Relocating to Brisbane, Aus.
November 24, 2009 4:03 PM   Subscribe

I have been shortlisted for a job in Brisbane, Aus. Obviously I am thrilled and would like to know a little about Brisbane. (Yes, Google is my friend). I would like to know from any Aussies or someone who has been in the same "boat". I have multiple questions, which branch into....

My son (who will be 18) will be with me, most likely to live.

Question 1: How hard will it be for him to obtain a visa if he is just out of high school and living with me? I don't exactly know what my visa will be, but I suspect it will be a skilled work visa (I am an engineering manager in an SOL - if that helps). He would like to work or attend college (he is a little unclear on that right now, but is also interested possibly in joining the ADF. Could that be a way in for him?

Question 2: Brisbane looks like a fabulous place. Other than touristy things to see and do, what are some of the cool, fun and non-touristy things to see and do?

Question 3: I will be working in the Acacia Ridge area. Are there any areas in Brisbane to avoid living in? Any I should look for that would be close to work? I am a left hand driver, and will have to take some lessons before attempting the roads (I almost got killed at a roundabout in Scotland - and so am a little nervous driving there without some training).

Thanks all!
posted by fox_terrier_guy to Travel & Transportation around Brisbane, Australia (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Avoid living in Acacia Ridge. A suburb or two north or east will give you some nicer areas to live in, and will not add significantly to your travel time.
A few suburbs north is Griffith University, a lovely campus with a wide range of programs and good public transport.
posted by Pippi Longstocking at 4:20 PM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree, avoid acacia ridge for living in. Griffith is located near mt. gravatt and is much nicer.

As for cool, fun and non-touristy, it's been a few years since I last lived there, but really, brisbane is more like a giant country town than a thriving metropolis.

Check out the Fortitude Valley markets on weekends, the great restaurants in West End, go for a walk through New Farm park, catch the city-cat from one end to the other ...
posted by Ultrahuman at 4:47 PM on November 24, 2009

If it's a skilled work visa, you may be able to nominate your son as a dependent even if he's over 18:
if they have turned 18, are wholly or substantially reliant on the main applicant, the main applicant's partner for their basic needs, or are incapacitated for work.
Talk to your migration agent or migration lawyer, though.
Regarding the ADF, do you mean the Defence Forces? They have strict eligibility rules about citizenship. You have to be a citizen or a permanent resident who can show that they've applied to be one to join any of the services in Australia.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:44 PM on November 24, 2009

You haven't said where you're moving from, or what you (or your son) are interested in. Brisbane has (despite what the southern naysayers might claim) a vibrant cultural life, including arts (both performing and not), music, etc. It rather depends what you're looking for!

Nth the "don't live in Acacia Ridge", although that being said it's not the worst part of town either. Definitely "working class", but not as "benefit class" as, say, Inala or Woodridge.

Easterly options include Eight Mile Plains/Sunnybank, which is very much the Chinese part of Brisbane, much more so than Chinatown (which is in The Valley (Fortitude Valley)). Definitely a good place for asian groceries, and cheap food in general. North would take you into my neck of the woods: Moorooka, Annerley/Fairfield, Dutton Park, all getting closer to the city, more expensive, and more "desirable". We're not talking big distances here, either -- 5km or less. Acacia Ridge is only, what.. 7km from the CBD? North-east gets you to Holland Park, itself very pleasant, and Tarragindi (ditto, but a bit more $).

When looking at places, I'd recommend finding somewhere handy to the busway (which runs down the South-East freeway), or on the train line. This will let you (and your son) get into town quickly and easily, and avoid traffic in peak hour. Note that public transport in Brisbane is centered around the CBD -- most everything runs into town, like the spokes on a wheel. If you want to go side-ways, it's often fairly difficult -- for example, if your son ended up studying at UQ (St Lucia) whilst you lived at Holland Park, he'd have to travel (by bus) into town, and switch to another bus to get to UQ. Not a huge issue, but a bit of a pain in the bum.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:09 PM on November 24, 2009

You don't say where you live at the moment but when looking for accomodation bear in mind that Brisbane summers are (to most people) *hot* and that because you're in the southern hemisphere your ideas of how a house/apartment should be situated/shaded for maximum comfort all need to be turned around (I'm assuming your currently a northern hemisphere person).

As to Brisbane being a 'big country town' that may have been true 30 years ago but it's a decent sized city with a great many pleasant amenities now. If I had my choice I would live closer to the centre in the older suburbs but you may feel differently.

I'm not sure what happens to the children of skilled workers as those children transition into adulthood - needs looking into.
posted by southof40 at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2009

I lived in Brisbane most of my adult life, now in Melbourne and planning on returning to Brisbane. I adore the city, much more so than Melbourne. For all that the public transports sucks, it can be a pain to get good coffee and it's kinda provincial.

Acacia Ridge is kinda crap, Mt Gravatt was okay to live in and the public transport was okay. I love Tarragindi with a passion which is why I own a townhouse there. Salisbury is also in the area and kinda okay. Northside can be okay but DO NOT live on the opposite side of the city to your work. It will just end in tears. Brisbane has the river running through the middle and has failed dismally on the infrastructure to cope with that. Woodridge and Inala are cheap but pretty 'bad' places to live. Annerley can be kinda awful in places, amazing in others. Same with Dutton Park. I really liked Indooroopilly and Toowong, but they're kind of awkward for driving to work anywhere else in Brisbane.

One of the things I miss most about Brisbane is the public library system - the major shopping centres (except Chermside) have big library branches as well. Which is awesome and I miss taking a break at the library while shopping).

University wise, I loved Griffith Uni which is close to Acacia Ridge, but it isn't particularly prestigious. UQ was okay, my friends who went there like it. QUT sucked totally and completely and I've never met anyone who actually liked it. There are a number of ways he can go to uni in Australia, have a look at the individual universities.

In Brisbane I always tell people to go to Two Small Rooms in Toowong for a fancy dinner, Thai Rose in Wooloongabba for beautiful duck and pad thai (Blue Moon Hotel are close and have quite nice little markets on the weekends) and do the walk over the river to the Botanic Gardens at least once.

South of 40 is right about the heat. It is hot and incredibly humid. Incredibly. My best friend hated how crazy her hair got when she visited us while we were living there. Winter is quite mild. Brisbane also do water restrictions quite ferociously.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2009

I’m from Brisbane but don’t know the south side that well. For activities, the entire Cultural Center and South Bank area is great—but especially go to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art), it’s amazing. Also, Jolly’s Lookout at Mount Glorious. Go for a drive up there for a picnic. And Newfarm Park, by the river, is great too.
posted by ads at 9:48 PM on November 24, 2009

geek anachronism: I went to QUT and it wasn't all that bad; 2 of the most inspiring teaching staff I know came from there.

There's tons to do on the non-touristy side if you're willing to dig in a little. The Brisneyland (Livejournal) and BTUB (Twitter) groups are especially active and welcoming to newcomers, and there's a lot of hobbyist/interest groups around for you and your son. What are you both interested in?
posted by divabat at 9:51 PM on November 24, 2009

I am not from Brisbane, but I was there last week on holiday. I thought it was nice. Pretty warm though!

The nice thing about being in Queenland is that a lot of the nature-type stuff that people travel to Australia for is there - the great barrier reef for example. It's still a big place, but there'll be cool stuff for you to do on long weekends. I think the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are horribly chintzy, but there's lots of cool surfy/beachy/hippie towns around which are really pleasant.

As for study for your son, Australian degrees seem pretty respectable/competitive as far as I can tell, but keep in mind that the university system here isn't like the American (assuming that's where you're from), in that degrees (except for general arts and science degrees) are specific right from the beginning (i.e., if you want to be a journalist, you enrol in a journalism degree). Also, most universities offer most courses, and there isn't the culture of moving across the country to go to a specific school. You go to the best local uni you can. Outside of Australia, ANU is the only one with a strong reputation, but within Australia there isn't the same sense of prestige about the best unis vs the worst. That said, UQ is the best regarded in Queensland, and broadly the ones named after cities or states are usually the bigger, older ones, but often it comes down to who offers the best in your particular field. The university year starts in Feb/March here, and applications are happening now, so you might want to get your son to start doing some reseach if he is thinking about studying here. Also, you might want to find out whether you get to pay the local fees or the international student fees - the latter are much higher.

Oh, and I liked the Three Monkeys Cafe in West End in Brisbane - go there! Southbank was nice too, as was taking the Citycat to the Powerhouse Museum. Oh and there's a really wicked huge secondhand bookshop somewhere in the CBD. I'm sure you can hunt it out if you're interested.
posted by Emilyisnow at 5:21 AM on November 25, 2009

Oh, insanely touristy, but fun! Check out the 'big things' on your travels around. =)
posted by Emilyisnow at 5:22 AM on November 25, 2009

Back again. Are you Canadian? If so and all else fails on the visa front, your son could apply for a working holiday visa.
posted by Emilyisnow at 5:33 AM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all! I would like to mark all as best answer because everyone has offered up some excellent suggestions!

Based on some of your recommendations, I will looking for a place in Springbank or near Griffith Uni. I have streetview'd Springbank, and rather liked it. I wondered about a lot of the bars on the windows. That having been said, I plan on living very lite, a laptop for me and my son, a TV and perhaps a PS3. I would rather not spend weekends at home.

Emilyisnow, a resounding YES - I am a Canuck and in some ways very much looking forward to the warmth. I will also look at getting my son a working holiday visa. I do have some friends that have them, and the restrictions can be a pain in the butt because they have to leave for (3?) several months before they can re-apply. I admit that I have not looked at these too deeply, because I was absolutely unaware of the multiple variations in the visas. I would prefer that he not travel back and forth to Canada too much simply to satisfy some bureaucratic restriction.

And, I will of course, be checking out the touristy things to do. They can be fun too, but after the lights go out...

This morning it was -12 (this global warming thing is killing me), and I had to scrape ice off my window. My approach to winter is like me, both getting a little old, and I really think I would like to try the heat for a little while.

My son and I have many interests, and 4x4 rides, seadooing (sp?), snorkeling, climbing and other physical activities will definitely be of interest. I have checked out Griffith Uni, and I rather like what I have seen. And I will keep an eye on Brisneyland.

Also looking forward to seeing John Butler live....
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 6:20 AM on November 25, 2009

Oh, one other thing: for the love of god, don't call it either "Brisneyland" or "Brisvegas"
*shudder* ;)
posted by coriolisdave at 1:55 PM on November 25, 2009

Quick point about bars on windows - it's not necessarily something to worry about the way it would be in Canada. The heat in Australian cities mean that people often want to leave windows open during the daytime to catch breezes and cool the house, even if they're not home. So bars are usually less a last-ditch attempt to stop sophisticated burglars, more an obvious precaution against opportunists.
posted by 8k at 5:23 AM on December 25, 2009

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