11 Things to Know Before Moving From US to New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its great climate, scenic beauty and high quality of life. Not to mention the famous work-life balance, making it very attractive for Americans who are looking to immigrate there. If you’re thinking of moving to New Zealand, you’re in the right place! Here are 11 things you need to know before moving from US to New Zealand. 

1. First Steps When Planning a Move to New Zealand

How to Immigrate to new Zealand from US

New Zealand is quite stringent on the number of immigrants it allows in the country each year. In most cases, immigration to New Zealand even requires being under the age of 55 and being a skilled worker. There are various visas allowing you to immigrate to New Zealand, the following are some of the most popular one’s. For more information on all the visas permitting immigration to New Zealand and to start your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section.

New Zealand Work Visa

In most cases, to work in New Zealand, you will need to have secured a job offer prior to your arrival. The country is currently prioritizing skilled workers, so check out the Work in NZ section to find out if your profession is in demand. 

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa for Youth

The Working Holiday Visa is a great option for young adults. This visa between US and New Zealand allows youth between the ages of 18 and 30 to work in New Zealand for up to 12 months. This initiative is a great way to spend time traveling in your youth, while also making money. For more information on the Working Holiday Visa and to begin your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section

New Zealand Student Visa

To get a New Zealand Student Visa, you must receive a letter of acceptance before your application. If you are under 18 years old (yes it is possible to get a student visa under 18) you will need a written letter from the person or institution that will be accommodating you. You will also have to give proof of sufficient funds and you may have to undergo some health tests. For more information on the Student Visa and to begin your application, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section

New Zealand Family Visa (Visa for Partners and Children)

If you have a partner you want to join in New Zealand, you will need to follow requirements like having a stable and real relationship, living with them, being in good health and having financial support from them. You can bring your children to New Zealand only if they are considered dependent. For more information on the Visa for Partners and Children, visit New Zealand’s Immigration section

2. What Should I Look for in an International Moving Company?

Shipping your things to New Zealand by plane will be faster but a lot costlier than by boat. Make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

3. Car Shipping to New Zealand

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Americans choose to leave their cars behind when moving to New Zealand due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to New Zealand, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

4. New Zealand Currency

New Zealand’s currency is called the New Zealand dollar (NZD). The NZD is also known as the ”kiwi”. Bills are issued in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 and coins are issued in 10c , 20c, 50c, $1, and $2. In case you were wondering,  the New Zealand dollar cannot be used in Australia. 

5. Language in New Zealand

What language is spoken in New Zealand?

The language that is the most spoken in New Zealand is English. While English is widely spoken, Māori is New Zealand’s second official language. Māori is only spoken by 3% of the population in New Zealand so you won’t have to learn it to move there.  

6. Healthcare in New Zealand

While healthcare is free in New Zealand, it is a hybrid system meaning that it is a mix between public and private. Only 20% of people use the private system and this is mainly for non-emergency procedures. You can access the free healthcare system in New Zealand only after you have become a Permanent Resident. If you are moving to New Zealand for work, you will most likely be eligible for free healthcare. If you are not eligible for free healthcare, see the section below on private health insurance.  

7. First Steps to Take When Arriving in New Zealand

Apply for a Kiwi Access Card

Application for a Kiwi Access Card is a must if you are moving to New Zealand as an adult. This card is evidence that you are 18 or older and can be used as a form of ID, which is useful when purchasing alcohol. To begin your application, download the Kiwi Access Card application form.

Get an IRD Number

The IRD Number keeps track of the tax you pay and helps make sure you pay the correct amount. This number is important to apply for as it will allow you to work and open a bank account. Begin your IRD application here

Get a driver's license

Within 12 months of your arrival in New Zealand, you will need to apply for a new driver’s license as your American one won’t be valid anymore. If you have an American driver’s license, you won’t have to do a theory or practical driving test. Simply fill this form and send it to the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. More information on converting your driver’s license can be found on the NZ Transport Agency’s website.

Set up a bank account

Opening a bank account in New Zealand is essential as it will allow you to get paid and keep your money in a safer place. With some banks like Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), you can even open a bank account before you arrive. Some of the main banks in New Zealand include ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank and Kiwibank

8. Housing and Renting in New Zealand

How to find a house or apartment in New Zealand

Houses for sale in New Zealand are sold at high prices as this country has become very desirable in recent years. You can begin your search for a house on websites like Realestate.co.nz and Harcourts. Apartments in NZ are called flats and are billed per week. Flats can be found on websites like Nzflatmates, Flatfinder, Realestate.co.nz and Roomgo

Energy in New Zealand

Electricity in New Zealand is mainly derived from renewable energy sources like hydro, geothermal and wind. Find your local electricity provider here. Water in New Zealand has strict safety standards and can be safely drunk from the tap. Find your local water provider hereGas is a lot less common in New Zealand as the country strives on renewable energy sources. In case you’re still interested in gas; find your local gas provider here.

Cell Phone and Internet in New Zealand

If you have an unlocked cell phone, it will be easy to simply insert a SIM card upon your arrival. If your phone is not unlocked, you may have to purchase a new phone on a contract. For around $48 USD per month you can get 5 GB of data, unlimited calling & texting and unlimited data at slow speeds after you have used up the 5 GB. The internet in New Zealand is widely accessible and prices are similar to the US. The internet in New Zealand is not known for the fastest speeds, but you can still rely on it. Some of the main cell phone and internet providers include Spark, 2Degrees and Vodafone

9. The Essential Insurance Coverage in New Zealand

Private health insurance in New Zealand 

You may not have access to New Zealand’s free health system as soon as you arrive which is why you should consider getting private health insurance beforehand. Even if you do have access to the public system, it is a good idea to get private health insurance to speed up wait times for non-emergency procedures. Some of the recommended private health insurer’s are Kiwicover, AA Insurance and Pacific Prime.

Home insurance in New Zealand - Beware of Earthquakes

New Zealand has thousands of earthquakes every year. To prevent spending large amounts of money on accidental damages from earthquakes, consider getting home insurance. AMI, Tower and AA Insurance are all reliable choices for home insurance in New Zealand. 

Car insurance in New Zealand 

Unlike many countries, it is not mandatory to purchase car insurance in New Zealand. However, it is recommended to get the minimum which is third party liability insurance. Some of the recommended car insurer’s in New Zealand are AMI, State and Protecta

10. Cost of living in New Zealand

Moving to Auckland in New Zealand is the choice of many Americans due to the high quality of life. The average cost of living in Auckland is $2700 USD per month.

Cost of living for a couple in Auckland, NZ per month

Expense

USD$

Rent for 1 bedroom apartment

$1500

Utilities (gas, water, electricity, cell phone, internet)

$258

Groceries

$475

Entertainment (eating out & leisure)

$240

Insurance 

$105

Other (material goods)

$120

11. Tips when doing Groceries in New Zealand

Groceries in New Zealand can be quite expensive because the country imports a lot of their food. Sticking to the main supermarket chains like New World, Countdown and Pak’nSave can help you save money on groceries. Pak’nSave is known to be the most affordable grocery store in New Zealand.

Most grocery stores are open 7 days a week like in the US. Single-use plastic bags are banned so make sure you bring a reusable one. Like in the US, corner stores sell milk at a better price than in grocery stores. 

What to Expect from your New Life in New Zealand

In New Zealand you will see picturesque sceneries and you’ll hear a lot about rugby. Don’t be surprised if you move there in July and the weather is chilly; the seasons are reversed due to their location in the southerner hemisphere. Expect to eat a lot of sea food and watch out for the earthquakes and volcanos!

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