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How Much Does it Cost to Live in Brisbane?

cost of living in brisbane

Sunny, laidback and full of culture, the Queensland capital is an awesome place to live and study. Brisbane’s close proximity to Asia and the Pacific region, as well as its abundance of world-class universities, has meant the city’s population of international students has increased in recent years. Now, students from 140 countries have made Brisbane their home.

If you like the thought of studying in Brisbane, here’s a guide to how much it’ll cost you.

The cost of accommodation in Brisbane

Like any of the major capital cities of Australia, it is going to be more expensive to live directly in the city than it is to live further out in the suburbs.


In CBD, you’ll probably be spending $300-$500 per week for a room in a shared apartment (usually living with professionals and other students), or $600-$800 per week for a one-bedroom unit all to yourself. 


In the suburbs around Brisbane’s CBD, a one-bedroom unit is significantly cheaper and can cost between $400-$600 per week depending on the area. A room in a share house outside the city can cost between $220-$400 depending on the property and location. 

Managed student accommodation

Managed student accommodation is a great option as the weekly cost usually covers utilities and added extras. For example, Student One has 3 inner-city properties and rates include bills, unlimited Wi-Fi, gym access, free bike hire, use of the cinema and barbecue area, and more. You can also choose between shared apartments, or private rooms which range from $369 per week to $700 per week. 


Another option when moving to Brisbane is to apply for a homestay. This means you live with a host family and can pay for not only rent, but meals, laundry and internet all together. The Australian Homestay Network offers a variety of options depending on your needs, with costs between $230 – $350 per week. 

Which one to pick?

Think about what’s important to you when weighing up these options. A private room or apartment in or near the CBD will offer close proximity to nightlife, restaurants and public transport, but a room in the suburbs will give you much more space and is likely to be a bit quieter. Living in student accommodation means your weekly cost covers extras, plus it’s generally located close to or in the CBD.

The cost of public transport in Brisbane

The majority of Brisbane’s university campuses are located within or just out of the CBD, and are all easily accessible by train or bus. Other campuses (such as those found in St Lucia’s education district, including UQ Business School, the University of Queensland’s Riverside campus and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology) are best accessed by the city’s excellent ferry network. Each campus has a terminal right outside.

The city’s public transport network is called TransLink and uses a prepaid transport card called a GoCard. You can purchase a GoCard at a newsagent or kiosk at certain stations and top it up online, on the app or at self-service terminals at stations. 

Concession rate

Full time students are entitled to a 50% discount on adult fares which you can find out how to apply for here. Once approved, you can pay as little as $1.42 per trip in off peak times or $1.78 in peak hour trips. 

Depending on how far you need to travel, you can pay anywhere from $15 – $35 a week traveling on public transport in Brisbane. 

The cost of food in Brisbane

If you want to take full advantage of Brisbane’s stellar dining scene, then you will want to make sure you set aside some money to go out for meals. There are plenty of great cafes, restaurants and bars in Brisbane, as well as a significant number of cheap eateries.

Eating in

If you choose to cook and eat at home, you can generally expect to spend around $2 per breakfast, $5 per lunch, and $11 per dinner. Of course, this depends on your grocery preferences.

Eating out

Breakfast at a cafe in Brisbane will cost around $15-20, but make sure to budget a bit extra if you’d like to add a coffee. For lunch, you will likely spend around $25 in a cafe or restaurant but can be as little as $10 at a bakery. Dinner will be slightly more expensive at around $30 a meal.

It’s important to remember that in Australia, waiters and servers get paid a liveable minimum wage. This means that your sandwich or salad may cost a little bit more than you expect, but it also means the staff are being paid fairly for their time. Unlike some other places you may have visited, such as the United States, Australia does not have a tipping culture. Places may ask if you would like to tip, but it’s not necessary.

The cost of entertainment in Brisbane 

If you head to a bar that features music, burlesque or other live entertainment, it will likely enforce a cover charge, but usually no more than $10.

You can expect a glass of wine, beer or cider to cost approximately $10-15 each. Spirits might be anywhere between $15-$25 depending on the venue and whether you’re ordering cocktails.


Because it costs a lot (and takes a long time!) to travel to Australia, concerts in Brisbane can be more expensive. On average, $20-$80 or more per ticket is an expected figure to pay for live music or sporting matches

For a larger act at a stadium or arena, over $100 per ticket is typical. Other events like dance or theatre performances will usually cost $69 – $200 or more. Make sure to check out the weekly city guides, as there are plenty of regular free events taking place around Brisbane.


Movie tickets will range in Brisbane depending on the location and cinema you choose. You can find student tickets for as cheap as $9 at Cineplex, while Gold Class prices can be $46 at Event Cinemas

For most movies, you can expect to pay between $15-$30, but always bring your student card to take advantage of any deals at your local cinema. 


If you’re passionate about staying fit while you study, there are plenty of options. Popular gym franchises like Anytime Fitness, Jetts Gyms and Snap Fitness have a variety of locations around Brisbane.  

For group classes and personalised training, venues like F45 and FitStop offer a variety of group fitness options. 

Basic memberships range from $16 per week for gyms to $75 per week. Be sure to always check for any student discounts when you sign up. 

Another great option for fitness is to find out what sports clubs are available through your university. Most universities in Brisbane offer a variety of free social sports teams and clubs.