New Zealand Living Conditions and Cost of Living

The quality and cost of living are important considerations when choosing a destination country.

The student counsellor should be able to advise students about the range of accommodation available and its cost. In particular, many students will be interested in home stay, others will want low-cost student accommodation (e.g., share house or apartment), and still others will want their own place. Students’ preferences will vary regarding the balance between the quality and cost of their living arrangements.

Living conditions in New Zealand are very good due to its thriving economy, low crime rate, and relative lack of congestion and poverty. International indexes consistently place New Zealand high on relative lack of congestion and poverty. International indexes consistently place New Zealand high on their lists of good quality of life; for example, the 2009 Legatum Institute Prosperity Index ranked New Zealand #1 in the world for social capital and #10 for overall prosperity.

Housing in New Zealand is often more reasonable than that found in many parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. The government is active in supporting immigration, which includes helping people find good homes and suitable living conditions for their budgets.

The website New Zealand Educated advises that tertiary students should budget for up to NZ$20,000 a year in living expenses, and provides the following indicative costs:

$100 to $200 a week for accommodation

50 cents to post a letter within New Zealand

$4.45 for a Big Mac at McDonald’s

Free local phone calls from a home phone

$10 to $15 to go to the movies

$1.60 for a 1-stage bus fare

Consumer goods in New Zealand have lower levels of tax attached to them than is the case in many other OECD countries.

Education System

New Zealand follows the three-tier model of primary, secondary, and tertiary or post-secondary. This generally includes universities, private institutions, colleges, and polytechnics. New Zealand’s educational institutions offer quality secondary school education, a well-established network of English language schools, and internationally respected and recognised tertiary education providers. Postsecondary education is regulated by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

As well as state-owned education providers, there are approximately 860 private training establishments (PTEs) in New Zealand. They are privately owned and funded, although some of their courses attract government funding and they include quality English-language providers. They offer a wide variety of courses that lead to qualifications in a large range of vocations from scuba diving to hospitality to business. NZQA requires that Private Training Establishments (PTEs) have adequate protection of student fees and tuition.

Polytechnics offer education and training at tertiary levels ranging from introductory studies through to full degree programmes. They deliver technical, vocational, and professional education. There are 23 polytechnics or institutes of technology in New Zealand.

The National Qualifications Framework is a system of national qualifications available through study in schools, polytechnics, colleges of education, etc. The Framework provides nationally recognised, consistent standards and qualifications. The Framework is endorsed and supported by New Zealand’s education and training providers, employers and national industry and professional groups. It is compatible with similar systems in the U.K., Europe, South Africa, Australia, and North America.

Information Specific to International Students

Education institutions must meet stringent criteria in accordance with the Immigration Act 1987. All students must have a confirmation of enrolment before applying for a visa. New Zealand’s immigration laws prevent an international student from studying at a private provider that has not been registered with the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) or a course that is not NZQA approved.

If the student wishes to undertake a course which is less than three months, they can apply for a visitor’s visa. All courses of three months or longer require a student visa. The conditions of student visas vary visa. All courses of three months or longer require a student visa. The conditions of student visas vary but may allow a student to undertake some form of work as stated in their visa conditions.


Student counsellors wishing to specialise in New Zealand are advised to take the New Zealand Specialist Education Agent Programme, designed for education agents who counsel and refer students to study in New Zealand.

The programme has been developed by Education New Zealand (ENZ), with support from New Zealand agencies and the International Education Industry. It is designed to help education agents effectively promote New Zealand education, and also offers agents the opportunity to become a Specialist Agent.

The Specialist training process provides a credible demonstration of an agent’s knowledge about New Zealand education and their commitment to an ethical agent code of conduct. Agents who meet a range of criteria – which includes attending a full day of training, passing a test, and industry reference checks – will become Specialist Agents and will be recognised with a Specialist logo, certificate, and listing within the market-specific sections of the newzealandeducated website.

The programme is divided into 10 main sections:

  1. Living in New Zealand
  2. New Zealand Education System – A Summary
  3. New Zealand Education System – Schools
  4. New Zealand Education System – Tertiary
  5. New Zealand Education System – English-language Schools
  6. Scholarships
  7. Visas and Immigration
  8. Making Choices
  9. How to Sell a New Zealand Education
  10. Agent Code of Conduct/Ethics

More Information – General information – General information – Ministry of Education – Education Counts – Education Organisation Details – Quality Assurance Framework – New Zealand Qualifications Authority – National Qualifications Framework – The New Zealand University System – Immigration New Zealand – Statistics New Zealand – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Local Governments New Zealand – New Zealand Parliament – Education – Department of Internal Affairs (Immigration) – History of New Zealand – Travel and medical insurance –English-language schools –English-language schools – Education New Zealand – New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers – Listing of private education providers in New Zealand – Information on living, working, and studying in New Zealand – New Zealand travel and vacation guide – New Zealand’s leading online education directory – Industry training organisations – New Zealand weather today