Budget, Moving


One of the most popular questions that I get regarding life in New Zealand is “How much does X cost?”, where “X” can be any number of things – gas, groceries, rent, etc.  I thought that it might be helpful to have a post that gave a sampling of what one might expect to pay here in Auckland.

When you read this, remember that this is a sampling.  Prices fluctuate depending on season, where you live, and many other factors.  The numbers I’m giving are based on what I’ve seen in my little sphere.  All grocery prices listed are from a local chain, but the reality is that we shop around.  I like to get fruits + veggies at one store, meat at another, and the rest somewhere else.   But, I have a 4 1/2 month old baby, a husband, and I work PRN in an ER, so I’m making this as easy on myself as possible!

Also, I’ve tended to go toward prices that would fit with a “grad student budget” approach.  Namely, prices that work for people looking to spend the bare minimum.  We tend to purchase a mix of nice things and bargain things.  If you’re like us and are willing to do a mix of economy/premium shopping as opposed to only economy, then expect to pay more.

Basic Food Items

  • Milk: $4.80 for a 2L/~1/2 gallon bottle of super trim {skim}
  • Chicken Breast: $21.99 {currently on sale for $15.99} for 1 kg
  • Chicken – Whole: $12 – $14 for a size 16 chicken {between 1.5 – 1.7kgs}
  • White Bread: $1.69 for cheapest option
  • Whole Wheat Bread: $2.35 to $7+, depending on preference
  • Unsalted Butter: $6.05 for 500gms/1lb
  • Salted Butter: $3.99 for 500gms
  • Eggs: $3.06/dozen.  We buy cage-free, which are $5.60/dozen
  • Peanut Butter: $2.59 for 375 grams of the cheapest stuff, which tastes like peanut paste. We like to buy natural peanut butter from the Farmer’s Market.  It costs a bit more, but it tastes better.
  • Cornflakes: $2.35 for a 500gm box of generic cornflakes, but you can easily spend $7/box
  • Merlot: $10 – $60 per bottle, with average price around $20
  • Beer: $18 – $24/6 pack of a typical NZ beer


  • Movie Tickets: $17 at our local theatre, although there are “Cheap As” nights when you can get them for less
  • Dinner: $25 – $40+ for a standard, no-frills dinner out in Auckland.  If you want to get drinks, sides, or dessert, that will obviously cause the price to go up.
  • Takeaways or Fast Food: If we’re talking plain-old fast food (i.e., Burger King, McDonald’s or Wendys}, then expect to spend anywhere from $9 – $14 for a combo meal, depending on what you get.  We try to steer clear of too much fast food and go for healthy takeaway options from local cafes.  You can find good sandwiches for $8 – $10, but they can run as high as $20 for a sandwich depending on where you’re eating {ahem, Newmarket!}.
  • Live Theatre: $17 – $25 for some of the student theatres.  If you want to go to a larger venue, such as The Civic, then expect to pay an average of around $75/seat with prices as high as $100/seat.  You can sometimes find cheap-cheap-cheap seats for $35, but that’s not an option with every performance.
  • Symphony – $45 – $75 on average for the NZSO.  I have seen them as low as $29 {if you can get in fast enough} and prices as high as $115.

Phone & Internet

  • Internet: We pay $90 – $95/month for our internet + land-line, depending on the number of long-distance calls and calls to mobiles that we make.  I believe that they’ve increased the prices since we signed on with Vodafone, though, and to get the same service would cost $100/month.  This gets us 45gb of data.  You can get plans with less data, but we’re online a lot.  I researched calling rates when we first moved here and had all sorts of spreadsheets.  I found that, for our needs, getting a land-line as well as cell phones made the most sense.  We get free local calls to other land-lines with our home phone, and calling cells from our home phone costs less than calling from our cell phones.
  • Cell phones – We have prepay mobiles.  Again, after doing the research, I found that this option made the most sense for us, though it wouldn’t work for everyone.  We don’t need to access the internet via our phones, so we gave that up when we moved here.  A top-up is a minimum of $20, and we probably spend that much each month – top-up Chris’ phone one month and my phone the next.  I’ve had months where I haven’t had to top-up at all.  That’s just the way that it’s worked out.  Texting is pretty popular since it costs less than calling, so we text like crazy.  I think that there’s even a free-to-text service via Vodafone’s website, but I haven’t really used it.  I’m not an expert on cell phone plans, so I strongly suggest that you check Vodafone {what we use}, Telecom, and 2Degrees for more information.


Most people in Auckland – and in New Zealand in general – own a vehicle.  We don’t.  Odds are that if you move over here, you’ll want to buy one.  I’m not the greatest expert on vehicle-associated costs since we don’t own one, but I can give you some information on transportation prices.

  • Gas – Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to this, but I think that it’s around $2 + some odd cents per litre.  Maybe one of my readers can update me on this!
  • WOF – You’ll need an annual warrant of fitness in order to drive your vehicle.  I’ve seen advertisements for these for around $35
  • Bus – Auckland’s transport system runs buses, trains, and ferries.  I take the bus frequently and bought a HOP card for $10.  It makes riding the bus easier plus saves  10% per fare.  There are different cards for adults, children, students, and senior citizens that will charge the appropriate fare, so make sure you get the right one.  Check here for bus fares, here for train fares, and here for ferries.  Fullers is another ferry service in Auckland, so check their prices, too.
  • Parking – if you have a car, odds are that you’re going to have to pay for parking.  I’ve seen it as low as $12/day to over $24/day depending on location and time.  In the city centre, parking on the street is about $4/hour during the day {again, depends on location}.  Parking in a car park may cost as much as $6/hour for 30 minutes, so be aware that prices run the gamut and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best spots and times.

Housing and Utilities

Ah, housing.  It’s a constant stress for many people and if you live in a big city in New Zealand, then odds are that it’ll be a stress for you, too!  The average home price in Auckland is around $725,000 for a basic 3 bedroom, 1 bath w/ or w/o a garage (more likely to be w/o).  It’s less pricey on the North Shore region (I think in the $650,000 range).

  • Rent – Rent here runs the gamut.  You can get a place for as low as $100/week if you’re willing to live with others, or you can pay over $1,000/week.  It all depends on your budget and where you want to live.  I suggest that you check TradeMe for real estate options.  If you have a vehicle, look for one with a car park otherwise you’ll pay through the nose for parking.  You should be aware that there will also be a one-time letting fee for the estate agent, as well as a bond.  If you’re paying $700/week and they require a 4 week bond, that alone will be $2,800 that you have to pay right off the bat.
  • Energy – Check comparison sites {e.g., PowerSwitch, WhatsMyNumber, or SwitchMe} to see which company would best meet your needs.  We found that using one company for gas + another for electric was the most economical option.  I did an average of 16 months’ bills and found that we paid about $130/month for our 2 bedroom place in the city.  This fluctuates depending on the time of year, and we do what we can to keep it low – minimal use of the clothes drier, layering during the winter rather than running the heater, etc.


So, there you have it – my utterly incomplete and unscientific list of prices here in Auckland.  Again, please keep in mind that the best idea is to shop around, which is what we do!

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7 thoughts on “Prices

  1. Hi Jenny!
    It was lovely to hear back from you the other day. I read this post with great interest as the “prices” of everything is the single biggest reason we don’t live in NZ :o( I would love to be raising our family in NZ – as you know I’m a Kiwi but my Hubby is American and he just *cannot* get past how expensive the cost of living is in NZ. And I would have to say that increasingly, after having lived in the USA for the past 9 years, I am constantly appalled by the cost of everything when I go home on visits, even though to some degree I can rationalise by saying “well, this IS New Zealand, afterall”. The interesting thing is, everything has gotten so expensive in the past 10 years. We got married in 2002 and some Kiwi friends of ours got married the same month. While we planned to start out in the States, they bought their first home for $130,000 and went on to sell it (only) 2 years later for $280,000. The housing market has just gone up and up and up since then. We feel absolutely priced out of NZ these days, while here we can live comfortably in our own home on a single, modest income. With a young family now, we just can’t fathom what a huge financial step backwards it would be for us to live in NZ.

    I guess I will always wonder how things would have turned out if we’d started off in NZ! But at the time you can never foresee how much things could change in a few short years… sigh :o(

  2. Jenny-

    It was neat to see the prices in NZ to compare to the states. It does seem that the cost of living is much higher for some things. Maybe each individual has a higher income as well? Being able to walk around such a big city and shop at the markets for fresh produce is much more appealing to me though than how we shop at grocery stores here. I’m sure Americans are viewed as people of convenience and lazy haha! (all the pre packaged things we eat etc)


  3. I forgot to mention that car insurance prices vary a bit from company to company too. First off there is the difference in cost for ‘third party’ or full/comprehensive insurance. Second, your monthly premium will also be affected by a number of variables e.g. the area you live, whether your car is parked on or off street, in a garage/carport or neither, whether its alarmed or not etc.

  4. I can help out with some of the trasnportation costs 🙂

    Petrol is currently about $2.09 per litre for 91 fuel (it costs a few cents more for 95 – the better fuel). But the 4c off per litre vouchers that you can get from supermarkets when you spend a certain amount makes it a little cheaper 🙂 Also, having a car that is economical (e.g. a 1.6L engine) makes a big difference.

    WOFs really do vary in price from place to place – VTNZ charge around $50 but it can mostly be anywhere from $25-50 .. just make sure that the place you go has a good reputation as there are a few dodgy (sketchy) places that try to rip you off with all these supposed repairs that you need.

    Car registration costs – 3 months is $77, 6 months is $147 and 12 months is $287.. or you can specify how many months you’d like to pay. If you have the money up front, its definitley cheaper to just pay for 12 months (which is what I do currently).

  5. Does Chris get discounts for arts/shows perfromed by or through the university? If so, do you ever go see them? Just wondering! 🙂

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