The cost of living New Zealand: How does it compare? (2022)

/ / Family Immigration, Life in New Zealand

cost of living in new zealand

Some of the most frequently asked questions about the cost of living in New Zealand are, “Is it expensive to live in New Zealand?” and “What salary do you need to live in New Zealand?”

These are the questions we’re going to answer today by comparing New Zealand’s cost of living to that of four other nations – the UK, South Africa, the USA, and India.

Residents from these four countries often immigrate to New Zealand.

How does the comparison work?

To give you a realistic idea of how much New Zealand’s cost of living compares to the countries on our list, our comparison will look at the cost of seven everyday expenses:

  1. Rent
  2. Utilities
  3. Groceries
  4. Schooling
  5. Clothing
  6. Transport
  7. Restaurants

We’ve pulled all the costs from Numbeo, which is the “world’s largest cost of living database”. The costs are crowdsourced, so keep in mind that costs are averages.

To keep things simple, we’ve converted all costs into New Zealand dollars. You can, however, look at the costs in each country’s local currency on its Numbeo page:

Let’s dive into the comparison

As explained above, we’re comparing rent, utilities, groceries, clothing, transport, schooling, and restaurants today.

On average, consumer prices in New Zealand are higher than in the UK, South Africa, the USA, and India.

The biggest difference is between New Zealand and India, with New Zealand’s consumer prices being 201.50% higher than India’s.

What about purchasing power?

You can’t do a living cost comparison without also looking at purchasing power.

Purchasing power is important because, all else being equal, inflation decreases the number of goods or services you would be able to purchase. So says Investopedia, that defines purchasing power as “the value of a currency expressed in terms of the number of goods or serves that one unit of money can buy.”

In other words, purchasing power is “the financial ability to buy products and services”.

On average, the local purchasing power in New Zealand is:

  • 6.15% lower than in the UK
  • 6.79% higher than in South Africa
  • 21.34% lower than in the USA
  • 67.47% higher than in India.

Let’s see how this looks in practice. We’ll start with rent which is the biggest monthly expense for most people.

1. Rent

Rent in New Zealand is lower than in the United States while it’s higher than in the UK, South Africa, and India. In fact, on average, rent in New Zealand is 257.65% higher than in India!

Let’s break it down by looking at the rental prices of 1-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments both in the city and in the suburbs:

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
1-Bedroom Apartment in City Centre1,642.691,527.17672.152,037.95234.21
1-Bedroom Apartment Outside of City Centre1,319.841,258.77582.551,653.64148.73
3-Bedroom Apartment in City Centre2,813.732,494.741,439.733,342.84516.81
3-Bedroom Apartment Outside of City Centre2,221.89 1,994.281,177.082,702.99326.06

Are you keen to further explore New Zealand’s rental prices? Use realestate.co.nz and myRent search for apartments and houses in specific cities or suburbs.

2. Utilities

Whether you rent or own, you’ll have utilities to budget for. We’re specifically going to look at the costs of basic household utilities such as water and electricity and internet.

As you can see from the information above, the cost of New Zealand’s internet is on par with that of the UK, South Africa, and India. You’re thus going to spend roughly the same on your internet connection if you’re moving to New Zealand from one of these countries.

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
Basic Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment194.15314.23167.49252.2357.08
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 81.96 61.9085.9499.9415.19

There are bigger cost variances when looking at basic household utilities. You’re going to spend much less, on average, if you’re moving to New Zealand from the UK.

However, you can expect to allocate more of your monthly budget to household utilities if you’re moving from South Africa or India.

3. Groceries

Let’s start by looking at the average cost of a basket of groceries in New Zealand in comparison to the other countries:

As you can see, the cost of a basket of groceries won’t differ much if you’re moving from the USA. But you’ll spend more at the tills if you’re moving from the UK, South Africa, or India.

Now let’s look at the prices of the individual items we put in our basket:

GroceriesNew ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
Milk, 1L 2.711.861.591.301.03
Loaf of fresh white bread2.591.971.394.170.70
White rice, 1kg3.082.242.195.921.06
Eggs, 125.603.912.933.471.42
Local cheese, 1kg11.5111.2510.9416.668.04
Chicken fillets, 1kg13.1810.897.0914.004.72
Beef round, 1kg 19.9816.4610.9719.428.78
Apples, 1kg3.883.702.30 6.842.96
Bananas, 1kg3.072.182.142.340.99
Oranges, 1kg4.103.402.325.971.49
Tomato, 1kg4.263.642.136.440.73
Potato, 1kg2.872.17 1.823.870.58
Onion, 1kg2.501.961.713.84 0.71
Lettuce 3.091.421.572.490.79
TOTAL82.4267.0551.0996.7334

4. Schooling

Most children in New Zealand get some form of early childhood education, and early learning facilities may charge fees.

The New Zealand Government subsidises all children who attend early learning services for up to six hours a day, up until children go to school or turn six. Children aged 3, 4 and 5 years old, who are enrolled in an early learning service, can receive a higher funding subsidy called 20 Hours ECE.

As you can see from our graph, New Zealand’s pre-school costs are more affordable than that of the UK and the USA.

South African parents will have to fork out more than they’re used to on pre-school once in New Zealand. The same goes for parents moving to New Zealand from India.

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child1,086.411,903.64320.481,411.5282.12
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child16,950.00 26,339.907,237.1423,539.792,302.12

When it comes to primary schools, the picture looks the same as for preschools. Keep in mind, however, that we’re looking at international schools. Your child’s education is free between the ages of five and 19 at state schools if you’re a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

5. Clothing

Filling up your closet costs relatively the same in New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, and the USA.

When compared to India, the price of a summer dress is relatively similar. The average cost of the rest of the items on our list is going to be less affordable in New Zealand.

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar)106.98118.5473.8366.1245.52
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, Etc)62.4158.8749.5653.1945.01
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range)144.30125.43 132.03115.2470.50
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes175.14124.10123.52146.0552.93

6. Transport

You can see from the table below that getting around in New Zealand, whether by public transport or car, is going to cost you more or less the same as in the UK and South Africa.

You will, however, spend more on public transport if you’re moving from the USA or India.

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)3.50 5.042.453.370.40
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 164.78131.1466.0397.3112.00
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 3.002.501.172.420.34
1L Gasoline2.362.851.781.09 1.84
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)36,000.0040,351.9229,346.1835,178.7419,001.17
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car)31,796.7742,162.0733,474.2232,972.0433,785.4

7. Restaurants

New Zealand has a vibrant food and wine scene, and is home to roughly 700 wineries that produce high-quality wines.

You’ll find when eating out that you’re spending relatively the same as in your home country if you’re from Australia, the UK or the USA.

South Africans and Indians won’t though, and they’ll spend more of their monthly budget on dining than they’re used to.

 New ZealandUKSouth AfricaUSAIndia
Lunch at Inexpensive Restaurant20.0026.2314.6722.463.60
3-Course Dinner for Two at a Mid-Range Restaurant100.00100.8858.6989.8318.00
500ml Domestic Beer9.007.672.937.493.00
330ml Imported Beer9.00 8.073.918.985.45
Cappuccino4.865.622.816.552.38
330ml Coke or Pepsi3.392.741.442.920.67
330ml Water2.801.971.112.340.30

Also keep your salary in mind when considering the cost of living in New Zealand

Knowing how much you’ll earn is a big part of deciding whether or not you can afford New Zealand’s cost of living.

Someone who earns NZD10,000 a month can obviously live more comfortably than someone earning NZD4,000 a month.

To get an idea of how much you can earn, got to PayScale. You’ll get averages for a wide range of industries. News media website Stuff recently reported that wage rises are setting new records as employers compete for workers in 2022.

Our final recommendation is to speak to a recruiter working in your industry. Recruiters can give you accurate salary expectations based on your skills and experience.

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