Living in Brisbane, Australia: Expat Guide

Brisbane, Australia’s third most populous city and the capital of Queensland, has a sub-tropical climate with pleasant average temperatures all year round.

Is Brisbane a good place to live as an expat? Let’s discover it in this Expat interview.

Tracy will answer all the questions, from the cost of living in Brisbane to all the related information for moving to Australia.

Why did you choose to live in Brisbane?

We decided to move to Australia about six years ago, but it took nearly five years after we were granted our visas to make a move.

We first moved to Mackay in Northern Queensland, but my husband got a job in Brisbane after three months, so we moved.

There is so much to do and see in Brisbane that it seemed a natural place for us to move to.

I also have friends who live here, and they told me what a fantastic place it is.

The weather is excellent all year round, which is an important factor for us. We were sick of the gloomy weather in the UK!

living in Australia kangaroo

How to prepare for moving to Brisbane?

Firstly we had to obtain a visa to live in Australia. This was a complicated process and involved a lot of money and a lot of paperwork.

I also had to register to be able to teach in Queensland. That took about 12 weeks.

We also had to validate our visas in Australia once they were issued – as we were not ready to move permanently at that time, it was a costly requirement.


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The cost of living in Australia

Australia is not cheap, and you need to be earning dollars as soon as possible, as you will quickly see your savings disappear.

a) Accommodation in Australia

living in Brisbane

We rent a furnished two-bedroom apartment, which costs $400 a week. You need to pay a month’s rent as a deposit and the first two week’s rent upfront.

b) Food

We eat out a lot, and I would say a meal for 2 with a drink cost between $60-100, but that depends on the type of restaurant!

c) Groceries

Again not cheap.

It is best to buy seasonal produce as it’s more affordable.

We spend about $250 a week on groceries for 2. There aren’t many supermarkets to choose from, but finding a local market for fruit and vegetables may save some money.

d) Transportation

living in Australia
Colorful lights across the coastline of city skyscrapers in Brisbane.

I recommend buying a Go Card that you can use on all public transport in Brisbane. You load it up, then tap at the beginning and end of your journey.

Catch the CityCat along the river – it’s a great way to see the city! The city gets very congested, so I would always recommend taking public transport rather than driving!

Did you experience any difficulties when you moved to Brisbane?

Not really – I have moved around the world several times, so I know what is involved.

I miss my family and my dog back in the UK (hopefully, she is joining us soon), and adapting to a new job was not easy to start with, but the best thing to do is try not to compare.

It will be different, and you need to go with that, however strange those differences feel.

Did you experience any discrimination from the locals?

Not at all. I have found everyone I have met to be so friendly and welcoming. Australians are used to people wanting to live here and seem happy to welcome us!

What do you like about Brisbane?

It’s a lovely city with so much to see and do. The weather is fantastic, and it is close to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for weekends away.

Are there any bad things about Brisbane?

Not really! At the moment, we love it all (OK, maybe the amount of traffic and the toll roads are a bit stressful!)

What are your favorite things to do in Brisbane?

It would be heading to South Bank at the weekend.

There is a beach and a lagoon-style pool (all free) and lots of activities to do and galleries to visit.

Take a blanket and a picnic and enjoy the atmosphere. You can also buy the best milkshakes in the world there!

Is it easy to make new friends in Brisbane?

So far, we haven’t made too many friends here though I did in Mackay.

I am joining some photography courses soon, so hopefully, I will meet new people that way! I am also meeting people at work.

living in Brisbane Australia

Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I would say a mixture, really, as I already have some expat friends who live in Brisbane.

Where is your favorite place in Brisbane to hang out with friends?

South Bank is the place to go – it has a great vibe.

There are places to eat and sit for a picnic, or you can take a swim in the pool or relax on the beach.

There were loads to do at South Bank before Christmas with films and concerts, so it is worth checking to see what is on.

A memorable experience in Brisbane

My husband and I decided to catch the train to South Bank just before Christmas, and we had a beautiful afternoon just sitting in the shade with a picnic watching the world go by!

It was so relaxing but didn’t feel like Christmas as it was so hot!

train in Brisbane

Did you change your perspective about Brisbane after living here?

No. Brisbane is exactly what I expected – it is a great city to live in!

Advice and tips for moving/ living in Brisbane

Think carefully about where you live – the traffic can get very congested, and it can take longer to get to places you may expect.

I wouldn’t recommend living too far from where you work as you may spend a lot of your time commuting.

Some areas are better than others, so I would check a suburb before committing!

Would you recommend living in Brisbane?

We live in the northern suburbs, but there are lovely areas around Brisbane!

I think Brisbane offers so much to everyone with its excellent climate and access to some of the best beaches in Australia on the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. Both are just an hour’s drive away.

What have you learned from living abroad?

I have lived abroad for a lot of my life, and I have learned that you never stop learning!

I have learned another language, appreciated food, and developed better social skills through living abroad. It makes you more adaptable, and I think tougher!

Moving abroad is not easy, and expect highs and lows – give yourself time to settle.

All that is strange today will soon become familiar. Even though I have done this six times in my life, it is always the same process, but it is worth it in the end!

More about Tracy

Tracy blogs at Tracy’s travels in time. She has been an expat six times and has lived and worked in France, Switzerland, Canada, South Africa, and Botswana.

She moved to Australia in 2017. 

Besides teaching, she loves history, train journeys, nature, and meeting new people. She also has a passion for milkshakes!

Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The opinions expressed here by Expatolife columnists are their own, not those of Expatolife.

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  1. Nice content and Q&A that everyone can have an idea of how beautiful to live in Brisbane. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brisbane sounds great! If possible, we (my husband, two teenagegirls and I) will move from Denmark to Brisbane in July 2022 – it depends on the restrictions of course.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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