“When we arrive in a city, we see the streets in perspective. Suites of buildings empty of meaning. Everything is unknown, virgin. Here we are, we will have walked in these streets, we will have been at the end of the perspectives, we will have known these buildings, we will have lived stories with people. When we have lived in this city, this street will have taken ten, twenty, a thousand times. After a while, it belongs to you because you lived there.” Said Xavier’s character in Cédric Klapisch’s cult film, L’auberge espagnole. However, before you get there, let us explain a few tips so that you, too, can find your perfect accommodation in Brisbane!
Before arriving in Australia, it is better to book a room for 2-3 days – do not wait until you arrive. After 24 hours of flying, jet lag and heavy suitcases, wandering the streets for accommodation in Brisbane will not be easy. Depending on the season, many accommodations will be fully booked, so booking your first few days in advance will save so much stress (and money!)
Inevitably, the hotels are an expensive choice of accommodation, Brisbane is not different. It is rare to find a room for less than $120 a night – even in the outback! However, when you arrive in Australia, after such a long journey, it is normal that you want a little comfort. If the Australian dollar is low, you can benefit from an affordable price or as a cheaper option, consider apartment hotels (serviced apartments.)
They are like an ordinary multi-bedroom apartment except in a hotel complex, and they give preferential rates for long stays. This solution is ideal for backpackers as it’s more economical, yet it will provide many of the home comforts to get you started.
Always compare prices online via the various search engines. When you find a deal online, you can also contact the accommodation in Brisbane directly as often booking direct gives you the best rates.
Youth Hostels or backpackers Hostels
Contrary to popular belief, young people are not the only ones to book hostels for a stay in Brisbane. Everyone is welcome, even children! This option is probably the most economical accommodation in Australia. Rates start from $15-20 per person per night for a dormitory bed, or a private room is more expensive. Although confusing, the Australian Summer is December – February; this means it is the high season and reservations in advance are essential.
Generally, hostels are well located in the city centre, usually nearby public transport and supermarkets. Most are equipped with shared kitchens so you can easily prepare your meals to save money. If staying in a hostel, remember to bring a padlock for the locker that is assigned to you to avoid any food or belongings going missing.
Hostels are also a great way to meet your future fellow travellers or to exchange travel tips and recommendations. Almost all hotels have bars and lounges for socialising. The atmosphere of hostels are always fun and exciting as you meet new people, get to know each other and share travel stories. Many hostels also offer organised tours at very affordable prices. Booking tours via your hostel are an ideal way to start your Australian journey as you’ll have new companions to book the tours with.
We also recommend visiting HostelWorld to find a hostel that suits your travel style and your budget. HostelWorld is a hostel comparison site commonly used in Australia and around the world.
Renting an Apartment or a House
Everyone will tell you, Brisbane is more affordable than Sydney and Melbourne. Less populated than its big sisters, the city has recently experienced a boom in construction. Due to this, supply has largely exceeded the demand, and rent prices have fallen.
Compared to Europe, it is easier to organise short rentals in Australia. For example, it is possible to organise a lease for only six months in Brisbane (sometimes less!) Prepare for the necessary fees such as one-month rent upfront and a deposit.
Two major sites advertise apartment rentals – Realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. Although furnished apartments are available, they are not very common. The same goes for apartments with all charges included; electricity and Wifi are often the responsibility of tenants. In general, the rent includes water because most apartments do not have individual meters (unlike houses). For ease, this is why backpackers opt for apartment hotels or serviced apartments as all bills are included in the monthly fee.
It is essential you visit the rental property before signing or paying anything, as this will inform your decision. There are usually proposed days and times on the ad for viewings as on-demand visits are rare. Keep in mind that most property owners and agencies will require a deposit/bond (the equivalent of one month’s rent) and at least two weeks of rent in advance. To sign a lease is highly recommended, to have proof of any agreements made. The inventory is usually done separately – the agency and the tenant each note the details they wish to meet within three days. Be cautious of the many clauses and any fine print in the leasing contract.
Be aware that in Brisbane, the garbage collection tax and property tax are the responsibility of the owners. There is also no housing tax and rental charges for common areas if you live in an apartment this should be included within your rent.
Budget to predict
The budget for a typical apartment (2 bedrooms, one bathroom) is approximately $370 per week:
- Deposit approx. $1480 (one month’s rent);
- Two weeks of rent in advance at approx. $740;
- Opening of an electric meter $200 (Costs about $150 per month for two people);
- Opening of an internet line $180 (about $60 per month for the entry level);
- Furniture (approx. $3000 although buying second hand will save you some serious money!)
- Professional cleaning at the end of the lease ( bond cleaning ) if the carpet is required, anywhere between $100 and $500.
To learn about your rights and duties as a tenant and roommate, visit Queensland’s Residential Tenancies Authority.
ATTENTION: FOR RENTALS AND FLATSHARES, NUMEROUS SCAMS ARE REPORTED EVERY DAY. MAKE NO TRANSFERS PRIOR AND ONLY PAY ON THE DAY OF YOUR ENTRY ONCE KEYS HAVE BEEN EXCHANGED (EXCEPTION WITH REAL ESTATE AGENCIES).
Flatsharing also has many advantages. It is more intimate than a hostel and less complex to organise than a rental, so it is often a cheaper alternative. Many people in Brisbane share their accommodation with others. Be warned; however; this is not always the case. Always visit the apartment beforehand and do not hesitate to ask as many questions you want – an honest person will have no issues answering your concerns. Do not pay a deposit in cash without receiving a receipt (ideally by email).
There are so many ways to find flatshares online, with Gumtree.com.au being one of the most popular. There are also many groups on Facebook for backpackers from different countries. As a tip, if you want to improve your English, it’s not the best idea to seek flatmates from your country as you’ll get into the habit of conversing in your native language. Try to find flatmates from different nationalities to test and improve your language skills.
With flatshares, it is easy to find rooms already furnished, although it is also possible to find rooms without furniture. For a single person who does not share his room with another roommate, rents start at $150 per week. For a couple, it is around $ 220-250.
Alternative Accommodation in Brisbane
Couchsurfing: Is a platform where you can lodge for free with a family or host for a few days. Always read reviews beforehand and remain cautious of who you choose to stay with.
Airbnb, Wimdu and 9flats: Are all online platforms where you can book a house or a room with private individuals. Ideal for short term accommodation and avoids paying for furniture, bills, etc. as it’s all included for one fee.
Host family: Organisations allow you to be lodged with a host family, in a cultural exchange basis – ideal for developing your English.
Au pair (girl or boy): You live with an Australian family in exchange for childcare and housework (part-time). This usually involves all meals and occasionally use of the family car, day trips, etc.
HelpX: You receive food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work a day. The work is on a volunteering basis, to be agreed before your stay.
What is the best neighborhood in Brisbane?
If you want to stay near the city centre, choose the following areas: Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley, South Bank, South Brisbane or West End. If you do not have a car, stick to these areas so you can access everywhere on foot.
10-15 minutes by bus from the city centre, the districts of Woolloongabba, Milton, Auchenflower, Toowong, Bowen Hills, Teneriffe and Newstead are very good areas to be based. There are apartments in abundance, and they have great transport links to the city centre.
Paddington and New Farm are 15-20 minutes by bus from the city centre. Here you will find more houses than apartments with many favouring “bohemian-chic”, so rent is more expensive.
Remember to use Google Maps when searching for apartments online to check the accessibility of public transport and estimate your commute etc.