Kia ora Haere Mai Aotearoa! That means “Hello and welcome to New Zealand” in Maori. Many people plan on moving to New Zealand for a year, on a working holiday visa, or for a longer period of time. You may be one of them. So, many of you are asking me for advice on how to prepare for a successful move to the land of the kiwis. Living in New Zealand for the last 2 years, I give you my tips in order to live and settle in New Zealand with peace of mind.
Regarding the steps to prepare your WHV BEFORE departure, the complete guide is available just here. However, there are also a few things to do when you arrive in order to settle down and find a job easily.
If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand for a year or more, then read this blog! Here, you will find details about the first 4 essential steps to make your expatriation a success, as well as good general information to know about everyday life in New Zealand.
Why should you moving to New Zealand?
As I said earlier, many people want to move to New Zealand. But then where does this buzz around this country, also called “The land of the long white cloud” from its Maori name, Aotearoa, come from?
Before explaining to you the 4 essential steps to take on arrival, let’s see what New Zealand has to offer and why choose to live there?
A desire for a change
New Zealand may be on the other side of the world, but every year it is a popular destination for travellers who wish to live abroad for a year or more. Indeed, many feel the need to escape from the daily routine and what better way to do this than to exile to the other side of the globe.
After spending most of your life in the same place, having taken the same path a billion times to do a job you may not like anymore. Nothing could be more normal than having the urge to go and see if the grass is greener elsewhere. And to finally leave to explore the world.
And that little island at the bottom right on the world map (sometimes even forgotten on some maps. Yes yes it happens more often than you think and kiwis are not happy about it ahah) has nothing to envy to the others, on the contrary! New Zealand is one of the best countries to live in according to the World Happiness Report. This year, it is in the Top 10, in 8th position for its quality of life and the well-being of its inhabitants.
The quality of life in New Zealand really is excellent compared to many other countries.
In the heart of breathtaking landscapes
A change of scenery is good, but surrounded by landscapes, each one more grandiose than the other, it’s better!
If you are a lover of the great outdoors and lush nature, you will be in heaven here. From attractive native forests to surf beaches to glaciers, fjords and snow-capped volcanoes, New Zealand’s natural environment is one of the most unique and special in the world.
And this is also true in the cities. Indeed, NZ’s main cities are very green. Auckland, for example, has more than 50 volcanoes in the city and many parks. Hiking trails are also accessible directly from the heart of the city. The advantage of the ‘big’ cities in New Zealand is that they are on human scale. Perfect if, like me, you are not a city person.
And gain new professional experiences
If you want to improve your English, there’s nothing better than working in an English-speaking country! Especially as this will surely be a great added-value on your CV once you return home.
But you’re going to say to me: why go to the other side of the world to gain new professional experience? Well, because working in New Zealand is not like working in Europe or anywhere else.
Every country has its own work culture and New Zealand is no exception. As well as having a very favourable economic situation, New Zealand offers an opportunity for everyone. If you want to try out a new sector and don’t have any studies related to it, that’s fine. Here, experience and motivation come first.
And the big plus: no more stress! In general, kiwis are very relaxed, and you can feel that in the workplace too. New Zealand has a friendly atmosphere, an easy going way of life and great work life balance.
Now, I can imagine that this little piece of information made you want to jump on the first plane to NZ, but first of all you need a visa!
Obtain your WHV Visa to move to New Zealand
In order to live and settle in New Zealand, you will need a visa. Many people choose, as a first visa, the Working Holiday Visa Programme which allows you to live in New Zealand for a year to 23 months (depend of your nationality). This visa is a good way to see if you like the country, work and travel and then you can make the decision to stay on the long term.
To be able to apply for a WHV, you must meet certain conditions which I have listed below:
- be between 18 and 30 years old
- have a travel insurance
- have a minimum funds to live in New Zealand
- Not having dependent children
- Be outside NZ when applying for a visa
I wrote a complete and detailed blog post dedicated to the preparation of the WHV. You can find it here.
Don’t worry if you do not meet the criteria for the WHV (over 30 years old, family, etc.). Other work visas are also available. However, for most of them, you will need to have a job offer in order to apply for a visa. This type of visa also requires a little more preparation and asking help of an immigration officer can be an advantage. Laws and eligibility requirements change quite often. For more information, visit the NZ Immigration website.
The 4 essentials steps to succeed your arrival
Once arrived in New Zealand, the first thing (or maybe the second, right after sleeping because a journey of 24hrs is quite tiring) we all think about is to enjoy this beautiful country!
But, before you can fully enjoy all that New Zealand has to offer, you will have to go through 4 small steps that are essentials to get the adventure off to a good start.
I promise, these 4 steps are easy as and it will only take you a few days to a week to complete them. That’s why it is important to arrive in a city so that you can complete these steps quickly.
New Zealand administration is rather fast, efficient and very simple compared to Europe. This is great because in less than 2 weeks, you can already be completely settled with an accommodation and a job, only if you follow these 4 steps:
- Choosing your accommodation
- Get a local phone number
- Open a bank account
- Apply for your IRD number
I recommend that you do these steps in this order because certain documents, such as a certificate of residence or phone number, will be required to open a bank account or apply for the IRD number.
1- Find somewhere to live
The choice of accommodation for the first few days depends very much on each individual. There are many options available in New Zealand:
– Youth Hostels
Many will quickly head for youth hostels, also known as backpack. This is one of the cheapest solutions in a city and a good way to meet people from the early days.
If you are arriving in Auckland, it is essential to book your first nights well in advance as hostels can quickly fill up in high season. This will also allow you to know where you need to go once you get there. No stress!
Airbnb is another solution you can adopt and it works relatively well in New Zealand. There is lots of choice but it will be more expensive. It’s a good option for couples who don’t want to share a room with 4, 6 or even 12 people in a hostel room.
– Living in an Kiwi family with HelpX – Wwoofing
Little known in Europe, HelpX / Wwoofing is widespread in New Zealand, as well as in Australia. And it is a great way if you want to immerse yourself in NZ culture straight away. It allows you to live with a kiwi family free of charge in exchange for a few hours of work per day (4-5 hours). These few hours of work are usually simple tasks such as doing chores around the house, childcare or gardening.
Another FREE way for a stay (from a few days to several months), and still very little known: housesitting!
I had the opportunity to do it twice in New Zealand during my first weeks and I can only recommend it. The principle is simple. You keep the house (and often one or more pets) while the owners are on holiday and on the other hand, you can live there for free. Usually, there are animals to look after so I only recommend it for animal lovers 😉
Do you need an accommodation for a longer period without breaking the bank?
For those who like to feel a bit more settled, renting is a great option, especially if you’re planning on being in one spot for a while.
Sharehouse is very well known in New Zealand. It is a good way to live in a beautiful house or flat that you couldn’t offered on your own. Indeed, if you want to live in the city, the rents are rather expensive, so the sharehouse is the most profitable solution.
You can easily find housemates on the Facebook marketplace, FB groups or on the local listing TradeMe.
2- Get a local phone number
Your current mobile operator might offer you a one-year international package at no extra cost and you are wondering if it is worth having a local number, right? Well, having an NZ number will become a must once you get there. Can you see yourself living in your home country without a phone number? No! The same applies here.
For example, many employers will call you directly once you’ve applied, to have a first chat about what you are looking for. If you don’t have a local number where you can be reached, they will probably call someone else. So put all the chances on your side from day one.
So, you will need a New Zealand number if you want to find a job, but also to build a network of friends, make activity bookings, etc.
In New Zealand, there are many mobile providers from the very cheap price to unlimited data etc. You are spoilt with choices. However, I will mention the top 3 most used ones:
Providers offer monthly plan or prepaid offers according to your own needs. Packages start at NZD $19, or €11, with a minimum of data included (1.25Gb/month).
Please note that the mobile network in New Zealand is NOT available everywhere. This may shock some of you. Indeed, we are on an island and although New Zealand is not that big, it turns out that the coverage is not highly developed yet. The same goes for Wi-Fi, but this is in progress.
Some operators cover more areas/regions than others. 2degrees would apparently have the best mobile coverage on the both islands, so it would be the most attractive operator if you want to travel everywhere. This operator also offers packages “to share” if you travel with friends, and therefore help to reduce the bill per month/per person.
I personally chose 2degrees and I am quite satisfied after 2 years with them. I use a lot of data (Thanks social networks Ahah) so I am sometimes out of data at the end of the month. But, generally speaking, for an average user, it should be enough. And do not forget to use Wi-Fi as more as possible as well as off-network applications like MapsMe on your road trip. Mobile coverage map available here.
Once you have chosen your operator, nothing could be simpler. All you have to do is going to a store with your passport and explain which package you want. Usually they activate it directly on your phone if you ask them.
You have your local phone number. Congrats! Now, are ready to open your first bank account in New Zealand?
3- Open a bank account
This step is always the one we ask ourself lots of questions. Which bank to choose? What type of account to open? Do I need a savings account? Which payment card? etc.
It can also be scary because some of you may not even have opened your own account in your home country, if this one was opened by your parents when you were little. But don’t worry, as I said earlier, administration in NZ is pretty straightforward like just about everything and everyone here.
To start with, for those who may wonder whether it is necessary to open a bank account in NZ only for 1 year. Well the answer is: YES. At least to receive your wage. Indeed, many of you will decide to work during your stay, either to finance your travel or to gain work experience. So you will need a local bank account so that your employer can pay you. It is not legal to have your salary paid into a foreign account, and not a lot of employers will agreed to pay in cash. Having a New Zealand bank account is a must.
Also, for everyday purchases like grocery, it will be easier to have a local payment card to avoid bank fees. Unless you get on very well with your banking consultant back at home, I would be very surprised if you don’t have any international fees abroad if you use your current payment card.
Now that you have understood the need to have a local bank account, which bank should you go for?
Once again, there is lots of choice: ANZ, Westpac, BNZ, KiwiBank or ASB. They are all more or less the same, the account fees will be relatively similar.
You can actually open a New Zealand bank account before you arrive in the country. That’s amazing! Because it will save you a lot of time once you get there. Every bank offers an online account opening form to register. This also means that you will be able to transfer money to your NZ account before you get there and therefore have funds available immediately upon arrival.
To fill the online form, you will be asked:
- local Tax Number
- passport number
- date of arrival
Once you arrive in New Zealand, you will just have to confirm your account by going to one of the branches of the chosen bank. You will be asked for these documents for confirmation:
- your passport
- A certificate of residence in NZ
I highly recommend the ANZ bank for the ease of opening and for the proof of residence requested. Indeed, the most complicated document to get when you arrive is this certificate. Some banks can be a bit picky but basically a document from your accommodation stating that you are staying there should suffice. Most backpacker hostels will provide it without any problem.
4- Apply for your IRD number to start working
If you’re planning on working in New Zealand, you will need an IRD, Inland Revenue Department Number (similar to a SSN in the USA or NIN in the UK). This number will be your New Zealand tax number and is therefore very important if you do not wish to be taxed at 45%. So don’t forget to apply as soon as possible to get it for your first job.
You can apply online via the official website https://myir.ird.govt.nz/eservices/home/_/#1. You will need to create a MyIR profile in order to apply. In order to make this request, you will be asked to fill in your bank account, your telephone number and a physical address (to receive mail with the number), hence the importance of carrying out these steps beforehand. The procedure can take up to 15 working days to receive your number by post. However, if you need it quickly, it is quite possible to call them (after having made the request online) to give it to you by phone. You will be asked to provide certain information to identify you, so please keep it on hand.
Your MyIR profile will also allow you to manage your taxes at the end of the taxable year (after March). You will only need to make your tax back request the first year and then it will be done automatically.
Some small information about the tax rate in New Zealand:
|10.05%||up to NZD $14,000|
|17.5%||between NZD $14,001 to $48,000|
|30%||between NZD $48,001 to $70,000|
|33%||above NZD $70,000|
Moving to New Zealand
There you have it! If you follow these tips, you’ll be ready to move and live in New Zealand with peace of mind. Congratulations and enjoy your year in one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
To sum up, I hope this guide has helped you and feel free to ask me any questions you may have in the comment below. I would be delighted to help you prepare for your future departure.
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