Image by Sharon McCutcheon

Cost of Living in New Zealand 

Living costs will depend on your lifestyle and which part of the country you live in. It may be cheaper to live in a small town than a big city for example, because of lower housing and transport costs.  

For example - Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland estimate living costs to be around $20,000-$27,000 each year, and the University of Otago (based in Dunedin) estimates $18,000-$21,000.

f you’re studying in New Zealand for more than a year, as part of your student visa application you’ll need to prove you have at least NZ$15,000 (~US$10,200) to support yourself for the first year.

Living costs in New Zealand includes -

Accommodation Costs - Most universities in New Zealand offer Halls of Residence for their students to live in, and this can prove to be a very affordable option at around NZ$270 (~US$180) per week. You can choose between self-catered and catered accommodation, with costs varying from as low as NZ$169 (~US$114) a week at the University of Canterbury to up to NZ$473 (~US$320) at catered student halls.

Private accommodation will tend to be more expensive, with a three-bedroom apartment in the city center costing about NZ$3,276 (~US$2,200) per month in Auckland and NZ$1,520 (~US$1,020) in Dunedin.


Entertainment Costs - The University of Auckland suggests budgeting $55 a week for entertainment (this might cover dinner out and a movie). You can explore New Zealand’s stunning beaches, mountains, forests and lakes for free. Education providers and towns/cities often host free or cheap events, and many entertainment venues offer student discounts.

Transport - All New Zealand cities and most towns have reliable public transport such as buses (some with cheaper bus fares for students). Auckland and Wellington also have train services to outer suburbs. Transport costs are minimized if you live closer to campus. If living further away, transport costs can be up to $37 per week. Private cars are also an option for transport, however most students prefer walking or using public transport.

Food Costs - You should budget at least $80-$120 per week to cover basic grocery costs. Prices vary depending on where you choose to shop. If you choose to live in a catered hall of residence or a homestay, this cost will be included in your accommodation fee.

Power - If you’re living in a private house, electricity costs will be around $200-$300 per month. If you’re in a shared flat this cost would be shared. Electricity costs will be lower in summer and higher in winter (because of heating). If you choose to live in a catered hall of residence or a homestay, electricity costs will be included in your accommodation fee.

Phone and Internet - Choose from monthly account plans or pre-paid plans for mobile phones. A pre-paid plan that includes calling, texting and data starts at about $19 per month. The average price for unlimited wifi for a shared flat is $90 a month (shared between flatmates). Wifi costs are typically included in homestays and halls of residence. Universities and education providers also provide free access to wifi on campus. Public libraries may also provide access to free wifi.

Other miscellaneous living costs in New Zealand include compulsory health insurance, which you must purchase before your studies begin – this will cost between NZ$200-700 (~US$135-470) per year. A visit to the doctor will cost around NZ$45 (~US$30). You’ll also need around NZ$500 (~US$340) for books and stationery for your course for each year while you study in New Zealand.