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  • Writer's pictureSean

Things to Consider Before Moving to New Zealand

Updated: May 24

Moving to New Zealand is an appealing dream for many. But before you go, you should consider the lifestyle you will be leaving behind and what you are going to be taking on.

It is a beautiful country, home of the All-Black Rugby Team, and boasting some of the most gorgeous landscapes you will ever find anywhere in the world.

If you are looking to move your household belongings to New Zealand from the UK, make sure to contact our expert team who will be more than happy to assist you. Now, read further to know what you need to consider before moving to New Zealand.


Visa and Work Issues

 For this post, we’re going to assume that you know about the Visa requirements and meet the criteria for eligibility to move to New Zealand.

The same applies to work; only you can determine whether you meet the rules and are part of the skill shortage or retiring there based on the levels of income you are bringing. 

Cost of Living

The cost of living in New Zealand is very similar to the rest of the world. It varies depending on where you are planning to live. According to the overall cost of living rates, Wellington is 94th, and Auckland sits 70th. For comparison, London in the UK is 18th on the scale of places from most to least expensive to live.

You have to remember that everything is comparative, and salaries are designed to work with expenses incurred by people living there. Birmingham in the UK is 121 on the list, so generally, New Zealand is sitting somewhere between the two in terms of cost of living.


Finding Housing

 It is possible to purchase property in New Zealand, and if you are looking at a city center apartment using London as a comparison, you expect to pay about 50% less if you purchase your property in Auckland than you would in London. Outside of the city center, this drops to around 25%.


Day-to-Day Living

 The bad news is that your groceries will actually cost more than they do in the UK. A lot of supermarket food is imported into New Zealand, and the bigger players in the market control the prices. Every day basics could set you back more than you are used to. A pint of milk is around 60% more expensive to purchase in New Zealand.


Meals Out

 Dining out is also more expensive in Auckland and will cost around 5 to 15% more. One thing that is usually cheaper is a cup of coffee, which is good news for those who need their caffeine fix.


The Household Bills

Bills fall directly under cost-of-living and, therefore, can vary depending on where you end up living. Currently, the UK has some of the highest fuel prices, so you would certainly be paying less in Auckland at the moment.


This is good news for gas and electricity. One thing that is more expensive is the data for mobile phones. You can expect your mobile phone bill to cost you approximately 25 to 50% more. The infrastructure for mobile phones is quite limited, and therefore it costs more.


Transport in New Zealand

Most of the public transport network in New Zealand is bus-related, and there is a small rail network. Paying for public transport in Auckland will cost you around 30% less than in London, and taxis will set you back 20% less.


If you prefer to own your own car, you will find that vehicle prices are cheaper, and you could save around 30% on the price of a family car. Both petrol and diesel are cheaper, so this is also a plus and a saving.


When you first arrive in New Zealand, you can use your UK driving license, but if you’re planning to stick around for more than 12 months, you will need a New Zealand driving license. Driving in New Zealand is very similar to driving in the UK because they also drive on the left-hand side of the road. Most of the roads are single-carriageways, and there aren't that many motorways. The same rules apply: wearing your seatbelt is a legal requirement, and you must not use a mobile phone while driving.


They tend to be a lot tougher on young drivers; if you’re under 20, that is zero tolerance for alcohol. This means you will be in trouble if any alcohol at all is detected in your system and you are behind the wheel of a car. If you’re over 20, there is a drink drive limit, but it is lower than the UK, so make sure you understand the rules.

Getting Healthcare in New Zealand


In a very similar way to the UK. The majority of public healthcare is free in New Zealand. If you have to pay, things are kept as low as possible. You have to be a resident to access free healthcare, which means you will need to have a work Visa or be an official citizen. If you don’t have either of these, you can access the system, but it will cost you. Ambulances are the only variance; residents or otherwise can be charged for ambulance costs.


Schooling in New Zealand

 If you’re moving to New Zealand with your family and meet schools for your children, you have quite a few options. State schools are funded by the government and are the most popular choice.


75% of the children in the country attend state school. The second option is state-integrated schools once upon a time. These were private schools, but they have integrated into the state system but kept some of their unique characteristics. Although they are funded primarily by the government, there can be fees for students attending state-integrated schools.


Finally, you have the option of private schools, which will cost around NZ$20,000 a year. However, as New Zealand teaches primarily in English, children will not have any language barriers to contend with if they attend state or state-integrated schools. In terms of performance, the UK ranks number 2 in world education, and New Zealand ranks number 11.


One thing lots of parents say is positive about the New Zealand education system is that the average class size for pupils in years 7 to 10 is around 16 rather than 30, as we see in the UK.


For higher education, there is a good range of universities. New Zealand offers visas specifically for studying in the country. Tuition costs at university are significantly lower than in the UK.


New Zealand has eight universities, and all of them feature in the top 3% according to the QS World Universities ranking. This means that they are in the top 500, with the University of Auckland sitting at number 85.


Where to Live?


The population of the UK is 65 million; in New Zealand, it’s just 5 million. The country is also 10% larger. That means there are fewer people, more open spaces, and plenty of sheep. There are lots of different choices when it comes to deciding where to set up base.


North or South?


Your first decision is whether to live on the North Island or the South Island. The North Island is the more densely populated, and around 77% of the total population lives there. The South Island is 30% larger based on landmass.


In terms of the weather, it’s a complete flip from what we are used to in the UK. The further north you go, the better the weather you will get. The northernmost part of the North Island is a sub-tropical climate. Here, you can enjoy warmer waters, making it the best place for surfing, scuba diving, and swimming. The South Island is a lot cooler and features glaciers, fjords, and mountains.


The South has a small-town feel and is still very much reliant on fishing in agriculture for its economy. The cost of living tends to be lower if you head south. The north is where you will find the cities and probably higher salaries. So, in terms of the overall cost of living, things tend to balance out.



Auckland is the largest city and is found on the north island towards the north. It's very warm and humid in the summer, thanks to the subtropical climate, and in the winter, it is mild but wet. It is also where accommodation costs are at the highest. However, it’s an economic hub, so if you have the skills, you can snap up a very competitive salary to balance things out.



 Staying in the north, Wellington is another popular expat destination. It is the capital of New Zealand, but based on population, it’s only the third-largest city in the country. Both Auckland and Christchurch are bigger. The climate is more stable; summers are quite warm, and winters remain mild. Housing prices are relatively high compared to other areas, and they do seem to be going up. You can enjoy either a bustling, vibrant city, lifestyle or a gentler pace if you step outside the city center.



The final choice for the north is Napier. It has a beachside location and a Mediterranean climate. In 1931, a very large earthquake havoc and destroyed most of the city. When it was rebuilt, the architecture was very 1930s, and now it looks like a film set. Napier is a name you may recognise in the wine trade, and it is famous for Pinot Grigio and Syrah. Being on the coast, beachside properties are going to be a lot more expensive than anywhere else in New Zealand.



 Most people do opt for North Ireland, but should you be looking for a home on the South Island then why not consider Queenstown? You will find it nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. This is a great base if you are the outdoors and adventurous type. In the southern Alps, you can enjoy skiing as well as bungee jumping and other outdoor resorts. The summers are very warm but, in the winter, you can expect snow because it is a mountainous region.


The cost of living is cheaper than in Auckland, especially for things like utilities, groceries, and eating out. However, housing is expensive, and you can expect to pay 20% more regardless of whether you are buying or renting your home. There are lots of employment opportunities in the area because it is a tourist spot.


Money, Money, Taxes and Money

 There are quite a lot of familiar things related to money in New Zealand. PAYE exists in just the same way as it does in the UK. You are taxed on your earnings, which are taken directly from your salary by your employer. So, for anyone moving there to work, this will seem a very familiar process. Again, like the UK, the rate of tax depends on how much you earn and varies from 10.5% to 33%.


GST, or the goods and service tax, works in a very similar way to VAT. It’s charged at a flat rate, which is currently 15%, and again, in the same way as we do here, they add it to goods and services when you purchase them.


The Takeaway


So many people are living the dream, which means emigrating to New Zealand, and it is certainly an interesting way of life. There are a lot of similarities to life in the UK, so it’s actually less of a shock to the system.


Driving on the left, PAYE on wages, and many other things are very familiar. In terms of cost, it is swings and roundabouts. You will save money on some things but lose out on others. If you are planning to emigrate to New Zealand, then why not contact us to discuss the international removal of all of your belongings? Here at Pinnacle Removals, we are experts in the industry and have many international removals under our belt.





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