The 10 Best Suburbs to Live in ADELAIDE: Reviewed and Ranked in 2024

In the sunburnt tapestry of Adelaide’s suburbs, each woven with its own charm and challenges, pinpointing the ‘best’ is a complex and time consuming task. Choosing the wrong suburb could lead to regrettable woes such as enduring longer commutes, missing out on lifestyle amenities, or facing higher living costs. As a seasoned real estate professional, I’ve meticulously researched and evaluated these suburbs based on ten critical criteria to guide everyone, in making an informed decision they won’t rue.

10. Semaphore – Total Score: 72/100

Beachfront Sunset in Semaphore, image by Steve Hall

Semaphore, with its coastal allure and vibrant community, balances serenity with activity, though it can feel isolated from Adelaide’s bustling centre.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 7/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 6/10
  • School Quality: 7/10
  • Local Amenities: 8/10
  • Safety: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Natural Environment: 10/10
  • Healthcare Access: 6/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 7/10

Semaphore’s beaches are pristine, making it an enviable location for beach lovers. Its local festivals, like the Semaphore Music Festival, foster a strong sense of community. The suburb boasts a variety of eateries and shops, offering a satisfying local shopping experience. Additionally, the quality of schools in Semaphore is commendable, with recent statistics showing high satisfaction rates among parents.

The main drawbacks of Semaphore include its distance from the Adelaide CBD, potentially resulting in longer commutes. Limited healthcare facilities can be a concern for some residents. Also, the employment opportunities within the suburb are relatively scarce, requiring many residents to commute to the city or other suburbs for work.

Semaphore is ideal for those who prioritise coastal living and community spirit over proximity to the city and a wide range of job opportunities.

9. Glenelg – Total Score: 74/100

Glenelg Beach, image by Tom Murray-Smith

Glenelg, known for its bustling beachside atmosphere, offers a vibrant lifestyle but can be pricey for some.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 5/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 8/10
  • School Quality: 7/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 6/10
  • Natural Environment: 9/10
  • Healthcare Access: 7/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 8/10

Glenelg is renowned for its stunning beach and Jetty Road shopping precinct, offering a high-quality lifestyle. The suburb’s public transport system, including the tram to the CBD, is efficient and reliable. Glenelg’s diverse community is celebrated through various cultural festivals and events. The local schools are well-regarded, contributing to the suburb’s family-friendly reputation.

The cost of living in Glenelg is relatively high, reflecting its popularity and beachside location. Traffic congestion, especially during summer and events, can be a significant drawback. Additionally, the nightlife can be a bit too lively for those seeking a quieter environment.

Glenelg is best suited for those who value a dynamic, beachside lifestyle and don’t mind paying a premium for it.

8. Norwood – Total Score: 76/100

The Parade, Norwood, image by Andrew Owens

Norwood combines urban convenience with suburban tranquillity, though property prices can be steep.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 4/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 8/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Natural Environment: 7/10
  • Healthcare Access: 8/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 8/10

The suburb’s cosmopolitan feel is a major draw, with The Parade offering a plethora of dining and shopping options. Norwood’s proximity to the CBD enhances its appeal for professionals. The suburb is known for its well-established schools and a variety of healthcare facilities. Furthermore, its cultural events, like the Norwood Food and Wine Festival, add to the community’s vibrancy.

High property prices in Norwood can be a barrier for some buyers. Limited green spaces compared to more suburban areas can be a downside for nature lovers. The suburb can also experience traffic congestion, particularly on main roads during peak hours.

Norwood is an excellent choice for those seeking an urban lifestyle with suburban comforts, provided they are comfortable with higher property costs.

7. Burnside – Total Score: 78/100

Nestled in the foothills, Burnside offers a serene, leafy environment with higher living costs.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 4/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 7/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Natural Environment: 10/10
  • Healthcare Access: 7/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 8/10

Burnside is renowned for its lush greenery and abundant parks, creating a tranquil living environment. The suburb boasts excellent schools, enhancing its appeal to families. Its shopping centre is a hub of activity, offering a range of retail and dining options. Safety is a key feature, with Burnside having one of the lowest crime rates in the region.

The cost of living and property prices in Burnside are significantly higher than in many other Adelaide suburbs. Public transport options are somewhat limited, making it less convenient for those who frequently travel to the city. The suburb lacks the cultural vibrancy found in more central locations.

Burnside is ideal for families and those who value a quiet, green environment and are willing to pay a premium for it.

6. Prospect – Total Score: 80/100

Prospect, blending historical charm with modern development, offers a balanced lifestyle but can be busy due to ongoing development.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 6/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 9/10
  • School Quality: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 7/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Natural Environment: 8/10
  • Healthcare Access: 8/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 9/10

Prospect’s vibrant Prospect Road is a drawcard, featuring cafes, shops, and community events. The suburb is well-serviced by public transport, making it easy to commute to the Adelaide CBD. It is culturally diverse, hosting various cultural events and festivals. Prospect’s ongoing development brings in new amenities and housing options, catering to a range of preferences.

With development comes construction noise and disruption, which can be a temporary inconvenience. Traffic congestion is a growing concern, especially around major roads. The mix of older and newer properties leads to varied living experiences within the suburb.

Prospect is a great fit for those who appreciate urban conveniences and cultural diversity, and don’t mind the hustle and bustle of a developing suburb.

5. Unley – Total Score: 82/100

Unley, known for its elegant streets and boutique shopping, offers a high standard of living with a relatively higher cost.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 6/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 9/10
  • School Quality: 8/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Community Spirit: 8/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 8/10
  • Natural Environment: 9/10
  • Healthcare Access: 9/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 8/10

Unley boasts a selection of high-quality cafes, shops, and restaurants, offering a refined lifestyle. Its proximity to the CBD is a significant advantage for professionals. The suburb has several well-regarded schools, making it popular among families. Unley also excels in healthcare access, with multiple medical facilities within its bounds.

The cost of property in Unley can be prohibitive for some, reflecting its desirability. Limited parking in commercial areas can be a challenge. The suburb sometimes lacks the youthful energy found in more diverse and bustling areas.

Unley is best suited for those seeking an upscale, convenient lifestyle and who are comfortable with the higher cost of living associated with such amenities.

4. Henley Beach – Total Score: 84/100

Henley Jetty, image by Sharon Bird

Henley Beach combines the allure of beachfront living with a thriving local community, though it can be crowded during summer months.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 6/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 9/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 9/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Natural Environment: 10/10
  • Healthcare Access: 8/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 9/10

The suburb’s beach is a major drawcard, offering stunning views and a relaxed lifestyle. The Henley Square precinct is a hub of activity with its cafes, restaurants, and shops. Community events like the Henley Beach Summer Festival bring residents together. The suburb also has several reputable schools, making it an attractive choice for families.

During peak summer periods, the suburb can become very crowded, impacting the peacefulness. The cost of living near the beach is relatively high. Some areas of Henley Beach have limited access to public transport, making commuting a challenge for those without a car.

Henley Beach is perfect for beach lovers and families who enjoy a vibrant community atmosphere and are willing to cope with the seasonal influx of tourists.

3. Adelaide Hills – Total Score: 86/100

Adelaide Skyline from the Hills, image by Jon Westra

Adelaide Hills offers a picturesque, rural lifestyle close to nature, with the trade-off being less accessibility to urban amenities.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 7/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 7/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 10/10
  • Safety: 9/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 7/10
  • Natural Environment: 10/10
  • Healthcare Access: 9/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 8/10

The Adelaide Hills region is celebrated for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities, ideal for nature enthusiasts. The area has a strong sense of community, with frequent local markets and community events. It’s also known for its high-quality schools and relatively safe environment. The Hills provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The rural setting means fewer local amenities and entertainment options compared to city suburbs. Commuting to Adelaide’s CBD can be lengthy and public transport options are limited. The area is less culturally diverse than more central suburbs.

Adelaide Hills is an excellent choice for those who like a peaceful, natural environment and don’t mind a bit of a commute to access city amenities.

2. North Adelaide – Total Score: 88/100

North Terrace Adelaide, image by Andrew Shipway

North Adelaide is a blend of heritage charm and modern convenience, offering a high-quality urban lifestyle but at a premium cost.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 6/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 9/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 10/10
  • Safety: 8/10
  • Community Spirit: 9/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Natural Environment: 9/10
  • Healthcare Access: 9/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 10/10

North Adelaide is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere, with O’Connell Street and Melbourne Street offering a plethora of dining and shopping options. The suburb’s proximity to the CBD makes it a hotspot for professionals. It boasts excellent healthcare facilities and a variety of educational institutions. The area is also rich in parks and green spaces, providing a blend of urban and natural environments.

The cost of living and real estate in North Adelaide is among the highest in the city. The area can be busy, particularly during events at Adelaide Oval, leading to traffic congestion. The urban setting means less of the suburban attributes found in more remote suburbs.

North Adelaide is ideal for those seeking a dynamic urban lifestyle and who value convenience and quality amenities over affordability.

1. Stirling – Total Score: 90/100

Stirling, with its charming European vibe and lush greenery, offers a premium lifestyle experience, balanced by a higher cost of living.

Scoring Criteria:

  • Affordability: 5/10
  • Access to Public Transport: 9/10
  • School Quality: 9/10
  • Local Amenities: 10/10
  • Safety: 10/10
  • Community Spirit: 10/10
  • Employment Opportunities: 9/10
  • Natural Environment: 10/10
  • Healthcare Access: 9/10
  • Cultural Diversity: 9/10

Stirling is known for its picturesque streets, vibrant autumn colours, and a cosy, village-like atmosphere. The suburb has excellent schools and is considered one of the safest in Adelaide. It offers a variety of cafes, boutiques, and gourmet food outlets, appealing to those with a taste for finer things. The community spirit is strong, with frequent local events and festivals.

The cost of living in Stirling is relatively high, reflecting its desirability and lifestyle offerings. Limited public transport can be a drawback for those who frequently commute to the city. The suburb’s popularity can also lead to crowded streets and difficulty finding parking during peak times and events.

Stirling is best suited for those who appreciate a blend of natural beauty, community vibe, and high-quality amenities, and are willing to invest in a premium living experience.

How I Scored Each Suburb

In the following section, you’ll discover the rationale behind the scoring of each suburb, offering insights into the factors that elevate or diminish their livability.

Affordability

Affordability is a crucial criterion, reflecting the cost of living and property prices in a suburb. This metric is vital because it directly impacts the financial well-being and accessibility of a suburb for potential residents. A suburb scoring a 1 in this criterion, like Eastwood, might have exorbitantly high property prices, making it unaffordable for the average buyer. On the other hand, a score of 10 would be attributed to a suburb like Elizabeth, where property prices are significantly lower, offering great value for money.

Access to Public Transport

Access to public transport is essential for ease of commuting and reducing reliance on personal vehicles. This is important for environmental sustainability and convenience, especially for those working in the city. A suburb like Greenwith, scoring 1, has limited public transport options, making commuting a challenge. Conversely, a suburb like Mawson Lakes, which scored 10, boasts excellent public transport links, including train and bus services, facilitating easy access to the city and other areas.

School Quality

The quality of schools is a top priority for families, influencing their choice of suburb. Good schools are indicative of a suburb’s investment in education and the future of its children. A suburb with poorly performing schools, such as Davoren Park, might score a 1. In contrast, a suburb like Magill, scoring 10, is home to high-performing schools, both public and private, offering excellent educational opportunities.

Local Amenities

Local amenities, including shops, cafes, parks, and entertainment options, enhance the quality of life in a suburb. They’re important for convenience and leisure, contributing to the suburb’s appeal. A suburb like Waterloo Corner, scoring a 1, may lack these amenities, requiring residents to travel further for basic services. On the other hand, a suburb like Norwood, scoring 10, is replete with diverse amenities, from bustling shopping streets to recreational parks.

Safety

Safety is a fundamental concern, affecting the desirability of a suburb. It encompasses crime rates and the general feeling of security among residents. A suburb like Elizabeth North, which might score a 1, could have higher crime rates, affecting its appeal. In contrast, a suburb like Lockleys, scoring 10, is known for its low crime rates and safe environment, making it a sought-after location for families and individuals alike.

Community Spirit

Community spirit reflects the level of engagement and connectedness among residents. This criterion is crucial for a supportive and friendly neighbourhood atmosphere. A suburb like Northfield, scoring a 1, might lack community events and engagement opportunities. Alternatively, a suburb like Hahndorf, with a score of 10, is renowned for its strong community bonds and frequent local gatherings and events.

Employment Opportunities

The availability of local employment opportunities can significantly impact the attractiveness of a suburb. It’s important for reducing commute times and enhancing the local economy. A suburb like Smithfield, scoring 1, may have limited job prospects, necessitating longer commutes. On the other end, a suburb like Adelaide CBD, scoring 10, offers a wide range of employment opportunities across various sectors.

Natural Environment

The natural environment, including green spaces, parks, and cleanliness, contributes to the overall well-being and aesthetic appeal of a suburb. A suburb like Wingfield, which might score a 1, could lack green spaces and have industrial elements affecting its natural appeal. In contrast, a suburb like Belair, scoring 10, is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and abundance of greenery, offering a serene living environment.

Healthcare Access

Access to healthcare facilities is essential for the well-being of residents. This criterion reflects the availability and quality of medical services within a suburb. A suburb like Bolivar, scoring 1, may have limited healthcare facilities, requiring residents to travel for medical services. On the other hand, a suburb like Woodville, scoring 10, has excellent access to healthcare, including hospitals and clinics, ensuring the health needs of residents are well catered for.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity enriches a suburb, offering a range of cultural experiences and fostering inclusivity. It’s important for creating a vibrant, welcoming community. A suburb like Ingle Farm, scoring 1, might lack this diversity, leading to a more homogenous community. Whereas a suburb like Kilburn, scoring 10, celebrates a rich tapestry of cultures, evident in its diverse population, food, and cultural events.

My Research Methodology and Sources

My approach to ranking these suburbs was grounded in a blend of on-the-ground insights and comprehensive data analysis, gathering data for many different local sources. I began by visiting a couple of local council offices across Adelaide, from the City of Charles Sturt to the Adelaide Hills Council, to gather up-to-date data on each suburb’s amenities, development plans, and community initiatives. 

To supplement my field research, I explored online resources, forums, blogs and particularly local news sites like ‘The Advertiser‘ and ‘InDaily‘, which offer in-depth coverage and material of Adelaide’s suburbs. These publications provided me with recent statistics and reports on crime rates, property prices, and community events. 

I attended community events in suburbs like Glenelg and Stirling, speaking directly with locals to gauge their satisfaction with living in these areas. This first hand feedback was instrumental in assessing factors like community spirit and overall quality of life. Social media platforms, especially local Facebook groups, were also a treasure trove of resident opinions and experiences.  Visiting bustling community markets like the Adelaide Hills Farmers Market in Mount Barker and the Semaphore Street Fair. Attending local Cafes are often the heart of a suburb’s social life. I spent time in popular local cafes like The Loose Caboose in Hindmarsh and The Depot on Beaumont in North Adelaide. Also went to visit LGA public libraries and Community centres, including community hubs like the Unley library and the Burnside community centre.  

I spent some time in places like Bonython Park in North Adelaide and the Stirling Linear Park, observing family gatherings, sports activities, and general leisure practices. Conversations with park-goers about what brought them to similar spaces, assessing against, offered valuable insights into the quality of life and natural environment of these suburbs.

In Conclusion

In this comprehensive review, we’ve explored a diverse range of suburbs in Adelaide, each offering its own unique blend of lifestyle, amenities, and community spirit. Below’s a quick recap of our top picks, ranked based on a detailed evaluation of key living factors:

  1. Stirling (Score: 90/100)
  2. North Adelaide (Score: 88/100)
  3. Adelaide Hills (Score: 86/100)
  4. Henley Beach (Score: 84/100)
  5. Unley (Score: 82/100)
  6. Prospect (Score: 80/100)
  7. Burnside (Score: 78/100)
  8. Norwood Score: 76/100)
  9. Glenelg Score: 74/100)
  10. Semaphore (Score: 72/100)

From the tranquil, leafy streets of Stirling to the vibrant coastal vibes of Semaphore, each suburb presents a unique living experience catering to different preferences and lifestyles. Whether you’re seeking the urban sophistication of North Adelaide, the family-friendly atmosphere of Prospect, or the natural beauty of the Adelaide Hills, there’s a suburb in Adelaide that meets your needs.

For those considering a move to one of these delightful suburbs, remember that navigating the property market can be a complex and time-consuming process. Utilising the expertise of a buyer’s agent can provide you with invaluable assistance in finding a suitable property that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle goals. A professional residential buyer’s agent can offer insights into the local market, negotiate on your behalf, and help streamline the entire property buying process. With their help, you can make your dream of living in one of Adelaide’s top suburbs a reality.

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