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Moving to Brisbane

Settling in Brisbane, you will be able to enjoy the beach life in Queensland, the “Sunshine State”. But a move to Brisbane requires more than just a surfboard and some swimwear: The InterNations Expat Guide on moving to Brisbane provides info on the city, visa options, housing, and more.
Like so many Australian cities, Brisbane attracts lots of expats and skilled migrants from overseas.
  • Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and has a metropolitan population of 2.3 million people.
  • This city has a subtropical and humid climate, with warm winters and hot humid summers. Unfortunately, there is also a risk of severe weather events, such as cyclones or floods.
  • The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website offers a visa finder that helps you determine the visa category you need.
  • Brisbane’s five local governmental areas feature a variety of options to choose from for housing arrangements.

Natural Disaster Precaution

When relocating to Brisbane, you have the opportunity to settle down in a highly livable city that is often called one of Australia’s economic engines. Unfortunately, due to the city’s subtropical climate, Brisbane has often made headlines around the world for having frequent floods and other natural disasters.

Floods occur regularly throughout the summer season, from November through March, because the city is built on a floodplain. However, this should not deter anyone from moving to Brisbane.  In case of an emergency, Brisbane’s City Council website has organized evacuation routes and public safety information available online.

Although natural disasters — like the severe flooding back in December 2010 and January 2011 — can curb the region’s economic growth, Queensland’s economy and infrastructure have proven resilient to the past struggles with Cyclones and flooding. Hence, Brisbane remains an attractive option for both expatriates and immigrants alike. Brisbane’s metropolitan area offers employment in such fields as finance and commerce, IT and bio-technology, ship-building and logistics, as well as the many amenities of living in Australia’s “Sunshine State”.


Like quite a few Australian metropolises, such as Sydney and Melbourne, the history of Brisbane — today a flourishing city — began with brutality and violence. The first European settlers moving to Brisbane were convicts by the British Empire, becoming inhabitants of a 19th-century penal colony founded near the shores of the River Brisbane and Moreton Bay. This region on the east cost of the continent, rather remote from Sydney back in the day, seemed to be an ideal location for one of the strictest prison settlements in the colonial era.

Moving to Brisbane, those deported from Great Britain squatted on land of the Jagera and Turrbul clans. Sadly, the Aboriginal populace was soon decimated by imported diseases and violent clashes with the colonists. So, when the penal settlement became a self-governing town in 1859, more people from the mother country came to Brisbane in search of “uninhabited” land. One and a half centuries later, Brisbane has turned into an enormous urbanized area.


Located in the southeastern corner of Queensland, about 100 km from the border to New South Wales, Greater Brisbane includes the City of Brisbane and the local government areas of Ipswich, Logan City, Redland City, and Moreton Bay. Together, they are home to over 2.3 million residents.

If you have a look at the entire “Southeast Queensland conurbation”, otherwise known as the 200-kilometer city, this urban sprawl spreads from the booming holiday resorts of the Sunshine Coast in the north to the Gold Coast in the south. South East Queensland, made up of 18 cities and towns, is often noted as one of the fastest-growing parts of Australia. More than 3.4 million people — over 60% of the state’s entire populace — are concentrated here. Today, Aboriginal Australians only make up 3.6% of Queensland’s population.

However, for the original settler population, moving to Brisbane from the British Isles, has long turned into a multicultural mix of various residents. Depending on the local government area surveyed in the 2011 census, between 16% and 24% of all Brisbanites were born overseas and six neighborhoods in the area had a greater foreign-born population than Australian-born. Up to 15% of new residents from abroad came from a non-Anglophone background.

The birthplace countries of Brisbane’s overseas residents include China, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Samoa, South Africa, the UK, and a variety of other nations, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. After moving to Brisbane, you’re likely to run into residents speaking Cantonese or Mandarin, Spanish or Tagalog, German or Dutch, Khmer or Lao. As an expat or migrant, you might be interested in the multicultural resource directory  of all foreign communities represented in Queensland.


When preparing for your move to Brisbane, don’t forget to pack accordingly. The city has a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot humid summers. Throughout the winter months, maximum temperatures rarely ever drop below 20°C. In the summer, daily temperatures are typically above 30 °C. Hence, Brisbane is definitely a city for people who enjoy summer temperatures all year round. 

If you remember to take your sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, you can enjoy the beaches of the “Miami of Australia”. Keep in mind that Brisbane is a risk area for cyclones. However, there is usually a fair amount of time for the population to be warned and at-risk areas to be evacuated. That being said, it is always good to know the emergency hotlines of your consulate and the local authorities, just in case.   



We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Benoit Julien

"Before moving to Brisbane I contacted 5 members of their InterNations community. Today 3 of them are my friends."

Gabriela Jaquez

"As a traveling spouse it was not always easy to meet interesting people abroad. On InterNations I have many of them here in Brisbane in no time."

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