New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand?

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Moving to New Zealand

Thousands of people from around the world head out to New Zealand every year in order to live and work there, making the country a popular expat destination. This InterNations guide offers advice on moving to New Zealand, including information on the economy, visa regulations, and more.
Rare animal species like the kiwi can be found all over New Zealand.

At a Glance:

  • New Zealand was among the best performing industrialized economies in 2016, but also one of the most expensive countries as a result of their reliance on international trade.
  • The country’s bigger cities are most popular with expats, especially Auckland, Christchurch, and the capital Wellington.
  • Finding a job as an expat in New Zealand can be quite challenging, but if your field of expertise is on the government’s skills shortage list you’ll be in high demand.
  • Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to travel to New Zealand as a temporary visitor without a visa for up to 3 months. Taking up any kind of employment, however, requires a work permit.
  • If you are a highly skilled worker, you could be granted permission to settle as a permanent resident. The three requirements are good health, good character, and good English language skills.

New Zealand remains a popular destination for potential expatriates, and many of those considering a move to New Zealand are attracted by the country’s high quality of living, welcoming attitude towards foreigners, and spectacular scenery.


New Zealand has long been popular among those who appreciate the great outdoors. The diverse natural attractions range from beautiful coasts and beaches, to vast forests, deep blue lakes, active volcanoes, and majestic glaciers. Enjoying nature’s beauty will be part of your everyday life in New Zealand. But rest assured: If you are not a fan of bungee jumping, hiking, or paragliding, there will still be plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself after moving there.

Thriving on Tourism and International Trade

The strongest sectors in New Zealand are agriculture, food and beverages, health, and knowledge-intensive services. There are great job opportunities for expats moving to New Zealand, especially for those with strong professional skills in these fields. In addition, tourism plays a vital role in New Zealand’s economy and positively affects other sectors, for example hospitality. The manufacturing and high-tech sectors, on the other hand, are relatively small.

Even though exporting agricultural products and tourism are very profitable, they make the country highly dependent on international trade. China for example, is the top export customer for New Zealand, primarily importing dairy and wood products. Fluctuations in the Chinese economy therefore have a big impact on New Zealand, though China’s growth rate is set to continue its recovery in 2017.

Finding Your Dream Job in New Zealand

Finding a job is not particularly easy in New Zealand, especially for foreign workers. Nevertheless, for those who not only have the required skills but also the right amount of determination, finding employment in New Zealand is still an attainable goal.

The number of people in the labor force has grown over the last couple of years, and this has had a positive benefit on New Zealand’s’ economy. The unemployment rate has been stable and is currently at 5.2%. According to the International Monetary Fund, New Zealand ranks 35th worldwide in terms of GDP per capita. Most of the population have a moderate income and expat salaries might be lower than you expect. On the other hand, the cost of living is also likely to be lower than your home country.

Expat Destinations: From Countryside to City

Unless expats are moving to New Zealand specifically to enjoy the solitude of the country’s wilderness, like 90% of the country’s population they will most likely end up living in one of the bigger cities.

The majority of expatriates moving to New Zealand make Auckland or Wellington their home — two of the country’s largest cities, which are both continually ranked among the world’s most livable cities in international surveys. In 2016, Auckland was voted the 3rd most livable city according to the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, taking into consideration factors such as safety, education, hygiene, healthcare, and the environment.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Serhat Ahmed

"With all of the information that InterNations provided on Wellington, it made my move from Turkey easier than I could have imagined."

Melanie Rasbery

"Since I knew about the active expat network in New Zealand, InterNations made moving to Wellington more exciting than it had seemed before."

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