It's easy to find details on using KiwiSaver for a first home, but they don't really say whether it's a good idea or not. It's a healthy question to ask.

There are a couple of KiwiSaver-connected programmes that help you use KiwiSaver to buy a home, like the First Home Grant and the KiwiSaver First Home Withdrawal. Using it for a first home has been a feature of KiwiSaver ever since it started.

What do you think?

Let’s run some numbers. Say someone aged 30 has a KiwiSaver balance of $35,000. Using Sorted’s KiwiSaver savings calculator, we can estimate that she could reach close to $321,000 in a balanced fund by age 65 (after fees, taxes and inflation). Here’s a KiwiSaver doughnut:

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How would things look if she takes out $35,000 from KiwiSaver for a first home instead?

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At age 65 her balance would be $227,000 instead of $321,000. (She’d likely have paid off her home by then.)

If she waited, at age 40 she might have closer to $86,000 tucked away in KiwiSaver. Using it for a house deposit then would mean she would still arrive at 65 with $149,000.

 art 03

And if she decided at age 50 to make use of the KiwiSaver first home withdrawal option for a deposit, when she might have $157,000, she would still end up with $82,000 in KiwiSaver at age 65.

 art 04

That doughnut’s getting a bit thin! Plugging these numbers into Sorted’s net worth calculator and including the value of a home helps us look into the future and make decisions now.

Why it can make sense

Looking at the current setup in New Zealand to fund people’s retirements, it’s not hard to see why using KiwiSaver towards a home can be useful.

There’s the simple matter of NZ Super, the government pension. Although NZ Super is generous by international standards, the amount it pays out means it would be hard to cover housing costs along with all the other everyday expenses in retirement.

Many people’s mortgage or rental payment is even more than the full amount of NZ Super (you can see the latest rates here). So it helps to be mortgage-free before hitting retirement, and using KiwiSaver for a first-home deposit can help us get there – especially early on, like our 30-year-old.

If we withdraw from KiwiSaver earlier as a first home buyer, we have less to put toward the purchase and a bigger mortgage. But if we withdraw at 50 and it’s not enough to buy a house outright, we may end up still having a mortgage at 65 and not so much in KiwiSaver.

Of course, fewer of us are jumping on the property ladder these days, but at least we’ll have more in KiwiSaver to rely on than those who tap theirs for a housing deposit. All that time to compound returns should help.


Comments (3)

Gravatar for Jack


8:27am | 8 Sep 2018

Your examples above just don't show the real world. Your words would suggest more in Kiwisaver is better? But the numbers suggest buying a house early is best, can't argue with that. But waiting to buy for 10 or 20 years seems very odd, no account is made for the rent you'll pay while waiting, the increase in house price, the decrease in value of your dollars that no government has ever addressed, etc. It would be a lot more productive giving a list of reasons to not wait at all. NZ's poor policies has already put us in the most depressing state where wealthy immigrants have driven house prices to the point that this is the last generation that young Kiwis will ever be able to buy a first home. Don't wait another minute, if you can't afford a house now, you never will. It's already out of reach for the majority unless you have a wealthy family who can manipulate and get creative around the system to help you. Not to mention the big financial risk family take in doing so if they bow to the banks demands of gifting. Note to Family that want to help, you do not need to gift, see your lawyer first and have them draft an acknowledgement of debt with provision to force a sale for recovery of that debt. Then if things go pear shape you have a chance of recovering something, if you gifted it, it's gone.

Gravatar for Tom


9:15am | 7 Sep 2018

Hi Rachel, thanks for commenting. Have a look here:

Gravatar for Rachel Matheson

Rachel Matheson

11:38am | 6 Sep 2018

The link to Kiwisaver first home withdrawal in paragraph 3 goes to page that no longer exists. Likewise the link to Homestart graph in the same sentence. Please update!