Adelaide: Australia’s Best-Kept Secret? Why Australians Are Choosing to Relocate During the COVID-19 Era

adelaide south australia map

To move, or not to move? As the global community navitages its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the dilemma facing many Australians. With an increasing number of people migrating for affordable housing and lockdown-free life across state lines, Adelaide is narrowing the economic gap; promising a strong property market and affordable living to a burgeoning number of inhabitants.

Alexis, the owner of one of Adelaide’s top building inspection companies, Select Building Inspections, has remarked on this surprising trend. In a recent interview, Alexis observed that; “As the country continues reeling from the effects of the pandemic, there is an increasing number of Australians seeking a new home in Adelaide. In fact, we have noticed a significant increase of about 40% in clients from Interstate since the start of COVID in early 2020.”

If you’re curious about the diverse range of factors driving Adelaide’s recent growth, then make sure to read on, as we reveal what the Festival State has to offer to its prospective residents.

Adelaide's population is booming.

After decades of population decline, it looks like things are finally looking up for Australia’s Southern State. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Adelaide has seen the biggest net gain in residents since their first Regional internal migration estimate in 1981.

According to the report, the March 2021 quarter saw an increase of 650 people moving to South Australia from other territories. This was a marked improvement over both the previous quarter’s gain of 130 and the March 2020 quarter loss of 220 people. In net terms, South Australia had the largest population drain to Queensland (-270) and gained the most from Victoria (+380). Overall, Adelaide had a net gain of 380 residents from interstate. This made the March quarter of 2021 the first net interstate gain in population since September 2002.

These are exciting numbers that paint a drastically different picture of Adelaide than the one many of us are used to. It’s indisputable that the city has long been overshadowed by Melbourne and Sydney. After all, both are larger and have a well-established place in Australia’s collective identity. But with an increasing population and expanding CBD, Adelaide is starting to carve out its niche and enjoy a well-deserved and long-awaited spot in the limelight.

Adelaide: Australia's most liveable city.

Of course, it’s important to understand what factors may have triggered this sudden shift in interstate migrations, and the EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking may give us a good indication. Each year the Economist Intelligence Unit publishes a ranking of 140 global cities for their urban quality of life, based on assessments of stability, infrastructure, healthcare, environment, culture, and education.

According to 2021 rankings, Adelaide outmatched its interstate competitors as the third most liveable city in the world. This places Adelaide well above Australia’s more well-known metropolises such as Melbourne and Brisbane, which rank at number 8 and 10 respectively. Most importantly, Adelaide is only a hair behind New Zealand’s Auckland at number two and Japan’s Osaka at number one. Given the recent rise in population, it seems that the high standards of living haven’t gone unnoticed. In an interview series with recent migrants, Ryan Jones, a computer software engineer from greater Melbourne suggested that the choice to move was an easy one;

“I have two young kids and flexible work, so relocating to Adelaide was a no-brainer. Adelaide has great schools, parks, beaches, and affordable housing. It really is the perfect place to raise a family.”

Adelaide’s thriving CBD has plenty to offer.

Over recent years, Adelaide has initiated a transition from small-town charm to a world-class city. This is largely due to a concerted effort by the South Australian government to improve infrastructure and increase job opportunities. Inaugurated by the “30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide”, The CBD’s transformation has seen a crop of new developments spring up, including Lot Fourteen, the Riverbank Precinct, and Adelaide BioMed City. Adelaide’s infrastructure is also seeing multiple upgrades, with a partnership between the government, TPG Telecom, and the City Of Adelaide set to deliver an innovative, $4.8 million high-speed Wi-Fi system throughout SA’s capital.

Although it is rapidly expanding, Adelaide is still only Australia’s fifth-largest city, with a population of just over one million people. This makes Adelaide a perfect fit for those looking for a balanced lifestyle that leaves behind the bustle of a large metropolis while retaining easy access to outstanding amenities. With its relaxed way of life and a strong focus on the arts and culture, Adelaide offers a range of tempting incentives for prospective residents, including;

A Growing Economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Australian economy. The tourism and hospitality industries have been hit hard, with many businesses closing their doors. Retailers are also feeling the pinch, as consumers are spending less money in response to the lockdowns.

The good news is that Adelaide is relatively unaffected by the pandemic, and unlike Melbourne and Sydney, has not been subject to any prolonged lockdowns. In fact, during the period from 2020-2021, Adelaide recorded the highest rise in gross state product (GSP) and the highest GSP per capita growth in the nation. South Australian MP Steven Marshall praised the recent figures as;

“… [charting] a course out of the pandemic by creating jobs, building what matters, and delivering better services to cement our growing global reputation as one of the safest and most attractive places in the world to live, work and raise a family.”

Affordable Living.

In terms of cost of living, Adelaide is far more affordable than Melbourne or Sydney. The cost of living in Adelaide is about 27% cheaper than in Sydney and 8% cheaper than in Melbourne. If you’re looking to rent an average 85 m2 apartment, then you might be surprised to find that rent in Sydney is 60% more expensive than in Adelaide, and 47% more expensive than in Melbourne. This makes Adelaide an appealing option for young professionals and those looking to save on their living expenses.

A stable property market.

A recent report by The University of Adelaide’s School of Architecture and Built Environment has found that Adelaide’s intriguing combination of relative affordability combined with market stability is highly sought-after by interstate migrants. According to Peter Koulizos, the lead author of the report and chairman of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia;

“[Adelaide has] a very stable market and COVID-19 has turned it into an even more attractive proposition as so many people are relocating from the bigger cities to the regional areas and smaller capital cities. I spoke to someone the other day whose son worked in Sydney who’s now moved back to Adelaide, working remotely on a Sydney wage but with Adelaide’s expenses.”

Acclaimed food and wine.

Food and wine culture is a major drawcard for Adelaide. The city has a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as a thriving wine industry. South Australia is home to a diverse range of wine regions, including The Barossa, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonwarra, Adelaide Hills, Riverland, Langhorne Creek, and the aptly-named Eden Valley. Some of the most famous labels include international exports such as D’Arenberg and Penfolds.

However, wine is not all that Adelaide has to offer. Adelaide is also rapidly becoming Australia’s craft beer capital. The Prancing Pony Brewery can be found in the Adelaide Hills and is home to the world-renowned Red India Ale. With its full-bodied flavours, this double hoppy brew won the coveted title of ‘World’s Best Beer’ in 2016 and remains a treasured local favourite.

Insights into Australia's unique culture.

Adelaide is known as the “Festival State” for a very good reason and is famed for its festivals, including the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, WOMAdelaide, and the Goodwood Revival. In 2021, the Adelaide Fringe delivered the largest festival during the COVID-19 pandemic, selling an astounding 630,000 tickets to a total value of $16.4 million.

The city also has a rich history, which can be explored at the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery. Recently unveiled plans also show that Adelaide will soon be home to an Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre. Designed by the prestigious Architecture studios Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot, the construction will take inspiration from traditional shelters and seek to respectfully house the cultural artifacts of the world’s oldest living cultures.

World-Class Education.

Adelaide is home to three world-class universities that have produced some exceptional academics, creatives, and innovators. From Nobel Laureates and Rhodes Scholars who’ve led their respective fields, Adelaide’s Higher education consistently ranks within the top 2% of institutions world-wide.

A green city brimming with nature’s beauty.

Already renowned for its botanic gardens, parks, and green spaces, the South Australian government is set to invest a further $5 million to create a “wilder, cooler, and increasingly climate-resistant” CBD.

Four initiatives will be delivered over the coming four years, including a $1.5 million Wild Walls and Roofs Grants, $1 million for Cool Corridors, $2 million Greener City Streets Program, and $500,000 worth of Green Water Rebates.

Adelaide is a city worth considering.

There you have it; just some of the many reasons why Adelaide is such an enticing option for relocation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adelaide seems to have it all – strong population growth, a steady housing market, an exciting and expanding CBD, rich culture and entertainment options as well as greenery and natural beauty. If you are looking for an affordable place to live with a strong economy and plenty of cultural attractions, then Adelaide may be the right choice for you.

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