This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand then read this blog before you make the big move! Here, you will find a ton of useful information to help you get settled and set up as well as just good general information to know before you go such as slang words and what things cost!
Things You Need to Know Before Moving to New Zealand
A year ago I made the big move to New Zealand. Being from Canada, it was easy for me to get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. I thought that New Zealand wouldn’t be so different from Canada – boy, was I wrong.
Simple things like getting a bank account proved to be challenging. If I prepared better then my first few weeks after moving to New Zealand would’ve gone much smoother.
For that reason, I wrote this blog to help those planning on moving to New Zealand! I am going to tell you about everything I wish I would have known before moving to New Zealand. Things that you don’t even think about like getting a drivers license or unique things about the Kiwi culture.
Topics covered in this blog are:
- settling up a bank account
- transferring money to New Zealand
- getting a job
- finding somewhere to live
- how to get around/getting a car
- what things cost
- Kiwi culture and slang
Getting a Bank Account
You would think getting a bank account would be as easy as handing some money over to the bank, right? Wrong! In New Zealand, you need an address and “proof of address” to open a bank account with any bank.
The problem with this is that people need a bank account before they get a job, and you need a job before you can sign a lease for somewhere to live. It is all a bit backward if you ask me.
How to get “Proof of Address” to open a bank account in New Zealand
The first thing you need to do after moving to New Zealand is open a bank account is to choose a New Zealand address. This could be a friend’s house in New Zealand or even a hostel/hotel that you will initially stay at. The easiest way to prove your address is on another bank statement.
Change your address at your current bank in your home country to your new chosen New Zealand address and get a bank statement printed.
You can change the address back after if you want as the one bank statement with your new address on it is enough for “proof of address” to open a bank account. Once you do have a house in New Zealand you can call your New Zealand bank and change your address easily.
Choosing a bank
There are many different banks to choose from in New Zealand. I personally use TSB as they allow you to withdraw cash from any New Zealand ATM for free and don’t charge any fees. Their customer service is also extraordinary! But, they have very limited branches, especially in the South Island.
I have also heard that Kiwi BanK is good. The larger more popular banks include Westpac, ANZ, and ASB. Choose a bank to start with and you can always open an account with a different ban later on if you choose easily.
Transferring Money to New Zealand
Once you have a bank account open, use Tranferwise to send money over from your home country. DO NOT use your bank’s international transfer service. Banks charge way too much for international transfers and give you a terrible exchange rate at that!
By using this link you’ll get your first transfer for free using Transferwise and it will literally cost you nothing! Honestly, Transferwise is the best way to transfer money internationally, Dan and I use it all the time (even just for transfers between NZ and Australia as it works out much cheaper!)
Getting a Job
Getting an IRD Number
You should get an IRD number if you plan on working in New Zealand. Unfortunately, you cannot do this before moving to New Zealand and must be applied for once you arrive at the post office or online here.
The catch with getting an IRD number is that you need a bank account to apply. Once you have a bank account, apply for an IRD immediately. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get the IRD number sent to you once you apply.
You CAN technically work without an IRD number in New Zealand (although most businesses don’t know this) but you will get taxed at a way higher rate. Don’t do this, just get the number as soon as you can so you don’t lose a ton of money to tax.
Finding and Applying for Jobs
Alternatively, look on “Job” orientated Facebook groups in your local area as well as check the classifieds in the newspaper.
Recruitment agencies are very common in New Zealand. Recruitment Agencies are hired by a company to advertise, find, and hire a person to fill a vacant position. This means that if you apply for a job that is advertised by a recruitment company you will first meet the recruiter, then sign up to the agency (for free but it is time consuming) and then if you are successful you will then get an interview with the actual company.
Signing up to various recruitment companies is a good way to find a job as they will keep your profile on file and call you when something suitable comes up. The downside is they often offer less money than the company directly. Just be sure to negotiate the wage with recruitment companies as they always have more flexibility than they let on.
For jobs such as customer service, sales, retail, and hospitality consider printing out your CV (resume) and visit the business directly. These type of positions often accept walk-ins and you might even get an interview on the spot!
Finding Somewhere to Live
When you are moving to New Zealand you will need to find somewhere to live. Renting would be your best option to start off with (buying a house in New Zealand is very expensive as the real estate market is booming.)
Renting an entire house/apartment
In order to rent an entire place to yourself, you will need references (even international is fine), a job and a reference, as well as a bank account statement and pay slips. Most leases start at a 6-month minimum and require four weeks of rent as bond (damage deposit) and the first weeks rent in advance. These upfront costs are expensive and signing a lease is a big commitment for someone who just moved to New Zealand.
Most rental properties are unfurnished but sometimes you can find fully furnished places but they generally cost more.
To find rental properties you can search on real estate websites in your area. There are search engines such as RealEstate.co.nz where you can enter your budget and area and it will find properties available for you. Trade Me also has rental properties advertised.
Rental property prices for an entire unit vary depending on the city, area, the age of the unit, as well as the size.
Renting a room
When you first move to New Zealand consider just renting a room to start with as opposed to an entire unit. This is easier as you normally just rent on a week to week basis and the bond is cheaper. You will obviously have to live with other people but this is also good for getting to know the area, meeting new people and just generally getting settled in.
Expect to pay about $200-$350 NZD a week for a room to rent.
If you want to rent a room I suggest you join some Facebook groups. Most cities have various “rent a room” Facebook groups. People advertise in these groups when they have a room to offer for rent. Keep in mind that the price is always negotiable.
Be sure that even when you rent a room your bond (damage deposit) gets officially deposited with Tenancy Services. This ensures that whoever you are renting from cannot ever keep your bond without your signature and allows any disputes over damages go to the Tenancy Tribunal as opposed to having your money directly in the hands of your landlord.
When you move to New Zealand you will need to figure out how you plan on getting around. Public transport is the easiest first option but most people also drive in New Zealand.
Public transport isn’t the best in New Zealand, but it is safe and cheap! In cities like Auckland, they have an intricate bus system that can take you pretty much anywhere. Some other cities or small towns have limited public transport services. Regardless, after initially moving to New Zealand you will likely find yourself having to take public transport for a little while at least.
If you need to get around New Zealand in between cities there is the InterCity bus system. It is very affordable and the buses are comfortable and clean.
There are taxis in New Zealand but Uber is generally cheaper. That being said, if you are on a budget avoid Ubers or Taxis altogether and stick to public transport.
Hitchhiking (or catching a ride with a stranger from the side of the road) is common in New Zealand. It is much safer than in most countries but does come with some risks. Generally, hitchhiking by yourself or at night is riskier.
Hitchhiking is also more common (and safer) in certain places in New Zealand over others. In places like Queenstown and Wanaka, hitchhiking is so common that some people use it as their main method from getting to and from work every single day! You would not see this in somewhere like Auckland though.
If you have an overseas drivers license that is written in English, you can drive in New Zealand with this license for up to 1 year after you arrived. After that time you will need to get a New Zealand drivers license.
To get a New Zealand drivers license you just have to go to an authorized dealer and provide your overseas license. If your license (the actual card) is only a year or two old and has an issue date on it, you may need to provide a copy of your older drivers license to prove the amount of time you’ve been driving in order to get a full NZ driver license straight away.
What this means is, if you got your license 10 years ago but your license card is only a year old and doesn’t say the date when you originally passed your driving test they will assume you have only been driving from the date that particular card was issued.
This becomes an issue as to get a full New Zealand drivers license as you must have held a full license overseas for more than two years and be able to prove it. Most licenses don’t have the original issue date so if that’s the case get proof from your home country before arriving.
Buying a vehicle
If you want to buy a vehicle in New Zealand the best place to look (for a used car) is on Trade Me or Facebook Marketplace. In Auckland, there is also a car fair every weekend where people buy and sell vehicles. Be sure to negotiate on price and consider getting a pre-purchase inspection!
Our Guide to Buying a Campervan in New Zealand includes lots of general tips about what to check when buying any type of vehicle second hand.
What Things Cost in New Zealand
Before moving to New Zealand you should know the price of many everyday things. New Zealand isn’t the cheapest country to live in. Minimum wage is $17.70 (as of April 2019) and many people working retail, cashier, or hospitality jobs actually do make this. On this wage, normal day to day expenses can really make saving money a struggle.
Here is a list of the typical price of things in New Zealand (in NZD):
Fuel – Petrol $2.00 per liter, Diesel is $1.40 per liter
Room to rent – $150-$350 per week
Coffee at a café – $3.50-$6
Beer at a pub – $6-$12
A meal at a pub – $15-$25
Fast food meal – $10-15
Public transport per trip – $2-$5
Fruit and Veggies – they are seasonal. In summer, you can buy corn for as little as $0.50 each and avocados for $1. But in winter, expect to pay $5 for an avocado and corn is not available.
Car insurance – $25-$120 per month depending on the cover you choose and the car’s worth
A visit to the doctor – $70-$100
Cell phone plan – $20-$100 per month depending on the plan data inclusions
Gym membership – $20+ a week
The price of things in New Zealand can vary quite a lot depending on where you live and how much you shop around. If you want to find some deals on service like dental appoints or hair cuts, eating at restaurants and more check out these deal websites:
Kiwis ( the people, not the bird or the fruit) are some amazing people! Here are some cultural things to take note of before moving to New Zealand.
The Maori people are the indigenous people of New Zealand who settled from the Polynesian Islands. Today, the Maori people and culture are highly respected. In an effort to keep their culture strong, schools often teach Maori language and culture, there are various Maori cultural events and celebrations throughout New Zealand, certain land is protected by the Maori, and there are even Maori television and radio stations.
Today, most Maori people are integrated in day to day society, however, some very remote communities still exist, especially on isolated islands.
Even though the Maori are present in New Zealand, there is still a very westernized culture. Europeans began migrating to New Zealand in large numbers in 1855 bringing with them western norms and values.
The majority of the population in New Zealand is Christian. The largest number of people do not associate themselves with any religion. Other common religions in New Zealand are Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslim,
English is most commonly spoken in New Zealand followed by Te Reo Maori. Other languages you might hear around New Zealand are Somoan, Hindi, Chinese, and French.
New Zealand is a democracy with voter turnout generally above 80%. They are very progressive as the first country to allow women to vote and currently (2019) have a woman prime minister. New Zealand was also the first country to have an openly transgender mayor.
New Zealand English is very similar to Australian English but there are some key slang differences. Here are some slang words you should take note of before moving to New Zealand:
Bro – Brother or good friend
Choka – full or overflowing
Chur – Thank You
Cuppa – a cup of tea or coffee
Dairy – convenience or corner store
Dole – an unemployment benefit paid by the government
Feijoa – a small green fruit commonly eaten in New Zealand (they are really tasty!)
Hot chips – French fries
Ice block – popsicle/ice lolly
Long drop – pit toilet or outhouse
Mate – friend
Piss-up – a party
Pram – stroller
Ta – Thanks
Togs – swimsuit
Tramping – hiking
Ute – a small pickup truck
The Best Part!!!
You should be very excited about moving to New Zealand – it is just a beautiful country! There are so many places to explore and travel right in your own backyard!
While living in New Zealand you can take weekends to go skiing in places like Queenstown, go to some of the best beaches in the North Island, go explore top tourist attractions like glaciers and Milford Sound.
I hope this guide to moving to New Zealand has helped you, and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below!