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If you were wondering what the costs of living in Brisbane are then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent a good fifteen to twenty years living in Brisbane while growing up and I know the costs of living like the back of my hand.
Whether you’re planing on living in Brisbane permanently, studying abroad here or you’re just curious, this costs of living in Brisbane article should help you plan your move.
See more cost of living breakdowns and other helpful posts on our Moving to Australia resource page.
Image: bigstockphoto.com / rudi1976 (text added by me)
What Does It Cost To Live In Brisbane?
Brisbane is a mid sized, modern city along the coast of Australia with close access to beaches, mountains, wineries and nature. This means, if you ever get sick of the city, you have numerous options to plan your weekend or holiday escape.
Australia, in general is a little more expensive than the United States but it tends to even out if you’re also working here as Australians get paid a lot more than our American counterparts. The biggest way to save money while living in Brisbane is to pick a house that is in the outer suburbs, the further out the cheaper the house prices and rental rates.
If you don’t want to live too far out in the suburbs, I’d recommend picking an apartment in Chermside, Toombol, Nundah and the like where the city is still only a twenty minute bus ride away.
SusanVineyard / bigstockphoto.com
In Ipswich (an hour by train to the city) a two or three bedroom house can be found for under AUD 220 a week. Living 30 minutes (by bus) from the city you can get the same for under $300 a week in such as in those suburbs I mentioned above, and for inner city apartments prices range from $340 upwards.
Another option for study abroad students is to go with student housing. You can find an inner city room in an apartment for under AUD 250 a week.
If you want my personal opinion, you don’t need to stay in the center of the city to be close to the night life. There are late night buses running from 1am to 3-5am in the morning on weekends – which go to certain locations. If you need to save money but plan to go out a lot, try picking a suburb serviced by these routes (find route information here). Ipswich is out, but a lot of suburbs within 30 minutes from the city are covered.
In addition to housing you will have to pay for electricity, gas (if the house requires it) and internet. Electricity prices begin around $100-150 a quarter for the power conscious but rises quickly depending on your power usage. Companies like i-select can help you find the best electricity and internet deals for no extra charge. Gas may be needed depending on what your new home runs on but normally begins at about $80+.
If you search around you can sign up for unlimited internet for $50-60 a month and a basic monthly prepaid deal for your phone is $30 including a small amount of data, a large amount of calling credit and normally unlimited text.
Food and Drink
bigstockphoto.com / ymgerman
Eating out can be affordable (by Australian standards) by checking out the specials at pubs and the China town area around the city for between $5-17 a meal. Restaurant prices begin at $14 a meal and food prices rise as you start eating at nicer establishments.
Places such as Sizzler let you eat all you’d like for $23, you’ll find them attached to a few major shopping centres. Tap water in Australia is drinkable so there isn’t much need to purchase water everyday – so you can save money here.
The only thing is that restaurants in Australia close earlier than ones in the states, often before 10pm, especially when further out from the city.
Grocery costs can range anywhere from $50 to $170 a week depending on the quality of food bought, and the quantity bought at a time. Vegetables are often expensive in supermarkets but can be bought for much cheaper if you happen to live near a market. If you’re trying to save I suggest ordering a month’s worth of groceries at a time (Coles and Woolworths offer delivery). During the month you can top up on perishables if needed. This will stop you from overspending and adding snacks each as you’ll enter the supermarket less.
Discount grocery chains such as Aldi offer very cheap prices as an alternative to the mainstream Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. Their selection can be hit and miss, but they do have cheaper prices.
Transportation in Brisbane can be a little expensive. If you’re eligible for a seniors card or take a full time course at university however you will be eligible for half price fares on buses, trains and ferries. This is very valuable as public transport is expensive, although it can be a little frustrating to wait for your student form to be approved.
Public transport costs roughly 1.40 for a one zone journey (at the half price rate) and $3-4 for a four zone journey although prices may have rised since this was written.
If you prefer to travel by car, you will be able to save on your petrol bill by only buying petrol on the cheaper days as the petrol stations go through a weekly pricing cycle. Petrol costs depend on how often you drive but an estimate would be between $20-50 a week.
Entertainment and Travel
Entertainment in Brisbane can be achieved at many different costs depending on your tastes. An hours train ride ($4) can take you to many different holiday locations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Mt Tamborine, the Glass House Mountains and many other laid back destinations. Within two hours reach you can escape to the some insanely beautiful islands such as Fraser Island and Moreton Island.
Brisbane is often visited by famous musicals and Circ de Solei, as well as having many permanent attractions such as GOMA and the South Bank Parklands. There are many parks and lookouts in the city such as Mt Cootha, the Botanical gardens and Roma Street Parklands, which are free to enter. Movie tickets cost between $5-14 dollars depending on whether you visit the main cinemas or the discounted cinemas such as Eldorado or Cineplex.
Brisbane also has a few zoos and wildlife reserves inside or just outside the city such as the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Australia Zoo. Another main attraction in the city is the Wheel of Brisbane which costs roughly $11 a person to give you great views over the city and the river. Apart from that there are free comedy shows, a yearly seafood festival and many other free or cheap events during the year.
It’s a perfect town for students as well with more than three big universities in the area.
Clothing, Electronics and Other Personal Items
BodnarPhoto / bigstockphoto.com
Technology items and cosmetics can be over priced in Australia. You can save money however by purchasing items from Asia over Ebay or other online stores which is called the Grey market.
For instance a $1200 camera can be bought for $800 over Ebay brand new from China. These products often come with a one year or more warranty with warranty facilities located inside Australia and are normally of the same quality of Australian products. They are normally good quality items that have been priced cheaper overseas and the Chinese sellers have taken advantage of the good arbitrage opportunity.
If online stores are not your thing, clothes and cosmetic can be bought cheaply in Australian chain stores. For makeup drugstores (chemists) and Priceline offer very cheap cosmetics up to moderately priced cosmetics. The chemists also have sales as well.
Cheap fashion for all ages can be found at H&M, Ally, Supre and Cotton On ($10-40) while there is also a wide range of mid and high end designer stores across the city. Designer clothes are a little more expensive than in the USA unfortunately.
Finally a basic laptop in-store can be bought for $230 for general use and $400-500 if you use Photoshop or other editing software.
Australia in generally one of the more expensive locations to live in, but it can be easy to keep your expenses low by selecting an outer suburb base, buying fruit and vegetables at local markets and being energy smart. Brisbane really is a great town to live in for those who want to stay put in a city, but still have many options for day trips and peaceful getaways.