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Moving to New Zealand

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to New Zealand

New Zealand is a remote island, and expats should carefully plan the steps they take to move here. This guide will prepare you for all the requirements to move to New Zealand, from warnings about short visa application windows, to an explanation of the potentially confusing healthcare system. Ultimately, you will learn why few expats regret relocating to this country, for reasons including the efficient housing market, good working conditions, and friendly Kiwi and Māori cultures.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

New Zealand is high on the list of places to move to for expats in search for a welcoming environment and great work opportunities close to nature. People wondering how to move here are likely to be drawn by the work-life balance and generally high quality of life. In this sense, New Zealand is an easy country to move to, especially if you speak English. The remote island can pose difficulties, however. Moving and shipping your goods takes careful organization and forward planning and is also expensive.

So, why move to New Zealand? In this guide, we show you the benefits of moving here and how to make your relocation as hassle-free as possible. Each section provides an in-depth look at the country, its culture, and the ways you move quickly and easily. You will learn about important tasks to complete, from obtaining a visa, to navigating the housing market, or even taking care of your finances. 

If you have questions after your research, you can book a relocation consulting call with our advisors at a time that suits you. Full of useful knowledge and ready to help your relocation, our friendly experts will reassure you and answer your queries, big or small.

relocating

Relocating

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of moving to New Zealand is not as straightforward as it might seem. It requires months of preparation and negotiating serious rules and regulations to relocate to this island nation, particularly when you are importing your household goods and pets into the country. Some items, like various concealed weapons, are strictly prohibited, and even regular belongings may go into quarantine after they arrive. This is because New Zealand goes to great length to protect its biodiversity. 

If you are moving and shipping your household goods to New Zealand, read this guide to know which items you are not allowed to bring here by air or by sea. We also have tips and tricks for organizing your move, like keeping a detailed list of your belongings and their corresponding value to make the journey through customs easier. You can also learn here about the forms you need to fill in, additional permits you may require, and what to do if your belongings are refused entry into the country. Storing your goods also requires careful planning; our top tip is to find insurance with natural disaster cover, as the island is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

For expats relocating with their family, you can check this section to find out about the vaccinations required for New Zealand. This applies to your furry friends as well as your children. There are strict import rules for pets, and the severity of these laws varies depending on the country you are moving from. In fact, there is a list of approved countries that you can import pets from; if your country is not on the list, then your pet has to stay behind. Something that might affect a lot of pet owners is that New Zealand does not allow mixed breeds or hybrids into the country. Your dog or cat has to be pure-bred but, even then, some breeds are strictly prohibited.

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Visas & Work Permits

If you are wondering how to get a visa for New Zealand, the answer is simple. You are expected to have a job offer. However, the process to obtain this visa is difficult. There are visa quotas in place, and the limits are very low for applicants from most countries. Moreover, the deadlines for applications are short and open only once a year. That is why you need to look out for the right time to apply for a New Zealand visa, as the vacancies fill up quickly in the first few days.

The New Zealand visa application process is also stringent. This section of the guide looks at the many visa requirements you must meet, from proof of character, to overall good health attested through medical exams, and proof of a financial support in the country. With over 80 visas available, you can also learn about the types of New Zealand visas and their application processes. Most visas require a job offer or funds to start your business or invest in the country. The costs vary slightly for each visa type, from a few hundred dollars to over 3,000 NZD (2,000 USD) for an entrepreneur visa. However, this fee usually includes the cost of the visa itself and the immigration levy.

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housing

Housing

This section of the guide focuses on how to rent and buy accommodation in New Zealand. This includes more than the average rent and average house prices, though these are detailed for one bedroom and three-bedroom houses both inside and outside city centers. We cover the important things to know about how foreigners can rent or buy a house here, which is usually a very straightforward and safe process. Indeed, even in the most expensive city, Auckland, buying a house may only take a matter of weeks. 

Expats looking to rent need to keep in mind that it is harder to find furnished long-term housing options in New Zealand than unfurnished. That is because most furnished options on the market are studios or one-bedroom places, which are the types of houses typically taken by students. When you do find a place, note that rent is usually paid weekly in New Zealand and that the cost of utilities is paid on top.

If you are moving here but are not sure which city you want to live in, you can also read our Best Place to Live in New Zealand guide. You can learn more about the culture, lifestyle, and cost of living in five of the country’s most popular cities: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Napier.

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healthcare

Healthcare

New Zealand offers both private and public healthcare systems to its residents. This can be confusing to expats, as the line between the two is often blurred. For instance, subsidized public healthcare is offered to residents whose visa is valid for two years or more. Once you qualify for the public healthcare system, you might still have to pay small fees for your appointments and prescriptions. Moreover, you may need to take out private health insurance in New Zealand for dental and optometry appointments. 

If you plan to stay long-term in New Zealand, this guide will explain how to find a doctor, including specialists and dentists. We also tell you the important difference between enrolling in the healthcare system and registering with your family doctor. This is particularly important to understand if you need specialized treatments or if you are thinking of giving birth in New Zealand; when you give birth without proper coverage, hospital costs run to around 9,000 ZND (6,000 USD) and you are expected to provide proof that you can pay.

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Banks & Taxes

For most expats, opening a bank account is a key concern after moving to New Zealand. Luckily, it is straightforward for non-residents to open a bank account. Some banks even allow you to open an account while you are still overseas. Once in the country, however, you are typically asked to visit a branch to prove your identity and you will need to hold a long-term visa to access most banking options. To help make this process smoother, in this section we discuss the best banks for expats in New Zealand, including the most suitable accounts with features such as no fees and online banking.

We also explore the tax system and how much the current tax rate is in New Zealand. Whether you are working as an employee or as self-employed, it is important to know how to obtain a tax number, known as an IRD, and when and how to file a tax return. This is particularly useful to understand as the tax year in New Zealand runs differently from many countries in the world: between April 1st to March 31st.

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education

Education

New Zealand has a highly regarded education system that includes some of the best international, public, and private schools in the world. This section of the guide provides information on all three types and explains the school system, from kindergarten to higher education. This is especially important to read if you are considering placing your children into the public system, as children are more likely to be accepted into a school in their local area. You will need to bear this in mind when home-finding.

If you are moving with family and are wondering about the best way to search for an excellent school and nearby home in New Zealand, book a relocation consulting call with one of our advisors. They will help you understand these processes and connect you with experts who can take the time-consuming research off your hands.

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working

Working

For most expats, finding work in New Zealand is a priority. You will likely need a contract for your visa application. This means that having a job in the country is vital to your entire relocation. If you are just beginning your search, this section explains how to get a job in New Zealand—and how self-employment is possible for expats, if that is your career path. We introduce you to some of the most common sources for finding a job, from the standard websites used by most job seekers, to a national program that connects foreign employees to New Zealand employers. This comprehensive guide also covers business culture, the average salary for popular professions, and what you can expect to pay into social security.

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living

Living

If living in New Zealand is your dream, it is important to learn about the practicalities of day-to-day life. For instance, we explore the pros and cons of living on a remote island. Though Kiwi and Māori culture is friendly, and citizens here have an overall appreciation for nature and a good work-life balance, have you considered the increased expense of flying home to visit family? We also explore the steps to take to drive in this country, which is important to know if you plan to live outside a city center. You can also read about your best options for public transportation in major cities, including information on bus and train networks.

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Updated on: September 14, 2020
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