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Moving to Auckland

Expats moving to Auckland can look forward to living in a modern, developed city, with the charm and relaxed pace of a seaside community. Situated on the north side of New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland is based around two harbours and has been nicknamed the 'City of Sails' because of the large number of yachts that sail between Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean and Manukau Harbour on the Tasmanian Sea.

With a population of just under 1.7 million, 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.

Living in Auckland as an expat

Auckland is a culturally diverse city with a mix of expats, locals and Polynesian islanders. In fact, some nations in Polynesia have more of its citizens living as expats in Auckland than at home. This variety adds to the city’s charm and ensures a large number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

Although accommodation in Auckland is the most expensive in New Zealand, there are a variety of living options available to expats. Expats will find that houses situated further from the shore are generally cheaper than those in beach areas.

Auckland has a broad selection of public and private schools, as well as free, or low cost, state healthcare facilities and private hospitals available throughout the city.

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

As the economic capital, Auckland is the obvious choice for expats moving to New Zealand. It produced almost a fourth of New Zealand’s GDP in 2020, which is nearly double that of the entire South Island. It is also the largest commercial centre in the country. The average salaries in Auckland are significantly higher than elsewhere in New Zealand.

Cost of living in Auckland

The general cost of living in Auckland remains higher than in other parts of the country, even if it's relatively low on a worldwide scale. Most expats relocating to Auckland will find that they are able to live comfortably and even enjoy a few luxuries that they might not be able to back home.

Climate in Aukland

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

Auckland is an ideal expat destination, offering the perfect balance between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and pursuing business opportunities. 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 any city, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of moving here. 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 away.

+ 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. Auckland's pleasing urban landscape with waterfront views as well as the city's gorgeous natural surrounds make it one of the most scenic metros in the world.

+ PRO: Endless things to do

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

- CON: Cultural and recreational activities can be expensive

While many sights and attractions cost little to nothing for New Zealand citizens, trips to museums and other cultural excursions can be costly, especially for expats. We recommend budgeting accordingly and scouting 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. Outdoor and sporting activities are major aspects of the 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 quickly and seamlessly. 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 widely 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’ but 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 pretty straightforward. That said, public transport options outside the city are limited and many people prefer to drive. Expats should 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 they would prefer, as well as the distance to work and schools, while also 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. Parnell, for instance, is one of the city’s oldest and most affluent suburbs and affords comfortable accommodation, upmarket boutiques and eclectic eateries, while Kingsland is known for its trendy vibe, live music nights and the famous 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. New Zealand’s most populated city charges high rent too and, while there are many accommodation options available, not all will suit everyone’s budget. Many residents working in the CBD live in more affordable surrounding suburbs and face a daily commute.


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 have high standard 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 disabilities. 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, but we recommend expats 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. Alternatively, it is helpful to invest in health insurance.

Cost of Living in Auckland

The cost of living in Auckland is fairly high when compared to cities such as Brisbane and Stockholm. The city ranks 103rd out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey in 2020.

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 wellbeing that comes with life in Auckland.


Cost of accommodation in Auckland

Accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense for anyone moving to Auckland. Like in most cities, 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.


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.


Cost of transport in Auckland

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

Many expats will find that car prices are also relatively inexpensive. 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 January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

NZD 1,900

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

NZD 3,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NZD 1,600

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NZD 2,700

Groceries

Dozen eggs

NZD 6.20

Milk (1 litre)

NZD 2.80

Loaf of white bread

NZD 3

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NZD 15

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NZD 35

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

NZD 0.35

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

NZD 85

Basic utilities (average per month for a small apartment)

NZD 200

Eating out and entertainment

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

NZD 90

Big Mac Meal 

NZD 12.20

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 2.15

Accommodation in Auckland

Finding accommodation in Auckland can be a challenge for expats. Auckland’s status as a global city and its position as New Zealand’s economic hub have resulted in high property prices, and 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 to stay in Auckland continue renting, as buying property 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. While expats will mostly find apartments within the city centre, 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 has its own character and vibe, and expats should determine which area best suits them before starting the house hunt. Another important consideration is proximity to both work and school. Many Auckland residents either drive their own cars or rely on buses and, as a result, traffic throughout the city can be severe.

As most people work in central Auckland, expats wanting to live near 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 half-an-hour drive from the city centre.


Finding accommodation in Auckland 

Expats can find accommodation through online property portals, social-networking sites and in the classified sections of local newspapers.

As the property market is extensive in Auckland, expats should also consider approaching a real-estate agency, which would usually have intimate knowledge of the local market and of housing that might not be listed online yet. These agencies can be found throughout the city and expats shouldn’t have any difficulty locating one.


Renting accommodation in Auckland

Renting accommodation in Auckland shouldn’t be a strenuous process, and real-estate agents are available to assist any expats searching for the perfect property.

Making an application

Expats can apply for accommodation by responding to an advertisement, either online or elsewhere, or they can directly contact an estate agent or landlord. References from previous landlords are typically required when making an application. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) deals with the housing legislation and official processes, making applying for accommodation a smooth and easy process.

Costs and fees

Rent in Auckland is usually paid weekly, and the prices available will therefore represent this weekly sum. Due to the recent passing of the Residential Tenancies Act, agents are prohibited from charging tenants a fee for their services, as in the past, and are paid by the landlords instead.

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, and will therefore need to budget for either shipping their belongings or buying new furniture.

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

Deposits

Landlords will typically require that tenants pay a deposit equivalent to one month's rent. This is something that expats need to keep in mind when looking for accommodation, as the initial sum required is typically quite large.

Leases

A tenancy agreement is a legal requirement for renting accommodation. Real-estate agents tend to only deal with fixed-term agreements of 12-months. That said, expats may be able to negotiate either a longer-term or shorter-term lease if dealing directly with a landlord.

Utilities

While the landlord will cover the rates and home insurance, any expats wanting contents insurance will have to pay for it. Utilities are also typically not included in the rent. Even water usage is sometimes measured with a meter and will be an extra cost.