Matt and Liza Penaflorida moved to Auckland with their daughter Rosabella, 3, in January and say not only are they better off financially but they also have better tans.

Currently renting a flat in Epsom, the couple still own an apartment in London and say the only times they raise their eyebrows are at the supermarket checkout and when their winter power bills arrive.

"In terms of everyday living, groceries to a certain extent are a bit more expensive here ... and houses here don't seem to be insulated so the cost of maintaining a constant temperature in our flat over the colder months would be more than it was in the UK."

They had no intention of selling their property in Woolwich and were also not looking to buy here yet.


"At the moment housing here is still a little bit more expensive than where we were in London, but it's on the up again over there so we are at a point now where our flat over there is about the same price as here.

"We are still renting and it will be a little while until we are in a position to buy. But in terms of what we would get for our money we are about even."

Mrs Penaflorida got her job as a nurse before the family moved here, and Mr Penaflorida found a job as an IT consultant soon after.

Nursing paid more than in Britain, and IT specialists were in demand here, said Mr Penaflorida. However, you did not get as much annual leave or contribution to pension schemes.

"In terms of salaries and tax we are much better off here. One downside is the pension - in the UK most employers would match your contribution."

Childcare was also a big plus for the couple, who estimated they save up to $10,000 a year on Rosabella's fees for the same quality of service.

"The reason we wanted to come here in the first place was for our daughter and we have found that everything we came for either matched or exceeded our expectations."

Mr Penaflorida said public transport was also cheaper - and cleaner - than in London.

"I also haven't had a bus drive past me or a train cancelled on me yet which is more than I could say for London."

Over and above dollar signs, a stress-free lifestyle and accessibility to beaches and parks were the best part of living in New Zealand.

"There's far less stress here - I get home at a reasonable hour, which I never did. We have the weekends to ourselves, which we never did when my wife was on her shift work.

"I used to have to drive five miles [8km] to take my daughter to the playground just to find something she could have a swing on."

JK says

We are a big city, but we need to strike a balance. We need to rely on our politicians and council to make sure we are not over-expensive and that we compete with other countries. It's how to keep the balance between living in a beautiful city with picturesque parks and beaches and making sure families can still go out and eat. In Venice the tourists buy a cafe (coffee) for $18 _ I know where to go for $3. We need to start having places for Aucklanders to go.

Low wages make life in city tough, say flatmates

Living on low salaries makes Auckland expensive, according to four young professionals flatting in Kingsland.

At $650 p/w, rent for the School Rd residence is manageable as one couple share a bedroom. Expenses are also reasonable at $50 per person, per week, including grocery costs.

University of Auckland masters student and part-time worker Brighid McCaffrey, 25, said New Zealand's low wages hit residents the most.

"Compared to salaries, it is expensive," she said. "What young people in New Zealand get paid compared to what you get paid for the same job in other places, prices here don't seem worth it."

Shaan Davis, 26, said going out in Auckland was relative to what it cost in other countries.

"Rent is expensive," he said. "A beer is just the same price everywhere and fuel is the same."

The suburb had access to public transport by bus or train and was a 30-minute walk to the city, which made rental costs seem even greater, said Ms McCaffrey.

"We're not even that close to the city; it's getting more expensive to live further away."

Connor Archbold, a 25-year-old lawyer, said it was pricier to live the same lifestyle in Auckland as you could in overseas metropolises.

"If you're comparing Auckland to an international metropolis ... you can't live here like you would live in New York, it's just too expensive - you can't get any of the really cheap things like grabbing a cab for a couple of bucks."

Expense stings but it's worth it, say expats

Londoners get stung when it comes to rent, but it's a price worth paying when you have Europe at your doorstep, say young Kiwi expats.

Aucklander Bridgette Walker, 24, lives in a four-bedroom home with three other New Zealanders and works in marketing and PR. She says her salary is roughly the same as she got for similar work in New Zealand, but it's swallowed by rental costs.

The group pay $1409 a week for the house in Surrey Quays plus an extra $29.50 each to cover power, water and internet.

An extra $394 each year pays for a television licence.

"We all do our own food ... in general I'd say if you are converting it and comparing it to New Zealand, food is expensive.

"Groceries aren't too bad because they have good deals ... but eating out is quite pricey."

Entertainment in London is a bargain, she says, and exploring Europe can be done on a whim.

"There's heaps to do in London for free or really cheap. They have bands and rides and beer halls et cetera so it's an awesome day or night out.

"Overall London's an awesome place, there is so much to do and see - every weekend we seem to discover a new area.

"But comparing it to living in Auckland, it's a lot harder to live.

"That's also because when living abroad you want to make the most of it and do heaps of things."

Sam Carnachan, 23, works as a shipping consultant in the city and says what the flat of three dish out for rent, they save on food.

It costs $1035 a week to live in a three-bedroom apartment and an extra $59 or so for power, gas and television, he says.

"Food's cheap compared to home. Living costs are far more expensive because of the hidden costs like TV tax, council tax and increased energy rates this year.

"All in all it's worth it though. London's an amazing place which is worth spending the money on."