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New Zealand vs Australia - which is cheaper

Is it cheaper to live in New Zealand than Australia? Or, do the Aussies truly have it better off? We’ve got the latest stats and info.
By · March 18, 2024
New Zealand vs Australia  - which is cheaper

Australia vs New Zealand is an age-old rivalry that dates back to the invention of the Pavlova. The feud often fires up around sporting events and can be best described as two siblings stirring one another up. But when it comes to wages, housing and general cost of living, which country reigns supreme.

Is it cheaper to live in New Zealand than Australia?

Or, do the Aussies truly have it better off?

Let’s find out.

Migration between Australia and New Zealand

Before we dive into which country is cheaper, let’s explore why so many Australians move to NZ and vice versa.

While the competition and banter runs fierce between Aussies and Kiwis, the two countries have strong migration, trade and political ties. This includes an agreement which allows Australian and New Zealand citizens to live and work in either country without the need for a visa.

This makes moving between the two countries pretty straight forward and offers an easy way for either population to experience a new country, new opportunities and a different way of life. But, is the grass really greener on the other side? And if so, which country has the most to offer?

Cost of living Aus v NZ

Cost of living comparison site Numbeo ranks New Zealand as the cheaper country overall when it comes to consumer prices, restaurant prices and groceries.

  • Consumer prices (excluding rent) are 6.2% lower in New Zealand than in Australia
  • Consumer prices (including rent) are 10.6% lower in New Zealand than in Australia
  • Rental prices are 20.4% cheaper in New Zealand
  • Groceries are 2.3% cheaper in New Zealand than Australia
  • Restaurant Prices in New Zealand are 12.2% lower than in Australia

Groceries

While grocery items are cheaper in NZ overall, there are some items that are notably more expensive including milk, eggs and other basic items.

Item Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
Milk, regular, 1 litre $2.32 AUD $2.87 AUD + 23.7%
Loaf of white bread $3.69 AUD $3.10 AUD - 16.1%
Eggs $5.98 AUD $10.56 AUD + 76.6%
Apples 1kg $4.86 AUD $4.41 AUD - 9.3%
Tomatoes 1 kg $6.63 AUD $8.97 AUD + 35.3%
Domestic Beer 0.5 litre $7.72 AUD $4.95 AUD - 35.3%
Bottle of mid range wine $19 AUD $15 AUD - 21.31%

Transportation

Public transport is significantly cheaper in New Zealand for ad-hoc, one way tickets. However, Australia offers greater savings when it comes to monthly or regular passes, with Australia's cities boasting multiple public transport options. Fuel costs are also notably higher in New Zealand.

Item Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
One way ticket (local transport) $5 AUD $3.28 AUD - 34.4%
Monthly pass (Regular price) $169.22 AUD $187.48 AUD + 10.8%
Gasoline 1 litre $1.91 AUD $2.64 AUD + 38.4%

Utilities

Home utilities such as electric, water, heating and internet costs tend to be cheaper in NZ - 34% cheaper to be exact. However, mobile phone plans are significantly higher than they are in Australia.

Item Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
Basic utilities for an 85m2 apartment $333.39 AUD $220.13 AUD - 34%
Internet $85.54 AUD $82.29 AUD + 3.8%
Mobile phone monthly plan $43.59 AUD $59 AUD +35.4%

Childcare

On average, early education and childcare is more than 50% cheaper in New Zealand than it is in Australia. International private primary schools are also more affordable.

Item Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
Preschool / kindy (monthly) $2,445.32 AUD $1,186.53 AUD - 51.5%
International private primary school (1 year) $20,131 AUD $18,595 AUD - 7.6%

On average, early education and childcare is more than 50% cheaper in New Zealand than it is in Australia.

Property price comparison

Australia has earned a reputation as an expensive place to buy or rent. Sydney is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world and other capital cities aren’t too far behind. So let’s break it down. What are the price differences between Australia and New Zealand when renting or buying?

Renting

Rent per month Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
1 bed apartment in the city centre $2,354.17 AUD $1,749.35 AUD - 25%
1 bed apartment outside of the city centre $1,863.80 AUD $1,516.10 AUD - 18%
3 bed apartment in the city centre $3,758.93 AUD $2,904.95 AUD - 23.3%
3 bed apartment outside of the city centre $2,756.75 AUD $2,398.96 AUD - 13%

Buying

Buy apartment price (price by m2) Average cost in Australia Average cost in NZ Difference
Apartment in the city centre $13,119.93 AUD $10,428 AUD - 20.5%
Apartment outside of the city centre $10,099.22 AUD $8,713.27 AUD - 13.7%

It’s clear that property prices - both rental and to buy - are cheaper in New Zealand than Australia. But, affordability and cost of living are all relative to earnings.

Who earns more - Aussies or Kiwis?

Costs may be higher in Australia, but it seems that Aussies still have more purchasing power than their Kiwi counterparts - 48% more in fact.

Australia also has higher wages and salaries in most of the country’s capital cities and a lower rate of unemployment overall.

The table below compares the average net monthly salaries of some of Australia and New Zealand’s major cities.

City

Sydney (AU)

Melbourne (AU)

Brisbane (AU)

Auckland (NZ)

Wellington (NZ)

Average net monthly salary (AUD) $6,630 $5,196 $5,253 $4,433 $4,711

Which is cheaper - Aus or NZ?

All things considered, New Zealand is cheaper to live in than Australia. The average cost of living in Australia is 18% more expensive than in New Zealand and Australia is ranked 10th vs 15th for New Zealand in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.

But, both countries offer a high standard of living. While New Zealand has lower average prices for consumer goods and services, Australia offers higher wages to compensate some.

Ultimately the cheapest country for you will depend on your personal priorities, lifestyle and specific location in either country.

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