The Cost of Living in New Zealand

COST OF LIVING IN NEW ZEALAND

There are so many debates these days about the cost of living in New Zealand and how much more expensive New Zealand really is compared to other places around the world and we are constantly hearing about how expensive it is to live in Auckland. And the truth is everyone’s comparison is different – depending on salary, lifestyle and other factors.

We thought it would be a good idea to go over our finances and publish a breakdown of our cost living in New Zealand compared to the UK. We compared our life in England in September 2014 to our lives in September 2015. This article also features an updated breakdown of the costs of New Zealand for 2019 at the bottom of this article.

In this article we are discussing:

  • Where to compare costs in NZ to your current life;
  • Cost of living in New Zealand vs the UK in 2015
  • Cost of living in New Zealand in 2019
  • Monthly costs of life in Auckland;
  • A supermarket cost comparison;
Life in Auckland
Life in Auckland, NZ

 

Let’s start with the research: You HAVE to do your research before you go:

If you want to do a broader search of the cost of things in New Zealand – as we may have missed a few things below then doing some research before you arrive into New Zealand would be a good idea. Aside from all the unexpected costs that can occur when making such a move, everyday living may come as a financial shock in a new country such as NZ.

A good place to start is to compare the cost of living in NZ with your current location, which can be browsed easily on sites such as Numbeo. This crowd-sourced website allows you to quickly discover the comparative costs of main points of interest, including rent, transport and a selection of groceries. Although not perfect (some of the data hasn’t been updated for 6 months or so) whether you’re coming from the UK, or elsewhere, this will give you a rough idea of how much your Sunday bacon will cost! ($9 bucks FYI!)

It is also worth noting that New Zealand has a GST rate of 15% on almost everything you purchase, with the exception of your income and financial transactions (renting a home or, say, bank charges). You are liable to pay all the GST and other taxes when you become part of New Zealand’s society and economy.

While it’s useful to see these stats, it’s also important to factor in your new salary if you’ll be working in NZ. It’s no use looking at new costs, and how you will afford them, with your current earnings in mind! A good place to establish an approximate salary based on occupation guide can be found via the Trade Me website here.

cost of living NZ Going NZ

So now you know what your new salary and new living costs look like, but how does this translate from your current financial situation and lifestyle?

To be able to comprehend how new living costs will affect you, you need to fully understand your current financial situation. This can be achieved by defining your current spend and disposable income, with a money planner. The website “Sorted” an independent money planner can help you with this! It’s pretty awesome and the best we have seen in a long time – Check it out here!

By creating a tangible list, that takes into account all of your outgoings, you will also be able to recognise all of the infrequent necessities that require planning ahead, such as insurances, as well as the irregular demands that require additional money, such as car maintenance and everyday breakages!

With all of these demands in mind, you can wholly explore the transition of living costs from your current situation to that in NZ. This list of websites will help you calculate some of these core outgoings:

Household expenses (Bills):

Glimp and Power Switch can help you determine the cost of core households bills such as electricity and broadband.

Vehicle Costs:

New Zealand Transport Agency is where you go to register and license your car. More on this in our Driving in New Zealand article. And if you want to keep up to date on fuel prices here in NZ, the AA is the website to bookmark.

Insurance:

For all sorts of insurance quotes, health, life, mortgage, income protection Life Direct is a good place to start.

While it’s paramount to plan financially for all of your outgoings in NZ and your new home, don’t forget to think about your desired lifestyle. In calculating all of your costs, think about how you’d like to live in NZ and, hence, how you may intend to use your disposable income. Are you moving to the city where you’d like to enjoy the social scene? Will you have enough money to make that trip down south? It pays to think practically on all these matters.

Can we afford to live the kiwi dream?

So what actually are our costs of living in New Zealand after one year here?

In 2015 after a year of living in NZ, we wanted to know if we are better off living in the UK or New Zealand.

We dragged out all our old bills and comparing September 2014 with September 2015 costs (not summer in the UK and not quite winter in NZ, fair right?) and tried to generalize our monthly costs as much as possible! This comparison is calculated from our old lives in Falmouth, Cornwall to our lives in Auckland – NZ’s most expensive city might I add!

cost of living

Note: All prices are in GBP and converted at the current exchange at the time of writing this article. 

Please also note: Our lifestyle in Auckland compared to our lifestyle in the UK was fairly similar. In Falmouth we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, had a ‘reasonably priced car’ and we both had jobs that didn’t require a long commute each morning. In Auckland we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, have a ‘reasonably priced car’ and Isaac cycles to work (even in the rain!) and yet again I work from home.

To summarize:

The figures really do speak for themselves. Auckland for us is around 300 GBP more expensive for us a month. That is an increase of 23.4% compared to our lives in September 2014. After doing the maths, we came to the realization that perhaps the only difference is location – living in New Zealand’s (a fairly isolated country at that!) busiest and biggest city.

“You have to understand that for two people who come from a small coastal town in Cornwall, it’s a fairly different setting!”

So what about our supermarket shop? Is the price of food higher in New Zealand?

The above research lead me to think more and more about if NZ really does have high food prices, sure mozzarella is expensive ($11 FYI!) … but crisps are loads cheaper, do the costs even out over a grocery shop?

To settle the little argument in my head I thought it was about time I did a direct cost comparison of a grocery shop in the UK compared to a shop in NZ.

I enlisted my mother’s help in this (thanks, Mum!) however my original idea didn’t quite go to plan, I was hoping we could do a similar shop and compare the whole lot, it does seem we shop quite differently – she likes liver and onions (she really does!) for dinner, while I like grilled vegetables and halloumi! So, for the sake of this comparison, we’ve compared 9 essential everyday items like veg, milk, and fruit. Here are the results:

Brand in England if Applicable Brand in NZ if Applicable Volume in England Volume in New Zealand Price in England – GBP Price in New Zealand – GBP Winner?
Bananas N/A N/A 0.415kg 0.362kg 28p (58p a kg) 60p ENGLAND
Apples Gala Granny Smiths 0.517kg 1.55GBP 1.15 GBP NZ
Tomatoes N/A N/A 250g 1.55 GBP 3.91 GBP ENGLAND
Paracetamol Morrisons Basics Singature Range 16pp 20pp 30p 1.50 GBP ENGLAND
Facial Wipes  25pp 25pp 1.00 GBP 2.79 GBP ENGLAND
Tin Foil Homebrand Basics  30CM x 10M 30CM x 10M 2.74 GBP 1.12 GBP NZ
Milk  2L 2L 1.30 GBP 1.76 GBP ENGLAND
Snack Bars Special K Mother Earth  4pp 6pp 1.00 GBP 1.68 GBP ENGLAND
Ready Salted Crisps Walkers Singature Range  125g 150g 1.00 GBP 0.78 GBP NZ
*Exchange rate 0.56 pence to the dollar
TOTAL: 10.72 GBP 15.29 GBP
Percentage? 42.6% MORE

So which Country was cheapest?

“Our Results show New Zealand is on average 42.6% more expensive than the UK”

Hands down England was cheaper for a grocery shop! But I think we already knew that though didn’t we? What is interesting is the differences, some items differ a small amount and some differ hugely.

I can only hope that the almost double the cost of some of the veg items is down to the seasonal differences but what is with the high costs of products such as facial wipes and paracetamol?

I know my investigation is only a small representation of the price difference but I have a feeling if I did another comparison on some other products another time I would get the same result.

Going NZ cost of living
The small change matter’s to this little piggy.

What is the cost of living like in New Zealand in 2019?

The longer you live in a country the harder it is to compare things to your previous life. In 2015 a year into our journey here in NZ we were still comparing things to England, and there comes a stage where that stops. However, I am not sure when it stopped for us, it was more a gradual thing!

We wanted to understand if our cost of living in NZ has increased tremendously since 2015 and the results are in…

cost of living nz 2019

Note: All prices are in GBP and converted at the current exchange at the time of writing this article.  (52 pence to 1 NZD)

Please also note: We had a few lifestyle changes since 2015. In the middle of 2016, we moved to Wellington, a much more affordable region of NZ. But we still work from home and rarely use our car. It’s still that ‘reasonably priced car’ I might add!

To summarize:

Inline with inflation our cost of living in NZ increased by over 20.8%. Since 2015 we have had to find another 305 GBP a month, so that is 605 GBP since our old lives in the UK in 2014.  Good job we earn more than our 2014 & 2015 selves!

To Conclude:

“I guess from the stats above you could say we are worse off, but we don’t like to think of it that way. As we now live in a country that excites us, we live in a country that has a better climate that offers us new opportunities.”

I think the lesson we have learned over time is to stop analyzing it so much and to think of New Zealand as a high maintenance girlfriend. Heres our analogy…

She (being NZ) is very good looking and has charm. But to put up with the good lucks and charm of that sexy girlfriend we have to put our hands into our pockets and “Suck it up”. To live here in NZ the cost of living in New Zealand is something we have to start putting up with. This analogy has really helped us clarify our thought process on the price issues.

When we weigh up the pros and cons we believe NZ is worth the extra expense and we hope you think so too!

Are you thinking of moving to New Zealand or arrived and finding things to be a bit more expensive than you’d hoped? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to get in touch!

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