With a flexible education system in New Zealand, it provides higher study options to suit every international student’s budget. In comparison to OECD countries, the cost of living in New Zealand is at par. Along with being a world-class education hub, it also has a fantastic work – life balance with a high quality of living.

During your student visa application to New Zealand, you must be able demonstrate along with evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your cost of living in the country. If your program runs for more than a year in duration, the Immigration department of New Zealand requires you to show a minimum of NZ$ 15,000 towards supporting your living expenses for the first year. If your course is less than a year in duration, you will need to provide evidence of NZ$ 1250 for each month of your stay in New Zealand.

Your cost of living in New Zealand will be dependent on your location and your lifestyle preferences. Several costs may vary according to the region that you reside in.

As an international student, it is recommended that you budget for approximately NZ$ 25,000 as the outer limit for your living expenses for one year.

The Budget you need as a Student

Living costs

New Zealand has been voted as one of the most livable countries in the world. A rapidly growing cosmopolitan hub in the Asia Pacific region, Auckland is rated against major cities like London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York, offering similar standards of living but at a comparatively lower cost.

To make an accurate estimate of your living expenses in New Zealand, international students should take into account the following key components:

Living Expense Weekly Amount in NZ$
Renting with others (3 bedrooms) 233
Food – basic dietary requirements 114
Power – your share, taking care with heating and lights 15
Bus – with student monthly discount 23
Phone – minimum phone and text plan 5
Internet – unlimited broadband 7
Other (includes clothing/toiletries/make-up) 20



Before you arrive in New Zealand as an international student, it is a good idea to have your accommodation organized. There are multiple choices available to you - a hall of residence, renting a house with friends, or board in a homestay. Before you sign an agreement, ensure that your selected residence has proper heating services as some older houses in New Zealand do not have insulation and can be extremely cold.

On Campus Housing:

For those international students who are new to New Zealand, university on-campus housing is their best option. Most university residences are modern and offers self-catering services. Other amenities include single or shared rooms, separate toilet and shower facilities along with kitchen and dining areas. Many residences may also include a common room or study area along with shared laundry facilities. Students will have access to high speed internet services too. All university housings have 24-hour security with CCTV cameras in all the common areas.

Utilities like power, water, meals, local phone, internet and laundry are usually part of the rent when staying in on-campus university accommodation.


Off-campus housing is also extremely popular with international students. However, students usually tend to move off-campus post completing at least one term at the university residence. When students share apartments or flats, it is known as ‘flatting’ in New Zealand. Most students will rent places which are within walking distance of the university campus.

As an international student looking for accommodation off-campus, most universities in New Zealand will have services that can help you find the right apartment or connect you with external agencies. Having a flat of your own gives you a more independent experience of your overseas education. Rent does not include utilities in most cases and requires you to sign a bond, that is basically a deposit.

Student Agencies and Renting Privately

You can also choose to rent privately by looking for single accommodation on your own or through a reputed real estate agent. A small, one-bedroom apartment in an average will cost you around NZ$ 212 with amenities included.


Several families in New Zealand offer homestay option to international students. Those families who offer homestay services are carefully screened on a number of parameters. As a student, living in the midst of family in New Zealand, you get to participate and enjoy family activities, celebrations and other occasions.

A city-wise break-up of cost of living expenses in New Zealand:

Cost of Living Auckland Hamilton Wellington Christchurch
Renting with others (3 bedrooms) 202 127 170 132
Food – basic dietary requirements 64 64 64 63
Power 13 16 14 16
Bus – with regional bus card discounts 23 17 28 25
Phone – minimum phone and text plan 5 5 5 5
Internet – unlimited broadband 7 7 7 7
Other (includes clothing/toiletries/make-up) 20 20 20 20



There’s plenty to try in New Zealand, especially if you are a culinary enthusiast. With its rich farmlands and extensive coastline, New Zealand has some of the world’s best quality produce. With such fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, the standard of food is unmatchable. As an international student, you should definitely try the famous New Zealand lamb, green-lip mussels and Kiwi yogurts.

In terms of budgeting towards food, here is an average weekly estimate:

Food Items Weekly budget in NZ$
All meals prepared at home in advance, using

the cheapest ingredients (little, if any meat) from the cheapest supermarkets, and shopping at the weekend fruit and vegetable markets.

Most meals prepared at home, ingredients from an inner-city supermarket, varied diet. $80
Many meals prepared at home. Some shopping from supermarkets, some from local convenience stores, six meals per week from cafés or takeaways. $150
No cooking; all meals bought. $250


Here is a city-wise break up of weekly food costs for a basic healthy diet:

City Auckland Wellington Christchurch Dunedin
Weekly Budget in NZ$ $64 $64 $63 $65


Follow these tips to save of your food expenses:

  • Purchase farm fresh fruits and vegetables from the weekend farmers markets. Most of these markets run from early morning, around 7am to 2pm. You can bargain to your heart’s content and get really good deals on farm fresh produce.

  • Check for offers and special deals when you shop for your weekly groceries.

  • Have a list prepared of what you need from the Supermarket. Buy in bulk so that the groceries last your for at least a week. Shopping from the supermarket is less expensive than your local convenience stores.

  • You will also find a lot of deals and discounts if you shop for your groceries online. It additionally saves on your local transport too.

  • Food at the university cafeteria can be expensive. However, most lunch rooms at the university campus will have microwaves. You can prepare home cooked meals and heat in the microwave at the university.

Public Transport

Buses are the most affordable modes of transport for international students in New Zealand. Local bus services serve the city area and Intercity and Naked Bus services run between towns and cities. Fares on inter city services start from NZ$ 10 onwards.

KiwiRail operates three mail rail lines in New Zealand. They are Auckland to Wellington with the Northern Explorer, Picton to Christchurch via Coastal Pacific line, and Christchurch to the West Coast through the TranzAlpine track that is considered to be one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. The fares on a single train journey will start from NZ$ 49 per person.

A popular mode of transport between North and South Islands are through ferries. The two main operators are InterIslander and Bluebridge. For foot passengers, fares start from NZ$ 55. This mode of transport is also available between the mainland and some of New Zealand’s offshore islands such as Waiheke, Rangitoto and Great Barrier near Auckland city, and Stewart Island just below the South Island. Ferries also connect some of the coastal areas and towns including Russell and Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Water taxis are available to reach those areas where ferries are unable to operate. These are small vessels in comparison to ferries and offer scheduled services to reach these small ports.

International students in New Zealand can also purchase bikes as these are popular modes of student travel. Some of the main cities like Auckland and Wellington are working on student discounts schemes on a trial basis on their public transport system.

Health & Medical

As an international student in New Zealand, health insurance is mandatory during your stay in the country. This is a condition that you need to fulfil during your student visa application stage. Your university may have a panel of service providers and you can think of taking out a policy with them at the time that you accept your offer of admission. A typical student health insurance that covers your stay as an international student for one year will be approximately NZ$ 590.

New Zealand has a world class healthcare system in place. A typical visit to the doctor will cost you between NZ$ 25 and NZ$ 60. Prescription medicines are NZ$ 5. If you are hospitalized, then the cost of your treatment is borne by the state.

Lifestyle expenses

Your lifestyles expenses will be determined by your tastes and preferences. Once you arrive in New Zealand, especially if you are travelling from a tropical country like India, you need to purchase appropriate clothing for the winter season. You can estimate about NZ$ 80 per week towards clothes for the first couple of months. Look for deasl during seasonal sales. You can also get good discounts if you purchase online.

While you want to be on budget as much as you can, however, an occasional meal out with your friends is also necessary. If you wish to indulge in a Big Mac, it is priced at NZ$ 6.10. The average cost of a meal at a reasonably good restaurant is NZ$ 18. A beer will cost you NZ$ 8 and a glass of wine is roughly NZ$ 7. Along with a movie and a 5-mile taxi ride home, you will spend around NZ$ 152 in one evening.

A movie ticket is priced at around NZ$ 16 and if you are into regular fitness, then a gym membership will cost you around NZ$ 55 per month.

You will also need to set aside a budget towards books, stationary, photocopying and equipment that you may need during your time as a student in New Zealand. An annual budget of NZ$ 750 should be able to accommodate your requirements.

Student Discounts

With your student identity card, you can avail of a number of concessions on the following:

  • Restaurants & Cafes

  • Pizza joints

  • Mobile Data

  • Clothes & Make-up

  • Entertainment including movie and theatre tickets

  • Adventure Sports

  • Health and Wellness centres including spas

If you know that you are eligible for a discount, don’t be embarrassed to ask for one.

Working During Study

Your student visa for New Zealand gives you automatic working rights which is 20 hours per week during term time and up to 40 hours per week during calendar holidays and semester breaks. Your university will have a Job Cell through which local businesses tend to advertise for available openings for all students. However, you should not depend on your income through part-time work alone as a means to supplement your entire living expenses in New Zealand. Think of your part-time employment as a platform to meet new people and make new friends in a foreign country.

Once you are part of the international student body in New Zealand, you will have access to the International Office at your university campus, who will ensure that your time spent in the country is stress-free and successful. New Zealand has lots to offer especially for those who seek adventure and thrill. Try your hand at skiing, surfing or climbing in a country with one of most stunning landscapes. If you want to give rugby a shot, then you are in the right country to learn. If have interests that are natural, cultural and historical, then spend some time exploring New Zealand’s scenic beauty, its distinct wildlife species and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.