Comparing the cost of living in South Korea and New Zealand, which is higher?

If you're thinking about warholing, traveling, and moving to New Zealand, you need to be aware of the cost of living or cost of living in New Zealand. These days, the cost of living in South Korea is quite high, so let's take a look at what the cost of living in New Zealand is like in comparison. Let's break it down into several factors.



Comparing the cost of living in Korea and New Zealand

Before we get into the cost of living comparison between Korea and New Zealand, let's take a look at the average wage and minimum hourly wage for workers in Korea and New Zealand, which should be taken with a grain of salt.


1) Average wage in South Korea vs New Zealand in 2023

  • Average wage in South Korea: KRW 3.64 million before taxes (Source: Jikanuri)
  • Average wage in New Zealand: NZD $5,985 (KRW 479,000) before taxes

In New Zealand, wages have risen by almost 10% across all sectors over the past year due to government pressure. New Zealand has a larger tax percentage than Korea, so I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make in real income.


2) South Korea vs New Zealand minimum hourly wage in 2024

  • Minimum hourly wage in South Korea: KRW 9,860
  • Minimum hourly wage in New Zealand: NZD $23.65 (KRW 18,290)

In terms of hourly wages alone, the minimum hourly wage in New Zealand is almost double that of South Korea. When I first arrived in New Zealand, around 2016, the minimum hourly wage was around $$15. In eight years, it's risen to nearly $$9. It's not just that the minimum hourly wage keeps going up.

That's because the cost of living in New Zealand is also going up, so it's more than just the wage increase.


Comparing house prices in South Korea and New Zealand

1) New Zealand house prices vs Korea house prices

I would guess that housing is probably the biggest area that New Zealanders spend the most of their wages on. People who own their own homes obviously spend the majority of their wages on paying principal and interest to the bank, just like in my country.

As of January 2024, the average house price in New Zealand is $925,461, which is roughly $740 million in our money. At its peak, the average house price was around $$1M, but it seems like New Zealand house prices are falling too.

Korea is the country where most Koreans live. Let's take a look at the average house price in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city: $1,447,845 as of January 2024, which is about $1.15 billion in our money.. It's certainly the largest city, showing prices that bypass the national average.

If you're wondering what the average house price is in a particular area of New Zealand, you can use the New Zealand real estate research website QVfor more information.

So what is the average price of a house in Korea and its capital, Seoul?
The average price of a house in Korea went from 300 million won in 2019 to 500 million won in 2021 and is currently around 450 million won in 2024. This is lower than the New Zealand average.

However, the average price of a house in Seoul went from 800 million won in 2019 to 1.1 billion won in 2021, and is now projected to be around 1.05 billion won in 2024. Compare that to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and it's not that far off - in both cities, housing prices seem to be outrageous.

  • New Zealand vs. South Korea National Average (January 2024) : 740 million KRW vs. 450 million KRW
  • Auckland vs. Seoul National Average (January 2024): $1.15 billion vs. $1.05 billion


2) New Zealand vs Korea rental rates

We don't expect many people to buy a house straight away when they move to New Zealand. It's more likely that people who come to work, travel, or immigrate will rent a house or take a flat.

Just to be clear, renting in New Zealand is very expensive, and you pay rent by the week, not by the month like you would in your home country.

For example, let's say a family of three or four is coming to New Zealand, and they're looking for a 3- or 4-bedroom rental in Auckland. We've set the no-show area to Auckland, which is also heavily populated by Asians.

To find a home in New Zealand, look no further than Trademe. If you're curious about finding a home with Trademiro, you can check out my original postfor more information.

Price of a 3 bedroom house in the No Show neighborhood of Auckland, New Zealand

I found a 3-bedroom house in the North Shore area of Auckland, New Zealand, for $750 per week, which is $600,000 in our money. That would be about $240 in rent.


Price of a 4 bedroom house in the No Show neighborhood of Auckland, New Zealand

A 4-room place is $1,180 per week, which is about $940,000 in our money. In terms of rent, it would be about 3.8 million won. There are many rentals that go for over $1,000 per week for a four-bedroom.

Of course, if you look hard enough in your neighborhood, you can find homes that are cheaper than the prices listed above. But there's most likely a good reason for that, whether it's transportation, older homes, or the structure of the house.

If you're thinking about moving to New Zealand or sending your kids to school, you'll need to factor this into your plans.

When I rented a house, my weekly rent was more than 50% of my weekly salary. When I used to earn $700-800 per week, my outgoing rent was $450, so as soon as I received my weekly paycheck, more than half of it went to rent.

You might be disappointed to learn that for that amount of money in Korea, you can still rent a clean, spacious, balanced apartment, whereas in New Zealand you can spend that same amount of money and still get an old, cold, wooden house.

As a result of this situation, New Zealand has developed a system called flats, where several people live together in a house. You have your own room, but share a living room, kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc.

While this can mean a loss of privacy and inconvenience, the more flats you have, the less you'll pay in flat fees. If you're looking for a flat in Auckland, you should still expect to pay between $$200 and $$300 per week, and if it's cheaper than that, you're probably getting a good deal.


Comparing the cost of food in Korea and New Zealand

New Zealand Pork

1) Food costs in New Zealand vs Korea

After housing, food is probably the most important factor in the cost of living, but it's hard to say which country has the highest food cost because it's relative to the number of people.

Grocery shopping in New Zealand is typically done at large supermarkets called Parkin Save, New World, and Countdown. You can think of them as the Korean equivalent of Lotte Mart and E-Mart.

The photo above is of pork cuts from a large supermarket, and they sell for between $15 and $19 per pack (500-600 grams).

In our money, I think it's about 12,000 to 15,000 won. I think the pork is similar to what you can buy in Korean supermarkets.


New Zealand beverages

In Korea, a small bottle of coke or cider that costs about 2,000 won costs about 3,000 won in Korean money. This is only because it's a large supermarket, but if you go to a small dairy (neighborhood supermarket), it costs around $4~$5 (3200~4000 won).

I feel that beef, chicken, and some vegetables are cheaper than in Korea because of the large share of dairy industry in New Zealand's industry. However, processed foods are expensive, so if you pick up a few things you need, it seems that 200,000 won ($240) just goes out.


2) Eating out in New Zealand vs Korea

I think the cost of living in New Zealand is most noticeable in the cost of eating out. This is definitely more expensive than eating out in Korea. I visited Korea a year ago, and while it's gone up a lot since then, I still think New Zealand is much more expensive.

A meal at a food court or sushi restaurant in New Zealand costs about $20 (16,000 KRW), but you'll also need to buy a drink or water, so add about $4-5 and you're looking at about 20,000 KRW for a meal.

However, if you go to a restaurant in New Zealand, you can basically get an a la carte meal for $20~$30, and if you go to a fancy restaurant, you should expect to pay more than $100 per person. I think I paid around $25~$30 for an a la carte meal at a Korean restaurant in New Zealand.


Comparing transportation costs between South Korea and New Zealand

1) New Zealand tea prices vs Korean tea prices

The next factor to consider when looking at the cost of living in New Zealand is transportation. New Zealand doesn't have as much public transportation as South Korea, so it's not uncommon to see two or three cars per household. The country doesn't produce its own cars, so they're almost always imported from Japan or Europe.

If you're planning to move to New Zealand, a car is probably a must. You should expect to pay at least $40,000 for a brand new car. Of course, this will vary depending on the brand and type of car, but it's probably similar to Korea. However, used cars seem to be cheaper in New Zealand.

In New Zealand, there are many dealerships that import Japanese used cars and sell them in the country. You can get a pretty clean car for around $10,000 ($8 million).

With so many used cars on the market, it's possible to find a great deal on a used car. In this case, you'll need to inspect the car. If you're interested in buying a used car, check out my 4 Tips for Choosing a Used Car in New Zealandfor more information.

I used to drive a small used car 20 minutes to and from work, and it cost me about $60 ($50) in gas for a week (5-day work week). This may vary depending on distance and time of day, so just a heads up


2) New Zealand bus fare vs Korea bus fare

Bus fares in New Zealand can vary by region. In Auckland, like the rest of the country, there are zones, and fares are higher if you go beyond them.

However, where I live is a 20-minute drive south of the city center, where a bus ride costs about $4 ($3,200) using a transport card, whereas Queenstown only costs $2 ($1,600) using a transport card.

I understand that South Korea will be charging 1,500 won (1,700 won cash) for transportation cards for buses and subways starting in 2024. For express buses, it's 1,950 won (2,200 won cash) with a card, so public transportation seems to be a bit more expensive in New Zealand.

Last but not least, when it comes to transportation, is parking in New Zealand. There are parking signs on the side of most roads, and once you park, you'll need to pay at a parking meter on the sidewalk for the number of hours you plan to stay.

The other day I was in downtown Queenstown for some errands and parked on the street, and paid $12 for 2 hours.

It's about the same if you use the Wilson parking building, which is well known in New Zealand, but the cost of parking increases exponentially as the time goes up, so keep that in mind when parking.


Comparing services in Korea and New Zealand

When I thought about what makes up the cost of living in New Zealand, housing, food, and transportation were the first things that came to mind. But then I thought about what else might make up a big chunk of wages outside of those three: services.

One of the things I realized while living in New Zealand is that we have really fast and cheap service, and I didn't realize at the time that it was so convenient.

For example, things like car insurance, repairs, electrical and plumbing problems. It's expensive in New Zealand to use services for things that are difficult to fix on your own. Once you call someone, it's not cheap.

So New Zealanders, when they have a problem, they tend to want to fix it themselves. I think it's something they've been doing since they were kids, so they tend to have the tools, buy the parts they need, and just give it a go.

In my country, we're so used to having these services fast, cheap, and well-equipped that once something goes wrong, we call them. In New Zealand, perhaps because these services are so expensive, people prefer to fix things themselves. If that doesn't work, they call a professional as a last resort.


[the cost of the service I used].

  • New Zealand hospitals (GP consultations): $65 to $90
  • New Zealand car insurance: $800-1000 (1 year, used car)
  • 1 New Zealand car tire: $200 (based on a Japanese brand small car)
  • Car repair costs in New Zealand: $ 1,000 for major repairs (varies depending on what needs to be fixed)
  • New Zealand Garage Door Repair: $150



Finalize

Taking into account the New Zealand cost of living factors mentioned above, here's what I think a family of 3 or 4 would spend per month in New Zealand. Please note that this is a very subjective estimate on my part.

elementPricing
Housing costs (rent) / room in a 3-room house$3,000 ($2.4 million) per month
Food and dining expenses$1,200 per month ($300 per week)
Transportation expenses (including bus fare and gas)$300 per month
Electricity, internet, and water bills$200 to $300 per month

For just the basics, I'm looking at about $4,800 ($384) per month, and if you add in kids' stuff, leisure, and other things, you're looking at a lot more than that.

Given this spending, and considering that the average pre-tax wage in New Zealand in 2024 was $$479, there's not much left to save after taxes.

Today I'm going to compare the cost of living in South Korea and New Zealand, and please understand that this is a very difficult topic to cover accurately. I'm writing from my own experience.

New Zealanders don't seem to save much, and based on the above, I'm guessing that's because there's very little left for them, apart from the Kiwisaver (which is a pension) that's taken at source at work.

If you live in South Korea and are thinking about moving to or studying in New Zealand, and you've been wondering what the cost of living is like, we hope this helps. Thank you for reading this article.

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