27 November 2023

How to Manage Living Costs | Study With New Zealand

Theo Spruyt
Global Digital Content Specialist | Education New Zealand

When you’re a student, it can always feel like the cost of living keeps rising – no matter where in the world you are. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make things easier for you, your family, and your flatmates.

Students can get some great discounts on anything from food to entertainment and clothing by presenting your Student ID when you go to make a purchase. Here are some other great tips to help make things easier while studying on a budget. Comparing New Zealand to the World In Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey, New Zealand’s two biggest cities (Auckland and Wellington) are proven to be more affordable than cities in larger countries around the world. Auckland (ranked 111th) and Wellington (ranked 139th) are both more affordable than several major global cities, including:

  • Hong Kong (ranked 1st)
  • Singapore (ranked 2nd)
  • New York (ranked 6th)
  • Los Angeles (ranked 11th)
  • London (ranked 17th)
  • Dublin (ranked 51st)
  • Sydney (ranked 56th)
  • Melbourne (ranked 71st)
  • Brisbane (ranked 82nd)
  • Toronto (ranked 90th)
  • Canberra (ranked 94th)

By choosing to study in New Zealand, you’re already choosing a more economically sensible place to spend your time and money. Outside of New Zealand’s main centres (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin), smaller cities and towns like Tauranga, New Plymouth and Invercargill can be more affordable while still offering you an attractive lifestyle. Saving Money on Shopping When it comes to shopping in grocery stores, malls and other shops, the brands you choose to purchase can have a large effect on the total price you pay. While some people choose to purchase ‘brand name’ products, shoppers on a budget can still find quality products that focus more on value.

  • For groceries, this could include buying from value ranges. Each supermarket offers a different selection of value brands, so once you find a supermarket chain you like to shop at, research what brands they stock are most affordable
  • For clothes, household goods and other items, shopping at chain stores like The Warehouse and Kmart can provide real value for money
  • Sometimes known as ‘vintage stores’ in New Zealand, there are dozens of stores scattered across the country that are dedicated to revitalising classic and vintage clothing items. Providing fantastic and fashionable clothes for less than bigger mainstream stores, you might find something you love at your local vintage store.

Saving Money on Transport For a lot of students, transport can be one of their biggest recurring costs. Whether you drive, take public transport, cycle, or walk, there are costs that come with each option. Fortunately, there are also options to help reduce these costs, too. For example, if you rely on public transport, make sure to show your Student ID card while signing up for your public transport card. Depending on where in the country you study, this will get you a discount on the usual fare. Be sure to check how long your discount applies for, as some will need to be renewed each year. If you drive, there are numerous ways to get slightly cheaper fuel, like using the ‘Gaspy’ app to monitor fuel prices in your town or city. You can also shop at certain supermarkets, which generate fuel saving vouchers to use at certain petrol station chains. Find out more about travelling in New Zealand here. Saving Money on Power Costs When deciding between electricity companies, there can be a lot to compare, and the process can quickly feel overwhelming. That’s why Consumer NZ, an independent, non-profit organisation, created Powerswitch – a website that compares electricity and gas prices to ensure you get the best option. Take some time to investigate all your options, and you’ll save money in the long run. Some power companies even offer several hours of free electricity a week through various promotional campaigns. When you aren’t being charged for power, it’ll be the perfect time to cook, do laundry, shower, turn on heating, or do anything else that is power-intensive. Be aware that these free hours are ‘off-peak’ hours, meaning they’ll either be late at night or early in the morning. Most providers allow you to choose when you’d like these free hours to occur each day, but they won’t be during ‘peak hours’.

Saving Money on Entertainment Costs With any free time that you’ll have during your studies, you’ll want to have fun! Whether it’s inside, outside, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of fun places to spend your time and money in New Zealand. And for those looking to save money but still have fun, there are lots of ways to get greater value from your days and nights out. Keep an eye on social media, especially in community groups, to find out about local activities that are low on cost and big on entertainment. Following local restaurants, retailers and tourist attractions on social media also lets you know when sales, discounts and competitions are on. Local bars, restaurants and cafes also regularly post about deals, events, and other activities online. Keep an eye out for ones that appeal to you and take along a group of friends. Be sure to check whether you need to make a booking first – you won’t want to miss out on anything! Pub quizzes are a staple in New Zealand culture. Even if you don’t think you can contribute much, be sure to go along – you might surprise yourself! Remember, the drinking age in New Zealand is 18 years old. You can find out more about how to drink alcohol legally and sensibly here. For more ideas about free or affordable things you can do to meet people or experience life here, check our information on Making Friends in New Zealand. In conclusion Don’t let your student budget worry you when it comes to life in New Zealand. Students just like you have thrived on similar budgets for years before you and will certainly do it for years to come. By being clever about where and how you spend your money, you’ll make the most of what you have throughout your entire life as a student.

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About the contributors
Theo Spruyt
Global Digital Content Specialist | Education New Zealand