How to Move to New Zealand: 2021 Living Costs & Relocation Guide

New Zealand is a popular location for numerous citizens when looking to relocate. It isn’t difficult to understand why. New Zealand possesses stunning scenery and impressive cityscapes. Perhaps most importantly to many expats from the US, UK, or Australia: the predominant spoken language is English.

Beyond the shared language, the New Zealand locals are known for their friendly and welcoming nature. Many expats note that since making the move to New Zealand they have experienced a quieter, more peaceful way of life. From the stunning locations alone, this is understandable. Even in the largest of cities, you are never far from a beach or national park. From the average salary to the quality of healthcare, the standard of life in New Zealand is comparatively high.

In this relocation guide, we will be taking you through everything you need to know before taking this new step in your life. Relocating to New Zealand will be a significant change to your lifestyle, but it might be one of the best decisions you ever make. From the price of shipping to New Zealand all the way up to how much a drink will cost you, we’ve got you covered in this guide!

New Zealand Quick Facts

  • Population: 5 million
  • Capital City: Wellington
  • Official Languages: English, Maori
  • GDP per capita: $42,084
  • Drives on: The left side of the road
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Shipping to New Zealand (Moving & Shipping Costs)

The expense of shipping to New Zealand is potentially one of the biggest hurdles you will face. Moving your life to a different country is not a low-price activity. However, you have options available to you. There are multiple ways to ship your possessions to another country, either by air or by sea. Which you are eligible for will depend on the size of the property and the number of items you wish to move. For more information regarding shipping we recommend you visit Shippingtonewzealand.com.

How Much Does Moving to New Zealand Cost?

Exclusively referring to shipping, the cost of moving to New Zealand varies. Detailed below is a rough guide of what to expect to pay based on the size of your home and whether you wish your possessions to be moved by air or sea.

Possessions from a US 1-Bedroom Flat

  • Approximate Price by Air: $17,433 – $19,267
  • Approximate Price by Sea: $9,152 – $10,115

Possessions from a US 3-Bedroom House

  • Approximate Price by Air: N/A
  • Approximate Price by Sea: $14,080 – $15,562

Possessions from a US 5-Bedroom House

  • Approximate Price by Air: N/A
  • Approximate Price by Sea: $21,122 – $23,343

Larger quantities cannot be transferred via air. Instead, they must be shipped via sea, which takes considerably more time. The above data is all relevant to the United States. For the United Kingdom, the following applies:

  • 20ft Container: £1253
  • 40ft Container: £1934

Source: shipit.co.uk/international-removals/new-zealand

You can obtain competitive quotes for moving to New Zealand from up to five  accredited international movers by simply completing the form below:

Make sure you don’t forget about your currency needs and read our reviews of the top money transfer services too.

Our #1 recommended service is Currencies Direct – you can read our review of Currencies Direct

How Long Does Shipping to New Zealand Take?

Shipping your possessions from the United States to New Zealand is a relatively simple process. The approximate time it will take to move your possessions is detailed below, depending on your chosen mode of transport:

  • Approximate Shipping Times by Air: 1 – 3 days
  • Approximate Shipping Times by Sea: 24 – 29 days

As you can see, air travel is a far quicker option, but your eligibility for this option is dependent on how much you wish to move. The average furniture and items found within a 3-bedroom house will exceed the limit for air travel. If you are planning to move your entire family home over to New Zealand, sea shipping may be your only option.

Source: https://www.movehub.com/us/international-shipping/new-zealand

The time it takes to ship your items from the United Kingdom will largely depend upon the service you use. Many shippers offer weekly shipping arrangements without the container needing to be ‘filled’ to qualify. Make sure to read the specific details of your international shipping company for an accurate timeframe!

Source: shipit.co.uk/international-removals/new-zealand

Housing in New Zealand: New Zealand Housing Costs

If you are relocating to New Zealand for the very first time, it is recommended that you start out by renting a property. This way, you can get a feel for living in the country without making any rigid commitments. As much as you might be in love with the idea of New Zealand life right now, life is complicated. You never know how you will feel even just one year down the line!

Luckily, New Zealand has varied housing ranging from city apartments to spacious country homes. Whether you are relocating as an individual or as a family, you are sure to find something to suit your lifestyle. The emphasis on their design is natural light, so you can expect big windows and welcoming doorways to make the most of the sunny weather.

Rental Prices

Naturally, rental pricing will vary enormously based on which region you are looking to move to. City prices, such as those found in Auckland and Wellington, will usually always provide the highest rates. When looking for a rental property, it is imperative that you shop around to find the best monthly rate.

Below is a rough guide for some of the rental prices you can expect in New Zealand:

  • 1 – 2 Bedroom House: NZ$390 per week
  • 2 – 4 Bedroom House: NZ$525 per week

Of course, rental prices can increase depending on location. The highest prices will be found in larger cities, especially as the amount of bedrooms increase. For reference:

  • 3 – 4 Bedroom House in Auckland: NZ$600 – NZ$850 per week
  • 3 – 4 Bedroom House outside of Auckland: NZ$460 per week

These prices are estimates and there are few markets as volatile as the housing market, so it is frequently liable to change. However, this should give you a good indication of the significant price difference between living in a city or living in the country. City life can certainly be appealing, but if you feel that it is out of your budget, don’t worry! The more rural areas of New Zealand still have a lot to offer.

Purchase Prices

If you have lived in New Zealand for a couple of years already then it may be time to consider purchasing property of your own. Generally, only current residents and citizens can purchase property to live in.

If you are relocating to New Zealand for the first time you will not be eligible to purchase property. However, if your partner or relative that you are moving in with possesses citizenship, then you can purchase property via them.

According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, the median cost of a home is NZ$597,000. Auckland remains the most expensive place to purchase property, with a median price of NZ$850,000. These prices may seem daunting, but outside the city you can find some really fantastic properties without the enormous price tag.

One of the most affordable places to live is Whanganui, situated on the North Island of New Zealand. The average property price here is NZ$330,000, and it is known for its rich natural beauty. Alternatively, Invercargill, located on the South Island, offers long summer days and stunning displays of the Aurora Australis. A home here may only cost you NZ$249,000, with a four bedroom property costing NZ$429,000.

Housing Cost Comparison

Based on monthly rent expenditure, here is how New Zealand compares to other countries:

  • Between 9% and 13% cheaper than the United States
  • Between 10% and 15% more expensive than the United Kingdom
  • Between 6% and 11% cheaper than Canada
  • Between 6% and 11% cheaper than Australia

Source: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp

Working in New Zealand

The first thing you will need to acquire before moving to New Zealand, whether only for a few years or to settle, is the appropriate visa. This will take the form of either a work or resident visa, and generally can only be acquired once you have secured a job. You can apply for jobs prior to completing your visa application, and many employers may help you to fill out your forms. You won’t be able to start your job until your visa is approved, however.

Some key industries you could apply for in New Zealand include:

  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Finance/business
  • Health and social services
  • Recreation, hospitality and tourism

There are multiple recruitment agencies tailored towards workers from abroad, or you can utilize more generalized job boards such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek.

Healthcare in New Zealand

There are both public and private healthcare options available in New Zealand. The public branch of healthcare is funded via general taxation and provides excellent service that is either free or subsidized. As is the case with many countries that feature a similar model, the private branch is far more expensive, but you may receive treatment faster.

Free medical services include:

  • Standard medical tests
  • Children’s immunizations
  • Prescription medication for children under the age of 6

Visits to your general practitioner (GP), ambulance visits, and the purchase of prescription medications are all heavily subsidized by the public healthcare system. However, public healthcare is available for permanent residents only. You will need to register with your local GP upon arriving in New Zealand. There are no restrictions on which GP you register with, though some may specialize in particular care.

Source: newzealandnow.govt.nz/living-in-nz/healthcare/paying-for-healthcare-services

Education in New Zealand

On the world stage, New Zealand performs well in education. It ranked 3rd out of 50 countries in The Economist’s 2019 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index, in addition to ranking 10th out of 167 in the Legatum Institute’s 2019 Prosperity index.

Education is a priority for the New Zealand government, which means that from early years teaching all the way up to higher education, they receive proper funding. Children will often start school at around the age of 4 or 5, and they will graduate at around the age of 17. School is separated into primary education and secondary education, with higher education following.

Cost of Living in New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand is comparatively high to other countries in most respects. This is mostly due to it being an island nation that requires mass importation. However, this mostly applies to foods, and you may save money in other areas. Let’s break them down in full.

Each of these are estimates and of course will vary greatly based upon where you are aiming to relocate. Cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are up to 50% more expensive than their rural counterparts. Bear this in mind when considering your outgoings.

Food, Grocery & Restaurant Costs

  • Approximate monthly expense for a single expat: NZ$700
  • Approximate monthly expense for a family of four: NZ$1800

Source: numbeo.com/cost-of-living

Alcohol Costs

  • Average cost of wine: NZ$7.00 – NZ$15.00
  • Average cost of beer: NZ$8.00 – NZ$10.00

Source:

Public Transportation Fares

Auckland

  • Bus travel starts at NZ$1
  • Train travel starts at NZ$2.50

Christchurch

  • Bus travel starts at NZ$1.80

Wellington

  • Bus travel starts at NZ$2.00
  • Train travel starts at NZ$2.50
  • Cable car journeys are available for NZ$9.00

Queenstown

  • Bus travel with GoCard: NZ$2.00
  • Water Taxis start at NZ$10.00

Dunedin

  • Bus travel starts at NZ$2.2

Source: newzealand.com/ie/feature/public-transport-within-cities

Cost of Internet

  • Approximate monthly expense for a single expat: NZ$75
  • Approximate monthly expense for a family of four: NZ$75

Cost of Clothing & Personal Items

The prices of clothing and personal items are very similar to those found worldwide, with many crossover brands. If you live in the United States, United Kingdom, or Australia, it is unlikely you will notice any significant difference.

Cost of Owning a Car

  • Approximate monthly expense for a single expat: NZ$150
  • Approximate monthly expense for a family of four: NZ$400

Source: newzealandnow.govt.nz/living-in-nz

Taxes

As is the case with many countries, the amount of tax you pay is dependent upon the amount of money you earn. In New Zealand, the tax brackets are as follows:

  • Up to $14,000: 10.5% tax rate
  • $14,000 – $48,000: 17.5% tax rate
  • $48,000 – $70,000: 30% tax rate
  • Anything over $70,000: 33% tax rate

Tax applies to most forms of income including, but not limited to, salary, earnings from rental properties, self-employment, and overseas income.

Source: ird.govt.nz/income-tax/income-tax-for-individuals

Flight Costs to New Zealand

The cost for flights to New Zealand will vary depending on which airline you fly with, where you fly from, and the time of year. Listed below are estimate prices from various United States airports:

  • LAX, Los Angeles: $2750 – $3042
  • JFK Intl, New York: $2797 – $3631
  • Newark, New York: $3039 – $3685
  • Manchester, England: £2234 – £2982
  • Heathrow, London: £1485 – £2259
  • Sydney, Australia: $1254 – $1641

Source: https://www.nz.kayak.com/flight-routes (Information checked 02/22/21) 

Moving to New Zealand with Pets

Pets are an integral part of any family. They are often held in the same regard as children, so the thought of leaving them behind when relocating to New Zealand is unimaginable. Luckily, there is no reason you should have to, provided you take the necessary steps. The process is not complicated, but there are a few things you need to know before reaching for your pet-carrier.

There are restrictions on what you can bring into the country. Don’t worry, your beloved dogs and cats are safe. However, your more exotic animals may not be permitted. In fact, only dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits are allowed entry. In addition, the following species of dogs are banned from import:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Agentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario

If you have a pet that is eligible for entry, you will also need to carry out a full vet assessment prior to leaving. This will require multiple tests to ensure you aren’t bringing in any infections. Your vet should be able to walk you through the necessary tests and checks your pet will need prior to relocation.

New Zealand Culture

An important thing to consider when relocating to any country is its culture and own unique set of social norms. The United States and New Zealand may share an official language, but that does not mean they share the same culture. To truly integrate, you need to understand the sometimes subtle differences unique to New Zealand culture.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Kiwi’ culture, it can be described as ‘friendly but reserved’ and ‘open but respectful’. This definitely sounds like an oxymoron, but after living in New Zealand for just a few months you will know exactly what we mean. The strongest thing working in your favor is how understanding many New Zealanders will be about the difficulty of adjusting to a new place. As an island nation, New Zealand is full of avid travelers! Don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions.

Some more specific examples of New Zealand culture include:

  • Sharing Food: From a picnic on the beach to the Maori tradition of Hangi, food is an integral part of kiwi culture. If a host ever tells you not to bring anything, just bring something small. Turning up empty-handed isn’t a great look!
  • Alcohol: Legal age for drinking in New Zealand is 18, and they make the most of it. The drinking culture is big in New Zealand, but it’s perfectly acceptable to have non-alcoholic drinks at social occasions.
  • Social Customs: Despite the outwardly friendly nature of many New Zealanders, there is still a distinct respect for privacy found in communities. The topics you should avoid investigating are generally common sense. Don’t ask about someone’s earnings, their weight, or why they don’t have children.

The Kiwi culture is rich. You are bound to learn so much in your first few months alone, far more than we can cover in a relocating guide! When navigating your new community, don’t worry too much about saying the wrong thing. New Zealanders are generally easy-going people. Expect a lot of smiles when out for your evening walk, but just make sure to maintain personal space at all times.

Relocating to New Zealand: Most Popular Destinations

There are multiple places throughout New Zealand that can make for the ideal new home. Whether you are looking for a metropolitan city or a peaceful, rural lifestyle, New Zealand has something to offer you.

Top New Zealand Cities

The three biggest cities in New Zealand are Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. They are also the most popular for expats, but they aren’t the only cities available. Though smaller, cities like Dunedin and Napier have a lot to offer on their own. Listed below are some of the best cities to consider when moving to New Zealand.

Queenstown

A bustling city with so much to offer to all ages, Queenstown is a diverse location full of activities and social events. However, there is a price to pay for this vibrant lifestyle. Housing is some of the most expensive in the country, but they are situated in some of the most beautiful landscapes on the island.

Auckland

Easily one of the most popular cities for expats, Auckland is known as one of the best waterfront cities in the world. It is also an epicenter for job opportunities, making it ideal for those relocating to New Zealand for a career change. An abundance of regional parks, beaches, and restaurants mean a successful work/life balance can easily be achieved.

Wellington

As should be expected from a capital city, Wellington has a lot to offer. Though considerably smaller than many capitals throughout the world, its waterfront location and unique suburban life make it a captivating place to live. It also features excellent train and bus connections, so getting around without a car will never be a challenge.

Dunedin

Though not nearly as well known as some of the others on this list, Dunedin benefits from a wealth of individual charm. Home to New Zealand’s one and only castle, there is a history to Dunedin that makes it completely unique. It also possesses some of the most fascinating wildlife to be found near the Otago Peninsula. It may not have the reputation of other New Zealand locations, but it should not be disregarded.

Moving to New Zealand Alone

Relocating to a new country entirely by yourself is a daunting prospect, but there are actually a number of benefits unique to your situation. For starters, it is generally far less expensive to relocate on your own than to bring a family. Smaller properties incur smaller prices, and shipping to New Zealand is much cheaper too provided you don’t use air shipping. If you do, you can expect a far faster delivery than by sea.

In terms of practicality, as you will need to support yourself, securing a job prior to flying is usually your best course of action. This will give you some foundation to build your new life, especially since it is likely you will be renting for a while before truly planting roots. Just remember, New Zealanders are some of the friendliest people around. It is a recommended location for expats because of this, so take a deep breath and enjoy the journey!

Moving to New Zealand with a Family

While certainly a bigger operation than relocation to New Zealand solo, moving with a family is far from impossible. There are multiple housing options available in a variety of stunning neighborhoods. Education is a priority for the New Zealand government, and healthcare for younger children is mostly free. Even in adulthood, your medical bills will be heavily subsidized.

According to HSBC’s 2020 Expat Explorer survey, New Zealand is the third most desirable location for families. Furthermore, according to the 2019 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the second safest country in the world. It is filled to the brim with beautiful, wide open spaces with ample activities to keep your children engaged.

In terms of your own social life, there are numerous opportunities for a healthy work/life balance. Bars and restaurants abound, with sporting clubs right around the corner. New Zealand allows you to achieve your career goals while maintaining a fulfilling home life. Of course, it will cost you more to make the move, but relocation was never going to be a light endeavor. For most expats, the effort and expense is worth it.

Moving to New Zealand for Work

Numerous job sectors are expanding in New Zealand, which means that companies are in constant need of new workers. While many of these roles are primarily filled by natives, organizations are increasingly looking to qualified expats to join their efforts. Unemployment is low in New Zealand at just 4.9%. Companies are eager to hire, you just need to get there first!

The sectors that have seen the most growth recently include:

  • Human resources and recruitment
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport and logistics
  • Trades and services
  • Engineering
  • Community development

If your industry is on that list, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you aren’t destined to find your perfect job in New Zealand. Higher education institutions are popular for graduates, and small-to-medium sizes enterprises make up the vast majority of New Zealand’s businesses. You may even surprise yourself by fitting into an entirely new niche.

Moving to New Zealand from the USA

Clear skies and healthier, more peaceful living are two of the strongest selling points that drive expats from the US to New Zealand. There are actually many similarities between New Zealand and the United States. Beautiful scenery and fast food are just two of the things that you won’t need to let go of after relocating. The most exciting part is all the ways in which the countries differ.

New Zealand is committed to a healthy work/life balance, so you can expect generous vacations with your job. Even when you don’t have a day off, the office will never be far from a beach or national park. Healthcare is heavily subsidized, and compared to the United States it is a breath of fresh air. The island nation is dramatically smaller than the states, but that doesn’t reflect in the housing. The properties are varied and often settled in some of the most beautiful landscapes available.

Moving to New Zealand from the UK

A shared history, language, and existence as an island nation means the United Kingdom and New Zealand already have a lot in common. However, they differ in some significant ways, which is what motivates so many expats to take the leap! You can expect a similar subsidized healthcare model, but less of the housing density that can cause UK properties to feel so cramped.

The weather in New Zealand is far more temperate than in Britain. Rather than possessing seasonal extremes, New Zealand moves from warm, dry summers to mild and wet winters. Culturally, British traditions still remain strong in New Zealand. However, the influence of Maori and Polynesian cultures has added a distinctive flare to create a nation that feels like nowhere else in the world.

Don’t forget about your money and make sure to read our reviews of the top UK money transfer services and get your free quotes from the UK’s top international removals companies. You can read more about how you can send money online instantly too.

Moving to New Zealand from Australia

Cultural similarities between Australia and New Zealand or near-identical, mostly due to their geographical proximity. However, they are not the same nation, far from it! There is still plenty to discover in New Zealand.

Relocating from Australia is one of the easier options available. You do not need to apply for a visa to live and work in New Zealand if you are an Australian citizen. The cost of living is slightly less than Australia. To put that in perspective, Mercer’s Cost of Living survey placed Sydney as the 24th most expensive city to live in. Wellington ranked 86th.

You are also immediately eligible for subsidized healthcare if you are an Australian citizen, and students are still classed as domestic rather than international. This means your children will only pay local fees for their education, which can mean some dramatic discounts. Making the move from Australia is logistically simple, your only challenge may be adjusting to a smaller nation!

Final Thoughts: Relocating to New Zealand

Still eager to set sail? New Zealand has a lot to offer. From a strong education system to a heavily subsidized healthcare system, there is an awful lot about the Kiwi nation that makes it welcoming. Beautiful landscapes paired with growing employment opportunities present an ideal situation for solitary expats and families alike.