Is it better to live in Australia or New Zealand?

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is it better to live in australia or new zealand

“Is it better to live in Australia or New Zealand?” We bet you’ve asked yourself this question at least once before. Your family won’t be the only one that’s considering both countries!

Here’s the thing…

Both Australia and New Zealand are great places to live. The secret to deciding on where to move to with your family lies in looking at the reason for your emigration.

In other words, what is motivating you to uproot your family to start a new life in a strange country?

For instance, many people immigrate to live a safer life of or to give their children a good education. Once you start zoning in on issues like these, you’ll start seeing difference between Australia and New Zealand. Then you can make an educated decision as to which country is better to live in – for your family.

Should we look at some factors that could influence your decision? We think it’s a good idea, so let’s dive in.

(You can also skip to the end of the article where you’ll find a recap of all the information.)

Are you moving for the money?

The majority of our clients move countries in search of a better life. For many of these people, this equates to earning a better salary. In turn, a better salary affords the person more freedoms and opportunities too.

If this is also your main motivation, then Australia is the country to choose. In 2020, Australians earn a median annual income of AUD79,632 while New Zealanders earn NZD52,000.

However, looking at salary alone doesn’t give us the complete picture. It is also necessary to consider the cost of living. In doing so, you’ll determine how far your salary is going to take you.

According to Numbeo, the average costs of consumer goods and services, rent, and groceries are higher in Australia than in New Zealand. Overall, however, the local purchasing power is 14.99% lower in New Zealand than in Australia.

Let’s make some sense of these numbers, shall we? Let’s look at actual prices for everyday items as these appear on Numbeo. To compare apples with apples, we’re going to show all prices in Australian dollars.

Please note: At the time of writing, the exchange rate was 1(Aus) to 1.08(NZ).


You’ll fork out more on rent in Australia than in New Zealand. On average, rent in Australia is 12.48% higher.

Let’s say you want to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre. In Australia, you can expect to pay $1,707.20 a month while the same apartment is going to cost you $1,448.71 in New Zealand. Perhaps you’ve just started a family and you’d prefer living in the suburbs. In that case, the costs just about even out if you rent a 3-bedroom apartment. In Australia, your rent will be $1,960.74 while it’ll be 1,933.98 in New Zealand.


To keep the lights on and the water running, you’ll have to fork out $217.68 a month in Australia, while it’ll cost you $163.86 a month in New Zealand. This is for an apartment of 85sqm and the cost also includes other basic utilities such as refuse collecting.

It’s certain that you’ll also want to know how much of your salary you’ll spend staying connected to the internet. This is actually going to cost you more in New Zealand than in Australia. With that said, the difference is minimal. The price for uncapped data over ADSL or a cable at 60mbps or more, will cost $77.78 a month in New Zealand while it’ll set you back $74.05 in Australia.


On average, grocery prices are 7.93% higher in Australia. With that being said, it’s not all groceries that are more expensive in Australia.

Let’s compare actual prices. We’re going to break it down in four categories:

  • Staples
  • Meat and diary
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit

1. Staples

Australia New Zealand
1L of Milk
Loaf of white bread$2.76$2.25
12 Eggs$4.51$4.88
1kg Rice$2.77$2.80

2. Meat and diary

AustraliaNew Zealand
1kg Chicken fillets
1kg Beef round$17.10$17.30
1kg Local Cheese$10.39$9.63

3. Vegetables

AustraliaNew Zealand
1kg Potatoes$3.33 $3.07
1kg Tomatoes$5.06$4.73

4. Fruit

AustraliaNew Zealand
1kg Apples4.373.54
1kg Bananas3.562.83
1kg Oranges3.903.70

Do you live for work or work to live?

In other words, which one do you value more – your career or your free time?

If it’s the former, Australia is a good choice. Australia offers more opportunities, both in the number of jobs and the chance to grow your career. That mainly has to do with the fact that Australia has more and bigger cities together with booming industries. In contrast, New Zealand’s big corporations are mostly concentrated in and around Auckland.

However, if work is more of a means to an end, you’ll find that New Zealand is your best match.
New Zealanders are known for their ‘life is for living’ ethos. They believe a good day’s work should be balanced with time for family and friends as well as spending time in New Zealand’s great outdoors. In fact, when it came to work-life balance, New Zealand ranked second in the world in the 2019 Expat Explorer Survey.

Do you prefer life in the fast or the slow lane?

Australia’s big cities buzz with activity, day and night. Cars speed up and down highways during office hours, while restaurants are packed at night. There’s always something to see and do too, no matter where you go. This is not to say you won’t be able to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle in Australia. It just means that you might have to skip the cities when choosing where to settle down.

In New Zealand, on the other hand, life moves at a slower pace all-round. This can be attributed to New Zealanders’ love for downtime as well as to the fact that New Zealand’s cities are smaller than those of Australia. Smaller cities, as we all know, equals less people, less traffic, and more open spaces.

Do you have children?

You can rest assured that no matter which country you choose, Australia or New Zealand, you children will enjoy a world-class education.


Australia’s world-renowned Qualifications Framework guarantees that schools as well as tertiary education institutions are government authorized and accredited.

Further to this, Australian schools have:

  • small classes,
  • university-trained and qualified teachers,
  • specialists teachers in subject areas, and
  • additional learning support for children who need it.

You’ll find Australia’s best schools in Melbourne and Sydney. These cities are home to Australia’s five top primary schools and the top five high schools. The schools are a mix of co-education and single-gender facilities.

To have a look at the best schools in each state or territory, click here for primary schools and here for high schools.

New Zealand

The New Zealand education system prides itself on putting the student at the centre of everything it does, while keeping an open mind about learning and teaching techniques. The mission is to teach children to:

  • solve problems
  • process information
  • work with others
  • create and innovate

The best schools in New Zealand are also located in the big cities, Wellington and Auckland specifically. The schools are a mix of public and private institutions, and offer both co-ed and single-gender options.

Is good, affordable healthcare high on your priority list?

Australia and New Zealand’s healthcare are of equally high standards. Both countries have public and private healthcare systems, and you’ll receive world-class treatment in either country.


Australia’s public healthcare system is called Medicare and it covers part or all of the following health services:

  • Seeing a GP or specialist
  • Tests and scans, like x-rays
  • Most surgery and procedures performed by doctors
  • Eye tests by optometrists

To qualify for Medicare, you have to an Australian citizen or permanent resident, although some temporary residents can also join Medicare. If you don’t qualify for Medicare, you’ll have to ensure that you have private medical aid for the duration of your stay in Australia.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, eligible residents get free or subsidised health and disability services under the public healthcare system. These services include:

  • Primary healthcare visits such as doctor’s visits
  • Prescribed medicines
  • Public hospital services
  • Support services if you have disabilities

Your children will qualify for a range of free healthcare services, all of which are related to their age. For instance, children up to the age of 5 qualifies for Well Child/Tamariki Ora. This services gives children access to a range of health checks, and also provides support and advice to new parents.

Is your family’s safety your main concern?

Keeping our families safe is a huge concern for any parent. It’s no surprise that the majority of parents move countries to offer their children, and themselves, a safer future.

If this is your main concern too, you’ll have to choose New Zealand. Last year, New Zealand was yet again the second safest country in the world, as per the 2022 Global Peace Index. Iceland was the only country that could top New Zealand.

In case you’ve never heard of the Global Peace Index, it measures the state of peace in countries using three domains:

  • The level of societal safety and security.
  • The extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict.
  • The degree of militarization.

A number of indicators are captured within each of these domains, including violent crime, violent demonstrations, the homicide rate, and political instability.

At number 13, Australia is 11 spots under New Zealand. Thirteenth place does, however, put Australia above countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

To recap the answer to the question “Is it better to live in Australia or New Zealand?”

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether Australia or New Zealand is a better choice. As you can see now, it’ll depend on what you want for your family.

  • Is it a better salary? Australia is the winner. Australians earn more and have more spending power.
  • Is it to grow your career? Australia comes out tops again, thanks to its many big cities and booming industries.
  • Do you want better work-life balance? Choose New Zealand, where the motto is ‘life is for living’.
  • Is it so that your children can enjoy a good education? You can go with either country as both have world-class education systems.
  • Do you value good, affordable healthcare? Again, either country is a great choice.
  • Do you want to move to a safe country? New Zealand is the second-safest country in the world!

It’s entirely possible that the reason for your overseas move is a mix of one of more of these factors. In this case, our suggestion is to draw up a pro and con list to help you decide.

Let us not forget however…

Whether you go to Australia or New Zealand is also dependent on your family’s eligibility to emigrate to either country. That’s why it’s important to also complete an immigration assessment so that you can ensure that you are making an informed decision.

If you qualify for both countries, as some people do, lucky you! Then you’ll be able to pick and choose the country that’s the best fit for your family.

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