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The Cost of Living in Christchurch [2024]

Before moving to the south island’s biggest city, the cost of living in Christchurch is something you should factor into your budget.
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The Cost of Living in Christchurch [2024]

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Christchurch has gone through extensive changes since a devastating earthquake destroyed much of the city in 2011. The city has rebuilt itself slowly but surely into an even more vibrant yet laid-back place to live.

Before moving to the south island’s biggest city, the cost of living in Christchurch is something you should factor into your budget.

Reasons to move to Christchurch

Christchurch is the gateway to New Zealand’s south island, and for a good reason. The city is just a few hours from Marlborough, Central Otago and the McKenzie Country.

As New Zealand’s second-largest city, Christchurch is home to 384,700 residents, yet the city is much more affordable than smaller cities like Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga.

This is because Christchurch is a large sprawling city and is unrestricted geographically in its growth. The post-quake rebuild has also helped keep the cost of owning property and rental prices down.

Salaries in Christchurch

In Christchurch, the average income is $70,000, per annum, slightly below the average pay for New Zealand salaries.

What’s different about Christchurch?

The rebuilding of Christchurch has attracted many new jobs and sectors to the city. Over 40,000 people work in construction. The food, fibre and agritech industries have grown by 60% over the past seven years. More than 7,500 residents work in the health sector, and skills are highly demanded. Tech, manufacturing, logistics and warehousing are all booming industries.

Christchurch is also a great place to study. The University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and the University of Otago - Christchurch Campus are all located in or near the city. The price of living is 30% cheaper for students than in Wellington or Auckland.

Christchurch is a nature lovers' paradise. Known as the Garden City, Hagley Park sits in the centre of the city, which is boarded by hills to the south, beaches and great surf to the east and the mountains and snow are just an hour's drive inland. Surfing, skiing, windsurfing, mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing are easily accessible in or close to the city.

Cost of living in Christchurch

Christchurch is one of the few cities in New Zealand that has managed to keep up with housing demand. Rents and housing have been rising at a much slower rate than the rest of the country. While accommodation will be your most significant expense, expect to pay a lot less than in Auckland or Wellington.

For Renters

Townhouses are becoming a popular choice for renters in Christchurch due to being an excellent low-maintenance investment.

In December, 2023 Christchurch had a median weekly rent of $480.

Two-bedroom houses rent for around $455 a week, while 3-4 bedroom homes rent for an average of $550 a week.

Popular suburbs for renting in Christchurch include:

  • Christchurch CBD
  • Edgeware
  • St Albans
  • Merivale
  • Papanui
  • Shirley
  • Riccarton
  • Ilam (for UC students)
  • Upper Riccarton (for UC students)

If you are looking to rent a room, check out the following sites for flatmate-wanted ads:

  • Trade Me Flatmate Wanted listings
  • Facebook pages such as Christchurch Flatmates Wanted and Christchurch Rentals & Flatmates

Buying in Christchurch

According to CoreLogic, the average price of a property in Christchurch was $746,506 in November 2023. Christchurch property prices have been falling since their peak in February 2022. They reached their bottom in June 2023 and have been slowly increasing. Here are some figures you may need to know if you wish to buy, rent or invest in Christchurch in 2024:

  • Properties start around $539,000 for an entry level townhouse
  • Central Christchurch is one of the most affordable suburbs to buy and invest
  • Two-bed townhouses are priced between $539,000 and $600,000, depending on the house, location and number of garages
  • Rents have increased by an average of 7% over the last four years.
  • Despite being New Zealands second biggest city by population, Christchurch is one of the most affordable markets to buy in, as many suburbs and homes are currently undervalue

Christchurch neighbourhoods of interest

Christchurch comprises 27 inner suburbs situated close to the town centre and 61 suburbs further away from the town. Here are some popular inner-city suburbs:

Christchurch Central

The central city has many new areas attracting renters back into living between the four avenues that make up the city centre. The area around Latimer Square and Hereford Street has experienced a lot of rebuilding over the past few years. For those looking for a townhouse to rent, the city centre has plenty of options. Across the river, Kilmore Street to Bealey Avenue has plenty of rental options.

The average rent in the central city for a two-bedroom rental is $513-$550 and $600-$700 for a 3-bedroom.

Fendalton

Fendalton is one of Christchurch’s most exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods. Situated close to Hagley Park, the houses and large, and the streets are leafy.

Although Fendalton isn’t a popular rental suburb due to the price, you may be able to find a home for rent between $580-$925 per week.

St Albans/Edgeware/Merivale

St Albans, Edgeware and Merivale are all situated north of Bealey Avenue and are popular suburbs with renters. Merivale and Edgeware both have shopping centres, including supermarkets and general convenience, food and takeaway shops.

These suburbs have a wide range of rentals, including apartments, townhouses, and single-storey detached homes. A two-bedroom home's average rent is $470-$550 per week and $550-$675 for a 3-bedroom home per week.

Sumner

Situated on the east coast of Christchurch, Sumner is a seaside suburb known for its beautiful beach and laid-back lifestyle.

Two-bedroom homes rent between $490 and $698 per week. Prepare to pay more for a home with a water view or located close to the Esplanade.

Riccarton

Riccarton is located west of the city centre and is well known for the Riccarton Westfield Mall, Sunday markets, small parks and local historical landmarks like Riccarton House. Riccarton is a popular suburb for renters as it’s close enough to drive or cycle to the city using the newly created cycleways.

The average rent for a two-bedroom home is $440-$520 per week and $550-$663 for a 3-bedroom home per week.

Woolston

Woolston has undergone significant rehabilitation after the 2011 earthquake destroyed a lot of shops and businesses. Located southeast of the city centre, Woolston is a light industrial and residential suburb. Since the quake, shopping centres like The Tannery have brought new life to the area, and there are more bars, restaurants and townhouses in this area than before the earthquake.

Rents are slightly cheaper in Woolston than in other suburbs. The average rent for a two-bedroom home is $450-$515 per week and $485-$570 for a 3-bedroom home per week.

Things to do in Christchurch

Christchurch is a relatively cheap city to live in, with plenty of accessible and affordable options for enjoying life in the city.

Get Your Culture Fix

Explore the SALT district for your shopping and culture fix. Centred around St Asap, Lichfield and Tuam streets, this gritty, arty inner-city suburb is the heart of Christchurch’s art and innovation scene.

Check out these other great locations:

  • Alice Cinema and Film Specialists - Catch a movie at the boutique cinemas or explore the film archives at the DVD rental library
  • The Boxed Quaetr - Explore art, music, cafes and eateries in this excellent creative space
  • NZ Museum of Toys and Collectables - Explore collectables from the 1920s to today
  • The Den - Explore this artist-run gallery space

Get Your Adrenaline Fix

Christchurch is brimming with outdoor activity options. Explore the Christchurch adrenaline forest, which features a high wire course and aerial obstacle course. Tickets cost $51 per adult, $35 per child and $44 per student.

Visit City Cycle Hire and Mountain Bike Adventure Co in Ferrymead and hire a mountain bike to explore the hills around Christchurch. Learn to surf at Stoke Surf and Skate School in Sumner or hire surfboards at New Brighton.  

Christchurch regular events

The Great Kiwi Beer Festival - January 

Explore New Zealand’s best craft breweries in Hagley Park. With 40 craft breweries and more than 35 food options, there’s something for every beer lover to enjoy. Tickets start at $49.90.

Kathmandu Coast to Coast

Outdoor sports enthusiasts need to give the Coast to Coast a try. Cycle, kayak, and run the 243-kilometre course from the West Coast, over the Southern Alps, to the East Coast.

World Busker’s Festival

Support buskers from around the world every year at the annual World Busker’s Festival. Each year the festival features a mixture of free and ticketed events in locations around the city centre.

South Island Wine and Food Festival - December

Explore more than 40 of the South Island’s best wineries at the South Island Wine and Food Festival. Tickets on sale at during the middle of the year.

The cost of food in Christchurch

When figuring out the cost of living in Christchurch, don’t forget to factor in eating out. Since the rebuild, Christchurch now has a wide range of options for eating and drinking in the city.

The cost of eating

According to the comparison website Glimp, a single household shop per week in Christchurch comes out to $115. This is cheaper than an average shop in Auckland, which costs around $135.

The cost of dining outInterior of a restuarant in Christchurch

Christchurch has a wide range of eateries that cater to many budgets. Here’s what you can expect to pay per person for a meal and drinks at some of the most popular restaurants in the capital.

  • Brunch: Unknown Chapter, C1 Espresso, Niche Coffee + Eatery, Posh Porridge = $25-$34
  • Cheap and cheerful restaurants: El Quincho, Fire & Slide Woodfire Pizza, Boo Radley’s Food and Liquor = $18-$32
  • Fine dining: Bessie, Otahuna Lodge, Chillingworth Road = $65-$75

The cost of drinking

Christchurch has a vibrant bar and brewery scene. Here’s what you can expect to pay per person for a drink at some of the most popular bars in the city.

  • Cocktails and spirits: Evil Genius, Pink Lady, Gin Gin = $13-$18/drink
  • Craft beer on tap: Dux Central, Pomeroys, Paddy McNaughton’s, 12 Bar = $11-$15/drink
  • Wine bars: The Last Word, Cellar Door, Social Wine Bar = $12-$70/glass

Getting around Christchurch

Christchurch is a very bike-friendly city due to the number of cycleways incorporated into the city's rebuild. Most people have access to a car as the city is very spread out and not every suburb has amenities - like supermarkets and pharmacies within walking distance.

  • Metro Cards: The Metro bus runs throughout the city and out to smaller towns like Kaiapoi and Lincoln. Using your Metro card saves 25% of what a cash fare would cost. Pricing ranges from $2.65 in zone one to $4.70 in zone 3. There is a weekly maximum cost of $16.
  • Walking and cycling: Christchurch has many new cycle lanes and is a very flat city. An estimated 20,000 people cycle to work or school every week in Christchurch.

Parking in the city

Many suburbs have free on-street parking outside of the main shopping centres. All-day parking is available in central and off-street car parking buildings.

  • All-day parking is available in off-street parking buildings. Otherwise, parking is metred for 60 or 120 minutes in the central city.
  • Use the SmartView app to get real-time information about parking in Christchurch.
  • 1-hour parking starts at $4.50 per hour. See the Christchurch City Council website for further parking pricing in various parts of the city.

The cost of living in Christchurch is just one factor you should consider before moving. Christchurch is an excellent option for people on lower incomes and budgets with a lower cost of living, housing, and transport. 

Now that you know more about the cost of living in Christchurch, you can start planning your move. At Wise Move, we can help you search for reputable moving companies in Christchurch and all over NZ. Wise Move has an extensive network of moving companies that can get you from your current home to Christchurch in no time.

Read more New Zealand cost of living guides:

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