Moving to New Zealand as an Expat
Whether you’re a native or an expat, New Zealand is an incredible place to live.
Located approximately 1,400 miles off the eastern coast of Australia, New Zealand is a country full of opportunity. From those looking to advance their careers to those looking for a slower pace of life, it’s the perfect place for expats who want a fresh start.
But you can’t just pack a bag and fly there.
If you’re looking to live a more fulfilled life in NZ, you’ll need to understand the immigration process and get your visa before you go. And when you arrive, you’ll need to know what to do.
To learn more about the steps you need to take, read on for our detailed guide to immigrating to New Zealand.
Know Before You Go
From work permits to bank accounts to healthcare options, it’s important to know what you need before you make your move.
New Zealand Visas and Work Permits
Depending on your situation, you’ll need to obtain a work visa or a work permit before you can move to New Zealand. If you are a student, you can also apply for a student visa. Read through this resource from the New Zealand government to figure out which one is right for you.
The New Zealand immigration website is easy to use and quite helpful in identifying which visa or work permit you need to apply for. Fill out your personal information and it will generate a list of the visas you might want to consider.
Keep in mind, as an expat, there are different benefits you can apply for. This side by side comparison makes it easy to see what benefits are tied to each visa.
If you are interested in becoming a permanent resident or New Zealand citizen, check out this resource for more information.
It’s a good idea to open a New Zealand bank account before you move. That way, when you’re ready, you can transfer funds from your current bank directly into your new NZ account.
To open an account, you’ll need to provide documentation including your passport or photo ID, proof of residence, and your visa. Once you arrive in NZ, you can activate your account.
When you are choosing a bank in New Zealand, don’t just settle on the first bank you stumble upon. Do your research so you know what each different bank has to offer. That’s the best way to find one that’s right for your specific situation.
If you know where to look, you can do your research before you go. Check out this guide from BNZ bank—they offer excellent assistance and guidance for expats immigrating to NZ.
Healthcare in New Zealand
Compared to other countries, New Zealand’s healthcare system is rather remarkable.
NZ has a public healthcare system that provides residents with access to free hospital care and emergency services. If you’re moving to NZ from the United States, this is unheard of. They also have a public healthcare program—the Primary Health Organisation (or PHO). This helps even further by covering certain costs.
Should you choose to purchase private international health insurance, you can. Residents usually only do so in order to jump ahead in line when it comes to non-emergency needs.
If you do decide to buy private insurance, you can still use the public system and enjoy the best of both worlds.
What to Do When You Arrive in New Zealand
There are even more details you’ll need to figure out when you arrive. Check out these tips for finding a place to live, navigating your way around, and learning the New Zealand culture.
Finding a Place to Live in New Zealand
It can seem like an overwhelming task trying to find the perfect place to live. If you aren’t familiar with the country, it’s best to rent an apartment until you figure out which neighborhood you want to live in long-term. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and you’ll find lots of housing options, so it’s relatively easy to find something that works for your lifestyle and your budget.
To help you in your housing search, visit realestate.co.nz. You can search apartment rentals, townhouses, and homes to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you decide to rent, keep in mind that most rental units come unfurnished, but you may be able to find a furnished place if that’s what you prefer.
In New Zealand, most renters pay twice a month in advance of the upcoming weeks. And you can expect your rental agent to charge an agent’s fee when you sign your lease. The typical agent’s fee is approximately one week’s rent.
Getting around New Zealand is easy. From buses to taxis to ferries, there are a variety of options to choose from to suit your needs and preferred method of travel. Believe it or not, at certain times of the year, it can be cheaper to fly from city to city than to drive or take a bus.
Learning the Culture of New Zealand
If you’re from the U.S., Canada, or Europe and speak English, the move to New Zealand isn’t likely to send you into culture shock. It’s a developed country with the same accommodations and commodities you would find at home.
New Zealand is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, which means that you can expect to endure many earthquakes each year. Be prepared and have your emergency kit ready to go in case a disaster happens.
New Zealanders (affectionately referred to as Kiwis) put a huge emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle. For the sports fan, you can expect to watch your fair share of rugby, cricket, soccer, and netball – the most popular sports in the nation.
The country, the people, and the culture of New Zealand make it an incredible place to live. With fresh opportunities and a new lifestyle waiting for you, now is the perfect time to start planning your move.
If you’re coming from the U.S. or Europe, you’ll find it easy to assimilate to the culture and to the people. It’s an exciting place that will welcome you with open arms.
Before you make your move, do your research. Secure the proper visas and work permits. Establish a New Zealand bank account. Start looking for places to live. If you prepare the right way, you’ll be an expat living happily in NZ in no time at all!