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Should I Move to New Zealand? – Essential Tips to Know Before Making the Move

Nov 08, 2023
beautiful mountain in new zealand

Have you ever dreamed of waking up to stunning landscapes, a laid-back lifestyle, and friendly locals? “Should I move to New Zealand?” might just be the perfect question for your next big adventure. In this blog post, we will guide you through the essential factors to consider when contemplating a move to this beautiful country. From the pros and cons of living in New Zealand to the practical tips for settling in, we have got you covered!

I moved my family of 6 from the USA to New Zealand in 2013 and love to share my journey. I have a wonderful community online that is set up to help each other on their journey to New Zealand. With my clients, I have found that this question is the hardest one to get an answer to - Should I move to New Zealand? I am here to guide you through this process in this article to hopefully get you the answer you are looking for.

If you are considering a move to New Zealand, check out my FREE masterclass that will overview all you need to know to get started and answer your burning questions!

Key Takeaways

  • New Zealand offers a high quality of life with its remarkable natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, and strong sense of community.

  • Visa options are available for those wishing to move to New Zealand depending on their individual skills and circumstances. Job opportunities in the country focus mainly on healthcare, engineering, IT professions among others.

  • Cultural adjustments such as learning Kiwi slang and accent may be necessary when settling into New Zealand’s unique way of life - understanding local laws regarding banking housing & transportation will ensure a smooth transition.

Pros and Cons of Living in New Zealand

picture of nz and if someone should move here

New Zealand, a country known for its remarkable natural beauty, high quality of life, and relaxed lifestyle, has a population of approximately 5 million. New Zealand’s population, however, faces some challenges that come with the big move, such as limited career options, the high cost of living, and increased skin cancer risk due to the country’s proximity to the ozone layer. The country’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and tranquil political discourse contribute to New Zealand’s cultural distinctiveness.

Despite these challenges, New Zealand consistently ranks highly in global quality of life surveys, offering a strong sense of community, safety, and well-being to its residents. The nation’s educational and healthcare systems are also highly regarded, ensuring a bright future for those who decide to call New Zealand home.

Quality of Life

New Zealand’s quality of life is often praised, with the country ranking No.1 for Mindset and No. 2 for Living in the 2020 HSBC Expat Explorer survey. Families can enjoy ample outdoor activities, good food, and a strong sense of community.

Safety is a priority in the Land of the Long White Cloud, with the nation ranking second in global safety indexes, only trailing behind Iceland. Gaining the status of a New Zealand citizen allows individuals to benefit from free healthcare and education, further enhancing the appeal of this stunning country for any New Zealand citizen.

Work-Life Balance

Kiwis, as New Zealanders are affectionately known, are well-known for their relaxed lifestyle and emphasis on work-life balance. Wealth is not considered an indicator of a person’s value, and the focus is on enjoying life and spending time with family and friends.

While the New Zealand job market provides opportunities for skilled workers, prospective employees should consider the limited career options in some sectors. Despite this, many people from around the world are drawn to the country for its unparalleled quality of life and supportive work environment.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in New Zealand can be high, particularly in major cities like Auckland, where a couple may need an estimated $2700 USD per month to cover their expenses. Housing costs can be quite prohibitive, and some dwellings may not be suitably insulated or provided with central heating. However, acquiring and operating a dehumidifier can enhance the comfort level of a rented space.

Despite these challenges, New Zealand’s cost of living is comparable to other Western OECD countries. In fact, cities like Auckland and Wellington are considered less expensive than many major US cities, such as Washington D.C., Boston, or Miami. The high quality of life, excellent healthcare, and education systems help offset the higher cost of living for many residents.

Natural Beauty

New Zealand’s diverse and picturesque landscapes offer a myriad of outdoor adventures for both residents and tourists alike. The country’s natural beauty is more concentrated than that of the USA and other countries, boasting a unique combination of breathtaking mountains, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches.

Approximately one-third of New Zealand is comprised of protected national parks, ensuring the preservation of its stunning landscapes for future generations. With any location in the country never more than 128 km (approximately 80 miles) away from a beach, it’s no wonder that so many individuals are drawn to the allure of this beautiful nation.

Visa Options for Moving to New Zealand

A variety of visa options could be available for those contemplating a move to New Zealand, dependant on their skills, age, and family ties. Immigration to New Zealand is not easy. Generally, those seeking to move there must be under 55 with skilled worker status. To work in the country, it’s generally necessary to have secured a job offer before arrival.

The nation is currently prioritizing skilled workers for work visas, making it an opportune time for those with in-demand skills to make the move.

Skilled Migrant Category

The Skilled Migrant Category visa is a popular pathway to residence in New Zealand for skilled individuals and their families. Applicants must possess specialist, technical, or management expertise and fulfil the stipulated pay rate requirements to be eligible for this visa. This visa category has been updated as of October 2023 so make sure to check out the NZ Immigration website for the latest updates.

This visa option allows individuals to reside, work, and study in New Zealand and include their partner and dependent children in their residence application. Applicants must forward an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand. Subsequently, it will be assessed and compared against other applications. To be honest, the whole visa process is hard for many to understand with the new updates. I highly recommend reaching out to Pathways NZ as they offer a complimentary discussion on what your visa options are based on your job skills.

Working Holiday Visa

The Working Holiday Visa permits individuals aged 18 to 30 to work and explore in New Zealand for up to 12 months. To be eligible, one must be a citizen of a country that has a reciprocal agreement with New Zealand and be between the ages of 18 and 30.

This visa offers a unique opportunity for young adults to experience the beauty of New Zealand while earning money to fund their travels. However, restrictions apply concerning the type of work permissible, the number of hours of work allowable, and the duration one may remain in the country.

Family Visas

Family visas are available for partners, children, and other family members of New Zealand citizens or residents. These visas are based on a familial relationship and can be either immigrant visas for permanent residency or temporary visas.

The prerequisites for obtaining a family visa in New Zealand include:

  • Having a genuine and secure relationship

  • Cohabitation

  • Good health

  • Financial support from the family member who is a citizen or permanent resident

Each visa type has specific requirements and limitations, so it’s important to research and understand which family visa option is best suited to your situation.

Job Opportunities in New Zealand


Recent years have seen New Zealand’s job market remain strong, with many individuals from the United States finding suitable employment and occupations in the country. New Zealand offers job opportunities in various sectors, with certain professions in high demand.

Utilizing popular job websites, such as SEEK and Trade Me, can be helpful in finding suitable job opportunities. Networking and connecting with professionals in your field can also be beneficial in securing a position in this competitive job market.

In-Demand Professions

Healthcare, engineering, and IT are among the professions that are in high demand in New Zealand. Other sought-after professions include:

  • Software developers

  • Registered nurses

  • Welders

  • HVAC mechanics

  • Psychologists

  • Call center representatives

  • Engineers

  • Scientists

  • Farmers

  • Doctors

  • Surgeons

  • Nurses

  • Mental health professionals

  • Veterinarians

  • IT professionals

  • Painters

  • Customer demand planners

  • Service coordinators

  • Demand planners

By possessing skills and qualifications in these in-demand fields, individuals are more likely to secure a job and successfully navigate the New Zealand job market.

Networking and Job Search Tips

Networking and online job search platforms can greatly assist newcomers in finding job opportunities in New Zealand. Identifying one’s skills and matching them with the skills employers are looking for is an important step in the job search process.

Seek, Indeed, and Trade Me are some of the most popular job search websites in the New Zealand market. Perusing the career pages of specific organizations, engaging in professional groups and discussions on social media, and researching government and industry organization websites can also be helpful in broadening your network and uncovering job openings.

Education and Healthcare in New Zealand

New Zealand’s education and healthcare systems are highly regarded, offering quality services to residents. The 2021 Legatum Institute Prosperity Index places New Zealand’s education system as the 12th best in the world.

In addition to excellent education, the country’s healthcare system is a mix of public and private services, with subsidized care for citizens, residents, and some visa holders through private health insurance.

Education System

The education system in New Zealand is divided into three stages: primary, intermediate, and secondary, focusing on teaching students problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and the application of knowledge.

The country’s emphasis on preparing young people for the future earned it a third-place ranking out of 50 leading countries in The Economist’s Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) in 2019. As the only country with internationally recognized qualifications and a forward-thinking approach to education, New Zealand is an excellent place for families to raise and educate their children.

Healthcare System

New Zealand’s healthcare system consists of both public and private services, providing subsidized care for citizens, residents, and some visa holders. The Accident Compensation scheme (ACC) is a unique feature of the country’s healthcare system, providing coverage for medical and recovery costs for injuries sustained in an accident, regardless of fault.

Dental treatment is not subsidized, which can make it costly for adults. However, the overall quality and accessibility of healthcare services in New Zealand make it an attractive destination for those seeking a high standard of living.

Cultural Adjustments and Lifestyle

Adjusting to life in New Zealand involves learning local slang, understanding the accent, and appreciating Māori culture. While the transition may be challenging at first, the welcoming nature of Kiwis and the beauty of the country make it well worth the effort.

Kiwi Slang and Accent

The New Zealand accent can be confusing at first, with Kiwis sounding like a mix of Australian, South African, and American in just a few words. Kiwi slang is also unique, with terms like:

  • ‘glad wrap’ for cling film

  • ‘chilli bin’ for a cool box

  • ‘bach’ for a holiday home

  • ‘jandals’ for flip-flops

  • the ‘wop wops’ for the middle of nowhere.

Over time, newcomers will quickly adapt to the local slang and accent, making communication much easier.

Māori Culture

Māori culture is an important aspect of New Zealand’s identity, with a focus on hospitality and welcoming newcomers. This indigenous culture is characterized by traditional and contemporary arts such as carving, weaving, and kapa haka (group performance). The Māori people are renowned for their warrior spirit and have a strong connection to the land and nature.

By embracing and appreciating Māori culture, newcomers can fully immerse themselves in the unique and diverse lifestyle New Zealand has to offer.

Practical Tips for Settling in New Zealand

For a seamless transition to life in New Zealand, it is advisable to address practical aspects of settling in, including opening a bank account, securing housing, and understanding transportation options.

By addressing these necessities, newcomers can focus on enjoying their new life in this beautiful country.

Opening a Bank Account

Establishing a bank account in New Zealand is a crucial step to securely receive payments and store funds. Major banks like ANZ, ASB, and Kiwibank allow individuals to open an account before arriving in the country. The process typically requires:

  • A valid passport

  • A visa demonstrating legal residence status

  • An ID

  • A permanent address in New Zealand

Applying online before arrival or completing the required documentation in person will help ensure a smooth transition to your new financial situation.

Finding Housing

Finding housing in New Zealand can be competitive, with online platforms like and Trade Me Property offering listings for Zealand houses. It’s essential to be prepared with the necessary documents, such as proof of income, references, and a deposit, when searching for housing.

Remaining flexible and open to different types of housing, as well as being aware of local laws and regulations regarding renting, will make the search for a suitable home easier and more successful.

Driving and Public Transportation

New arrivals are required to secure a local New Zealand driver’s license within the first year. Newcomers should be aware that Kiwis drive on the left-hand side of the road and should familiarize themselves with local driving regulations and speed limits.

Public transportation facilities differ by location, hence, it is advisable to investigate the services available in your new city or town. By understanding the ins and outs of driving and public transportation in New Zealand, newcomers will be better equipped to navigate their new surroundings.

Weather and Climate in New Zealand

New Zealand’s climate varies between the North and South Islands, with generally mild temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns.

Understanding the differences in climate between the islands can help newcomers prepare for their new environment and fully appreciate the beauty of the country.

North Island Climate

The North Island has a subtropical climate with warm summers and mild winters. This island typically experiences higher temperatures than the South Island, making it an attractive option for those who prefer a warmer climate.

It is also home to some of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, such as the Bay

South Island Climate

The South Island features a cold temperate climate, with consistent rainfall throughout the year and cooler temperatures than the North Island. Some key characteristics of the South Island climate include:

  • Consistent rainfall throughout the year

  • Cooler temperatures compared to the North Island

  • The West Coast is known to be the wettest area

  • The eastern side of the mountains is comparatively arid

In some areas, summer temperatures can be quite warm, while snowfall is prevalent during the winter months, particularly in areas south of Christchurch.


In conclusion, New Zealand offers a unique and fulfilling lifestyle for those who choose to make the big move. With its stunning natural beauty, high quality of life, excellent work-life balance, and various opportunities, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to this magnificent country. By being prepared for the cultural adjustments, understanding the job market and visa options, and tackling the practical aspects of settling in, newcomers can fully embrace their new life in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth relocating to New Zealand?

New Zealand is known for its high quality of life, numerous recreational activities and welcoming culture. Therefore, it can be said that relocating to New Zealand is definitely worth considering.

Can a US citizen move to New Zealand?

Yes, as a US citizen you can apply for a range of visa options to move to New Zealand, both for temporary or permanent stays.

Is it cheaper to live in USA or NZ?

Overall, living in New Zealand is cheaper than the United States, with a difference of 18%.

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

To move to New Zealand, you should plan on taking savings of at least three times your monthly expenses, as well as upfront fees such as a housing deposit, insurance, and setup costs.

Are there any age restrictions for immigration to New Zealand?

Generally, immigrants to New Zealand must be under 55 and possess skilled worker status to qualify for entry.


If you are really interested in moving to New Zealand - check out this FREE Masterclass!


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