A students' guide to Brisbane on a budget

Trying to make the most of your time abroad on a student budget isn’t easy. You want to have #noregrets, but you also have limited cash to splurge. 

The students' guide to Brisbane on a budget is your go-to for saving money on food, clothes, eating out and mini adventures, to put cash back in your pocket for fun with friends.  

Markets

Brisbane Powerhouse Jan Power's Markets

The first place to save pennies is on your weekly groceries. Brisbane’s farmers’ markets bring the freshest produce into the city at a price that won’t break the bank. Grab your green bag and head out with your cash to do the week’s shop. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how far your money goes.

Tip: Plan in advance, make a shopping list and be sure you get enough for the week.  

Davies Park Market, West End

What: Organic produce, flowers, second-hand clothing and bric-a-brac along with food tastings
When: Every Saturday, 6am – 2pm
Where: Cnr Jane St and Montague Rd, West End

Jan Powers Farmers Markets

What: Farm-fresh food and produce such as cheeses, vegetables, pizzas, pasties, cider and freshly baked breads. You’ll also find ready-to-go juices, coffee and takeaway food. 

Brisbane Powerhouse
When: Every Saturday, 6am – noon
Where: 119 Lamington St, New Farm

The City
When: Every Wednesday, 10am – 6pm
Where: George St end of the Queen Street Mall

Red Hill Farmers Markets

What: A wide selection of farm-direct produce, meats, seafood, eggs, honey, gourmet food stalls, arts and craft.
When: Every Sunday (starting 31 May) 6am – noon
Where: Fulcher Rd, Red Hill

Eagle Farm Markets

What: Fresh produce including a selection of seafood, meat and poultry. Also on site is a number of breakfast food vendors, coffee makers and local plant and homewares suppliers.
When: Every Sunday, 7am – 12.30pm
Where: 230 Lancaster Rd, Ascot 

Kelvin Grove Village Markets

What: Fresh produce with a selection of plants, flowers and crafts.
When: Every Saturday, 6am – 1pm
Where: Blamey St, Kelvin Grove Urban Village

Saturday Fresh Market, Rocklea

What: Fresh produce and lifestyle market with a huge range of flowers, baked goods and quality meats
When: Every Saturday, 6am – midday
Where: 252 Sherwood Rd, Brisbane

Op Shops

SWOP

The next money-hungry beast is the wardrobe. Lucky, opportunity shops have everything you need.

Tip: Go early and go often. You won’t always find what you’re looking for on your first visit, but there’s new stock in every day.

Lifeline

What: Second-hand clothes, shoes, books and household items
Where: Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley, West End, Toowong (book shop), Wilston, Bulimba (book shop), Fairfield, Annerley (vintage), Lutwyche, Greenslopes, Moorooka, Carina, Cannon Hill, Everton Park, Nundah, Stafford Heights, Mt Gravatt, Acacia Ridge, Geebung and Virginia.

Salvation Army

What: Second-hand clothes, shoes, books, household items, furniture
Where: Spring Hill, Red Hill (warehouse), Lutwyche, Alderley, Stafford, Carindale, Geebung, Wynnum and Sandgate.

Vinnies

What: Second-hand clothes, shoes, books and household items
Where: Paddington, West End, Fortitude Valley, Stafford, Clayfield, Cannon Hill and Corinda.

RSPCA

What: Second-hand clothing, shoes, household items, accessories and furniture
Where: New Farm (furniture shop) and Marooka.

Eating out

Image credit: @benjaminroach

Planning a dinner with friends should not have you fretting about the balance of your bank account. There’s heaps of places in Brisbane that have epic mains for under $20. Here’s just a few of them.

Tip: Take the lead, organise dinner yourself or suggest the restaurant so you can choose a budget-friendly place that doesn’t compromise on quality.  

Trang

What: Asian fusion (mostly Chinese and Vietnamese)
Where: Hardgrave Rd, West End

Taro’s Ramen

What: Japanese
Where:
Edward St, Brisbane City and Racecourse Rd, Ascot

The Vietnamese

What: Vietnamese
Where: Wickham St, Fortitude Valley

Little Singapore

What: Singaporean
Where: Charlotte St, Brisbane City

El Torito

What: Mexican
Where: Boundary St, West End

Sushi Edo

What: Sushi
Where: Elizabeth St, Brisbane City, The Barracks, Sunnybank Plaza, Newmarket and Nundah

Hungry for more? Check out Brisbane’s best cheap eats and BYO restaurants.

Day trips

North Gorge Walk, North Stradbroke Island

Instead of jumping on costly tours of Brisbane’s nearby islands and bays, be your own travel agent and start planning weekend adventures. 

Tip: Pack a home-made lunch for the trip and plan in advance to get the best travel fares.

Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise)

What to do: Swim, surf and sun – literally all you are going to want to do here.
How to get there: Catch the Airport train from Central Station to Nerang, then a bus to Surfers Paradise. It’ll cost about $6 each way.

Sunshine Coast (Noosa)

What to do: As above.
How to get there: Book a Greyhound bus from Roma St to Noosa Junction Bus Terminal. A return ticket will set your back about $20.

North Stradbroke Island

What to do: So many things, here are 41 to get you started.
How to get there: Catch a train to Cleveland (about $3.50 each way), and take the Stradbroke flyer (ferry) to Stradbroke ($15 return). Once you’ve arrived, there are public buses to get around.

In Brisbane

Catchment Brewing Co

Hanging around the city doesn’t have to eat up all your cash either. Discover the best of Brisbane’s suburbs on a student budget.

Tip: Take advantage of free city transport like the Free City Loop bus and the City Hopper ferry. There’s also public bikes available for rent through the CityCycle program to get between suburbs.

Brisbane City

What to do: Discover Brisbane’s laneways with Brisbane Greeters, take a picnic to the City Botanic Gardens, go bowling, check out the farmers' markets, visit City Hall. More in 48 things to do in Brisbane City.

Paddington

What to do: Check out the vintage op shops, see a movie, eat everything, visit the Stand Up Comedy Club. More in 33 things to do in Paddington.
How to get there: Catch a bus from the city

New Farm

The Brisbane Powerhouse

What to do: Play a game of lawn bowls at Merthyr Bowls, hang out at New Farm Park, check out what’s on at the Powerhouse. There’s also these 36 things to do in Fortitude Valley.
How to get there: Catch a bus or ferry from the city

South Bank  

What to do: Swim at Streets Beach, picnic near the Epicurious Garden, have a barbecue, visit QAG or QAGOMA, watch a City Sounds performance.
How to get there: Catch a train to South Bank or South Brisbane station, a bus to the cultural centre or a ferry to Sound Bank

West End

What to do: Eat Greek, go op-shopping, discover laneways, see a free gig at the Boundary Hotel, visit the markets. More in 35 things to do in West End.  
How to get there: Catch a bus from the city

Mt Coot-tha

Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha

What to do: Go for a walk, do a climb, see the sights, look for local fauna, have a picnic.
How to get there: Catch a bus from the city

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