Top 8 Things That Make New Zealand a Perfect Expat Destination
1. The Unique Landscape
If you’re looking for a country that has a never-ending coastline, in combination with beautiful beaches, amazing lakes, sprawling plains, stunning volcanoes, and breathtaking mountains, New Zealand is the place to go. After all, the Oscar-winning The Lord of The Rings trilogy, which was shot here, actually does seem to take place on another planet — with the broad variety of plants, animals, and natural sights that can only be found in New Zealand. And looking at the statistics, many expats agree that New Zealand offers enough opportunities to enjoy the beautiful landscape: the country ranges in the top 10 worldwide for its available leisure options and the quality of its environment, according to the Expat Insider 2019 survey.
As an expat, you’ll be able to hike in alpine regions, visit volcanic and geothermal sights, as well as glaciers, beaches, fjords, farms, and some of the many smaller islands close to the main North and South Island — all that within a country that would easily fit into France — twice! Depending on the season and region, New Zealand’s climate can vary from subtropical to subarctic. So, no matter if you are a polar bear that prefers a fresh icy breeze in your face or an iguana that cannot get enough of the heat, New Zealand offers destinations that will make every heart happy. On top of that, there are also numerous natural phenomena to discover, such as the Waitomo Caves full of luminous glow worms or the Kerosene Creek hot springs. There’s also a huge variety of animals that you’ll find nowhere else in the world, such as the Kiwi bird or the yellow-eyed penguin.
2. The Starry Night Skies
New Zealand currently counts a population of about 5 million people, which is a small number compared to its size (268.021 km²). The UK, for example, which is even slightly smaller (242.495 km²) counts about 67 million residents. New Zealand’s most highly populated city is Auckland with a population of 1.7 million people. This might sound like a downside for some, but if you enjoy being by yourself from time to time or simply dream of discovering a country without bumping into other people, you’ll be happy to find yourself in a nation that is actually home to more than five times more sheep than human beings.
However, one of the biggest upsides of that is the total lack of light pollution in most areas of New Zealand. Being a country with a lot of uninhabited or scarcely populated places, you’ll most probably also be amazed to see a night sky seemingly overflowing with stars. If you haven’t spent much time stargazing before, New Zealand’s off-city regions will definitely leave you in awe at night, simply staring at the sky.
3. It’s a Digital Haven
But don’t be fooled: a small population compared to a large countryside does not mean that you’ll end up in a digital dead zone, far away from all modern-day online tools and gadgets. An important factor of expats’ quality of life abroad nowadays definitely is the digital advancement of a country. Especially while settling in, you don’t want to worry about attaining a proper mobile phone with functioning internet connection or paying cashless. Digital barriers may even keep you from staying in touch with family and friends abroad and make it difficult for you to do well at work. In New Zealand, however, you won’t have to worry about any of that.
According to the Expat Insider 2019 survey, most expats (95%) say that it is easy to get a local mobile phone number. Additionally, another 95% of expats are happy with the ease of cashless payments, with over three-quarters even saying it could not be any better. When it comes to the availability of government services online, 82% agree that the access is good. However, New Zealand does not excel in all digital matters: in terms of getting access to high-speed internet at home, four in five (80%) agree that it’s easy, which is not far above the global average (75%). Still, it’s not a surprise that, all in all, New Zealand comes in fourth worldwide for its digital life.
4. The Low Language Barrier and Easy-Going Culture
New Zealand is an English-speaking nation, which can make the whole settling in process a lot easier for many expats: while 56% of expats in New Zealand say that English is their mother tongue or the same language that is spoken in their home country, another 43% speak it very or fairly well.
On top of the low language barrier, few expats seem to struggle with New Zealand’s culture. In fact, close to three in four expats (73%) say that it easy to get used to the local culture, putting the country on rank 9 out of 64 worldwide for the respective factor. Put into their own words, a Swiss expat in Christchurch says that “life here is easy and relaxed”, and another expat in Dunedin also mentions “the relaxed way of living” as one of the best features about New Zealand.
5. The Great Work-Life Balance
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is not only the opinion of Stephen King’s main character in the horror classic The Shining. Good thing that New Zealand is also well known for a great work-life balance and fair working hours. After all, there must be some time to socialize or enjoy the benefits of living in a place with such an incredible countryside. But time is not an issue in New Zealand: “Work-life balance is fantastic. At the end of the day, we make a little less money but have so much stress-free time to spend doing things we enjoy,” an European expat explains.
In fact, more than two in three expats in New Zealand (70%) are satisfied with their work-life balance, with 30% of them even very much so. On a global average, only 60% and 20% of all Expat Insider 2019 survey respondents, respectively, say the same. The Oceanian nation also overtakes the global average when it comes to working hours: 75% of expats in New Zealand are happy with that.
6. The Liberal Voting Rights and Political Stability
As an expat, you might already have felt left out when it comes to taking part in important elections in your home abroad. Perhaps you have been living in a country for a couple of years or longer, and still can’t participate as an eligible voter because that right might be restricted to local citizens. But New Zealand wasn’t only the first country in the world to implement women’s right to vote in parliamentary elections in 1893, the country is also a good example for liberal voting rights nowadays — foreign residents cannot only vote at regional, but also the national level, just like New Zealand’s citizens.
The only requirements are that you’re at least 18 years old, currently live in New Zealand, are a permanent resident (i.e. don’t have to leave New Zealand by a set date), and have lived in the country continuously for at least 12 months. But even if you’re not planning on staying for that long, or can’t vote for other reasons, you might be happy to see that New Zealand is one the most stable democracies in the world. According to the Expat Insider 2019 survey, the country even ranks 8th out of 64 countries worldwide for its political stability.
7. The Family-Friendliness
You won’t find many countries where politicians publicly (breast)feed their babies in parliament. In New Zealand, that sometimes even happens during debates, where politicians — regardless of their gender — can feed their babies without receiving negative comments or rolling eyes. The same applies to everyone, as the general public seems to embrace images of family life. So, the family-friendly climate in New Zealand is yet another reason why expats fall in love with this country.
In fact, among New Zealand’s best results in the Expat Insider 2019 survey is a top 10 place in the Family Life Index. From the friendly attitude towards families with children to the availability of childcare, education, and leisure options for kids: the nation fully satisfies expat families. The only factor that was rated negatively was the affordability of childcare. Besides that, most expat parents only have positive things to share about their family life: a British survey participant, for example, says that “it‘s a better place to bring up my children”, and a South African respondent even calls New Zealand “the best place to raise kids”.
8. The International Crowd
If you’d prefer to relocate in a country with residents that have diverse cultural backgrounds, you won’t be disappointed. According to the 2018 Census, more than a quarter of New Zealand’s population were born oversees. And the statistics indicate an upwards rising trend in that regard. You’ll not have to search for fellow expats to connect with very long. InterNations, the world’s largest expat community, currently counts about 21,000 members in New Zealand that can share their experience and advice with you online or face to face at one of the local events and activities. You can join one of our various local communities in New Zealand by signing up here: Become a member of InterNations
Besides the large share of expats, you’ll also find the culture to be more open regarding the definition of ethnicity. In New Zealand, it’s not uncommon for people to change their ethnic identification or adopt additional ethnicities. This makes especially sense for those whose lives and families broaden, or people who locate themselves within multi-ethnic environments. Some also see their identification changing as they learn more about their heritage. All in all, this country offers a very liberal frame for individual rights and freedom.
But: Consider the Downsides as Well
Since the perfect nation does not exist, and one person’s heaven might be their neighbor’s hell, New Zealand can also be a challenging place to live in for expats for different reasons. For example, the country ranks poorly in the Expat Insider 2019 survey when it comes to financial factors, including the cost of living. Some might argue that a high income is more important than work-life balance, while others regard the fact that New Zealand has a larger population of sheep than human beings as rather scary rather than relaxing. However, if you’ve already started daydreaming about your life in New Zealand while reading this and cannot take your eyes off pictures of its landscape, these islands might very well be your perfect home abroad.