Study Abroad Guide - Brisbane, Australia


Claire Yenson
Content Specialist
Claire Yenson is a writer with a passion for development and audience engagement. Claire graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied marketing and management at… Read more

Are your sights set Down Under for your study abroad experience? If you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of a major city, paired with the relaxed beach vibe Australia is known for, look no further than Brisbane! The capital city of Queensland is renowned for its eclectic arts scene, beautiful year round weather, and breathtaking scenery, all with a much lower cost of living than cities like Sydney and Melbourne. And with ten college campuses scattered across town, you’re sure to find the right study program to suit your academic needs.

Choosing Where to Live

Once you have selected your study abroad program, finding safe, affordable accommodation should be next on your list. Australian universities are generally commuter campuses nation-wide, with students living with family or on their own, close to school. The concept of a college town, with dormitories full of co-eds, simply does not exist as it does in America. So what’s a wannabe Aussie to do? There are a few companies in Brisbane that offer affordable housing geared specifically toward international students. These sizable apartment complexes offer a variety of appealing amenities, including sleek, modern design, readily accessible recreation and study rooms, and a built-in community of young people from all over the globe. If you’re looking for a more social, dorm-like experience, as you might find in your home country, combined with the ease of a very central location, you may want to begin your search here. Urbanest, Uniresort, and Unilodge are just three of the many student housing services to be found in Brisbane.

Another option is a homestay program, meeting and living with an Australian family. Link up with the International Student office at your university if this idea intrigues you. They’ll be able to set you up with a thoroughly vetted host family close to school. This is a wonderful way to experience Australian culture firsthand and a sure path to learning local customs and geography quickly. We’d wager to guess that you too will feel like a local in no time at all!

If neither of these sound appealing or like a good fit for you, there is also the option of finding your own rental accommodation via the Internet. Using sites like Easy Roommate or Flatmates, you can choose anything from a private studio apartment, to a large house shared with students and professionals. Of course, do proceed with caution to avoid finding yourself in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation halfway across the world!

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Day to Day Living

Currently, the exchange rate of AUD to USD is about 1:0.75. Australia as a whole is rapidly becoming an expensive country to live in. However, the cost of living in Brisbane is considerably lower compared to other major Australian cities,like Sydney or Perth. Your biggest expense as a student, apart from tuition, will be rent. A private room in Brisbane, whether in a student lodging facility or a city apartment, will generally start at about $1200 AUD. The cost of groceries may be a little more expensive than what you are used to in the United States; a dozen eggs will cost about $5.50 AUD and chicken clocks in at roughly $6AUD per pound. Fresh produce will run you anywhere from $4-7AUD per kilogram, depending on what vegetable you are selecting. Public transportation can be costly, as well. Though extensive bus and train routes populate the city, Brisbane’s public transportation system is the most expensive in Australia, with a single one-way ticket costing $5AUD. You’ll save a few dollars by buying a rail or bus pass, known as a GoCard.

When you aren’t hitting the books, Brisbane and its environs offer many tempting diversions. The city has experienced an artistic renaissance of late, with film festivals, musical acts, and theatre performances of all kinds happening nearly every weekend. Its food scene is burgeoning as well; food trucks have become an especially popular novelty in recent years. Nearly anything you’re craving can be found throughout the city, but Australia is especially known for its barbecues and grilled meats of all kinds. Wine is also a popular Aussie export and flows freely throughout the country. Brissie, as it’s lovingly called by locals, boasts many fragrant, floral gardens and lovely scenery by the river. Gorgeous coastal beaches of all types are also easily accessible - whether you’re looking to ride monster waves all day or relax with a good book, you’ll find a spot close to Brisbane. And with temperate weather all year, you need not fear an unpleasant experience. Winters in Brisbane are mild, with lows of around 50F/11C. Spring and autumn are comparable, with highs of about 77F/25C. The summers do not reach uncomfortable heat; temperatures linger at about 85F/30C. The sun shines brightly year round in Brisbane - in fact, it is called the City of Sun Days!

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Common Financial Sense & Paying Tuition

Your focus during your time abroad should be on your books and your adventure downunder, not on worrying about pesky wire transfers! A currency specialist can help you through everything from getting an Australian bank account to paying your tuition on time - use our broker guides to explore the different currency specialists out there and find the right one for you. Bon voyage!

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