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Everything You Need to Know About Moving to New Zealand in 2023

Nov 08, 2023
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Welcome to the land of breathtaking landscapes, friendly locals, and a perfect work-life balance - New Zealand! If you’ve ever dreamed of a fresh start in this beautiful island nation, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide covers everything from visas and essential steps to moving to New Zealand, and adapting to life in the land of the long white cloud.

My family of 6 moved to New Zealand from the USA in 2013. We have shared our journey to New Zealand on my YouTube Channel Kiwiamericans. I would love to give you a glimpse of what it is really like to live in New Zealand for Americans. I also have an amazing FREE Masterclass that connects you with everything you need to thrive on your move to New Zealand and meet others on the journey with you!

Key Takeaways

Understanding New Zealand's Immigration and Visa Process

eagle, mountains, lake in new zealand

Starting a new chapter in New Zealand necessitates familiarity with the immigration and New Zealand visa procedures. With over 80 types of visas available, including work, student, family, investment, and retirement visas, there’s an option to suit everyone’s unique situation. Generally, eligibility requirements may include:

  • Having a job on New Zealand’s “Green List” of in-demand jobs

  • Having a supportive partner or family member already living or working in the country

  • Proving you are a person of good character

  • Demonstrating overall good health attested through medical exams

  • Having proof of financial support in the country

Applying for a New Zealand visa may seem daunting, but with the right qualifications and a bit of patience, you can be on your way to New Zealand in no time! The process includes:

  • Submitting a Zealand visa application

  • Paying for one Q&A session with a migration consultant

  • Registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand

  • Meeting biosecurity requirements

Let’s delve into the unique features of each visa category.

Work Visas

A work visa is a must for those aspiring to work in New Zealand. With a range of options available depending on skills and job offers, navigating the job market becomes a breeze. To obtain a work visa, you require:

  • a job offer

  • authorized support from an employer who wants to recruit you

  • a comprehensive evidence of qualification must be provided with all required documents

Websites like Working in New Zealand, WorkHere, and Pathways NZ are excellent resources for finding job openings and connecting with New Zealand employers in the New Zealand job market. You can now apply for a job offer online. Setting up a New Zealand Government RealMe account is the convenient way to do so.

After obtaining your work visa or permanent resident visa, it is highly recommended to apply for an IRD number, which is necessary for all New Zealand tax matters.

Student Visas

A student visa is your passport to a fascinating educational journey if you aspire to study in New Zealand. To be considered for this opportunity, you need to gain admission to a New Zealand educational institution. This will give you the eligibility for this program. A student visa allows you to study in the country for an incredible four years, giving you ample time to enjoy its natural beauty and immerse yourself in the local culture.

For individuals under 30, the working holiday visa, as well as student visas, offer fantastic opportunities to move to New Zealand and explore its unique culture and more affordable cost of living, making it a zealand cheaper option compared to other countries.

Family Visas

Family visas facilitate the process of reuniting with or bringing family members to New Zealand., allowing you to experience the country’s natural beauty and unique culture together. 1. The type of visa required for family reunification is dependent on the relationship between you and the person living in New Zealand.

  1. This could be a parent, spouse or partner relationship, or in some cases, a dependent child..

Children can have dual citizenship in New Zealand, benefiting from the rules of both countries. To apply for a family visa, you’ll need to provide birth certificates for children, evidence of your relationship with the sponsoring family member, and meet health and character requirements.

Investment Visas

Investment visas cater to wealthy individuals looking to live in New Zealand permanently by investing in the country. To be eligible, you must have the necessary financial means to make positive investments in the country. The financial criteria vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for, offering a range of opportunities.

To ensure a successful investment visa application, carefully review the conditions of your visa before submitting your application.

Retirement Visas

For those looking to retire in New Zealand without dependent children, retirement visas are the perfect option. To be eligible, you must be 66 years or older and have the financial means to support yourself during your stay.

Additionally, you may be able to invest NZ$750,000 or have a yearly income of NZ$60,000, along with other financial requirements.

Preparing for Your Move: Essential Steps

How we moved our families to New Zealand

How we moved to New Zealand

Before setting off on your thrilling adventure to New Zealand, adequate preparation for your move is crucial. by finding employment, exploring housing options, and managing finances. Most visas take 30 to 75 days to process, and shipping belongings takes about 30 days, making the whole process an exciting and manageable 1 to 3 months of planning. Budgeting wisely and researching international moving costs can help ensure a smooth transition.

Some popular options for moving from the USA to New Zealand include international moving, container, sea freight, and shipping companies. When it comes to housing, the process is usually smooth and secure. Buying a house in Auckland, even with its dynamic energy, has become possible within just a few weeks. With commitment and dedication, the right house can now be easily achieved..

To help with budgeting, there is a moving cost calculator available for those moving to New Zealand.

Finding Employment

Adapting to local resume formats is crucial when seeking employment in New Zealand. and target in-demand occupations. Utilize job vacancy websites and recruitment companies to explore opportunities, and create a New Zealand-style resume and cover letter tailored to the job you’re applying for to show that you’re the perfect fit.

Having a well-prepared resume and cover letter can make all the difference in securing a job offer and starting your new life in this beautiful country.

Housing Options

New Zealand offers a vast range of housing options, including:

  • Suburban homes

  • Rural living and lifestyle blocks

  • Apartments

  • Flats

  • Townhouses

  • Public housing

  • Student housing

Both rental and purchase options are available for expats.

Likewise, purchasing a property in New Zealand comes with an array of choices, including suburban homes, rural living and lifestyle blocks, apartments, flats, townhouses, and student housing.

Managing Finances

how much does it cost to move to New Zealand

Financial management in New Zealand begins with setting up a bank account., understanding taxes, and budgeting for living expenses. It’s incredibly easy for non-residents to open a bank account in the country, with some banks even offering the convenience of opening an account while you’re still overseas. HSBC is a well-known international bank specifically catering to expats. It has several offices throughout the major cities in New Zealand..

Familiarize yourself with the country’s tax system and ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage. Most transactions in the country are done conveniently via electronic bank transactions.

Adapting to Life in New Zealand

Upon settling in, adaptation to New Zealand life requires an appreciation of Kiwi culture., embracing the work-life balance, and building a social network. Expats in New Zealand hold the quality of life it provides in high regard, from peaceful surroundings and great outdoor activities to a strong culture that emphasises on having a good work-life balance. The 2020 HSBC Expat Explorer survey ranked New Zealand No.1 for Mindset, No. 2 for Living, and No. 3 overall, highlighting the appeal of living in the country.

Joining groups, attending events, volunteering, and participating in sports are great ways to build a social network in New Zealand. Meeting new people and making friends can enrich your new life in the country, helping you settle in and make the most of your time in this beautiful part of the world.

Understanding Kiwi Culture

Kiwi culture is wonderfully unique, with strong Māori and Polynesian influences and customs to learn and appreciate. Some popular sports in New Zealand include:

  • Rugby

  • Cricket

  • Football (soccer)

  • Netball

Embracing the concept of Manaakitanga, which encompasses hospitality, kindness, and generosity, is deeply valued and celebrated in New Zealand’s culture. Familiarizing yourself with local customs and traditions will help you better understand and appreciate the richness of Kiwi culture.

Work-Life Balance

New Zealand is praised for its excellent quality of life and relaxed pace, with a strong work ethic that also promotes great work-life balance. Some of the benefits of living in New Zealand include:

  • Ample leisure activities

  • Outdoor adventures

  • Beautiful natural landscapes

  • Friendly and welcoming culture

The enjoyable pace of life in New Zealand allows for a well-rounded and fulfilling lifestyle.

From hiking and camping to kayaking and mountain biking, there’s no shortage of exciting outdoor activities to experience in this stunning country.

Making Friends and Building a Social Network

Building a social network in New Zealand may involve joining local groups, attending events, and volunteering to meet new people and enrich your new life in the country. Joining groups and attending events can help you learn about the local culture and make meaningful connections with others who share your interests and passions.

Volunteering opportunities, such as helping out at local charities, joining community groups, or participating in environmental initiatives, can also be a fantastic way to meet new people and give back to the community.

Navigating New Zealand's Healthcare System

A picture of a person receiving healthcare in New Zealand

My experience with New Zealand Healthcare

Understanding both public and private healthcare options is part of navigating New Zealand’s healthcare system. The country’s healthcare system is highly advanced, boasting world-class hospitals and medical care in main cities.

New Zealand offers an excellent range of both private and public healthcare systems, ensuring residents have access to the care they need.

Public Healthcare

Public healthcare in New Zealand covers most essential services for citizens and eligible expats, but may not include dental and vision care. Permanent residents or those with a work visa valid for two or more years can enjoy the benefit of free public healthcare.

Public healthcare provides incredible free or low-cost services for prescriptions, treatments, x-rays, and some laboratory tests. To access public healthcare, you can conveniently visit public medical practices, after-hours centers, hospitals, or specialists.

Private Healthcare

Private healthcare may be necessary for some expats, particularly for elective procedures and additional coverage. Private health insurance in New Zealand offers a range of exciting options, including hospital cover, medical cover, and extras cover.

The advantages of private health insurance include access to private hospitals, quicker access to medical care, and access to a broader range of treatments. You can obtain private health insurance through a private health insurance provider or through an employer.

Education Opportunities in New Zealand

New Zealand offers a wide spectrum of educational opportunities, from primary and secondary schooling to tertiary institutions. The country’s primary and secondary education is excellent, with government subsidies and free access for citizens and residents, and high-quality schools.

New Zealand also boasts an exciting range of eight universities and 16 institutes of technology for higher education opportunities.

Primary and Secondary Education

Citizens and residents in New Zealand typically receive primary and secondary education at no cost., with government subsidies ensuring access to high-quality schools.

To access primary and secondary education, parents can enroll their children directly with the school of their choice, ensuring they receive the best education possible. The government provides extensive financial support for early childhood education for those under 5 years of age. This generous subsidization ensures that children in this age group have access to educational opportunities.

There are also many private schools and what New Zealand calls

Higher Education

New Zealand’s universities and institutes of technology enjoy international acclaim and offer an array of higher education opportunities. To access higher education in New Zealand, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose one of the top universities in the country.

  2. Become familiar with the education system in New Zealand.

  3. Consider taking a year’s Foundation Program to prepare for university.

  4. Submit applications to the universities of your choice.

  5. Ensure you meet the language requirements.

By following these steps, you can pursue higher education in New Zealand.

Most institutions require students to demonstrate proficiency in English, either through an English language test or by providing evidence of having studied in an English-speaking country.

Top Cities and Regions for Expats in New Zealand

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown are among the most preferred cities and regions for expats in New Zealand. Each city offers a unique lifestyle, job opportunities, and stunning natural beauty, making them all popular choices for those looking to make the move.

From the bustling urban centres to the tranquil countryside, there’s a perfect destination for everyone in this beautiful country.


A picture of a person exploring the vibrant city of Auckland New Zealand

Best hotels in Auckland in 2023

Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand, offers a vibrant atmosphere, job opportunities, and a diverse population, making it a popular choice for expats. Located on the upper side of the North Island, Auckland enjoys a sunny and warm climate.

The city boasts a thriving job market with opportunities in various industries, making it an ideal destination for those seeking employment. Some of the industries with job opportunities in Auckland include:

  • Information technology

  • Finance and banking

  • Healthcare

  • Tourism and hospitality

  • Construction and engineering

Auckland, a city showcasing both New Zealand’s natural beauty and Zealand’s natural beauty, is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and breathtaking beaches, providing the perfect setting for an active and enjoyable lifestyle.


A picture of a person exploring the historic city of Wellington New Zeaalnd

Let's visit Wellington New Zealand

Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, boasts a strong job market, beautiful scenery, and a lively arts scene. Positioned on the southern tip of the North Island, this city serves as a convenient connection to the South Island.

Wellington’s job market offers plenty of opportunities in various industries, while the city itself is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, rolling hills, lush forests, and stunning beaches. The vibrant arts scene in Wellington includes galleries, museums, and performance venues, enriching the city’s cultural life.


new zealand christchurch, post office, main post office

Located on the South Island, Christchurch offers a mix of urban and outdoor activities, with a focus on rebuilding after the 2011 earthquake. The city is renowned for its diverse range of urban and outdoor activities, as well as its remarkable recovery journey since the earthquake.

Christchurch is home to a wide array of attractions, including:

  • thrilling hikes

  • breathtaking gondola rides

  • stunning botanical gardens

  • an amazing zoo

These attractions provide endless entertainment for residents and visitors alike.


Queenstown, an adventure tourism hotspot, is perfect for those seeking an active lifestyle surrounded by stunning landscapes. Renowned for its natural beauty, Queenstown is an incredibly popular tourist destination, especially during winter when it transforms into a beautiful ski resort.

With its picturesque surroundings and countless outdoor activities, Queenstown is an ideal destination for those looking to embrace an adventurous lifestyle in New Zealand.


In conclusion, moving to New Zealand offers countless opportunities to experience a unique culture, stunning natural beauty, and an excellent work-life balance. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the visa process, find employment, secure housing, and adapt to life in this beautiful country. So why wait? Start planning your move to New Zealand today and embrace the adventure that awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a US citizen move to New Zealand?

Yes, you can move to New Zealand as a U.S. citizen! There are several visa options available, ranging from temporary, part-time, or full-time jobs to residence visas if you want to settle in the country permanently.

How much money do you need to move to New Zealand?

You'll need savings of at least three times your monthly expenses plus upfront fees for rent, insurance, and setting up your place to move to New Zealand.

Is it difficult to move to New Zealand?

Moving to New Zealand may require some time and effort to secure a work or resident visa. However, there are several options available depending on your reason for relocation, making it an achievable goal for most people. For those looking to move to New Zealand for work, there are a variety of visa options available. These include the Skilled Migrant Visa, the Essential Skills Work Visa, Work Visas etc. In short, it is hard to move to New Zealand.

Is it worth relocating to New Zealand?

Relocating to New Zealand is a great opportunity to experience the high quality of life that it offers, with plenty of opportunities to pursue your hobbies and interests. It's definitely worth considering making the move.

What are the main types of visas available for moving to New Zealand?

Moving to New Zealand is made easy with the wide range of visas available, including work, student, family, investment and retirement visas. With so many options to choose from, you can find the right visa for your situation.

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