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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Adelaide

Halfway between the east and west coasts, Adelaide is perfect for students who want to explore Australia – though you might find it hard to leave such an affordable and liveable city.

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Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia, is famous for having the highest quality of life and lowest cost of living among all the nation’s capital cities. Carefully laid out and surrounded by lush parklands, it’s easy to see why many think of Adelaide as a paradise.


With a population of around 1.2 million, the city has plenty for you to see and do while keeping its warm and welcoming community spirit. 


Adelaide enjoys the benefit of being at the heart of Australia’s food and wine capital state, and the surrounding areas offer an endless number of national parks and wineries to visit.


You won’t have to go far to find things to do, with dozens of festivals and sporting events taking place every year. The city itself is home to a vibrant arts and music scene, along with such a range of shopping, eating and entertainment that you’ll never need to leave.


Adelaide is home to three internationally renowned universities, offering a world-class education alongside an affordable and action-packed student lifestyle. 


Located in the centre of Australia, Adelaide is perfect for students looking to explore other regions and have a truly Australian experience during their studies.


What is Adelaide like?


Location and demographics


Adelaide is located on the south coast of Australia, surrounded by thousands of kilometres of coastline, endless rolling hills, mountain ranges and ancient deserts. The city is located about halfway between the east and west coasts of Australia, and their capitals Sydney and Perth. It's home to just over 1.3 million people, with a multicultural community. Adelaide is a great central base from which to explore anywhere in Australia, from Cairns to Tasmania, Melbourne to Perth, without having to travel too far. 


Culture and history 


Adelaide has been inhabited for thousands of years by Aboriginal communities and was originally the homeland of the Kaurna people. As the capital of the state of South Australia, with European settlers arriving in 1836. 


The city is unique due to its purposeful and elegant design. From the day it was founded, Adelaide was made to be a city inside a beautiful park, with neat rows of streets surrounded by hundreds of hectares of gardens and hills along the bank of the River Torrens.


Over the years, Adelaide has continued to grow, becoming a vibrant city of over 1 million people. It has developed a global reputation for its quality of living and was rated as the third most liveable city on Earth in The Economist Intelligence Unit Globally Liveability Index 2021.


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What universities are in Adelaide?


Adelaide has three major universities for you to choose from for your studies in Australia, which between them offer world-class courses and training across hundreds of subjects.


The University of Adelaide was ranked 108th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2022. It’s earned its place among the world’s best institutions through its clear focus on three key areas: education, research, and community engagement. Five Nobel Laureates and over a hundred Rhodes Scholars have passed through its doors.


Flinders University was established in 1966 and now hosts over 25,000 students from all over the world. Its mission is to deliver industry-ready degree qualifications that blend academic knowledge with professional skills and applied experience.


The University of South Australia is a high performing young university, having placed 29th globally in the 2021 QS Top 50 Under 50 awards. Over 30,000 students study programmes across social sciences, law, business, and the arts.


Discover more universities in Australia.


What does Adelaide offer students?


What transport is there? 


Adelaide is a fantastic city to travel around, where you’ll be able to get anywhere quickly and easily due to its smart town planning and great transport network. Buses, trams, and trains can all be used seamlessly with Adelaide’s MetroCard. The city’s smaller size means that walking and cycling are often great options too.


What entertainment and food is there?


To many, Adelaide is the food and wine capital of Australia. The city boasts more restaurants per person than any other major city in the country, and its home state of South Australia, produces half of all of Australia’s wine.


The city is home to the National Wine Centre, as well as a busy calendar of food and wine events and the biggest fresh produce market in the southern half of the world.


Adelaide provides the perfect balance between relaxing living and vibrant nightlife. Bars and traditional Aussie pubs abound, and there are plenty of activities from daytime trips and socials to nightclubs for partying late into the night.


What accommodation is there?


As a student in Adelaide, you’ll be able to find accommodation in most parts of the city, either through your host university or a range of private companies that specialise in modern, well-equipped student halls. 


Halls are a great place to socialise and meet other international students, but you could also consider renting an apartment or house if you prefer.


What public services are there? 


There are public and student services you can make use of during your time in Adelaide. StudyAdelaide is a great source of free support, ranging from social activities to employment workshops. The South Australian Skills Commission also offer advice on accommodation, visas, employment, welfare, and academic issues.


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How much does it cost to study in Adelaide?


The general cost of the city


Students love living in Adelaide due to the great experience it offers at a great value for money. Adelaide was found to be the most affordable major city in the country. You’ll benefit from general living costs that are 20 per cent less than Sydney and 19 per cent less than Melbourne, without compromising on your education or lifestyle.


Find out more about the costs of studying in Australia.


Student budget


As a single international student living in Adelaide, you can normally expect to spend between AUD 300 and AUD 800 per week. This estimate includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and most other living costs. This can vary significantly depending on what kind of lifestyle you pursue while in Adelaide.


Read about what you can expect to pay for tuition in Australia.


Financial requirements


The Australian Department for Home Affairs asks international students to demonstrate that they can access a minimum of AUD 21,041 per year before they can start their studies in Australia. This is equivalent to AUD 1,753 per month.


Discover the top scholarships in Australia.


What are the attractions in Adelaide?


Adelaide has a little bit of everything that makes living in Australia special. Whether it’s miles of beaches and coastline, rolling hills and vineyards or bustling nights in the CBD, you’re sure to find everything you need in the city. 


The city itself is rich with modern Australian heritage, with spacious boulevards and imposing period architecture around every corner. There’s more to discover inside these buildings, with the elegant State Library, Museum and Gallery of South Australia together housing the cultural heart of the region.


In Adelaide, you can also experience the Parklands, a national heritage site with city squares, formal gardens, event spaces and an incredible array of plant and animal life on your doorstep.


As a student in Adelaide, you’ll be able to experience the best that the Festival State, South Australia, has to offer. There is a huge calendar of events, from national and international music to arts and cultural activities. This includes but is not limited to: the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Santos Tour Down Under, Aboriginal Spirit Festival and WOMADelaide.


Sports fans will be in heaven, with Test cricket and moto sports events like the Clispal 500 taking place in Adelaide every year.


It’s clear to see why Adelaide is consistently rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world. Great educational opportunities, affordable city living, and inspiring Australian landscapes mean more students than ever are choosing to study there. Find your ideal study path in Australia using our course matcher tool.


Study in Australia


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