The cost of living in New Zealand

Zorica Lončar
10.02.22
6 minute read

If your dream is settling in a developed country, while still being connected to nature, New Zealand is the place to be. The idyllic islands are a real-life oasis for many expats, especially those whose first language is English. Also, one of the biggest luxuries life here brings is the clean air and water.

In terms of personal security, New Zealand is very good to live in. You won’t fear that you’ll get robbed or assaulted, since it’s known as a very safe country. This is an important factor for everyone, but especially expats with kids.

The combination of the intriguing culture and stunning landscapes is what will make you want to visit. But the quality of life and the hospitality will make you want to stay. New Zealand has so many things to offer, an exceptional expat life being just one of them. If you don’t know where to begin, here we have a guide for the cost of living in New Zealand.

Cost of living in New Zealand compared to UK, EU, US, Australia

The official currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD for short). You also might recognize it by its symbol ($), sometimes confused with the Australian dollar. From here on, we’ll refer to it as simply NZD.

Thinking and making calculations in New Zealand dollars might be quite a challenge in the beginning. A good way to find out the exact value of your money in NZD is by using a currency converter. Here’s a comparison to a few major currencies at the time of writing: ¹

  • 1000 NZD = 653 USD
  • 1000 NZD = 488 GBP
  • 1000 NZD = 586 EUR
  • 1000 NZD = 936 AUD

Besides this, the following chart should give you an idea of the general pricing in New Zealand. It compares basic expenses (in NZD) between the UK, US, EU and Australia. To get a starting idea of the cost of life here, have a look:

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
Auckland, NZ²2,026 NZD120 NZD215 NZD
Wellington, NZ³2,184 NZD98 NZD150 NZD
London, UK⁴3,559 NZD122 NZD326 NZD
New York City, USA⁵4,728 NZD152 NZD196 NZD
Berlin, Germany⁶1,824 NZD85 NZD142 NZD
Sydney, Australia⁷2,802 NZD107 NZD232 NZD

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With a quick service and low fees to transfer your funds, this can be a much better deal than relying on traditional local accounts. Also, automatic conversions at the fairest exchange rate will help you get used to NZD more quickly.

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What are the general living expenses for New Zealand?

The price of day-to-day living is one of the key factors when choosing a place to settle. The following chart is an overview of the general living expenses, on the average. Some of the costs it covers are transportation, moderate going-out, as well as the cost of groceries in New Zealand:

Living expenses in Auckland (excluding rent)²Average cost
Single person, per month1,527 NZD
Single person, per year18,324 NZD
4 person family, per month5,532 NZD
4 person family, per year66,384 NZD
Living expenses in Wellington (excluding rent)³Average cost
Single person, per month1,384 NZD
Single person, per year16,608 NZD
4 person family, per month4,874 NZD
4 person family, per year58,488 NZD

What are the average salaries in New Zealand?

After coming this far, you might wonder, what’s a liveable salary in New Zealand? That can be tricky to answer, since it can entirely depend on your spending habits and where exactly you live. Like almost anywhere else, living in a smaller place is less expensive, especially in terms of housing.

What might help answer this question are the average salaries for some professions and positions. Here’s the data from the New Zealand Government website:

Salary averages in New Zealand⁸Average annual salary
Accounting65,000 NZD
Architecture75,000 NZD
Engineering75,000 NZD
Healthcare55,000 NZD
Information technology (IT)105,000 NZD
Marketing, media and communications70,000 NZD
Office and administration50,000 NZD
Retail48,000 NZD
Transport and logistics50,000 NZD

How expensive is housing and accommodation in New Zealand?

In the past year, the prices in New Zealand rose due to inflation, just like in many other countries.⁹ This includes construction and rent prices, so it’s good to have that in mind when looking at places to live.

Rent always takes up a big chunk of your monthly budget. However, prices vary greatly based on the neighbourhood and the type of accommodation you choose. Here’s an overview of rent prices across New Zealand neighbourhoods, along with a variety of common housing types:

Renting in Auckland (Avondale)¹⁰Median rent
Apartment (2 bedroom)560 NZD
Flat (2 bedroom)465 NZD
House (3 bedroom)610 NZD
Room210 NZD
Renting in Wellington (Johnsonville)¹¹Median rent
Apartment (2 bedroom)490 NZD
Boarding house (1 bedroom)200 NZD
Flat (2 bedroom)500 NZD
House (3 bedroom)683 NZD
Room200 NZD
Renting in Christchurch (central) ¹²Median rent
Apartment (2 bedroom)450 NZD
Boarding house (1 bedroom)195 NZD
Flat (2 bedroom)363 NZD
House (3 bedroom)545 NZD
Room220 NZD

What about healthcare and dental costs in New Zealand?

All New Zealand permanent residents are covered by the public, tax-funded healthcare system. The services include preventive care, hospital services, physical therapy, dental care for schoolchildren and mental health care. Treatments that are excluded from this are those related to accidents, and they’re covered by a no-fault accident compensation scheme. When it comes to private insurance, around a third of residents pay for that type of coverage.¹³

Dental care is free for all residents under 18 years of age. The free standard services include routine examinations, X-rays, fillings and extractions. Some treatments, such as orthodontics, require paying extra fees.¹⁴

It’s best to check the prices before visiting your doctor, since they can vary greatly. Still, here are some basic healthcare-related prices:

Healthcare service¹⁵Average cost
Cold medicine for 6 days13 NZD
1 box of antibiotics (12 doses)7 NZD
Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)55 NZD

How much does travel and transportation cost in New Zealand?

Many New Zealanders choose driving as their primary form of transportation, since it’s the most convenient. It’s not that expensive to buy yourself a car in New Zealand, so that’s what many locals do. In some rural areas, that’s all they have, but driving is also popular in the urban areas. The public transportation system is good in most bigger cities, but it’s not that developed in the rest of the country. Again, this is where you rely on your car and your driving skills.¹⁶

One of the options when travelling through the country is flying. The national company Air New Zealand is the most popular one, along with the Australian Jetstar. If you know how to search, it’s often possible to find fairly affordable tickets. New Zealand has five international airports (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown).¹⁷

Students can get a discount on public transportation in some places. Also, electronic travel cards instead of paper ones can save you some money.¹⁷

If you don’t know what to expect price-wise, here’s an overview of transportation-related costs:

Transportation and vehicle prices in Auckland²Average cost
Gasoline (1 liter)2,4 NZD
Monthly transportation pass215 NZD
One-way ticket (local transport)4 NZD
Taxi start (normal tariff)3,5 NZD
Taxi 1km (normal tariff)2,6 NZD
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)37,000 NZD
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car32,498 NZD

How much does education cost?

Education from ages 6-16 is compulsory in New Zealand. Those 13 years of schooling are divided into 3 stages - Primary, Intermediate and Secondary. If you’ve moved to New Zealand mid-year, you can still enrol your child into school.¹⁸

When it comes to higher education, you can choose between universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics, and private training establishments. The New Zealand universities are highly ranked (in the top 3%) and eight are state-funded. Those are the University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Waikato, Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, Lincoln University. The fees depend on the university and the field you’re studying.¹⁹

Here are some average education costs:

School²⁰Average cost
Primary school feesfrom 11,000 NZD
Secondary school feesfrom 14,000 NZD
Private primary and secondary schoolsfrom 25,000 NZD
Bachelor’s degree20,000-40,000 NZD
Postgraduate degree20,000-45,000 NZD
PhD6,500-7,500 per year

Cost of living in New Zealand for international students

Being an international student is a rewarding experience, but it’s definitely pricier than being a local. Besides the costs that everyone has, keep in mind that you also have to pay some medical services that locals don’t. However, it’s possible to save some money here and there and avoid spending a fortune on everyday expenses.

The cost of living for international students depends on various factors. Besides your personal spending habits, the place where you’re studying and living plays an important part. For example, an estimate of the University of Auckland is that you’ll need at least 20,000-25,000 NZD/year for all your expenses. This includes food, accommodation, transport, and some expenses such as internet. This doesn’t include the already mentioned medical expenses, nor the textbooks or clothing.²¹

On the other hand, the University of Otago’s estimate is around 18,000 per year. Since this university is based in Dunedin, a smaller city, you can save up to 9,000 NZD/year on living expenses.²⁰

How much money do you need to live comfortably in New Zealand?

Your daily and monthly expenses will depend on where you live. If you’re situated in Auckland or Wellington, the rent will be pricier than in some smaller towns. But, since New Zealand doesn’t have huge cities, those differences won’t be that drastic.

Also, ‘living comfortably’ has a different meaning for everyone. Maybe your standards see that as being able to splurge whenever you feel the need to, while others see it as more modest. Having children adds large expenses to your budget, so that makes it even harder to calculate a universal amount. However, New Zealand is cheaper than the UK. So, the safest answer would be - you need less than you would in the UK.

Sources:

  1. Wise - currency converter
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in Auckland
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in Wellington
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in New York
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Berlin
  7. Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
  8. govt.nz - salary guide
  9. BBC - cost of living: New Zealand inflation
  10. govt.nz - rent in Auckland (Avondale)
  11. govt.nz - rent in Wellington (Johnsonville)
  12. govt.nz - rent in Christchurch (central)
  13. Commonwealth Fund - healthcare in New Zealand
  14. Ministry of Health - publicly funded dental care
  15. Expatistan - cost of living in New Zealand
  16. govt.nz - New Zealand transport system
  17. govt.nz - transport options
  18. govt.nz - New Zealand school system
  19. govt.nz - understanding the New Zealand education system
  20. govt.nz - tuition fees and cost of living in New Zealand
  21. University of Auckland - cost of living

Sources checked on 29-Jan-2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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