Moving to New Zealand: Living on a Budget

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020

Moving to New Zealand: Living on a Budget

In Mercer’s 2019 cost of living survey, Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand were shown to be less expensive than other large cities across the globe – including Sydney, Melbourne, London, and New York. In HSBC’s 2019 expat explorer survey, New Zealand ranked in the world’s top five countries for expats to live and work due to factors like income and economic stability.

Where is the Cheapest Place to Live? 

Wellington ranked 114th  in Mercer’s 2019 cost of living survey, making it less expensive than Auckland as the most expensive city in New Zealand, ranking 89th. Smaller cities and towns in New Zealand that are cheaper to live in include Dunedin, Rotorua, Hamilton, Napier/Hastings, Whangarei, Palmerston North, Tauranga and New Plymouth. A recent article discussed how many people have been moving to these more regional locations in New Zealand because housing is more affordable.


Rent for a one-two bedroom apartment in New Zealand can cost up to $400 NZD per week and to rent a larger place, the weekly rental price could go up to $525 NZD. A cheaper option would be to house-share or what is known as ‘flatting’ in New Zealand, where you would expect to pay around $100-$200 NZD per week. It is easy enough to find rooms and flat mates on sites like Roomgo,, or search for listings on Facebook. Remember that when renting in New Zealand, you’ve got to firstly pay a property bond and a letting fee. The property bond is usually a month’s rent and is refundable at the end of the lease, whilst the letting fee is usually a week’s rent and it is non-refundable.

Free accommodation options in New Zealand include house-sitting and WWOOFing. You can get into house-sitting by registering as a sitter on the well-used site KIWI house-sitters where house owners post job listings. WWOOFing provides you with the option to voluntary work on a local organic farm in exchange for free accommodation and food to cover your time spent there. You could also check out homestays on sites like Workaway. These options are great if you are not necessarily looking for a place to settle in New Zealand, particularly if your main goal is to travel and you only need temporary accommodation.


New Zealand is such a beautiful country that it would be a shame if not to make time for exploring it. As a popular backpacker destination, there are many ways that you can travel in New Zealand on a budget. What seems to cost the most are the various excursions on offer for travellers, with some of them costing up to $200 NZD or more. Therefore, it is best to be picky when it comes to excursions, trying to narrow them down to the ones that you really want to do! Use discount sites like to get the best deals on trips. New Zealand is home to endless amounts of natural beauty, meaning that hiking is a must-do activity there, and of course the best thing about hiking is that it is free! Going on spontaneous road-trips is also a must when you live in New Zealand. The cheapest and most flexible way to do a road-trip is to either buy a used car or a second-hand campervan on Gumtree or buy and sell Facebook groups. Just remember to double check that the vehicle has a current WOF (warrant of fitness). Also, you will be able to easily sell the car or campervan again as there are always backpackers looking to do road trips in New Zealand.

Another way to travel in New Zealand is by using hop-on and hop-off buses. Popular bus companies that do this include the Kiwi Experience and Stray Travel, which are both great options if you are after the experience of travelling with groups of people and taking part in organised activities. If you would like to travel independently and stick to your own schedule, the best option is to buy the Intercity FlexiPass. This costs between $135-$545 NZD, lasting for up to twelve months and as an hours-based pass you can add how many travel hours you think you’ll need and top up if you run out.


As with anywhere else, you will save more money by cooking food instead of eating out and being savvy when it comes to where you shop and what you buy. Three of the biggest chain supermarkets in New Zealand with low to mid-range prices are Pac ‘N’ Save, New World, and Countdown. Pak ‘N’ Save is known to be the cheapest supermarket in New Zealand. You should expect to pay approximately $80-100 NZD for one week’s worth of groceries in New Zealand. Farmers markets at the weekends are great for cheaper fruit and vegetables!


The monthly cost for basic utilities (heating, electricity, and gas) for one person in New Zealand is said to be approximately $144 NZD, and for two people $238 NZD. Use sites like  to find the energy supplier with the best deals and prices. WIFI in New Zealand can cost you approximately $72 per month, but as with things like electricity, be savvy and try to scoop out the best prices and offers!


The most valuable option if you plan to use public transport in New Zealand is to buy a monthly pass. You can get unlimited travel on buses and trains in New Zealand by buying an AT HOP monthly pass for $215 NZD. If you are travelling by car, fuel will cost you approximately $2.30 per litre.

Send My Bag are here to help your budgeting with our door-to-door luggage delivery service – a much cheaper choice for when you are moving to New Zealand and don’t want to fork out on the expense of a removal company.

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