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Cost of living

 

How New Zealand’s cost of living compares really depends on what country you’re coming from and what part of New Zealand you settle in.

But in general, while some things may seem more expensive and others cheaper, overall the cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to what you’ll find in any OECD country.

You’ll find we offer the same sort of consumer goods you’re used to, at competitive prices. Costs for imported items like cars, electrical and computer equipment and petrol are similar to what you'd find in Australia or other similar countries.

To give you more of an idea - one independent international survey ranked Auckland 58th in the world in terms of its cost of living, and Wellington 75th, far better than other major cities.

Such cities included Hong Kong (3), Singapore (4), New York (16), London (25), Sydney (26), Melbourne (33) and Guangzhou (31) - showing that comparatively, New Zealand’s major metropolitan areas are more affordable than those in other countries.

You can read more about Mercer's 2014 Cost of Living survey on the NZ Herald website:

New Zealand more appealing to ex-pats - survey | NZ Herald

Goods and services tax (GST)

New Zealand has a ‘Goods and Services’ tax (GST) that is added to the price of most things you buy.

GST currently applies at 15%.

GST doesn’t apply to rent on a home, apartment, flat or other accommodation. It also doesn’t apply to financial transactions, like bank charges, or to income.

Prices you see advertised are required by law to include GST, but you should always look for the phrase ‘incl GST’. Sometimes businesses will quote a price excluding GST because it looks cheaper.

Typical prices in New Zealand

The government’s Statistics Department has a publication called New Zealand in Profile which lists the prices of some common purchases in 2013:

Bread - white sliced loaf (700g)
NZ$1.94

Milk - standard, 2 litres
NZ$3.19

Fish and chips
NZ$5.77

Apples (kg)

NZ$2.32

Meat - lamb chops (kg)
$12.29

Beer - glass (400ml)
NZ$5.78

Petrol - 91 octane per litre
NZ$2.05
(That works out to be NZ$9.35 per gallon)

GP/doctor’s visit - adult
$36.28

Other typical prices (as at June 2013):

Washing machine

NZ$600–1100

42” LED-LCD flat screen TV
NZ$700–1500

Round of golf
NZ$20–100

Cup of coffee (flat white)
NZ$4.00

Big Mac
NZ$5.00

Movie ticket
NZ$12-20

Pair of jeans
NZ$60–200

Car - Ford Focus (2.0L, 5 door)
NZ$35,490

The average family budget

Our government Statistics department surveys what households are actually spending. Here’s where the average New Zealand weekly household budget went in 2013.

Expenditure type

NZ$

per cent

Food

 192.50

 17.3 

Alcoholic beverages, tobacco etc

 29.50

 2.7

Clothing and footwear

 31.60

 2.8

Housing and household utilities

 272.90

 24.6

Household contents and services

 48.80

 4.4

Health

 27.10

 2.4

Transport

 158.30

 14.2

Communication

 35.80

 3.2

Recreation and culture

 107.20

 9.6

Education

 18.40

 1.7

Miscellaneous goods and services

 101.70

 9.2

Other expenditure

 116.30

 10.5

Sales, trade-ins, and refunds

 -28.80

 -2.6

Total net expenditure

 1,111.40

 100

Planning your finances

Newly arrived people sometimes find that the cost of living in New Zealand is more than they expected. Salaries for some professionals may be below equivalent roles in Europe and the USA, and our physical location and small population means some imported goods are more expensive.

Before you book your plane ticket it's a good idea to research the type of lifestyle you'll be able to afford here. Then you’ll be able to settle into Kiwi life and enjoy our great country without any financial surprises.

To find out the cost of things in New Zealand you can look at online stores and cost comparison websites. You’ll find some links below to get you started.

It may also be useful to look at the information available on the Government’s Sorted website to ensure outgoings versus income is going to stack up for you.

Money planner | Sorted

What you might earn

Average personal income in 2013 was NZ$44,426, However many households have other people working too, and for households receiving wages and salaries, average annual income was NZ$84,462.

Obviously earnings vary widely according to what you do. There are various government and privately operated websites that have guides to the salaries being paid for various different careers.

Who earns what | Careers NZ

Salary guide | Trade Me

It pays to know about salaries | Seek

Costs

There are lots of websites you can use to get a feel for the costs of things here in New Zealand.

General

A number of New Zealand not-for-profit consumer agencies and government departments have created a website where you can compare prices of many types of consumer goods such as clothing and appliances.

Price comparison sites for telecommunications and power prices are also available from Consumer, New Zealand's agency for consumer protection and information.

PriceMe Smarter shopping | PriceMe

Telme | Consumer NZ

Powerswitch | Consumer NZ

Food

It costs about NZ$100 a week to feed each adult, according to this 2012 survey by the University of Otago. It has full details by region, sex and age.

Most New Zealand supermarkets offer online grocery shopping. As an experiment, try pricing the weekly shop you do at home on one of their websites. Remember that Kiwi supermarkets regularly have special offers, so you may well pay less in store.

Three supermarket chains to look for on the internet are New World and Countdown.

Food cost survey | University of Otago

Accommodation

Our Housing pages have information about what you might expect to pay to buy or rent a home, apartment or room.

For a quick overview, check New Zealand’s very popular, privately owned TradeMe site.

Housing | Live in NZ

Residential property | Trade Me property

Vehicle costs

Most people in New Zealand find they need a car. Many buy their cars second hand. Privately-operated TradeMe Motors can give you a good idea of what used cars cost here.

An annual expense involved with owning a car is the vehicle license or registration (rego). Registration for a petrol engine car is currently NZ$280.55 a year.

All cars also need to be tested for a Warrant of Fitness. That will cost you NZ$50-80 (not including any repairs that may be necessary). How often you need to have your car tested will depend on the age of the car.

If you choose a diesel engine car, you will also pay road user charges (RUC) which are calculated per kilometre.

The long, skinny geography of New Zealand means that fuel prices can vary quite widely from region to region. Our national motorist’s organisation, the Automobile Association (AA), keeps an eye on prices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch through its online petrol watch service.

Browse cars, bikes and boats | Trade Me

Vehicle registration and licensing fees | NZ Transport Agency

Getting a Warrant of Fitness | NZ Transport Agency

Road user charges | NZ Transport Agency

Petrol and diesel prices | Automobile Association (AA)

Insurance costs

To get an idea of the costs of life, health, income and mortgage insurance, privately operated TradeMe has a site where you can source quotes from a range of providers.

Try a google search for vehicle, house and contents insurance prices.

LifeDirect | Trade Me

Mortgage and finance costs

You can find a list of mortgage, personal and business lenders on the privately operated website of interest.co.nz

Mortgages | Interest.co.nz

Utilities

The energy website of New Zealand’s leading consumer organisation has a lot of information about energy providers and their charges.

The providers | Consumer Powerswitch

Tips on shopping in New Zealand

While we don’t barter in shops here, New Zealanders don’t generally pay full price if we can avoid it. There are a number of ways to save money on your shopping:

  • Buy produce at fruit and vegetable shops or markets. See our Regional pages for information about markets
  • Keep an eye on prices in advertisements or online before you buy. Most retailers regularly have good sales
  • You can find many well-priced goods on TradeMe. It mostly features second hand goods though some are new
  • Asking for a discount for cash on large items is common - normally 10%. It’s especially effective if you’re buying several items from one retailer.

Regions | Choose NZ

moving to New Zealand

Register your interest

Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.

 

Day to day items: Milk, coffee and a burger

The survey lists Auckland (58) and Wellington (75) far better than many other major cities

2014 Cost of Living Survey