“Would I be better off in New Zealand?” It’s the question everyone looking to make the move asks themselves. When it comes to lifestyle the answer is pretty easy – yes! But what about the cash? In our all-new Cost of Living Index we compare the prices of 60 everyday essentials to those in the UK, from your supermarket shop to furnishing your home.
When you move to New Zealand, expect the costs of some items to come as a serious shock. A lot of items must be imported into the country, which pushes costs up considerably. For example, I was blown away by the cost of items for the home – white goods, bedding, furniture, etc. Rather than selling everything and thinking it’ll be more cost effective to buy new when you arrive, you could be better off paying to ship your possessions from the UK.
Overall, our basket of everyday household items and activities cost 13% more than the UK. Some items were far more expensive, but they were mainly where people insist on buying British/American versions of items. If you can swap your Scotch whisky, Heinz soup, and IKEA you can even that up quite easily.
Another positive is that as you explore this amazing country, travel prices are far lower.
We used an exchange rate of NZD1.94 to £1, this being the average rate over the whole of 2019.
In the market and supermarket
As New Zealand grows a lot of its own fruit and veg and has thriving dairy and horticulture industries, you’d think that grocery shopping would be nice and cheap. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Where possible, try to buy food produced in New Zealand as it’s a little cheaper, but as most items are imported, your grocery shop can end up costing more than it does back in the UK.
Pak n’Save and Countdown are the cheapest supermarkets in New Zealand, but even so groceries tend to be around 10 percent more expensive than the UK. You can reduce this expense in a couple of ways. Firstly, hit up farmers markets or greengrocers for the cheapest fruit and veg. Secondly, you’ll find that items that are made or grown in New Zealand are considerably cheaper, as are fresh items that are in season.
We took UK prices from Tesco in October 2019, and New Zealand prices from Countdown.
|In the supermarket||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Large, wholemeal sliced loaf of bread (800g)||£1.10||$4.00||£2.06||+ 87%|
|Pack of butter (250g)||£1.50||$4.60||£2.37||+ 58%|
|Milk (I litre)||£0.80||$2.35||£1.21||+ 51%|
|6 eggs, large free range||£1.00||$4.00||£2.06||+ 106%|
|Iceberg lettuce||£0.70||$2.00||£1.03||+ 47%|
|Teabags (per 100)||£2.50||$4.00||£2.06||– 18%|
|Fresh pineapple (whole)||£1.00||$3.00||£1.55||+ 55%|
|Fresh tomatoes (1 kilo)||£2.50||$7.99||£4.12||+ 65%|
|Fresh chicken for roasting (regular)||£3.40||$9.00||£4.64||+ 36%|
|Fresh chicken for roasting (free-range/organic/corn-fed)||£7.50||$16.00||£8.25||+ 10%|
|Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream (500ml)||£4.20||$12.49||£6.44||+ 53%|
|fresh white fish, cod type (1 kilo)||£13.50||$26.00||£13.40||– 1%|
|Jar of mayonnaise (600g)||£2.50||$5.99||£3.09||+ 24%|
|Heinz cream of tomato soup (400g)||£0.95||$4.60||£2.37||+ 150%|
|Coca-cola zero (2 litre)||£1.95||$3.40||£1.75||– 10%|
|Bottle of whisky (blended) 70cl||£15.00||$50.00||£25.78||+ 72%|
|Dark chocolate bar (Green & Black type, 90/100g)||£2.00||$3.79||£1.95||– 2%|
|Complete dog food, dry (5 kilo)||£10.00||$17.98||£9.27||– 7%|
|Laundry detergent (40 washes)||£4.50||$11.50||£5.93||+ 32%|
|Kitchen roll, 4-pack||£2.20||$5.00||£2.58||+ 17%|
|Total supermarket trolley||£78.80||101.92||+ 29%|
As is the case in the UK, car insurance will vary in price depending on your location and your insurance record. Currently, car insurance in Auckland is more expensive than in other locations in New Zealand. In Auckland the average annual car insurance fee is $824 (£443) but the average Kiwi elsewhere pays $680 (£366).
If you’re living in one of New Zealand’s biggest cities, you’ll find that the public transport is very good. Most cities have an extensive bus network and Auckland and Wellington also have city-suburban rail services, which mean if you’re living and working near the CBD, you may not really need a car. However, given the fact that New Zealand is big, there’s a lot to see, and a lot of people live rurally, you may want to buy your own vehicle.
Internal flights are available in New Zealand and aren’t too pricey with airlines such as Jetstar and Air New Zealand, where you can fly from Auckland to Christchurch in an hour and a half for around £100. Coach travel is also a possibility if you’re happy with long journeys. You can travel between Christchurch and Queenstown for example for $55 (£29.60) one-way with InterCity , which is very reasonable given the fact it’s an 8-hour journey!
For our train journey we chose Upper Hutt to Wellingington return.
|Travel||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|1 litre petrol (unleaded)||£1.30||$2.44||£1.26||– 3%|
|Car hire, small car, 1 week||£124.00||$219.41||£113.12||– 9%|
|Return train fare, London to Brighton equivalent (about one hour)||£26.00||$19.00||£9.80||– 62%|
|Car tax, electric/hybrid, 1 year||£140.00||$109.16||£56.28||– 60%|
In the home
Second-hand shops, local markets, garage sales and school fairs can be a real winner when it comes to furniture, crockery, clothing and so on. Over here, second hand shops are called op-shops, and the best ones are The Salvation Army and The Red Cross. Also, SaveMart stores are a great place to snap up bargain second-hand clothing. TradeMe is a great place for second-hand bargains, but do be a touch cautious, as you would be when using Ebay. Should you really want to buy household items new, try to avoid doing so unless items are on sale – which fortunately they seem to be a lot of the time! If you can hold out for a sale, you can save yourself half the original purchase price, so it’s worth being patient and planning ahead. Also, in New Zealand it is perfectly acceptable to haggle over ‘big ticket’ items, i.e. anything over $100. In fact, it’s always worth trying your luck on expensive items – you never know if you don’t ask!
When it comes to internet and utilities, how much things cost varies wildly by region. Discover the cheapest suppliers and save yourself serious cash via Glimp (internet) and PowerSwitch (utilities).
|In the home||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Paying a domestic cleaner – per hour||£12.50||$29.95||£15.44||+ 24%|
|White Dulux emulsion, or equivalent (2.5 litre)||£14.00||$61.80||£31.86||+ 128%|
|Ikea “Billy” bookcase (80x28x202 cm)||£35.00||$139.00||£71.66||+ 105%|
|Samsung TV, 55”||£549.00||$1,489.00||£767.64||+ 40%|
|Alexa echo dot||£35.00||$39.99||£20.62||– 41%|
|Electricity (per kilowatt hour)||£0.13||$0.28||£0.14||+ 11%|
|Home broadband, no data limit (per month)||£23.00||$64.99||£33.51||+ 46%|
At your leisure
The cost of books in New Zealand is a real shock. Either buy second-hand or invest in a Kindle before you arrive and register it in the UK. Much like the UK, you can save cash by going to the cinema mid-week. Tuesday’s is the cheapest day across the country. Booze is pricey in bars and pubs, but you can snap up some deals in supermarkets and make the most of the excellent BYO restaurants popping up all over the country. Grabone is a great website, like Groupon, which offers great deals for dining out at discounted prices.
|Leisure||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Cappuccino in local café||£2.80||$4.70||£2.42||– 13%|
|Bottle of Coke Zero from local shop (500ml)||£1.50||$4.00||£2.06||+ 37%|
|Pain au chocolat in café||£1.90||$6.00||£3.09||+ 63%|
|Big Mac/quarter pounder cheeseburger||£3.09||$12.20||£6.29||+ 104%|
|Bottle of house wine in local mid-range restaurant||£17.95||$40.00||£20.62||+ 15%|
|Draft beer in bar (half pint)||£2.20||$6.50||£3.35||+ 52%|
|3 course meal in mid-range restaurant (ex drinks)||£27.00||$45.00||£23.20||– 14%|
|Tip for meal (above)||£3.00||$4.50||£2.32||– 23%|
|Cinema ticket (one)||£11.00||$15.50||£7.99||– 27%|
|Spotify Premium subscription, per month||£10.00||$14.99||£7.73||– 23%|
|Amazon Prime, per month||£8.00||$5.99||£3.09||– 61%|
|Daily Newspaper (equivalent to Times)||£1.80||$1.20||£0.62||– 66%|
|Women’s Running shoes, mid-range, Nike||£105.00||$170.00||£87.64||– 17%|
|Paperback fiction book||£9.00||$24.99||£12.88||+ 43%|
|SuperMario Kart for Nintendo Switch||£43.00||$99.00||£51.04||+ 19%|
If you’re a permanent resident or have a working visa, you will be able to access New Zealand’s excellent healthcare system. However, there are charges and even a basic consultation fee is around $45-55 (£24-29) during the week. If you need an appointment at night or at the weekend, it can be an added $10-15 (£5.38-8).
|Healthcare||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Dentist – basic NHS check up, no other work||£22.70||$94.00||£48.46||+ 113%|
|16 paracetamol tablets (generic)||£0.68||$2.69||£1.39||+ 104%|
|Prescription charge (working person)||£9.00||$5.00||£2.58||– 71%|
|Children||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Nappies, medium-sized, Pampers-type (each)||£0.10||$0.68||£0.35||+ 251%|
|Calpol (or equivalent), age 6 plus||£3.50||$15.99||£8.24||+ 136%|
|Children’s swim at local pool||£3.00||$3.60||£1.86||– 38%|
|Other||UK Prices £||New Zealand in $||New Zealand in £||More/less expensive in New Zealand|
|Women’s jeans – mid- range, Zara or equivalent||£26.00||$69.90||£36.04||+ 39%|
|Hotel: mid-range, one midweek night for two||£72.00||$85.65||£44.16||– 39%|
|Men’s haircut, barber||£12.00||$40.00||£20.62||+ 72%|
Get all of the key information and advice you need in our online guide to buying a house in New Zealand. You can also download it in PDF format for offline reading or printing. Fill in the form to the right to get your copy.