Living costs


New Zealand offers a great lifestyle, with living costs varying depending on where you choose to live and the lifestyle you lead.


Study costs vary according to your level of study, the course you are taking and the type of accommodation.

Education New Zealand is currently updating the indicative costs formerly provided on this page.




In many cases, your accommodation will be only minutes from your place of study. Your institution can help you find accommodation before you begin studying.


* Halls of residence or student hostels

These are usually located on campus or nearby, with single or twin rooms. Bed linen and cleaning are provided. Meals are eaten in a communal dining hall, with special dietary needs catered for. A warden lives on-site and social and sporting activities are organised for residents. Hostels usually have computer labs and recreation rooms. Some institutions provide self-catering hostels where 6 to 8 students have their own bedrooms and share a kitchen and living room.


* Homestay or private board

This gets you a room in a suburban house, usually with a garden and lawns. Your host family provides meals. Interacting with your host family and meeting their neighbours and friends is an excellent way to improve your English. Your host family will help you adjust to life in New Zealand.

Homestay is not like living in a hotel. Some ‘give and take’ is expected, as you become part of the family.


* Renting a house or apartment

Renting a house or flat (apartment) on your own or with other people is called ‘flatting’. You choose your own flatmates in single-sex or mixed accommodation, ranging from a two-bedroom apartment to a large house on its own land. Most rental properties are unfurnished, apart from an oven, a laundry, curtains and carpet.

Your landlord doesn’t have to provide heating. You pay for electricity, gas, phone and water, including connection fees. A bond of up to 4 weeks' rent is held by Tenancy Services and refunded when you move out, if the flat is still in good condition.


* Finding a rental

The accommodation office at your tertiary institution will probably have a noticeboard with advertisements for flats. Newspaper classifieds list rental properties, especially on Wednesday and Saturdays. There are also several websites that list rental accommodation throughout New Zealand.


* New Zealand’s Tax system

You must pay tax if you stay in New Zealand for more than 6 months (183 days ) in any 12-month period, even if you’re a student. Employers will deduct PAYE (pay as you earn) tax from your wages or salary.

You may be entitled to tax rebates. For full tax information see the Inland Revenue website.


* The financial year

The financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. Tax is payable by 7 February, or 7 March if an accountant or tax agent helps you with your tax return.


* Getting an IRD number

When you start a job your employer will ask for your IRD number. This is your individual tax number supplied by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). You can phone IRD from within New Zealand on 0800 227 774, 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.


* Resident Withholding Tax (RWT)

If you have money in a New Zealand bank, the bank will deduct RWT from any interest you earn. If you don't provide an IRD number, RWT will be deducted at the relatively high ‘non-declaration rate’, so it's a good idea to get your own IRD number even if you’re not working.


* Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The price of all goods and services in New Zealand includes 15 % GST.


* Staying for less than 6 months?

If you stay for less than 6 months you are a ‘non-resident’ for tax purposes, but you may still be liable for tax on income earned in New Zealand. Find out if you qualify for an exemption by contacting the Non-Resident Centre at Inland Revenue, phone +64 3 467 7020, 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, fax 03 467 7083 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


* Support services

Schools and learning institutions work hard to make sure you’re comfortable. Most have dedicated support staff for international students. Some may have counsellors who speak your language.


* Safety, security & student welfare

International students often comment on how safe they feel in New Zealand. All educational institutions that accept international students must comply with standards set out by the Ministry of Education.


* Counselling

Being a student can be lonely and stressful - even more so when you're far from home. Institutions provide free counselling about anything you need help with in your personal or academic life. At secondary school, each year group has a staff member who looks after student welfare, guidance and curriculum matters.


* Security on campus and at home

Tertiary institutions have security guards on patrol day and night, emergency phones and swipe-card access to buildings. Some operate buddy systems so a volunteer will escort you home if you’re studying late.


New Zealand is safe compared to most countries, but it’s sensible to take precautions. Get to know your neighbours and find out if a Neighbourhood Support Group operates in your street. Don't leave belongings unattended. Lock your car, and keep things in the boot or take them with you.


* Support for women

Tertiary institutions have active women's groups and sometimes a women's common room. There are effective procedures for dealing with sexual harassment.


* General information

Your local Citizens' Advice Bureau is a good one-stop-shop for information about budgeting, employment, tenancy, personal and family issues. The service is free and some staff speak languages other than English. Freephone 0800 367 222 (0800 FORCAB).


Most institutions offer the following services or can help you find them.


* Health services

  • Doctors, counsellors, and a pharmacy
  • Fitness centres and sports clubs
  • Child care


* Advice and support services

  • International office – assisting student in their native language, if required, for matters such as illness, visas, and accommodation
  • Career advice
  • Budgeting advice
  • Sexual harassment officers
  • Dispute mediators
  • Reader, writers and note-takers for physically disabled students and sign language interpreters for deaf students


* Academic support services

  • Student learning centre for one-to-one and group tutorials on study skills, essay writing, statistics, word processing, planning a thesis, using the library and exam techniques
  • Text book and stationery shop
  • Photocopy shop - printing, transparencies, lamination and binding
  • Computer labs with Internet access and personal email accounts
  • Well-stocked library with specialist staff
  • Social services
  • Students' association - which supports a wide range of social, cultural, and sporting activities and has a say in running the institution
  • Student radio station and newspaper
  • Student travel office
  • Games rooms
  • Chapel and chaplaincy services


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