Zealand is a popular long-haul emigration destination thanks to the
fantastic scenery, boundless space, low crime rate, English-speaking
people, value for money when buying with sterling and the outdoorsy
lifestyle. Despite being around 25 hours flying time from the UK, it’s
not surprising that over 200,000 Brits live there permanently with it
frequently being voted one of the best places to live in the world.
However, New Zealand hasn’t been without its problems. The country’s
economy has suffered from the credit crunch, rising food and fuel
prices, and a drought that cut production in agricultural industries. In
2009 your pound was worth three NZ dollars, and now it gets you two.
And then a massive earthquake all-but destroyed Christchurch and its
However, a survey of migrants to New Zealand found that after 18
months in the country, 91 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with
life there. Eight out of ten felt very safe. Nearly half were already
home owners. Three-quarters had found jobs, with an average hourly wage
of $20 (£9.15) per hour. Even better, of these, 82 per cent were
enjoying their job.
So where to start your hunt for a new home? Your budget will dictate
to an extent as the North Island, particularly around Auckland, is more
expensive than the South Island.
The average price if a property in New Zealand is NZ$350,000 (£171,000) –
much cheaper than Australia – and more or less on a par with the UK,
even after the exchange rate problems.
Property hotspots in New Zealand
If you want the buzz of an international city and good career prospects,
then Auckland on the North Island should be top of your list – about 70
per cent of all new migrants to New Zealand settle in the Auckland
region and it’s where the majority of international flights land. It’s
also where two thirds of the country’s top 200 companies and one third
of the nation’s workforce are based. Plus, nearly a quarter of the
world’s Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the region.
Elsewhere, the Taranaki region on the North Island has great prospects.
It’s one of the few places in the world where you can ski and surf on
the same day and it leads New Zealand in the oil and dairy sectors, with
great job opportunities across these and a wide range of supporting
Also on the North Island is Wellington, capital of New Zealand and an
art and culture hub. Indeed the Lonely Planet describe it as “the
coolest little capital in the world” and it came 11th in the last
Mercers Liveable Cities Index (though behind Aukland in 4th). Wellington
also has great beaches. Look at Porirua City, north of the city but
still central and just minutes from the beaches at Plimmerton.
Upper Hutt is a good (if pricey) option, but 30 minutes out of the city.
More centrally, Brooklyn is very near to town and beaches. Karori is
another nice area, cheap for rental but with difficult traffic in the
On the South Island, Christchurch, also known as the Garden City, should
feel more like home to Brits than just about anywhere in the world.
It’s weather mirrors London’s, nine out of ten residents have ethnic
European heritage, usually British, the names of streets and suburbs are
British, and some 1,500 new British immigrants arrive annually. Or
rather they did, until the massive February 2011 earthquake killed 186
people and wrecked the city and some satellite towns. It is still the
largest city on the south island (the more rural, wilder, cooler island)
the third most populous in New Zealand after Auckland and Wellington,
with a population of 350,000, eight per cent of New Zealand’s
population, but a problematic option for buyers right now.
Also on the South island, nestled away in the north-west corner is the
city of Nelson, situated in the region of the same name. As well as
being the sunniest region in New Zealand, the historic and cosmopolitan
city of Nelson’s is home to the highest proportion of residents from the
UK and Ireland, golden beaches and three stunning national parks.
There, NZ$300k-NZ$400k (£146k-£194k) buys you a detached three-bedroom
The process of buying a property in New Zealand
Buying a property in NZ is a lot like buying a house in the UK. You find
a home you like, put in an offer – once the mortgage is arranged and
searches and surveys carried out, you’ll pay a ten per cent deposit and
sign a contract.
However, completion usually takes place three weeks after signing the
contract – which is legally binding – and it’s unusual for there to be
You can apply for a mortgage before or after you emigrate to New
Zealand. Banks will look at three things: your income, your deposit and
your commitments. Having the paperwork that demonstrates those three
things makes the process easier. Bringing your old employment contract
from the UK to show that you have a similar income in a comparable
industry will help, as will statements from previous home loans to show
There is no stamp duty, inheritance tax of capital gains tax in New
Zealand but you will have to budget around £350 for solicitors fees,
£140 for a valuation fee, £150 for a building inspection report, £50 for
the Land Information Memorandum and a transfer fee of around £20.
The New Zealand government’s rigorous immigration process is considered
by many to be even harder than Australia’s, not least because their
application rules change on a weekly basis and they don’t allow British
people to retire there.But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a visa for New Zealand - far from
it. The New Zealand government is keen to recruit qualified, skilled
workers who will complement the economy. The immigration process works
on a points system with points awarded according to your profession,
experience, age and qualifications. You will need to lodge an
‘Expression of interest (EIO)’ to be considered. The main three routes
to getting a visa being through the ‘Skilled independent visa’,
‘Business visa’ or ‘Work to residence’ scheme and the process can take
up to nine months.