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Cost of Living in New Zealand

How New Zealand`s cost of living compares really depends on what country you are coming from and what part of New Zealand you settle in.

You’ll find we offer the same sort of consumer goods you’re used to, at competitive prices. Costs for imported items like cars, electrical and computer equipment and petrol are similar to what you’d find in Australia or other similar countries. To give you more of an idea – one independent international survey ranked Auckland 9th in the world in terms of its cost of living, while ranked United States 21sd. Source: www.numbeo.com

Goods and services tax (GST)

New Zealand has a Goods and Services tax (GST) that is added to the price of most things you buy.

GST currently applies at 15%.

GST doesn’t apply to rent on a home, apartment, flat or other accommodation. It also doesn’t apply to financial transactions, like bank charges, or to income.

Prices you see advertised are required by law to include GST, but you should always look for the phrase ‘incl GST’. Sometimes businesses will quote a price excluding GST because it looks cheaper.

Typical prices in New Zealand

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The government’s Statistics Department has a publication called New Zealand in Profile which lists the prices of some common purchases in 2015:

Note that the prices listed below are only an average and can vary greatly depending on the business, it’s location and brands:

pao   Bread – white sliced loaf (600g) NZ$ 1.55

leite  Milk – standard, 2 litres NZ$ 3.60

fish-and-lemon-slice   Fish & chips NZ$ 5.91

apple-black-silhouette-with-a-leaf   Apples – Kg NZ$ 2.52

potatoes   Potatoes – Kg NZ$ 3.87

tomatoe   Tomatoes – Kg NZ$ 5.61

two-eggs   Eggs – Dozen NZ$ 7.00

cheese   Cheese – 500 gr (16 oz.) of local cheese NZ$ 7.00

steak   Meat – lamb chops – Kg NZ$ 13.89

soda-bottle   Coca-Cola – 2L NZ$ 3.33

glass   Beer – glass (400ml) NZ$ 5.87

gas-server   Petrol – 91 octane per litre NZ$ 2.11

doctor-stethoscope   GP/doctor’s visit – adult NZ$ 40

washing-machine   Washing machine NZ$ 600–1500

bowl-in-a-microwave   Microwave 800/900 Watt NZ$ 280

computer-screen   42” LED-LCD flat screen TV NZ$ 600–1500

hot-coffee-rounded-cup-on-a-plate-from-side-view  Cup of coffee (flat white) NZ$ 5.00

hamburger   Big Mac NZ$ 6.00

fast-food   Combo meal in fast food restaurant NZ$ 6.00

ticket   Movie ticket NZ$ 14-20

trousers   Pair of jeans NZ$ 80–150

front-car   Car – Ford Focus (2.0L, 5 door) – New NZ$ 36,350

scissors   Standard men`s haircut NZ$ 26

The overage family budget

Every three years the Statistics Department surveys what households are actually spending. Here’s where the average New Zealand weekly household budget went last time they looked, in 2013.

Expenditure type NZ$ %
Food 192.50 17.3
Alcoholic beverages, tobacco etc. 29.50 2.7
Clothing and footwear 31.60 2.8
Housing and household utilities 272.90 24.6
Household contents and services 48.80 4.48
Health 27.10 2.4
Transport 158.30 14.2
Communication 35.80 3.2
Recreation and culture 107.20 9.6
Education 18.40 1.7
Miscellaneous goods and services 101.70 9.2
Other expenditure 116.30 10.5
Sales, trade-ins, and refunds -28.80 -2.6
Total net expenditure
1,111.40 100

Planning your finances

Newly arrived people sometimes find that the cost of living in New Zealand is more than they expected. Salaries for some professionals may be below equivalent roles in Europe and the USA, and our physical location and small population means some imported goods are more expensive.

Before you book your plane ticket it’s a good idea to research the type of lifestyle you’ll be able to afford here. Then you’ll be able to settle into Kiwi life and enjoy our great country without any financial surprises.

To find out the cost of things in New Zealand you can look at online stores and cost comparison websites. You’ll find some links on the side to get you started.

What you might earn

Average personal income from wages and salaries in 2014 was NZ$51,532. However many households have other people working too, and for households receiving wages and salaries, average annual income from all sources was NZ$88,712.

Obviously earnings vary widely according to what you do. There are various government and privately operated websites that have guides to the salaries being paid for various different careers. Try Who earns what and Salary guide.

General Cost

A number of New Zealand not-for-profit consumer agencies and government departments have created a website where you can compare prices of many types of consumer goods such as clothing and appliances. Try PriceMe.

Price comparison sites for telecommunications and power prices are also available from Consumer, New Zealand’s agency for consumer protection and information.

Food costs

It costs NZ$91-109 a week to feed an adult male, according to this 2014 survey by the University of Otago – Food cost survey. It has full details by region, sex and age.

Most New Zealand supermarkets offer online grocery shopping. As an experiment, try pricing the weekly shop you do at home on one of their websites. Remember that Kiwi supermarkets regularly have special offers, so you may well pay less in store.

Two supermarket chains to look for on the internet are New World and Countdown.

Accommodation costs

For a quick overview, check New Zealand’s very popular, privately owned TradeMe-Property site.

Vehicle costs

Most people in New Zealand find they need a car. Many buy their cars second hand. Privately-operated TradeMe-Motors can give you a good idea of what used cars cost here.

An annual expense involved with owning a car is the vehicle license or registration (rego). Registration costs vary according to the car’s make and its age. As an example however registration for a late model, petrol engined Ford Focus 2L currently costs NZ$271.27.

All cars also need to be tested for a Warrant of Fitness. That will cost you NZ$50-80 (not including any repairs that may be necessary). How often you need to have your car tested will depend on the age of the car.

If you choose a diesel engine car, you will also pay road user charges (RUC) which are calculated per kilometre.

The long, skinny geography of New Zealand means that fuel prices can vary quite widely from region to region. Our national motorist’s organisation, the Automobile Association (AA), keeps an eye on prices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch through its online petrol watch service.

Insurance costs

To get an idea of the costs of life, health, income and mortgage insurance, privately operated TradeMe-LifeDirect has a site where you can source quotes from a range of providers.

Mortgage and finance costs

You can find a list of mortgage, personal and business lenders on the privately operated website of interest.co.nz

Utilities

The energy website of New Zealand’s leading consumer organisation has a lot of information about energy providers and their charges – PowerSwitch.

Tips on shopping in New Zealand

While we don’t bargain in shops here, New Zealanders don’t generally pay full price if we can avoid it. There are a number of ways to save money on your shopping:

  • Buy produce at fruit and vegetable shops or farmers markets. See our Regional pages for information about farmers markets. Try eventfinda.
  • Keep an eye on prices in advertisements or online before you buy. Most retailers regularly have good sales.
  • You can find many well-priced goods on TradeMe. It mostly features second hand goods though some are new.
  • Asking for a discount for cash on large items is common – normally 10%. It’s especially effective if you’re buying several items from one retailer.

Cost Simulation in Auckland

The amounts spent may also vary depending on the city or neighborhood where you live. To give a better idea of the amounts spent, we simulated the average amounts spent by a family with a child living in Auckland City.

The first one lives close to downtown and the second one in a more distant neighborhood. In both, adults need to move to the center (to work or study) and their son is studying in a public school (only pay tuition and school uniform):

Neighborhood near downtown (eg: Parnell)
Supermarket shoppings  200
House rent 600
Eletricity + water 25
Internet + mobile 20
Transport (bus or train) 0
Medicines 8
Education 12
TOTAL weekly NZ$ 865
Neighborhood away from downtown (eg: Avondale)
Supermarket shoppings 180
House rent 450
Eletricity + water 22
Internet + mobile 20
Transport (bus or train) 70
Medicines 7
Education 9
TOTAL weekly NZ$ 758

Source: www.newzealandnow.govt.nz