- 1 Why We Came to Alice Springs
- 2 Before You Even Consider Moving Here:
- 3 The Good Things About Living Here
- 4 But I’ve Heard It’s Dangerous…
- 5 Finding Work in Alice Springs
- 6 Housing is the BIG Problem
- 7 Cost of Living
Thinking of moving to Alice Springs?
We get at least one email a week asking us what life is like in Alice Springs, how difficult is it to get a job and what the housing situation is like.
On this page we give you everything you’ll need to know if you’re thinking about moving to Alice Springs.
The good. The bad. The ugly.
Let’s start with our story:
Why We Came to Alice Springs
Without doubt, Alice Springs is one of the easiest places to get work in Australia.
Which is how we both came here.
Gary came up here to work as a ranger, with no real idea how long he was going to stay, but I (Amanda) was only planning to stay 5 years.
After 15 years, I’m still here because I liked it so much.
Before I came for the job interview here, I’d never visited Alice Springs, Central Australia or the Northern Territory.
I came from a conservative country town in New South Wales known for its tulips and cafes.
When I came here and saw the facilities that Alice Springs had to offer, discovered how easy it was to get around, and how it was surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of spectacular national parks, I was instantly in love.
Three weeks after my job interview, I moved here.
In my working life in Alice Springs, I’ve had opportunities to do amazing work with Aboriginal people that I never would have expected.
I’ve learned about their dreaming stories, visited sacred sites with Elders, danced in sacred dances, and learned an Aboriginal language.
I’ve helped set up an employment and training program for Aboriginal people to work on national parks and become rangers.
I’ve been the director of a government department.
I’m now working with Aboriginal language interpreters and loving it!
I’ve seen things and been places that very few have the opportunity to see.
Generally, I love living here, but there’s a few things that really bug me.
Like the awful customer service in some shops or the summer heat in December, January and February.
Before You Even Consider Moving Here:
You need to know that Alice Springs is a long, long way from anything else.
You can’t just nip off to the next town on Saturday morning for a latte.
The next town (Ti-Tree) is 200km away.
What’s more, we’re very poorly served by airlines. We have Qantas and Virgin (only flies to Adelaide), and they rip us off most of the time (told you I wouldn’t pull any punches!).
If you are the kind of person who would absolutely DIE if you couldn’t got to the beach every weekend -or couldn’t handle the thought of being a long way away from the beach- don’t even think about moving here unless it’s short term.
You’ll hate it.
You also need to know a few other important things about the town BEFORE you start your journey towards moving:
- In summer it gets seriously hot (40-44 degrees in January are not uncommon)
- In winter it gets FREEZING cold (YES- below zero Celsius)
- In between, it’s goddamn perfect
- Around 5000 people in the town are Aboriginal. A lot of ignorant people seem to have an issue with this. If Aboriginal people freak you out, don’t come here.
The Good Things About Living Here
For us, the best things about Alice Springs is its quality of life:
- It’s relaxed, friendly and there’s no traffic
- People love to stop and have a chat
- The pace of life is slower
- In 10 minutes, you can be anywhere in the town
- Very few people wear suits to work – in fact, we have saying here that only real estate agents and politicians wear business suits in the Northern Territory!
- It’s a great place to raise a family. There are 4 high schools, and around 8 or 9 primary schools
- There’s every kind of sport here you could ever want. Every second year, it’s home to the Master’s Games
- Great weather (most of the time), so we have a very outdoor life style
- Very easy to make friends and have a busy social life
- Work is very easy to find. There are always positions vacant – no matter what your profession
- It seems to have more festivals, markets and events than many cities!
- Because it’s the service centre for an area that’s the size of Western Europe, it’s got all the shops and services that you’d find in a much larger place
And… it’s set in the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges. In ten minutes, you can be out in the bush!
And Now for the Bad Things
Yes, there are bad things about living here. These are the ones which bother us the most.
- Alcohol control – there are strict laws about when and how much alcohol you can buy
- Drunk Aboriginal people fighting. You will see them – but they usually leave non-Aboriginal people alone
- This might sound crazy, but there are too many places where you can buy alcohol. For example, fish and chip shops and service stations. We’re not joking!
- Alice Springs is a long way from anywhere else
- We are poorly serviced by airlines and airfares are outrageously high
- It gets very hot in the summer time
- Customer service can be very bad
- Many shops and businesses shut at 12pm Saturday. The eateries in the shopping malls aren’t open on Sundays, even though most of the other shops are
- At certain times, it can be hard to find houses to rent or buy
- Petrol (fuel/gas) is about 30 cents per litre more expensive than in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide
Really, those bad things aren’t all that bad – they’re just annoying. The good things about living in Alice Springs far outweigh the bad.
But I’ve Heard It’s Dangerous…
Ok let’s get this straight. Alice Springs is no more or less dangerous than ANYWHERE else in Australia.
Am I qualified to say that? I think I am.
I’ve lived in Sydney, Bowral, Narooma, Camden & Canberra. I’ve spent a lot of time semi-living in Darwin, too, when I was a Director in the NT government.
So I have few places to compare with.
My Verdict: ALICE SPRINGS IS SAFE TO LIVE IN & VISIT.
Do NOT believe what you see in the media about the town being a dangerous place to live and walk around.
This is simply NOT TRUE.
Alice Springs has its share of petty crime (i.e. house & car break-ins) just like Sydney, Melbourne or London. So don’t leave your car, house or hotel room unlocked or leave your valuables in plain sight!
HOWEVER: the violent crimes that you hear about in the media are usually from one unfortunate cause: drunk Aboriginal people beating up, stabbing and even murdering OTHER Aboriginal people.
This means that for most locals (including MOST Aboriginal people) that it’s rare to be assaulted, beaten up or have your stuff stolen.
The reality is that Alice is like any other place – use your commonsense when it comes to doing things like walking down dark alleys late at night.
A simple rule is this: if you WOULDN’T do it at home, then don’t do it here.
Overall, it’s a great place to live and work. If I had to sum the life here up in three words I’d say: relaxed, comfortable, interesting.
Finding Work in Alice Springs
The best news of all is that its EASY to find work here.
If you have ANY kind of qualification, you’ll be snapped up usually in the first week you’re here.
Even if you don’t have any kind of qualification, a pulse and a willingness to actually turn up to work gives you a kick-ass chance of getting a job.
The number of jobs always outstrips the number of people looking for work. That’s just a fact of life here.
Rates of pay here tend to be higher than elsewhere in Australia and many jobs offer 6 weeks of annual leave per year.
Where to look for work:
- Before you get here, check out Career One
- Try the brilliant Alice Springs Jobs Facebook page. Join the group and tell them what you’re looking for and what skills you’ve got
- Check out the NT Government’s jobs website
- Once you’re here, check out the Friday edition of the Alice Springs Advocate (newspaper)
There are also several employment agencies here.
Word of mouth (even door knocking small businesses) will also get the word around.
A grindstone used by Aboriginal women to make flour. If an anthropologist can find work in Alice Springs, ANYONE can.
Housing is the BIG Problem
Whilst employment is really easy to find, getting a place to live can be quite difficult.
Unfortunately, rents and property values in Alice Springs are high and finding a decent, livable house can be difficult at certain times of the year (such as the at the end of school terms when a lot of teaching staff arrive or leave town).
You will find many share houses available. At the moment (2016) a room in a share house is around $160-$250.
At present (2016) rents on a nice 3 or 4 bedroom house in town are over $550 per week.
The median purchase price of a house in town is around $500K.
We can’t really recommend one over the other, although it would make sense for you to purchase a house if you were planning on staying here long-term.
Always inspect a house before you agree to rent or buy. There are some absolute holes in Alice, and you would NOT want to end up living in one them.
Once piece of advice that we always give to people thinking of moving here is to try and housesit for a few weeks when you first arrive.
The housesitting scene in Alice is HUGE – not only will housesitting save you money, you’ll also have to time to get to know the town, and get a feel for where you might want to live.
If you’re interested in housesitting, then you absolutely MUST join the Alice Springs Housesitting Group on Facebook. This is the very FIRST place to go and ask what’s around.
Another option is to email us here. We sometimes hear of housesitting opportunities that aren’t advertised.
Cost of Living
Items like fuel, furniture and white goods are more expensive to buy here.
With furniture, whitegoods and other items, you can try to force our local retailers to price match to city prices. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t… which is why internet shopping is HUGE here.
Our big retailers are pretty much what you’ll find in all large Australian country towns: Bunnings, Harvey Norman, KMart, Target, & Carla Furnishers. There’s also Repco, Supercheap Auto and BBQs Galore.
There are several secondhand stores where you can buy furniture, but the prices are outrageous compared to secondhand stores in cities.
The best way to find furniture/whitegoods bargains:
- do the ‘Lawn Sale’ (this is what garage sales are called in Alice) rounds on a Saturday morning – especially for furniture
- join one of the Alice Buy, Swap, Sell groups on Facebook.
Groceries, clothes and other everyday items are little different to capital cities.
Our average weekly food bill for a family of four, plus two dogs and four chickens is between $180-$200 per week. And we do not scrimp!!
One thing we do notice living here is that the quality of fruit and vegetables can vary widely from week to week.
Summer stone fruit tend to be very disappointing in comparison with what you can buy in South Australia. About one or two weeks over summer, we actually get decent stone fruit. The rest of the time, stone fruit is like cricket balls!
Our water, electricity and council rates are lower than those which I (Amanda) had in Bowral (country NSW), but probably higher than some other places.
We spend around $1100 in council land rates and $2500 for power and water combined (we have a 4 bedroom house with a pool, and we use solar hot water). These prices are per annum.
The cost of registering our 4WD is around $680 per year, and includes 3rd party insurance.
We Hope You’ve Found this Post Useful
Overall, the good things about living in Alice Springs outweigh the bad, which is why we’ve stayed here so long.
Please let us know if this information has been useful to you in the comments section below.
PLEASE do not email us asking for help to find work OR asking what school to send your children to.
We are primarily a travel information site and we have provided all the resources to help you find work above.
As perceptions of schools are highly subjective, our preferences for our children’s schooling may be very different to your own
If you have any other questions about life in Alice Springs that we haven’t answered here, PLEASE send us an email.