The Cost of Living in New Zealand: Your Survival Guide

We live in such a beautiful country here in New Zealand, with its stunning landscapes, welcoming culture, and high quality of life, it is a dream destination for many. However, as enticing as it may be, the cost of living here has been a point of concern for both residents and newcomers. In this article, we'll explore the various factors contributing to the high cost of living in New Zealand and outline practical steps to battle these challenges.

Understanding the Cost of Living: Factors at play

Several factors contribute to the relatively high cost of living in New Zealand:

  1. Housing Costs: Housing is one of the most significant contributors to the high cost of living. A combination of factors, including limited housing supply, population growth and demand from both locals and international investors, has driven up house prices in cities like Auckland and Wellington.

  2. Utilities and Transportation: Utility costs, including electricity, water, and internet, can be relatively high. Additionally, our remote location means that imported goods and fuel tend to be expensive, leading to higher transportation costs.

  3. Food and Goods: The country's isolation impacts the cost of imported goods, leading to higher prices for everyday items and groceries.

  4. Currency Exchange Rates: Fluctuations in currency exchange rates can affect the cost of living as they impact the cost of goods.

Steps to battle the high cost of living:

  1. Budgeting: Creating a comprehensive budget that outlines your income and expenses can help you better manage your finances. Identify areas where you can cut back or make more economical choices.

  2. Housing Alternatives: Instead of opting for traditional housing, consider shared accommodations, flatting, or living in less expensive suburbs. Research thoroughly before committing to a rental agreement.

  3. Transportation Choices: Utilise public transportation, carpooling, cycling, or walking whenever possible to reduce transportation expenses. Our cities are known for our bike-friendly infrastructure.

  4. Cook at Home: Eating out frequently can strain your budget. Cooking meals at home using locally sourced ingredients can be cost-effective and healthier.

  5. Explore Free and Low-Cost Activities: We are famous for our natural beauty, much of which can be explored without spending a dime. Enjoy hiking, picnics and outdoor adventures that won't break the bank.

  6. Financial Planning: Psst we offer free one-on-one financial advice! You can contact a Mercer financial adviser here to talk all things KiwiSaver. We also recommend you speak to one of the team before or straight after you switch your KiwiSaver investment to Mercer.

  7. Earn Extra Income: Consider taking up part-time or freelance work to supplement your income. The gig economy offers numerous opportunities to earn extra money. We know it’s not ideal but sometimes needs, must!

  8. Skill Enhancement: Invest in improving your skills and qualifications, which can lead to better job opportunities and higher earning potential in the long run.

  9. Long-Term Planning: If you're considering settling in New Zealand, think about long-term goals such as homeownership. Work towards building a stable financial foundation that allows you to invest wisely and secure your future.

  10. Look for opportunities in savings: How to bargain spend

If you happen to stumble upon any deals or free trials, seize the opportunity! Who doesn't love a good freebie, right? Whether it's a sale at your favourite clothing store, special offers at a fancy restaurant, or signing up for trial packages, there are plenty of chances to save some serious cash. Just be sure to give those terms and conditions a read before committing to anything.

And speaking of savvy shopping, don't forget to mark your calendar for these money-saving dates:

  • Black Friday (24th November): Keep an eye out for online and in-store sales on electronics, fashion and appliances.
  • End-of-season sales (dependent on season): Timing varies, but generally, shop at the end of summer (around March) for discounts on summer clothing and gear and at the end of winter (around September) for winter-related items.
  • Waitangi Day (February 6th): Look for sales on outdoor gear, barbecues, and summer clothing.
  • Valentine's Day (February 14th): Find deals on romantic gifts like chocolates, flowers, and jewellery in the lead-up to Valentine's Day. But remember things on the day can be more expensive than usual, so planning ahead will go along way.
  • Mother's Day (Second Sunday in May) and Father’s Day (First Sunday of September): Begin shopping a few weeks before these occasions for gift deals, including spa packages, jewellery, tools, gadgets, and outdoor equipment. Or make your own!
  • Easter (varies, late March to late April): Hunt for Easter-related sales, especially on chocolates, hot cross buns, and holiday decorations.
  • Boxing Day (December 26th): Ideal for post-Christmas sales on a wide range of items, from electronics to clothing.
  • New Year's (January 1st): Seek out New Year's clearance sales on party supplies, summer clothing and outdoor gear.

*Remember that sale timings may vary from store to store, so it's always a good idea to check with your favourite retailers for specific deals and promotions.

You can make a positive impact on your spending by keeping these dates in mind. Depending on the specific dates, it might be ideal to shop just before or immediately after them. Happy saving!

Explore what's happening in your local area in New Zealand and you'll likely find some awesome weekly deals at nearby restaurants, cafes and even gyms. Plus, there are popular stores and food providers offering great discounts on groceries and food items. For instance, check out The Wonky Box which is a fantastic subscription service that delivers fruits and vegetables that might otherwise go to waste. They rescue odd-looking and surplus produce from local farmers and bring it directly to households across New Zealand's North Island.

*Just to be clear, we're not endorsing or promoting any specific products or services.

While living costs in New Zealand can be tough, don't let them discourage you. With some proactive steps, smart money moves and informed choices and a little planning and determination, you can strike a balance between living well and staying financially stable.

The above article is general information and does not purport to give financial advice. The Mercer KiwiSaver scheme and Mercer FlexiSaver are issued by Mercer (N.Z.) Limited. Product Disclosure Statements are available free of charge at