Auckland may not be New Zealand's capital, but it is the country's largest and most cosmopolitan city, attracting many expats to settle here. Like any city, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
On the one hand, Auckland offers a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, excellent educational institutions and a thriving job market. On the other hand, the cost of living can be high, and traffic congestion and long commute times can be challenging for some residents.
Below is a list of some of the pros and cons of moving to Auckland.
See and do in Auckland
As the country's economic hub, Auckland boasts many recreational activities and entertainment opportunities. After a day's work, residents can wind down at a local bar, watch a sporting event or take in a show. While for a weekend break, mother nature is a hop and a skip away.
+ PRO: Beautiful sights
Residents can take in magnificent panoramic sights from the Sky Tower, Auckland's 328-metre-tall observation and telecommunications tower, to the green volcanic peaks of Mount Eden and Takarunga. Auckland's pleasing urban landscape with waterfront views and the city's gorgeous natural surroundings make it one of the most scenic metros in the world.
+ PRO: Endless things to do
While Auckland is small relative to other major world cities, there is truly something for everyone. New arrivals need not walk far along Queen Street, the city's main commercial boulevard, to realise this. There are opportunities galore for tourists and residents alike, including bungee jumping, shopping and sailing around 'The City of Sails' and its coastal islands with friends. The diverse population also means incredible menu options to tantalise the taste buds. It's truly a cosmopolitan city where one can never get bored.
Lifestyle and culture in Auckland
New arrivals may experience mild culture shock, but many agree the lifestyle is relaxed, and the people are friendly. Outdoor and sporting activities are significant aspects of the lifestyle in this rugby-loving city.
+ PRO: Auckland is family-friendly
With so much on offer, families with children of all ages will surely settle into their new lives quickly and seamlessly. Visits to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium and Auckland Zoo make for perfect activities for the little ones. At the same time, the whole family can enjoy Snowplanet, an indoor snow recreation centre less than 30 minutes from Auckland.
- CON: Learning the local lingo
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. Though English is the most widely spoken, the local accent may take some getting used to, especially for those whose first language isn't English. Kiwis are also known for their unusual slang, which expats will pick up as they go along.
Weather in Auckland
New Zealand may be far from home for many foreign arrivals, but hopefully, unpleasant weather won't be a reason for homesickness.
+ PRO: Temperate climate
Those who don't like extreme weather conditions will find Auckland a comfortable place to live. Summer temperatures are warm, but the heat isn't suffocating, and winters are mild, never bitterly cold.
- CON: Can't avoid the rain
One of the things that new arrivals soon realise is that it rains a lot. The city doesn't experience a particularly 'dry season', but the middle months of the year are the rainiest. Expats are encouraged to put on the raincoats and trudge through it.
Getting around in Auckland
Transport and driving networks and systems are well run and maintained in Auckland, and new arrivals with a driving licence in English won't need an International Driving Permit.
+ PRO: City-centre public transport opportunities
One can travel efficiently with public transport in Auckland. The availability of buses, trains and ferries makes getting around the city pretty straightforward. On the other hand, public transport options outside the city are limited, and many people prefer to drive. Expats should factor in the costs of buying and running a personal vehicle.
- CON: Traffic is a problem
City life in Auckland, unfortunately, comes with heavy congestion, with peak morning and evening traffic easily adding an extra 20 minutes to commute times. Residents will have to deal with traffic, and hopefully, recent moves to promote public transport use will improve the situation.
Accommodation in Auckland
When finding a place to call home, expats must consider the type of accommodation they would prefer and the distance to work and school while also factoring in traffic.
+ PRO: Neighbourhoods boast diverse atmospheres
Whether looking for a beachfront neighbourhood, an area perfect for morning runs, a quirky atmosphere or a home with the best restaurants around the corner, expats will find that Auckland's suburbs and housing suit diverse tastes. Parnell, for instance, is one of the city's oldest and most affluent areas and affords comfortable accommodation, upmarket boutiques and eclectic eateries. At the same time, Kingsland is known for its trendy vibe, live music nights and the famous nearby Eden Park stadium.
- CON: Accommodation expenses are steep
Depending on where expats are from, new arrivals may be shocked by the high cost of living, even for essential groceries. New Zealand's most populated city charges hefty rent too. While many accommodation options are available, not all will suit everyone's budget. Many residents working in the CBD live in more reasonably priced surrounding suburbs and face a daily commute.
Healthcare in Auckland
New Zealand's progressive political system and first-rate medical facilities are major pull factors.
+ PRO: High-quality and progressive healthcare system
Hospitals and clinics in Auckland have quality facilities and medical care. Almost all services are free to eligible citizens and expats, including fertility services, inpatient and outpatient treatments, and support for those with disabilities. It's important to note that no patients are refused emergency medical attention if they cannot pay.
- CON: Not everyone is entitled to free medical services
Free healthcare is limited primarily to citizens, permanent residents and expats with work visas that are valid for more than two years, but we recommend expats check their eligibility. Expats with commonwealth scholarship students, and refugees may be able to access subsidised or free services. Alternatively, it is helpful to invest in health insurance.
Education in Auckland
+ PRO: High-quality education system
Auckland has an excellent education system with many institutions, from primary schools to universities. Auckland's schools and universities consistently rank among the best in the world, providing exceptional education and training to students.
- CON: Expensive private tuition fees
While public education in New Zealand is usually free for expat children, the cost of private education in Auckland is relatively high compared to other cities in New Zealand. This cost can be a barrier for expats on a tight budget, especially those with multiple children who need to pay tuition fees.
+ PRO: Multicultural education environment
Auckland is a diverse and multicultural city, which is reflected in its education system. This diversity can provide a unique and enriching experience for expat students, who can learn from different cultures and backgrounds.
Cost of living in Auckland
- CON: Cultural and recreational activities can be expensive
While many sights and attractions cost little to nothing for New Zealand citizens, trips to museums and other cultural excursions can be pricey, especially for expats. We recommend budgeting accordingly and scouting for bargains and deals.
- CON: High cost of housing
Auckland has some of the highest accommodation costs in the world. This extreme cost of housing can make it difficult for individuals and families to purchase a home, leading to a reliance on renting, which can also be expensive.
+ PRO: High standard of living
Auckland may have a higher cost of living than other cities in New Zealand, but it is also known for its equally fantastic standard of living. With a diverse range of amenities, including accessible healthcare, education, and entertainment options, Auckland offers its residents an excellent quality of life. The city also has a low crime rate and is generally considered safe, making it desirable for families and individuals.
►For a general overview of this city, read Moving to Auckland
►Check out Moving to New Zealand to find out about the rest of the country
"We both come from a small corner of England (Cornwall) so we were not used to ‘city life’ as such. Once we’d settled in we really started to enjoy having everything on our doorstep and not having to drive 4 hours to get to our nearest airport (just an example!). The weather is undeniably a plus, we live more of an outdoor lifestyle now spending our evenings on our balcony having a BBQ or in the park watching the sunset. Gone are the evenings of sitting watching the box! I am not saying those evenings don’t happen, but they are few and far between." Check out our interview with British expats Isaac and Dawn for more on life in Auckland.
Are you an expat living in Auckland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Auckland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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