Brisbane at a Glance
Living in BrisbaneiStockphoto
The koalas at Brisbane’s Lone Pine Sanctuary are local mascots much beloved by residents and tourists alike.
Living in Brisbane means opting for life in one of Australia’s tourist hotspots. Due to the hot, subtropical climate, Queensland is called the “Sunshine State”, and its capital Brisbane does not prove an exception to this rule.
In Australia, Brisbane is often considered somewhat less sophisticated than Sydney, the leading metropolis, or Melbourne, the “cultural capital”. Its brash vitality, the casinos in the neighboring seaside resorts, and its live music scene have earned Brisbane the nickname of “BrisVegas”. However, you’ll soon discover that much of the prejudice jokingly uttered by Melbournians or Sydneysiders is – as so often – unfounded.
Leisure, Culture, and Nature
Throughout your stay in Brisbane, you might pay a visit to the beachfronts of the “Gold Coast” or “Sunshine Coast” to witness the thousands of “schoolies” celebrating their graduation with raucous parties. This annual event is the Aussie equivalent to US college students descending upon Florida and California during spring break.
But Brisbane has more leisure opportunities in store. Along the South Bank, the cultural precinct features the Queensland Museum, a large Performing Arts Centre, and the Gallery of Modern Art. Together with the Brisbane Powerhouse, the latter forms the core of a vibrant contemporary arts scene. And if indie rock – frequently featured at legendary venues like the Zoo – isn’t to your taste, the Brisbane Jazz Club has an excellent reputation as the go-to place for fans of smooth rhythms and cool tunes.
Expats in Brisbane can also take advantage of its function as a gateway to Queensland’s natural beauty. Although you have come to Australia as an overseas resident settling down in Brisbane, not as a visitor, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss out on.
The Scenic Rim in the hinterland more than deserves its status as a World Heritage Site. Its mountain ranges and lush rainforests make it an attractive destination for hikers and eco-tourists. Even if many expatriates often use their vacation for a trip home to see their loved ones, living in Brisbane brings you close to Hervey Bay: Reserve at least a few days off to explore Australia’s whale-watching capital and stepping stone to the South Great Barrier Reef.
Unfortunately, you stay in Brisbane can’t be all play and no work. If you are an expat parent, you’ll have to look into a kindergarten or school for your children.
For kids in Queensland, schooling begins at the age of five, with a non-compulsory prep year. When they turn six, education becomes mandatory, though. For the next seven years, they’ll go to primary school, followed by secondary education in grades eight to twelve. Although schooling is only compulsory for teens until the age of 16, most students in Queensland complete secondary school. Their Senior Certificate and the Tertiary Entrance Statement both determine access to public universities.
Around 70% of students living in Brisbane or Queensland attend one of the over 1,200 free public schools in the state; the other 30% or so go to a fee-paying independent school, often run by the Catholic or Anglican Church. For expat families who have moved to Brisbane, it may be disappointing to hear that English is usually the medium of instruction at independent schools as well.
There is only one self-designated international school in the Brisbane area (St Paul’s), although several schools in Southeast Queensland offer the IB Diploma Program. Expat families should also look into the EQI program for primary schools, where students from a non-English-speaking background receive extra support in public schools.
To find a suitable school in your area, please use the resources provided by the Queensland Department of Education.
As an adult living in Brisbane who is interested in continuing his or her own education, there are several universities for you to check out. Among others, these include the following institutions:
The TAFE (technical and further education) institutes mainly cater to younger people who want to complete vocational or commercial training. Expats who’d like a career change or a promotion should rather make use of the free training and career info service provided by Skilling Solutions Queensland. Upper management executives living in Brisbane, though, will probably benefit most from contacting an individual career counselor or a recruitment agency.