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5 Expats Talk About What It's Really Like Living in New Zealand

Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Expats in New Zealand talk about deciding where to live, the family-oriented culture, enrolling in the public school system, meeting people and more.

Hot Water Beach in New Zealand
Hot Water Beach in New Zealand

5 expats share what it's really like living in New Zealand - meeting people, the family-oriented culture, enrolling kids in school, deciding where to live and more.

Deciding Where to Live in New Zealand

Our article, 5 Best Places to Live in New Zealand, is a good place to start when thinking about 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:

"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," said one expat living in Warkworth, New Zealand.

"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," mentioned another expat in New Zealand.

You Must Have Rented or Purchased a Home Before Enrolling Your Kids in the Public School System

An expat in Auckland offered for important advice, "You must buy/rent or lease a house in the school zone first. You will have to have proof of where you are residing when you begin the enrollment process. The school has a uniform. Bring all recent school records. Your child will be accessed via various tests to see which level class would be best for them. The school is located in Mountain Road, Epsom, Auckland."

Meeting People in New Zealand

Expats living in New Zealand talked about meeting people in New Zealand and local clubs and organizations:

"There are numerous groups: I would recommend taking a trip to the visitors' bureau to get more information. They offer heaps of brochures and schedules," said one expat living in Wellington, New Zealand.

"A Newcomers Network has just been established for new immigrants in Mid-Canterbury. Anyone who is new in the region and has no support of friends or relatives can join. There is an informal social get-together every month, and room for additional activities such as sports, toddler group, English conversation group etc. It is an excellent way to get to know other people in the region. Contact Evelien: 03-3083053," mentioned another expat in New Zealand.

"Kapiti Coast is an hour north of Wellington, so you can access Welly events. Wellington has a very lively nightclub, arts and theatre scene. It also has more cafes per capita than NYC. In Kapiti itself, you'll find lots of ecology groups - volunteer planting groups that take care of the local estuaries and keeping native species alive inland that are a haven for local wildlife. There are yoga classes and tai chi and many cycling groups. Horseback riding is popular. In the Waikanae area, there's lawn bowling and bridge popular with retired people. There's a great Paraparaumu golf course, and up in Otaki there's a horse racing track," commented one expat who made the move to New Zealand.

Expat Life in New Zealand

What is it like living in New Zealand? Here is what people had to say:

"Everything is important here. The city is mostly about business and socializing; while, the suburbs are more family oriented. Cricket and rugby are the favorite sports," said one expat living in Wellington, New Zealand.

"Family time is very important, as well as sports (rugby!!) and outdoor activities such as tramping, fishing, skiing," mentioned another expat in New Zealand.

"In Kapiti I'd say people's lives revolve more around family, sports, socializing; it's perhaps less business oriented than Wellington. The beach and nature reserves are a big tourist draw here, and are well enjoyed by people living here too," commented one expat who made the move to New Zealand.

Diversity in New Zealand

We asked expats about diversity in New Zealand and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:

"It is a fairly diverse group of people for the population size. New Zealanders have a love/hate relationship with Americans, though. They will be quite nice to your face, but behind your back they constantly criticize the US and Americans. There is also slight racial tension with people of color. The Maoris (natives) and the pakehas (white Europeans) have had years of strife and war. A treaty was signed, that is still in place today," said one expat living in Wellington, New Zealand.

"Due to a high influx of new immigrants, the region is becoming more diverse. People are very friendly," mentioned another expat in New Zealand.

"There are a surprising number of UK and US immigrants here in addition to the Maori and kiwis of European descent. The latter makes up about 90% of the population according to the latest census info online. Although they generally don't agree with American policy, they can separate individuals from the nation as a whole. People are straight forward and usually friendly. There's a lot of religious tolerance, and the small "religious right" here has less of an impact on mainstream opinion," commented one expat who made the move to New Zealand.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Oct 03, 2018

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