International students form a significant proportion of students studying within universities in Western countries. The quality of life perceptions of international medical students in comparison with domestic medical students has not been well documented. There is some evidence to suggest that international medical students may have different educational and social experiences in relation to their domestic peers. This study investigates the levels of quality of life experienced by international and domestic students studying medicine. A total of 548 medical students completed the abbreviated version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire. The focus of the analysis was to evaluate differences between international and domestic students in their early clinical years. The responses were analysed using multivariate analysis of variance methods. International medical students are experiencing lower social and environmental quality of life compared with domestic peers. International medical students in New Zealand have expressed quality of life concerns, which likely have an impact on their academic achievement, feelings of wellness, acculturation, and social adaptation. The findings reinforce the need for creating stronger social networks and accessible accommodation, as well as developing systems to ensure safety, peer mentorship and student support.