Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

Look who’s opting to call Adelaide home

A FEW weeks ago I wrote about SA’s brain drain and how so many of our best and brightest were fleeing interstate for a life less ordinary.
The column was tongue-in-cheek, but the issue is real.
According to the ABS, 4200 more people left SA than moved here in 2012-13, second only to NSW which shrank by 15,500 people.
Sometimes people change states and sometimes (gasp!) they even move to other countries. We know this.
Digital strategist Haythem Hassan opted to bring his professional expertise to Adelaide from Egypt ... for the lifestyle and to raise his family. Source: Supplied
Recently in The Advertiser I started a series called “Away Team” profiling local people kicking goals around the world.
The response has been universally positive.
“To me (the series) suggests a small town mentality — can’t imagine this kind of thing happening in Sydney or New York”, wrote one correspondent on our Facebook page.
“What we need to focus more on are the South Australians who actually live here.”
Our newsroom already does a great job celebrating inspiring locals. But my correspondent did get me thinking about those who are choosing to call SA home, especially those from overseas.
I decided to ask a couple of them — Alison Hassel, PR manager at the Adelaide Zoo (via LA) and Haythem Hassan (pictured) digital strategist (via Egypt) — why Adelaide?
Hassel landed here five years ago to chase a job in PR after four years in Sydney. She says a lot of Aussies give Adelaide a bad rap but “I very much like living here”.
“Adelaide has exactly what the other bigger cities have to offer, just in a compact, more user-friendly way, not to mention affordable housing and limited traffic. And trust me I know what real traffic is like!
“The only negative to Adelaide’s size is that it doesn’t host many corporate headquarters, which can make it a little difficult professionally.
Alison Hassell moved to Adelaide from LA (after four years in Sydney) and landed her dream job, in marketing at Adelaide Zoo. She says Adelaide has everything all the big cities have, in a compact, more use-friendly way.
“Adelaide is definitely a small pond with a lot of fish vying for the same worm!”
Haythem says he and his wife were ready to jump into a smaller pond when they moved in 2013, especially after life in “busy Cairo”.
The pair had a few boxes — music, art, food, weather — and Adelaide ticked them all.
“Also, my wife was pregnant and we were looking for a good place to raise kids, a place for families and again, Adelaide was the answer.
“And I can tell you we loved Adelaide even more when we moved here.”
He admits trying to find a job when you don’t have local experience isn’t much fun but on balance the couple couldn’t be happier with their decision to move.
The point is while we should never stop working to make SA an attractive place for young people to live, the brain-drain as an economic emergency, I think, has been somewhat overstated.
Because while some of our best and brightest will seek adventure overseas, SA will continue to be enriched by talented migrants who have chosen to call our city home on purpose and to make a contribution here.
And best of all, they already know what it will take some ex-pats years abroad to find out — that the grass is always greener and that SA is actually a heaps good place to be.
This column was first published in The City Magazine and on advertiser.com.au