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Housing in New Zealand
Everything You Need to Know about Finding a New Home
Finding accommodation in New Zealand should be relatively hassle-free. The housing market is well regulated, with options for both flexible and longer-term contracts, and buying a house could take only a matter of weeks. This section introduces you to a safe and straightforward process for both renting and purchasing in the country.
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In this section, you can read all about housing in New Zealand and what to expect when looking for your new home in the country. Whether you need short-term rentals, are looking for houses and apartments for rent for a longer period of time, or intend to buy a house in New Zealand, here you can find all the requirements and processes that go with finding new accommodation.
This section also briefs you on the different types of houses you may find in the land of Kiwis. Decide which one fits you and your budget best, from apartments to townhouses, multifamily properties, and others.
Renting a House or Apartment
If you are counting on a smooth relocation to New Zealand, knowing how to rent a house or apartment in advance will get you a long way.
What Is the Average Rent in New Zealand?
Rent in New Zealand is calculated weekly, so keep that in mind when considering the value of the rent advertised. The average rent is around 400 NZD (265 USD) a week for a small home (one or two bedrooms), and 530 NZD (350 USD) for a two- or four-bedroom apartment or house. However, rent prices in New Zealand will largely change depending on the region. Auckland is the most expensive city of all, with rent costing anywhere from 600 NZD (400 USD) to 850 NZD (560 USD) a week, depending on the size of the accommodation.
How much is the rent in New Zealand? Monthly, a one-bedroom apartment in a city center would cost on average 1,500 NZD (990 USD), and 1,200 NZD (790 USD) outside the center. A three-bedroom apartment would usually cost 2,500 NZD (1650 USD) in the center, and 2,000 NZD (1,320 USD) outside the city center.
What is the Minimum Rent in New Zealand?
The minimum rent in New Zealand for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center would be 850 NZD (560 USD) a month. For an apartment outside the city center, 800 NZD (530 USD) a month would be the minimum amount. For three-bedroom apartments, you would pay a minimum of 1,500 NZD (990 USD) in the city center or 1,300 NZD (860 USD) outside the city center.
Furnished or Unfurnished Homes: Which Is More Common?
Typically, homes in New Zealand tend to be unfurnished. Also, the more bedrooms a rental property has, the less likely it is to be furnished. One-bedroom apartments are the type of homes more likely to be furnished since these are preferred by students, travelers, or other tenants in need of short-term accommodation. Still, only about one-quarter of these come with furniture.
For reference, the table below lists the average weekly rent for furnished and unfurnished homes:
|1 bedroom||2 bedrooms||3 bedrooms||4 bedrooms|
Rental Process and Rules for Tenants and Landlords
There are two types of tenancies in New Zealand:
- Fixed-term tenancy – typical rental contract with a fixed start and end date.
- Periodic tenancy – flexible agreement that ends when either the tenant or the landlord wishes to give notice.
Once the fixed-term ends, the tenancy becomes periodic. As mentioned, the periodic tenancy has no end date. Usually, tenants must give 21 days’ notice in writing, while the landlord is expected to give a 90 days’ notice if they wish to terminate the tenancy.
It is also possible to have a short fixed-term tenancy, which consists of a 90-day period or less. This type of tenancy does not become periodic after it ends.
As for the rules of tenants and landlords, these are pretty standard. The landlord has to ensure the property meets all the health and safety standards, and they should not disturb the tenant during their accommodation. In case the landlord is absent from New Zealand for more than 21 days, they should have an agent represent them.
The tenant is responsible for paying rent on time, as well as paying for their own expenses, such as gas, electricity, or internet. They must also ensure the property and the furniture in it is left in good conditions.
Here is a vocabulary tip: the term flatting in New Zealand refers to sharing an apartment (a flat) with other tenants. You will also hear roommates being referred to as flatmates or “flatties”. When you come across the word “flat” or “unit” in New Zealand, these refer to smaller properties, similar to apartments, that may be attached to another property.
Rental Contract and Deposit
When renting in New Zealand, you will be asked for a deposit, or, as it is commonly referred to, a bond. This deposit can be up to 4 weeks’ rent and should be returned to you at the end of the tenancy if no damage was done to the property and the furniture in it.
Aside from this, you will also be asked to pay rent in advance. Typically, landlords will ask for a one- or two-weeks’ rent in advance, depending on whether you pay rent weekly or every two weeks.
You may also benefit from an option fee. If you are unsure whether you wish to rent a property or not, you may give the landlord one weeks’ rent in advance, for them to hold it for you. If you do end up renting the property, the money you gave should count as part of the rent.
The following information should be included in the rental contract:
- Full name of the tenant and landlord;
- Contact addresses of the tenant and landlord, including email address and phone number;
- The address of the property being rented;
- The start date (and end date of the tenancy, if it is fixed-term), as well as the date the agreement was signed;
- The amount of the bond, the rent, the frequency of payments, as well as the place or bank account where the rent is to be paid;
- Any fees to be paid, such as, for example, an agent or solicitor;
- A list of items provided by the landlord with the property;
- Information provided by the landlord about insulation installed in the ceilings, floors, or walls together with details of the location, type, and condition of all insulation
Requirements and Documents for Renting
Some documents are required to rent in New Zealand, regarding your identity, source of income, and character. You will typically be asked for your ID, such as your passport or driver’s license, and you may be required to show proof of income. As for your character, you will need references which could be from previous landlords, real estate agents, or anyone who is not related to you.
You will also have to fill a pre-tenancy application form, which helps landlords choose a tenant. This form includes some initial information, such as your name, contact details, renting history, and the contact of the references you provide. You may be asked to fill a bond lodgment form with your landlord. You should also be given a letter from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), confirming your bond has been lodged.
Paying Utility Bills
In general, if a cost is the result of living in the property, the tenant has to pay the bill. This is valid for water, gas, electricity, and internet. Alternatively, landlords typically pay for wastewater, but they may request the tenant to pay for it. Since the water account cannot be in the tenant’s name, the tenant would have to pay the landlord directly. If the gas is supplied by gas bottles, the landlord must provide a gas cylinder and the necessary piping for its use. Both tenants and landlords must also pay for their own insurance.
If you need a place to stay as soon as you land and you do not have an apartment or house ready for you, you can rest assured there are many options for short-term rentals.
It is common for new arrivals to stay at local hotels, holiday homes, “tourist flats”, or cabins. Their availability will largely depend on whether it is the tourist season or not. The average price for short-term accommodation is 100 NZD a night for one person and 200 NZD for two people.
You should also know that short-term rental contracts are quite common in New Zealand. These will allow you to stay in a room or apartment for longer, but still, require a low commitment on your part. This type of tenancy has no end date and you are only required to give notice 21 days before moving out. If you choose this type of accommodation, the documents you will need are the same ones listed above for long-term rentals.
The most common places to find accommodation are TradeMe or Realestate.co.nz, but you can always rely on popular holiday housing.
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Buying Property as a Foreigner
If you are wondering how you can buy property in New Zealand as a foreigner, know that, overall, the process of buying a house is well organized and regulated, making it fast and relatively worry-free. You can buy a house as quickly as in three or four weeks. You also do not need to worry about last-minute bids snatching your already chosen home once you have made an official bid.
House Prices in New Zealand
The current average house price in New Zealand is 560,000 NZD (380,000 USD). Below is a list of average house price per region, from the most expensive to the least expensive:
|Bay of Plenty||610,000||415,940|
|New Zealand national average||560,000||381,850|
|Nelson /Marlborough /Tasman||532,500||363,090|
Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), Global Property Guide
Types of Property in New Zealand
You will typically find these common types of residential properties in New Zealand:
- Apartments, or flats, and studios are common in bigger cities. These can be new apartment buildings, or converted commercial buildings, which are becoming increasingly popular.
- The single-family houses are stand-alone houses with back and front yards, completely independent from other properties.
- Multi-unit or multifamily properties consist of two or three homes that share a roof.
- Condominiums, or condos, are housing complexes with shared facilities, such as lawns or backyards.
- Townhouses are individual homes of two or three floors that share its wall with the neighboring homes. As these are usually spacious, they are ideal for families.
Most houses are standalone houses, which include the block of land. However, you can buy solely a block of land, or section, where you can build a home of your choice.
Buying a House in New Zealand: Process and Steps
If you plan on owning land or property in New Zealand, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most common process of finding a home is to rely on a real estate agent, although private sales are also an option. Whether you decide to go with an agent or to purchase directly with the owners, it is a good idea to rely on a lawyer or conveyancer with experience with house buying.
You will have a better chance with the negotiations if you get pre-approved for a home loan. You can get a pre-approval with your preferred bank. The amount you can borrow will depend on the value of the house, how much deposit you have, income, etc.
Once you find the property you are interested in, the first step is to get a title search. This should give you all the details of the property you are interested in. This includes important information regarding the legal owner, the type of estate (which will determine what you can do with the property), and interests, which refer to any type of rights and restrictions on the property title. You can read more about types of ownership here. You may be able to research some property information for free with some online councils or on-site by visiting the council offices.
What Are the Requirements to Buying Property?
As of 2018, buying property in New Zealand as a foreigner has become more difficult. In order to curb the steeping housing prices caused by wealthy foreigners buying houses in the country, one of the requirements for buying a house is to have residency status.
To buy a home in New Zealand you will typically need a loan from a bank or lender. Although this is not a requirement, it does show agents and sellers that you are committed to the purchase. To do so you would have to present to your bank:
- a copy of the signed sale and purchase agreement
- your chosen property evaluation from an accredited inspector in case of a private sale
- a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report (local government’s information about the property)
If you do take out a loan or mortgage, you may need to bring evidence of your credit history from your home country.
You would also need to prove to your bank or lender that you have obtained property insurance before settlement day.
Buying a House in New Zealand to Obtain Citizenship or Permanent Residency
If you wish to obtain citizenship by purchasing property in New Zealand, you should know this is not possible. There are currently no direct or immediate citizenship options, and you may only become a citizen after living in New Zealand for five years.
You can, however, become a permanent resident by investing in residential property. In order to do so, you would need to apply for an investor’s visa, which is covered in more detail in the Visa & Work Permits section. These types of visas allow you to live in the country if you invest a minimum amount of 2.5 Million NZD (1.6 Million USD) for a period of four years or 10 Million NZD (6.5 Million USD) for a period of three years. You should know, however, that the rate of rejection for these types of visas is high and that more than half of all applications are declined.
In this topic, we cover how you can set up your utilities and which are the top utility companies in the country, for electricity, gas, water, and internet.
You will typically have to contact utility providers yourself once you have settled on a place. The required documents may depend on the provider you opt for, and in most cases you will need to contact them, either through their website or by phone, to know what you will need. These requirements could include:
- Your personal details, including phone number and email;
- Your account information for direct debits—you may also pay by online banking, automatic payment, by New Zealand post, credit card, or cheque, in some cases;
- Details about the property, including the contract that shows your connection to the property (proprietor, tenant, etc.);
- The Installation Control Point (ICP) in the case of electricity, which can be found in the meter box of your new place.
Electricity and Gas
The type of outlet used in New Zealand is Type I, a three-flat pinned type of outlet that is also used in China, Australia, Argentina, and a few other countries. This outlet type is quite uncommon globally so keep that in mind in case you plan to buy plug adaptors or furniture you wish to keep.
Gas is commonly used throughout the country, for heating and cooking. In some parts of the North Island, you will find pipped natural gas, whereas in the rest of the country you would have gas supplied in bottles.
You will also find wood burners popular in New Zealand. In case you wish to use them as a form of heating, make sure the burner has a building consent and that your chimney is swept annually to keep your insurance cover valid.
Some of the companies provide electricity and gas are Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Mercury Energy, Meridian Energy, or Trustpower.
Water is supplied by local councils, and the rates vary from region to region. The contract with the water supplier will typically be in the proprietor’s or landlord’s name instead of yours. When moving in or out, it is their responsibility to inform the local water supplier.
If you are renting your home, you will typically pay for the water usage registered on the meter while any additional expenses with the local council will fall on the proprietor.
You can pay your water bill via credit or debit card, digital payments, or through the app if the local company has one.
Water in New Zealand is treated, which makes tap water drinkable throughout the country. In late summer, some water shortage may happen, with dams and reservoirs running low, but, generally, water is easily available.
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Internet and Mobile Phones
Generally, internet services in bigger cities are faster and more readily available than in other parts of the country. Although Vodafone does provide cable connections in some areas, most of the internet being provided in the majority of the country is connected through phone lines with ADSL2+. In many rural areas, internet connections for broadband are provided through satellite.
In major cities and towns, you can also find 4G mobile broadband available, but 3G is more common in most of the country. In the center of some major cities, such as in Auckland, Rotorua, or Wellington, you may even find free public Wi-Fi service.
Getting a Phone Number in New Zealand
If you wish to get a phone number in New Zealand, you will need to take your device to a branch of the service provider of your choice. There you can then purchase a mobile and data pack, which will cost around 19 NZD (12 USD).
Some of the main mobile phone providers are:
Cell phone coverage is not guaranteed in more rural or secluded areas, so keep that in mind whenever exploring more remote parts of the country.
Television in New Zealand
TV in New Zealand is entirely digital. You may watch television free-to-air if you have a Freeview box, or you can subscribe to Pay TV, which includes more channels.
Freeview is a TV service with no fees. You will typically have to pay for the equipment, which is a one-time purchase. Some channels available in Freeview are specific to certain regions, and may also depend on which type of TV antenna you use.
If you opt for paid television, there are three main TV providers you can choose from Sky, Igloo, and Vodafone.
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