One Question Quiz
Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyOctober 17, 2023

The cost of being: A young engineer who’s recently moved to Melbourne

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a willing victim of the brain drain is earning enough to travel, help his family and save for his future.

Gender: Male

Age: 26

Ethnicity: Mixed Pākehā/South East Asian

Job: I moved to Melbourne nine months ago, bought my flights without a job lined up but managed to suss one before I landed. I’m an engineer on an infrastructure project making $117,000 AUD (~$125K NZD), inclusive of the 11% super contributions. This is my third job out of uni. I effectively got a 60% salary increase by moving across the ditch. The brain drain is real.

My living location is: Inner-suburban Melbourne.

Rent/mortgage per week: My partner recently bought the apartment I live in, I’ve just started paying them $2,000 a month with the aim to pay off the loan as quickly as possible.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: I have NZ$29,000 in student debt, I pay $500 a month to minimise the overseas interest rate. 

Any major upcoming costs: Lots of upcoming travel.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: Around $100 a week.

Eating out: Trying to cut down on eating out so maybe $50 a week.

Takeaways: $20.

Workday lunches/cafe coffees/snacks: $20. I take lunch to work but might have to buy something once a week. I make my own coffee every morning and take it to work, which equates to a $20 bag of coffee a fortnight.

Savings: AU$35,000 that I’ve managed to save in the eight months I’ve been working in Australia, somewhere around $20K in Sharesies, and $6,000 left in my NZ bank account.

I worry about money: Rarely, but the cost of living in New Zealand makes me worried for my parents.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Lucky, rapidly growing.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: $6 Melbourne coffees at some trendy alleyway cafe.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: I don’t really drink but might buy an $8 G&T at monthly after-work drinks.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: My work covers my daily public transport commute, but I pay $50 a month in fuel.

Lifestyle costs

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: Maybe $500? I don’t buy clothes often.

My last pair of shoes cost: A $40 pair of questionably legitimate Ultraboosts from Vietnam.

My annual grooming/beauty expenditure includes: $50 on two haircuts.

My exercise expenditure in a year is: Close to $1,000 on climbing gym memberships, not yet including the $300 I’ll need to spend on a new pair of climbing shoes since my current ones have a hole in the toe.

My last Friday night cost: $8 on a G&T.

My most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: The $100 flight change fee when I got my flight times wrong.

My most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: I paid for my mum and two brothers’ upcoming Christmas flights to Melbourne for ~$2,500.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad: Books and ebooks. I pirate a lot of ebooks and have joined multiple libraries.

Five words to describe my financial personality: Higher quality is worth it.

I grew up in a house where money was: Tight. Parents pretty much earned just above minimum wage. We always had food in the fridge and wood for the fireplace though.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: Some time last year, when I just hadn’t transferred enough into my spending account.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Prospering. I think my salary will be increasing further with some pay rises and a job change or two in the next couple of years. My loan will finally be paid off and I’ll probably have enough to buy myself a house.

I’d love to have more money for: Paying off my parents’ mortgage.

My biggest financial low was: It would have been in early 2019 when I couldn’t get a job after university and was burning through my savings after travelling.

I give money away to: Buying flights for my family and shouting dinner for my friends who visit.

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

Keep going!