Welcome to Brisbane City

Welcome to Brisbane City

A night photo of Brisbane city, with the river in the foreground
At the riverside, looking across to Brisbane CBD

I’m a child of the suburbs.

Oh sure, growing up was a wonderful adventure. Dad chased work all up and down the East coast of Australia—from Cairns down to Melbourne and around to Adelaide—and he dragged Mum, my sister, and myself along with him. Outside Australia, we lived for a while in New Zealand, England, and Malaysia. I’ve visited London, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Melbourne—perhaps not the biggest cities in the world, but big enough. Always, though, no matter where in the world we lived, we called the suburbs home, and “the city” was a place one only visited occasionally. The idea of actually living there never really crossed my mind. The closest I ever came was making the daily commute into “the city”—Brisbane, in this case—from my flat in the suburbs to attend university.

I bought a house in the suburbs, and if I ever thought about it at all, I figured I’d live there till I retired. Till I died, most likely. Where else would I go? I was settled. I was comfortable.

Then I met M, with her dream of living in an apartment in the city. I didn’t get it. Why would anybody want to live in the crowded, noisy city? Even when I started working in an office on the edge of the CBD, I was happy to keep driving in, fighting the traffic, fighting to find a parking spot, fighting my way home again. I didn’t want to live in the city. I didn’t see the point.

I was, however, willing to investigate the possibility. M and I spent a weekend in a tiny rental apartment with amazing views of the Brisbane River, just at the lower end of South Bank. We walked to dinner; we walked to entertainment; we walked everywhere—and it was glorious! That weekend made me see the potential.

Over the next few months—as the daily commute became more hectic and soul-destroying—I began to imagine what it would be like to live in the city. Close to work, with great food and great entertainment within walking distance, and with so many more pleasant walking options than were available in the suburbs. It would be a complete lifestyle change—but maybe that was just what I needed? Slowly but surely, in a thousand different ways, suburban living was killing me. Killing us.

So, together, we started looking for an apartment in the Brisbane CBD which would be central for both our workplaces, close to university for M‘s son, and which, most importantly, we both loved.

We found one.

I sold my place in the suburbs, and together we took out a mortgage and bought the apartment. We moved in a week ago. (That makes the whole process seem so simple. It wasn’t.) Since then, we’ve been busy wrapping things up at the rental we’re leaving behind, so we haven’t had much time to actually sit back and enjoy our new place yet. Last night, however…

First Free Evening

Sunday night. We got back home at a reasonable hour, after yet another day of sorting and packing and seriously downsizing. We ate frozen dinners while watching night fall over the city beyond our balcony, and then I decided it was time to start living the new life that I’ve been anticipating so keenly for the last few months.

I went for a walk.

First, though, I spent a few minutes separating my keys into two separate rings: apartment, and everything else. It has been maybe twenty years since I got locked out one night, and combined the two sets into one—one ring to rule them all—but now, for the first time in far too long, “going out” didn’t necessarily require using the car! In fact, for many of our daily activities, getting the car out will be more trouble than it’s worth; the enforced exercise was part of the appeal of city living. Hence, removing the bulk of my keys from the set I’ll be carrying around on a daily basis seemed like a good idea.

From the apartment, I walked down to the river, along the boardwalk, past the massive QPAC building, to South Bank proper. It was a lovely evening—warm but no longer hot—and people were everywhere: young couples cuddling on the grass; families small and large; groups of friends out to have fun. I heard several different languages being spoken: Brisbane has certainly grown up, become more cosmopolitan than the sleepy state capital it used to be before Expo ’88 put it on the world map.

I followed the river a while longer before cutting through the Parklands to the restaurant precinct; up Little Stanley Street and back down Grey Street before heading home. Between South Bank and West End, there must be fifty places to eat within a fifteen minute walk.

Once home, I popped up to the roof for a swim. It’s only a small lap-pool, but the water was the perfect temperature and I had it all to myself. I did a few short laps—I’m gonna pay for that later, because it has been far too long since I swam on a regular basis—and spent a few minutes just looking out over the city. My city.

This is going to be my lifestyle for the next fifteen years or so. It’s a good thing I love it!

City Living: The Blog

Since I intend to spend a lot of time exploring my new stomping grounds, I figured it might be worth blogging about it. Perhaps the things I learn about Brisbane will be of interest to others.

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