In October of last year (2016), my partner Russell and I began our next adventure: moving to Alice Springs from Adelaide, on an 8 month work contract. The whole move happened in less than two months, from the day we were given the offer, to the day we arrived in Alice Springs!
I was excited for the experience, even though neither of us knew what to expect. Everything we had heard about Alice Springs, wasn’t enough to prepare us. Since we were going to be gone for almost a year, we had to pack up our lives in Adelaide, and ship it to our new home in the Centre of Australia. The company we work for, organised removalists to pack up our belongings, load them into a shipping container, and transport them to Alice Springs! It was quite the ordeal. But the best part was, we didn’t have to pack it all onto a truck ourselves, it was done for us!
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MOVING TO ALICE SPRINGS FROM ADELAIDE CITY
The day we arrived in Alice Springs, we were pretty impressed by the scenery and huge ranges all around us. If you’ve never experienced Outback Australia before, you’ll be quite amazed at what you see. The ranges are spectacular, and there are an abundance of photograph opportunities! It almost doesn’t matter where in Alice Springs you are, you’re always guaranteed a pretty great view.
We arrived from Adelaide, to Alice Springs airport early on a Friday afternoon. We had a hire car waiting for us at the airport, directions to our temporary accomodation and a very upset cat in her cage. Oh yeah, incase I haven’t already mentioned this, my partner and I have a cat. Her name is Hermione (yes, that Hermione), and she is very well traveled! She’s been almost everywhere with us this year, except Japan! (more on Japan here).
Since we didn’t start work until the Monday, we settled into our accomodation (a sort of self-contained one bedroom apartment), made sure Hermione was relaxed enough, and went out to explore a little! We didn’t go far the day we arrived, but we did manage to drive through almost every suburb within Alice Springs!
Fact: you can literally drive from one side of town to the other, in around 10 minutes.
We drove a bit further the next day. Around 25 minutes west out of the main town, is Simpsons Gap. It’s essentially just a gap in the MacDonnell Ranges, but it’s pretty cool to see. During the wet season, the waterhole fills up, and it can be quite beautiful. If you’re keen on seeing some Australian wildlife, Simpsons Gap is also home to the rock-wallaby. You’ll see tons of them hopping around, if you look close enough!
We ended up having to stay in our temporary accomodation for 5 weeks, because it took quite a while to lock down a rental property. Scroll to the bottom for tips if you’re moving to Alice Springs.
OUR TIME IN ALICE SPRINGS
I have mixed emotions about our time living in Alice Springs. On the one hand, it can be a very relaxing and chilled place to live. Majority of the people in town are tourists and backpackers. So there is a very chilled vibe, with everyone in their own little holiday worlds. This is great – if you’re traveling! Since Russell and I were living in Alice Springs to work (in a customer service type role), it was a very fast paced lifestyle for us. Work was super stressful and busy at times, which made it difficult to enjoy the relaxing aspect of Alice Springs.
We lived and worked in Alice for 4 months, before it was time for our month long adventure around Japan. We flew back to Adelaide a week before our flight to Japan to spend some time with family and friends. Hermione (our cat, incase you forgot!) came with us to Adelaide, but spent the month living with my mum! I hadn’t been away from her for that long before, so it was a very distressing time for us both (actually, if I’m being honest, probably just distressing for me. I’m the crazy cat lady). One month later, our flight from Japan flew into Adelaide, then the next day we were on yet another plane back to Alice Springs.
We only had 2 months to endure in the Outback, before returning home to Adelaide for good! This flew by, especially given the fact it was leading up to one of work’s busiest times in the year. The days quickly turned into weeks, and eventually we were home! We have been home in Adelaide for exactly a week now. We’ve found (and are living!) in our own home, start back at work next week, and are enjoying being home very much!
What I liked about living in Alice Springs:
- The scenery and endless amounts of beautiful lookout spots
- Wildlife friends – we had multiple kangaroo visitors outside our house!
- Being close to everything – it took less than 5 minutes to drive to town (where we worked) from our house!
- The lack of traffic
- The relaxed vibe is good on days off work!
Difficulties we faced moving to and living in Alice Springs:
- Not having our belongings for the first 5 weeks we were living in Alice Springs was pretty hard. Living out of a suitcase, trying to keep Hermione somewhat settled, and having very limited options when it came to cooking meals wasn’t easy. The temporary accomodation we were in didn’t have much space, especially in the kitchen, so we couldn’t really purchase new appliances either.
- Having to repurchase all of the kitchen staples, plus toilet paper and an entire cupboard of food ended up being pretty expensive. It’s not something that we really thought about before moving, so it sucked having to spend so much money re-buying perishables and other must-have items.
- The fact that there’s not a whole lot to see and do can sometimes be a bit disappointing. But we were usually happy to just stay at home on our days off and relax. When the weather got less awful, we rode our bikes through town a few times and admired all the ranges.
- Getting used to all the tourists can take a while. I found it so strange at first, seeing so many travelers come through town. But the longer we lived in Alice Springs, the more we realised that it was in fact, a super popular tourist town! With Uluru being a 4 hour drive away, Alice is the perfect town to camp in for a couple days, stock up on supplies and have a rest from driving!
HOW IS ALICE SPRINGS DIFFERENT TO ADELAIDE?
There are so many differences between Adelaide and Alice Springs. To start with, Adelaide has a ton more things to see and do. That’s probably something I didn’t even need to tell you. Sure, Alice Springs is a very beautiful and impressive place to visit. But if you’re looking for actual activities, tall buildings and the ocean, you’ll struggle finding them in the outback.
The people who live in and visit Alice Springs, seem super relaxed and have a very ‘carefree’ vibe about them. There are also a ton of events that happen throughout the year. I was surprised at this. Coming from Adelaide, which I thought had a lot of annual events and month long festivals. Alice Springs seems to always have something going on! From concerts to football games, music festivals to Australia’s biggest desert race (Finke), there’s never really a dull moment.
I am glad to be back in Adelaide though. Moving interstate, to such a different and remote place, really makes you appreciate home. No matter where you consider home to be (the place you were born, the place you grew up, or even the place you moved to when you were an adult), it’s always a nice feeling going back to what’s familiar.
WOULD I MOVE BACK OR VISIT AGAIN?
To be honest, I wouldn’t move back to Alice Springs again. It’s a beautiful place, with great people and a wonderful relaxed vibe, but I couldn’t live there again. Maybe it’s the fact that work was always busy, or that we missed our friends and family, but being there semi-permanently wasn’t something either of us enjoyed.
As for visiting again – we definitely plan to! Russell and I both want to visit Alice Springs again one day, probably on our way to Uluru! It’ll be nice experiencing the town in a relaxed way once more.
I know there are a ton of people who live in Alice Springs and enjoy it a lot, they’d never return to city life. But if we were to visit again, it would only be temporarily!
Things you should know if you’re moving to Alice Springs:
- Rental properties are expensive – everything when it comes to living independently is expensive up there (electricity, general bills, car maintenance). This is obviously because Alice Springs is dead centre of Australia. There aren’t any distributors for most things, it takes longer and costs more for products to be transported. Prices are higher, essentially because they can be. The options are limited, so companies make the most of that and mark up their prices.
- It is pretty easy to find a job – Surprisingly (or maybe not too surprising) jobs are easy to come by in Alice Springs. Since it’s very much a temporary place to live (and visit), there are people applying for temporary jobs, working for extra money, then continuing on with their travels. If businesses are looking for a permanent employee, you’ll have a good shot at getting the gig, especially if you plan on staying in town for a while.
- The liquor laws are very different – There are a ton of restrictions when it comes to buying takeaway alcohol in Alice Springs. Liquor stores in town open at 2pm and close at 9pm during the week, and open at 10am on Saturdays. Most liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Cask wine is unavailable and fortified wine is only sold after 6pm. Oh yeah, and if you’re of drinking age and want to purchase alcohol, bring some form of photo ID, otherwise you won’t be able to buy!
- The weather can be intense – Especially during summer. Alice Springs in summer can be described as nothing short of horrible (but that’s just because I’m a sook when it’s super hot). If you love the sun and love spending time outdoors, you’ll love Alice Springs. Always wear sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you everywhere. Even if you enjoy the heat, the sun can still do damage to your skin, and it’s very easy to become dehydrated.
- It’s a beautiful place – Like I’ve constantly mentioned, Alice Springs really is an impressive and beautiful place. There is so much wildlife, a ton of awesome Ranges and (during summer when it rains more frequently) there can even be a ton of greenery!
Why I’m happy to be back in Adelaide again:
- Being in a familiar place again
- Being close to family and friends
- The abundance of things to see and do!
- The ocean is a mere 30 minute drive away (bit better than 16 hours from Alice Springs!)
- So many more shopping options (not that I shop for myself, but it’s nice having more than one choice incase I decide to buy myself some new socks or something).
- The houses are much cheaper to rent (electricity and gas rates are also lower)
- It’s not as hot during summer!
Like I’ve mentioned many times in this post, Alice Springs and Adelaide are very different places. I’ve been lucky to call them both home, and although I wouldn’t ever live in Alice Springs again, I’m definitely excited to go back and visit one day.
Have you ever moved interstate before? Either for work purposes, or because you wanted a change of scenery? Tell me below! What did you find most difficult and rewarding?
MORE ABOUT AUSTRALIA:
- Australia Travel Tips: 10 Reasons why you Should Visit + 10 Things you Should Know
- Australian Winter Travel Essentials: 5 Must Pack Items for your Stay!
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