Moving To New Zealand

by Jose Marc Castro on August 4, 2009

movingtonewzealandIMAGENew Zealand is a country that is often overlooked, with some even believing that it is part of Australia! While there is a very close relationship between Australia and New Zealand, this country has its own very active and very vibrant culture, economy and communities of Expats living in New Zealand.

The country is split into two main islands, namely the North Island and the South Island together with a variety of smaller additional islands.  Like Australia, the country is very much part of the UK Commonwealth with very close ties to the UK, although it is well known for the various Maori tribes which have long been part of the country’s ancestry.

Historically, the country was part of an ongoing battle between a number of explorers who all claimed to have discovered the islands.  Like Australia, New Zealand is home to its own unique style of flora and animal population, which has resulted in an ever increasing tourist trade known as eco-tourism.

Content: Culture in New Zealand | Employment in New Zealand | Property in New Zealand | State Benefits in New Zealand | Key Facts on New Zealand

New Zealand Culture

The New Zealand culture is a combination of a number of foreign influences including, English, Scottish, Irish, American, Australian and the original Maori tribes.  The country is also seeing an increase in visitors from southern Asia, giving New Zealand a truly multi-cultural feel. This multi-cultural theme has been uplifted by a return to the use of the traditional Maori culture and language to promote tourism and trade in the country.

The overall population of New Zealand is heavily influenced by European descendants, with British and Irish connections by far and away the strongest.  There is however a small, but significant community of Dutch, South Slav and Italians who have settled in New Zealand. There is also a significant number of native New Zealanders, the Maori, that have recently been reintegrated into the mainstream New Zealand way of life.

The country itself is well known for its strong Maori background, dance, music and to a lesser extent TV and media.  Sport also plays a major part in everyday life with the famous rugby “All Blacks” and cricketing team well known throughout the sporting world for their mastery of their respective sports.

Employment in New Zealand

New Zealand has a well-developed economy which while dependant on a small number of areas that has experienced a decline because of the current worldwide recession. This has made many commodity price changes that have severely affected agriculture, horticulture, fishing and forestry industries that make up the bulk of the country’s economy.

This dependence on commodity prices is further extenuated by the relatively large amount of product which is exported, being in the region of 28% of the country’s overall output – a substantial figure compared to 21% for the UK as a whole.  Major export partners include Australia (taking 21.4% of all exports), US (14.1%), Japan (10.6%), China (5.1%) and the UK (4.7%).  Because of the slowdown of these economies in the past two years, the overall economy would contract at around 2.2% a year until 2013.

Unemployment has increased due to the sudden dislocations in some industries, but compared to others, it sits steady at a fairly low 3.8%, which ranks New Zealand in the top 50 employment hot spots of the world.  The country did suffer from the so called “brain drain” in the 1990s as commodity price falls hit the economy hard, although this has since being reversed and the country is now a net “importer” of professionally qualified foreign nationals.

Historically New Zealanders have benefited from a relatively low rate of income tax, although this has changed of late with rates now more in line with comparable countries.  To work in the country you require a Tax Code Declaration prior to agreeing employment terms, which enables you to join the state Pay As You Earn system which deducts tax due at source.

Property in New Zealand

The New Zealand housing market has been remained strong despite the current slump in the world market, as the latest figures indicate an increase of 25.3% in sales of residential housing units from July 2008. This is a positive indicator, even taking into account a number of interest rate increases by the authorities.

The property market has, and continues to benefit from a broadening of the main sectors, and while agriculture and the like are still vital, the country’s dependence (and exposure to price fluctuations) is steadily being corrected slowly but surely.  With economic confidence set to remain high for the foreseeable future, many are forecasting further interest rate rises.

While any future rate rises will directly effect the property market, a period of consolidation would not be unwelcome, giving investors a time to reflect on the situation.  Longer term the prospects for the property market are positive.

State Benefits in New Zealand

The New Zealand social benefits system is fairly unique in the modern world, as strictly speaking it is non-contributory, i.e. employers and employees do not pay into a central benefits scheme (the equivalent of National Insurance in the UK).  There is however a compulsory Accident Compensation Scheme which all employees and employers must contribute to, which provides compensation payments to those injured at work.

The traditional social security benefits of income support, health care, etc are all available to residents of New Zealand, whether they have contributed to the Accident Scheme or not.  There are however  a number of timescales for foreign nationals to claim payments such as unemployment benefit (2 year minimum period living in the country) and the state pension (minimum period of 10 year residency in the country).  All benefits are subject to means testing.

However, the government has agreed to a number of reciprocal agreements with countries such as Australia, the UK, Canada, etc by which residents who have moved from those countries will be allowed to receive state benefits much quicker than normal.  The timescales and application procedures are subject to change.


While not renowned for a fast and lively lifestyle, New Zealand offers a variety of cultures and beautiful scenery.  Many expats, such as this one in the New Zealand Expat Forum from the 9th February 2009, have provided a picture of New Zealand as attractive for retirees and expatriate workers.

“If you are looking for a place to live overseas then NZ (and to a lesser extent Australia) is the place to live from an investment point of view. The NZD has absolutely collapsed, so if there is money/savings to be moved then NZ is the place to move. The NZD is just over 50c to the USD, and that’s down from 80c.

Better still houses are still really cheap in parts. For instance we paid just $NZ78,000 (just $US40,000) for a lovely house in Wanganui with 760m2, 2br house, lovely Victorian house too with large rooms and high ceilings, timber panel roof. The people are very friendly.

Here are some websites to help you make the move:
ANZ Personal homepage – to set up a bank account – to check out the exchange rate
Cars for Sale, Used Cars for Sale, Sell My Car, Buy a Car, Buying a Car cars for sale, sell your car, buy a car, cars for sale, selling a car, buying a car, finance, vehicle finance, boat finance, car news, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Citroen, D – to buy a car
EDITED BY MOD: Personal blog removed – since it’s a completely unknown resource.
TradeMe ? New Zealand online auctions and classifieds. Browse, buy and sell online on – to buy anything else

Most Western property markets are overpriced, as parts of NZ are, but aside from the exchange rate advantage, there are still alot of cheap properties in NZ, and some of them are close to major towns like Wanganui and Dunedin. They are two of my favourites, but also Kaikoura and Timaru.

On the negative side, you need to find out if NZ requires your specific job skills. Even then NZ incomes are very low. The best candidates for NZ are offshore income earners like programmers, writers, retirees with a house in Britain, the USA or elsewhere, so they can live on those earnings and spend in NZ pesos.”

This image has cultivated an attraction for a number of foreign nationals looking for a quiet life, with many qualified professionals taking advantage of advantageous timescales and procedures for professional and qualified personnel to “jump” the immigration queue.

It has been recommended in this thread dated March 1, 2008 in the New Zealand Expat Forum:

“Why don’t you try these areas:

Auckland City – Auckland Central, Mt Eden, Newmarket, Parnell, Ponsonby, Remuera and St Mary’s Bay
South Island – Christchurch or Queenstown

New Zealand is very nice and clean.
Come and pay a visit, then after, decide if you want to stay for good.”

In the longer term it appears that the New Zealand economy is set for further growth, as well as more divergence away from traditional industries such as agriculture. This should ensure that future economic cycles reduce in volatility and are more controllable, giving both nationals and foreign nationals a greater degree of employment stability and improved future prospects.

More facts about New Zealand :-

Capital : Wellington

Official Language : English, Maori and NZ Sign Language

Government : Constitutional Monarchy with Governor General and Prime Minister

Size : 268,680 km2

Population : 4.1 million

Currency : New Zealand Dollar

International Dialling Code : +64

Economy : 46th largest in the world

Religion : Christianity (Anglican and Roman Catholic)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ted Thower July 30, 2011 at 5:24 am


This post is so useful for the expat country persons and I know more here.


Steve August 4, 2011 at 2:29 am

Is NZ as difficult to emigrate to as other Western countries? A quiet, rural lifestyle and friendly people is exactly what I'm looking for. It sounds like an amazing place. I have a degree in computer science and experience as a software engineer. Is that a skill in demand in NZ, like in the US?


Bill Starcher September 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm

i'M a retired Aerospace engineer and navigational flight officer from the U.S. Navy. I need a slow life style around friendly people. How is New Zealand?


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