This post comes as a surprise to me. When I planned to visit Brisbane for 8 weeks to spend some time with my girlfriends parents, I didn’t expect the town would grow on me so much. My previous opinion of Brissie have been is as a cultural wasteland of chromed-up bars and old holdens.
How wrong I was. I’ve come to really like brisbane, and I think it may be one of the best towns to do a startup in Australia / New Zealand.
Great technology scene
Support for startups
The complex of buildings along southbank are invaluable for people working from home or without a fixed office. The edge is a beautifully designed digital workshop where you can grab a couch and free wifi for a few hours. Next door is the national library which has hundreds of modern and beautifully designed workstations that are free. Both universities have modern study halls where you just walk in and grab a desk. Mobile broadband is much cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand, so you can work from anywhere. The weather is better than Wellington or Melbourne so you can easily work outdoors wherever you can find shade and somewhere comfy. You’re just over an hour from Sydney by plane, so you can head down and pitch the collection of investors there, without having to live in Sydney.
Low cost of living
This is a comparative thing, but compared to Sydney or Melbourne (the only other two cities that could pay comparably to Brisbane) the cost of living here is much lower. A room in a cool part of town (within easy biking distance of the city) will cost you about $150 / week, which is less than half of what you’d pay in Sydney. Food and transport is cheaper than New Zealand (better public transport), and houses are better designed for the weather (compared to Wellington / Dunedin) so your energy costs will be lower.
Great standard of living
This is the bit that really rubbed off on me. When you first get here it’s all chromed up bars, bouncers and awful franchised cafes. But Brisbane has some gems, and it has enough gems that once you link them all up you can have a really good quality life here. It’s not as epic a cafe scene as Wellington, and I miss some of the fast food in Melbourne (lord of the fries!), but Brisbane does really well.
The easy long term view
There are as many types of startups as there are types of people, but in the kind of “startup” I find myself working on (part time projects funded by occasional consulting gigs, where the project might turn into a business over time), Brisbane is a really good match. It’s basically a overgrown country town, with all the advantages of affordability and relaxedness, combined with excellent modern infrastructure and a burgeoning creative sector.