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New Zealand, like any other country, has its expensive areas and its cheap areas. Yet overall migrants from the UK will find that NZ compares favourably to Britain. The Mercer 2012 Cost of Living Survey ranks the most expensive New Zealand cities, Auckland and Wellington, at 56 and 74 respectively whilst London came out at 25, Sydney at 11 and New York at 33. If therefore you are used to London prices you may find New Zealand a very pleasant surprise.

Do remember however that cheaper regions tend to pay cheaper salaries and vice versa as the cost of living really does depend on how much you are earning.

Consumer Goods

The equivalent of the UK VAT is the New Zealand Goods and Service Tax (GST) which at the moment is 15% and is applied to all goods and services apart from financial transactions. Here are a few of the most common goods and services and their mean price according to Numbeo:

  • McDonalds Combo Meal NZ$10
  • 1 litre of milk NZ$2.34
  • Bottle of domestic beer NZ$3.50
  • Petrol per litre NZ$2.15
  • Cinema ticket NZ$15

When buying groceries do take into account the seasons, purchasing tomatoes that have been imported in winter will cost considerably more.


Energy prices fluctuate in New Zealand and can be expensive depending where you live. Electricity is unsubsidised but cost per kilowatt hour isn’t that far off the UK cost and like the UK, electricity prices are rising each year. To find out about prices where you live, visit the Power Switch website. Gas prices are lower than electricity prices and if you use one more than the other you could benefit by switching to low usage tariffs. Use the Gas Hub website to find out more about gas prices and how to save money.

Water rates are set by city councils and can also vary enormously. In some areas the water is metered and charged for separately and in rented accommodation you mainly only pay for what you use.

Housing rates are also set by city councils according to the rating value of your property (rented properties include rates) and according to a government website, the average weekly spend on rates in 2011 was NZ$39.00.


Gas prices are relatively low with diesel being the cheapest form of fuel, which is worth bearing in mind should you be looking to buying a car in New Zealand. You can get an accurate indication of fuel prices with the government Fuel Saver website.

Clothing and Household Items

Prices of electrical items which are imported tend to be higher but on average clothing and other household items are largely inexpensive. The Warehouse can give you a very good indication of general prices for almost everything you might need, from clothing to televisions.

Immigration New Zealand has a good guide to the cost of living in New Zealand with many useful and up to date links.