So my wife is trying to persuade me to move to New Zealand

New Zealand’s borders are currently closed to all except citizens, permanent residents and some special Visa holders. Immigration is usually on a points system with young, skilled and wealthy people heavily preferred. There are a few other paths- students and some types of agricultural labourers could get in relatively easily in the past but now things are pretty tight.

The Immigration New Zealand website is where you need to go to check.

I was born and grew up in New Zealand, lived there until I was 30, then moved to Australia. My family are still there. I am considering moving back, but the area I’m from, Dunedin, is not great on employment right now. There are better options in larger towns like Wellington and Auckland, though I personally wouldn’t recommend them either, as they’re a bit bland for my tastes. A lot of people love Wellington, but I am not one of them.

I’d go more rural if possible. A smaller North Island town like Hamilton or Palmerston Nth or Napier/Hastings maybe.

In any case, visit before making a decision, and then, as noted, look into the immigration obstacles, because NZ is right now a sought-after escape for a lot of people, and they will be policing the surge carefully.

Never been there, but chiming in to say I do know an American lady who is a long-term resident. Probably a citizen by now. She’s married to an Air New Zealand pilot, and they live on a ranch with their own horses somewhere near Auckland. Loves the place.

A good friend of mine lived there for several years. They came back only to be close to their relatives again.

This is by far the best bit of advise posted in the thread.
NZ is a pretty cool, and pretty, place but if you are planning more than a tourist visa, do your homework and check the red tape.

Definitely visit first. For a long time if you can.

I’m a Kiwi, raised in Dunedin as well (a grey dreary town that I, nevertheless, still enjoy visiting). I returned to NZ at the end of 2018 after a nearly 20 year stint in Australia and here are my impressions:

  1. It is more beautiful than I remember. I think I took the scenery for granted before I left.

  2. Do you like mountain biking or hiking? There is so much to explore here, we are truly spoiled. My partner and I have an ever growing bucket list of mountain biking expeditions and we just know we will never get to do even half of them. I suspect the same would be true if you liked walking, kayaking, climbing or any other outdoor activity.

  3. It is more run down and poorer than I expected / remembered. It hasn’t changed, it’s just that I had grown accustomed to a higher standard of living in Australia.

  4. Compared to Australia nearly everything is more expensive, alcohol is an exception, and electricity. Combine that with significantly lower salaries and you get the lower standard of living mentioned above.

  5. The healthcare is cheap, yes, but access is not as good as it could be. We have a weird (to me) system where you have to be registered with a certain GP in order to get your visits funded, and there may be a waiting list to get on a GP’s practice which means you may initially have to register with a geographically inconvenient GP until you can be registered with the one you want. There is often a week or so wait to get an appointment so going for a cold is a bit pointless as the symptoms have gone by the time you can see the doctor. That wouldn’t matter except sometimes your employer wants a sick certificate for a day off! Obviously that is a little different now and cold symptoms will get you attention much more quickly.

  6. An anecdote to demonstrate the positive side of the health system. My 3 year old came up in a spotty rash all over her body last week. The only doctor’s appointment we could get was for the following week. I rang the doctor’s practice and they put me through to a triage nurse who listened to my description and booked a visit for the following day. We were seen by the doctor, given a short list of pharmacy only steroids and anti-bacterial creams to use along with a prescription for antibiotics in case the ant-bacterial cream didn’t work. We then got the creams from the pharmacy. Total cost $0.00. Nothing at all. How much do I pay in health insurance? Nothing, I don’t have any, it is not necessary. My average spend on health care related items is $55 / month for a family of four.

  7. Income taxes are quite low. The highest marginal tax is 33% on income above $70,000. unfortunately this is offset by 15% sales tax (GST), import costs, and a lack of market size that leads to goods being very expensive.

  8. Houses are crap. Kiwis think it doesn’t really get cold or hot so they don’t bother insulating houses or installing decent heating and cooling systems. This is not so common with modern houses, but if you have an older house that hasn’t been retro fitted you can expect a lovely breeze to come through the gaps in the window frames. When it’s a little warm outside it’s fucking hot inside and vice versa. Through winter you can expect to be wiping the condensation off the windows each morning and cleaning mould of the frames.

  9. We (Kiwis) don’t like paying a professional to do a minor job so houses are filled with dodgy DIY work. The house we’ve just bought has all sorts of stuff that we just shake our heads at. If we fixed everything properly we would end up vastly over capitalising the property and so I do my own DIY fixes and the cycle continues.

  10. Houses are expensive! Our house in Australia cost around $330,000 to build. We have plans to build a similar sized house in New Zealand and are budgeting for around $1,000,000. Some of that is due to earth works, it will be built on the side of a steep hill, but even allowing for that the build is at least twice as much as the Australian house.

  11. It is remote and isolated here. Our nearest neighbour is a 4 hour flight on a jet. To get back to the UK it’s a day of travelling. Don’t expect to see your extended family much because it is too expensive and inconvenient to visit. You can’t just jump on a train and be in a different country immersed in a different culture.

  12. Taking all things into consideration, I love it here and never want to leave (unless there’s zombies or something), but it’s nothing like the “nice sized wealthy suburb of the US” as someone on this board described his impression of it (from news articles, he’s never visited.)

TLDR: It’s an awesome place but you should visit first. Expect to be paid a lot less and spend a lot more giving you a lot less disposable income. But you will never run out of things to do and places to see.

Thanks for the advice folks, lots of useful things to consider!

Lots of good and interesting advice here. New Zealand is a great country, we’ve travelled there a few times and love it. That said, our opinion is that we find it incredibly like Canada.

A close friend’s son and daughter-in-law (mid-20s) moved to New Zealand about 2 years ago for no specific reason other than they wanted to live and work somewhere new for a change.

I’m very close with the son and talk to them very frequently. I have a couple of bits of advice based on their experience that no one else seems to have touched on.

On a scale of difficult transitions, places like New Zealand, Australia, Canada etc. are on the extreme easy end of the scale. Everyone speaks English, and while the culture is not the same as the UK or America, the reality is there’s about 90% overlap so there’s no big culture shock. (As opposed to saying moving to Vietnam)

Definitely look into visas and working options. They’re “20 something free spirits” and have only been able to get low level/entry level jobs (I believe certain jobs don’t require special work visas) but if you’re hoping for any sort of a higher level job then the employer has to sponsor you. Like most countries that involves a lot of paperwork and isn’t easy for the employer, so it’s hard to do.

They’ve had no problem getting their temporary work visa extended, but the fact that they are having so much trouble finding a higher level (wage) job has really made them question their plan to stay long-term.

As others note, they found the cost of living to be very high. Their jobs are able to just cover their cost of living, but they’ve burned through all the savings they brought with them to survive between jobs plus do things like travel and see New Zealand.

This was an area that really surprised them, they’ve found it difficult to make friends. They attribute it to the fact that they’re living in a small apartment in a big city plus lot they’re pretty transient between jobs.

That said, they’ve made a massive effort to develop a social group. They made a deliberate effort to do a lot of recreational team sports (i.e. beach volleyball etc) that generally involve going to the pub afterwards. After about 18 months of deliberate effort they’re making some good friends. The point is if you’re social and like having friends you may need to make an effort.

New Zealand is a long long way away, making it both expensive and time consuming to visit. In spite of what your friends and family say to you, the reality is you will get virtually no one to come visit you. You need to be mentally prepared to say goodbye to your family and friends until you can afford to visit them. Last I spoke to them, they were privately telling me how disappointed they were that only one person has come to visit them in two years (in spite of promises by their parents, siblings, friends etc.)

Lastly, be aware that New Zealand itself is pretty isolated. Although there are tons of things to see and do there, doing anything off island is much more expensive. Australia is an expensive +3hr flight as are the islands in the South Pacific. Southeast Asia is both far, roughly 10 to 12 hours away and expensive. You’re not zipping off to Bali for the weekend. Bottom line: New Zealand is not a jumping off point to see to easily see Australasia and Polynesia.

Landed in Aukland for fuel once. Never left the plane, but the countryside looked lovely (it was November).

40 years ago, the neighbor of a co-worker decided leave the strife of world politics and move to a remote island. He chose The Falkland Islands.

Dunedin! I only know the name, because I was on a big Janet Frame kick recently. At the time, she was living there, it sounded quite staid and provincial.

Take it in stages. Try Old Zealand first.

It depends on her personal work preferences but she should be aware that she’s going to be suffering severely from “big fish in a small pond” syndrome. New Zealand has suffered for decades of structural brain drain as the most ambitious, most capable people immigrate to Australia or overseas so New Zealand business culture tends to be quite far behind and wary of improvement or overly aggressive competition. Lots of things that would be common sense business process improvements overseas will be viewed with extreme skepticism in New Zealand and your wife, being American, will also commonly face cultural hostility of being perceived as a brash outsider coming in to shake things up when things are just fine the way they are.

I think Americans in particular are not used to how the rest of the world doesn’t subscribe to the gogo business culture environment that Americans are used to and it can often be quite a hard cultural adjustment.

On top of that, I’d like to reiterate other people’s claims about the incredibly shoddy housing stock and the persistent feeling of you absolutely not getting your value for money on almost anything.

I don’t want to be too down on New Zealand, everything else people have said is also absolutely true, it’s a beautiful country with friendly, laid back people and a political system that is mostly sane and tolerant but just also be aware that NZ is one of the countries where I think there’s the biggest disparity between what it’s like to visit there as a tourist and the reality of living there day to day so often outsider’s glowing reviews of their three weeks spent in New Zealand end up being highly misleading. There’s a reason why so many New Zealanders end up leaving New Zealand despite its many advantages and if you feel like their reasons for leaving match up to things you care about, you should take a second look before thinking of moving there.

Curious. :thinking:

Good start

Very good start

(i.e. beach volleyball etc)

Beach volleyball? Really? Beach volleyball?
Right. Then after the game they go to swishy hotel beside the beach and drink Millers?
Do they think they have actually moved to Santa Monica and want to only talk with the other US ex pats?

Tell them they could consider getting out of their comfort zone and meet the locals
They don’t need to stand in the wind and sheeting rain in Eden Park with the rest of the fanatics watching the All Blacks in action … though that wouldn’t do any harm.

But if you want to get in with the kiwi sporting minded crew then a game the kiwis that’s a bit closer to their hearts. That’s rugby, netball, rugby, cricket and rugby. Don’t forget the rugby.

Show up to one of the local club games, might even be free entry. Sit beside a bloke wearing the home team’s colours and a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. He could be a banker, he could be a brickie. Introduce yourself. Say you are an an American, it’s your first game of rugby and could they explain what’s going on.

It’s odds on that you’ll freeze your nuts off. You’ll know a little about rugby and when you finally leave the pub about 6 hours later and fully fortified you’ll know a whole lot more about New Zealand.

If not rugby, then cricket or netball.
You’ll get much the same result including freezing your nuts off.

When I was young they used to talk of “the four main centres” which were Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin; Cities evenly distributed down the length of the country.

Then in the late 80s, Dunedin started to be forgotten. They reduced the phrase to “the three main centres”. By the 90s, shops started to close, and the rail service shut down. Unemployment skyrocketed. The University became its primary source of population, which emptied out over Christmas. What used to be a thriving port town with grey weather, now was becoming a ghost town, a shell of its former self. That’s why I left.

My Mother, brother*, and sisters still all live there, but when I visited last year they all warned me away from returning. There’s nothing there to come back to.

Christchurch has better prospects, and it was devastated by an earthquake. Wellington has better prospects, but that’s almost entirely down to Peter Jackson’s film studios, and he hasn’t had a hit film in over ten years. Auckland has better prospects, but it’s just a dull Sydney-wannabe.

If you want to experience the peace, beauty, and free spirit that New Zealand wants to promote itself as having, I still say stick to a smaller town, which will mean adapting to small town life, and getting used to the everpresent sheep.

*He died last year, but his widow and kids remain. Dunedin is their heritage.

Thanks for this update. Very sad. My condolences to you and your brother’s family.

Go for it. You can always come back.

I was once accepted for a good position in Wellengton, but I had already accepted an offer elsewhere. I’m glad I didn’t go, but only because things turned out well as they did.

Be sure your wife reallly wants the reality, and not just a passing fancy.

That would be the Netherlands.

I don’t consider myself a huge traveller, but I do enjoy seeing other countries/cultures. As such I have spent a couple of weeks in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Africa, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Greece, largely for holidays. I continue to maintain that of those, NZ is the only one I would consider permanently moving to. My (admittedly brief) impression is that it has a slightly better climate than the UK (I like our temperate variations but NZ is overall a bit warmer/sunnier - highly dependent on locale, I suppose). It has pretty much all the modcons we have but is generally less crowded and friendlier/safer. And beautiful scenery.

I’m not considering emigrating myself because despite all the political turmoil, I like living where I do and I am surrounded by family and friends. I don’t think I’d have a problem making new friends but I like my old ones too much to leave. And you can’t replace family, especially grandparents.

Just to add my 2 cents - I’m a Kiwi, born and raised in a small town in the Bay of Plenty. My wife and I moved to the UK with our kids and lived there for 12 years, and then moved back 7 years ago, and have lived in Auckland ever since.

I’ll echo the comment that NZ is a long way from anywhere - I’ve travelled for work a fair bit and taken my wife on some of those overseas trips, but we haven’t been back to the UK (in spite of all the ties we have there) - it’s too far and expensive. We knew that when we moved back - it was likely that we would only make one trip back to the UK while we were working when we moved back to NZ. If you have strong family ties, you need to factor that in. While living in the UK, we made 3 - 5 trips back to NZ for various reasons, mostly as a family. The cost balance is quite lopsided.

In terms of cost of living, we didn’t really find that too much of an issue. I got a really good job that values the work I do, so I am well paid, but we just adjusted the way we live to the cost of things we needed to buy and balanced it with our income. I think the lifestyle we live is much better than the one we had in the UK.

Housing is expensive, and if you want comfort, you will need to either buy a new property or renovate an older one. We spent about 10% of our properties value on heating, insulation and double-glazing. No regrets, though.

Absolutely right. I’m always somewhat bemused by folks who think “hey, I’ll just move to country X”, without stopping once to consider if country X will even let them in. It just seems like that (non-minor) step is simply assumed.