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Streets beach in Southbank Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 05, 2023

Summary: The population of Brisbane is 2.4 million people. Brisbane is a vibrant, modern city with a laid-back atmosphere. Expats love the city's outdoor lifestyle, its friendly locals, and its proximity to the beach. The weather in Brisbane is generally mild and sunny, with temperatures ranging from an average low of 50°F (10°C) in the winter to an average high of 82°F (28°C) in the summer. The average cost of living in Brisbane for an expat is around $2,000 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $1,500 USD per month, and a two bedroom apartment is around $2,000 USD per month.

What do I need to know about living in Brisbane?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Brisbane, they said:

"Before retiring in Brisbane, expats should make sure they acquire the appropriate visas, in order to legally live there. They should also familiarize themselves with the cost of living in Brisbane, and make sure they have sufficient funds to cover expenses such as accommodation and healthcare. Expats should also research the various suburbs of Brisbane, to ensure they find the most suitable one for their needs. Lastly, expats should prepare for the weather; Brisbane is hot in the summer and mild in the winter months," added another expat in Brisbane, Australia.

"Do your research and be clear on what you're looking for. Brisbane can offer you an easy, laid-back lifestyle, with lots of outdoor living. Blue skies are the norm, winters are warm and dry and the worst humidity and storms of summer only last about 4 months. It's very live-able. People are largely friendly and relaxed, and there's a slow pace. You're further away from the sea - and good beaches - than you may expect, though there's plenty along both coasts to explore. There's some beautiful scenery and nature walks, on numerous day drives. That said, if you're looking for high culture and a sophisticated, cosmopolitan centre, it's probably not for you. Attitudes can be very old school, customer service is a rare thing - the downside of the laid-back vibe - and many people have never travelled outside of their state, let alone Australia. It's a developing city and it hasn't quite caught up to itself yet. Whatever you decide, it's what you make of it - expect culture shock and roll with it," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane.

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What do I need to know before moving to Brisbane?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Brisbane, they said:

"Before moving to Brisbane, it is important to have a good understanding of the climate. Brisbane enjoys a subtropical climate with warm and humid summers, and mild, dry winters. This can be a pleasant change for those used to living in more extreme climates. It is also advised to familiarise oneself with the transportation system - both public transport and roads. Taxis are also a convenient option for getting around the city. Furthermore, expats should become acquainted with the cost of living in Brisbane. While it is generally more affordable than many cities in the US and the UK, basic necessities such as housing, food, transport, and entertainment will add up, and expats should plan their budget accordingly. Additionally, health care should be made a priority and expats should arrange for international health insurance in case of medical emergencies. Finally, it is important to research the job market for any skills or qualifications you may have to ease the transition into the city," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane, Australia.

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How do I find a place to live in Brisbane?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"One way to find an appropriate place to live in Brisbane is to search the internet for listings of available properties. You can find a variety of places, such as apartments, houses, and townhouses. Additionally, you can contact local real estate agents for help in finding the perfect property for you. To narrow your search, you can look for listings in the areas and neighborhoods that suit your lifestyle and budget. Additionally, using online resources such as rental websites, newspapers, and social media can be a great way to find available places. You can also join local networks and forums where you can learn information that can help you find the right place to call home," explained one expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Brisbane?

"Expat homes and apartments in Brisbane often have a modern look and feel, with plenty of natural light and lots of open space. Many offer stunning views of the city and surrounding areas. They often come fully furnished and equipped with modern amenities, such as air conditioning, swimming pools, and private outdoor areas. Expat homes and apartments in Brisbane are typically also within easy reach of shops, restaurants, and other attractions," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane, Australia.

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What is the average cost of housing in Brisbane?

If you are thinking about moving to Brisbane, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Brisbane, varies based on location, condition, and other factors, but the average cost of housing can generally be considered to be moderately priced. Depending on the exact location and type of property, monthly rents can range from affordable to slightly expensive. Purchasing a home can also vary greatly in cost, from a few hundred thousand to well over a million dollars in more affluent areas," remarked another expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

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How do I meet people in Brisbane?

When we asked people living in Brisbane about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Many expats join local clubs, recreational activities, and meetups in Brisbane in order to socialize and meet other people. From live music and theatre to sports clubs, there are a wide variety of clubs and activities that expats can become involved in. Expats can also find various yoga, cooking, and language classes offered throughout the area. Additionally, there are a number of co-working spaces perfect for networking and making connections with other professionals. Expats can also join local expat community groups, such as expat meetup groups and Facebook groups, to socialize and make friends with other people in similar situations. Last but not least, expats can volunteer in their local community to meet people, get involved, and make a meaningful contribution to the area," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane, Australia.

"If you've got kids, you're automatically going to meet people through childcare services; ditto work. Otherwise, join sports clubs - sport are huge here - and make sure you introduce yourself locally to neighbours. We've found ours very welcoming," explained one expat living in Brisbane, Australia.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What should I bring when moving to Brisbane?

People living in Brisbane were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When preparing to move to Brisbane, it is important to remember to pack items such as clothing for warm and hot weather, sun protection like sunscreen and sunglasses, hats, insect repellent and comfortable shoes. In addition, good bedding, a quality mattress, household items, kitchenware and a favorite book or music can make settling into your new home easier. Appliances, such as a fan, electric kettle and toaster, may also be useful. Depending on where you are moving from, it may also be necessary to bring international power adapters and plug converters. Don't forget important documents such as passports and visas, financial records and address books. Finally, make sure to bring some cash in local currency in case of emergencies," remarked another expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Brisbane?

We asked expats in Brisbane what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"When looking to retire in Brisbane, expats should consider both the costs of living and what lifestyle they would like to lead. It's important to understand the local taxation system prior to moving, including how taxes are calculated and any potential benefits. It can be beneficial to research the types of healthcare systems available, especially any health insurance policies which might be required in order to access certain care. Expats should investigate what the job market is like in the city, and the options available for temporary or part-time work. Looking into the local culture and customs, in addition to the climate and weather, can also help expats to better prepare to settle in Brisbane, Australia," added another expat in Brisbane, Australia.

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Will I be able to find a job in Brisbane?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Brisbane, they reponded:

"Foreigners often have a variety of jobs in Brisbane. Many find work in tourism, hospitality and retail due to the city's large service sector. Others may find roles in technology companies, or seek employment in education, healthcare, or engineering. Construction and farming jobs are also available to foreigners. The skilled and semi-skilled labour market provides many great employment opportunities," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane, Australia.

"I'm not aware of any stand-out industries, but there is masses of development going on - when we arrived in May 08, 1,200 people were arriving every week - so construction is big. There's heaps of ongoing housing development and the State Govt is ploughing serious money into transport infrastructure, to keep the economy turning over during the GFC. Beyond that, it's the usual office / corporate / retail sectors..," explained one expat living in Brisbane, Australia.

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What is life like in Brisbane?

When we asked people living in Brisbane what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Brisbane is an increasingly attractive destination for expats and digital nomads due to its relaxed lifestyle, good weather and lower costs of living compared to many other larger cities. The sunny, subtropical climate makes Brisbane an ideal place to enjoy outdoor activities and its vibrant cultural life, with a range of both relaxed and more sophisticated cafés, bars and restaurants. There are plenty of cultural opportunities to explore, from international film festivals, markets and art galleries to festivals, parks and playgrounds. With excellent transport connections and more affordable housing than cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is an ideal choice for digital nomads to stay for extended periods of time. Plus, the city is home to several co-working spaces for those who want to work remotely, as well as plenty of opportunities to both connect with locals and other expats," explained one expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

"Brisbane's a pretty laid back, low-stress city. Work doesn't seem to be the number one priority - that's lifestyle and sport, especially sport," said another expat in Brisbane.

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What do expats in Brisbane appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Brisbane appreciate the diverse culture and array of activities available in the city. Residents of Brisbane enjoy an array of outdoor activities, including beach activities, bushwalks and cycling. The city has a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, with festivals celebrating music, food, art, and science. Expats also appreciate the temperate climate, which allows for year-round activities. Furthermore, Brisbane’s friendly and down-to-earth locals make it easy for new arrivals to settle in and call Brisbane home," remarked another expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

"Not the culture but the country is beautiful and the wild life, birds, plants, trees, flowers are amazing. The fact we are no more than an hour from a beach," added another expat in Brisbane.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats in Brisbane can find the local culture difficult to adjust to at first, as the laid-back attitude of the locals can take some getting used to. They can also find the slang used in everyday conversation to be a challenging barrier to entry, as well as learning the local time-frame for getting things done, which is often much more laidback and relaxed than in other places. Additionally, dealing with the humid climate and hot temperatures of Brisbane can take some getting used to for those who have come from other countries," wrote a member in Brisbane, Australia.

"The people. Not nearly as friendly as their reputation implies. I have found the majority of people in Brisbane to be rude, superficial, and occasionally nasty. Very close minded and prejudiced. There seems to be a general feeling of apathy towards strangers. People don't help each other out and don't seem to care. Lack of manners. Poor sense of community," commented one expat who made the move to Brisbane.

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Is there a lot of crime in Brisbane?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Brisbane has generally been considered a safe city, with crime levels relatively low compared to many other major cities in Australia. However, theft and burglary remain an issue in some areas of the city, with certain suburbs exhibiting higher than average crime rates. Violent crime is also prevalent, particularly in areas with a high concentration of pubs and clubs in the city center. All residents and visitors to Brisbane should take standard precautions when out and about, such as avoiding dark and isolated locations and being aware of their personal safety," explained one expat living in Brisbane, Australia, Australia.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Brisbane accepting of differences?

"Brisbane is a diverse and multicultural city with people from many different cultural backgrounds. It is home to a wide range of ethnicities and religious beliefs, which is reflected in its vibrant cityscape. The people of Brisbane possess a laidback attitude and generally have a welcoming attitude towards newcomers. There is a strong emphasis on acceptance of diversity and respect for individuals and all that they bring to the city. People in Brisbane are open-minded and accepting of differences in peoples' beliefs, cultures and lifestyles," added another expat in Brisbane, Australia.

"There is diversity here - racial, cultural, religious - but less than the other centres, and I think attitudes are less enlightened. Brisbane's often quoted as a country town that's exploded in size, and we've definitely seen that... I think attitudes here can be quite entrenched," remarked another expat who made the move to Brisbane.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Australia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What are the schools in Brisbane like?

"St. Rita’s College is a primary and secondary Catholic school located in Alexandra Hills, Brisbane. It offers a range of amenities and resources to students, such as music and visual arts classes, science labs and ICT suites, as well as sporting facilities. The school is known for its strong academic program and its commitment to the achievement of each student. Brisbane Japanese Supplementary School is a Japanese language school dedicated to teaching Japanese to students with fluent English language skills. The school offers activities such as calligraphy, Judo, and Kendo on Saturdays. It also offers an after school program for students who would like to extend their studies in other subjects such as Mathematics, Science, and Arts. St. Joseph's Nudgee College is an independent Catholic day and boarding school for boys aged 5 to 18. With a strong academic program and a commitment to pastoral care, the school focuses on equipping its students with the life skills needed for a successful future. It offers an extensive range of activities and sports to its students, such as basketball, swimming, and rugby. ASEA Brisbane is an international bilingual school providing well-rounded education to students from Grade 1 to 11. Its curriculum is based on the Australian Curriculum as well as 60% of English classes. As a bilingual school, ASEA provides opportunities to improve both language skills and enhance student learning through immersive methods such as field trips, cultural exchanges, and project-based learning. Moreton Bay College is a leading independent girls' school from Kindergarten through to Year 12. It is committed to providing an environment where students can reach their top potential and excel not only in academics, but also in the arts and sports. The school also offers a range of activities such as leadership programs, musical theater, and sailing, and hosts a number of community events," commented one expat when asked about in Brisbane, Australia.

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What are medical services in Brisbane like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Brisbane, they replied:

"Brisbane offers a range of medical services from private and public hospitals, specialist and generalist clinics, an array of allied health services, day and home health care, pharmacies, and more. There are four major public hospitals in Brisbane; Lady Client Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Queensland Children’s Hospital. Brisbane also has over 4,000 licensed medical practitioners and specialists available to provide first-class medical care. There are a number of private clinics in Brisbane that offer a variety of services including general medical practice, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, dermatology, ENT, cardiology, and plastic surgery. Furthermore, Brisbane also offers a range of allied health services such as physiotherapy, dietetics, speech pathology, occupational therapy, audiometry, and psychology," commented one expat living in Brisbane, Australia.

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Why do people move to Brisbane?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Brisbane, they responded:

"People move to Brisbane for many reasons. Living in Brisbane offers an idyllic quality of life, with comfortable temperatures, great outdoor activities and plenty of cultural activities. The cost of living and housing is generally lower than other Australian east coast cities, making the city more accessible and appealing to many people. Employment opportunities are strong due to its thriving economy, especially in industries such as professional services and IT. Education options are also excellent, with a high number of universities, TAFEs and other education institutions. People appreciate Brisbane’s relaxed lifestyle and close proximity to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, providing easy access to some of Australia’s most popular beach destinations," said another expat.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Streets beach in Southbank Brisbane, Australia

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