Cost of Living for An Average Family in New Zealand [2024 Guide]

Moving to New Zealand can be a life-changing experience for you and your family, as it’s a fantastic place for children with plenty of opportunities. However, before you pack and get ready to leave, it’s often a good idea to understand whether you can afford to live in your new destination.

The cost of living in New Zealand for a single person in a major city ranges between NZ$3,000 NZ$4,000 (US$1,941 – US$2,588) per month. However, it’s between NZ$5,000 NZ$6,000 (US$3,233 – US$3,883) per month for a family of four to afford a decent lifestyle.

In this article, we discuss the living costs and how much money you’ll need to survive in New Zealand with your family. It will also help you narrow your search on the cost of cheaper cities to live in, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Read the full, in-depth article on the cost of living in New Zealand, including my typical expenses.

How much money does a family need in New Zealand?

The everyday cost of living in New Zealand can be pretty steep. Statistics say that to live comfortably, you need about:

  • NZ$7,648 (US$4,949) per month as a family of four
  • NZ$4,188 (US$2,710) per month as a single

However, it’s typical for a household to have two income earners, which helps spread the cost. A good salary in New Zealand is about NZ$70,000 annually or NZ$4,579 (US$2,963) net per month. 

This salary will allow a single person to get by the basic expenses while a family will be required to double the amount.

With such an income, you can comfortably rent a standard two-bedroom house, afford your weekly groceries, own a decent car, and have a nice meal at an upscale restaurant.

You can also conveniently travel across the country and overseas to explore outer spaces, but you’ll be required to lay out a budget for that.

Read more on the cost of living in New Zealand.

House prices and rents in different cities

In general, the cost of housing in New Zealand, whether renting or buying, is extremely high, especially in the main centers like Auckland, Wellington and beautiful Queenstown.

While this is true, there are plenty of options to choose from regarding housing. Whether you’re looking for townhouses, flats, suburban homes, rural living, or apartments, you’ll find something that fits your budget.

However, like many cities, the high cost of housing in New Zealand is largely influenced by the significantly low rates of population growth, low population, high mortgage rates, and the increases in housing supply.

Take a look at the average regional house prices in New Zealand in major regions.

CityAverage house price (NZ$)
Wellington City1,026,000
Napier City790,000
Hawkes Bay733,500
New Plymouth729,000
Queenstown Lakes1,716,081
Dunedin City643,000
West Coast340,000
House prices as of January 2023 –www.qv.co.nz

Read more on house prices in New Zealand.

When it comes to renting in New Zealand, rent is collected weekly and may vary in price depending on the city or town you intend to move to. Ensure you check the average rent price of the town or city you plan to relocate to.

Generally, the average rent in New Zealand is around NZ$600 a week for a regular one- or two-bedroom apartment or house and NZ$600 – NZ$700 for a three- to four-bedroom house. These rental prices will depend on the region and the size of the accommodation.

To save on housing, try Housesitting, you get an entire house for free!

In New Zealand, Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are the largest cities, with the cost of rent being 39% higher than in the relatively smaller towns in the rural areas.

CityAverage house rent per week (NZ$)


In New Zealand, food is your next largest expense after rent. And we aren’t exaggerating when say, groceries are ridiculously expensive in New Zealand. Here are some typical prices as of January 2023:

  • Milk: NZ$3 per liter
  • Bread: NZ$4 for 0,5 kg
  • Eggs: NZ$10 for 12
  • Chicken fillets: NZ$15
  • Apples: NZ$5
  • Oranges: NZ$5
  • Tomato: NZ$10
  • Lettuce: NZ$5
  • Beer: NZ$5
  • Meal in a restaurant: NZ$25
  • Cappuccino: NZ$5

Update: Due to the worldwide recession and crisis, food prices are continuing to rise, so expect to see higher numbers when you do your shopping wherever you are.

Read this guide on food prices in New Zealand.

You should budget at least NZ$200 (US$130) per week as a single and NZ$300 (US$200) per week as a family just for groceries.

Besides, you can use the services of HelloFresh, which is a fantastic option for someone short on time but still wanting to save a buck. You can cook their amazing, easy-done recipes, which will come to about NZ$7.99 per meal. That’s even cheaper than groceries.

Get up to $120 off on your order at HelloFresh.

Healthcare in New Zealand

If you are a resident, you can get free healthcare funded by New Zealand’s government. However, you must pay between NZ$50 to NZ$70 each time you visit a GP. Afterward, GP will send you to a specialist if you need it.

Public healthcare is great, but you can face long waiting times, especially for certain operations. Besides, dental care and ophthalmology aren’t covered by the state; you must pay out of pocket. Just a filling can cost several hundred dollars.

For that reason, we recommend signing up for private health insurance, like one from Cigna Global.

Average salaries in New Zealand

A good wage in New Zealand is based on the kind of lifestyle you want to live, your family size, and the income earners there are in your household.

Ideally, a good salary in New Zealand is starting from NZ$70,000 annually or NZ$4,579 net per month. These salaries can afford a sustainable and comfortable life for an average family with two income earners.

While New Zealand tends to generalize its average earnings across most jobs, some professions make above the average.

In 2022, the average salary in New Zealand for all occupations was about NZ$1,093 per week, which was about NZ$58,836 per year.

However, only a small part of the population makes the cut of top salary earners, which is NZ$100,000. Most of these top earners work in major cities like Auckland and Wellington. While this salary can earn a single person a decent lifestyle, it may be challenging for an average family of four to get by.

Did you know that in New Zealand, you can apply for government support via Work and Income if you don’t earn enough?

Like everywhere else, wages in New Zealand increase as you scale up your education level or job experience.

For instance, an employee with a bachelor’s degree earns 2% above the national average income a year after their studies. In fact, they reach a 67% higher salary after gaining ten years of experience.

You can see the distribution of salaries across New Zealand on the graph below:

Source: figure.nz

Read this guide on salaries in NZ.

Cost of living in New Zealand for a family of 3

If you have only one child, you will spend between NZ$4,000 to NZ$5,000 per month, depending on the child’s age.

In New Zealand, families typically spend between NZ$147 to NZ$316 on average weekly to raise one child. Your weekly expenses will grow by NZ$50 after the child turns 13 years old. That’s because it’s more expensive to provide a teenager with all that they need than a younger kid.

According to New Zealand’s tax policy website, families on low, middle, and high-income levels spend 33%, 20%, and 12% more on teenagers than on children aged twelve and below, respectively.

Below is a table showing the average estimated weekly expenditure for raising one child in New Zealand.

Level of incomeAverage weekly incomeAge of child
Low incomeNZ$704NZ$147NZ$196
Middle incomeNZ$1,365NZ$243NZ$291
High incomeNZ$2,838NZ$426NZ$477
Average incomeNZ$1,552NZ$268NZ$316

Typical monthly expenses for a family with one child living in New Zealand are as follows:

Main expensesAverage monthly costs (NZ$)
Rent and utilities$2,500
Education (public schools)$60
Pocket money$35
Extra and unexpected costs$60

Cost of living in New Zealand for a family of 4

A typical family in New Zealand contains two spouses and two kids, where both spouses have a job to afford a decent lifestyle. The cost of living in New Zealand for a family of four, not including rent, is NZ$2,950 – NZ$3,600 per month.

The biggest problem in New Zealand is the exorbitant cost of real estate and the rising cost of housing. For affordable housing, consider moving further out of the city center. In New Zealand, the rent for a three-bedroom house ranges from NZ$2,269 to NZ$2,830. 

Similarly, the average price of buying a property in the city center is NZ$9,444 and NZ$7,234 per square meter as you move further out of the city.

A typical house price in a city like Tauranga is NZ$1,076,000. To buy a home, you must have at least 20% for a downpayment for an existing property and 10% for a new build.

If you consider housing, like renting a three-bedroom house, the total cost of living for a family in New Zealand goes quickly exponentially to NZ$5,000 – NZ$6,000 per month, and in major cities, this number is closer to NZ$7,000 – NZ$8,000!

Both spouses should be working and earning at least a national average salary of about NZ$4,579 net per month to afford a comfortable lifestyle.

Your main monthly expenditure in New Zealand will be:

Main expensesMonthly costs (NZ$)
Rent (three-bedroom house)$2,500
Food and groceries$1,300

Cheapest cities to live as a family in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world, as it’s ranked 15th out of 140 countries regarding the cost of living.

From housing, food, and drinks, keep an open mind while trying to relocate here. However, suppose you want to cut back on your living costs, you should consider moving to these cities:

  • Invercargill in the deep South is one of the most affordable places where you can rent a decent three-bedroom home just for about NZ$450 – NZ$500 per week. Because rent prices in Auckland are 142.4% higher than in Invercargill and groceries are more expensive by 21.0%.
  • Located in the South, Christchurch is the second largest city in the country but offers a surprisingly low cost of living. A single person would need about NZ$2,849 to live comfortably there, and a family of four would require around NZ$6,071 per month. Rents are pretty affordable, coming to about NZ$550 per week for a family house.
  • Dunedin is yet again a city on a South island that offers a range of employment and free-time options at lower rates. So a family can live there very comfortably on NZ$6,000 per month, and a single will enjoy life with NZ$3,000 per month. You can rent a two-bedroom house for NZ$450 – NZ$550 per week.

Some other affordable places to live in New Zealand are:

  • Rotorua
  • Palmerston North
  • Napier
  • Whangarei
  • Hamilton

The house prices in these cities are shown in the table below (January 2023).

CityHouse price (NZ$)
Palmerston North648,000
Source: NZ house price index – qv.co.nz

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