Research shows that the cost of living in New Zealand is considerably cheaper than many other English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. As a guide, allow NZ$10,000 to NZ$12,000 per year for general living costs, including accommodation.

The following is a breakdown of approximate living costs for one academic year:

Accommodation and course-related costs per academic year

Accommodation NZ$6,000 to NZ$8,000
Textbooks NZ$1000
Food NZ$2,500
Miscellaneous NZ$3,000

Other living costs

Bus ride from Unitec to the city centre NZ$4
Travel and medical insurance NZ$500 per year
A taxi ride per 5km NZ$8
Movie ticket NZ$14
One day of skiing NZ$250
Tickets to a sports event at Eden Park NZ$15 each
Tickets to an international music concert or theatre event NZ$45

Food and drink

McDonald's combo meal NZ$5.95 to NZ$7.95
A loaf of bread NZ$2.50
A litre of milk NZ$1.90
Coffee/cappuccino NZ$3.50
Lunch from campus cafe NZ$5 to NZ$10

Cars and associated costs

If you own a car allow up to NZ$1000 a year for running costs. These costs will be made up of:

  • Car insurance – this is usually an annual premium
  • Warrant of Fitness (WoF) – cars that are six years or older require a new WoF every six months; under six years old they only require a WoF annually
  • Car registration – you can pay for either six or twelve months
  • Fuel and oil
  • Car and tyre maintenance/servicing.

The Automobile Association (AA) has information on the costs of running a car, and lists cars for sale.

Costs for dependants of student permit holders

If you hold a New Zealand study permit, your dependents will need medical insurance. As a dependant, they will also be charged full-cost fees to attend schools, which range from NZ$4,000 to NZ$6,000 per year at the primary level, and between NZ$8, 000 and NZ$12,000 at the secondary level.

If you are studying a programme that is either postgraduate and/or listed on the short-term skills category, tuition fees for your dependants’ schooling may be free of charge. Your partner may also be able to apply for a work visa.

Visit Immigration New Zealand for more information.

Estimated cost of living in New Zealand

Rent (per week)


Groceries (per week)


Unitec Sports Centre and gym (per year)


Entertainment (per week)


Average meal


Milk (per litre)


Can of Coke


Hot Drink


Lunch at the Unitec Hub


Single bus trip (up to 8 stages with AT HOP card)


Phone Credit


Movie Ticket (Student Price)


Textbooks (per year)

$500- $1000



Doctor’s visit


Dentist’s visit


So in total, you need to budget for NZD15,000 per year as per the Immigration New Zealand student visa requirements, plus the return airfare or an additional NZ$2,000*. Use the currency calculator to work out the equivalent amounts.

*This is a guideline only, please check the INZ website for the most up-to-date information.

Paying your living expenses

Some countries allow you to pay your living expenses through the Funds Transfer Scheme (FTS). Visit the New Zealand Immigration website for more information.

New Zealand currency

Remember to bring your credit card and some New Zealand dollars in mixed denominations, for example $5, $10 and $20 notes. You will need to have you at least NZD300 cash on you for your first week to cover taxis, food and other expenses.