Living in New Zealand
Last updated on Feb 03, 2023
Summary: The approximate population of New Zealand is 4.9 million people. The largest cities in New Zealand are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, and Tauranga. Expats love living in New Zealand for its stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and laid-back lifestyle. People describe life in New Zealand as relaxed, peaceful, and full of adventure. Popular foods in New Zealand include seafood, lamb, and pies. Other popular dishes include fish and chips, pavlova, and h?ngi (a traditional Maori dish cooked in an underground oven). The cons of living in New Zealand include the high cost of living, the lack of job opportunities, and the long distances between cities. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,500 to $3,500 USD per month. This includes rent, food, transportation, and other living expenses.
What do I need to know about living in New Zealand?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to New Zealand, they said:
"Before retiring in New Zealand, it is important to make sure you have the right visa allowing you to stay in the country. To qualify for retirement visas, applicants must typically show proof of income, including the Superannuation Fund, which is a pension provided by the government. You may also need to provide a medical certificate or medical history depending on the visa type. Additionally, you should research the type of healthcare available as you may be required to purchase private insurance as part of your visa requirements. You should also be sure to familiarise yourself with the relevant tax regulations and requirements, as your income and investments may be subject to taxation in New Zealand. Lastly, it is important to research the cost of living in the area you intend to move to, so you are prepared for any related financial costs," added another expat in New Zealand.
"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 .
How do I meet people in New Zealand?
When we asked people living in New Zealand about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Meeting people in New Zealand is quite easy - there are many different ways you can go about it. Firstly, attending social clubs or events is a great way to meet new people. Such clubs include hiking, cycling or even swim meetups. There are many online platforms where you can browse events or even post your own such as Meetup. Additionally, checking out local attractions or cafes is a great way to start a conversation with some locals. Joining a tour or taking a language class are also excellent ways to meet other people and make some friends in New Zealand. Lastly, simply being friendly and open to meeting new people can go a long way," wrote a member 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 Kapiti Coast .
What is life like in New Zealand?
When we asked people living in New Zealand what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Living as an expat in this area can be a very exciting experience. Depending on the city, you can sample some of the local cuisine, gain an appreciation for the culture, meet new people, and explore the surrounding area. There is a range of housing choices depending on your budget, with most cities providing modern living spaces and amenities. Other advantages of living in this area include learning a new language, participating in social gatherings, experiencing the local arts and music, and generally having an enjoyable time. Cost of living can vary from city to city, but expats will usually find that the expenses are relatively low. Traveling can also be easy and convenient, with good public transport and plenty of places to discover," commented one expat who made the move to 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," remarked another expat living in Kapiti Coast , New Zealand.
Is there a lot of crime in New Zealand?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"No, New Zealand is generally quite safe, with low levels of crime compared to many other countries. It is generally seen as one of the safest destinations for tourists and residents alike," said another expat in New Zealand.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in New Zealand accepting of differences?
"New Zealand is an incredibly diverse country, with its population being made up of people from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. Every major ethnic group is represented in New Zealand, creating a truly multicultural atmosphere. The people of New Zealand are very accepting of differences, with thriving communities of minorities usually coexisting peacefully with majority populations. Respect is a core value of the society, and this is reflected in the way that people of different races, religions, and sexual orientations are treated," remarked another expat who made the move to 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," explained one expat living in Kapiti Coast , New Zealand.
What are the schools in New Zealand like?
"New Zealand schools are mainly state funded and provide free education for students aged 5 to 19 years. Generally, most students attend primary school from age 5 to age 11, followed by secondary school from age 12 to age 18. Education is compulsory from ages 6 to 16, however many schools have an earlier entry points for 5 year olds. New Zealand schools typically follow a three-term academic year with a common summer break from late December to early February. The national curriculum focuses on developing the core skills of reading, writing and maths, and includes a wide variety of subject specialties. In addition, New Zealand schools offer extensive extra-curricular activities, including foreign language classes, sport, music and the arts," commented one expat when asked about in New Zealand.
"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," explained one expat in Dunedin, New Zealand with kids at St. Hilda's Collegiate School.
Is the cost of living in New Zealand high?
We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in New Zealand, they wrote:
"The cost of living in New Zealand is generally considered to be relatively high, particularly when compared with some other parts of the world. The price of basic groceries, rent, and utilities are all generally considered to be more expensive than in other countries," added another expat in New Zealand.
About the Author
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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