Living in Brisbane

Brisbane South BankBrisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third largest city. It has a population of around 2.24 million and is located right in the middle on the east coast. Except it isn’t quite on the coast. It was built on the Brisbane River about 15 kms in from the Pacific Ocean.Brisbane Location

A quick glance at any map of Australia will convince you that all the major cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane are all on the beach. They all are, except Brisbane, which is on a mangrove; if you want to know what I mean about that, check out my post The Beaches of Brisbane: A Quick Tour. Perhaps that’s why Brisbane only came 20th in the Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Liveability Survey. But London only made 51st, so…..

Any shoreline about 15 kms either side of the mouth of the Brisbane River is a mangrove. Mangroves are intertidal trees and shrubs growing on tropical and subtropical shores. Basically, trees growing on mud. They are highly productive ecosystems, but you can’t build a sand castle on them.

But you’ll still need to bring your bucket and spade, because Brisbane is ideally located for both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. This accessibility to beaches is one reason why Brisbane pulls in so many tourists. It also has the benefit of a cooler inland climate.

Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast, south of Brisbane), one of Australia’s best know beaches, is about an hour and 10 minutes drive and Caloundra (Sunshine Coast, north) about an hour and a half. The closest sandy beaches to Brisbane are at Redcliffe (north) and Southport (south).

The city itself is very modern, clean and compact. It is easy to navigate and has its own man made “beach” at South Bank Parklands.

What’s the weather like?

Brisbane Annual Weather ChartBrisbane boasts, on average, around seven hours of sunshine each day. It doesn’t really have a “proper” winter, so if shorts and T-shirt are your thing, you can wear them all year round.

The only time it gets anything like resembling “cold”, is usually around July and August at night time when you may, on occasions, need to find some jog bottoms or a jumper to see you through those winter evenings.

Possible severe weather around the Brisbane area could include cyclones and some flooding. So be especially careful where you choose to settle. Brisbane Council has produced a flood areas map which you can download by specific area from  Brisbane Council’s website.

You may also want to check out my post called Brisbane and Queensland Floods: Should We Avoid Living There? Here’s a clue though, Brisbane is where I live and I love it.

You may think this all looks pretty straight forward, but I didn’t describe them as “sprawling suburbs” for nothing. These areas break down into around 80 or more postcodes and each postcode can have 2, 3 or more places to live. All in all, there are about 250 different places around Brisbane that you can choose from to live.

What’s Brisbane Like?

  • Please note: Brisbane is no longer Australia’s fastest-growing city as stated in the commentary, it was a few years ago, but it’s not now.

Brisbane Suburbs Map:

Brisbane Map
The sprawling suburbs can be divided up into 5 areas as follows.

  • Inner Brisbane – Including City, Inner North, Inner South, Inner East and Inner West
  • Northern Suburbs – Including Moreton Bay Islands, Northern Suburbs, North Eastern Suburbs, North Western Suburbs, Outer North Eastern Suburbs and Outer Northern Suburbs
  • Southern Suburbs – Including South Eastern Suburbs, South Western Suburbs and Southern Suburbs
  • Eastern Suburbs – Including Bayside Suburbs and Eastern Suburbs
  • Western Suburbs – Including Outer Western Suburbs and Western Suburbs

Questions about Brisbane?

If you have any question about living in Brisbane, please please feel free to ask them in the comments below. Or if you know this city well, why not tell us what you think of it or maybe even help out by answering some of the questions people have about the area. I’m sure anybody thinking of moving here would be very grateful for any help you can give them.

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{ 658 comments… add one }
  • Kelly October 2, 2016, 1:03 am | Link

    Hello, I have been approached by a company about managing their Australian division. The office is located in Murruumba. Could you recommend an area, or areas to begin my housing search? I would be renting an apartment for the foreseeable future(I intend to retain my primary residence in Canada). I would be seeking a quiet area, with good walking or biking access, and decent rent value.
    Thank you.

  • Yaman October 1, 2016, 2:39 pm | Link

    I’m a college student and I’m going to graduate in November.
    I want to study in Australia but my budget is so limited.
    I’m going to study bachelor of business in accounting but my target is to be an actor,so I want to live in a city where I can find some chances here and there during holidays and like that,I know that gold coast in Australia has the new York film academy so I want to live somewhere near it.
    But at the same time I want to study and work ,so please can you recommend a good place for me where I can live,find good job opportunities and find chances for acting.

    Thank you all,

    Best regards


    • Deb Feld October 1, 2016, 4:34 pm | Link

      I have just done the house hunting exercise successfully but the real estate agents all told me that the market heats up considerably starting in Dec/Jan or so. I suggest you work on this asap. I stayed in a bnb for a few days while finding a place – took me 5 days. People like to meet you in person. You can also try the housing service for the college or the universities in the area.

    • Deb Fels October 1, 2016, 4:35 pm | Link

      I have just done the house hunting exercise successfully but the real estate agents all told me that the market heats up considerably starting in Dec/Jan or so. I suggest you work on this asap. I stayed in a bnb for a few days while finding a place – took me 5 days. People like to meet you in person. You can also try the housing service for the college or the universities in the area.

    • Deb Fels October 1, 2016, 4:35 pm | Link

      I have just done the house hunting exercise successfully but the real estate agents all told me that the market heats up considerably starting in Dec/Jan or so. I suggest you work on this asap. I stayed in a airbnb for a few days while finding a place – took me 5 days. People like to meet you in person. You can also try the housing service for the college or the universities in the area.

  • Helen September 28, 2016, 6:13 pm | Link

    Hi, I’m wanting to move over to Australia with my 5 children aging from 1-12 years and wondered if you could recommend a suitable place to set up home with schools taken into account aswel as the possibility of opening a small shop over there too please?

  • Ray September 26, 2016, 6:17 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    My family (wife, myself, and child) are moving to Brisbane next year from abroad. In the beginning, we plan to live in a hotel but that will get expensive very fast. As we are looking to find a rental house as soon as possible, can you recommend steps we could take now to make the move into a rental house quick and simple, please? I am fearing we will be stuck in a hotel spending a big chunk of our savings. Thank you for your time! Have a great week!

    Best regards,

    • Graham September 26, 2016, 10:25 pm | Link

      Hi Ray, Relocation agents can actually organize you a long term rental property while you are still in your country of origin. Obviously there is a fee but the cost of this versus staying in a hotel is usually lower and you don’t have the stress of finding the right place yourself. These agents also help you every step of the way of your move. Some good agents in Brisbane are Opal Relocations, Elite Executive Services and Connect Relocate. Might be worth you researching a bit more into this 🙂

      • Ray September 27, 2016, 12:06 am | Link

        Thank you so much Graham! I will definitely take a look at these agents. I really appreciate your advice, thank you.

  • Dan September 25, 2016, 11:51 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    My partner and I are looking to relocatcate to Brisbane in a couple of years with our toddler. Our priority is to live in a good and beautiful suburb, family neighbourhood close to parks, schools etc
    We don’t mind where once it is safe, quiet, friendly, clean, sourrounded by nice walks/parks etc..
    We have no clue of where/what suburbs are really nice and where to avoid.
    Please help, much appreciated.

    • Cheryl September 26, 2016, 4:55 pm | Link

      Hi Dan,
      Just a local yokel here so quite biased about Brisbane and believe there are plenty of suburbs to suit your requirements. Many of the older suburbs like Kelvin Grove, Albion, Clayfield, Bardon and Ashgrove are regenerating with young families and the older style homes usually come with larger yards and room sizes. Typically, unless renovated, they do only have one bathroom however. These suburbs are reasonably close to the city, are green with good transport, shopping and family friendly. You will pay a higher price but still relatively much better than southern capital prices.
      A little further out there are the beach-side locations both north and south, all safe with great community vibes and all the above mentioned facilities. Check out Wynnum, Manly, Cleveland in the south and Sandgate, Scarborough and Redcliffe in the north.
      A google search might reveal some of the areas you’re Not looking for, I wouldn’t like to offend.
      One last suggestion is the new development north of Brisbane, North Lakes. It has a lot to offer young families and has been well planned project.
      Good luck with your plans,

  • IK September 25, 2016, 11:14 pm | Link

    Hello Bob,
    Thank you for the great content and insightful comments on this lovely website.
    My partner and I are thinking about moving to Brisbane from Sydney next year. I heard that there is some sort of differentiation between South and North parts of the city. At least I noticed that Brisbanites sometimes mention it but without further details. What is the difference? What is the “right” part to live in and what is the reason for this competition?

    We are a childless couple in late 30th. We are creatives and really love nature. Privacy and safety are really important for us.
    We also love Brisbane CBD but we didn’t explore any suburbs yet.
    Would you recommend to look at any particular suburbs not too far from city?

    • Cheryl September 26, 2016, 10:59 am | Link

      As you know Brisbane is built straddling the very winding Brisbane river and whether you call yourself a northsider or a southsider depends on which side of the river you live. There is a friendly rivalry between the two both claiming to live on the better side. My husband and I both grew up as southsiders but saw the light and moved to the north; )
      Brisbane CBD sits on the north side so if there is a true advantage of living on the northern side of the river it is not having to drive into the city during peak hour over one of the bridges.
      Southsiders would find it more convenient to visit the Gold Coast and Sunshine coast is only an hours drive from the CBD . Both have very liveable suburbs as does western Brisbane.

      If you do enjoy nature and want to live in easy reach of the city, Kenmore, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas are lovely. Likewise Ferny Grove which has a good train service and The Gap both 30 mins from the city. Both have new land developments opening up. Sandgate is worth looking at if you like the seaside.

      • IK September 26, 2016, 1:41 pm | Link

        Thank you so much for your reply, Cheryl 😊
        It is good to know that it is just a friendly rivalry. We definitely will have a look at the recommended suburbs.

      • Graham September 26, 2016, 10:38 pm | Link

        I think Cheryl is right with those suburbs around Mount Cootha reserve. As Sydney siders I am not sure what your definition is too far from the city. It is important to know that as you go slightly further west of Kenmore (10 mins drive) rental prices drop a little and land is a little easier to find. You also end up pretty close to where Bob lives :). The addition of the tunnels had made commuting from these suburbs much more attractive with journey time to the airport at about 40 mins. Fig Tree Pocket might also be worth a mention with the Koala Sanctuary right there.

        • IK September 28, 2016, 10:14 am | Link

          Thank you for your comment, Graham.
          Currently we live in Stanmore, which is close to CBD. However, it is pretty urban area without parks and far from beaches.
          I appreciate your advice 😊 We will definitely look at the Fig Tree pocket and Kenmore.

  • Lee Irvine September 24, 2016, 10:07 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, my family are thinking of moving to the Sunshine Coast in the next 18 months. We are looking at moving inland on an acre or two of land but close enough to Brisbane to travel to work. Can you recommend any small townships that we could look at purchasing a house, thanks Lee

  • Kelly Josevski September 20, 2016, 9:12 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, I’m finding this site a great source of information so thank you.

    My partner and I along with our 6 and 10month old boys are looking to relocate to Brisbane from Sydney. It’s been on our minds for years but now we would like to make the move for lifestyle purposes. What do you think of Moreton bay region, specifically Newport/Scarborough? we live 48kms out of sydney cbd now so for me a commute doesn’t bother me and there is the new kippa ring station and my husband works in the kitchen industry so would look for work on the Northside. There seems to be reasonable schools and services around also.

    • BobinOz September 21, 2016, 5:38 pm | Link

      Hi Kelly

      Well, I don’t know what it would be like to live there, but I’ve certainly been up to Scarborough, Redcliffe, Margate and Woody Point before, it all seems pretty good to me. I’ve never been to Newport though, to be honest, I didn’t know it was there. For some reason it’s not even on my wall map of Brisbane.

      If you are looking that way though, I also really like the east coast a bit further down, around Shorncliffe, Sandgate and Brighton. So maybe that area is worth a look as well.

      I think it will give you a great lifestyle change, and don’t bother bringing your winter coats. Good luck, Bob

  • LS September 18, 2016, 5:32 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Been reading your site for a few months and have found it most informative.
    Can you please recommend us a few suburbs that will best suit us?
    We are intending to move over in late Dec 2016. Hubby will be working in Mount Gravatt. We have two teenagers with one attending Year 12 and she hopes to attend Uni the following year.
    We enjoy eating out and shopping.
    We are looking for an area which suits our lifestyle and also, safe, with good transport, excellent high schools and fast internet.
    I know that’s a long wish list for a suburb. Hopefully, you could help us narrow down with some suburbs.

    Many thanks,

    • BobinOz September 19, 2016, 2:27 pm | Link

      I don’t really know the suburbs close to Mount Gravatt too well, so hopefully somebody reading this might be able to give you some advice. I do know there are a couple of major shopping malls in the area though and places to eat out.

      Brisbane is a very safe city, you only really need to avoid suburbs where housing looks extraordinarily cheap. Not even suggesting those areas are particularly unsafe, it’s just that housing is cheap there for a reason.

      For fast internet be sure to go to a suburb that has been hooked up to the NBN, that’s the National Broadband Network, there are rollout maps online to check who has got that now. As for schools, once you know the areas you are interested in, you can check them out on my page called Which school?

      If your husband doesn’t mind a 30 to 40 minute drive to work each day, then you do have lots of options. For example, Cleveland would be quite nice if you prefer to be near the sea, or somewhere like Chapel Hill/Kenmore if you prefer easier access to the city. You would have to check to see if those places have got broadband yet though, I’m just not sure.

      Hope that helps, Bob

      • Lorraine September 19, 2016, 6:00 pm | Link

        Hi Bob,
        Thank you for your reply and very useful tips.
        We are very excited with the move.
        Hope to meet friendly and helpful people like yourself.
        Also, looking forward to any recommendations.

        Many thanks,

        • Cathy September 20, 2016, 11:23 pm | Link

          Hi Lorraine
          I have lived on the south side of Brisbane for 15 years and there are many great suburbs I would recommend. Cleveland would probably be my top pick. It has a great village feel with lots of restaurants and cafes plus a train and bus service to the city. Good universities are located at Nathan and the city (30 to 50 minutes). There are ferries from Cleveland to the bay islands which are great fun to explore. If you would prefer to live closer to the city Carindale is another good option – it has lots of great shopping.

        • Cheryl Hartley September 22, 2016, 10:09 pm | Link

          Hello Lorraine,
          Mt. Gravatt is on the south side of Brisbane and only 15 to 20 mins by the M1 freeway from the city centre. However during peak hour, traffic the M1 can be tedious and take more than twice that time so living and working on the Southside is preferable. It also puts you an hours drive to the God Coast.
          There are 2 large Westfield shopping centres within easy distance from Mt Gravatt and very liveable suburbs like Upper Mt Gravatt, Wishart, Cooparoo, Carina and Carindale. Sunnybank is a neighbouring suburb to Mt Gravatt that has a large Chinese / Asian community which makes for great cuisine diversity. Griffith University has a large campus across the M1 from Mt Gravatt and there are linked buses that go to the University of Queensland via the city. There is also the Queensland University of Technology in the city next to the city Botanical Gardens.
          To enjoy the close proximity to local shops and conveniences that people in the UK and Europe often do, you would have to live in our inner city suburbs but be prepared for the premium real estate prices for that convenience.
          The Brisbane river is the border that divides Brisbane-ites into Southsiders or Northsiders and Brisbane City is situated on the Northern bank.
          I hope you enjoy your time in our lovely city.
          Cheers, Cheryl

  • Ron September 1, 2016, 9:54 pm | Link

    Hi Bob
    I’m looking to relocate from Sydney to Brisbane as my job allows me to do that. I am looking to buy a house and gave the following requirements for suburbs to shortlist:
    – walking distance to a train AND no longer then 30 min train to cbd as my office is on george st
    – decent retail presence in the suburb such as a mall and or weekend markets that are also walking distance
    – safe area to raise a family and good public schools
    – budget is less then a $1M but want a 4 bed place with a backyard

    From what i have researched iv shortlisted Indooroopilly, Mitchelton and Canon Hill.
    Are there any other suburbs you reccomend and are the 3 I shortlisted good?

    Appreciate your thoughts!

    • BobinOz September 2, 2016, 11:48 pm | Link

      Before I got to the end of your question and saw your shortlist, I was thinking Indooroopilly would be the place I would recommend. It has everything you want, I know it quite well, it’s my side of town. So I would say that would a good choice.

      That said, I don’t know anything much at all about Mitchelton or Canon Hill, they could be equally suitable or even better, I just don’t know. Hopefully somebody else reading this who knows these two areas can let you know what they think of them.

      Good luck with your move, Bob

      • Rohun September 4, 2016, 10:26 pm | Link

        Great! Glad I’m on the right track, thanks for the advice!

        • Cheryl Hartley September 22, 2016, 10:38 pm | Link

          Hi Rohun,
          I might be a bit late with this info but Mitchelton could be a good option as it has both a train station and shopping centre with great monthly Sunday food markets. There are both private and state schools and the commute by train to the city is about 20mins every 15 mins.
          Newmarket is another good option. Closer to the city with train and shopping centre. There is a local state school and a short bus ride to Kelvin Grove College. On neighbouring campuses to the College there is a primary school and a Queenland University of Technology. So all levels of education neatly packaged in one area.
          The homes are predominately older style Queenslanders, many restored, as Newmarket is a desirable suburb that retains plenty of character, greenery and parks. The older homes have lovely high ceilings, larger room sizes and cooling verandahs. I’m beginning sound like I have an real estate interest LOL.
          Good luck with your new home where ever you settle,
          Cheers, Cheryl

  • Katrina August 22, 2016, 5:59 am | Link

    Hi Bob. We are moving to Brissie at the end if the year and i will be working in Woolloongabba. We prefer a more natural family friendly life style as opposed to city life and thought of settling in the redland bay area and sending our kids to ormiston college. Is the communte to Woolloongabba feasible or would you recommend living in a different suburb?

    • BobinOz August 22, 2016, 4:34 pm | Link

      Well, Redland Bay is quite a way out, but it’s certainly commutable. I reckon by car it would take about an hour, although I’m not sure what the traffic would you like in peak. If you intend to do the journey by public transport, then Google ‘Brisbane Translink journey planner’, just enter your starting location and destination and it will work out the various options you have via public transport and the time it will take.

      So, definitely doable in my view, provided you are happy with those journey times.

    • Cathy September 27, 2016, 10:34 pm | Link

      Hi Katrina. Redland Bay is a nice suburb but there are a few other areas that may also be worth considering as Redland Bay is about 40km from Brisbane CBD. Cleveland has a lovely village feel with great cafes and restaurants and boutique shopping. Parts of Ormiston and Cleveland have brilliant views of Moreton Bay. These suburbs are about 25km from Brisbane. Some of the southern parts of Alexandra Hills and Capalaba offer larger blocks (small acreage and part acreage), and many of these have nice views over bushland. There are a number of nature reserves with wildlife including wallabies and some koalas in this area. Lots of walking and bicycle trails. There is a good bus service in this area – especially from the Capalaba interchange. Its about 20km to the city from here, 10 minutes to Ormiston college by car. All these suburbs are quite safe and friendly. Great place for families.

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