Moving to Brisbane has been the best decision of my life, but also the toughest because moving to a new city, adjust to a new lifestyle isn’t always as fun as people think it is. I’ve been living in Brisbane for a year now and one thing that I’ve noticed that is common for international students is the feeling of homesickness. I personally believe that your surroundings can be a factor to this feeling – which is why choosing where you will be living is one of the most important decisions you have to decide early on (even before you move to Brisbane!).
Brisbane welcomed me with heavy rain in June 2017. Growing up in a hot and humid region, Brisbane winter season made me worried. I don’t know what other people’s experiences are, but when I first arrived at Brisbane airport, my lips cracked and bled because the weather was cold and the wind hit me with no mercy. Thanks to QUT airport pick-up service I arrived safely at Iglu Kelvin Grove – Student Accommodation. I chose Iglu as my first accommodation because it was on the QUT Home website.
I couldn’t bear the cold and at the same time being lonely, but I had no idea who I should ask for help. I was caught up in a mix feelings that lead me to a very bad mood, until I got a message from an acquaintance.
May knew that I had arrived and she was sure that I would need some help due to her past experience when she first studied abroad. May and her boyfriend took me to Westfield Chermside to buy a heater and other necessities. Without that heater I think I couldn’t make it through the night because of the cold weather. Once again, thank you May for being my heroine.
I spent nearly an entire day in both QUT campuses to memorise the map (Haha, How nerdy am I?), so I would not be running around asking for directions on orientation day.
Miranda and I had a great afternoon at South Bank. We were watching the sunset while drinking milk tea. I’ve heard, some people think Brisbane is boring even before getting here. Some of my friends tried to convince me to study at other majors cities, but the beauty of Brisbane touched me. Indeed, Brisbane is not very big compared to other cities, however it has everything I need.
On the next day, I got in contact with a friend. He is a friend from high school best friend’s friend in middle school (I know, the connection sounds so complicated) , and he has lived here for a very long time.
First, Lyo introduced me the shuttle bus from Kelvin Grove Campus to Garden Point Campus. From there we walked along Brisbane River from the Goodwill Bridge to the Story Bridge. Brisbane’s scenery along the river was calm and peaceful. It made me feel very welcomed.
At the end of the day, I knew a lot more about Brisbane and I feel so blessed to receive all the help from May, Miranda, and Lyo.
I think money issue is one of the main worries for most of the international students in Australia. Being an international student in Brisbane, I have to keep a close eye at the digits of my bank account to make sure that I have enough money for my rent, food, transport, social activities, travelling and last but not least, the tuition fee.
There are many options to do your groceries in Brisbane for examples Aldi, Woolworths, Coles, IGA, K mart, Big W, Costco, Asian Groceries Stores etc. Normally the large grocery stores may carry most of the stuff you need but different brands. Compare the prices between the grocery stores and the different brands they carry (grocery home brands are often cheaper) if you want to save some money! Furthermore, the big grocery stores may have discount for different types of products every week, so join their mailing list and keep an eye on their specials.
Other than the regular promotion, some products which are approaching expiry date will have a further price reduction. I always buy discounted ice coffee which makes my day haha!
As a member of one of QUT’s student organisations you may have discounts for stores across Brisbane. For instance, QUT Malaysian Students Association provides special discounts for members who shops in one of the Asian grocery stores in the city.
I would suggest you buy fruits and vegetables from the markets, as it’s normally cheaper than the grocery stores. You can find out more about Brisbane markets from my previous post: https://blogs.qut.edu.au/student-life-in-brisbane/2016/11/01/markets-culture-in-brisbane/
I have shared some saving tips in my previous blog post: Public transport in Brisbane.
There are many options for accommodation for examples homestay, students apartments, shared acommodation etc. The weekly rent could range from AUD $100+ to $300+. Personally I think shared accommodation is the cheaper option, however, it all depends on what your requirements are.
Travelling could be very affordable if you plan well in advance. Brisbane has a great geographic location and is near most of Australia’s major travel destinations. Join the airlines’ email list so you don’t miss the cheapest ticket. Instead of flying, you can choose to do a road trip to any of the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane. You can read my previous post regarding my visit to the beautiful places surrounding Brisbane.
If you plan to visit some tourist spots which require entrance tickets e.g. Lone Pine Sanctuary or all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, I would suggest you buy the ticket in advance. Check out some travel agencies in the city or suburbs as they would be able to sell you the tickets with a better price than the venue. You can read my blog post with some travelling tips about Gold Coast Theme Parks.
5) Social activities
I enjoy dining out with friends, however dining out in Brisbane could be very expensive. Some restaurants serve very big portions, so it is a good idea to share with a friend if you have small appetite. The portion of food sold by food trucks is normally not that big. You could check out my previous blog to know more about the food trucks culture in Brisbane.
Hopefully these tips could save some money whilst studying as an international student in Brisbane!
Located in South Brisbane, Urbanest is just about a fifteen minute walk to QUT’s Gardens Point campus. It is also a five minute walk from many restaurants on Grey Street and the Streets Beach. Needing to travel further? Urbanest is right next to the bus and train stations.
The apartment building itself is quite suitable for a University student as well. The two most common room styles are:
- a 5 or 6 person apartment, each resident with their own room and bathroom, and a shared common room and kitchen
- a 16 person apartment with 8 rooms, meaning two people per room and bathroom, and a shared common room and kitchen for the apartment.
There are also single suites and studio style apartments. Urbanest has a movie room, a fitness center, study rooms, and a laundry room. The management for the most part is pretty good. They know how to do their jobs, and do their best at accommodating residents needs. They also put on events for the residents.
Urbanest is a very sociable place with students from around the world. It is very easy to meet people and fun to learn about the different cultures this world has to offer.
No the apartment complex isn’t perfect, but it’s worth looking into if the majority of your classes are at Gardens Point – or even Kelvin Grove!
As promised in my previous blog post on choosing accommodation, here I am with a follow-up post.
Regardless of how much time and thought we put into choosing our respective abodes, we always end up compromising on something. The trick is to identify your deal-breakers and your perks – feel free to compromise on your perks.
For example, if you would like to be near a supermarket or shopping centre for convenient shopping, but being near public transport is crucial to you, then it’s alright if you settle for a place that has a bus-stop right outside your house, and the bus takes you to a supermarket in 15 minutes.
Consider natural light – I have visited many student share houses and other accommodation where the rooms are sold at a cheaper price because there is very little sunlight in the room or no sunlight at all! This is a deal breaker for me as I need natural light to function. My previous room had no windows in it and I suffered a lot because of that.
Last, but definitely not least, consider the lease terms before you sign the lease. If possible, send it over to an attorney-at-law and get it checked, especially if the jargon is hard to navigate.
Student accommodation agencies vary in flexibility and this is evident in their different lease terms. Carefully read the house rules and any other specifications put in your lease. Some accommodation agencies can be very strict; some do not permit any alcoholic drinks on the premises at any time, have strict rules on visitors and sometimes even on internet usage.
I have had to let go of many places that I liked because their rule on internet usage was that it could only be used for study purposes and not entertainment – everyone loves an occasional movie, right?
I hope you find satisfactory accommodation through your house-hunting ventures! Don’t forget to get in touch with QUT accommodation service for help and advice on accommodation and housing!
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Welcome to Australia Email Course
Our friends at Insider Guides have prepared a free, two-week course written by international students, locals, and experts to help you with things such as working in Australia, exploring your new city, and transport options.
Spotlight on QUT research
PhD student, Atiyeh Vaezipour from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q), has designed an in-car device that aims to persuade drivers to adopt a fuel efficient and safe driving style.
It’s just some of the awesome research happening at QUT!
Explore Brisbane’s art galleries
Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) hosts many exciting art installations. The current one, Sugar Spin, features over 250 artworks exploring light, space, architecture, and the senses.The exhibition is free.
A fun place to visit while you’re exploring South Bank in Brisbane!
Stay fit and meet new people!
University isn’t just about studying, you will also have time to socialise and get involved in student life.
QUT offers a variety of sport clubs and social teams for you to meet people from all over the world in a relaxed setting!
Follow our bloggers!
Read about some of the exciting experiences our our international student bloggers have enjoyed since moving to Australia!
One of our bloggers, Linette, wrote about the beautiful places she has visited near Brisbane. We guarantee you will have a lot of fun here!
QUT students stand out from the crowd!
QUT’s Leadership, Development and Innovation (LDI) Program takes students through a series of workshops to re-think what leadership means. Students receive awards for their level of involvement and it is a great achievement to have on your resume’.
The best news though? It is the only program of its kind in Australia!
Real stories of QUT international students
You will find all these great stories by following our Instagram account!
Check out @qutinternational and search for #QUTI to read about other students’ experiences.
Have a great weekend!
The QUT Team
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• Chris doodles his way to ‘Bizdraw’ startup
• QUT recognised for global leadership in learning and teaching
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Having never been to Australia before, I was not pleased to know QUT did not have on-campus accommodation because it seemed every other university within my knowledge had on-campus housing for students.
However, QUT does have an Accommodation Service that helps you with settling down, and it’s free! So make use of it, because they provide you with reliable information regarding which realty agents to use and help you find a property within your budget. They may also assist you with going on inspection rounds to visit different property until you find something satisfactory.
On choosing accommodation here’s a few points for consideration:
- Firstly, set a budget. A reasonable budget for weekly rent would be between $150-$250. A room for less than $150 is rather difficult to find and if you do find one, it’s often not worth the price. Work out your weekly pay, or if your parents are sponsoring you talk to them, and set out an appropriate budget. I’d advise you to have some degree of flexibility over this as it is rare to find a room we like for the exact price we want
- See as MANY houses as possible before settling on one. There is no rush! Please see lots of property before settling down
- Consider things other than just your room: what amenities does the weekly rent cover? How long does it take to get to uni? How far is the nearest public transport and how frequently do buses/trains arrive? Where is the nearest supermarket or grocery shop? Is the house in a remote/isolated area?
- The housemates – who are they and where are they from? Do they speak English? Is it a single-sex or mixed house? How many housemates do you have? Does anyone smoke/drink and are you OK with this?
- Carefully consider if you need a single/shared room. If your budget is super tight and you need a room for less than $150 a week, you may have better luck finding a shared room. If your budget is not constrained, I would HIGHLY recommend a single room. From personal experience, I implore you to meet your roommate BEFORE you sign the lease and talk to them. Set some ground rules – ask if they have any conditions that you must comply with, set your own conditions. DO NOT MOVE IN BEFORE MEETING YOUR ROOMMATE if it’s a shared room
- Try and get a 6-month lease, because personalities clash sometimes and breaking the lease is expensive. Your loss will be less if your lease term is shorter.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to someone. If you would like to talk to another international student and chat with them about their accommodation experiences, contact QUT and ask them if they can put you through.
I promise to follow up on another post with more accommodation advice for you guys. Happy house-hunting!
“I will be coming to QUT this semester and I need a suitable accommodation for my stay in Brisbane!!!! HELPPPPPPPP!!!”
I was really worried about finding a place to stay before coming to QUT to study. It’s important to find a place which is convenient to get to university and nearby public transport so you can get around easily. Here are some tips when looking for accommodation!
Research! As you will not be here physically, you will need to rely on Google and do research online. Do this earlier and not leave it till last minute! Research area or suburbs which are near to QUT. If you intend to stay somewhere within walking distance to university, you could choose to stay in the city or South Bank. There are some students accommodation available nearby such as UniLodge, Iglu and Urbanest. You can also opt to stay in Kelvin Grove. It’s convenient as QUT provides free shuttle bus to assist students who which to travel within Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point.
Do some research, set a budget on how much you want to spend on accommodation and the area or suburb you intend to stay. This will help you narrow down your choices and save time as you can search for accommodation more efficiently! This make your accommodation lookout easier and you don’t have to waste your time looking at a large number of options which are not suitable.
Here are some helpful links when looking for accommodation:
You could also visit QUT website to search for rental accommodation: https://qut.studystays.com.au/
Join the closed Facebook group as well as students will post about rental accommodation: QUT HOUSE SHARE / ROOM RENT / INFO
Find out about accommodation services advice by QUT: https://www.qut.edu.au/about/services-and-facilities/all-services/accommodation
Find out the public transportation nearby! If you intend to stay somewhere which you will be using public transport, it is important to find out about the nearby public transport!
Download the Google Maps and Translink applications to find out how to get around from your choice of accommodation. Make sure there are public transport nearby your place and it’s convenient to get to university! These applications are useful as you could find out the distance to the bus stop or train station, how to get around to your destination in the shortest time and plan your journey!
Find out what’s nearby your accommodation. Research to look out for nearby restaurants and grocery marts as well!
Don’t worry if you are here all alone and have trouble with your accommodation. Seek QUT for counselling services and they will be really helpful! One of my friends just got here alone and had some issue with her rental accommodation. She got help with the international office in QUT (X Block) and they helped her to look for new accommodation. They were really nice and provided assistance despite the last minute notice given by my friend!
Good luck looking for accommodation! 🙂
Brain overloaded with assessment right now? Time to take a break, get comfy, and find out the latest news from QUT and Brisbane this week.
Go forth and blog!
Did you hear we now have nine International Digital Ambassadors?
One of our blogging superstars, Myn, reflects on one year living in Brisbane
Looking for a place to live?
Iglu student accommodation have just opened up on Mary St in the city. Convenient much?
Are you a social or solitary gamer?
If you’re a gamer, you’ll find this QUT research interesting. Three QUT researchers have investigated the effects of video games on the social experience, social capital, and wellbeing… how does gaming affect you?
Improve your English language skills (hooray!)
The team at Insider Guides recently shared this great article to help improve your English language skills.
Put on those dancing shoes
Our friend Prince Long Lo, is a current QUT international student and President of the QUT Dance Society. The dance group welcomes all QUT students, staff, alumni, and friends with a passion for dance. It doesn’t matter if you have danced before or not, it’s just about meeting new people and having fun. Interested?
QUT International Course Guides now available!
Our latest QUT International Course Guides are now available. Thinking about studying a course at QUT? Want to find out more about international student services? The guides are there to help you answer these questions and more.
A taste of Italy
Brisbane hosts a variety of wonderful food and cultural events. Many of these are free! One of these is the Italian Food and Wine Festival at New Farm Park. They are a great place to meet up with friends or a good excuse to take a break from studying.
Until next time, have an awesome weekend!
The QUT Team
It’s not like this is my first time using public transportation. But, this is my first time experiencing what I’ve seen in public transportation in Brisbane. People actually say ‘Thank you’ to the driver every time they get off from the bus. I know this is just a simple and small thing, but, for me this is what matter. It shows how people in Brisbane appreciate each other, show that they really care and being grateful. I’ve been living in Indonesia for my whole life and sometimes I travel to other country like China, Hongkong, and Singapore. Still not much, but this is what I found so different and special from Australia, especially Brisbane. It gives me warm feeling every time I see people saying ‘thank you’ to the driver, even though sometimes there are some people who don’t say it. You don’t have to save the world to show people that you care. Just by saying a simple ‘thank you’ you can make someone’s day!
So, have you say ‘thank you’ to your bus driver today? 🙂