New Zealand has long been popular with ex-pats, with its English-speaking residents, relaxed culture, and absolutely stunning natural scenery. But it’s important to know if it’s going to be a good fit for you before you choose a country.
Cost of Living In New Zealand
New Zealand is ranked consistently among the best countries to live in. But it comes at a high price for its natural beauty. The average cost of living is not that appealing in New Zealand. A family a four actually spends around 6,000 NZD to 8,000 NZD (3,600 to 4,800 USD) a month.
Why is Living in New Zealand so expensive? The response to that is clear. New Zealand is a remote country on the islands and most products have to be imported. High import taxes, and the lack of competition in many markets, drive rates upwards.
New Zealand is famous for some other wonderful things: coffee and honey. These are popular in New Zealand, and delicious. And, since it can be expensive to import food and goods, there is a real culture of eating what’s fresh, local and in season. Farm-to – table cuisine is popular in many countries but it’s just a way of life in New Zealand.
Depending on where you come from, food supplies could cost more than you’re used to. Many New Zealand supermarkets offer shopping online. As an experiment, try pricing on one of their websites the weekly shop you do at home.
Note that Kiwi supermarkets have special deals on a regular basis, and you can well pay less in-store. Two Internet store chains to look for are New World and Countdown.
In New Zealand, your monthly rent usually does not include services such as electricity, gas, and water. Prices vary according to where you live, and how many people you live with. In Rotorua, Hamilton, and New Plymouth, domestic power is more expensive than in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland. Dunedin with 0.26 NZD (0.16 USD) per kWh is the town with the cheapest price for domestic electricity. Expats relocating to New Zealand should plan to pay between NZD 200-250 (120 to USD 150) on average. Depending on the pace, an internet subscription costs about 85 NZD i.e. 50 USD a month.
Inland production of goods and materials is large in New Zealand. A lot of goods still have to be imported though. The remote location of the country not only makes it very difficult but also costly due to high taxes on imports.
In New Zealand, food and alcohol prices are relatively high compared to those in the US or European nations, especially imported goods. Expats who enjoy eating out can expect to pay an average of 60 NZD i.e. 36 USD at a cheap restaurant for dinner for 2. A finer place can set you back for two people at around 100 NZD (USD 60).
New Zealand has outstanding medical services subsidized by the Government. Each resident has the right to public healthcare which covers all but adult dental care. Some ex-pats opt for private health insurance to supplement their public healthcare.
Costs in health care can easily add up, especially when you rely on private dental care services. A simple dentist consultation will set you back roughly around 65 NZD i.e. 40 USD.
Public primary and secondary schooling in New Zealand is usually free. Yet schools will ask parents to pay for uniforms, books, and meals, as well as for annual payments for donations.
If you want to enroll your child in a private kindergarten, plan to pay around NZD 1,000 (USD 600) a month. The cost of private international schools varies greatly depending on where you send your child, but be prepared to pay roughly NZD 20,000 (USD 12,000) annual school fees.
Pros and Cons of Living in New Zealand
What if you get there, settle down, and then realize that you’re not in the right place to live? Doing plenty of studies and weighing a country’s pros and cons before moving there will help you avoid the awful situation. Here are a few.
Pros of Living in New Zealand
New Zealand’s temperate climate is a very inviting one. This never gets too hot and the cold always appears to stay away. There are some dark days out there but they seem to outnumber those packed with sunlight.
Whether you like snow, then the South Island is where you want to be, because it has more of the usual seasons. If you want to keep warm, then living on the North Island’s northern shores are your best option.
2. Low Crime Rate
Following the attacks on a Christchurch mosque in 2019 that took hundreds of lives, the number of homicides in the country averages around 50 per annum. According to the country’s 2018 Crime and Security Survey, crime rates are generally lower than in most of the major US cities.
Much of the population of the nation lives in Wellington, Auckland, or Christchurch, and that’s where most of the arrests and illegal activity take place. The most common incidents are car thefts. The use of weapons in crime throughout the country remains an uncommon occurrence.
3. Vast Wilderness
New Zealand has some of the world’s wildest, ruggedness, most untouched and most stunning wildlife. You can also find huge swaths of land just outside of towns so untouched it will feel like you’re the first person ever to set foot there.
There are plenty of opportunities to go hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and backpacking. People outside would be more than willing to discover everything New Zealand has to offer.
4. Bank Account
Creating a bank account in New Zealand is both easy and straightforward. You can also open an account from overseas, as long as you have the correct documents (including a work visa or resident visa), and the process is easy and can be completed completely online up to a year before you arrive in New Zealand, so you know you’re already getting in order with your finances.
Whatever their citizenship status, everyone in New Zealand receives healthcare services. Whether you are a citizen or a permanent resident, there are no out-of-pocket costs to think about when you decide to see the doctor beyond what you are paying in taxes. Also, non-residents can use this advantage on a temporary visa although there are often fees they may need to pay as part of the procedure.
When you do not have permanent resident status, your family will be paid a fee by the government to let your children attend the local public school. If you attain this status or become a resident, then you can have free access to the education system.
For their profession, the majority of the population holds an undergraduate degree, with prospects for graduates and doctorates growing too. For the region where you want to travel, you may want to review the existing laws to ensure that there are no hidden expenditures that can trigger any concern.
Cons of Living in New Zealand
The world could become a small place, but New Zealand is still at the edge of what makes people feel relaxed. It is a rather small island nation with slightly more than four million people living there.
If you plan to move from North America or Europe, then you will be very far away from your current family and friends. The time zone is almost the reverse of what it is in the United States too, which may pose a problem for communication. You are going to make new friends living here, but when you arrive first it may feel really isolating.
2. Limited Public Transport
If you want to explore New Zealand, you might need to purchase a vehicle, particularly while exploring the popular rural areas of New Zealand. Public transport leaves a lot to be desired here.
Trains do exist, but there is no nationwide rail network. For example, the train from Auckland to Wellington leaves, very early, once a day and is slow and incredibly expensive. The bus network is wide but reliability varies.
New Zealand had a rather positive approach to housing conditions until very recently. It means that among other flaws, many older houses are poorly insulated. For example, it’s rare to find radiators in houses in New Zealand.
4. Mosquitoes and Sandflies
Since you live in a temperate area where standing water is normal, when you move to New Zealand, there will be a lot of mosquitoes and sand flies that bother you every night. Many people say their country’s first summer is the worst and with this disadvantage they didn’t know what to do.
For any warm evening, you will need to use insect repellent because the bugs will bite. Just a beach visit on a windy day isn’t going to give you relief. Such insects are everywhere, literally.
5. Limited Career Option
Due to the aforementioned low population, it can be difficult to get work in a particular sector. Most Kiwis who dream big are motivated to leave New Zealand once their studies are through. There’s also a tendency for artists to fight more here because the opportunities are less.
6. Dental Treatment Can be Expensive
When living in New Zealand, you can take advantage of the universal healthcare system, but it does not include dental coverage until you are an adult. Children get free care. A simple x-ray checkup is about $100 (in local currency). Fillings start at $160 per tooth, while extractions are approximately $200.
When you come in with a hygienist to get your teeth washed, that’s around $150 for a 45-minute rendezvous. Root canals start at $750 but multi-root teeth can surpass $1,200. Those prices are why more than half of the population don’t routinely go to the dentist. For this nation dental insurance is different.