What Expats Can Expect From the Cost of Living in New Zealand
New Zealand is known for its pristine waters, clean air, breathtaking landscapes, spectacular filming locations for Lord of the Rings, and an excellent standard of living. However, the cost of living will be different from what you are accustomed to in your home country. Moreover, the cost of living in New Zealand also depends on your salary and where you decide to settle.
Is New Zealand Expensive?
In general, yes, you can say that the cost of living in New Zealand is high. From what we see, a single expat living in Auckland would need to have on hand a minimum of 3,000 NZD (2,100 USD) per month to cover their basics.
The average net salary in New Zealand is 61,631 NZD (approx USD 44,701) per year, or 5,135 NZD per month (3,725 USD). However, the most typical salary is 37,226 NZD, or USD 27,000 per year, or 3,102 NZD per month (2,250 USD).
The most paid careers are Engineers & Technicians with an average income of 92,258 NZD (64,677 USD) per year and Management and Business with an average income of 83,330 NZD (58,418 USD) per year. Wellington sees the highest remuneration, at an average of 67,050 NZD (47,000 USD), followed by Auckland at 63,642 NZD (44,616 USD) and Christchurch at 58,074 NZD (40,712 USD) per year.
The Average Cost of Living in New Zealand
The average cost of living in New Zealand for a single person per month, not including rent, is 1,400 NZD (980 USD). For a family of four, it’s 4,500 NZD (3150 USD) per month. The rental costs will depend on which city you decide to move to, and whether you live in the city center or a bit further out.
Expats should aim for a higher salary range as their costs are higher, especially moving costs. When you arrive in New Zealand, your plane ticket will be expensive because New Zealand is far away from anywhere in the world. Moreover, many expats will need to consider other costs such as buying items for the apartment, security deposits, and rental agent fees. Furthermore, expats (and locals) often opt for private international health insurance plans, as public healthcare does not offer fast and comprehensive protection.
Housing Costs in New Zealand
Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are the three largest cities in New Zealand to live in. Auckland and Wellington are the most expensive, with higher house rental prices, costs of eating out, and entertainment. The cost of living in these three cities is up to 50% higher than in smaller towns in the countryside, however, these cities offer the most work opportunities. Christchurch is a bit more budget-friendly, with prices lower than a number of smaller cities in New Zealand.
How Does Renting a Property in New Zealand Work?
As New Zealand Immigration says, “Finding a rental property in New Zealand is a straightforward process. You can find rental properties by contacting landlords directly, or you can go through a letting agent, for example, a real estate agent.” You can also look through popular rental sites, like TradeMe Property. In order to officially rent an apartment, you’ll need to sign a rental agreement. You’ll also need to pay a bond (known in some countries as a security fee) and some rent in advance. Prepare to pay up to six weeks’ rent in order to take possession of your apartment.
Housing Cost in Auckland
A single person’s estimated monthly costs in Auckland are 1,500 NZD without rent.
Renting an apartment in Auckland can cost you per month:
1-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 1,500 – 2, 050 NZD
3-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 2,500 – 4,200 NZD
Housing Cost in Wellington
A single person’s estimated monthly costs in Wellington are 1,335 NZD without rent.
Renting an apartment in Wellington can cost you per month:
1-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 1,500 – 2,200 NZD
3-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 3,250 – 4,750 NZD
Housing Cost in Christchurch
A single person’s estimated monthly costs in Auckland are 1,300 NZD without rent.
Renting an apartment in Christchurch can cost you per month:
1-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 1,500 – 1,700 NZD
3-bedroom apartment in City Centre: 2,000 – 2,400 NZD
Utility Costs in New Zealand
Utilities are not extremely expensive in New Zealand. Some utilities, such as water and garbage, are included in “rates,” which are the local taxes on property owners. As a renter, these would be built into your rent. Utilities like electricity, gas, and internet – depending on your apartment’s size and the providers you choose for each utility can range anywhere from 170 NZD (120 USD) to 370 NZD (260 USD) per month.
Understanding Healthcare Costs in New Zealand
While New Zealand has a Universal Healthcare system funded by taxes, it only gives immediate treatment for acute conditions. If you have a condition that does not need immediate treatment, even if it is severe, then you could end up on a waiting list for months or even years. That is why many locals and especially expats chose to purchase private health insurance in New Zealand. As the costs vary, contact International Citizens Insurance for a free quote!
- Compare multiple quotes and coverage options
- Work with an insurance expert at no additional cost
- Find the best plan for your needs and budget
Budgeting for Food and Household Items
You should budget approximately 30% of your monthly expenses for food in New Zealand. Below you can see market prices in New Zealand for everyday items:
Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 1.65 NZD (1.15 USD)
Fresh Bread – 2.24 NZD (1.60 USD)
Fresh Milk (1 gallon) – 10 NZD (7 USD)
12 Eggs – 5.35 NZD (3.75 USD)
Local Cheese (1lb) – 3.90 to 7.60 NZD (2.75 – 5.30 USD)
Chicken Fillets – 3.20 to 9.00 NZD (2.25 – 6.30 USD)
Rice – 1.35 NZD (0.95 USD)
Apples – 1.75 NZD (1.25 USD)
Tomatoes – 0.90 – 4.10 NZD (0.60 – 2.90 USD)
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 4.45 NZD (3.10 USD)
Cigarettes – 33 NZD (23 USD)
The Cost of Eating Out
Eating out in New Zealand is not extremely expensive. Tipping is not expected. A meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant may cost you approximately 100 NZD (85 USD). Buying imported beer in a restaurant will add 9 to 10 NZD (7 USD) to the bill, and a glass of wine costs approximately 12 – 20 NZD (8 – 14 USD).
In more expensive restaurants, you can expect to pay approximately 30 – 40 NZD (20 – 28 USD) per main dish, between 15 to 25 NZD (10 – 18 USD) per starter dish, and approximately 15 to 20 NZD (10 – 14 USD) per dessert.
As a comparison, a complete set meal in McDonald’s in New Zealand costs 12.50 NZD (8.75 USD), which is comparable to the price of a McMeal in the US.
The Costs of Entertainment in New Zealand
A cinema ticket for an international release can cost between 16 and 20 NZD (11 to 14 USD). A monthly gym membership costs approximately 100 NZD (70 USD). However, many people in New Zealand chose to live an active lifestyle, with many opportunities for walking (hiking), cycling, swimming, and other activities within easy reach in even the largest cities. There are trekking tours or day excursions by boat available for weekends or days off. Learning how to sail can set you at approximately 600 NZD (420 USD) for a beginner course.
Transportation costs should be taken into consideration when moving to New Zealand and budgeting your monthly expenses. Auckland has one of the most expensive public transport systems in the world. In Auckland, you will need to shell out 150 USD, or 215 NZD, for a monthly ticket to get around the city by bus and train; a ferry pass is an additional fee. Wellington’s monthly pass is a little bit less expensive; prices start at 152 NZD (106 USD). You will pay the least for transit passes in Christchurch – 112 NZD (78 USD).