Around 1880 Douglas and his family moved to Clayton in Toowong, before moving to Wickham Terrace around 1882. By April 1883, they had purchased a house in the Brisbane coastal suburb of Sandgate. His second son, Henry Alexander, named after Douglas’ father, was born on
8 April 1879.
Hugh Maxwell was born on 21
May 1881, followed by Robert Johnstone on 13 April 1883. Douglas
needed a regular income to support his family, because he had not drawn a
salary since losing the premiership. He
became a leader writer for the Brisbane Courier and the Queenslander 
from 1881 to 1885, and was the Brisbane
correspondent for the Sydney
based Town and Country Journal from November 1879 to December 1883. Spencer Browne, a journalist who worked
alongside Douglas, noted that:
his work was bright and scholarly, as became a Rugby boy and a university man; there was the keen inside knowledge of one who had so lately been at the head of the government, and there was a splendid breadth of treatment.
Douglas, for his part, enjoyed the work, reflecting that:
writing for the press made me at one time, and gave me a confidence and a mastery of subjects which, I should never have attained without it. When I proved that I could write and write so as to influence people I felt stronger in every way.
 For information on Clayton, see John Pearn. Auchenflower: The Suburb and the Name. A History of Auchenflower, Brisbane, Australia. Brisbane, Amphion Press, 1997, pp. 45, 53, 252-53; Helen Gregory, ed. Arcadian Simplicity: J. B. Frewing’s Memoirs of Toowong. Brisbane, Library Board of Queensland, 1990, p. 28. Douglas Street in the Brisbane suburb of Milton is named after John Douglas because of his ownership of Clayton. The property is no longer in existence.
 Queensland Post Office Directory, 1883. The house at Wickham Terrace was on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Berry Street, next to Bayview House, a ladies’ boarding school.
 Around this time, Douglas also purchased a block of land in the new Barolin township, 14 km east of Bundaberg. (Planter and Farmer, vol 2 no 3, March 1883)
 Browne (1927), p. 73; Brisbane Telegraph 30 July 1904. In “Douglas Cutting Book,” Douglas Papers. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, OM 89-3/E, p. 49
 A collection of Douglas’s articles is held in a cutting book in the Douglas Papers. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, OM 89-3/E
 Browne (1927), p. 73
 John Douglas to Edward Douglas, 18 September 1899. Douglas Papers. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, OM 89-3/B/2(c)/19