Living in Brisbane | The Complete Guide to Move to the City

Living in Brisbane | The Complete Guide to Move to the City

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

If moving to Australia is on your bucket list, you must experience living in Brisbane! As the capital of Queensland, the northeastern state of Australia, this sunny city has many attractions and destinations to explore. Brisbane is a great place to experience both a relaxed and adventurous life all in one.

In addition to its popular landmarks, Brisbane is always buzzing with events and professional opportunities. Read our complete guide to discover why international students choose Brisbane as their top destination.

Lifestyle and Quality of Life in Brisbane

With 2.5 million residents, Brisbane has the third-largest population in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. The Aussie lifestyle here is also considered to be much quieter than the other larger cities in Australia.

Brisbane is an inland city, which is away from the busy beach shores.There are many more leisure opportunities here, such as visiting museums, art, and music scenes.

Nevertheless, Brisbane still hosts plenty of events and festivals throughout the year, receiving the nickname “Brisvegas,” in comparison to Las Vegas. Brisbane residents, including those living on a visa, have access to public and private healthcare.

With Queensland’s strong economy, career opportunities in Brisbane are steadily on the rise. More importantly, the city takes care of its environment. Brisbane is the most biologically-diverse capital in Australia and pushes eco-friendliness.

Weather in Brisbane

man riding a bike around Brisbane city

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, Brisbane has the best weather to do so. With a subtropical climate, the city remains warm and sunny most of the year. Summer here lasts from December to February, where temperatures average around 29℃ and receive the most rain.

Winter, on the other hand, lasts from June to August, and, with temperatures an average of 21℃, it is the driest time during the year.

Cost of Living in Brisbane

view of Brisbane city with sign

The cost of living here has decreased over the years, but Brisbane is still among the more expensive cities in Australia. This does not mean that you can’t find affordable housing in the city. Just like any other capital city, living in the inner city will cost more than in the outer suburbs.

It’s also good to make note of the average salaries in Australia as a whole, which are much higher in comparison to other countries. Below is a list of average prices in Brisbane as of 2020:

Rent (per month)

  • One-bedroom apartment (inner city): 1,900 AUD
  • One-bedroom apartment (outer suburbs): 1,400 AUD

Utilities (per month)

  • Basic (water and electricity): 200 AUD
  • Internet: 77 AUD


  • Bread (1 loaf): 3 AUD
  • Milk (1 liter): 1.70 AUD
  • Eggs (dozen): 4.70 AUD


  • Movie ticket: 17 AUD
  • Gym membership: 14 AUD (per week)


How to Save Money in Brisbane

There are several ways to save on costs while living in Brisbane. Check out our tips below to help stay within your budget:

  1. Shop locally in farmers’ markets. You can find home goods, produce, and more at cheaper prices than in major grocery stores.
  2.  Limit taxi use. Since taxi fees can add up, alternate your public transport methods, such as using the train or bus. You can also walk or bike to stores and areas within proximity to save extra as well as get a good exercise!
  3. Open a savings account. This way, you can accumulate extra cash in a separate account that limits the number of withdrawals.
  4. Get a roommate. You will have someone to split the rent and utilities, as well as a friend to keep you company! 

Working in Brisbane

man working in front of a cafe

If you plan to work while living in Brisbane, you’ll be happy to know that Australia has the second-highest minimum wage in the world. As of July 2020, the minimum wage in Australia is 19.84 AUD per hour, which equates to 753.80 per 38-hour workweek. Due to Queensland’s strong economy, there are numerous employment opportunities for international students living in Brisbane.

Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in the city, where it contributes over 3 million AUD to the economy. The most popular service jobs in Brisbane include retail, education, healthcare, and security. Brisbane also provides opportunities for ex-pats with a specialized service skill. Many in-demand job sectors in Brisbane, including manufacturing and healthcare, recruit oversea workers through the Skilled Nominated Visa. Under this visa, you can live and work in Australia permanently.

Requirements to Work in Brisbane

Before applying for jobs in Brisbane, make sure you are eligible to work in the country. Below is a list of requirements needed and most recommended:

1. Acquire a Visa

To live in Brisbane, even if for a short period, you must have a visa for Australia. There are two types of visas that allow you to work during your stay: the Student Visa and Working Holiday Visa.

2. Have English Proficiency

Since English is the official language of Australia, you will most likely need to have a proficiency level for job considerations. If however, English is your second language, there are plenty of English courses available in Brisbane to strengthen your communication skills. We will discuss these courses in a later section.

3. Meet the Age Requirement

The legal age to work in Australia on a visa is 18. You will not be able to work in Brisbane until you reach that age.

4. Apply for a TFN or ABN

In Australia, a Tax File Number (TFN) certifies you as a taxpayer in the country. Employers in Brisbane will need your TFN to deduct the statutory amount for taxes from your salary. If you want to perform contractor work, such as a freelancer, you will need an Australian Business Number (ABN).

5. Have a Bank Account and Phone Number

While not requirements, we suggest that you open a bank account and obtain a phone number while living in Brisbane. This will help with your employment process, as employers will need a method to contact you and distribute your paycheck.

Tips for Finding a Job in Brisbane

An easy way to find immediate job opportunities in Brisbane is through online job portals. You can use popular websites such as Career OneSeek, and Adzuna. These searches allow you to filter job titles, specific locations, and areas of interest. Another option is to apply for jobs through temp agencies. The agencies function as intermediaries between you and employers. Popular agencies in Australia include:

Accommodation in Brisbane

studio apartment accommodation in Australia

Prices of properties in Brisbane are lower than those in Sydney and Melbourne. Just keep in mind that the metropolitan area is generally more expensive than the outer suburbs. As mentioned in an earlier section, an apartment rental in Brisbane city can cost around 1,900 AUD. Having a roommate can cut that cost in half.

If you’re living in Brisbane as an international student, you can also choose to stay in the  of your university. These usually include utilities and other campus conveniences, such as meal plans and library access.

Lastly, for a more immersive experience, some students choose to live in a homestay. This is an arrangement with a local host family, sometimes through a university, where you enjoy the amenities of a residential home and share common areas with the family. You can search for these using popular websites such as Homestay.com and Brisbane Homestay, finding rooms as low as 200 AUD per week.

Transportation in Brisbane

train in Brisbane

It’s easy to get around the city of Brisbane, especially in the metropolitan area. Brisbane public transport is through Translink, which operates the bus service, boats, and train lines. Here, you can purchase a GO Card, the pre-loaded smartcard used to pay your public transport fare.

You can also take a taxi in Brisbane to get to the destinations quicker. The taxi base fee is 2.90 AUD, with 2.17 AUD per kilometer and an additional fee per minute. Since this can become quite expensive, especially for international students who may not be working full-time, most people rely on public transport.

Best Areas to Live in Brisbane

The City area of Brisbane

Before officially moving to Brisbane, it’s important to choose where in the city you plan to live. We suggest staying in a hostel, which is affordable and temporary accommodation, and use free time to explore residential areas around the city. Here are some popular areas to consider:

West End

The West End area of Brisbane is where you will find a wide variety of local markets, alternative bars, and international restaurants. It’s a cozy area with a relaxed, bohemian appeal.

The City

he metropolitan area of Brisbane, known as “The City,” is the best place to explore the town on foot. This area is full of restaurants, cafes, and bars to dine. If you love to shop, you will be surprised to find over 1,000 stores in and around the Queen Street Mall.

Spring Hill

As one of Brisbane’s oldest neighborhoods, Spring Hill is an inner suburb known for its Victorian-era landmarks and numerous parks. It’s about a five-minute drive from the city center.

South Bank

There’s much to say about this bustling side of Brisbane. In the South Bank, you find the popular man-made beach, Street Beach, as well as plenty of cafes, cinemas, and restaurants.

Fortitude Valley

Also known as “The Valley,” this is a popular suburb of Brisbane. Fortitude Valley has a vibrant nightlife, a mall, and several cafe hotspots.

Things to Do in Brisbane

view of the CityHopper ferry in Brisbane River

It is never boring in this busy, vibrant city. Are you a music lover? You can check out Brisbane’s local music artists at City Sounds as well as enjoy the nightlife of Brisbane at one of many bars and nightclubs.

Brisbane is also known for being the premier shopping destination. You can go on a shopping spree in the infamous Queen Street Mall or grab some fresh produce and homemade goods from one of Brisbane’s local farmers’ markets.

Easily cruise around the city on CityHopper, Brisbane’s free ferry service through the Brisbane River. It runs from 6 am to midnight, seven days a week. As an inland city, Brisbane doesn’t have any beaches.

It does, however, have a man-made lagoon, Street Beach, where you can have some fun in the sun. If you would like to visit a real beach, you can always hop on a Brisbane train to Gold Coast beach, which is just an hour away.

Exciting Places to Visit in Brisbane

view of the Weel of Brisbane ferris wheel

There are so many fun destinations to visit and explore while living in Brisbane. Would you believe us if we told you that they are all free? It’s true! Aside from transportation and planned shopping, you won’t need to spend a dime on any place within our list!

Wheel of Brisbane

The Channel Seven Wheel of Brisbane is the mesmerizing ferris wheel attraction in the South Bank area. For 15 AUD, you can ride this popular landmark and receive a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city. Each gondola is fully-enclosed and seats eight people, where you can bring friends and enjoy a meal during the ride.

Queensland Museum

With just a quick walk from the Central Business District, you can discover cultural and scientific artifacts at the Queensland Museum! From live demonstrations to interactive workshops, you will have to revisit this museum more than once! General admission is free, but you’ll have to purchase tickets for the hands-on activities.

Old Petrie Town

If you want to disconnect from city life for a bit, Old Petrie Town is a great place to start. Just a short drive outside of Brisbane, this tiny town maintains the old-styled buildings of the early 1930s. Explore the history of settlement by visiting the four museums and shopping in the local markets. Old Petrie Town is also where many tourists come for creative photoshoots.

Epicurious Garden

With free admission and being open year-round, the Epicurious Garden is the perfect place to take a stroll through exotic, edible plants. In this garden, you are encouraged to discover and taste its unique plant life. Collect the fresh produce and enjoy the beautiful, tranquil scenery!


Experience the aboriginal culture through the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Located at South Bank, these two galleries hold collections of contemporary art from Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. From exhibitions and gallery shops to an award-winning restaurant, QAGOMA is a great place to spark conversation with a stranger.

Study in Brisbane | Courses You can Take

college student in campus library

Would you like to continue your education while living in Brisbane? There are several universities in the city, as well as educational institutions that offer commercial and vocational training. Continue reading to discover options and courses available.

General English

For individuals who plan on living in Brisbane for an extended period, there are English courses that you can take from three months up to two years. These will help you develop conversational skills while simultaneously immersing yourself in the Australian culture.

Intensive English

Intensive English courses generally last from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of three months.

Preparation for Official Exams

Have you mastered the English language and want an official exam to prove it? Check out these official exam prep courses. Each helps you study and prepare for top-listed English exams, including the TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge exams.

VET Courses

Are you considering a career change or seeking alternative education options? Vocational (VET) programs provide you with hands-on training and job experience needed to establish your professional career immediately upon course completion.

Come Live in Brisbane with GrowPro

man exploring the city of Brisbane

So, are you ready to add “living in Brisbane” to your bucket list? GrowPro Experience can help you! Our team is dedicated to helping international students move abroad. Check out our website to see dozens of experiences we offer in Brisbane. Once you find one that sparks your interest, you can complete the form and receive a customized budget for your trip!

Afterwards, our Student Advisors can help you with the visa application process and the documents needed for living in Brisbane. Once you arrive in Brisbane, our team will take you to a Welcome Session where you will receive tips and advice on settling in the city. Your adventure awaits!

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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