The complete guide to moving to Brisbane

Updated: Oct 18, 2017

If you’re looking for a tropical city that has a distinctly European feel, then Brisbane is just the answer. Restaurants spill out on to al fresco terraces and dining outside is a year round affair. Weekends are spent at farmers’ markets and cycling along the river, plus there are some world-class beaches to be had around an hour away. The fantastic weather in Brisbane means you’ll rarely be indoors.

Setting up home

Although the city centre itself is compact, Brisbane stretches out in a collection of suburbs that offer city living, sea views or untamed natural landscape. Cooparoo is worth a look around if you want the city experience, but still close enough to parks for little ones to play. New Farm is also desirable as it’s so close to restaurants, shops and the city that you won’t even need a car to get around. Sanctuary Coast and Southport on the Gold Coast are about an hour’s commute outside of the city, but it’s worth it for the beaches. For grandeur, try Ascot and Hamilton, but be prepared to pay for it!

To rent or buy

If you definitely know your move is long-term, if not forever, then you might want to jump right in and buy. Property is available through agents or private sellers, plus auctions or buying off-plan. As prices can vary depending on suburb, make sure you do your homework before you set your sights on a neighbourhood that’s out of your budget. Have a search online to get an idea of property prices. Queensland has a first-time buyer loan which is great if this is your first step on the property ladder. It only applies to new-build or houses that are off-plan, but there is plenty of information on the government website if you think you might be eligible:

Grab a glass of wine and sit down with or even to just gauge how much bang you’ll get for your buck. It’s worth knowing that many places will hold open inspections and landlords can vet you based on your application. The market is really competitive, so be prepared for a little bit of a hustle to get your dream home. If you’re lucky your new employer or colleagues could give you some helpful info with specific recommended agents. Rental properties don’t usually come with any white goods, so depending on where you’re moving from, it might not be feasible to bring your washing machine and fridge from home. You might also want to register with 1 Form – this is a central application site that many agents use and will have you copying your details on to a million application forms

TIP: Before putting down a rental deposit, or an offer on a house, explore the area. Does it fit with the kind of lifestyle you lead – good schools, great restaurants, close to local transport or the office?


The energy market is deregulated in South East Queensland, meaning that you can make the most of competition between providers in Brisbane. There are currently just under 20 different providers of gas and electricity to choose from, ranging from big names like AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin to smaller names. Given the amount of choice on offer, it is best to compare the offers. Simply input your personal details to the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website, which will point you to the best deals:

There are two main contract types to choose from: retail or market. You’re likely to be on a retail contract unless you specifically specify a market contract. The main difference being that with a retail contract there are usually no exit fees if you want to leave the provider and more options of flexible tariffs. That being said, market contracts can often discount on your individual home needs, and generally work out cheaper.

Water is supplied by Queensland Urban Utilities. Unless you’re in a new build, or building it yourself, you’ll already be connected. You won’t need to do anything: accounts remain linked to the property, so your supply will be ready. Once the Titles Office has informed Queensland Urban Utilities of the change in ownership, you will receive a letter confirming your new account is active.

Getting around

Public Transport

Brisbane has one of the largest bus fleets in Australia. They’re also the cheapest form of public transport. What’s more, the City Loop and Spring Hill Loop bus services offer free transport within the Central Business District. Otherwise, the city is pretty much covered from 5am to midnight, with some routes operating a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s worth noting that some high-frequency routes operate express buses that miss out some of the less busy stops, which is great for efficiency, but not so good if you need one of those stops.

Brisbane is also hoping to introduce a new Metro system by 2022, with services running every five minutes. The current train network is comprehensive – it covers all areas of the city centre and its suburbs. The go card allows easy travel between bus, train, ferry and tram, and is a cheaper way to travel than a paper ticket.

Brisbane also has an extensive cycling network, with dedicated bikeways that connect to many public facilities, with is becoming a popular way to travel through the city.

TIP: Invest in a Go Card. This is Brisbane’s multi-travel card, allowing you access to all services and all routes – it’ll also save you time and money.

Getting a driving licence

You’ll need to transfer your current licence and apply for a Queensland driving licence within three months of moving to Brisbane. To do this, simply visit a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre or Queensland Government licence issuing centre with a completed application form, your current licence and proof of ID. You’ll also need a medical certificate to state you’re fit to drive. Just so you know – your old interstate licence will be withdrawn once you have been issued with your new licence.

Registering your car

You will also need to register your car – this must be done within 14 days of moving. Again, you’ll need to visit a Transport and Main Roads customer service centre with your vehicle registration application form and a new customer application form

You’ll also need a safety certificate to show your car is road-worthy, plus evidence of the vehicle’s garage address. Fees can vary, but you can get an online quotation here

TIP: You may have 90 days to transfer your licence, but you only have 14 days to register your car – don’t get these timings mixed up! If you can, try and do them both at the same time.

Toll roads

There are six toll roads which cover the greater Brisbane area. They are all cashless and the cheapest way to pay is with a go via tag. If you already have one of these, they can be used on any Australian toll road. Simply place the tag on your windscreen for automatic scanning and your toll is automatically deducted. You could also opt for a video account, where your licence plate is photographed and the toll deducted. Even if you don’t think you will be using the toll roads a lot, you can buy a month-long pass, which you can even purchase up to three days after your first trip.

School Options

Kindergarten can be a great way to prepare your child for primary. Children must be at least 4 years old by June 30 in the year they start. A good kindergarten will mix educational learning through play, and many, though not all, will be taught by qualified early childhood teachers. Fees will vary depending on the type of pre-school and the education offered. Thankfully, the government education website has a whole host of resources to help you decide what type of pre-school you’d like for your child and how to go about applying for a place:

In Queensland, school is compulsory from ages 6 to 16, or until Year 10 is completed. From 2017, it is also compulsory for children to attend Prep prior to Year 1. Your child must be 5 before they attend, although you can delay this by a year if you don’t think your child is ready. Prep is typically a primary school programme, based on learning through play and creativity, and will be in your child’s primary school.

Deciding on a school for your children is a huge decision, and although many children who are in state-run education go to their local school, you can pick somewhere else, depending on availability. The Queensland Schools Directory is a good starting point: make some calls and arrange some visits so you can speak to staff and see how well your child would fit in academically.

In terms of older students, Queensland is transitioning to full implementation of the Australian Curriculum, which is currently being used for English, Maths, Science and History from Prep to Year 10. Other subjects, and all subjects in Year 11 and 10, currently continue to use the Queensland Curriculum. A full breakdown of the Australian Curriculum can be found at, while the Queensland Curriculum can be found at This is definitely worth having a look at if you have a young person at home of high school age, as their transition may be relatively simple in some exam subjects, depending on where you’re moving from. Students who have completed Year 12 are awarded the Queensland Certificate of Education.

Alternatively, you could always opt for a private school. Even though Brisbane has been voted as Australia’s most affordable city for private schooling, the overall cost for a child currently ranges from around $9,000 - $25,000.


Voting is compulsory at all levels in Queensland. This means local as well as at State and Federal. This applies to all Australian citizens over 18 who have lived at their address for at least a month.

The elections for Brisbane City Council are held every four years. You can enrol to vote for all levels of government by completing an enrolment form online at the Australian Electoral Commission: If you prefer, you can get a paper form from any Australia Post Office or Electoral Commission office.


If you’re new to Brisbane, you need to register your dog, or transfer your state registration within 14 days of moving. You’ll then need to renew your registration every year.

The easiest way to register your dog is online or you can also complete a hard copy It’s a good idea to complete these before you move and then submit it when you arrive. It’s also worth having your pet neutered – you should do this anyway – but it will reduce your registration from £138 to £48.50. You’ll also get a discount off the original fee if your dog was from a rescue centre.

If you have more than two dogs, you need a permit in addition to registering. If you have more than four cats, you’ll need a permit too. And if you keep your pets to breed, sell, show or race – you’ll need a permit for that as well. An application fee costs $272.90 which includes the first year’s permit fee, then $166.90 per year thereafter. You can full information on applying for a permit here:

All dogs and cats must be microchipped by the time they’re 12 weeks old. The city council periodically holds discounted microchipping events to encourage people to make sure they get it down.

Dogs must be kept on a leash in public, or you can expect a fine of $250. However, there are over 100 off-leash dog parks in Brisbane, where your furry friend can run freely, socially and safely. Some parks even provide mini doggy-gyms with various agility equipment if they don’t get out very often! You can find your nearest dog park by checking this website out – although wherever you move, there’s bound to be one nearby:

Oh, and one final thing: Be careful if your dog is a barker. Any more than six minutes continuous barking per hour, and it can be considered a nuisance, and the council has the right to issue you a fine.

TIP: You only have 2 weeks to register your dog when you move to Brisbane, so make sure it’s at the top of your ‘to-do’ list to avoid a harsh penalty or confiscation of your pet.

Everyday Life

Recreational activities

Brisbane is blessed with fantastic weather, and so is geared up to life outdoors. There are plenty of parks and gardens to explore, and you’ll often find families or groups of friends catching-up, probably with a barbecue, over the weekend. There are also lots of places to cycle, rollerblade or stroll - along the Brisbane River is a particular favourite. What’s more, Brisbane is in a great position for adventures further afield. Moreton Island is home to some amazing wildlife, and the views of the Scenic Rim Mountains are well-worth a hike.


There’s a wealth of industries in Brisbane, which is great news if you’re looking for work as most sectors are represented here. Of course tourism and hospitality play a large role, which is understandable given the enviable location in Queensland. There are also more traditional, blue-collar industries such as mining and farming; plus emerging technology and manufacturing sectors.