Retire To New Zealand: Cost of Living

Have you ever considered retiring to New Zealand but are unsure how much money you’ll need? Or are you interested in learning more about how your money will be spent while living there? Then this article is definitely for you.

Here’s a step by step breakdown of the retirement living costs for New Zealand:

Rent for a 3 Bedroom House per month$1,760 USD / 2,600 NZD
Rent for a 1 Bedroom Flat per month$1060 USD / 1,560 NZD
Utilities (Gas, Rates) per month$126 USD / 190 NZD
Electricity$143 USD / 212 NZD
Internet$30 USD / 45 NZD
Groceries$200 USD / 300 NZD
Dining Out (2 people) For 4 times$67 USD / 100 NZD
Healthcare (65yo with $500 excess)$200 USD / 300 NZD
Fitness or Social Club Membership$40 USD / 60 NZD
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES (1 bed)$1,800 USD / 2,700 NZD
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES (3 bed)$2,500 USD / 3,750 NZD

NOTE: These are the average prices of things on a monthly basis in New Zealand in Auckland. This number could be higher or lower depending on your lifestyle and where you choose to live in New Zealand as well as how big a house and how many people live there.

Now that you see the overview of the prices in New Zealand, let’s take a closer look at them and see how you may save more during your retirement in New Zealand.

What Is New Zealand Like?

New Zealand is well-known for its excellent standard of living and tranquil pace of life. New Zealanders are recognized for their strong dedication to their jobs, but they also place a high emphasis on maintaining a good work-life balance. Even in her largest cities, beaches, bike routes, or national parks are never far away. New Zealanders enjoy the outdoors and like to spend time with friends and family resting and relaxing.

New Zealand has moderate to cold climate which means that the summers are relatively warm and dry (December to February) and the winters are pleasant and wet (June to August). New Zealand doesn’t have the same harsh weather as certain regions of the United States so you’ll be able to live a healthy outdoor lifestyle all year. New Zealand is such a large country the weather varies depending on where you live. It’s warmer in the north and cooler in the south. Winter snowfall is common in Queenstown which is located at the bottom of the South Island but it is uncommon in Wellington on the North Island giving you a variety of weather to choose from.

New Zealand has a distinct culture influenced by Mori and Polynesian cultures. Life there has a distinct and lively ‘Pasifika’ feel to it that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. New Zealand truly welcomes everyone as a multicultural country and has done so through years of migration.  You will find many UK citizens and Asian people who have migrated mixing with the local Mori people.

What Is Healthcare Like In New Zealand?

New Zealand’s healthcare system is a world-class universal public system that is widely regarded as the greatest in the world. It has universal free healthcare and that can be supplemented with private health insurance for skipping queues. The healthcare system required that all residents have equal access to the same level of care from a comprehensive and preventative system.

In New Zealand seeing a doctor is simple. If you have a two-year or longer retirement visa or are a permanent resident you will have access to free or low-cost public healthcare. Medical insurance for private healthcare is also available while many New Zealanders don’t get it as they see it as not needed.

You can still use New Zealand public healthcare services if you are not a resident but you will have to pay for the services. This is why until you become a permanent resident it is wise to obtain medical insurance from your own country to cover you until you do.

New Zealand’s public healthcare system is generally considered to be of a very high quality. Physician visits, pediatric dental treatment, maternal and postnatal care, breast cancer screening, wellness physicals, diagnostic tests, ambulance services, and other services are all part of the system.

Like in many other nations with a comparable universal free healthcare system, patients have difficulties in terms of waiting periods. The time it takes to see a specialist can be a month or two. In addition New Zealand has a significant rural-urban split. Rural residents could have limited access to specialist services.

These wait times can be reduced with the use of private insurance policies. They allow patients to choose from a wide range of practitioners and to see clinicians in private hospitals with much shorter wait times. Patients can also expect a more private and comfortable stay if they need to be admitted to the hospital.

Private Insurance for expats in New Zealand will start at for as little as $199 USD with a $1000 USD deductibles for any major surgery. 

Here are a few recommended private health insurance in New Zealand:

Can A Foreign Resident Own Property In New Zealand?

No, foreigners are now not allowed to buy property in New Zealand. These laws were recently enacted to prevent property values from being artificially pushed up by investors who had no intention of living in the country.

You can however buy real estate as a resident or a citizen.  Even if you get your residency or citizenship you may wish to rent in an area first to see if you like the area and to search surrounding areas.

To review current median rental prices you can go to the government website below that tracks the rents for a preceding 6 month period.  You can put in the town and suburb you wish to have a look at and it will let you know the average unit, apartment and house prices for that suburb.  For actual rents look at the major real estate website below in the pro tip.

LINK: Tenancy Services NZ Market Rent

The cost of a three bedroom property with a pool in the heart of Auckland will be around $1 million USD and for a one bedroom house will be around $500k USD. These are maximum prices in the most expensive city in New Zealand and you can get properties much cheaper the further from the city center and in other towns around the north and south islands.

For the latest median house prices you can go to the regulator for real estate in New Zealand here and get the latest monthly report.

LINK: REINZ Monthly Median House Prices Report

IMPORTANT: New Zealand has had earthquakes so make sure you check whether your property is in an earthquake area and is up to code with the current regulations.  Also the cold and snow in the south island is a consideration if you have never lived in the snow before.

Here are a few real estate you can check for pricing:

PRO TIP: Instead of checking with each real estate agent you can look at which is the major website in New Zealand.

What Visas Are Available For Foreign Retirees In New Zealand?

There are two visa options available for individuals considering retiring in New Zealand. These are the Parent Resident Retirement and Temporary Retirement Visitor visas. To be eligible for the first visa you must be at least 66 years old and have a two-year investment of NZ $750,000 (about $525,000 USD) in New Zealand

You’ll also need to show that you have an annual income of at least NZ $60,000 (about $42,000 USD) plus another NZ $500,000 (approximately $350,000 USD) to live on. The visa is valid for two years however it can be renewed. It also prevents you from working while allowing you to travel in and out of New Zealand for the next two years.

The Parent Resident Retirement visa has several noticeable differences. For starters you’ll need to show that you have a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident adult child. However the financial needs for this visa are significantly larger. For this option you’ll need a minimum yearly income of NZ $60,000 and a four-year investment of NZ $1 million (about $700,000 USD). The visa also demands verification of a living expense budget of NZ $500,000 NZD.

LINK: New Zealand Visa Requirements

How Much Do Groceries Cost in New Zealand?

New Zealand is known for its culture of eating fresh locally sourced food which might be a little expensive to what you have to pay back in the United States. You are however assured of the best quality produce.  If you want to make and eat a meal at home you can find the prices of some of the usual staples below.

Here is the overview of the average monthly groceries:

Milk1 Liter / 1 quart$2.1 USD
Bread1 Loaf$3 USD
Eggs1 Dozen$4.9 USD
Beef1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$13 USD
Chicken Breasts1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$9.3 USD
Beer12$14.2 USD

NOTE: These prices are based on the average grocery costs and popular brands in New Zealand. Prices might be different depending on your personal taste or where you live in New Zealand.

Here is a common local supermarket you can look at for current prices:

LINK: Countdown Supermarket

Also check our next article about Retire In New Zealand: 9 Pros And Cons.


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