Cost of Living, Superannuation & Tax

What will it cost to live in Christchurch?  How much tax do I need to pay? What about superannuation schemes? Which ones are available to me?

Questions that are often asked when you are thinking of moving to a new country.

The more information and knowledge you have on financial issues the easier it will be to make choices regarding your move here. Information on these can be found below.

The cost of living is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain standard of living by affording basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare.  

NZ Cost of Living Calculator

Getting help with your budget

The University of Canterbury offers two superannuation schemes to its employees, both of which are outlined below. You may like to get financial advice to help you with this decision.  The Employee Assistance Programme UC uses is able to offer staff up to three free financial advice sessions if you require these.


The University of Canterbury is a participating employer of the UniSaver NZ superannuation scheme, which is open to continuing and some fixed term employees.

For staff who are eligible for subsidised membership, the University will contribute to the scheme.  This employer subsidy is 1.35 times your contributions, and is up to a maximum of 6.75% of salary.

To learn more about UniSaver visit:


KiwiSaver is also available to employees as a superannuation option. KiwiSaver is a voluntary, work based savings initiative legislated by the New Zealand Government on 1 July 2007 to help New Zealanders with their long term saving for retirement.

You can join KiwiSaver if you are both:

  • A New Zealand citizen or entitled to live in NZ indefinitely
  • You live or normally live in NZ

You cannot join KiwiSaver if you have a temporary, visitor, work or student visa.

You can choose the rate for your KiwiSaver deductions. They can be either 3%, 4%, 6%, 8%, or 10%. The default rate is 3%. The University contributes an employer contribution as per NZ legislation requirements of 3%.  

To learn more visit the KiwiSaver website.

Inland Revenue (IRD) is the New Zealand government’s tax department. Individuals and businesses in New Zealand must pay tax on their income, commonly known as Pay-As-You-Earn or PAYE.  The Government also collects tax from the sale of some goods and services; GST.

There are a number of key attractions to New Zealand’s tax system. No inheritance tax, general capital gains tax, local or regional taxes, healthcare or social security taxes.

Income Tax

New Zealand has progressive or gradual tax rates. The rates increase as an individual’s income increases with the top rate being 39% income over $180,000.

To check the current tax rates, please visit Tax Rates for Individuals

Applying for an IRD Number

You will require an IRD number to be paid you salary.

Information on how to apply for an IRD number for free is available on the Inland Revenue website  IRD numbers for individuals.

You are also able to apply at a nearby Automobile Association (AA) Centre where you can enquire about their fast-track option.

Tax exemption for new migrants

If you are a new migrant, you may not have to pay tax on most of your overseas income for your first 4 years living here. This means you may only have to pay income tax on what you earn in New Zealand.

For more information on Temporary tax exemption visit Inland Revenue’s website.

Good and Services Tax – GST

GST is a flat tax rate of 15% and is normally included in the price of most goods and services when you buy them, including some you buy from overseas suppliers. Things that do not have GST applied include residential rents, airfares for overseas travel, financial services and mortgage payments.

For more information on New Zealand’s tax system, please visit Live and Work New Zealand - Taxes.