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The Cost of Living in New Zealand [2024]

The cost of living in New Zealand is higher than you may think. New Zealand ranks highly on many indexes that prove it’s a fantastic place to live but before moving to a new country, it’s always a good idea to set out a budget and understand whether you can afford to live comfortably in your new country.
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The Cost of Living in New Zealand [2024]

The cost of living in New Zealand ranks highly on many indexes that prove it’s a fantastic place to live. It’s safe, welcoming, filled with beautiful scenery, and the locals exude a type of friendliness that can be hard to find in other parts of the world.

Despite all the pros of moving to this South Pacific island nation, the cost of living in New Zealand can be pretty high. Before moving to a new country, it’s always a good idea to set out a budget and understand whether you can afford to live comfortably in your new country.

Reasons to move to New Zealand

New Zealand has a population of 5 million people. There are downsides to moving to a small country.

A mover carrying a customer's boxed item during a home move

A smaller job market can make it more challenging for some people to find work, while New Zealand wages are typically lower than in many other Western countries. However, most people looking to move to New Zealand are more interested in the lifestyle the country has to offer.

New Zealand is exceptionally safe and has a low crime and corruption rate. As the first country to give women the vote, New Zealand continues to be a very progressive country.

To top it all off, New Zealand is a great place to live and raise a family due to its high level of work-life balance. With mandatory 4-weeks of annual leave, additional annual sick days, one year's worth of maternity leave per child, free healthcare and a high minimum wage, it’s a country with many social programs that aim to look after its citizens.

What’s the average salary in New Zealand?

Salaries can be on the lower side compared to other Western countries. However, New Zealand is a very egalitarian society with less extreme poverty and extreme wealth than most other countries.

The median income in New Zealand is NZ$29.66 per hour or an annual salary of NZ$61,692 for a 40-hour week. Salaries differ depending on the region and the industry. Larger cities like Auckland and Wellington pay higher wages to keep up with the higher cost of living.

You may want to invest in your higher education before moving to New Zealand. A Bachelor’s degree can help you earn up to 40% over the average income. The minimum wage in New Zealand is NZ$22.70 an hour.

High paying professions

According to data from the job-seeking website Seek, accounting CFOs are offered some of the highest salaries in the country at NZ$198,644 per annum.

Other high-paying professions include:

  • Healthcare & Medical - general practitioner: NZ$191,060
  • Information & Communication Technology - change manager: NZ$167,345
  • Construction - construction manager: NZ$167,118
  • Information & Communication Technology - solutions architect: NZ$160,122
  • Consulting & Strategy -change manager: NZ$155,611
  • Information & Communication Technology - delivery lead: NZ$154,795
  • Information & Communication Technology - consultant: NZ$152,737
  • Accounting - financial controller: NZ$152,365
  • Information & Communication Technology - technical lead: NZ$151,426

Tax in New Zealand

New Zealand has a straightforward tiered tax system. This means you may pay a few different tax rates on your salary or income, depending on how much you earn. In New Zealand, you will pay:

  • 10.5% tax on income from NZ$0 to NZ$14,000.
  • 17.5% tax on income from NZ$14,001 to NZ$48,000
  • 30% tax on income from NZ$48,001 to NZ$70,000
  • 33% tax on income from NZ$70,001 to NZ$180,000
  • 39% tax on income from NZ$180,01+

https://www.ird.govt.nz/income-tax/income-tax-for-individuals/tax-codes-and-tax-rates-for-individuals/tax-rates-for-individuals

As an employee, your employer will take care of your taxes for you. It’s a good idea to figure out how much income you will have after tax to see if you can afford to have the life you want in New Zealand.

Cost of living in New Zealand

When it comes to the cost of living in New Zealand, expect accommodation to take up a good portion of your monthly budget. New Zealand’s housing market went through a significant boom in 2020 and 2021. The average property value across New Zealand is around 7, falling from a high of 7.9 times the average annual household income, in 2022.

A lady carrying her toddler while happily talking to the movers she hired for her home move

Regional House Prices

House prices have been rising steadily in New Zealand for decades due to a lack of supply. Average regional house prices in 2023 were the highest across all regions:

  • Auckland: NZ$$1.261m
  • Bay of Plenty: NZ$$1.006m
  • Tasman: NZ$771k
  • Wellington: NZ$$1.018m
  • Nelson: NZ$772k
  • Waikato: NZ$722k
  • Hawkes Bay: NZ$589k
  • Otago: NZ$615k
  • Central Otago: NZ$792k
  • Christchurch: NZ$741k
  • Northland: NZ$679k
  • Marlborough: NZ$695k
  • Manawatu/Wanganui: NZ$598k
  • Gisborne: NZ$596k
  • Taranaki: NZ$475k
  • Southland NZ$488k
  • West Coast: NZ$371k

Renting in New Zealand

Rent in New Zealand is collected weekly. While rent will vary based on which city or town you live in. This tenancy website has a helpful calculator that can tell you the average rent price in the city or town you plan on moving to.

The monthly cost of living in New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand, for one person in a major city, is between NZ$4,000-NZ$5,000 per month. A family of four can expect to need NZ$6,000-NZ$7,000 per month to live.

Cost of living by city

Auckland

New Zealand’s biggest city is also its most expensive. While Auckland has some of the highest salaried jobs in the country (and the most significant job market) it’s also the most expensive place to rent, buy, or eat out.

According to the comparison website Glimp, to live alone in Auckland, you need to earn at least NZ$5,000 per month, while a family needs around NZ$7,984 per month to live comfortably.

Rent and mortgage payments are pretty high in Auckland. Expect to pay around NZ$2,280 per month to live alone in the CBD or NZ$2,360 to rent a three-bedroom suburban flat. The average house price in Auckland is NZ$1.04 million.

Unless you live in the central city or suburbs close to it, Auckland isn’t overly walkable or public transport friendly. While living in the suburbs will save you rent money, you may want to buy a car to get yourself around the wider city.

Read full cost of living guides in Auckland:


Wellington

New Zealand’s capital city has the highest rent in the country but is slightly cheaper than Auckland when it comes to groceries and other costs of living expenses. The 2023 Trade Me Rental Price Index showed Wellington had a median weekly rent of NZ$640, while the average price of a house is now NZ$1.018 million.

In general, two-bedroom properties rent for between NZ$520 and NZ$650 a week, and three-bedroom properties rent for between NZ$670 and NZ$850 a week.

One of the cost-saving benefits of living in Wellington is its expansive public transport system. Owning a car in Wellington isn’t necessary as the city has buses, trains and ferries that service the inner city, Kapiti Coast and Hutt Valley Regions.

A single person living in Wellington must earn at least NZ$5,130 after tax per month to keep up with the minimum cost of living. A family of four needs to collectively make at least NZ$7,318 after tax per month as a household to comfortably get by.

Read full cost of living guides in Wellington:


Christchurch

Christchurch is the South Island’s biggest city and has bounced back considerably from the devastating earthquake that hit in 2011. As a large business hub, it has a growing economy and the rebuild of the city has helped keep house prices and rents from skyrocketing.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s most affordable big city to live in. The cost of living is still more expensive than in smaller towns, however, you’ll find houses and rentals far more affordable than in even smaller cities like Gisborne, Napier or Tauranga.

A single person needs around NZ$4,298 per month for rent, food and bills, while a family of four should be earning a minimum of NZ$6,224 per month to live in Christchurch. The average price of rent in Christchurch in 2023 was NZ$505 a week.

Read the full cost of living guide in Christchurch:


Queenstown

Queenstown might be a small town, but it’s known for having some of the most expensive housing in the country. In the last thirty years, it's gone from a humble village into a town known for luxury accommodation and adrenaline-fuelled activities.
Queenstown has had a housing shortage for the past few years due to its geographic location and popularity with tourists and wealthy investors. This has also helped to push up the prices of goods, foods and services.

In November 2023, data released by property website realestate.co.nz showed house prices in Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes Districts was average of NZ$1.67 million, up from NZ$1.40 million in 2021.

On average the weekly rent in Queenstown is NZ$700. This is an increase of $110 a week (18.6%) compared to a year earlier. Most people will split this cost between two, three or even four flatmates. To enjoy living in Queenstown a single person should budget at least NZ$5,000 per month to live alone and $NZ4,000 to live in a flat. A family of four needs to make at least NZ$8,000 per month. These figures are more than what you may need even in bigger cities like Wellington, as the cost of groceries, eating out, and entertainment is very expensive in Queenstown. Many people choose to live in smaller towns outside of Queenstown and then commute into the town.

Read the full cost of living guide in Queenstown:

What do everyday items cost in different parts of New Zealand?

New Zealand was ranked 19th out of 197 countries in 2023 regarding the cost of living, with a cost index of 101.4.

Auckland

The average weekly food shop for one person costs $114

Aucklanders spend an average of $15 a week on clothes

Housing and household utilities cost $274.50

Household contents and services cost $35.10

Entertainment costs the average Aucklander $72 a week

Aucklanders spend an average of $91.70 a week on transport

Christchurch

The average weekly food shop for one person costs $110

Clothing and footwear costs an average of $8.60 a week 

Housing and household utilities cost $219

Household contents and services cost $34

Entertainment costs the average Christchurch resident $51 a week

Christchurch residents spend an average of $83 a week on transport

Tauranga

The average weekly food shop for one person costs $60

Clothing and footwear costs an average of $12.40 a week 

Housing and household utilities cost $164

Household contents and services cost $15

Entertainment costs the average Tauranga resident $36 a week

Tauranga residents spend an average of $50 a week on transport

Hamilton

The average weekly food shop for one person costs $89

Clothing and footwear costs an average of $12.40 a week 

Housing and household utilities cost $184

Household contents and services cost $21

Entertainment costs the average Hamilton resident $56 a week

Hamilton residents spend an average of $85 a week on transport

The unexpected cost of living in New Zealand

Flights 

New Zealand is a very isolated country. The cost of flying to, from and within New Zealand can be high as the country only has two major airlines. Flights between major cities can cost anywhere from NZ$60 (at their cheapest) one way to NZ$399 at busier times of the year. It pays to book ahead to ensure you are not paying too much for your holiday.

Private Car

You’ll also want to factor buying a car into the cost of living in New Zealand. Public transport outside of major city centres isn’t excellent, and there’s much to see and do outside of the cities. Fuel is more expensive in New Zealand which is why it pays to include petrol in the cost of living in New Zealand. The average price of a litre of petrol in New Zealand is NZ$2.624.

Food

Data released by the Government in 2023 reveals a 12.1% year-on-year increase in New Zealand's food prices. Fresh food, particularly fruit and vegetables, has experienced the most significant rise, increasing by 22%, while grocery items have risen by 14%. Certain essentials have seen substantial hikes, such as a 63% year-on-year increase in egg prices and a 21.7% rise in yoghurt costs. Additionally, pastry products have surged by 17.6%, and poultry prices have increased by 15.2%.

Clothing

New Zealand has a range of fast fashion retailers that you might find overseas. On average expect to spend NZ$50 on tops, NZ$120 on sweatshirts and knits, NZ$150 on a pair of shoes and NZ$130 on a pair of jeans from mid-priced retailers.

Online Purchases

One of the biggest shocks for people moving to New Zealand from overseas is that many retailers on Amazon and eBay don’t ship to New Zealand. Next-day delivery is also not very common. Expect to have to shop online and wait a week for your purchase, or shop at larger stores in person.

Moving to New Zealand

New Zealand is an expensive country to move to. But, most people that make the move find out they are actually happier with fewer material possessions and focus on buying quality goods over cheaper alternatives. 

For your prized possessions, making sure you have a mover that takes care of them during the move is so important. At Wise Move, we help you find the best movers at the best price. With Wise Move, our extensive network of trusted moving companies will help you settle into your new home in New Zealand in no time.

What do our customers say?

Read reviews of Wise Move to learn stories from our customers.
$195
Te Awamutu
Titirangi, Auckland
9.5
Charlotte
Reviewed 4 hours ago
Great communication and delivered my bike when and how they said they would. Did quote outdated legislation suggesting I needed to consider paying for additional insurance to guarantee safe passage, which seemed a bit unnecessary and confusing.
$590
Rotorua
Christchurch
10
ANDREW
Reviewed 8 hours ago
Exceptional professional service, thanks Andy
$660
Christchurch
Picton
10
James
Reviewed 11 hours ago
easy to deal with, car came looking perfect.
$1,445
Diahatsu Forza
Tauriko, Tauranga
Christchurch
10
Tracy
Reviewed 11 hours ago
Don’t look further. Totally recommend this company. The communication, service, timeframe, and cost. It’s a great service. We had our car transported Tauranga to Christchurch, p/up Thurs pm delivered Sat am. Outstanding! Thank you!
$400
2 bedroom house move
Manurewa, Auckland
Wiri, Auckland
10
Haneen
Reviewed 12 hours ago
Very glad I booked the team, very reasonable and responsive and saved me so much time by getting everything done in under 2.5 hours.
$260
Avondale, Auckland
Mount Roskill, Auckland
10
Claire
Reviewed 13 hours ago
Very prompt, quick and efficient.
$110
Epsom, Auckland
Mount Wellington, Auckland
10
Jacob
Reviewed 16 hours ago
Excellent rapid service
$550
Motorcycle kawasaki zx6r
Hillcrest, Auckland
Christchurch
10
Daniel
Reviewed 1 day ago
Great guys. Easy to deal with. Updates along the way. I'd use them again if I were tontransport a vehicle again.

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