The UK’s Telegraph newspaper says Adelaide is a city that “has it all.” It was the only Australian city listed by The New York Times of 52 places to visit in 2015 and the UK’s Sunday Times has just listed Adelaide as the Number One place “alphabetically” to live in the world. It’s already widely known that the city is renowned for its food and wine but what is it like living here day to day? After more than a decade living in Sydney, I returned to my hometown to find out. Here are my 10 tips on adapting to life in this unique city.
1. It’s OK to call Adelaide, “Radelaide”
Some claim Radelaide is a derogatory reference, demeaning Adelaide in a veil of sarcasm. Others, like me, disagree. It’s a feel good term, used with endearment to express that the city is RAD i.e. cool and hip. The expression has been around for close to a decade but it’s been popping up more frequently in conversations, SMS or Facebook posts, especially among the younger generation. Even Jamie Oliver is using the term, recently tweeting: “Morning guys #recipeoftheday coming from Adelaide or Radelaide as I just heard”. The city lays claim to some pretty RAD events; The Tour Down Under, The Garden of Unearthly Delights, The Fringe, The Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and, while it seems incongruent to the burgeoning arts scene, the motorsport V8 race, Clipsal.
We should be proud of our RADness and embrace Radelaide as an appropriate nickname for our city.
2. There are fewer car “dramas”
Owning a car here has less impact on your hip pocket and your sanity than in other bigger cities. Car insurance goes down from $74 in Sydney to $47 a month in Adelaide. No more $8 an hour for parking at Bondi Beach - well that’s if you could EVER actually find a park there in summer! No, here at Adelaide’s most visited beach, Glenelg, you can find a space and it’s not uncommon to get it for FREE! In fact, you can park virtually anywhere along the beaches without much hassle at all. Not to mention in Adelaide we don’t have to contend with thousands of dollars in tolls a year, complex one-way streets or gridlock in the Sydney Harbour tunnel. Plus we can now drive down south on a two-way freeway, what a break-through! Thanks to Colonel Light, who designed Adelaide in a grid, you can’t get lost.
You can get from A to B easier, providing you don’t get stuck at one of the many rail crossings in peak hour.
3. Buying alcohol has never been easier or more rewarding
South Australia is the only state, aside from the Northern Territory, which will give you ten cents for every qualifying beverage can or bottle you recycle. This incentive system, which is encouraging environmentally, minimises rubbish in landfill whilst putting some money back in your pocket. My last recycle earned me $17, a half a tank of petrol in my economical car. It’s also easier to buy alcohol in the Festival State as there’s often no need to find a car park. The Drive – Through Bottle Shop otherwise known affectionately as the “BottLo” has revolutionised our alcohol buying routine - they are everywhere. This type of service doesn’t exist in most foreign countries. My friend from Canada was so surprised she laughed and took a photo of what she described as a rare phenomenon, an alcohol shop you can drive through!
Cheers Adelaide for making it easy and rewarding to buy booze!
4. “Adelaideans” are good for the soul
The city is filled with friendly, community minded people, with time for others. On a walk along the beach, I met a woman who asked if the glasses she was holding were mine. She’d been up and down the foreshore for over an hour trying to find the owner. Local shop keepers address you by name and ask about your parent’s recent holiday. The clerk at the post office patiently explains to an elderly man why his gas bill has gone up over winter. A girl in the local Foodland introduces me to her yoga teacher when I ask about her yoga mat. On a train I meet an older lady and she spends twenty minutes offering suggestions on my potential job prospects here.
Adelaideans are generally open and kind and don’t appear to suffer the same disconnect of residents living in larger cities.
5. Enjoy the “up and coming” CBD vibrancy
Adelaide is a city with emerging character. OK, there are still the shady types lurking in Hindley Street but little by little things are changing. When I read about the “vibrant” city that was being created by the new small bars in the laneways of Adelaide’s West End, I was keen to see what the excitement was all about. Although in Leigh Street I only found two bars, it’s great to see some trendy places opening up nearby. Peel Street and the thoroughfare to Leigh Street is an example of how we’re maximising laneway vibrancy. The council is getting it right with ensuring rubbish bins are everywhere, encouraging a cleaner city. I used to have to scour the streets of Sydney to find a bin and lazy people didn’t bother! Making Wi-Fi freely available all over the inner city is a world class initiative.
Good on you SA State Government and Adelaide City Council.
6. Get ready to be spoilt for oceans and sunsets
From a girl who just got back from Ipanema beach in Rio De Janeiro, take it from me, we have it just as good as anyone, if not better. Sure Rio is Rio. It’s a beautiful place. There’s the beach, music, dance and a million Brazilians and tourists. If your objective however is just to enjoy the ocean, beach and wildlife, you can’t go past the uncrowded pristine Adelaide coastline. Sure we have more sharks than anywhere else in the country, if not the world, but at least your belongings will be safe and you don’t need to fight to put your towel down between body-builders and beach-volley ballers.
How many places can you see the sun set over the ocean?
Adelaide, this is the jewel in your crown for me.
7. Be “braced” for some peaceful, quiet living
Ah the serenity. Some liken Adelaide to a small, sleepy country town…but that is not a bad thing. There is not a weekend that goes by in Bondi where you won’t hear the sirens of police cars or ambulances. Not to mention the noise from backpackers. So much so that Bondi police do not make house calls anymore for noise complaints because if they did, they would spend all their time just quietening down Irish parties. Sometimes Adelaide gets criticised for being TOO quiet but there’s a lot to be said for an uninterrupted night’s slumber. Whilst parties still happen in Adelaide, most nights of the week in the suburbs you could hear a pin drop in the night.
If you do happen to find yourself awake, look to the night sky. You will see more stars here than you ever did in a big city.
8. Indulge in a HOUSE without being a multi millionaire
Most people live in houses rather than apartments in Adelaide. This is an unfamiliar concept for many in the eastern states. The average price for a house in Sydney is more than a million dollars, compared to Adelaide which is less than half that. 550K in Sydney will get you a reasonably decent two bedroom flat twenty minutes out of the city. Parking may cost you extra. If you want to be in the affluent Eastern Suburbs, you’d be lucky to get a decent one bedroom for this price. In contrast, for the same money in Adelaide, within walking distance to a local beach, you can buy a three bedroom, two bathroom, two car space house. In Adelaide, renters will be gifted with extra space and a better standard for the same money people pay for smaller digs in bigger cities. If you’re buying an apartment here, Adelaide strata fees rarely surpass $300 a quarter. In Sydney, you will likely be paying around $500 to $1500.
Bang for your buck!
9. Air conditioners are a necessity, not a luxury
If you like your summers scorching hot, you’re in luck! In 2014, Adelaide had more than 12 days of temperatures over 40C. I know air conditioning isn’t great for the environment and the costs of running these units might send you broke. However to live here without it, you’re signing up to swelter like you would in an African desert. Insomnia will set in and sleep will evade you for weeks while you toss and turn in sweaty sheets. You will be unbelievably hot and bothered, irritated and on the brink of what feels like a fever of the mind. At least that’s what happened to me when my air-con blew during a record breaking hot spell. Sure, you can use fans but they just don’t seem to have the “guts” that air con does.
If you find yourself devoid of cooling apparatus during summer, at least you’ll know that if you want to hit the beach for a refreshing dip, you will be able to find a carpark!
10. It’s a great place to create and build ideas or reinvent yourself…
Career wise, reinvention might be necessary if you have been working in a specialised field interstate or overseas, as there are still limited job opportunities.
You will often hear the saying “Adelaide is all about who you know,” but landing a good well-paying job here requires more than just knowing people. The jobs have to be on offer in the first place. Big picture work opportunities are scant with Adelaide having one of the highest unemployment rates of a capital city in the country. But as they say “necessity is the mother of invention” and in Adelaide’s case, this holds true. If you can’t get a job, consider creating one for yourself by setting up a small business. Due to lower overheads in Adelaide, it’s an affordable city to cut costs whilst getting a venture off the ground. Entrepreneurs are supported through various programs such as the City of Entrepreneurs, operated by Adelaide city council.
With a great standard of living, cheaper real estate and lower costs of running a car, you don’t need such a high paying job after all. But you just might need to be a chameleon.
South Australia’s capital does have a lot to offer.
With all of its advantages, I think Adelaide is...