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Moving to Auckland

Expats moving to Auckland will discover a modern, first-world city, with the charm and relaxed pace of a seaside community. Auckland has been nicknamed 'The City of Sails' because of the large number of yachts which sail between Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean and Manukau Harbour on the Tasmanian Sea. Auckland is an ideal expat destination, offering the perfect balance between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and pursuing business opportunities.

Auckland has a relatively small population of just under 1.7 million people. This is nearly one-third of New Zealand's entire population. Nevertheless, expats moving to Auckland will thrive in the cosmopolitan city. Auckland is made up of four areas, including Auckland City at the centre, North Shore on a raised peninsula to the north, Waitakere City to the west and Manukau City to the south.

The weather and climate are perfect incentives to choose Auckland as a new home. Summers are warm and the temperature averages 20°C (68°F) and winters are moderate, with an average temperature of 51°F (11°C).

Auckland is a culturally diverse city with a mix of expats, locals and Polynesian islanders. Famously, there are some nations in Polynesia with more citizens living as expats in Auckland than at home. This variety adds to the city’s charm and ensures a large number of cultural shows and festivals throughout the year. The general cost of living in Auckland remains higher than in other parts of the country. However, it is relatively low on a worldwide scale. Expats relocating to Auckland will find that they are able to live comfortably while enjoying a variety of leisure activities.

Auckland has a number of public transportation options such as ferries, buses, trains and taxis. However, owning a car is the easiest and most convenient means of navigating the city.

Although accommodation in Auckland is the most expensive in New Zealand, there are a variety of living options available to expats. Beach areas are more expensive while houses situated further from the shore are cheaper. Auckland has a broad selection of public and private schools. Free state healthcare facilities and private hospitals are available throughout the city.

As the economic capital, Auckland is the obvious choice for expats moving to New Zealand. It produces a third of New Zealand’s GDP, which is almost double that of the entire South Island. It is also the largest commercial centre in the country. Therefore, the average salaries in Auckland are significantly higher than elsewhere in New Zealand. Expats moving to Auckland will soon become hard-pressed to leave New Zealand's beautiful City of Sails.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Auckland

Auckland isn't New Zealand’s capital, but it’s by far its most populated and cosmopolitan city, and many expats choose to base themselves here. Of course, as with all cities, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of moving to Auckland. Below is a list of some of our pros and cons to consider when moving to Auckland.


See and do in Auckland

As the country's economic hub, Auckland boasts a wide array of recreational activities and entertainment opportunities. After a day's work residents can wind down at a local bar, watch a sporting event or take in a show, while for a weekend break, Mother Nature is a hop and a skip from the city.

+ PRO: Beautiful sights

From the Sky Tower, Auckland’s 328-metre-tall observation and telecommunications tower, to the green volcanic peaks of Mount Eden and Takarunga, residents can take in magnificent panoramic sights. Both the natural and urban landscape with refreshing waterfront views can always be enjoyed.

+ PRO: Endless things to do

While Auckland is small relative to other major world cities, there is truly something for everyone. New arrivals don't need to walk far along Queen Street, the main commercial street, to see this. There are opportunities galore for tourists and residents, including bungee jumping, shopping, sailing around the 'City of Sails' and its coastal islands with some friends. The diverse population also means incredible menu options to tantalise the taste buds. It’s a cosmopolitan city where one can never get bored.

- CON: Cultural and recreational activities can be expensive

While many things are low-cost overall or free for New Zealand citizens, trips to museums and other cultural excursions can be costly, especially for expats. Be sure to plan finances and scout around for bargains and deals.


Lifestyle and culture in Auckland

New arrivals may experience mild culture shock, but many agree the lifestyle is relaxed and the people are friendly. Outdoors and sporting activities are major aspects of lifestyle in this rugby-loving city.

+ PRO: Auckland is family-friendly

With so much on offer, families with children of all ages will surely settle into their new lives smoothly. Visits to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium and Auckland Zoo make for perfect activities for the little ones, while the whole family can enjoy Snowplanet, an indoor snow recreation centre less than 30 minutes from Auckland.

- CON: Learning the local lingo 

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language. Though English is the most spoken, the local accent may take some getting used to, especially for those whose first language isn’t English. Kiwis are also known for their unusual slang – vernacular which expats will pick up as they go along.


Weather in Auckland

New Zealand may be far from home for many foreign arrivals, but hopefully, unpleasant weather won't be a reason for homesickness.

+ PRO: Temperate climate

Those who don’t like extreme weather conditions will find Auckland a comfortable place to live. Summer temperatures are warm but the heat isn’t suffocating and winters are mild, never bitterly cold.

- CON: Can’t avoid the rain

One of the things that new arrivals soon realise is that it rains a lot. The city doesn’t experience a particularly ‘dry season’, and the middle months of the year are the rainiest. Put on the raincoats and trudge through it!


Getting around in Auckland

Transport and driving networks and systems are well-run and well-maintained in Auckland, and new arrivals with a driver's licence in English won't need an International Driving Permit.

+ PRO: City centre public transport opportunities

One can travel efficiently with public transport in Auckland. The availability of buses, trains and ferries makes getting around the city easy. Still, options further afield outside the city are limited and many people prefer to drive. Factor in the costs of buying a personal vehicle.

- CON: Traffic is a problem

City life in Auckland, unfortunately, comes with heavy congestion, with peak morning and evening traffic easily adding an extra 20 minutes to commutes. Traffic is something residents will have to deal with, and hopefully moves to promote public transport will improve the situation.


Accommodation in Auckland

When finding a place to call home, expats must consider the type of accommodation and distance to work and schools, factoring in traffic.

+ PRO: Neighbourhoods boast diverse atmospheres

Whether looking for a beachfront neighbourhood, an area perfect for morning runs, a quirky atmosphere or a home with the best restaurants around the corner, Auckland's suburbs and housing suit diverse tastes. For example, Parnell, one of the city’s oldest and most affluent suburbs affords comfortable accommodation and upmarket boutiques and eateries, while Kingsland is known for its trendy vibe, live music nights and the nearby Eden Park stadium.

- CON: Accommodation expenses are high

Depending on where expats are from, new arrivals may be shocked by the high cost of living, even for basic groceries. It follows that New Zealand’s most populated city charges such high rent too. While there are many accommodation options, not all will suit everyone’s budget. Many residents working in the CBD face a daily commute and live in more affordable surrounding suburbs.


Healthcare in Auckland

New Zealand's progressive political system and first-rate medical facilities are major pull factors.

+ PRO: High quality and progressive healthcare system

Hospitals and clinics in Auckland provide high standards of facilities and medical care. Almost all services are free to those who are eligible, including fertility services, inpatient and outpatient treatments and support for those with a disability. No patients are refused emergency medical attention if they cannot pay.

- CON: Not everyone is entitled to free medical services

Free healthcare is largely limited to citizens and permanent residents, though expats under certain conditions can check their eligibility. Expats with work permits allowing stays for two years or more, commonwealth scholarship students and refugees may be able to access subsidised or free services. Otherwise, it is helpful to invest in health insurance.

Cost of Living in Auckland

The cost of living in Auckland is quite high compared to other major cities like Toronto and Stockholm. The city ranks 89th out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey in 2019.

With New Zealand being an island, food cost ends up being higher than one may be used to, as many products have to be imported. The cost of accommodation has also skyrocketed in recent years with more and more expats choosing to settle in Auckland. Luckily, the competitive salaries offered in this economic hub tend to make up for the high cost of living. The standard of living is also great which also makes high prices more bearable. Most expats feel like the prices paid justify the feeling of safety and well being that comes along with life in Auckland.


The cost of accommodation in Auckland

Accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense for anyone moving to Auckland. Like in most countries, rental prices in the city centre tend to be more expensive than those in the suburbs.

Since Auckland is the economic hub of New Zealand, it may be especially hard for expats to find accommodation here. The city is known for being the most expensive in the country when it comes to rental prices. To further complicate the matter, the city’s growing population has further increased the demand for accommodation.

Utilities are generally not included in the rental price of a property, so expats should budget accordingly. On a positive note, accommodation tends to be spacious and good value for money.


The cost of groceries in Auckland

Another big expense in Auckland will be grocery shopping. New Zealand is remotely isolated from many places. Therefore specific groceries often have to be imported. For example, many meat and dairy products in Auckland are imported which makes them more costly than one may be used to. Foreigners can manage their shopping budget by purchasing local goods and taking advantage of the special offers that commonly run at supermarkets and convenience stores.


The cost of transport in Auckland

Public transport in Auckland is reasonably. The city also has monthly and annual transport passes available which cut down the price of transport even further.

Many expats will find that car prices are relatively inexpensive as well. The price for gasoline (petrol) isn’t too high either. While people don't necessarily need a car, especially in the city, it can be useful for expats with families or those who travel regularly for work.


Cost of living in Auckland chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Auckland in October 2019.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NZD 1,880

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NZD 3,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NZD 1,550

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NZD 2,700

Groceries

Dozen eggs

NZD 5

Milk (1 litre)

NZD 2.70

Loaf of white bread

NZD 2.40

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NZD 12.60

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NZD 30

Utilities/household (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

NZD 0.55

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

NZD 84

Basic utilities (average per month for a small apartment)

NZD 169

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

NZD 90

Big Mac meal 

NZD 11

Cappuccino

NZD 5

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NZD 3.50

Local beer (500ml)

NZD 10

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

NZD 3

City centre public transport

NZD 4

Petrol (per litre)

NZD 2.50

Accommodation in Auckland

Finding accommodation in Auckland is a challenge for most expats. Auckland’s status as a global city and its position as New Zealand’s economic hub has resulted in high property prices. The city’s growing population has further increased the demand for accommodation in Auckland.

Most expats working in Auckland prefer to rent accommodation. Even many expats with long-term plans continue renting, as buying property in Auckland can be prohibitively expensive.   


Types of accommodation in Auckland

As the city has developed into an urban sprawl, with a variety of suburbs and areas, there are many different types of accommodation in Auckland. Expats will mostly find apartments within the city centre. On the other hand, Auckland’s many suburbs offer a mix between modern and historic freestanding houses. The quality of housing in Auckland varies, but expats typically find that most accommodation in the city is poorly insulated.

Each neighbourhood in Auckland boasts a different atmosphere. Expats should determine which area best suits them before signing a rental contract. Another important consideration is how far their new home might be from their place of work. Many Auckland residents either drive their own cars or rely on buses, so traffic throughout the city can be severe.

As most people work in central Auckland, expats wanting to live near to their work should consider finding accommodation either in the city centre or in the nearby suburbs of Ponsonby or Grey Lynn. Those wanting to be close to the sea should explore Davenport and Takapuna, or the quieter suburb of Howick. Otherwise, Mangere Bridge offers more affordable accommodation while being only a half-hour drive from the city centre.


Finding accommodation in Auckland 

Expats can find accommodation through online property portals, as well as in the classified section of local newspapers. There are also many property groups on social media sites which list available accommodation.  

As the property market is extensive in Auckland, expats should also consider approaching a real estate agency. These agencies can be found throughout the city, so expats shouldn’t have any difficulty locating one.


Renting accommodation in Auckland

Expats looking to rent in Auckland will find that furnished accommodation is rare. Most expats, especially those looking for larger houses, end up renting unfurnished accommodation.

Because of the high cost of rent, renting shared accommodation is also popular. "Flatting" (sharing a house with other people) or "boarding" (renting a room in someone’s home) are common options for couples or single people living in Auckland.

Rent in Auckland is usually paid weekly. Landlords will typically require that tenants pay a deposit equivalent to one month's rent. Real estate agents tend to only deal with fixed-term 12-month leases and they typically charge a fee for their services. Notably, recent legislation has been proposed which will ban real estate agents from charging tenants a fee for using their services.