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Brisbane river at sunset

Welcome to Brisbane: a guide for international students

Uni life
Published 25 May, 2023  ·  6-minute read

We’d like to introduce you to Brisbane…

Brisbane is the best of so many worlds. Home to a mix of distinctive and unique precincts, the city is a thriving hub of laneways, green spaces and local experiences that offer the best in dining, culture and urban adventures.

The city is the best of Australia, with a subtropical climate and quality of life unmatched by other cities.

With so many things to do and see, incredible natural landscapes, and unstoppable economic, innovative and infrastructural growth, Brisbane is a city of opportunity for international students to thrive - both during and after their studies.

There’s never been a better time to move to Brisbane. 

If you’re preparing to study in the city, this is your complete guide for moving to Brisbane as an international student.

Howard Smith Wharves with the Story Bridge in the background


There are lots of options for international students when it comes to finding somewhere to live in Brisbane. Whether you want to live with others and make new friends or gain independence and live solo, you can find great choices around the city to suit any budget.

International students have a wide range of accommodation types to choose from at UQ, including residential colleges, purpose-built student accommodation and off-campus living. You can also arrange airport pickup, meaning you can arrive in Australia feeling safe and secure. It’s a good idea to secure accommodation early to avoid disappointment.

You could also opt to live in a share house in a private rental, which is where you move in with others and share the cost of rent and bills. This is a great way to meet new people and live more like a local. You can use UQ Rentals to search for properties close to our St Lucia, Herston and Gatton campuses.

Rooftop of Kev Carmody House


Brisbane has a lot of great transport options – especially if you’re looking to get around the CBD and central areas.

Make sure you get a go card by TransLink, which is Brisbane’s transport card. This card allows you to use a variety of public transport – including buses, trains and ferries – and can be topped up on your mobile. As an international student, you may also be eligible for discounted concession fares.

Use the TransLink journey planner to begin to understand the travel routes around Brisbane and how you can get around quickly and easily.

Brisbane buses

Health and safety

Your health and safety are extremely important - the same safety principles that are found around the world also apply in Australia.

Here are a few ways you can look after your health and safety when living in Brisbane.

  • Find a local General Practitioner (GP) who you can visit when you're sick. A GP is a doctor and should be the first person you see when you have health issues (except in emergencies). You can find your nearest general practice on the Queensland Government website.
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses when you’re outside to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Follow Queensland’s road rules if you have a car. If you plan on cycling while living in Brisbane, make sure you understand the state’s bicycle road rules.
  • Keep your valuables safe when you’re at the beach, and only swim where lifeguards permit you to.

We have put together some useful health and safety resources and well-being workshops for UQ students to help you learn more.


Queensland is seen as one of the most laid-back states in Australia, and Brisbane is a testament to that. People are extremely friendly and are happy to meet people and make new friends. There’s a strong cultural focus on sports, live music and the performing arts. Brisbane also has an exciting food scene, with a wide range of international cuisines available.

Much like the rest of Australia, Brisbane is very multicultural. According to the 2021 Census, the most common countries of birth for people residing in Brisbane excluding Australia were England, New Zealand, India, China, South Africa and Vietnam.

If you’re eager to stay connected to your local community from home or meet people with similar passions to yours, consider joining one of UQ’s clubs or societies! Search through what’s available on the UQU Clubs and Societies website.

3 students laughing in front of a food truck


It’s common for students to work while they complete their studies, usually in hospitality or retail. As such, most employers are flexible when it comes to fitting your job around your studies. As an international student studying in Australia, you may be eligible to work - just check the Department of Home Affairs website for details.

When you’re ready to start looking for jobs, UQ has a great student job portal for enrolled students, where you can view jobs advertised specifically for students.

Making friends

There are plenty of ways for you to meet people and socialise in Brisbane. At UQ, we have the International Student Society, which acts as a social hub where international students can gather.

Sport is also a great way to meet new people. You can join various sports clubs around Brisbane or opt for something more relaxed in the various social leagues available. UQ Sport has a sports program that you can use to meet people.

Alternatively, check out any of the many UQ events happening around campus. These offer great opportunities to introduce yourself to fellow students.

2 students sitting in the Great Court at an event


Feel like finding a bargain? Check out one of the many Brisbane shopping outlets! Here’s a short list of some of the best places to go shopping in Brisbane:

You can also find all the basics you need from the shops and services on campus at UQ.


There’s so much to see and do in Brisbane!

Whether you love live music, arts and theatre, sports, swimming or hiking, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Here are a few highlights to get you started when exploring your new home:

Find out more about your Brisbane accommodation options, and weigh up the pros and cons to living on and off campus.

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