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Cost of living

Wellington has an affordable and very high standard of living, compared to the rest of the world.

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The cost of living in Wellington is comparable to other OECD countries, and we're rated as more affordable than the country's largest city, Auckland.

In fact, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2018 - the annual international New York based survey ranking 209 cities across six continents - listed Wellington as one of the most affordable cities in Australasia. 

Wellington one of the most affordable cities in Australasia

Investing in your future

Investing in education is one of the most important decisions you will make.

Below are cost ranges for students living in Wellington, including course fees and accommodation. You will also find sample costs for a university student and a secondary school student.

Course fees

Fees will make up a large portion of a student's costs. You can find detailed course fees on the website of each education provider or by contacting them.

Below are some cost ranges to give you an idea of course costs. Some Wellington schools and tertiary education institutes offer scholarships that international students are eligible for.

Note: these figures are for full-year costs. Some education providers offer short-term or part-time options. There may be additional costs for things like application processing. 

Primary school $11,000 - $32,000 per year
Secondary school $10,000 - $32,000 per year
English language $360 - $410 per week
Tertiary education Diploma: $15,800 - $35,000
Degree: $17,500 - $32,382
Postgraduate diploma: $17,500 - $32,700
PhD: $6228 - $8167 (International students pay the same domestic fee rates as New Zealand students.)


If you're a tertiary student, you have a number of options for accommodation while you're studying, including home stays, halls of residence, and private accommodation - you can also choose if you want catered or to self catered (cook for yourself). These range from $180 to $290 per week.

Home stay accommodation is popular for secondary and primary students. This includes a furnished room and two or three meals everyday. Fees are $250 - $290 per week.

Sample costs for a university student

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Here are sample costs for a student doing a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Victoria University of Wellington.

Expense Cost
Tuition fees $32,382
Student levies $742
Books and stationary $1000
Insurance $589
Accommodation $9,400 ($180 per week)
Food/Groceries $3,200 ($80 per week)

Personal expenses (e.g. mobile phone, snacks)

$1,600 ($40 per week)
Transport $1,440 ($36 per week)
Entertainment $2,000 ($50 per week)
Total budget $52,353

Sample costs for a secondary school student

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Here are some sample costs for a student attending Onslow College and living in a homestay.

Expense Cost
Tuition fees $16,000
Insurance $500 - $577
Homestay placement fee $1,000
Accommodation $11,700 ($260 per week)
Personal spending $2,250 ($50 per week)
Total budget $31,450

Having fun on a budget

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Having fun in Wellington is easy. From mountain biking, walks or hikes, museums to galleries, there are plenty of low-cost or free activities around the city. Check out Best things to do for free and 20 awesome things to do under $20.