While the cost of living in Brisbane is not quite as high as in other Australian cities such as Melbourne or Sydney, the cost of expat life in the heart of Australia's 'Sunshine State' is by no means cheap.

The growth in Brisbane's population and its popularity as an expat destination has contributed to the city's cost of living increasing steadily over the years. Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2023 saw Brisbane ranked the 82nd most expensive city out of the 227 cities surveyed. This is considerably lower than Sydney, which placed 56th.

Even though Brisbane is slowly becoming a more expensive place for expat life, there are always ways to save money, and it's possible to enjoy what the city has to offer on a budget.


Cost of accommodation in Brisbane

Renting a home is often the most considerable expense for expats living in Brisbane. The attractive areas and suburbs tend to be expensive, so a good strategy to reduce the cost of housing is to live further out in the suburbs instead of in the city centre. In most cases, utilities will need to be paid for separately in addition to rental costs.


Cost of transport in Brisbane

While the city has extensive bus and train networks, which make getting around the city convenient, transport in Brisbane is expensive. There are ways to cut down on transport costs though. For those who plan on regular commuting, investing in a Go Card can save some money.


Cost of groceries in Brisbane

The cost of groceries in Brisbane might seem quite steep for some expats, particularly those hailing from countries with a significantly lower cost of living. Comparatively, grocery prices in Brisbane may be somewhat higher than what one might expect to pay in smaller cities or rural areas in Australia.

Well-known supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths generally offer more affordable options, while smaller convenience stores and speciality shops may have higher prices. Buying fresh produce from local farmers' markets can also be a cost-effective and enjoyable shopping experience.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Brisbane

The cost of entertainment in Brisbane is in line with the average prices in most Australian cities.

For expats who want to have a good time without spending a fortune, the great weather in Brisbane means that there are always plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors. Residents can be found enjoying a picnic in the park, taking a drive out to one of the little seaside towns, or indulging in an afternoon outdoors enjoying an Australian barbecue.

The independent shopping scene in Brisbane is also growing, and expats keen to explore the markets popping up all over the city are sure to find some great bargains.

Eating out in Brisbane can cater to a range of budgets. Dining out can be quite a treat, but the cost is comparable to other major Australian cities. While eating at high-end establishments will undoubtedly be pricey, there are plenty of inexpensive food options, from bustling food markets to cosy cafés and street food stalls.


Cost of education in Brisbane

The cost of education in Brisbane largely depends on the type of institution. Public schools are generally more affordable than private ones, though expats should remember that some public schools may charge fees for non-residents.

While offering diverse curricula and smaller class sizes, international schools and private institutions tend to be pricier and can rival the cost of education in other major Australian cities. Beyond tuition, there are additional costs to consider, such as uniforms, textbooks and extracurricular activities.


Cost of healthcare in Brisbane

Healthcare in Brisbane, as in the rest of Australia, is primarily funded by the government's Medicare system, which provides free or subsidised treatment by health professionals. While Australia has a robust public healthcare system, expats may consider private healthcare for more immediate access to specialists and private hospitals.

The cost of private healthcare in Brisbane is in line with the rest of Australia, and it can largely be likened to prices in other developed countries, depending on the level of coverage chosen. Prescription medications, dental care and optometry, which aren't fully covered by the public system, may also add to the healthcare costs. Therefore, many residents and expats opt to take out private health insurance for additional coverage.


Cost of living in Brisbane chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AUD 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AUD 2,500

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AUD 2,500

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AUD 2,090

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

AUD 6

Milk (1 litre)

AUD 1.88

Rice (1kg)

AUD 3.29

Loaf of white bread

AUD 3.53

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AUD 6

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

AUD 39

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

AUD 150

Big Mac meal

AUD 14

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AUD 4.33

Cappuccino

AUD 5.48

Bottle of beer (local)

AUD 5.43

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

AUD 0.48

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

AUD 71

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

AUD 220

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

AUD 2.50

City-centre public transport fare

AUD 4.75

Gasoline (per litre)

AUD 1.98

Expat Health Insurance

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