Accommodation in Auckland
Auckland is spread out over a large area, with a wide mix of established and new housing, so there really is something for everyone. If the house you prefer or can afford is half way across town from your work, just remember to factor in travel times.
There is a range of high quality accommodation options in Auckland. You can experience the Kiwi lifestyle first hand and be part of a local family with homestay accommodation, or you may prefer the independence of a student hostel. You could rent a house or apartment with friends.
Your living costs will depend on your lifestyle and the type of accommodation you choose, so it’s important to look at all your options carefully before committing to any long-term contracts. It’s a good idea to book some temporary accommodation for your first few nights in Auckland, such as a backpackers or youth hostel. This will give you a temporary base while you find permanent accommodation.
Accommodation types you can choose when you firstly come to Auckland including: Hotels, Motels, Homestays, Flatmate, and Services Apartments.
Choosing somewhere to live
You may need to look around for a while to find a warm house in a neighbourhood you like which is close to schools, transport, shops and where you work.
As well as getting out and looking yourself, you should ask friends and the people you work with for advice. They may even know of places for rent - in New Zealand many good properties are let through word of mouth without being advertised.
Always visit a property before you commit to renting or buying it.
Climate and heating
Remember that here in the southern hemisphere; it’s the north facing properties that get the most sun. Because the climate in New Zealand varies so widely - for example, winter is generally much warmer in northern areas than in the south - the issue of heating will be more important in some regions than others.
Kiwis have a bit of a pioneering attitude to heating. We wear more layers of clothing in the winter (merino wool is a favourite) and tend to only heat the room in the house that we are using, while we are using it. Many new arrivals find the first winter here a bit of a shock.
When you are choosing a house, ask about the level of insulation, the heating options and amount of sun that it gets. If you get an estimate of electricity costs, remember that many New Zealand houses retain very little heat compared to other countries.
The Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has advice on working out whether the home you’re considering is energy efficient, what sort of heating you will need, and how much heating you are likely to use in different parts of the country.
If you have decided on a school for your child, check if it has an enrolment zone.
If you live in this zone, your child will be guaranteed a place in the school. If you are not ‘in zone’, you can still apply but there’s no guarantee your child will be accepted.
There is more about school zones and transport for your children on our school system page.
New Zealand’s larger cities have well-developed public transport options but services can be more limited in smaller centres. Check the Regional Community services pages for more information about transport.
New Zealand cities and towns are spread out, so even if public transport can get you to and from work or school, the bottom line is you will likely need a car here.
Homestays are a great introductory way to live on arrival in any new country where a lengthy stay is planned. In fact on arrival, we strongly recommend an initial period in a homestay, especially for younger students.
Students stay in regular homes of the local community in and around Auckland. Some of the immediate benefits include improving communication and language skills as well as understanding of local culture and lifestyle. Local hosts and host families offer private guestrooms and support to domestic and international students who are new to the community and local schools, colleges and universities. Most host families offer furnished guestrooms, meals, and utilities included for a nominal weekly homestay fee or rent.
For homestays, you may contact UUNZ at +64 9 915 3390.
Renting a house
The rental market is very varied, with a range of landlords from ‘Mum and Dad’ operators to professional investors and managers.
Fixed term residential rental contracts are often short to medium term and long term fixed contracts are relatively rare. Prices vary throughout the country, with higher prices in the main centres. A tenancy agreement is a legal requirement for renting a place.
The Building and Housing Group within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) gives advice and guidance about all aspects of rental tenancies in New Zealand. This includes a guide to the law which is also available in Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Samoan and Tongan. MBIE also offers a mediation service if you have a dispute over a rental agreement.
Where to look for
You can find rental properties through letting agents such as real estate agents, or by contacting landlords directly. A popular privately operated website where you’ll find lots of rental properties advertised is TradeMe Property. Browsing around this website will give you an excellent overview of rents and the types of property available in the area you’re considering.
There’s high demand for good places, so it pays to make contact quickly.
As they do in every country, rents depend on the quality, location and size of the property. But to give you an indication, TradeMeProperty reported that across New Zealand, on their site in February 2018 the median rental being asked for a one-two bedroom home was NZ$390 per week.
However there are wide variations. Auckland’s median was NZ$550 per week and for larger or more desirable homes, up to NZ$850 per week.
Excluding Auckland, the national median is NZ$470 per week.
In New Zealand, rent is advertised as a weekly price, rather than monthly.
When you first rent a place you’ll need to pay some rent in advance as well as a letting fee if you use an agent (letting fees are normally one week’s rent plus GST). A landlord can ask for a maximum two weeks’ rent in advance.
You’ll also need to pay a bond, usually equivalent of up to four weeks’ rent. So you need to be prepared to have to pay up to six weeks upfront.
You’ll get the bond payment refunded at the end of your tenancy, provided you leave the place in good condition. To help avoid hassles at the end of a tenancy, bonds are held by MBIE, not the landlord.
To get a feel for what renters have been paying in the specific areas you’re looking at check the Building and Housing website.
Insurance, council taxes and costs
If you’re renting, the landlord is responsible for insuring the building. Tenants are responsible for getting cover for their own possessions and liability for any damage they may cause to the property.
Taxes imposed by the local council (in New Zealand they’re called rates) are paid by the landlord. Day-to-day running costs like electricity or gas are paid by you, the tenant.
Some homes have water meters, in which case tenants must also pay for the water they use.
Sharing accommodation or 'flatting'
Sharing a house or ‘flatting’ is common in New Zealand, especially if you’re younger and don’t have a family.
Flatting has the advantages of moving in with people who know the local area, and reducing the need to buy furniture and appliances.
Another option for shared accommodation are boarding houses. They offer rooms with shared kitchens, bathrooms and living areas.
Cost of flatting
Nationally, landlords were seeking around NZ$160 to NZ$200 per week for a room in a 3-4 bedroom home in 2017. Flatting costs vary widely, depending on the desirability of the property and the room, and the location.
In some flats, everyone shares cooking duties and the costs of buying food. In others, everyone buys and prepares their own food. Other costs like electricity are shared. Work out agreements about making payments, food and bills before you move in.
Finding a flat
People looking for new flatmates - ‘flatties’ - usually advertise on TradeMe in the ‘Flatmates wanted’ section. Boarding house vacancies are also advertised there.
You’ll find advice about flat sharing agreements and other matters to consider when sharing accommodation on the MBIE Building and Housing website.