Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, is often overlooked by travellers as they whirlwind across the Land Down Under.
The river city entwines you in her relaxed, and sometimes, fun and kooky vibe. You can embrace her small city diversity in suburbs ranging from artsy and alternative, to gourmet and uber-chic. It’s all here for the taking.
The added bonus over her more sophisticated cousins, Sydney and Melbourne, is the price of spending time here. The cost of living in Brisbane, whether for accommodation, transport, dining options, or a fun day out, can be surprisingly affordable.
Firstly, you’ll need a place to stay
If looking for dorm beds, you’ll want to check around the Brisbane Transit Centre, and a staple in this area is Brisbane City Backpackers. With it’s exclusive bar, cafe, and swimming pool, and walking distance to the city centre, it’s hard to beat :$388 per month for a dorm bed.
The Base Backpackers Brisbane Central youth hostel (previously The Palace) is housed within a heritage listed building adjacent to Central Station. Not only do you have everything at your doorstep, there are movie nights, BBQs and $10 (AUD) ‘Pint & Meal’ deals, to get you acquainted with your surrounds: $700 per month for a dorm bed.
Going upscale, you’ll find many hotels and self-contained apartments in Brisbane. One of the most comfortable and convenient of these is the Pullman Brisbane King George Square. Centrally located across the road from the historic King George Square, this luxurious option will cater to your every need. Room service, plush bedding and minibars: from $6,213 per month.
Easy going, Brisbane style
Travelling around Brisbane by public transport is both convenient and cost effective with the go card. Also, if you cycle, you can link your go card with your CityCycle card.
A pre-loaded go card provides seamless travel on the city’s network of bus, train, ferry (CityCat) and tram services, including Airtrain (the rail line from airport to the city and Gold Coast) using a zonal/on/off peak fare scale. Go cards are at least 30% cheaper than paper tickets and concessions are available: $90 per month.
A pre-loaded CityCycle card is the key to the city’s public bike hire service. Long-term subscriptions from 3 months to 1 year are the way to save. A 3 month subscription is $22, a 1 week subscription $9 and a day $1.60.
Taxi rates are $2 per km + (from) $3.60 tariff and booking fee.
For fresh produce, flowers, breads and artisan products head to one of the Jan Powers Farmers Markets, there are two within the inner city. Frugally buy as little or as much as you like.
Where you can indulge your taste buds without blowing the budget? Eat Street Market, located in Hamilton and only a short bus or CityCat ride from the CBD. Open Friday and Saturdays 4-10pm and claiming to bring “the best of the best” local chefs to this dining destination, variety is assured.
Grocery items per person for a month:
4 carts of groceries (1 litre of milk, loaf of bread, 1 kg bag of rice, 12 eggs, 1 kg cheese, 1 kg chicken breast, 1 kg of apples, 1 kg of oranges, 1 kg of tomatoes, 1 kg of potatoes, 1 head of lettuce): $295 per month
Time for fun
The South Bank Parklands have free beaches, rainforest enclosed boardwalks, and grassy picnic areas. Further along the river are the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Undoubtedly the best views of Brisbane, yet you don’t have to climb a single stair to see it as you can hire sedgways ($20+), kayaks ($28+) and more from Riverlife.
Other entertainment costs in Brisbane are typical for Australia, with a ticket to the cinema $12, a beer or cappuccino $4, and a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant $36.
Studying Abroad? Brisbane’s For You
Many people come to Brisbane to study abroad as the city is so accessible. Campuses are on public transport routes, including safe and reliable buses and CityCat services, or near the web of cycling tracks. Most universities also have their own free intercampus bus services and the Tertiary Transport Concession Card (TTCC) will get you the rest of the way. The TTCC is free and entitles all university/post secondary students 50% off fares on approved public transport anywhere in Queensland: $56 per month for public transport.
Brisbane is as diverse as her continent and whether you intend to study, teach or work abroad in the city, or just stay for a while, its one of Australia’s more affordable options.