If you're planning a move to New Zealand, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to New Zealand - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in New Zealand and more.
Deciding Where to Live in New Zealand
When we asked expats living in New Zealand to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:
"Found a great real estate lady who listened and then worked really hard to find our home! Chose our home for the views, close to town and is on the peninsula," said one expat who moved to South Island, New Zealand.
"We chose to rent a furnished house in a beach-side community (aren't most of them anyway?). We drove around New Zealand for seven weeks and found a spot we liked. We bought a local newspaper and looked at about 10 houses from the rental ads and chose one in Snells Beach. That is 10 kms from Warkworth, which in turn is about one hour north of Auckland," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to New Zealand.
Read our article, 5 Best Places to Live in New Zealand, for advice about deciding where to live in New Zealand.
Healthcare in New Zealand
"Unlike in the United States, consultations with Specialists are only by referral from a General Practitioner. Doctors practicing in New Zealand, as well as Medical Centers/Clinics, can be easily located via the New Zealand Yellow Pages under "Medical Practitioners". Every New Zealand White Pages telephone book has a section at the beginning devoted to “Medical Practitioners and Medical Centres” (the green pages), with a comprehensive list of practitioners in your area. In addition, contact information for each of the hospitals in the main cities is repeated on White Pages online," wrote the US Embassy in New Zealand.
Expat Health Insurance in New Zealand
Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.
What to Bring When Moving to New Zealand (and what to leave behind)
When we asked expats living in New Zealand what they wish they had brought when moving to New Zealand and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:
"Should have brought: Spicy food, summer clothes and computer stuff. Should have left: DVD's, books and winter jacket," said one expat who moved to Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ, New Zealand.
When a newcomer asked what expats would recommend that he to add to his shipping container that had a little room left, one member replied, "Bring rugs. For the lol, the bathroom, and anywhere else you want a rug or small area carpet. Bring small trash cans. They won't break the bank, but what is $5 in the US is $25 here in small trash bins. Linens: like really nice comforters. Hard to find natural fibres here that aren't exorbitant. Cotton clothing. Over the door peg hangers for towels or bathrobe or laundry room. Laundry hampers. Really good quality kitchen knives. Mrs. Dash spice. Wall clocks that are $12 at Target are $30 here. All toiletries especially non essentials like nail polish. Essie is $20 here, $9.00US. Books. Atlas. Maps. Tools. Look --- it's all more expensive here. If you want it, buy it in the US and stuff it into your container. But seriously -- area rugs and floor mats are hard to find here.
"Be aware that NZ has VERY strict import controls over wooden products and things that contain wood. Our furniture had to be quarantined for weeks and fumigated. This is to protect NZ agriculture but some people get very upset. I have heard of some wooden items being damaged in the process or outright denied entry. Even wooden picture frames were affected. Just be forewarned and prepared, cautioned another expat.
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Advice for People Moving to New Zealand
"Here in Dunedin, the location of the home with relation to the sun is very important! Take your time choosing a neighborhood and schools for your children. Find an organization to ask questions about everything, as NZ is ahead of other countries in some areas (on-line access to most government agencies) but very behind in other areas (home insulation and internet speed)," said one expat who moved to New Zealand.
"Go into town (Warkworth) and just walk the streets. There are 5 or 6 major real estate offices there, and they have hundreds of postings for the entire region. Go to the "Information Centre" (every town has one) and get a good local map. Just drive around and find an area that suits you. If you see a property that is posted by an agent, you can call that number. However, if you aren't afraid to do so, just go up to the door and ask the owners if they are willing to sell directly to you. Then bargain...politely. Everyone saves on that kind of deal...well except the agent doesn't get a fee! Watch out for the direction of and exposure to the wind. And that is true anywhere in New Zealand! The storms off the ocean can be really severe and can last for days. An easy way to see what the wind is doing, is to look at the trees and vegetation in exposed areas or along ridge lines. If everything is leaning over, you can be assured you will be too come May or June,"
mentioned another expat when asked about moving to New Zealand.
Typical Housing for Expats
When we asked expats in New Zealand about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:
"We have a 3 bedroom home on about a half acre with mature trees and great views. Most homes have 4 bedrooms, but are smaller and on less land," said one expat.
"We now own a home in Snells Beach. It is a wood-frame house and has four bedrooms. Our house is typical of almost all the house in our community," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to New Zealand.
Housing Costs in New Zealand
"We lived in China before New Zealand, so housing and automobiles are much cheaper, but meat and vegetables are much more expensive," wrote one expat.
"The housing costs are hard to guage against what we were use to in the USA...or elswhere. Kiwi houses are not as well insulated, nor heated as in the USA. Construction standards/techniques are different but the more modern house (less than 15 years old) are as good as anywhere in the world. We live in an exceptionally beautiful area and there is no way we could ever afford to buy a similar house in say California at 5 times the price. An average, well constructed, 3-4 bedroom house in our community costs about US$125,00," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to New Zealand.
Banking in New Zealand
We asked expats which banks in New Zealand they use and their experiences. They said:
"We switched banks, there are no major American banks represented here. We found out through an expat forum that National Bank of New Zealand would open an account for us before we arrived in New Zealand, which was extremely useful. Other banks here may do this now, but 4 years ago we couldn't find any other bank that would do this for us. I don't know of any other special services that the banks here offer that would be useful to expatriates. We change all of our currency through either an online currency trading firms, or through a local firm we've discovered here in Christchurch," said one expat who moved to Christchurch, New Zealand.