Adelaide. “City of Churches” as it’s aptly named AND city of serial killers as James likes to quip. Don’t read too far into the reference of serial killers, because these are isolated incidents and it’s more of a running joke at this point than anything else. Adelaide is an incredibly safe, laid-back city with friendly people, an active arts community and just enough vibrance and urbanity to keep any city-goer satisfied. With a population of 1.326 million in the metropolitan area, Adelaide is a sprawling city that makes up most of the population of the State of South Australia. There are six states in total in Australia; South Australia being the dryest climate, most like that of Los Angeles or The Mediterranean.
Seeing how Australia only has a population of 24.4 million people, it’s not uncommon for its inhabitants to ask first where are they from—or announce it even. For some reason, Adelaide, amongst other Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane seems to get a bad rap. The other “toffees” as Australians might say instead of snooty people, turn their nose up at Adelaide as being provincial and less than par. Truth is however, Adelaide has been named amongst the top ten most livable cities for 5 years in a row. It has ranked a steady 5th for all years it’s been ranked. That says a lot about how great it is—sitting in the ranks with Auckland, Calgary, Helsinki, Hamburg, Toronto, Vancouver and Vienna. Australia is proud to Melbourne and Perth on the list. Canada and Australia are the only countries to represent three of their cities. This livable quality to Adelaide and Australia in general is something I experienced just a couple of days ago. I came down with a chest infection just three days before our scheduled concerts here in OZ. Being a foreigner who is not insured in Australia, I was nervous about what it might cost me to get in to see a general practitioner and perhaps pay for medications if the doctor thought it was necessary. I went to the doctors office and was in and out in 30 minutes with a proper diagnosis, two prescriptions and a bill of $25 US Dollars. The prescriptions then cost me an additional $23 US Dollars. I spent a mere $48 US dollars and was in absolute shock. Even with wonderful insurance in the U.S., I still have a $30 co-pay for office visits and often have a co-pay for medications.
Australians pay nothing for these services. Granted, sometimes they have to wait a little longer to see a specialist as we might. They also have a higher tax rate of 30% out of their paychecks. With that said, most employers match contributions to what they call their superannuation, or what we refer to as 401k. These benefits of retirement and hassle-free health insurance for life are some of the things that make Australia so livable. You’re more than compensated for the tax rate on the back end.
Aside from it’s vibrant arts community which includes Cabaret festivals, musicals direct from the West End in London, a symphony, an opera house and cutting edge medical universities and hospitals, Adelaide is sitting on miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches with swimmable waters. The temperature, albeit cold like California oceans is not a problem as the air warms up to 90-100 degrees in the summertime and makes for a perfect cooling off by the seaside. There are parks everywhere with extended running and biking paths that stretch for miles in any direction. Coming up the ranks as a foodie destination with chef giants such as Jamie Oliver opening restaurants in the city, Adelaide continues to surprise the rest of Australia. My favorite place in the city is the The Adelaide Central Market which is bustling at any time of day. It has been operating since 1869 and contains stalls upon stalls of fresh produce, handmade pastas, imported coffees, wine and cheese shops and small specialty restaurants representing every culture of food imaginable.
James and I explored a bit of the nightlife while we were here on this visit and much to our surprise we saw hundreds and hundreds of young people out and about. It may have been because there was an Australian rules football game at The Adelaide Oval that night, but after having walked into a few nightclubs and sampled craft beers and cocktails we realized that Adelaide is becoming more gentrified and trendy by the minute.
One thing that many do not realize about this sprawling town-like city is what is just a short drive inland: wine regions. Some of the worlds best wine destinations are just a short drive away: The Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale. Some of the oldest vines date back to the mid 1850’s which secure South Australia as a state of both traditional and progressive wine making expertise.
Up until recently, I considered myself part of the Urban elite, if you will: someone who wouldn’t live full-time in a city that wasn’t stacked upon itself. But I’m not certain that’s the case anymore. With great healthcare and retirement plans in Australia as a whole, friendly people and up and coming urban prospects, the slightly slower pace and lower cost of Adelaide seems all too enticing for this California adventurer. Put it on your list of places to visit. You won’t be disappointed.