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Russell, New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 13, 2022

Summary: Moving to New Zealand? Expats talk about what you need to know before moving to New Zealand.

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What do I need to know before moving to New Zealand?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to New Zealand, they said:

"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). We formed such an agency for Dunedin, the web site is www.maverickgroup.co.nz," explained one expat living in Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ, New Zealand.

"Go into town (Warkworth) and just walk the streets. There are 5 or 6 major real estate offices there, and they have hndreds 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," said another expat in Warkworth.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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How do I find a place to live in New Zealand?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"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," explained one expat living in Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ, 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," said another expat in Warkworth.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in New Zealand?

"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 another expat in Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ.

"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," remarked another expat who made the move to Warkworth.

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What is the average cost of housing in New Zealand?

If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"We lived in China before New Zealand, so housing and automobiles are much cheaper, but meat and vegetables are much more expensive," added another expat who made the move to Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ.

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

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in New Zealand

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What should I pack when moving to New Zealand?

We asked people living in New Zealand to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Should have brought: Spicy food, summer clothes and computer stuff Should have left: DVD's, books and winter jacket," said another expat in Dunedin, Otago - South Island NZ.

"There is very little in the USA that is not available in New Zealand now (mid-2002). One could say that you miss certain ethnic food from the USA...but then bring along a good cookbook and make it yourself from scratch. DO NOT, repeat DO NOT bring USA- electrical appliances," added another expat who made the move to Warkworth.

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AGS Worldwide MoversMoving to New Zealand Soon?

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!
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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in New Zealand?

We asked people in New Zealand if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"Coming from the southern US, Mam and Sir is a part of our growing up, Saying Ya'll instead of you guys is another. People look at you funny and then figure you are not from here," explained one expat living in Wellington, New Zealand.

"I have to make myself not use any "slang" from home. It does not work here nor does some of the humor," said another expat in Wellington.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Russell, New Zealand

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