Wellington vs Auckland vs Christchurch: Let’s compare the living costs (May 2022)

/ / Family Immigration, Life in New Zealand

Struggling to decide where to settle in New Zealand?

While there are many factors to consider, none is going to affect your life quite as much cost of living.

In other words – can you afford to live in a particular area? To get to the answer, you have to look at the cost of rent, groceries and most certainly schooling if you’re a parent.

We’ve done the legwork for you by comparing the cost of living in New Zealand’s three biggest cities – Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

Please note: All costs are in New Zealand dollars.

1. Rent

Many of us spend a considerable chunk of our salary on rent each month, so let’s start there, shall we?

1-Bedroom apartment in the city centre

Let’s say you’re a single person or a couple, and you love the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll see that a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre is most affordable Christchurch.

 WellingtonAuckland Christchurch

1-bedroom apartment in the city

2,314.09

2,133.55

1,570.00

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection (85m² apartment)

232.89

218.31

173.55

Internet (60 mbps or more, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)

82.50

85.60

75.27

Total

2,629.48

2,437.46

1,818.82

3-Bedroom apartment in the suburbs

You’re immigrating as a family, and you want a 3-bedroom apartment in the suburbs.

Auckland comes out tops again, with the average rental price at NZ$2,461.32 a month – nearly NZ$900 less than in Auckland, which comes in second place.

 WellingtonAuckland Christchurch

3-bedroom apartment in the city

3,101.00

3,017.92

2,212.50

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection (85m² apartment)

232.89

218.31

173.55

Internet (60 mbps or more, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)

82.50

85.60

75.27

Total

3,419.09

3,321.83

2,461.32

3. Groceries

When comparing the cost of a basket with 12 everyday items, you’ll spend NZ$90.48 in Auckland, NZ$89.31 in Wellington, and NZ$83.75 in Christchurch.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

1L Milk

2.94

3.14

2.78

Loaf of white bread

3.12

3.30

2.16

1kg Rice

3.25

3.23

3.28

12 Eggs

6.31

7.06

5.93

1kg Local cheese

14.74

13.38

13.11

1kg Chicken fillets

14.77

14.79

14.27

1kg Beef round

21.69

22.50

23.35

1kg Apples

4.54

4.47

4.32

1kg Bananas

3.33

3.20

3.26

1kg Tomatoes

7.64

8.89

4.27

1kg Potatoes

3.05

2.95

2.85

Lettuce

3.93

3.57

4.17

Total

89.31

90.48

83.75

4. School fees

Your child’s education is free at state schools if they’re a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Let’s say, however, that you choose to send your child to a private institution. Christchurch offers the most affordable primary schooling by far! The difference in daycare costs are much less, but Christchurch is still the most affordable.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

Private preschool (or kindergarten) - Monthly for 1 child (full day)

1,157.14

1,245.45

1,138.33

International primary school - Yearly for 1 child

18,142.86

19,888.89

14,500.00

5. Getting around

To go about your daily business in New Zealand, you can either take public transport or buy a car.

Taking public transport

Christchurch is the clear winner when it comes to the cost of public transport. Your one-way ticket is going to be NZ$2.80 while a monthly pass will cost you NZ$115.22.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

1-way Ticket (local transport)

3.92

4.15

2.80

Monthly pass (regular price)

150.00

215.00

115.22

Buying a car

You’ll notice that there aren’t massive variances between new car prices across the three cities. The same is true for the cost of a litre of petrol, but we all know those cents add up quickly when filling up a car.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent new car)

35,000.00

37,995.00

40,000.00

Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or equivalent new car)

31,360.00

33,513.85

33,164.44

1L of Petrol

2.81

2.82

2.76

6. Going out for a meal

Enjoying a meal with friends is a favourite pastime for many of us. You get to unwind, catch up on each other’s lives, and have a good laugh or two.

Lunch at your local restaurant

Christchurch is cheapest for local, laid-back restaurants and a simple meal. Your meal and two drinks are only going to set you back NZ$32.52. The same meal will only cost marginally more in Wellington at NZ$33.85.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

Restaurant meal at an inexpensive restaurant

20.00

25.00

20.00

500ml Draught beer

10.00

10.00

9.00

330ml Coke

3.85

3.64

3.52

Total

33.85

38.64

32.52

Dinner at an upmarket restaurant

Let’s imagine it’s your birthday. You want a three-course meal with a good bottle of wine. Your birthday dinner is going to cost the least in Christchurch.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

3-Course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

100.00

120.00

100.00

Bottle of wine

16.00

17.00

15.00

Total

116.00

137.00

115.00

7. Your 1morning coffee run

Grabbing a coffee on the way to work is such an integral part of our lives, and Auckland is the most affordable city for a cappuccino and that bottle of water you grab to go with it.

 WellingtonAucklandChristchurch

Cappuccino

5.03

5.35

5.42

Bottle of water

3.58

2.71

2.94

Total

8.61

8.06

8.36

In conclusion

When compared to Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch is the most affordable city in just about every instance.

In the end, though, it’s not only cost of living that’ll determine where you settle but also your lifestyle and priorities, so be sure to take those factors into consideration too.

Please note: Costs are from Numbeo (May 2022).

Discover your
visa options

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

You'll get immigration advice and be the first to know about visa changes

Return to our blog

TOP