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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, you will need to have between NZ$18,000-22,000 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.

Standard living costs

The table below provides an estimate of living costs in NZ dollars and is based on 2021 costs. The costs 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.

Residential college Shared flat Studio room
Accommodation Fee $16,340 -
Average rent (52 weeks) - $7,280 $12,220
Food (40 weeks) - $3,600 $3,600
Gas/electricity, internet (52 weeks) - $1,300
Total for accommodation $16,340 $12,180 $15,820
Personal costs (40 weeks) $2,640 $2,640 $2,640
Entertainment (40 weeks) $2,200 $2,200 $2,200
Medical and travel insurance $620 $620 $620
Total $21,306 $17,640 $21,280

The costs noted are for someone living a moderate lifestyle. Actual costs will vary depending on personal circumstances, needs and preferences.

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Accommodation

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.

Residential college

The approximate cost for a residential college in 2021 is $16,340, but fees vary across colleges and across type of room, and most colleges charge additional fees.

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$5,166 per semester.

UniFlats website

Private accommodation

Otago students have numerous private accommodation options available to them, which vary significantly in cost.

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Other living costs

Food

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. This costing is based on a survey completed by the Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago.

Department of Human Nutrition survey (PDF)

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. Countdown supermarkets offer online shopping 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.

Countdown website

There are several Asian and Indian 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:

Indian supermarkets in Dunedin

Asian supermarkets

Electricity

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.

Information about setting up your electricity supplier and finding the best deal

Other costs

  • 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.

Exclusions

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.
  • 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.