The amount that you will spend on living costs will vary depending on your accommodation options, your style of eating, and how much you want to spend on recreation.
In order to live comfortably in Dunedin for 40 weeks of the academic year, we recommend you have between NZ$22,000–$26,000 available for living costs, above the cost of your tuition. If you are staying for a calendar year (52 weeks) you will need more than this.
These estimates are for standard living costs only, excluded costs are noted below.
Costs are in New Zealand dollars.
Standard living costs
The table below provides an estimate of living costs in NZ dollars (based on 2022 costs) and assume a single student on campus for a period of 40 weeks (one academic year), although depending on accommodation arrangements, some costs may be incurred for the full 52 weeks of the year.
|Average rent (52 weeks)
|Food (40 weeks)
|Gas/electricity, internet (52 weeks)
|Total for accommodation
|Personal costs (40 weeks)
|Entertainment (40 weeks)
|Medical and travel insurance
The costs noted are for someone living a moderate lifestyle. Actual costs will vary depending on personal circumstances, needs and preferences.
The biggest living cost for an Otago student is their accommodation. What students pay for accommodation depends on the type of accommodation chosen and the length of time spent in Dunedin.
The approximate cost for a residential college in 2023 is $18,696, but fees vary across colleges and across type of room, and most colleges charge additional fees (e.g. entry and activities fee approximately $900).
Residents pay for college rooms from February to November.
University Flats (UniFlats)
Living in a UniFlat would involve similar living costs as outlined in the shared flatting scenario.
The UniFlats website outlines the various options available, but a regular room in a 3–6 bedroom student house costs NZ$5,784 per semester.
Otago students have numerous private accommodation options available to them, which vary significantly in cost.
Other living costs
The food costings in the table above are based on a moderate food budget where most cooking is done at home from seasonal and basic ingredients.
Depending on where you are from, grocery supplies may cost more than you are accustomed to. There are several supermarkets in easy reach of the Dunedin campus and some offer online shopping with delivery or pick up services which you can use to check how much it would cost for you to do your usual shop. New Zealand supermarkets regularly have special offers, so you might pay less in store, but this will give you an overview.
There are several ethnic food stores in Dunedin where a wide variety of Asian, Indian and Halal foods are available which may not be found in standard supermarkets.
Some examples are:
- Save Mart Ethnic Family Shopping Dunedin
- Indian Food Mart Dunedin
- Sew Hoy Oriental Foods
- HappyGo Asian Market
- CJ Asian Supermarketing Dunedin – Facebook
- KOSCO UniMart – Facebook
- Asian Groceries – Facebook
Electricity costs are sometimes included in accommodation costs (for example, UniFlats, Residential Colleges, and some Studio Rooms), but not always (shared flatting).
If the cost is not included in the accommodation you will need to factor this into your budget. It is important to note that most domestic heating in New Zealand uses electricity, and usually hot water is also electric. In Dunedin you can expect a much higher usage during the coldest months (May–September) as it is the main source of energy for heating in most homes and heating is essential for keeping yourself and your living environment healthy. There are different payment options available with providers to help even-out your payments to avoid receiving a huge bill at the coldest time of year.
- Mobile phone plans – both pre-pay and contract plans are available through a variety of providers. The costings provided above are for a basic plan with limited data. Glimp provides a comparison of available plans through the main providers.
- Personal care and cleaning – this would include things like haircuts and hair care products, oral hygiene products, skin products, hygiene and general cleaning products etc.
- Entertainment/leisure – the cost indicated above would cover a movie and a moderate meal out. Depending on your lifestyle, these costs may be more or less.
- 'Just in case funds' – depending on your personal circumstances, it is recommended you set aside some additional funds for unforeseen costs or circumstances (not covered by insurance).
Not included in the cost estimates above, but important to factor in, are costs such as:
- Tuition fees, student services fees.
- Medical and travel insurance.
- Textbooks and other study related material, including printing.
- Travel costs – due to the central location of the campus, and the close proximity of a lot of accommodation options, no travel costs have been included. If you choose to live slightly further away from campus, there are bus services and/or there is the option of purchasing your own car. If you choose to purchase a car, be aware that parking around campus is limited, and may be paid parking which would increase your costs.
- Any extra travel or activities you would like to do while you are in New Zealand.
- Any ongoing medical costs for pre-existing conditions.
- Women's health/birth control/pregnancy – please read the exclusions of your insurance policy carefully to ensure you are prepared.
- Dentist and Optometrist appointments can be expensive, therefore it is advisable to organise any glasses/contacts before arriving, and take care of any dental work needing done before arrival.
- Furniture and household items may need to be purchased if your rental accommodation does not provide this. Check with your accommodation provider in advance about what is provided to allow you to accurately predict what you will need to supply yourself.
- Clothing – some people need to upgrade their warm clothes on arriving here due to the Dunedin climate. Dunedin has an excellent array of stores offering new and second-hand clothing.