8 must-knows before you even THINK about moving to New Zealand

Read before you get on that plane!

old bungalow
It may look charming, but chances are it’ll freeze parts of your body that you didn’t even know existed.

The Land of the Long Dark Cloud

1. Colder Inside than Outside

New Zealand is a country abundant with low build-quality houses, with minimal or no insulation. Most houses also have issues with dampness. In the summer you can feel too hot, and in winter you’ll be chilled to the bone.

If at all possible, hold out for a modern, insulated house – unless of course it’s one of the leaky ones.

2. A garden shed masquerading as a family home

Turning up the heating might temporarily add a degree or two of warmth to the garden shed you now call home, but just wait till you get your first electricity bill. It’s then you’ll wish you’d paid attention to point 1.

If you’ve bought a garden shed masquerading as a family home, you can insulate it, double-glaze it and install central-heating to make it equivalent to a home in another developed country. It will cost plenty of money, but until you’ve lived (and frozen) in one of these old New Zealand houses, you can’t truly appreciate the value of these improvements.

If you’re renting a shed, you’ll either need to foot the huge fuel bills or, as Kiwis will say to you: “harden up and put on another jumper” (or a coat!). Buying and running a dehumidifier will most likely be the fastest, cheapest way to make your home a bit more comfortable.

3. Not for the Faint Hearted

New Zealand is geologically active, so you’re at risk from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast. More Kiwis live in south east Queensland than live in Dunedin!

4. Voting Against New Zealand – with their feet

Hundreds of thousands of people have moved from New Zealand to Australia. Since New Zealand’s population is less than 4.5 million, that’s a lot of people voting with their feet for Australia and against New Zealand. Every New Zealand citizen has the right to live and work in Australia.

The hordes fleeing the country induce regular outpourings of angst in the media. Short of Australia legislating against New Zealanders, or New Zealand introducing North Korean style legislation, New Zealanders will continue moving to Australia, where the mining boom has steadily pushed Australian wages to among the highest in the world.

5. Homesickness

The number one reason we’ve seen for non-Kiwis leaving New Zealand is homesickness, usually bound up with missing loved ones. If you have very close family or friends you will miss dreadfully when you move to New Zealand, do think carefully before moving because…

6. Price Gouging on Flights

New Zealand is a long way from anywhere else – obvious, you may think, but a lot of people forget about it until they actually get here, then they find it’s too expensive to visit family and friends back home every year. People from the UK and USA complain that it’s much cheaper to buy return flights into NZ than out of NZ – watch out for that if you’re making plans.

New Zealand sun - before/after
Be careful out there, or you too could suffer from microwaved skin.

7. Wrinkly New Zealand

New Zealand will make you wrinkly before your time. The summer sun is very strong – much stronger than people from Europe (including the Mediterranean) or North America are used to. Sun-screen is a must, or your skin will be damaged. You can see skin damage on a lot of born and bred New Zealanders, some of them not especially old. Sunglasses are also a must, because cataracts are a real risk too.

8. New Zealand will drain your bank account

The cost of living for all too many grocery and consumer items will be higher than you are used to. The huge economies of scale that are present in many countries are absent in New Zealand. Expect your shopping bill to be higher than it was and to have fewer choices in nearly every store than you’re used to. Furnishing and equipping a home will also be expensive.

A light in the darkness

Too negative for you?… there are other plenty of positive views too. Here’s one:

Vineyards in Marlborough, NZ
Vineyards in Marlborough, NZ

We have been here over eight years.

I love this country, because it’s beautiful, our lives are so completely different to what I had experienced in the UK, I am my own boss, we have children here now, I make my own award winning wine, my wife gets paid to work with horses (her absolute dream job), we often barter for produce, our kids go bare foot in school, I fish and dive, you can ski an hours drive away, you can have a whole beach to yourself, I get to have a BBQ on Christmas day, teenagers say good morning to me, business is done on a hand shake,… our small and modest home is the best I ever owned, I feel like a rich man in everything except money… Read More

9 thoughts on “8 must-knows before you even THINK about moving to New Zealand”

  1. If you move anywhere try to visit first!
    However I will say if you move to NZ pick the North island to live as more jobs and people are less conservative and pick South island for holidays.

  2. I lived in NZ for 20 years and came back to the UK 10 years ago. I’d love to go back but I simply can’t afford to now. The cost of housing is ridiculously high, especially in the main centres, as is the general cost of living. Sorry NZ, you’ve priced yourself out of the average persons reach.

  3. Wow! Thisnis a very negative generic type of article…although some truth i guess its painting a pretty bleak picture…may be helpful in toning diwn the hordes of people flocking too NZ every year to escape the rest of the world. I have been living in Australia (not the first time) from NZ and i have to say there are pros and cons to every place! Although the food etc is more expensive dictors and child care are so much cheaper (actually kindergarten is actually free) there are many badly built homes dating back that have not been insulated but as of this year the government (which is streams ahead of the Australian gov) has implemented all landlords to insulate their rentals or risk facing hefty fines. Yes NZ is isolated which is one of its charms..the climate is miderate making it very comfortable to live there (esp the North Island) not as drastic and harsh as the Australian climate..i think the sun is bad in Autralasia as a while and anyone silly enough to bake in it is going to come out wrinkly. I love Aus but find many similarties in terms of the lifestyle financialy..i guess it comes down to how much you earn (what industry) which part of NZ you choose to live. It is free of all poisonous creatures which may not bother some people but definatly is a consideration for me bringing children up being free to run in nature. I will absolutely return there one day..why wouldnt you..its paradise!!

    1. Well paradise , with gang shootings a scared police force after 15 years in Nz healthcare (a joke)paying taxes and being a good citizen with this in mind I’m leaving , because I simply can’t afford to retire or get sick here in my older years , cost of living and covid has smashed the country sorry I have enjoyed it and don’t want to go but Australia has offered more money better education and cheaper flights to uk

  4. I would rather live in Australia than new Zealand any day, you pay through high prices for most of the every day things you need.the wages you earn do not cover the cost of renting or the food and clothes you need ,most jobs you get are on minimum wage witch is $17.70 per hour before tax .tax is 17.5% then everything you buy you pay GST at 12.5%.So on $17.70 an hour for forty hours per week your $708 dollars before tax minus rent flat $300, house $500 food $150 petrol fill tank $80 less tax is $584 so you now have $124 left .To put clothes on your back ,so don’t expect a social life and I was born here in new Zealand..

    1. Despite travelling widely throughout the world, I would live no where else but Sleepy hollow New Zealand. We live close to a beach, park, native bush reserve, yet short walk to shops and cafes. The temperate climate is good all year round not too hot most of the time or cold. Schools are a short walk or drive from our location. I’m retired and fortunate to be able to live comfortably without having to work but give back by doing volunteer work. Our house is modern and well insulated. I got to this position through hard work and sacrifice earlier on in life and made my own luck. My neighbours are friendly and helpful. Yes. it’s paradise, but you have to earn it.

    1. Good luck to you I was very interested in New Zealand but I guess I will never make it. Sure was hoping to give it a try. Hope you are happy there!

      1. Why not just come for a holiday, Tom? Mind you, it’s very expensive to get here. Expensive to go from here to other parts of the world too. That’s one of the problems of being so isolated. I’ve been overseas only twice, both times to England. We got through an amazing amount of money each time despite friends and members of my husband’s family kindly giving us accommodation.

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