Brisbane – the mismatch between work and home

There are about 1.66 million employed residents living in South East Queensland.

This is 70% of the Queensland total.

When breaking down where the actual jobs are across the south east corner of the state, we find that:

  • 50% are in BrisbaneBrisbane
  • 15% on the Gold Coast
  • 7% on the Sunshine Coast
  • 7% in Moreton Bay
  • 6% in Logan
  • 4% in Ipswich
  • 4% in Toowoomba
  • 3% in Redland

Where the jobs are:

Our table below shows that a lot of people living in South East Queensland work in the same municipality in which they reside.

This is a good thing.


Yet, in a few distinct locations – and in particular in Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Logan and Redlands – a lot of residents are still travelling to Brisbane each day for work. 

This is placing increasing pressure on transport infrastructure.

One of the big challenges facing South East Queensland, and all Australian cities for that matter, is how to create more jobs where people live.

Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Logan are urban growth corridors.

It is increasingly hard – when factoring in housing affordability – to get more people where the jobs currently exist.

The best way to maybe view a city, is as a series of interlocked, large ceramic tiles.

One of the key patterns on each tile is local jobs.

Decentralisation and redistribution of work, especially in the digital age, is far easier, and much less expensive, than attempting to improve transport infrastructure in order to cater for the increasing congested daily work commute.

It’s high time we started moving the jobs to where the people are, and where they can afford to live, and not the other way around.

There are about 817,000 jobs in Brisbane.

This is about 50% of the South East Queensland total and about a third of all the jobs across the state.brisbane-1251488_1920

When breaking down where the actual jobs are across the municipality of Brisbane, we find that:

  • 45% are in inner Brisbane
  • 11% are in the east suburbs
  • 15% in the northern suburbs
  • 21% in the southern suburbs
  • 8% in Brisbane’s west

For those interested in such detail – inner Brisbane is within a five kilometre radius of the GPO.

The other areas are, in general, between five and 20 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD and the north/south split is divided by the Brisbane River.

The Gateway Arterial defines the eastern suburbs from the south, and the Centenary Highway the west, from the north and south.

Hopefully, that will stop a great deal of “please define” email traffic over the next day or two.

Our table – not surprisingly – shows that most workers in inner Brisbane live elsewhere.

Brisbane’s northern and southern suburbs also attract a lot of outside daily work commuters, with workers coming from neighbouring shires such as Logan/Ipswich in the south and from Moreton Bay in the north.

brisbane 2

Encouragingly, there is an increasing trend of families with children taking up inner city living to avoid the transport and congestion costs of living further out.

The bread winners in these households typically work in inner Brisbane.

This is a good trend…

And will help absorb some of the recent inner Brisbane apartment stock – assuming it is designed for this market and they can afford it.

But such a trend is placing pressure on the already stretched inner city facilities and social infrastructure, such as schools.37835969 - brisbane city

Brisbane seems to want to build heaps of new tall things, but pays way too little attention to the spaces in between.

And it is often the spaces in between the buildings that mean the most.

I also cannot help but think that it is time to start a major audit of Brisbane land use.

There are plenty of examples across middle-ring Brisbane where, for example, motor dealerships (or similar) are adjacent to railway stations; strip shopping – again, more often than not, serviced by public transport – lies largely vacant or underbuilt and where a variety of buildings/sites (including schools) are underutilised.

These places might not have enough residential amenity to support new homes – although that argument could apply to a lot of new apartment buildings raising their ugly heads across inner Brisbane – but they should be revisited as places of work.

I will leave you with the conclusion:

It’s time we started moving the jobs to where the people are, and where they can afford to live, and not the other way around.


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Michael Matusik


Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive

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