Expat Exchange
Russell, New Zealand
Russell, New Zealand
Russell, New Zealand

Living in New Zealand

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 10, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in New Zealand. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

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What do I need to know about living in New Zealand?

Live in New Zealand? Answer this Question

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

"There are tons of unspoiled beaches and bush walks. With all the beach property available, unless you want to live directly on the water, you'll find homes within walking distance of the sea cost about the same as homes further inland. Housing is a lot chepaer than in Wellington, so you have access to a big city but more affordable property (although if you commute to Welly, gas prices are about 5 times the cost in the US). Health care is extremely cheap even with no insurance. The pace of life is slower. Children are still able to play out in the streets and walk from school. It's a bit like the US many years ago. Drawbacks include the relatively high cost of general goods and food. The houses are often very poorly insulated and get quite cold in the winter," remarked another expat who made the move to Kapiti Coast .

"It's a great place to live. It's beautiful and interesting. I would stock up on all the products you love. You won't be able to buy them here, or they will just be too expensive to purchase. New Zealand is an island. The cost of shipping goods in, is pricey," explained one expat living in Wellington, New Zealand.

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How do I meet people in New Zealand?

Live in New Zealand? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in New Zealand about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"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 Kapiti Coast .

"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," remarked another expat living in Mid Canterbury, New Zealand.

"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," added another expat in Wellington.

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What is life like in New Zealand?

Live in New Zealand? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in New Zealand what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"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 Kapiti Coast .

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

"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," added another expat in Wellington.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in New Zealand accepting of differences?

Live in New Zealand? Answer this Question

"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," remarked another expat who made the move to Kapiti Coast .

"Due to a high influx of new immigrants, the region is becoming more diverse. People are very friendly," explained one expat living in Mid Canterbury, New Zealand.

"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 another expat in Wellington.

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What are the schools in New Zealand like?

Live in New Zealand? Answer this Question

"It is a very great school that is very religious and is an Anglican School. Students there are very nice and I'm sure they will look after your daughter very carefully," commented one expat when asked about St. Hilda's Collegiate School in Dunedin.

"Give it consideration whether you are a Church-goer or not. It is a small nurturing school with good facilities and caring staff. No entrance exams - parents/child just meet Principal. It is the only co-ed private school in Wellington. http://www.st-marks.school.nz/home/," remarked another expat living in Wellington with children attending St Mark's Church School.

"This school is located in Owens Road, Epsom, Auckland. It is a all girls school with a very good reputation," said another expat in Auckland with children at Epsom Girls Grammar.

"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," remarked another parent with kids at Auckland Grammar School in Auckland.

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.

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Russell, New Zealand

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

New Zealand GuideNew Zealand Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in New Zealand.

New Zealand Forum New Zealand Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in New Zealand on our New Zealand forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

New Zealand Index New Zealand Index
An index of all of our site's New Zealand information.

Contribute to New Zealand Network Contribute
Help others in New Zealand by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in New Zealand.

Expat Healthcare Advice in New ZealandHealthcare & Health Insurance in New Zealand

Expats in New Zealand offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in New Zealand.

Best Places to Live in New Zealand Best Places to Live in New Zealand

Expats share some of their favorite places to live in New Zealand from laid back cities to beautiful beach towns.

Real Estate in New ZealandReal Estate in New Zealand

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in New Zealand.

Guide to Real Estate in New ZealandGuide to Real Estate in New Zealand

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in New Zealand.

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Expats share some of their favorite places to live in New Zealand from laid back cities to beautiful beach towns.

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