new zealand

You and the family are heading to the legendary land of Hobbits (well, they don’t actually live there – they were just filmed there). It’s a long, long way away, down on the other side of the world. Literally, so far south that the South Pole is only 4,800 kilometers or so away from its southernmost point.

Like any place that you move to anywhere in the world, you will have to do a certain amount of careful planning and strategizing to make the move successful. We’ve put together a number of tips and tricks, and hopefully within a short time, you will begin to feel like a Kiwi – and maybe even begin speaking like one (more on that later)!

Here’s the first thing you need to know about making sure you fit in: Start learning about Rugby. That’s right – RUGBY. It’s close to being New Zealand’s national religion. Kids learn about it pretty much from the moment they can walk, and the sport (yes, it is a sport, not a form of unarmed combat) is embedded in the culture to such an extent that the performance of the All Blacks (New Zealand’s National rugby team) makes the headlines. Nothing else.

After that, you can start thinking about the logistics of the move:


You must have a visa to enter New Zealand, and the reason for your move there will determine the type of visa you need; a Work to Residence visa, which allows you to work prior to settling permanently; a Skilled Migrant visa which is issued by the New Zealand Government to fill skill shortages, or a Business Visa if you’re an entrepreneurs or investor. Check out all these options with your local New Zealand consulate or embassy.

Check your passports

Ensure that you and all family members have passports valid for the full duration of the visa you are applying for (e.g. If you are applying for a 4 year visa, you should have at least 4 years of validity on your passport). If it needs replacing, then do so immediately.

Cost of Living

Because New Zealand is so far away, many consumer items are imported and are therefore more expensive than what you may be used to.

The current exchange rate is around US$1=NZ$1.40 or .72 US cents to one NZ$. There is also a 15% Goods & Services tax (GST) added to most things except rent or financial transactions, like bank charges.

Typical prices in New Zealand (published by the government’s Statistics Department) in 2015, were:

  • Bread – white sliced loaf (600g) – NZ$1.55
  • Milk – standard, 2 liters – NZ$3.60
  • Fish and chips – NZ$5.91
  • Apples (kg) – NZ$2.52
  • Meat – lamb chops (kg) – NZ$13.89
  • Beer – glass (400ml) – NZ$5.87
  • Cup of coffee (flat white) – NZ$5.00
  • Big Mac – NZ$6.00
  • Pair of jeans – NZ$80–150
  • Petrol – 91 octane per liter – NZ$2.11 (That’s NZ$9.59 per gallon)
  • Washing machine – NZ$600–1500
  • 42” LED-LCD flat screen TV – NZ$600–1500
  • Car, Ford Focus (2.0L, 5 door) – NZ$36,350

Dust off your CV

If you are relocating within your company, then you don’t have to worry about this. But if you expect to find work in New Zealand, ensure you have all your qualifications and work experience listed and up to date. If you have a trade or qualification, have it formally recognized by the relevant authority in New Zealand. Visit the New Zealand Qualification Authority website for more information.

Where are you going to live?

House or apartment? Buy or rent? That’s after you’ve decided which city you are heading to….or whether it’s North or South Island.

Renting is quoted and paid by the week, so don’t be misled by what may appear to be low prices. Typical rentals range from between NZ$300 to anything up to and beyond NZ$700 PER WEEK, obviously depending on the area and type of property.

Most properties in New Zealand are rented through agents, and you will have to pay one month’s rent in advance and a security deposit against damages. Tenants must also pay a fee for the lease document, plus a deposit for electricity and gas. Visit some real estate agent websites to get a better idea of the type of properties available.

Shipping household items and pets

When moving to New Zealand, consider buying new furniture and appliances. This will add a lot of excitement to your move (and you will not have to use an adapter to charge your devices). Most importantly, decide on what to do about a car. Remember, in New Zealand they drive on the left, like in England, meaning that your car should be right-hand-drive. So, you will probably choose to leave your car behind, which is okay since cars are fairly reasonably priced in New Zealand; you can even consider buying a late model second-hand car.

Want to take your pets? They are part of the family after all. But moving abroad with pets has a lot of concerns, bureaucracy and requirements, so do your research and consult with your vet.

New Zealand Driver’s License

About that new car you are going to buy…it’s no good without a valid driving license. You can use your international license if it is in English (or you have a certified translation), but ONLY for 12 months. Thereafter, you must apply for a New Zealand license. The New Zealand Transport Agency website will give you full details.

Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

You can open a bank account in New Zealand many months before you move. This will enable you to establish your credit rating before you arrive. The banking system in New Zealand is very advanced, with world leading services and highly sophisticated online banking facilities. You can pay for most things with debit or credit cards. Banking hours are 9am to 4pm on weekdays, and some of the larger bank branches may be open over the weekend.

New Zealand Taxes

To receive an income in New Zealand, you need an IRD (Inland Revenue Department) number to pay your taxes. This is deducted directly from your salary or earnings and paid to the government by your employer. Visit the IRD website for more details and general information on the tax system in NZ.

Enroll your kids in school

By law, children under 15 years of age must attend school. New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels:

  • Early childhood education – from birth to school entry age
  • Primary and secondary schools – from 5 to 19 years of age (school is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age)
  • Further education – higher and vocational education

For more information on schools and the education system in New Zealand, visit the NZ Ministry of Education website.

Get Out and About

Now that you’re mobile, have your home, schools, bank account and personal belongings in place – and your pets are settled – it’s time to get out and explore this magnificent country.

New Zealand is simply gorgeous – it has been described as the photographer’s worst nightmare – mainly because every time you take a picture, there is something even more spectacular just around the corner! You will be living in what some people believe is the most beautiful country in the world. Just ask the movie producers!


Written by Einat Mazafi