New Zealand: Counting the costs
The cost of living is broadly in line with Ireland's though wages tend to be a little lower
When you’re budgeting for your life in New Zealand, bear in mind that most Kiwis have cars and unless you are living in one of the largest two or three cities, you will almost certainly need one.
The cost of living in New Zealand is cheaper than in Ireland, although specific costs might be higher or lower than at home and wages tend to be lower. Dublin ranked 47th on Mercer’s Cost of Living survey in 2016, while Auckland was 98th and Wellington 123rd. For more detailed cost of living information, take a look at New Zealand Now or Numbeo.
The first cost of moving will be your visa. Making a formal expression of interest in applying for a skilled migrant visa costs from NZ$530 (€350) if you do it online, while the actual visa costs between NZ$1,890 and NZ$2,505. A working holiday visa costs NZ$208. See the Immigration New Zealand website for more information.
Rents vary but the national median rent for a three- to four-bedroom home was NZ$480 a week in July 2016, but this could be as high as NZ$570 a week in Auckland. Renting a room in a shared apartment or “flatting”, as Kiwis call it, costs NZ$131 a week on average, but it can be as much as NZ$230 a week. You can check likely costs on New Zealand Now and look for somewhere to live on Trademe.co.nz or Flatfinder.co.nz.
You will have to pay at least two weeks’ rent in advance and a deposit, which is called a rental bond, of four weeks’ rent. Bonds are held by a government agency, rather than by landlords. If you are going to Christchurch, expect the rent to be higher as there is still pressure on supply there following the earthquake.
It makes sense to open a bank account before you leave Ireland so you will have a debit card ready to use when you get there. You will need it. New Zealanders pay for almost everything with cards and tend to use cash for small day-to-day purchases only. You can open an account online through any of the main banks: ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank and Westpac.
Learn more about the different savings accounts, credit cards, insurance and other financial products available in New Zealand on sorted.org.nz and on consumer.org.nz.
Once you are in New Zealand and want to start working, you can apply for an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number so that you don’t pay tax at a “no-declaration rate” (similar to emergency tax in Ireland) of 45 per cent, rather than the usual tax rates of between 10.5 per cent and 33 per cent. You can apply through the Inland Revenue site, where you can also find detailed information on income tax rates, how to make returns and how to join KiwiSaver, the government retirement savings scheme.
When you are budgeting for your life in New Zealand, bear in mind that most Kiwis have cars and, unless you are living in one of the largest two or three cities, you will almost certainly need one.
Additional reporting by Gráinne Loughran