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Living in Wellington? Priceless

Aug 12th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News


WELLINGTON is now one of the cheapest cities in which to live, according to the Mercer 2009 Cost of Living survey.

The capital dropped from 93 in 2008 to 139, out of 143 of the world’s costliest cities ranked by consultancy Mercer.

An informal, opt-in NewsWire poll, asking what Wellingtonians think about the cost of living in the capital city, finds many who say it’s not cheap at all.

So, what do two people on vastly different incomes think?

Forty per cent of those in the NewsWire poll say they are struggling to survive in these hard times, against 20% who say it’s still cheap to live here.

harrietHarriet Lethbridge, a law student at Victoria University, earning under $20,000 a year, says you can can live cheaply if you try, but there are some costs in Wellington which make it hard.

“The cost of transport is insane,” she says. Living in the central city and walking everywhere saves her on transport costs, supermarkets and dairies are more expensive than their suburban counterparts.

“It is definitely not cheap enough to survive on the student loan living costs.”

Daniel Lond, a software developer who is earning over $80,000 a year, also lives in the central city, and agrees that accommodation, parking and public transport is expensive.

Eighty per cent of people who took part in the poll say they find accommodation expensive, against 5% who say it‘s cheap.

Miss Lethbridge says has been lucky finding a flat that was relatively cheap. Most of her friends pay a lot more than her.

danielMr Lond, who is from Christchurch, says Wellington accommodation is more expensive, but in Christchurch there are not as many upmarket inner-city apartments readily available.

Sixty-five per cent think the price of a movie is exorbitant, 5% say reasonable.

Miss Lethbridge: “Going to the movies is basically out of the question, unless I have just been paid.  We tend to only go to the movies when it is student night, $10.”

Mr Lond thinks if the theatre is well equipped and comfortable, then $16 is not too much.

Fifty per cent think eating out is expensive, with only 5% saying it’s cheap.

Both say Wellington’s many restaurants cater to a range of prices.

And Wellington is still an attractive place to live, according to rental housing trends from First National Real Estate.

In three months to July, the company’s residential rental prices fell by 3.5% across the country due to oversupply, but Wellington was one of the few places where vacancy rates decreased and rent prices were “stable with the occasional increase”.

So as luck would have it, people still want to live here.

Is it worth it?

“I think it is totally worth it to live in Wellington,” says Miss Lethbridge. “It is a great place to live. Tons of culture and there is always something to do.”

Mr Lond agrees it’s a nice city, “probably the best city in New Zealand” although he’s not a fan of the drinking water.


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  1. I moved to Wellington in Jan 2008 from Overland Park, Kansas USA. Compared to the cost of living in the US mid-west, Wellington feels very expensive. Housing prices when compared to incomes appear to make home ownership virtually impossible without more than 2 sources of income. Food, fuel, utilities, rent, and recreation are all substantially higher than Kansas.

    I have a friend who moved to the east coast of the US and his description of costs sounds about on par with Wellington (he moved to Reston, Virgina). Other friends live around San Francisco and they have some true horror stories about cost of living–small 3-bedroom homes selling for over $1 million USD!

    All the costs aside though, Wellington is fabulous. I love every day here. I has all the charm of San Francisco with all the benefits of a small population region. Access to South Island and the Wairarapa are fantastic. Many restaurants are world class. The many culteral events make the city to fun to live in. While it is higher cost than I am used to, it is well worth it.

  2. Reading the outcomes of your survey suggests that the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger.

    I am surprised that Wellington took a dive from 93rd to 139th most expensive City to live in considering the Wellington City Council residential rates just increased by 4.5%. Great work by the way backed up by factual reporting with the help of surveys is informative and helpfull.

    Incase anyone wants to $ave Manners Mall to $ave 11 Million don’t hasitate to follow the link below:


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