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Living in Queenstown has its pros and cons. After moving to Queenstown myself, I am revealing the truth about living in Queenstown including how expensive it is, how easy it is to get a job, how much fun you can have, as well as why I think it is a great place to live!
We made the move to Queenstown about three months ago now. It has been a great time, most people would agree that Queenstown is the best place to spend the winter in New Zealand.
And while it has been fantastic learning to ski/snowboard in Queenstown, drinking mulled wine and gazing out at the beautiful mountain peaks, there are a few downsides to living in Queenstown that are important to know.
In this blog, we will answer the questions that most people have before moving to Queenstown with our honest opinion based on our experience living there!
Is finding somewhere to live in Queenstown hard?
Before we left Auckland for Queenstown everybody told us that the hardest thing would be finding somewhere to live. There is a serious housing shortage in Queenstown, especially in the peak season of winter (June to September) and summer (December to March.)
With this drilled into our heads, we applied for a lease for a two-bedroom place before we even moved! We ended up getting the place but this was probably because the lease started in May, before it started to get busy in town.
There are rooms for rent for short term or long term but expect to pay $250 NZD for a single and $350 for a couple per week (and that’s not including bills.)
Where to Stay in Queenstown while finding a permanent place to live
Because of the high demand, it is a bit of a task to find somewhere to live. I have met many people who gave up on trying to rent a room and just live in long-term hostels or hotels. That being said, there are some nice hostels in town and it wouldn’t be the worst option. I’ve narrowed down the best options of places to stay in Queenstown here.
The Tahuna Pod Hostel will be the most friendly to your wallet at around $55 NZD/night for a double pod bed. It’s a great extended stay option while securing permant housing. It’s located right in the heart of Queentown which is nice for familarizing yourself in your new city.
If your preference is something more private I would suggest checking out the Pinewood Lodge and Apartments which costs around $89 NZD/night. They are one of the most afforable double rooms in town center of Queenstown that has a private bedroom, the bathroom however is shared but there are most expensive options if you want to upgrade to a private bathroom. Guest laundry is included with stay.
If you are determined to find a proper house, then make sure to look in advance of the busy season and you will be just fine!
Is living in Queenstown really THAT expensive?
In short, yes. New Zealand is already expensive and Queenstown is even more expensive than anywhere else.
Besides the cost of housing, power is ridiculous. Oh, and did I mention we pay $3.30 for ONE garbage bag! Don’t even think about eating cucumbers ($4.59) or eggplant ($6.50 each!) Fruits and veggies are very expensive in the winter, but prices do drop in the summer!
If you own a car, fueling up will be one of your biggest expenses each week. Fuel is $2.80 NZ per liter and Diesel is $2.24 per liter currently (as of March 2022) and it is only expected to go up in price.
That all being said, there are things that are very reasonable. For example, skip driving and take the bus which only costs $2 to get you anywhere in or around Queenstown. Some veggies are cheap, we can buy a whole pumpkin for $2 or cauliflower for $1.70 for example.
If you watch out for dinner specials and happy hours it is possible to get a drink for less than $5 and a good meal for $15. There are also lots of deal websites such as Book Me, Grab One, and First Table that can make going out to eat a lot more affordable.
The truth is, it is possible to save money while living in Queenstown and it isn’t the expensiveness that is the problem – it is the lifestyle.
What exactly do I mean by lifestyle? Well, a lot of drinking and partying as well as going out for dinner, lunch and breakfast are common, not to mention how expensive skiing and snowboarding are.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, and adventure activities are costly!
If you want to truly experience Queenstown and do more than just work and sit at home, you’ll likely find your wallet suffering. With that said, if you stick to the free and cheap things to do in Queenstown then it won’t be too bad.
Is the party scene really that good?
Queenstown is a little town with a lot of parties! Every night of the week there are several places to party until 4 am – and it is busy!
There are literally hundreds of bars and restaurants all within a few hundred meters. The food is good, really good (we have yet to have a bad meal out in Queenstown.) The bars lure you in with awesome live music and bar food deals.
The party scene is fun though. Queenstown is full of backpackers who work in hospitality and party when they are off as well as rich tourists here on a short holiday. And for some reason, the combination of the two out partying makes for a wild and fun night for people from all corners of the globe.
How easy is it to get a job?
Very easy! Because of the transient nature of Queenstown, it seems like everywhere is always hiring. If you speak English and don’t mind working for minimum wage, you have a very large selection in retail or hospitality.
The construction industry is booming in Queenstown and if you have construction or trade experience you will also easily find a job, and a better paying one at that!
Don’t expect to find much for office work in Queenstown, especially on a short-term basis. Queenstown is a tourist town and the majority of jobs are in hospitality or tourism!
If you aren’t so sure you can see yourself doing these types of jobs consider going on a working holiday. Applying for a Working Holiday Visa will allow you to work as a normal citizen for an extended amount of time determined by where you are from and where you are going.
What are the benefits of living in Queenstown?
There are so many reasons why living in Queenstown is amazing. Sure, the job selection is limited, it is expensive, and finding a place to live is a challenge, but I can guarantee you that it is 100% worth it.
I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a chunk of my working holiday than Queenstown.
Why? Well, let me tell you!
There are dozens of trails for hiking near Queenstown. Each hike is unique to the next and offers incredible views.
Queenstown is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The town itself is cute and it is situated right next to a lake and mountains. The surrounding area of Queenstown is breathtaking are there are endless amounts of instagramable spots worth exploring in Queenstown.
The friendliest people are travelers and Queenstown is full of them! Sure, you won’t meet many Kiwis (people from New Zealand) while living in Queenstown, but you are sure to meet lots of nice people from all over the world. Your list of places to go and friends to visit will grow after just living in Queenstown for a short period of time.
Skiing or snowboarding in the winter is so awesome! Two different ski hills are less than 45 minutes from Queenstown making it the perfect base for getting your fill of shredding in the winter.
Hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, cycling, and camping are just a few of the common summer activities that the people of Queenstown do regularly.
Like I said before, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand so while you are here be sure to bungee jump, skydive, go canyoning, get on a jet boat, and go rock climbing!
Canyoning is one of my all-time favorite activites because you get to navigate through gorges and waterfallls by rappelling, jumping, walking, zip-lining, and swimming. It’s like serveral snippits of Queenstown activites wrapped into one and even if you’ve never gone before they will show you how it’s done!
In the winter, there is snow on the mountains but not in the town. In the summer, it is warm but not sweltering hot. And no matter what season, it feels like the sun is almost always shining! When autumn arrives the orange and red color will canvas the landscapes. New Zealand is one of the few countries where you will get to experience all four seasons.
Summer in Queenstown lasts 3.5 months from December 5th to March 18th. Janurary is the hottest month with an average high of 18° celcius (65° fahrenheit). The coldest month of the year is July where the daily high averages at 5° celcius (42° fahrenheit).
Thanks for reading!
So far for us, living in Queenstown has been awesome. Choosing to make the move from Auckland to Queenstown was a great decision that we don’t regret for a second. If you are contemplating moving here learn from our experiences on everything you should know before moving to New Zealand.
But besides Queenstown being great itself, it is also a great base for making short trips elsewhere. There are just so many things to do in and around Queenstown!
Just two weeks ago we were exploring Milford Sound and then we came back to Queenstown for a craft beer tour. Last weekend we went night skiing at Coronet Peak, and tonight we are going to a Paella night in town at a brewery. This weekend we are making a little ski trip to Mt Hutt! And, one of our favorite places, Mount Cook, is just a couple hours away!
Doesn’t that sound like a great life? We think so!
Do you have any questions about living in Queenstown? Let us know in the comments and we will get back to you!
We have written a ton of more information about Queenstown and New Zealand in general as well as more specific experiences below:
Things to do on New Zealand’s South Island
Day trip from Queenstown- Mount Cook National Park
Wednesday 21st of October 2020
Hi, I'm a 21 yr/o American who is playing with the idea of moving to Queenstown for a year. I've been researching it obsessively and am so excited to move hopefully next year or so when covid isn't so bad. My question is, what do kiwis wear in Queenstown? I like to dress up and be very fashionable, but I know some cities have a very laidback Patagonia/Chaco type of vibe (that's what it's like where I currently live).
Friday 23rd of October 2020
That's awesome to hear!
Queenstown has a bit of both. Obviously being a hiking town, it is comon to see lots of people in the laid back active wear. However, it is also a very treny town and on nights out, and even during the day, you will find people dressed up.
I must let you knwo though, not many kiwis live in Queenstown. It's a town home to people from all over the world and you'll bump into more Australians, Brazilians, Irish and Europeans than Kiwis!
Hope this helps! Bailey
Saturday 19th of September 2020
Just wondering how covid-19 has changed living in Queenstown?
Monday 21st of September 2020
We currently aren't living in Queenstown at the moment due to being stuck in Canada because of COVID. However, from speaking to friends things are pretty normal just a little quieter without all the international tourists. Could be a great time to go and see things while it isn't so crowded!
Hope this helps
Ratna R Kumar
Sunday 6th of September 2020
Hi Bailey, I am planning on visiting New Zealand in 2021. I like to stay about six months and travel around the country. Although i lived in Boston so many years now living in Florida. I heard from another Brit that the heating system is not that great. Is that true? She mentioned the electricity is expensive. She also mentioned driving has been a challenge. I like the idea of visiting Queens town and Napier. Any tips? Love to follow your blog. Kumar
Wednesday 16th of September 2020
That's awesome to hear I think you'll love traveling New Zealand!
As for the heating, this can be true in Queenstown in older housing. If this worries you be sure to choose a newer house with good heating features. Oh, and yes electricity is expensive! It can cost upwards of $10 a day to heat a house in Queenstown so if you can find a place with a fire place!
Driving in New Zealand is fine you just have to remember they drive on the left-hand side of the road! Also, take it slow and get used to the local rules such as using pull over bays to let fast cars pass, etc.
Daniel and I love Queenstown so be sure to spend some time there! There is simply so much to see and do it is crazy. Also, be sure to check out our blog more and browse our content as we have so much to help plan your trip!
As for Napier, we really don't know much about the place as we never stayed long enough to explore enough. However, I'm sure its a great place to visit.
I hope this helps and if you have any other questions please ask!
Wednesday 26th of February 2020
Moving to Queenstown in May. Could you provide me with some housing resources please?
Tuesday 25th of February 2020
Hi Bailey ,
Thanks for sharing your life in QT, we are planning to move to QT maybe few years later, i world like to ask which district will be cheaper for buying a house, not far away from school and hospital for 2 adult and 2 kids？Is Jacks Point a good choice ？ Looking forward ro your reply, thank you！
Friday 21st of August 2020
Jacks Point definitely doesn't look "cheap", but that all depends on the budget I guess. Yearly fees to live there as well. The wife and I would love to retire to somewhere like QT from the Sydney rat race, one visit to QT a few years back left a mark on us that's for sure. Jacks Point stands out to us for it's new builds, open feel to the housing sections ( no ugly fences ), and the Remarkables mountain range backdrop.....stunning. The good thing for us Aussies is we don't need to jump through hoops to live there, still get free medical and the Govt. pension if applicable. Only 4 years to go !!!!!!
Saturday 29th of February 2020
That's no worries at all.
Jacks Point is an up and coming area a little out of Queenstown that is very nice. There are lots of new developments there but as of right now not many shops. However, with that said, it is close (5 to 10 minutes) drive to Frankton. In Frankton you have all the big grocery stores and shops including K-mart (our favorite), the hospital and primary/highschools.
The views in Jacks Point are also amazing and as the suburb is rather new the roads and gardens are immaculate. You'll also be close to the Remarkables ski field if the kids ever get into snowboarding or skiing (which when living in Queenstown is bound to happen.) Also living in Jacks Point would mean you would avoid the crazy traffic in Queenstown when visiting the shops or picking the kids up from school. So overall, it's a great choice.
Another option I am considering right now is Shotover Country or Lake Hayes. Both are out of Queenstown town center and still close to shops and schools. Areas to avoid in my opinion would be Fernhill (no sun in winter and you'll have to deal with traffic every day especially getting groceries and picking the kids up from school) and Queenstown Hill (crazy traffic and you'll have to deal with the craziness of Queenstown every day as its right in the center).
Arthurs point is another up and coming area with large developments planned but you will be far from shops, schools, and the hospital so I wouldn't look there if that super important.
I really hope this helps! Honestly, you are on the right track trying to stay a little further out of town as Queenstown is such a busy place and Jacks Point is so beautiful.