Working out the cost of living in New Zealand is essential, if you are planning a trip, or looking to live and work there. New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific ocean and this makes it hard to transport goods and products from different countries.
There are far fewer companies (compared to other countries) and they have less competition and this is why they tend to charge even more.
Another reason for the country’s high cost of living is tourists. Prices go up because tourists are ready to pay big money during their trip to New Zealand. In this guide, we will outline everything you need to know about the cost of living in New Zealand.
The most expensive and the cheapest cities in New Zealand
The most expensive cities without a doubt are the biggest – Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Job opportunities are widely available and making these places attractive for New Zealanders and backpackers alike. This has led to increasing living and housing costs.
Dunedin, Hamilton and New Plymouth are slightly smaller and cheaper cities, but they are still popular among ex-pats.
Accommodation/ Renting costs in New Zealand
as of December 2020
For accommodation in Auckland for example, depends on if you want to have roommates or not. Flatting is sharing a house with one or more people. The cheapest will obviously be flatting and you will have to pay between 160-350 NZD (109-240 USD) per week. The price is depending on the area and if you are going to live with one or five other people. One-bedroom apartment 300-400 NZD per week (211-292 USD)
Two-bedroom apartment 450-600 NZD per week (317-353 USD)
Four-bedroom apartment 800-1000 NZD per week (564-705 USD)
Factors in house pricing:
Location of the property
Type of house (stand-alone, townhouse, etc)
Size of the house
The cheapest cost for a 1-bedroom house, if you are going to buy it is around 500,000 NZD (350,000 USD), for a two-bedroom house, the range is from 500,000 -800,000 NZD (350,000- 565,000 USD). If you want a 4 or more bedroom house, the prices are around 800,000- 1,000,000 + NZD (565,000- 710,000 + USD).
Most of the apartments or houses in New Zealand are unfurnished, so you will have to buy your own furniture and appliances. For example, a washing machine will cost around 700-1,000 NZD (500-700 USD).
A 32 inch flat-screen TV will cost around 300-500 NZD (200-350 USD), and the more expensive models will cost more than 1000 NZD (700 USD). For a 49-50 inch TV, you will pay between 1000-1500 NZD (700-1100 USD). A single-door fridge will cost around 1000-2000 NZD (700-1400 USD).
The good news is that most people buy second-hand appliances in New Zealand. You can buy second-hand items on:
3. Op shops
There are over 30 distributors of electricity in exclusive geographical areas in New Zealand. You can choose the plan which is suitable for your needs.
Low-user plan rate:
27c per kWh, households which consume less than 9,000 kWh per annum
Standard-user plan rate:
28c per kWh, they pay daily fixed charges from 1,50 to 2,50 NZD per day (1- 1,77 USD)
You can also choose payments options- weekly, monthly or fortnightly with direct debit, internet banking, post shop, or via an app.
Unlike electricity, there is only one water provider in New Zealand and that is Watercare.
Here is an example of an actual bill on electricity and water (2 months, 4 people):
Electricity – 428kW x 0,276 (rate per kWh) = 118,10 NZD (83,41 USD) Water – 40kL x 3,57 (rate per kL) = 142,80 NZD (100,85 USD)
The good news with the internet is that most flats offer free wi-fi because you can connect to the wi-fi of your landlord.
For two people, the average monthly spending is around 600-700 NZD (423-494 USD) and this is if you cook at home. The cheapest wine that you could find is around 9 NZD (6 USD). A pack of cigarettes is around 25 NZD (17 USD).
When dining out in a restaurant, a very cheap meal would cost around 35 NZD (24 USD) for two people. The mid-range price is around 60 NZD (41 USD) for two again. Everything above this price is meaning that you are eating fancy food.
One of the most expensive restaurants in New Zealand is called SIDART. The main dish in this restaurant will cost around 45 NZD (32 USD).
If you prefer fast food, you should know that one hamburger in McDonald’s, for example, is 4,10 NZD (2,89 USD), one cheeseburger is 4,60 NZD (3,24 USD), a triple cheeseburger is 7,70 NZD (5,43 USD), a small coke is 3,50 NZD (2,47 USD).
In KFC, an 8 pc Colonel’s Dinner (8 pieces chicken, potato and gravy and chips) is 29,99 NZD (21,14 USD).
A Subway sandwich:
A footlong sandwich is 12-15 NZD (8,46-10,57 USD)
A Subway six-inch sandwich is 7,50-10,70 NZD (5,29-7,54 USD)
Coffee in New Zealand
The cost of coffee is around 3.50-6 NZD (2.40-4 USD).
Public transportation in the city:
All of the major cities and most towns have busses. However, New Zealand has limited public transportation across different towns in North and South island and this is why most of the kiwis prefer to buy a car.
Most public transport users use an AT HOP card. You can use it for buses, trains and even ferries. Sometimes, a free ride can be offered and even a discount if you use this card. It is much cheaper to travel with it than to pay in cash.
One trip on the bus is around 1.90-3.40 NZD (1.30-2.30 USD), and this is depending on the line that you are on.
If you will be in New Zealand for a longer period of time, you should probably consider buying a car. Most kiwis prefer owning a car. It’s very common to buy second-hand cars in New Zealand. They are way cheaper and more common to see in the streets than you think. The cheapest car that you can buy will cost around 3,000 NZD (2,100 USD).
The prices fluctuate from a day to day basis, but there is a very useful site that you can use – www.pricewatch.co.nz. This site shows you how much people are paying in gas stations and you can see a map for the whole country.
As of December 2020, the petrol price is around 2 NZD for a litre (1,41 USD). Price changes from town to town and it’s more likely that the petrol price will be cheaper in major cities like Auckland.
Cell phone plans
This is depending on your needs, how much data use, and how many minutes you have, but the average is around 26 NZD (18 USD).
According to Google, the mobile operator called 2° has the best unlimited mobile plan. Some of the other service providers are Vodafone and Spark.
Clothing and footwear
Some of the low-cost clothing stores are the Warehouse and Kmart, where you can buy clothes from 5-30 NZD (4-21 USD). Another preferred low-cost clothing store is Cotton: on with prices again from 5-50 NZD (4-35 USD).
One of the cheapest shoe stores is Number one shoes. They offer a lot of deals, like for example, buying the second pair of shoes at a cheaper price.
New Zealand’s public health system is subsidised by the government. You can use it if you are a New Zealand citizen, resident of New Zealand, or if you have a valid work visa for more than two years.
ACC (Accident compensation corporation) is a government agency which provides personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand, including those with a work visa for less than 2 years.
As for the doctor’s visit, it costs 45-60 NZD for an adult (32-43 USD) and it’s free for children under the age of 13. A dentist check-up for an adult is around 70-150 NZD (50-106 USD).
As for leisure, one of the top things to do is to watch a movie and a ticket would typically cost around 20 NZD (14 USD).
Living on your own (Low cost)
Rent – 200 NZD per week (141 USD)
Grocery – 100 NZD per week (71 USD)
Food (fast food) – 60 NZD per week (43 USD)
Clothing – 30 NZD per week or 120 NZD per month (21- 85 USD)
Leisure – 2 movie tickets per month – 50 NZD (36 USD)
Transportation – 5 NZD per day, 30 NZD per week (3,52 – 21,14 USD)
Total cost = 432 NZD per week
You will usually get paid around a minimum of 19 NZD per hour X 40 hours (per week) = 760 NZD per week (536 USD). After taxes, this will be around 620 NZD per week (437 USD).