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If you’re thinking of moving to Queensland, Australia, you might be wondering about life in Brisbane vs Gold Coast. This living comparison will cover some of the differences between these two popular Queensland cities to help you make the best decision.
When choosing which city is better, Gold Coast or Brisbane, you should consider factors such as property prices, rent, general cost of living and lifestyle. No single city is better for everyone, so think about your personal budget and the main things you want in a living location.
If you’re seriously considering moving to Brisbane or the Gold Coast, read on to find out more!
1. Is the Gold Coast in Brisbane?
While Brisbane and the Gold Coast lie very close together, the Gold Coast is not part of Brisbane. They are neighbouring cities.
The Gold Coast and Brisbane both sit around halfway up the east coast of Australia, in southeast Queensland. The distance between Gold Coast and Brisbane CBD is only 78 km, which takes just over one hour to drive.
For a more in-depth overview of living in Brisbane, check out my blog post on Brisbane lifestyle.
2. Gold Coast vs Brisbane Population
Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, and with 2.5 million inhabitants, the third most-populated city in Australia. The Gold Coast is a regional city and significantly less populated than Brisbane, with only 670k inhabitants.
3. Brisbane vs Gold Coast Weather
The Gold Coast and Brisbane both have a humid subtropical climate. This means hot, rainy, humid summers with frequent storms and lovely mild, dry winters. Since they lie so close together, the cities have very similar temperatures to each other.
If you like the idea of warm to hot weather year round, Queensland could be a great living location for you. The more southern states like New South Wales and Victoria tend to be a lot cooler, particularly in winter.
Read on for a more detailed overview of the climate in Brisbane and the Gold Coast from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The average maximum temperature in January, the hottest month, is 29.4 degrees in Brisbane and 28.8 degrees on the Gold Coast. Both cities can experience days over 40 degrees in the summer though, so bear in mind these are just averages!
The average overnight temperature in January is 20.6 degrees in Brisbane and 21.9 degrees on the Gold Coast, so pretty mild nights in the summer!
In July, the coldest month, the average maximum temperature is 20.4 degrees in Brisbane and 21.3 degrees on the Gold Coast.
The average minimum temperature overnight in July is 9.5 degrees in Brisbane and 12.1 degrees on the Gold Coast.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast are two of the sunniest cities in Australia, with over 100 sunny days per year! In comparison, Melbourne only gets an average of 45 clear days per year.
Whether you choose to live in the Gold Coast or Brisbane, you’re going to experience a lot of beautiful sunny weather!
The Gold Coast has more rain than Brisbane, with an average of 92 rainy days per year (>1mm), compared to 76 rainy days in Brisbane.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast both have a rainy season in the summertime and get around double the numbers of rainy days per month in summer and early autumn compared to in the winter months.
4. Beaches on the Gold Coast vs Brisbane City
While the Gold Coast and Brisbane are neighbouring cities, their coastlines couldn’t be more different!
Brisbane’s coastline is mostly mudflats, with just a few beaches on the outskirts. The Gold Coast, however, is lined with beautiful white beaches, making it a popular holiday destination.
If you want to live by the beach, you will have far more options living on the Gold Coast rather than in Brisbane.
If you’re happy living in the city and heading to the beach on weekends, you can still reach plenty of beaches from Brisbane in an hour or two, such as those at the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.
Brisbane does have a fun manmade beach and lagoon at South Bank in the city, if you feel like cooling off after work or taking your children for a splash on the weekend!
5. Gold Coast/Brisbane Time and Daylight Savings
Brisbane and the Gold Coast are in the same time zone in Queensland and don’t have daylight saving. This means that sunset is earlier in the warmer half of the year in Queensland than in states that have daylight saving.
In the height of summer, the sun sets around 6:45 pm in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
6. Brisbane vs Gold Coast Cost of Living
Is it cheaper to live in Brisbane or the Gold Coast? Here are some differences in the cost of living between the two cities.
Property Prices in Gold Coast vs Brisbane
It’s useful to know that property prices in Brisbane and the Gold Coast shot up significantly during the pandemic. This was mainly due to an influx of residents leaving the more southern states that were subject to multiple lockdowns to live in sunny, less-affected Queensland.
Since Brisbane will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2032, significant population growth is expected, along with further increases in property values.
This ABC article from November 2023 states that almost every regional centre in Queensland is currently at its lifetime peak in terms of property prices.
In October 2023, the median property price in the Gold Coast region was $901,645. In Brisbane, median property prices ranged from $778,084 in the Inner City to $1,012,047 in Brisbane South.
Learn more about property prices in Australia’s state capitals in my blog post on Australian property prices and trends.
According to data collected by Numbeo, the average rent per month outside of the city centre for a 1-bedroom apartment was $2,243 in Brisbane and $1,943 in the Gold Coast, and for a 3-bedroom apartment, $2,683 in Brisbane and $2,843 in the Gold Coast.
Read my blog post on rent in Australia to learn how rent compares across the Australian capital cities and how to find a rental property.
Cost of Utilities
The same article on Numbeo found that the average cost of electricity, heating, water and garbage for an 85 metre-squared apartment in Brisbane is $345.50 per month, compared to $185.83 on the Gold Coast.
Numbeo also found that the average cost of a monthly public transport pass in the Gold Coast to be $160, compared to $210 in Brisbane.
The same article found that groceries are 13% more expensive in Brisbane than the Gold Coast, and restaurant prices are 24% higher in Brisbane.
7. Gold Coast and Brisbane Universities
If you or your kids will want to enter higher education in Australia, you’ll find a choice of universities in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Here’s a list of your options, along with their QS World University Rankings for 2024 out of 1,500 global universities.
The University of Queensland, Brisbane
The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of the world’s top universities and has over 55,000 students from all over the globe. It’s the oldest and most prestigious university in Brisbane.
I personally spent a year at UQ as a foreign exchange student and absolutely loved it! Read more in my university experience in Australia vs UK blog post.
You’ll find a huge choice of subjects to study at UQ, including undergraduate, postgraduate and research programs. UQ also has world-class facilities and plenty of activities to choose from.
- QS world ranking 2024: 43
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
Brisbane’s other main university is Queensland University of Technology (QUT). QUT is known as ‘the university for the real world’ due to its relevant teaching, applied research and close links with industry professionals.
You can choose from over 100 courses at QUT in six different schools: business school, creative industries, education, health, law and science and engineering.
- QS world ranking 2024: 189
Griffith University, Gold Coast and Brisbane Campuses
Based in southeast Queensland, Griffith University has five campuses spanning from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.
The Griffith University Gold Coast campus in Southport is the largest campus, with over 21,000 students and 800 student clubs. The main areas of study there are medicine, dentistry and health, and there is a university hospital on campus.
Griffith University also has four smaller campuses between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, located in South Bank, Nathan, Mt Gravatt and Logan.
- QS world ranking 2024: 243
Bond University, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is home to Bond University, Australia’s first and largest private university. Its areas of study include academic and English pathways; actuarial science and data analytics; architecture; business, commerce and entrepreneurship; communication, film and creative media; construction, property and planning; health, biomedical and sports sciences; international relations, politics and arts; law; medicine; project management and innovation; psychology, criminology and social sciences.
- QS world ranking 2024: 567
Central Queensland University, Brisbane Campus
Conveniently located in Brisbane CBD, the Brisbane campus of Central Queensland University (CQU) has 46 courses to choose from. The university also offers online courses and is renowned for social equity.
- QS world ranking 2024: 590
Southern Cross University, Gold Coast Campus
The Gold Coast campus of Southern Cross University is located in Coolangatta, close to the Gold Coast Airport, and offers a diverse range of courses.
- QS world ranking 2024: 651-660
Victoria University, Brisbane Campus
While based in Melbourne, Victoria University (VU) also has a campus in Fortitude Valley, one of Brisbane’s liveliest suburbs. The VU Brisbane campus offers courses in business, information technology and early childhood education.
- QS world ranking 2024: 711-720
Australian Catholic University, Brisbane Campus
The Brisbane campus of Australian Catholic University is located 12km north of the city centre and has around 100 courses to choose from.
- QS world ranking 2024: 801-850
Torrens University, Brisbane Campus
Torrens University is a fast-growing private university with campuses across Australia. The Brisbane campus has courses in design, health, business, hospitality, technology, education and research.
- QS world ranking 2024: no data
8. Gold Coast and Brisbane Lifestyle
Both Brisbane and the Gold Coast have a slower pace of life than bigger cities like Sydney or Melbourne. However, I think Brisbane has much more of a “proper” city look than the Gold Coast, which feels more like a holiday destination.
While Brisbane might be less touristy than the Gold Coast, there are still plenty of great Brisbane attractions, including Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the XXXX brewery tour and abseiling Kangaroo Point cliffs.
The riverside area in Brisbane is where most of the city attractions are based. You’ll find pretty walks along the river as well as modern waterside restaurants and bars.
South Bank, opposite the CBD, is the cultural precinct where you can visit museums, art galleries and theatres. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants in South Bank, as well as parkland and the manmade beach and lagoon.
In terms of nature, Brisbane has beautiful botanic gardens right by the city, as well as amazing views from Mount Coot-tha. You can head out to hinterland areas and islands from Brisbane, such as Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.
The Gold Coast, with its abundance of top beaches, offers plenty of opportunities for surfing, kayaking and coastal hikes. Its suburbs vary greatly from party-central Surfers Paradise, with the iconic skyline of beachside skyscrapers, to the more chilled and bohemian Burleigh Heads.
The Gold Coast is also known for its system of inland canals and waterways. I loved the scenic river cruise in Surfers Paradise, where you can pass by all the grand, waterside houses!
You can also enjoy amazing views across the Gold Coast from SkyPoint Observation Deck or hit the shops at Pacific Fair mall. The Gold Coast has plenty of theme parks to visit too, including Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild.
The Gold Coast hinterland is meant to be spectacular too, with rainforest and mountains in popular spots like Springbrook and Lamington National Park.
You can learn more about the top things to do in the Gold Coast in my three-day Gold Coast Itinerary.
9. Travel Destinations Near Brisbane and the Gold Coast
While the Gold Coast is a holiday destination in itself, there are plenty of other nearby travel destinations in Queensland and New South Wales that you can visit.
Just south of the Gold Coast is famous hippy holiday town, Byron Bay. Things to do in Byron Bay include surfing, visiting beautiful beaches, walking to Cape Byron Lighthouse, boutique shopping, gathering to watch the sunset whilst listening to the drumming circle and driving out to quaint little hillside villages.
Continuing further south, you can visit a range of hotspots on the way to Sydney, such as beaches, nature and the Big Banana fun park on a trip to Coffs Harbour. You can also take a beachside break in coastal Port Macquarie, or head inland to enjoy the countryside and antique shopping in quaint, artsy Bellingen.
North of Brisbane lies a choice of beautiful holiday destinations dotted up the east coast, including the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns and Port Douglas.
Check out my three-day Sunshine Coast itinerary to find out what you can see and do in this tropical region just north of Brisbane. It’s less built up than the Gold Coast with a real holiday feel.
Have you decided which is better, Gold Coast or Brisbane? Both cities have a relaxed pace of life with plenty of sunshine and lovely mild winters.
I would personally choose the Gold Coast for the beach lifestyle and nature, although I love Brisbane’s riverside city attractions and choice of things to do!
Make sure you check out my where to live in Australia page for more city comparisons and lifestyle overviews!
If you want to live on the east coast but without a rainy season, have a read of my Brisbane vs Sydney comparison.
If you’re after beautiful beaches but cheaper property, make sure you check out my comparison of Perth vs Brisbane.
If you’d rather live in a bigger city than the Gold Coast, learn the differences between Brisbane and Melbourne.
All the best deciding whether to live in Brisbane or Gold Coast!
Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.