Situated in the sunshine state of Australia, Brisbane has a wonderful subtropical climate and a dynamic economy, making it an attractive city to migrate to. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that one quarter of Brisbane’s 2.56 million population was born overseas. The people of the city enjoy a vibrant restaurant, bar and cultural scene on top of the relaxed lifestyle offered by this spacious, sprawling city, where most of its residents live in detached houses with gardens. Brisbane acts as the gateway to the beaches of Gold Coast, and is also the traditional home of the Jagera who are amongst Australian Aboriginal people.
Read more: Visit our Covid-19 Update – Going to Australia page for the latest news about moving or travelling there during the pandemic.
(Last updated on 28 May 2021)
In this guide, you will learn about Brisbane’s:
Brisbane does not have pronounced seasonal changes. The annual mean minimum temperature is 16.6° and the mean maximum is 26.6°. Positioned close to the warm ocean currents of the Pacific, the city does not experience sub-zero temperatures.
On average Brisbane has 124 days of sunshine.
• October to May – This is the warmer period with average maximums of above 26°C and only occasionally over 35°C. This is the season
• June and July – A very short time of slightly cooler temperatures with an average maximum of 22°C and average minimum temperature of 11°C
• November to March – This is the rainy season and thunderstorms are common
Cost of Living
Brisbane ranks 103rd most costly city on a list of 450. The monthly costs for a single person are approximately A$1,171.05, excluding rent. (Making it the 2nd most affordable city in Australia!)
Take a look at the link below to get an idea of the average prices for market shopping, transportation costs, eating out and everything else.
- It’s close to some fantastic beaches and surfing hotspots
- Offers plenty of study and work opportunities
- Its music scene is the best in Australia
- A diverse population makes for a city full of multicultural celebrations through the year
- Its biodiversity and green spaces
We’re Not Fans of
- The very early sun sets
- Mosquitoes, cockroaches and termites aplenty
- The many toll roads in the city
Median House Price (as of April 2021): A$558,295
Average Price: A$485,000 for 3 bedrooms
Unless you are a citizen or permanent resident in Australia, or a citizen of New Zealand, you will have to first apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for permission to purchase property in the country. The conditions attached to the approval for temporary residents are that the property has to be re-sold when they leave, unless their status changes to permanent resident or citizen later on.
Most applications for vacant land or new land are usually approved; the same does not apply for established dwellings, where most applications are denied.
Applications are submitted to the FIRB, with a fee, depending on the value of the house it starts at A$5,000 for one valued at $1 million. It can take up to 30 days for you to find out if it has been approved or rejected.
Mortgages for home buying are available for FIRB approved purchases.
The median home value in Brisbane is currently A$491,925 and most areas are more expensive than the overall median. West Brisbane is the most expensive at A$659,554 and Ipswich the most affordable at A$350,511. The average size of a free standing home in Brisbane is about 237 m2.
As a general rule the cost of buying a property is roughly 5% of the purchase price and includes legal fees, stamp duties, loan establishment fees and other costs.
There greater Brisbane are consists of 5 local government areas with over 450 suburbs. The choice of finding where to buy will depend on:
• Your place of work
• Public transport availability or ease in driving to work and back
• Schooling requirements for kids
There are a number of reliable websites for real estate listings in Australia and Brisbane:
From the moment you move to Australia on a permanent basis you are liable for tax. You will also be a fiscal resident if you preside in the country for more than six months, holding the same job and lived at the same address over that period.
The tax rates for Australian residents are as follows (as of 2021):
- 0 – A$18,200 – NIL
- A$18,201 – A$45,000 – 19c for each $1 over A$18,200
- A$45,001 – A$120,000 – A$5,092 plus 32.5c for each A$1 over $45,000
- A$120,001 – A$180,000 – A$29,467 plus 37c for each A$1 over A$120,000
- A$180,001 and over – A$51,667 plus 45c for every A$1 over A$180,00
There is also a 2 percent Medicare levy on all amounts. Goods and services tax (GST) is calculated at 10 percent and is included in the prices of most products.
Queensland has the lowest payroll tax in all of the country at 4.75 percent, while the threshold for this tax is the highest in the country.
In order to find an affordable property to rent or buy in Brisbane, you will not need to drive too far out. That helps push commute times down to an average of 15 minutes.
Average Cost of Living (as of May 2021): A$6,049 per month for a family of four
Average Rental (as of May 2021): A$440 per week
Apartment in City Centre
A$1,684.09 for 1 bedroom and A$2,816.92 for 3 bedrooms
Apartment Outside of Centre
Average Rental (as of May 2021): A$1,232.38 for 1 bedroom and A$1,938.18 for 3 bedrooms
You will have to submit the following documents for a tenancy application in order to meet the 100 point identification check:
• Bank statements for the last 3 months
• A reference from your previous landlord
• The contact information for the previous landlord
• Proof that you do not owe any money
• Identification document (passport, birth certificate, driver’s license)
• Document proving your current residence
The internet is the best place to look for a rented property:
Utilities + Connectivity
Average Utilities Bill (as of May 2021): A$141 per month
Average Internet Bill (as of May 2021): A$56 per month
Average Mobile Phone Bill (as of November 2020): A$29 for prepaid phone plans, A$41 for postpaid phone plans, A$86 for phone on a plan
The biggest utilities providers in the Brisbane metro area are:
Queensland Urban Utilities – Water
Energex – Electricity
Origin Energy – Gas
Brisbanites are very careful with their daily water consumption after the area suffered from a considerable drought a few years back.
If you are moving into a new location, your top priority might be to settle down with a stable job. Brisbane has a growing employment rate and accounts for a total of 47 percent of Jobs in the Queensland region.
Average salary (as of May 2021): A$69,000
Top Industries: Business services, Construction, Engineering and Education
Australia encourages business and skilled migration and Job Services Australia provides opportunities for training, skills developments and other forms of assistance. The city is proactively involved in encouraging some key industry sectors to invest in the city.
Job Seeker Sites
There are many places to look for work and many employers advertise in newspapers, at private employment agencies and on online job sites. Try the following websites:
Professional and Trade Associations
Being a part of the trade and professional associations has its advantages, one of which is, providing networking programmes. These corporations look out for the well being of their members, and thus, can help with employment. Some of these associations advertise jobs that might not be on newspapers or job seeker websites.
Australian American Association of Victoria
Australian American Chamber of Commerce
Australian British Chamber of Commerce
Australia China Business Council (ACBC)
Australia India Business Council (AIBC)
Australia-Malaysia Business Council
Visa applications in Australia can only be processed by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship. You will need the appropriate visa on arrival otherwise you will not be accepted in the country.
The requirements for the work permit process in Australia include:
• A job offer
• Contract of employment
• Presentation of studies and qualifications
• IELTS Tests for applicants over the age of 18
• Everyone over the age of 18 needs a police clearance
• X-ray and medical
Once issued, the 457 work permit is valid for 4 years.
If you meet certain criteria in a points test you may qualify for a Skilled Independent Visa (189) allowing you to live and work in Australia for as long as you like.
Each state has the right to sponsor 190 visa applicants for professional skills needed in their rein. These visas are known as Skilled Nominated Visa (190) or the Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (489). These visas oblige their recipients to work in the area that they are given for and for a minimum time, after which you can seek a permanent visa.
Driving in Brisbane might be necessary, especially if your home is in a more remote location. Gasoline costs A$1.41 per litre and a new Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort or something similar will cost A$23,916.84 (as of May 2021).
It is easy to swap your existing driver’s license in Brisbane as long as you have the necessary documents. These can be presented to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads Service Centre and should include your existing driver’s license from your home country and other identity documents, a signed credit card and proof of your current address. Remember, paperwork must be translated if not in English. You may be asked to take an eye test, but it is not compulsory. You should have your driver’s license in a few days.
If you do not have a driver’s license or it has expired, you will need to do the written and practical driving test.
Brisbane is an easy city to get around in. The airport has a shuttle bus, Airtrain and taxis available for an easy commute to the city, just 14 kilometres away.
Public Transport System
Average Public Transport Cost (as of May 2021): A$150 per month
The metropolitan area offers Translink trains, buses and ferries which run on the Brisbane River.
• A one-way ticket on the public transport (both the train and the bus) will cost from A$3.37 for zone 1 and increases to A$20.34, depending on which zones you travel between zone 1 and 8.
• The same ticket prices without a “go card” will be between A$4.80 and A$28.90.
• The monthly electronic pass called “TransLink go cards” costs ~A$152.17 and can be used across all zones.
• A round trip ferry ticket costs A$6 and a single trip costs A$5.60.
• There are two choices in taxi companies too: Yellow Cab and Black & White Cabs and the basic fee starts at A$2.900 with a charge of A$2.17 per km, and A$ 0.82 per minute.
Getting around is important at every new location and if you are moving to Brisbane, you should definitely consider getting a driving license. Doing so in Brisbane is relatively easy, especially if you have all the necessary documents. All you need to do is follow the following steps:
- Take a trip to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads Service Centre.
- Present your home country’s driver’s license, while ensuring they are well translated.
- Present other documents like your birth certificate, passport or a signed credit card, as well as, a proof of your current address.
- The next step might not be compulsory, but you may be asked to take an eye test or a driving lesson.
- Once all of this is done, your driver’s license will be issued out to you in a few days.
Booking An Appointment
You can easily book an appointment by visiting any VicRoads customer service center. You do not need any documents to book an appointment.
Here’s what you should bring on the day of your appointment:
- Evidence of identity (current interstate license)
- Proof of a new address, that is, any document that shows your new address. It could be utility bills, your rental agreement, or an updated bank statement
- A secondary form of identification, like an ATM card
- Your current overseas license written in English. If you have it in another language, then you will need to get it translated into English
- A letter of confirmation. This is necessary if your current overseas license is currently unavailable, you should get a letter with a formal letterhead to confirm your story. This letter could be written by your issuing country’s driver license authority
- A completed license permit application form
- Payment of necessary fees. A new driver’s license usually costs around $80
Once all of this is verified, you will be issued a temporary form of license, until your plastic license is ready.
Living and working in Australia requires that you have a bank account. Wages are usually deposited into an account.
If you open a bank account within six weeks of your arrival you will only need your passport as identification. If you wait more than six weeks then you will be asked for extra identification, such as a birth certificate, driver’s license and a bank or credit card.
The biggest banks in Australia are:
Shop around for bank charges and interest rates as the banks are very competitive. Most of the larger banks have a good presence of ATMs in most of the areas.
Everyone in Australia needs to have government-sponsored or private health insurance. Medicare is the government-sponsored health care system and anyone with a permanent visa and their dependents will have automatic access to the scheme. The scheme covers hospitalization and emergency department visits if you are a public patient in a public hospital. Until you can be covered by Medicare it is best to have private health insurance. Medicare does not cover dental care and glasses and these can be covered with additional private insurance.
1. Seeing a GP or specialist
2. Tests and scans, like x-rays
3. Most surgery and procedures performed by doctors
4. Eye tests by optometrists
Medicare doesn’t cover:
1. Ambulance services
2. Dental services
3. Glasses, contact lens and hearing aids
4. Cosmetic surgery
Documents required to register for Medicare:
2. Travel documents
3. Permanent visa
The registeration should be done one week after your arrival. Do note that the process takes between three weeks and a month.
Australia has some of the best health care services and this extends to Brisbane. However, as an expat, there are two things you must carefully consider: Medicare and private health insurance
Australia has a healthcare system called Medicare which sponsors nearly all costs related to your health. Getting approved for Medicare is usually dependent on your country or your residence status.
Your family and you are eligible to get Medicare if you have a permanent visa or if you are visiting from affiliated countries like Finland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Belgium and Norway. However, it is advised to take out additional health insurance from private copmanies because Medicare does not cover some costs such as dental care and ambulance servicest.
Residents of Greater Brisbane falls under Metro North, Metro South or parts of West Moreton healthcare districts. Go to this map and click on your district. It will redirect you to a page and you will then see a link titled “More information on Metro North (for eg) Hospital and Health Service”. This link will show you a list of all the hospitals and services available in your district.
Prices vary depending on if you will just have a hospital plan or an all inclusive medical plan. It is very difficult to price insurance because there are many factors that will affect the cost: family members, age etc.
Brisbane is an amazing city for both kids and adults when it comes to education. Brisbane has great private and public schools for kids aged 6 to 16 years old. The duration of these years comprises 1 to 2 years of preparatory classes and 12 years of formal schooling. On top of that, Brisbane prides itself in its tertiary education, with 3 world class renowned universities.
Schooling becomes mandatory from the age of six, but children can attend a prep year from the age of five. Prep is the start of the early stage of learning which continues until Year 2.
Learning in Prep
1. Speaking, listening, reading and writing
2. Mathematics and problem solving
3. Science, exploring interesting and important questions about the biological, physical and technological world
4. History, beginning to examine and enquire about the past to develop curiosity and imagination
5. Negotiating rights, roles and responsibilities and developing social skills for working and playing with others
6. Diverse social and cultural practices of people in their community making healthy choices
7. Experimenting with materials in a variety of creative, imaginative and innovative ways
8. Technology in everyday life
9. Music and movement
How to enrol
1. Check if you live in the school’s catchment area and are eligible to enrol
2. Contact the school or check their website for any specific enrolment procedures
3. Complete an application for student enrolment form
1. Your child’s birth certificate or passport
2. Any documentation that is required if the school has a catchment area (e.g. a current lease agreement, rates notice, utility bill) for proof of residency
3. Information about your child’s medical condition, medications (if applicable) and doctor
4. Details of any relevant Family Court orders or other court orders (if applicable)
5. Details of your child’s previous education and care providers
Unfortunately, there is very little information about public prep school fees in Brisbane. The best option is to call the school directly to find out more.
Meanwhile, a private pre-school or kindergarten costs A$1,647.46 per month. Check out this page for a comprehensive listing of all private schools in Brisbane!
Public School Systems
Public Primary Schools
There are 1,200 free public schools available in the state of Brisbane, which most of the children in the state attend. Again, as with the pre-schools above, the huge number of public schools across the different districts make it difficult to shortlist any schools here at all. It is best to head to this page to find for primary schools that are in your region and to contact the schools directly regarding school fees.
Public Secondary Schools
Students are eligible to enter the first year of secondary school, Year 7, after completing 6 years of primary education (Prep to Year 6). Unfortunately, there is very limited information on the enrol process or school fees. It will be best to contact the school directly or visit their website for details. Head to this page to see the listing of secondary schools in Brisbane according to your district.
Private School System
Just 33 percent of children in the region attend private schools. Many are run by the Catholic or Anglican Churches. There is one self-designated international school in the Brisbane, St Paul’s) area, three Queensland state high schools and three Queensland Academies that offers IB Diploma Program:
1. Indooroopilly State High School
2. Mountain Creek State High School
3. Cairns State High School
4. The Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology
5. The Queensland Academy for Creative Industries
6. The Queensland Academy for Health Sciences
For more information about IB Programs that are divided into Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme, you can visit this page.
The cost of private school varies depending on the school so you should contact the school directly to get an accurate figure. But here is the range of private school fees:
Private Primary School fees
1. Prep: ~A$900 – A$17,990
2. Year 2: ~A$900 – A$17,990
3. Year 4: ~A$900 – A$18,970
4. Year 6: ~A$900 – A$22,320
Private Secondary School fees
1. Year 8: ~A$1,455 – A$26,740
2. Year 10: ~A$1,525 – A$26,740
3. Year 12: ~A$1,931 – A$26,740
Griffith University is one of Australia’s top universities that is also well-reputed internationally. Known to be the most innovative university, it is the only one to offer Asian studies and environmental studies. Their prowess in academics has enabled them to make links with organisations like World Bank and Pfizer.
Queensland University Of Technology (QUT)
Queensland University of Technology is known for offering great and relevant courses that contribute to the growth of the Tech Society immensely. As a matter of fact, QUT courses are high in demand.
University of Queensland (UQ)
The University of Queensland is the oldest university in Queensland. Known for its contribution to all Australian research, UQ is the only Australian university that happens to be a part of 21 universities. This position has helped UQ students acquire top jobs and positions in several institutions.
TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges caters to young people who are interested in complete vocational or commercial training and expats can make use of the subsidized training and career info services of the Queensland Government.
There are a number of restaurants in this culturally rich city to try and each one has its own specialties, but if you want to experience some flavours…
For local cuisine try:
• 1889 Enoteca – Its specialist dish is the gnocchi with pork and fennel sausage
• Flour and Chocolate – the patisserie is known for its classics and other specialist cakes, but its most famous offering comes on Thursdays and is called the Gonut, a thick layer of croissant pastry, fried until crisp and served with various toppings.
Try the following places for drinks and dining:
– Eat Street Market
– The Gresham (Brisbane’s favourite whiskey bar!)
– 8 Street at Westfield Garden City (13 Asian food stalls with delicious food and beer. Enjoy the feel, sound and smell of this Chinese themed area!)
Get more ideas here.
Food + Culture
Brisbane is home to many art galleries, art museums and other cultural events. A great spot to visit would be the Queensland Cultural Center. Within this amazing center, a myriad of events are held annually for the celebration of Brisbane’s culture. If you are not really into the arts, fret not for there are beautiful restaurants to relax in.
Food and Grocery
Coles, Woolworths, IGA and ALDI are the main supermarkets and Foodworks and Drakes are some of the smaller ones . The city has many Asian grocers, health stores and other delis. The larger supermarkets have online sites where you can order from too. There is a plethora of organic and bulk food stores in the city.
Some supermarkets that you might want to try:
– Formosa Asian Market (104 Mary St., CBD)
– Yuen’s Market Trading (155 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley)
– Best Friends Foods (329-345 Kelvin Grove Rd. and 10-12 Bishop St., Kelvin Grove)
Australians love the outdoors and their BBQs and there are many opportunities to learn how to BBQ or become an amateur home chef the Australian way through courses. Check it out here.
Whether you want to try some craft beer, go on a pub crawl, catch a gig or take the kids out for some fun, Brisbane is the right city to be in.
The city and its river area offer many opportunities for exploring and there are also a lot of free activities to partake in. Take a look at this site and find everything from sports activities nature and wildlife.
Brisbane is a relatively safe city moderate to low crime rates. Remember to:
• Be aware and stay alert
• Be smart and plan your routes according to safer and more populated areas
• Trust your instincts
• Make sure you are heard by shouting if you are in an unpleasant situation
• Report crime
All homes in Brisbane are fitted with fire alarms.
Because of powerful currents take care when swimming.
Emergency number for the police and fire department: 000
Click here to find out more.
Dos and Don’ts
• Do mix with other cultures
• Do explore the country side
• Remember to pay your fines or to defend them if you feel they are unjustified
• Do try Vegemite and see if you will like it!
• Do leave water for the wild animals
• Don’t swim in undesignated and unsupervised areas
• Don’t forget the sunscreen
• Don’t litter wherever you enjoy the outdoors, and if there are no bins provided, take rubbish back with you
• Don’t feed wild animals as it is bad for them
• Don’t forget why you came to live in Australia, be adventurous and get out the cities
All Things Brisbane
• Brisbane is one of the oldest cities in Australia
• The Great Fire of Brisbane in 1864 and the Great Brisbane Flood of 1893 set back the development of the city at the time
• The city played a central role in the Allied campaign during WWII
Since you are now knowledgeable about the hard facts about Brisbane, here are a few fun facts to end off on a light note.
- Jackie Chan’s first ever movie, First Strike (1996), was shot in the Chinatown located at Fortitude Valley
- Brisbane was the busiest submarine port during World War II
- Brisbane City Hall is the largest in all of Australia
- Brisbane experiences over 283 days of sunshine yearly
Other Popular Cities in Australia
Green city. Wine capital. Culture. The festival state.
Golden beaches. Great night life. Theme parks. Some of the best quality of life in the world.
Melbourne Cricket Ground. National Gallery of Victoria. World-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
Cosmopolitan. Great surfing. Multicultural. One of the world’s most beautiful harbours.
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