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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. On the north side of New Zealand's North Island, Auckland is situated around two harbours. It's nicknamed the 'City of Sails' because of the many 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 comprises four main areas: Auckland City in 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 locals, Western expats and Polynesian islanders. In fact, some countries in Polynesia have more citizens living as expats in Auckland than at home. This variety adds to the city's charm and ensures many yearly cultural events and festivals.

Although accommodation in Auckland is the most expensive in New Zealand, various living options are available to expats. Expats will find that houses farther from the shore are generally cheaper than those in beach areas.

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

As the economic capital, Auckland is the obvious choice for expats moving to New Zealand. It produced a third of New Zealand's GDP in 2021, 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 globally. Most expats relocating to Auckland will find that they can live comfortably and even enjoy a few luxuries they might not be able to back home.

Families and children in Auckland

For expat families with children, Auckland offers a wide range of options for education and healthcare. There are numerous public and private schools to choose from, providing a variety of curriculums and educational approaches to suit different needs and preferences. Additionally, both free or low-cost state healthcare facilities and private hospitals are available throughout the city, ensuring that families have access to quality healthcare services.

Climate in Auckland

The weather and climate are perfect incentives to select 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 reluctant to leave New Zealand's beautiful 'City of Sails'.

Pros and cons of moving to Auckland

Auckland may not be New Zealand's capital, but it is the country's largest and most cosmopolitan city, attracting many expats to settle here. Like any city, it has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, Auckland offers a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, excellent educational institutions and a thriving job market. On the other hand, the cost of living can be high, and traffic congestion and long commute times can be challenging for some residents.

Below is a list of some of the pros and cons to consider when moving to Auckland.

See and do in Auckland

As the country's economic hub, Auckland boasts many 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

Residents can take in magnificent panoramic sights from the Sky Tower, Auckland's 328-metre-tall observation and telecommunications tower, to the green volcanic peaks of Mount Eden and Takarunga. Auckland's pleasing urban landscape with waterfront views and the city's gorgeous natural surroundings 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.

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 significant 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. At the same time, 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 year's middle months 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 driving 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. On the other hand, 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. Residents will have to deal with traffic, and hopefully, recent 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 and the distance to work and school 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, expats will find that 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. At the same time, 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 essential groceries. New Zealand's most populated city charges high rent, too, and while many accommodation options are 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 eligible people, 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 limited primarily 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.

Education in Auckland

+ PRO: High-quality education system

Auckland has a high-quality education system with many educational institutions, from primary schools to universities. Auckland's schools and universities consistently rank among the best in the world, providing excellent education and training to students.

- CON: Expensive private tuition fees

While public education in New Zealand is usually free for expat children, the cost of private education in Auckland is relatively high compared to other cities in New Zealand. This cost can be a barrier for expats on a tight budget, especially those with multiple children who need to pay tuition fees.

+ PRO: Multicultural education environment

Auckland is a diverse and multicultural city, which is reflected in its education system. This diversity can provide a unique and enriching experience for expat students, who can learn from different cultures and backgrounds.

Cost of living in Auckland

- 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.

- CON: High cost of housing

Auckland has some of the highest accommodation costs in the world. This high cost of housing can make it difficult for individuals and families to purchase a home, leading to a reliance on renting, which can also be expensive.

+ PRO: High standard of living

Auckland may have a higher cost of living than other cities in New Zealand, but it is also known for its high standard of living. With a diverse range of amenities, including high-quality healthcare, education, and entertainment options, Auckland offers its residents an excellent quality of life. The city also has a low crime rate and is generally considered safe, making it desirable for families and individuals.

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 95th out of 227 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey in 2022. In comparison, Wellington ranks 120th, and Perth ranks 97th.

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 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 excellent, which also makes high prices more bearable. Most expats feel like the prices they pay justify the feeling of safety and well-being that comes with life in Auckland.

Cost of accommodation in Auckland

Accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense for anyone moving to Auckland. Rental prices in any city centre tend to be more expensive than those in the suburbs, and as something of an economic hub, Auckland is known for having high rental prices compared to other cities in New Zealand. It can also be challenging for expats to find suitable accommodation due to the high demand for properties in the city. However, there are various online platforms and real estate agents available to help with the search. We cover this in more depth in Accommodation in New Zealand.

It's worth noting that utilities are largely not included in the rental price of a property, so expats should budget accordingly. While the cost of accommodation may be high, Auckland tends to offer spacious living spaces that provide good value for money. When searching for a rental property, expats should consider factors such as proximity to public transport, safety and access to amenities.

Cost of groceries in Auckland

The cost of groceries in Auckland can be a significant expense for expats. As an island country, New Zealand is relatively remote, and many products need to be imported, driving up prices. For example, meat and dairy products in Auckland are often imported, making them more expensive than what expats may be used to. However, expats can manage their shopping budget by purchasing locally grown or produced goods and taking advantage of special offers that commonly run at supermarkets and convenience stores.

To save money, it's recommended that expats compare prices between different, and shop around for the best deals. Additionally, purchasing in-season produce can be a cost-effective way to eat healthily while keeping within a budget. With some planning and smart shopping, expats can manage the cost of groceries in Auckland.

Cost of transport in Auckland

Getting around in Auckland can be affordable, especially when using public transport. The city has a reliable public transport system that includes buses, trains and ferries, with reasonably priced fares. Monthly and annual transport passes are also available, which can save expats money on transport costs.

While car prices in Auckland may be relatively inexpensive, expats should consider the additional costs of car ownership, such as petrol, insurance and maintenance. In many cases, it may not be necessary for expats to own a car, particularly if they live in the city centre where public transport is readily available. However, for expats with families or those who travel regularly for work, owning a car may be more convenient. It's worth noting that traffic can be heavy during peak hours, so expats should factor in travel time when planning their journeys.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Auckland

Auckland offers a wide variety of entertainment options for expats, including museums, galleries and theatres, as well as numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, beaches and parks. While some entertainment options, such as attending concerts or shows, can be expensive, there are many free or low-cost activities available. For example, many museums and galleries offer free entry, and Auckland's parks and beaches are free to access.

Eating out in Auckland can be expensive, but there are also many affordable options available, especially in the city's different neighbourhoods. Auckland is known for its diverse culinary scene, which reflects the city's multicultural population. From street food to high-end restaurants, Auckland has something to offer for every budget and taste. Many restaurants and cafés also offer special deals and discounts, particularly during the off-peak season, which can help reduce the cost of eating out in Auckland. Overall, while entertainment and eating out can be expensive, expats can still enjoy a range of activities and experiences in Auckland without breaking the bank.

Cost of education in Auckland

Auckland offers a range of options for expats who are looking to enrol their children in schools. Public schools in New Zealand are generally of high quality and are free for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, as well as for those holding a dependent child student visa. Expats who are considering enrolling their children in public schools should research the school zoning system to ensure that they choose a school that is in their catchment area.

Private and international schools are also available in Auckland, but they can be much more expensive than public schools. Tuition fees for private and international schools can vary widely, depending on the school and the age of the child. Additionally, many private and international schools charge additional fees for activities and materials, such as textbooks, uniforms and extracurricular activities. Expats who are considering enrolling their children in private or international schools should research the schools thoroughly to ensure that they select a school that is a good fit for their budget and their children's needs.

Cost of healthcare in Auckland

New Zealand has a public healthcare system that provides free or low-cost medical care to citizens and permanent residents. Expats who are not permanent residents or citizens are not eligible for free healthcare and will need to pay for medical treatment. Private healthcare is available in Auckland and is often of a high standard, but it can be expensive.

Expats should consider purchasing health insurance to help cover the cost of medical treatment, especially if they're not yet permanent residents. Health insurance policies in New Zealand can vary widely, so expats should shop around to find a policy that suits their needs and budget.

In addition to health insurance, expats should also be aware of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The ACC is a government-run scheme that provides no-fault personal injury cover for all residents and visitors to New Zealand. However, the ACC only covers accidents, not illnesses or pre-existing conditions, so expats should still consider purchasing health insurance to cover these costs.

Cost of living in Auckland chart

Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Auckland in March 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NZD 3,900

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NZD 3,100

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NZD 2,100

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NZD 1,880

Food and drink

Dozen eggs


Milk (1 litre)

NZD 2.61

Rice (1kg)

NZD 3.45

Loaf of white bread

NZD 3.32

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NZD 14

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NZD 36

Eating out

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

NZD 120

Big Mac meal

NZD 14

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NZD 3.90


NZD 5.50

Bottle of beer (local)

NZD 4.13


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

NZD 0.34

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

NZD 73

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

NZD 330


Taxi rate/km

NZD 3.30

City-centre public transport fare


Gasoline (per litre)

NZD 2.98

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.

Areas and suburbs in Auckland

Auckland is a sprawling city with many areas and suburbs to choose from for expats. The city centre is a popular choice for those looking for a vibrant urban lifestyle. Here, expats can find trendy apartment buildings and modern high-rises that offer stunning views of the city skyline. The central location also puts them within easy reach of the city's top restaurants, bars and cultural attractions.

For families, several suburbs in Auckland offer a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Suburbs like Mount Eden, Epsom and Remuera are popular with families thanks to their excellent schools, beautiful parks and charming local shops and cafés.

For those who love the sea, there are several suburbs in Auckland that offer easy access to the city's beautiful coastline. Areas like Devonport, Takapuna, and Mission Bay are all located on or near the beach and offer a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle. Expats living in these areas can enjoy everything from swimming and surfing to beachside dining and shopping.

Several affordable areas in Auckland offer great value for money. Suburbs like Papatoetoe, Otahuhu, and Mangere are all located in South Auckland and offer a diverse range of affordable housing options, from single-family homes to apartments. These areas are also generally well-connected to the city centre via public transport, making them a convenient choice for those on a budget.

Types of accommodation in Auckland

As the city has developed into an urban sprawl, with various suburbs and areas, there are many different types of accommodation in Auckland. While the city centre mostly offers apartments, Auckland's many suburbs offer expats a mix of 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 a distinct character and vibe, and expats should determine which area best suits them before starting the house hunt. Another critical consideration is proximity to both work and school. Many Aucklanders either drive their own cars or rely on buses, so traffic throughout the city can be severe.

Furnished and unfurnished

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.

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 in Auckland is extensive, fast-paced and competitive, expats should also consider approaching a real estate agency, which usually has intimate knowledge of the local market as well as access to housing deals that might not be listed online. These agencies can be found throughout the city, and expats shouldn't have 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 expats in searching for the perfect property.

Making an application

Expats can apply for accommodation by responding to an advertisement online or elsewhere or directly contacting an estate agent or landlord. References from previous landlords are typically required when making an application, although landlords may forgo references in return for a larger security deposit. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) deals with housing legislation and official processes, making applying for accommodation smooth and easy.


A rental tenancy agreement (RTA) is legally required for renting accommodation. Real estate agents tend to only deal with fixed-term contracts 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.

Costs and fees

Rent in Auckland is usually paid weekly, and the prices advertised represent this weekly sum. Due to the recent passing of the Residential Tenancies Act, agents may no longer charge tenants a fee for their services and are paid by the landlords instead.

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


Landlords will typically require that tenants pay a deposit equivalent to one month's rent. The deposit, also called a bond, is something expats must remember when looking for accommodation, as the initial sum required is typically quite considerable, especially if they cannot provide references.


While the landlord will cover the rates and home insurance, any expats wanting contents insurance must pay for it. Utilities are also typically not included in the rent.

In Auckland, water is provided by Watercare, a council-controlled organisation responsible for supplying water to the Auckland region. Water bills are sent out every three months, and payment can be made online or via automatic payment.

There are several electricity and gas providers in Auckland, including Genesis Energy, Mercury, and Contact Energy. Expats can compare rates and plans on websites such as Glimp or Powerswitch. Piped gas is not available in all parts of Auckland, so it's important to check availability in the specific area.

Auckland Council provides rubbish and recycling services to households across the region. There are different collection days for different areas, and residents can check their collection day online on the Auckland Council website. Rubbish is collected weekly, and recycling is collected fortnightly. Expats should familiarise themselves with the rules around what can and cannot be recycled in Auckland, as there are some differences compared to other parts of New Zealand.