The cost of living in New Zealand


New Zealand is a dream destination for many expatriates. Part adventure capital of the world, part Lord of the Rings, this small island nation is appealing to expats, especially those with families.

With the 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey placing Auckland 98th in the world in terms of cost, and Wellington a very reasonable 123rd, expats really can maintain a high standard of living on most incomes.

Housing and costs


The majority of expats will head to New Zealand’s main cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with Auckland being significantly more expensive.

Buying a home in New Zealand can take as little as three to four weeks. The median house price in Auckland is $825,000 compared to Wellingtons $480,000 and Otago’s $296,000.

The rental market varies from private lettings to estate agents, and most leases are short or medium-term. On average a two bedroom apartment in the city will cost around $350–$500 per week. Utilities will vary in price depending on your energy provider. Power Switch is a useful tool for finding the right provider.

Where to live with a family


Choosing where to live will be influenced by whether or not you have children.

Expats with kids will need to consider any childcare and schooling requirements. The quality of education in New Zealand is high and you’ll have no trouble finding excellent education options. Only Kiwis and permanent residents are entitled to free public education, however international student fees at a public school will still be cheaper than private school fees.

From the age of three all children in New Zealand are entitled to 20 hours of government funded early childhood education.

Travel and commuting


New Zealand’s main cities have efficient public transport systems.

In Auckland the AT HOP is a prepaid card for the train, buses and ferry, and will also give you discounted trips. Wellington’s bus and train fares start at $2.00 and then get more expensive depending on how many zones you travel. Weekly and monthly passes are also available. A monthly pass across all transport will cost about $150.

Buying a used car can also be a cost-effective option, especially if you intend to see more of New Zealand. It’s not compulsory to have car insurance in New Zealand, but most car owners purchase at least third party insurance.

Health and fitness

new zealand

New Zealand has a high standard of healthcare. Thanks to heavy government subsidies, all Kiwis and permanent residents, as well as many work visa holders can access healthcare for free or a small cost.

It’s important to check your cover and add private health insurance if needed.

Living in New Zealand, there are fitness options abound. For those wanting to join a gym, membership costs can start at about $13.00 a week. There are also council gyms and community clubs for those on a budget. Alternatively, embrace the outdoors lifestyle with cycling, hiking, skiing, sailing and a multitude of adventure sports.

The Cost of living New Zealand

cost of living

The cost of living will vary by region, but topline you can expect the following prices:

  • Expect to pay around NZ$3.60 for 2 litres of milk, $2.50 for a kilo of apples, and $14.00 for a kilo of New Zealand’s famous lamb chops.
  • A movie ticket will set you back between $10-$18.50.
  • A coffee will cost around $5.00.

You’ll be able to find cheap meals like fish and chips, or noodles for around $10, although a dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost about $90. A beer will set you back about $8.00 at your local bar.

In 2016 the government Statistics Department surveyed New Zealand households and the average weekly budget, including rent, utilities, health, transport, clothing, food and recreation came to $1299.90.

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