Live in NZ

Where could you live…?

New Zealand’s relaxed pace of life gives you the time to enjoy everything our vibrant modern cities have to offer. Enjoy live music, theatre, film, dance, free festivals or international sports fixtures, or hang out with your new friends at a cafe, restaurant or bar.

Most of our cities and towns are relatively small and uncrowded, making your daily commute easier and faster than back home. Wherever you live, you won’t be far from beaches, parks, walking trails and cycle tracks.

9 Things You Should Know About New Zealand

New Zealand is an absolutely beautiful country, but there are some things you should know if you plan to study here.

As an international student myself, I know how weird and hard it can be to figure things out when you arrive, so here are some tips and things I’ve learned to hopefully make the transition easier for you!

1. Cars drive on the left

For those of you in countries where cars drive on the right side of the road, NZ driving will take some getting used to. Whether you’re just crossing the road as a pedestrian or plan to get a car and drive yourself, be careful.

2. Drinking

The drinking age in NZ is 18, so the atmosphere at Uni may be a bit different than what you’re used to if you come from a country where the drinking age is higher, like me.

3. Safety

NZ is a friendly and safe place, however don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Crime does still happen so always be smart and on guard.

4. Wear sunscreen

Apparently there’s a hole in the ozone layer above NZ, which means the sun is extra bright and strong. If you don’t want to fry be sure to lather up in sunscreen, especially if you’re pale and pasty like me!

5. The Warehouse

This is a magical and lifesaving store very similar to Walmart, minus most of the food. Plus, there’s free Wi-Fi so if you’re desperate for internet go to the Warehouse!

6. Public transport

Compared to many parts of the world, the NZ bus system is a bit crappy. It can be hard or expensive to get to many fun places that you want to see in NZ solely using buses. I recommend making Kiwi friends with cars and joining groups that take trips to those hard to reach places.

7. Sheep

NZ is home to around 30 million sheep, meaning that there are approximately 6 sheep for every person! I don’t know about you, but I love sheep and made it my personal NZ goal to pet a sheep – a goal which I fulfilled in just my third week of being here.

8. Bugs everywhere

I have not seen screens on any windows so all sorts of creepy crawlies find their way inside – my flatmate complains about being attacked by crickets on a regular basis! Invest in some bug spray and to all of you concerned parents don’t worry because the Zika virus is not a thing in NZ.

9. Other random things

Light switches flip down to turn on, toilets flush in the opposite direction, dogs are allowed to be walked in public without leashes, and pizza tastes sweeter here.

If you remember these little things, your time in New Zealand will be great. Good luck and safe travels!


From postgraduate degrees to short-term English language courses, there’s a qualification to suit you. Tuition fees for international students vary depending on the type of course, where you study and how long you study for.

  • School fees
  • Annual fees for state schools start at about $11,000 for primary schools and $13,000 for secondary schools. Annual fees for private primary and secondary schools start at about $25,000.
  • Diplomas/Certificates
  • Choose a course to suit your budget. For example, study for a two-year New Zealand Diploma in Engineering for $18,500 or a one-term Certificate in Computing for $12,425.
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Fees range from about $22,000 to $32,000, with higher fees for subjects such as medicine and veterinary science. Many bachelor’s degrees can be completed in three years.
  • Postgraduate degree
  • Fees range from about $26,000 to $37,000, with higher fees for subjects such as medicine and veterinary science.
  • PhDs
  • International PhD students pay the same as New Zealand PhD students, which is about $6,500 to $9,000 per year for most subjects.
  • English language courses
  • Choose a course to suit your budget. For example, study a general English course for $300 per week, or a Cambridge English exam course for $5,100 for 12 weeks.

Cost of Living

As part of your student visa application, you must provide evidence that you can cover your living expenses while studying in New Zealand. If you’re studying in New Zealand on a scholarship or a sponsor/family member has agreed to accept financial responsibility for you while you’re here, you may not be required to show proof of funds.

If you will be studying in New Zealand for more than one year, you‘ll need to prove that you have at least $15,000 to support yourself for the first year. If you’re studying for less than a year, you must have at least $1250 for each month of study to contribute to your living expenses.

Living costs will depend on your lifestyle and which part of the country you live in. Some costs vary by region. For example, you may need to travel more in the main centres, and transport costs may be more expensive than in your home country.

As an example of how much to budget for, Victoria University recommends that students allow between $18,000-$27,000 each year, the University of Auckland recommends $20,000-$25,000, the University of Otago recommends $15,000-$17,000 and Massey University recommends $15,000-$18,000.

You may be able to offset some of your costs by working. Most student visas enable you to work up to 20 hours per week, or full-time in the holidays. See our section Working while you study for more details.

Check out our blog for more ideas on saving costs while you study in New Zealand.

Typical living costs


Choose from halls of residence, home stays or flats. Accommodation costs vary widely by region: the national median weekly rent for a three to four-bedroom house in October 2016 was $440, or $510 in Auckland.


The University of Otago’s estimated weekly food costs for a basic healthy diet for an adult man in 2016 were: Auckland $64, Wellington $64, Christchurch $63, and Dunedin $65. Prices vary depending on where you choose to shop.


All New Zealand cities and most towns have buses, and some areas offer cheaper bus fares for students. Auckland and Wellington have train services to outer suburbs. Fuel prices are monitored by Petrolwatch.


Explore New Zealand’s stunning beaches, mountains, forests and lakes for free. Other free or cheap entertainment options include live music, festivals, outdoor movies, parks, gardens, museums and galleries. Many tertiary education institutions offer discount cards for students.


Most people have a choice of four to nine energy retailers, each with many different plans to choose from. Consumer Powerswitch and Glimp let you find and compare the best gas and electricity options in your area.

Phone and internet

Choose from monthly account plans or pre-paid plans for mobile phones. A pre-paid plan that includes calling, texting and data starts at about $19. Free Wi-Fi is available in central Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Dunedin.

*All costs are in New Zealand dollars

For more information on the cost of living in New Zealand check out Immigration NZ.

How much money do I need to live Auckland?


1. Homestay

When you arrive in a new city, a homestay is a really good choice to help you understand the local culture in the country. The fees for homestays generally include all living costs such as the cost of food, power, water and the internet. Depending on the location, the price of the homestay will vary. The acceptable price range is between approximately $200* and $270 per week in Auckland. You can choose the one that suits you best based on your needs.

2. Rent an apartment/house

After meeting some new friends, you can rent an apartment with them. If you want more room, like a garden and a free car park, you can choose to rent a house. Whether it’s an apartment or a house, you must pay a bond which is an advance payment that is refundable when the contract ends. Rental fees are dependent on location and the number of rooms. You will still need to pay your power, water and Internet bills every month.

3. University flats and apartments

You may choose a university flat or apartment. This is a great way to meet new people and make friends from different majors that you can study with – a good way to expand your social network. In Auckland, the University of Auckland and AUT University provide university halls, flats and apartments. Fees vary depending on the period you stay and the room type and are paid annually and in advance of the start of the academic year. You may need to pay some additional fees. If you are interested in university flats and apartments, you can visit your university website for further information.


Wherever you live, you will need a transport card to save time and money. In Auckland, we call it the ‘Hop Card’. The fees will be more expensive the further away you live from your place of study. At $3 per trip and $6 return you may need at least $120 per month. Don’t forget to top up your Hop Card!


In Auckland, there are numerous restaurants. For breakfast, if you are not dining at home, a cup of coffee and a muffin might be enough. Generally speaking, it costs $4.60 for a regular size coffee and $4.50 for a muffin. If you are dining outside for lunch, $10 – $15 should be enough. For evening dining, if try Asian style restaurants, it is about $15 per person generally. For some popular fast food, like McDonald’s and Burger King, the cost is around $13 for a meal. If you are choosing set menu in restaurants, a set of dinner might be around $70 per person.


  • Top up your phone plan

In addition to the items above, you will need to buy a new SIM card for your mobile phone. There are plenty of plans for mobile phones which include calls, messages and data. You will need at least $20 per month to top up your plan.

  • Daily essentials

For daily essentials, you can find them in a supermarket near your home. In general, $50 per month should cover this, depending on your personal needs.

*All costs are in New Zealand dollars

For more information on the cost of living in New Zealand check out Immigration NZ.