New Zealand isn’t one of the cheapest countries to live in, but it is still a popular choice with families in search of a better life.
You owe it to yourself, though, to see if you can afford to live in New Zealand before uprooting your family. It’s stressful enough to move countries. You don’t also want to add financial stress into the mix.
That’s why we’re going to look at the cost of living in Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch.
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital, and Auckland is the country’s largest city. Christchurch has been New Zealand’s construction hub for at least a decade due to the area having to rebuild after 2011’s devastating earthquake.
What are we comparing?
Our starting point is looking at the average annual salaries of each city. You can’t fully assess your living costs if you don’t know how much you’re likely to earn.
The costs we’re comparing are for everyday expenses such as rent, utilities, and groceries. We’re also going to look at the cost of transport, buying a car and putting your children through school. To round things off, we’ll look at what it’s going to cost you to unwind over the weekend.
Please note: All costs are in New Zealand dollars.
There isn’t a massive difference between the average salaries earned in Wellington and Auckland. It’s only NZD1,000. Christchurch offers the lowest average annual salary at NZD64,000, which is NZD4,000 less than in Wellington.
|Average Annual Salary||68,000||67,000||64,000|
It’s not surprising that living in the suburbs is cheaper. The most affordable accommodation is in Christchurch, where a 1-bedroom apartment in the suburbs is NZD1,143.75 a month.
If you’re a family of up to four, you’re also looking at Christchurch if you don’t want expensive accommodation. The monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in the suburbs is NZD1,977.78, which is NZD740 cheaper than in Auckland and NZD590 less than in Wellington.
|1-bedroom apartment in the city||2,009.52||1,902.79||1,465.00|
|1-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre||1,550.00||1,681.67||1,143.75|
|3-bedroom apartment in the city||3,315.38||3,374.35||2,662.50|
|3-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre||2,571.43||2,718.38||1,977.78|
Household utilities are most affordable in Wellington, but an internet connection is the cheapest in Auckland. When adding utilities and the internet, Wellington comes out tops for affordability. Christchurch takes second place, and Auckland is the most expensive.
|Basic utilities for a 85m2 Apartment (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage)||169.64||181.91||170.61|
|Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)||83.52||84.27||83.53|
When comparing a basket of nine everyday items, you’ll spend NZD54,43 in Auckland, NZD50,60 in Christchurch, and NZD49,57 in Wellington.
|Loaf of bread (white)||2.78||3.18||2.37|
|1kg Local cheese||11.62||11.69||10.66|
|1kg Chicken fillets||13.04||14.87||13.15|
6. Sending your child to school
While state schools are free, private schooling is not. Preparing your child for school is going to cost between NZD1,000 and NZD1,270 a month. For primary school, you’ll have to budget for between NZD11,600 and NZD20,375 a year on average.
|Private preschool (or kindergarten) - Monthly for 1 child (full day)||1,039.00||1,267.12||1,126.00|
|International primary school - Yearly for 1 child||15,500.00||20,375.00||11,600.00|
4. Getting around
New Zealand has a public transport system but many people still choose to buy a car to get around.
You’ll see new cars cost more or less the same in all three cities, as does filling up.
Costs do vary quite a bit when taking the bus or train. There is an NZD1.60 difference between the cheapest and most expensive one-way tickets. This difference is even more for monthly passes. There is nearly an NZD100 difference between monthly passes in Auckland and Wellington!
|Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent new car)||35,000.00||36,245.00||39,750.00|
|Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or equivalent new car)||31,073.7||31,496.67||31,310.00|
|1-way Ticket (local transport)||5.00||3.60||3.40|
|Monthly pass (regular price)||150.00||215.00||111.96|
|1L of Petrol||2.18||2.11||2.11|
5. Eating out
No-one only works to pays the bills. We also like to unwind. Many of us do that by enjoying a meal in a restaurant.
Going for a quick lunch with colleagues will set you back NZD20 in Wellington and Christchurch. Date nights are going to be the most affordable in Wellington, where a three-course meal is NZD90. The same meal is going to cost NZD120 in Auckland and NZD105 in Christchurch.
|3-course Dinner for two people||90.00||120.00||105.00|
|330ml Imported Beer||10.00||10.00||10.00|
Is this you – you’re eager to lodge your New Zealand visa application, because you want to get to New Zealand as quickly as possible?
Yes, it is?
Then let’s pause and remind you of the saying ‘haste makes waste’ – when you try to do things too quickly, sometimes you get them wrong or have to do them all over again.
Unfortunately it’s all too easy to ‘make waste’ when doing a visa application and the result often is unnecessary delays.
The best strategy is to take the necessary time and precautions to submit a complete and correct application.
Here’s our tips on how to do this:
1. Plan ahead
You have to start with an assessment to find out if you’re eligible to live in New Zealand. Book one as soon as possible if you haven’t done that yet.
The assessment will show which visa you stand to qualify for, which in turn will highlight the best way forward.
Knowing the emigration route available to you, means knowing which documentation you’ll need in future, whether or not you’ll have to do an English test, if you have to register with a professional body, etc. Essentially, all the parts of your application that you’ll have to submit.
2. Check that you’ve included all the required documentation
The one thing most applicants are guilty of, is neglecting to submit all the necessary documents. Our advisers often have to request documents a second time because it wasn’t included in the original pack.
The best thing to do is to have a checklist, to tick off documents as you go. Mark up also if documents should be photocopies, originals or certified copies.
If you’re working with an adviser, you should get a list of all required documentation. Your adviser should also check all documents once received, to ensure that you’ve sent them everything.
You may of course choose to do your New Zealand visa application on your own, but be aware that the experience might be more stressful, especially if you’re someone who gets stressed easily.
3. Check your passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after your visa expires and have enough free pages for any required visa labels.
When our clients have a passports valid for only a couple of months, our advice is always to apply for a passport before starting any visa applications.
When you have to apply for a new passport in the middle of an application, it could lead to delays.
4. Apply for your visa in time
Visa application take time to be decided and there’s nothing you, or us, can do once an application is in the hands of Immigration New Zealand.
It is thus important to allow sufficient time for your application when making the rest of your plans.
Need professional help with your New Zealand visa application?
Like we said, you can do your visa application on your own, but if you suspect that it would be a more pleasant experience with a professional by your side, you are more than welcome to contact us.
You can speak to an adviser by calling +27 (0) 21 202 8200 or by emailing us.
We’ll start with an assessment, the important first step, and then we’ll explain the best way forward – so that you can plan ahead and apply for your visa in time.