The cost of living in New Zealand is rather high, and like most countries, it tends to fluctuate depending on the area. The cost of living also varies between islands; the South Island is significantly cheaper than the North Island.

Auckland and Wellington ranked 111th and 139th respectively in the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. This makes them cheaper to live in than cities such as Brisbane and Edinburgh but pricier than Calgary and Budapest.

Cost of accommodation in New Zealand

Accommodation is likely to be the highest expense for anyone moving to New Zealand. Rental prices for properties in the city centre also tend to be steeper than those in the suburbs.

Properties in New Zealand are typically more spacious than expats might be used to, especially those from Europe. If furnished properties are finished, they are also usually to an excellent standard.

Utilities are often not included in the rental price of a property, so expats should budget accordingly. It can get bitterly cold in New Zealand during the winter months, which results in higher heating bills.

Cost of groceries in New Zealand

Grocery prices in New Zealand tend to be expensive. Expats should keep in mind that New Zealand is remote and isolated, so specific groceries frequently have to be imported, increasing their cost. That said, expats can purchase local goods and take advantage of the special offers commonly run in supermarkets and convenience stores. Many locals also save money by buying in bulk.

Cost of transport in New Zealand

Many expats will find that car prices here are relatively inexpensive compared to those in their home countries. While people don't necessarily need a car, especially in urban areas, it can be useful for expats with families or those who like to travel.

That said, public transport is reasonably priced in New Zealand, and regular users can save money by purchasing monthly or annual transport passes.

Cost of healthcare in New Zealand

The cost of healthcare in New Zealand can vary depending on a few factors. Expats who hold a work visa and are employed in New Zealand for more than two years may be entitled to publicly funded healthcare services, which can significantly reduce the cost of medical treatment. Aside from government-funded healthcare, if anyone, resident or visitor, is injured while in New Zealand, they are usually covered by the country's Accident Compensation Scheme.

In addition to publicly funded healthcare services, expats in New Zealand also have the option of private healthcare. Private healthcare can provide faster access to medical treatment and a wider range of services than the public healthcare system, but it can be costly. It is recommended that expats consider purchasing health insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses, as healthcare costs in New Zealand can be high for those without medical insurance.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in New Zealand

New Zealand offers a range of entertainment options for residents and tourists alike, such as visiting national parks, hiking trails and museums. Cinemas and concert venues are also available in most cities. These activities can be pricey though, so it's essential to budget accordingly.

Eating out in New Zealand can also be costly, especially in urban areas, with prices varying depending on the type of cuisine and restaurant. Many restaurants in New Zealand offer an early bird or lunchtime special that can help save money, and it's also common to find food trucks and markets that offer affordable and tasty options.

Cost of education in New Zealand

New Zealand has a well-regarded education system, with a range of options available from primary school to university. Public schools are generally free for residents, but there may be additional costs for uniforms, stationery and extracurricular activities. Private schools can be fairly steep, but they typically offer smaller class sizes, better amenities and a wider range of extracurriculars.

Higher education in New Zealand is also available at universities and institutes of technology. Scholarships and financial aid may be available to help offset the cost of education.

Cost of living in New Zealand chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Auckland in February 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreNZD 4,350
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreNZD 3,500
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreNZD 2,240
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreNZD 2,122
Food and drink
Dozen eggsNZD 12
Milk (1 litre)NZD 3.33
Rice (1kg)NZD 4
Loaf of white breadNZD 4
Chicken breasts (1kg)NZD 17
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)NZD 40
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantNZD 135
Big Mac MealNZD 18
Coca-Cola (330ml)NZD 5
CappuccinoNZD 6
Bottle of beer (local)NZD 12
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and dataNZD 63
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)NZD 88
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)NZD 262
Taxi rate/kmNZD 4
City-centre public transport fareNZD 4
Gasoline (per litre)NZD 2.92

Expat Health Insurance

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