During the search for our first home, I endlessly trawled the internet looking for advice on what were the most affordable and liveable suburbs in Adelaide for first home buyers, however information was pretty scare.
So, I took it upon myself to find the answers – and share them with you!
Through my own research, it’s clear the outer north suburbs of Elizabeth and its surrounds, Davoren Park, Smithfield, Smithfield Plains, Munno Para, Brahma Lodge, Salisbury North, Evanston Gardens, Andrews Farm, Gawler West and Hackham are among the lowest priced houses in Adelaide.
However, if you’re looking to spend a little bit more, there are a range of other localities that may suit your needs.
I’ve spent hours doing a comprehensive assessment of the suburbs in Adelaide – based on the latest median house price data – and broken down the pros and cons of each to help you decide where you want to buy.
If you’re only looking to rent in Adelaide, you should check out our comprehensive guide about the best and most affordable suburbs to rent HERE.
We’ve also crunched the data to determine which are the safest and least safe suburbs to live in Adelaide. You can check out that guide HERE.
But if you’re ready to put down your roots in Adelaide and buy a home, keep reading! You’ll find everything you need to know about the city’s most affordable and liveable areas as you scroll through this article.
Suburbs under $350,000
Elizabeth, Davoren Park, Smithfield, Munno Para, Smithfield Plains, Brahma Lodge, Salisbury North, Evanston Gardens, Andrews Farm, Hackham, Parafield Gardens, Blakeview, Salisbury, Craigmore, Evanston, Willaston, Gawler South, Gawler West, Ingle Farm
If you’re looking to spend under $350,000 on your first home in Adelaide (and I stress home, as unit prices will differ) then the only place you’ll find houses at these prices are in the city’s outer north suburbs.
These suburbs often get a bad wrap from city dwellers – many people in Adelaide, most who have probably never ventured north of Prospect, are quick to stereotype them in a negative way.
Having lived, worked and shopped in and around these suburbs, I can tell you it’s not all as doom and gloom as what some people may suggest.
Of course, it’s not going to be like living in your blue-chip suburbs such as Prospect or Unley, but for first home buyers desperate to get into the market they are a viable option.
The Playford Council is currently heavily investing in creating a new CBD in the north, and is putting serious funds into new infrastructure to revitalise the area.
The Playford Alive scheme is pouring over $250 million into these suburbs to improve schools, open space by way of new ovals, walking trails, and sporting grounds, which is a big plus for those with young families.
Similarly, if you’re looking even further north – in suburbs like Gawler South or Gawler West – then the Gawler Council is also doing plenty to improve the liveability of the area.
The Gawler Aquatic Centre is inline for a multi-million-dollar upgrade, while the Barossa, Light & Gawler football and netball associations are arguably the best country leagues in South Australia.
Gawler’s main street is only minutes away and boasts almost a dozen quality pubs, nice cafes and eateries, and it only takes 30 minutes on the Sturt Highway to visit the world-class Barossa Valley wine region.
Transport and infrastructure
The Gawler Railway Line from Adelaide to Gawler traverses straight through these suburbs also, meaning residents can take public transport direct to the CBD.
The State Government and Federal Governments have committed $615 million to electricity the entire length of the line by the end of 2020, which will make for a faster, cleaner and more comfortable commute for northerners.
Similarly, the Northern Expressway runs straight from South Road and heads north – now that the $885 million Northern Connector is complete, motorists can travel the freeway at 110km/h the entire way to Regency Road.
The overall commute from the north to Adelaide is now just over 30 minutes long.
The Lyell McEwin Hospital is located in the heart of Elizabeth, and no more than 15 minutes from each of its surrounding suburbs.
It has a variety of services including an emergency department, and services much of the region.
Playford Council has also approved the construction of a new $12 million Playford Medical Hub that will bring much improved medical services to those living in the north.
The Elizabeth City Shopping Centre is home to a wide range of retail outlets ranging from clothing, sporting goods, groceries – virtually everything you would find in Rundle Mall – right at your fingertips.
It also has a Reading Cinema, which boasts new TitanLuxe screens and recliners, at no more than $11 per movie, which is perfect for family outings.
Proximity to the CBD
Should you choose to live in the any one of these suburbs, you can expect to spend around 40 minutes in the car if you wish to venture into Adelaide’s CBD.
The Northern Connector is quicker, but Main North Road in peak hour traffic can be a bit of a pain.
However, in off-peak times is a pretty easy drive.
The biggest mark against these suburbs is the crime rate – however, if you look closely at the data, it’s not as bad as many might think.
According to date from South Australia Police, in May 2019 Elizabeth recorded 123 offences, a large portion of that being theft or vandalism-related.
Similarly, Davoren Park (89) and Munno Para (69) didn’t fare much better, while Andrews Farm (35) and Evanston Gardens (23) were on the lower end of the scale.
While that may seem high, by comparison Mawson Lakes – which is seen as one of the more up-market northern Adelaide suburbs – recorded 57 crime offences in the same month.
I’ve actually written a comprehensive analysis of the safest and most unsafe suburbs in Adelaide, and put them all in an easy-to-read table.
At the end of the day, if you’re considering purchasing in these suburbs, don’t let the fear mongering stereotypes fool you – check them out in person, and decide for yourself.
If you’re looking to spend under $350,000 and get into the housing market, some of these suburbs could very well suit your needs.
I’d probably avoid the likes of Elizabeth if possible, and definitely look at places like Craigmore, Blakeview, Andrews Farm or Gawler South.
I’ve got friends and family who live in these suburbs and they’re absolutely great.
I lived in Gawler South for four years and absolutely loved it, and would certainly recommend it for first home buyers willing to live a bit farther out from the CBD at an affordable price.
Suburbs $350,000 – $550,000
Pooraka, Walkley Heights, Evanston Park, Hillbank, Gawler, Gepps Cross, Devon Park, Kilburn, Northfield, Gawler East, Lightsview, Evanston South, Mawson Lakes, Clearview, Angle Vale, Brompton, Virginia, Enfield, Blair Athol, Renown Park
If you’ve saved hard and have a bit more money to spend, then the above suburbs are certainly worth consideration.
In fact, my partner and I explored a number of them ourselves during our house search and quite liked the areas, despite not finding a house that suited us.
Proximity to the city
If you want to find somewhere close to the city, then the likes of Mawson Lakes, Clearview, Northfield, Lightsview and Walkley Heights should be on your radar.
All are within a 30-minute drive to North Terrace, and comprise a lot of newer homes.
Lightsview, situated only 8km from the CBD, was purpose and received the Best Master Planned Development in Australia in 2014 in the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s National Awards.
The development mixes townhouses with single-storey dwellings, providing a lot of options for first homebuyers for a median price of $435,000.
Walkley Heights and Mawson Lakes are older developments, but equally cater for the needs of the first home buyer and are close to the city.
Mawson Lakes has more services within arm’s reach than Walkley Heights, including its own shopping centres, hotels and golf course, and is home to one of UniSA’s campuses, and its median house price is $70,000 lower than Walkley’s $557,000 asking price.
We did put in an offer on a small three-bedroom home in Walkley Heights for $415,000, on just 300m2, but it went for even more than that due to the high demand for the area.
Similarly, places like Clearview and Northfield are only a stone’s throw from Prospect Road, which is filled with cafes and eateries, and also not far from North Adelaide which has some great pubs to explore.
During our house hunting we explored most of these areas and found them to be visually pleasing, quiet and safe.
Some scored higher than others, of course.
In Clearview there were a lot of older homes being knocked down and replaced by brand-new builds, and its proximity to Grand Junction Road made it feel a little more industrial.
Lightsview is obviously still being built and has that new, unfinished feel to it, while Mawson Lakes is nice, but its homes are definitely bumper to bumper and squeeze every inch out of the land available there.
Land size versus closeness to town
Unfortunately, if you’re looking within this price range you’re either going to have to sacrifice on land size, or proximity to the CBD – it’s that simple.
For the same money, you could buy a small, 300m2 three-bedroom place in Clearview or Mawson Lakes or a four-bedroom, 1000m2 property in Virginia (albeit without the transport or infrastructure services you could get in the city).
It really does depend on how close you want to live to Adelaide’s CBD.
You will feel like you’re living in your neighbours’ pockets in places like Clearview, Lightsview and Mawson Lakes, but that’s the concession you’ll need to make if you want to enjoy that easy 20-minute commute into town.
Our personal preference out of all of these suburbs was definitely Walkley Heights – but purely because that suited what we were looking for (a three-bedroom place, with green, leafy surroundings).
If you’re happy to live in a townhouse, Mawson Lakes and Lightsview should definitely be on your list to check out.
Suburbs $350,000 – $550,000
Para Vista, Modbury, Modbury North, Modbury Heights, Valley View, Tea Tree Gully, Surrey Downs, Vista, Gilles Plains, Redwood Park, Hope Valley, Holden Hill, Hillcrest, Oakden, Windsor Gardens, Greenacres, Greenwith, Wynn Vale, Dernancourt, Campbelltown, Paradise, Golden Grove, St Agnes, Sefton Park
If maintaining a bit of a country feel, yet still being less than 40 minutes from the city, is what you’re looking for in a home, then you should definitely consider moving into Adelaide’s north east.
One of the big criteria for us was finding an area that didn’t feel like we were living in crammed, inner-city living – especially because we both grew up in the country.
The north east suburbs passed with flying colours in this respect.
As I just mentioned, the liveability in many of these suburbs is excellent – however, from our experience while house searching, the slightly further out you go, the better it is.
Suburbs like Ridgehaven – where we eventually bought – Modbury, Valley View, Redwood Park, Greenwith, Wynn Vale and Surrey Downs all have a nice, leafy green feel to them, with plenty of open spaces available.
Richardson Reserve in Wynn Vale has also just been approved for a $6.5 million upgrade by the local council.
This is excellent for young couples of families who want to go for walks, have a kick of the footy at the local park, or simply just sit outside and enjoy the peace and quite.
Based at the heart of these suburbs is Tea Tree Plaza, which is one of the prominent shopping centres in Adelaide.
It’s got all the retail outlets you’d find in the CBD, plenty of cafes, plus is home to a HOYTS Cinema – you make a short trip, either by car or bus, and get all your day’s shopping done in one hit.
Situated over the road from Tea Tree Plaza is Modbury Hospital, meaning medical care, should you need it, is only minutes away.
Medical imaging specialists Dr Jones and Partners also has a clinic just down the street from the hospital.
Those looking to move into Golden Grove and surrounds will also be encouraged by a new two-storey medical centre that the council has approved to be built there by mid-2021.
The O-Bahn bus service commutes too and from the CBD and Tea Tree Plaza interchange, traversing suburbs such as Klemzig, Paradise and everything in between.
While there are no train services running to the north eastern suburbs, the O-Bahn more than caters for this (provided no city drivers have made the wrong turn down the O-Bahn tunnel, which happens more than you might think).
The biggest interchanges for the service are located at Tea Tree Gully, Paradise and Klemzig.
Access to the beach
While you would think living north east would really make it difficult to get to Adelaide’s beaches, it’s really not the case.
Semaphore is only a 30-minute drive straight along Grand Junction Road, while Henley Beach is a similar commute according to Google Maps.
Return on investment
According to the latest State Government data, housing prices in a number of north east suburbs enjoyed some excellent capital growth between 2018 and 2019.
Rideghaven increased its median house price by 21.75 per cent, Wynn Vale 18, and Salisbury Heights 12.7, while most other suburbs enjoyed single digit rises.
During our house search, we saw a number of well-priced properties online based in Hillcrest, Oakden, Windsor Gardens and Holden Hill, and couldn’t figure out why.
That was until we inspected the houses and heard the rumbling of a jet overhead.
Planes begin their descent into Adelaide along a similar path to North East Road, meaning a lot of the abovementioned suburbs are situated right beneath it.
If this doesn’t bother you then so be it, but if you’re a light sleeper – or someone who gets easily irritated by noise – then it’s certainly something to consider.
This could be a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for.
We were more interested in homes built post-1990, and finding one in our price range, and with three bedrooms, proved to be a bit of a challenge.
This is particularly evident in suburbs like Valley View and Modbury, which are occupied by a lot of older homes.
North East Road during peak hour traffic can be a fair grind, given it’s the only real major arterial road out to the north eastern suburbs.
Our house in Ridgehaven is only 30 minutes from Grenfell Street according to Google Maps, but that was doubled during peak hour at around 5pm.
While a lot of people will tell you ‘west is best’, my experiences exploring and now purchasing in Adelaide’s north east suggest it is equally as good.
The scenery is fantastic, access to shopping and health services is great, and proximity to the CBD and the beach is excellent.
The flight path was a big con for us, but that was easily solved by looking a little further north – and I’m talking only five or 10 minutes.
I’m a little biased because we’ve bought in this area, but I really do think north east is a great option for home buyers looking to spend a little extra, but still enjoy that country-type feel without blowing the bank.
Suburbs $350,000 – $550,000
Seaford Heights, Ottoway, Queenstown, Birkenhead, Mansfield Park, Woodville Gardens, Ethelton, Royal Park, Ascot Park, Kilkenny, Ferryden Park, Seaford Rise, North Haven, North Plympton, Croydon Park, Richmond, Woodville West, Findon, West Richmond, Brooklyn Park, Cowandilla, Seaton, West Croydon, Taperoo, Hendon
If I had a dollar for the amount of times I heard the phrase ‘west is best’ during my 12 months of house hunting, it probably could have paid for our deposit.
With Glenelg and Henley beaches nearby, upgrades to South Road well underway, and the close proximity to some of Adelaide’s best golf courses, great transport and being less than 30 minutes from the CBD, you can quickly understand why the saying holds weight.
However, all these things come at a cost – and it’s the reason why the median house prices for the vast majority of the above suburbs float well over $400,000.
If you’re someone who loves spending the long summer days soaking in rays and working on your tan, Adelaide’s western suburbs are right up your alley.
Glenelg and Henley beaches are pristine, and packed full of amazing restaurants, eateries and pubs.
The nightlife down at the Bay is also fantastic, perfect for singles and couples of all ages.
Another reason you could make a case for the ‘west is best’ argument is that homes in this part of Adelaide hold their value extremely well, mainly for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.
It is a highly sought-after area and for that reason you can buy with certainty, knowing you’re highly unlikely to lose out on your investment.
Inner west suburbs West Richmond (18.6 per cent), Woodville North (16.3 per cent) and Cowandilla (11 per cent) are some examples of areas that enjoyed solid growth in 2019.
Other western suburbs like Croydon, Port Adelaide, Alberton, Peterhead, Allenby Gardens or Largs North have appreciated so much since early 2018 – some as much as 40 per cent – that many first home buyers have been priced out of these areas.
Their median values exceed the $550,000 maximum to be included in this post, that’s for sure.
Adelaide’s train network is very much designed to favour the western suburbs.
There are two lines – the Grange line and the Outer Harbor line – that travel along the same tracks until they reach Woodville, where they break off into two separate directions; one towards the sea, and the other further north towards Semaphore.
So, if you manage to buy a house between Woodville and the CBD, you’re going to enjoy double the frequency of trains running by your location, which will significantly reduce wait times.
Similarly, Adelaide Airport is located nearby, meaning it’s a lot easier to access if you’re someone who does fly in, fly out work, or who loves travelling.
As I mentioned before, there are stacks of quality recreational options at your fingertips in the western suburbs.
Adelaide’s big four golf clubs – Royal Adelaide, Kooyonga, Glenelg and Grange – are all situated on this side of the city, while the West Beach surf lifesaving club is a good way to keep fit and get involved in the community.
Meanwhile, Harbor Town shopping centre and Ikea, located right near West Beach, are also two of the top retail outlets in the city, where you’re bound to find a bargain.
The North-South Corridor
This major infrastructure project, which will be ongoing for years to come, will, once complete, link Adelaide’s south and north, from Noarlunga to Gawler.
Home owners in the western suburbs will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of these upgrades, as travelling either north or south to get out of the city will be quick and easy.
While these houses holding or increasing their value is a good thing for those who already own them, it’s bad for those who are desperate to get into the market.
From my own experience, I found the price of a three-bedroom home in the west was, on average, around $40,000-$50,000 more than similar properties in Adelaide north east.
So, if you want the western lifestyle, you’re going to need to save a bigger deposit to get it.
Lack of greenery
Out west is vastly different to what you’ll find at the base of the Adelaide Hills in the north east.
If you’re someone who loves that country feel, and enjoys walking through vast, leafy green parklands, you’re not really going to get much of that out west, especially the closer you get to the beach.
The pros of living west far outweigh the cons.
The infrastructure is excellent, the lifestyle is sought after, and the market is strong.
If you can afford to get into the area, go for it – if you want to spend close to $550,000, places like West Croydon or even Queenstown should definitely be on your radar.
Don’t be fooled by the attractive $440,000 price tags of suburbs like Mansfield Park, Ferryden Park or Kilkenny; they’re far more industrial-feeling areas with higher crime rates and, personally, I didn’t find them appealing at all.
Suburbs under $350,000
Christie Downs, Huntfield Heights, Morphett Vale, Sellicks Beach, Noarlunga Centre, Aldinga, Reynella East
If you’re looking to purchase south of Adelaide for under $350,000, you really are looking at only a handful of locations, and they’re all a fair hike from the city.
In essence, it’s a mirror image situation of living in the outer north suburbs – the homes are cheaper, but you’ll find yourself over 30 minutes from the CBD.
Talk about enjoying a sleepy, seaside lifestyle on the edge of Adelaide.
There is some lovely scenery in this part of the world, and if it’s not necessary that you live right in the city, then the southern part of town could certainly appeal to you.
A stone’s throw from the famous McLaren Vale wine region, places like Aldinga and Reynella East are certainly worth further investigation if you’re after a country, beachside feel.
The Tonsley and Seaford train lines service the south meaning you’re still connected to the CBD.
Both lines have been electrified already, making for a smooth, fast commute into Adelaide for work or pleasure.
Distance from the CBD
Much like the north, living in the deep south means you’ll have to spend more time travelling if you want to venture into Adelaide.
However, with places like Glenelg beach and Marion Shopping Centre on the way, many people will find they won’t need to visit the CBD if they wish to go shopping or catch a movie.
Rock throwing on Southern Expressway
In 2018, there were numerous incidences of vehicles being struck by rocks thrown as they travelled along the motorway.
As a response, the State Government spent $15 million to install permanent anti-throw screens to protect motorists, with the works being completed in February 2019.
While the problem has been resolved, it’s still something to consider.
If you want to live south but can’t afford to spend more than $350,000, there are options, but they’re somewhat limited.
If you aren’t rushing to get into your home, it may be worth saving a little while longer as a slightly bigger deposit – I’m talking maybe $20,000-$30,000 – will really give you far more options when it comes to purchasing in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Suburbs $350,000 – $550,000
Old Reynella, Christies Beach, O’Halloran Hill, Darlington, Bedford Park, Noarlunga Downs, Moana, Marion, Oaklands Park, Hallett Cove, Mitchell Park, Sturt, Onkaparinga Hills, Flagstaff Hill, Old Noarlunga, Brooklyn Park, Edwardstown, Morphettville
As you can see, if you’re able to generate more money for a deposit you’ll have a far greater selection of southern Adelaide suburbs to choose from – many being a lot closer to the CBD.
Proximity to Adelaide
Like I mentioned before, getting into this price bracket will enable you to buy in the inner southern suburbs.
Instead of a 30-plus minute commute, you’ll see your travel time to North Terrace cut to around 20 minutes.
If you love spending a day at the races – whether it be the annual Adelaide Cup, or a regular Saturday trackside – then snatching up a home in these areas will be right up your alley.
It’s a luxury that many northerners don’t get to experience, as finding transport to and from Morphettville will deter a lot of people from even venturing down that way.
Living close to a racecourse may not be the best thing for your hip pocket, but it’s certainly great for weekend entertainment!
Return on investment
They say it’s smart to try and buy in a suburb adjacent to one that has already boomed in value, and there’s some good opportunities to do this down south.
One such example is Oaklands Park – it’s situated right next door to Warradale, yet has a median price around $90,000 cheaper at $520,000.
If you do your research and find suburbs that haven’t yet taken off, you could really find some good bang for your buck, and see some quick return on your investment.
Shopping and recreation
Marion Shopping Centre is fantastic, and is no more than a 10-15 minute drive from most of these localities.
Neither is the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, which has a great pool and gym set-up for those looking to stay in shape.
If you love staying fit, catching a movie, or a bit of retail therapy, the inner south is definitely the place to be.
Oaklands Crossing upgrade
The previous Oaklands Crossing imposed congestion and traffic delays on Morphett and Diagonal Roads due to the operation of boom gates for trains along the Seaford rail corridor.
Traffic movements for the nearby Marion Shopping Centre, the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre and GP Plus facilities contributed to pressure on the road network around the level crossing.
However, all that has changed since the $174 million joint State and Federal Government project was completed at the end of 2019, improving traffic flow and travel time for commuters frequenting the intersection.
As with the western suburbs, living in the south is going to cost you more for a standard three-bedroom home than what you would find in Adelaide’s north.
So, the biggest negative is potentially being priced out of the market.
The south of Adelaide has so much going for it.
Great infrastructure, closeness to beautiful beaches and one of Adelaide’s best shopping centres makes it a great place to live, if you can afford it.
Suburbs like Oaklands Park and Marion are selling extremely well at the moment, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see their median prices get a nice boost in the coming years.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
The housing market in Adelaide, when compared to interstate, particularly on the eastern seaboard, is still very affordable for first home buyers.
The beauty of it is there are so many options out there to suit budgets of all sizes, and a wide variety of personal preferences.
However, because there are so many choices, sometimes it can be hard to decide exactly what you want.
The best way I overcame this was to write a list of must-haves – ranked most important to least important – with your maximum budget detailed at the top.
Ranking things like ‘proximity to public transport’, ‘distance to the city’ and ‘number of bedrooms’ in terms of importance will soon paint a clearer picture of the suburbs you can afford.
And remember: don’t be discouraged if your dream home doesn’t pop up immediately – there will be a house out there for you!