popular winemakers and visit the area's boutique cellars. Though the valley is particularly well known for its red wine – shiraz in particular – it also produces excellent white varietals.

What’s on in Adelaide

There is always something going on in Adelaide. Below are some of the best yearly events in the city.

Adelaide Fringe (February/March)

This month-long extravaganza features more than 6,000 artists from around the world performing in various venues across the city. It is the largest open-access arts festival in the southern hemisphere, with a programme that includes over 1,200 different events.

Adelaide Festival (February/March)

Going back nearly six decades, this acclaimed cultural event features an array of performances every year. 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. Here, attendees celebrate the region's food, wine and culture with an array of events, spread out over several days.

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 may be on the pricey side, but the festival has loads of entertainment options and offers a not-to-be-missed experience.

Where to meet people and make friends in Adelaide

The Adelaide Hiking Collective

Expats fond of nature and hoping to get out and about can join this group of like-minded people. With social hikes and more serious challenges, this is the perfect community for expats looking to make friends while staying active and exploring Adelaide.

Adelaide Hills Photography Club

Shutterbugs will enjoy spending time with this photography group and meeting individuals with the same hobby. With outings to beautiful locations and feedback from the group, expats with a love of photography will find this group highly enriching.

Torrens Parkrun

Expats looking to make friends and stay healthy while exploring the city can find no better place than the official park run. Every Saturday, amateurs and serious parkrunners join in North Adelaide to socialise and try to beat their best time.

Shipping and Removals in Adelaide

Expats considering shipping items to Adelaide will first need to decide what to lug along on their move Down Under, and whether it’s worth it. Shipping can quickly become expensive, and Adelaide has plenty of opportunities to purchase items upon arrival.

Shipping smaller items to Adelaide

Expats should keep in mind that sending fewer than 20 boxes through a commercial shipper is not worth the high cost. Private companies are more expensive than local post offices, so it’s vital to consider all the options and conduct proper research. Expats should consider air mail if they need items delivered quickly; this is expensive though, so less urgent items should be shipped by sea.

Shipping pets to Adelaide

Shipping pets to Australia can be a complex process. The law is strict on bio-security regulations, and animals should be chipped and have all the necessary vaccinations. Owners will also need to pay for air transport and the relevant documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Adelaide

Moving to a new country can be 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 a few international schools in Adelaide, but expats often choose to send their children to one of the many excellent public or private schools in the city.

What's the weather like in Adelaide?

Adelaide has a delightful climate with pleasant, warm summers and mild, short winters. In the hotter months, expats will find themselves with more than 10 hours of sunlight, and plenty of opportunities to catch some rays 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. Expats with permanent residence visas are entitled to Medicare, the Australian universal public health system. Those who aren't eligible should take out private health insurance.

Are there a lot of things to do in Adelaide?

While Adelaide may not quite have the same level of buzz as other Australian cities, the city offers plenty in the way of entertainment, annual events and sightseeing.

Will I need a car to live in Adelaide?

Adelaide has a dense city centre and extensive suburbs. Expats who live and work in the city centre will not need a car, but those living further out may find that one makes life easier. Adelaide has a reliable public transport system, and the compact nature of the city means plenty of places are within walking and cycling distance.

Getting Around in Adelaide

While there is public transport available in Adelaide, services aren't as extensive or regular as in Australia’s larger cities. While many commuters are happy to use public transport in and around the city centre, those who live further out find it useful to have their own car, particularly those with children.

Public transport in Adelaide

Integrated train, tram and bus networks make getting around in Adelaide fairly easy, and the cost of public transport is reasonable, especially in comparison to other Australian cities. Frequent commuters may want to invest in a MetroCARD – a plastic card that can be recharged online and used on buses, trains and trams.


Adelaide has a comprehensive bus system that runs every 15–30 minutes, but commuters often complain that the buses are slow or late. One of the city's most popular 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 runs throughout the Adelaide CBD and North Adelaide.


Once quite an extensive service, the Adelaide tram network has since been significantly reduced, but it does still offer a route all the way to Glenelg. Although the tram network is limited, it serves as a novel alternative for those wanting to avoid traffic congestion in the city centre.


Adelaide’s metro 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. Trains depart every 20–30 minutes all day.

Taxis in Adelaide

There are a number of taxi companies in Adelaide. Taxis can be hailed on the street or pre-booked by phone or app. Rates vary from company to company, but charges generally increase at night and on weekends. Ride-hailing services such as Uber are also operational in Adelaide and are generally 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, especially those 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. For residents hoping to stay longer, a South Australian driver's licence must be obtained to continue driving legally.

Cycling in Adelaide

Adelaideans love to cycle, be it for fun or function, and the city’s flat geography makes it easy to do. Though the entire city may not be accessible by bicycle, the government is working hard to develop cycling infrastructure in order to accommodate those hoping to cycle as a means of transport.