Moving to New Zealand
Comprehensive Guide on How to Move to New Zealand from the US

If you’ve set your sights on moving to New Zealand, then you’ve come to the right place. Because moving to the Land of the Long White Cloud will require you to perform some serious research, we compiled everything you need to know about a move to New Zealand below. Read on to start your adventure! 😉

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Moving to New Zealand: How Much Does It Cost?

First things first –how much does it cost to move to New Zealand? We all know moving to New Zealand is going to cost a pretty penny, but what exactly are you getting into? On average, the cost of moving to New Zealand is between $15,000 – $20,000.

However, there are many factors that inflate or deflate the costs of moving to New Zealand, but two factors have the most influence: the size of your move and the distance of your move. That makes sense, right?

Sirelo Tip! Unsure how to calculate the size of your move? Our trusty moving space calculator is here to help.

Once you’ve got an approximate idea of your moving volume, check out these typical price ranges for moving to New Zealand depending on your starting location.

Moving to New Zealand from the East Coast

To give you an idea of what you can expect, below you can find the average cost of moving different household sizes to New Zealand via sea-freight from the East Coast of the United States.

Property SizeTimeCosts
1-bedroom8 – 11 weeks$3,400 – $4,700
2-bedrooms6 – 8 weeks$4,600 – $6,200
3-bedrooms6 – 8 weeks$8,100 – $10,900
4-bedrooms6 – 8 weeks$8,600 – $11,500

Please keep in mind that the rates shown above are just estimates and thus will vary depending on your actual point of departure.

Moving to New Zealand from the West Coast

Likewise, the table below shows you the average cost of moving different household sizes to New Zealand via sea-freight from the West Coast of the United States.

Property SizeTimeCosts
1-bedroom7 – 10 weeks$3,100 – $4,300
2-bedrooms5 – 7 weeks$4,100 – $5,700
3-bedrooms5 – 7 weeks$7,200 – $9,800
4-bedrooms5 – 7 weeks$7,700 – $10,400

Please keep in mind that the rates shown above are just estimates and thus will vary depending on your actual point of departure.

Finding the Best Moving Companies to New Zealand

You might have guessed already that determining the costs of moving to New Zealand can be a bit of a guessing game. Because your particular moving situation is wrought with its particularities, you’ll never truly know what to expect until you receive a quote from a mover.

With moving to New Zealand costing a small fortune, you might want to shop around! Comparing moving quotes will help you get the best price, and by completing the form below we’ll make sure you’ll receive up to five quotes for free (no strings attached!).

Moving to New Zealand?
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Moving to New Zealand from the US: Checklist

How hard is it to move to New Zealand? Sometimes the hardest part is just remembering all the little details. Even though we know you’re more than up to the task, we’ve put together a quick guide to moving to New Zealand to give your memory a helping hand. Take a peak before we deep-dive below:

Checklist highlighting the main points of moving to New Zealand

Sirelo Tip!: Need a handy and comprehensive checklist? We got you! Our moving abroad checklist covers every little detail you might need to remember.

Securing a Visa

You might be asking yourself, how can I move to New Zealand? If you plan on making the Land of the Long White Cloud your forever home, you’ll need to sort out this pesky thing called a visa. Depending on your reason for moving to New Zealand, you can apply for a range of visa options.

The required documents you’ll need to apply for a visa in New Zealand include:

Work Permit

There is a range of different work visas for Americans moving to New Zealand, all of which are temporary but could ultimately lead to permanent residency. See these three different options:

  • Essential Skills Visa: No country has everyone they need, and some skills are in short supply. To fill the gaps, New Zealand allows skilled individuals to apply for a work visa of up to five years.
  • Work to Residence – Long-term Skill Shortage: For persisting skills gaps and longer-term job opportunities. However, conditions apply (like age, health, and character).
  • Work to Residence – Accredited Employer: If you have a long-term job offer from an accredited employer, they can sponsor your visa. Score!

Visas to Invest

For the titans of industry among us, New Zealand offers a class of visas for those shaping society. Residence permits in this class include investor visas, entrepreneur visas, and global impact visas.

Family Visa

Your dependent children are eligible to join you in New Zealand. As well, your partners (how romantic!) can join you if you both meet certain requirements.

Be aware to beware! New Zealand visas are notoriously expensive to apply for. Your quick working holiday visa will only put you back $208 NZD. However, a skilled migrant visa like the Work to Residence costs $3,165 NZD!

Moving to New Zealand: Auckland Skyline

Arranging Healthcare

The philosophy of New Zealand’s healthcare system is that everyone should get a fair go at life. Given this humanitarian approach, New Zealanders (and some work visa-holders) benefit from the public healthcare system either for free or at a very low cost. To see if you’re eligible for this subsidized healthcare option, check out the requirements.

If you are more comfortable keeping your American insurance coverage after moving to New Zealand from the US, we recommend taking out international health insurance. You’ll be double-covered!

Banking & Finance

Now let’s turn to the more tedious side of moving to New Zealand. Opening a bank account is one of the most important things you can do before moving to New Zealand. How does it work? Start by sending an email application to your bank of choice containing the following documents:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of address (only New Zealand addresses!)
  • Copy of your visa
  • Your personal tax identification number

The sooner you get this done, the sooner you can start moving money to New Zealand!

Understanding Taxes in New Zealand

Taxes, taxes, taxes… everyone’s favorite topic. When it comes to taxes, we recommend that you check out the New Zealand Government’s website for further information about personal taxes, business taxes, and much more.

Sirelo Tip! To avoid any troubles back home, be extra careful when documenting your finances after moving to New Zealand from the US. Why? The US applies global taxation, so your New Zealand income and assets are subject to American taxes too!

Finding a Job in New Zealand

Based on government estimates, New Zealand’s economy will need 47,000 more workers annually. Now that’s what we call growth! Good news if work will be your main path for moving to New Zealand. Better news? Salaries average around 56,000 NZD. Cha-ching!

However, unless a career bump is bringing you to New Zealand, you’ll be less likely to rise up the ranks after arriving. Being an isolated country with a small population, we don’t typically associate this country with economic booms.

So even though NZ needs more workers, these tend to be on the more unskilled or very highly skilled ends of the spectrum (rough world for early career folks). Expect to find the most opportunity in the following sectors:

  • Business services
  • Construction and utilities
  • Health care and social assistance
  • Education

Planning on moving to New Zealand without a job? We understand the hassle of the hustle, so get a jumpstart with our recommended job-search platforms:

Sirelo Tip! We particularly recommend Work here for job seekers who have not yet moved to NZ.

Costs of Living in New Zealand

We’ve been talking a lot about how to move to New Zealand, but what about life after moving? Understanding the costs of living in New Zealand should very much factor into your planning.

Let’s just rip the Band-aid off. Currently, New Zealand ranks as the 20th most expensive country to live in. However, don’t let this ranking scare you! The United States ranks as 24th, so you won’t feel much of a change. Phew!

The average costs of living in New Zealand run between 3,000 – 4,000 NZD per month for a single person. A family of four spends on average between 6,000 – 8,000 NZD per month. Of course, certain areas are more expensive than others, so do your local research well ahead of time.

Housing

When it comes to housing, rental/purchase prices will largely depend on where you live. For example, Auckland and Wellington have the highest median home prices in New Zealand. Smaller cities and rural areas tend to be more affordable, but you won’t find the same career opportunities (just more sheep).

PropertyAverage Cost
One-bedroom apartment (Rent)1,560 NZD per month
Three-bedroom apartment (Rent)2,450 NZD per month
Three-bedroom house (Buy)500,000 – 700,000 NZD

Disclaimer: The above prices are mere averages. Actual costs will depend on your city of residence and property type. 

Food and Groceries

Is cooking as big a part of your passion as your budget? If you’re planning on pinching pennies, you’ll need to get creative when it comes to culinary variety. Besides local goods (meat and dairy in abundance!), everything else must be imported and is hence more expensive. Dang island-life!

Below we’ve compiled common grocery prices so you can start getting your budget in order:

ItemPrice
Carton of 12 large eggsNZ$7
1 qt. of milkNZ$2.15
16 0z. of cheeseNZ$6
1 lb. of chicken filetNZ$7
2 lb. of applesNZ$4.06
1 lb. of beef roundNZ$8.57
Loaf of fresh breadNZ$2.21
1 lb. of potatoesNZ$1.41
Bottle of wineNZ$15

If you’re a big fan of eating out, you’d probably be interested in knowing that dinner costs in New Zealand range from around NZ$98 to NZ$61. Usually, breakfast and lunch prices are a bit below dinner costs.

What’s It Like Living in New Zealand?

We might already have a strong image of what moving to New Zealand will be like nature, quaint accents, and sheep. But is that really living in New Zealand? Of course, every stereotype has a grain of truth, but the facts of everyday life are often different.

Kiwis are straightforward, down-to-earth folks. Some even say New Zealand has ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome,’ meaning the tallest poppies get cut down—so don’t act like you’re special! Therefore, despite its multiculturalism, New Zealand’s society often demands a kind of homogeneity of attitude.

To give you an idea of what life will really be like after moving to New Zealand from the US, check out these key statistics:

  • 86% of New Zealanders report High Overall Life Satisfaction
  • While ‘crime worry‘ is Low, ‘crime rates‘ are actually Moderate in certain categories
  • 3rd ranked globally on Social Purpose (New Zealanders have values and act on them!)
  • 87% of New Zealand’s population lives in cities

Americans Moving to New Zealand

Since living in New Zealand certainly looks really sweet, is it just as sweet for expats? Being a product of the British Commonwealth, Americans moving to New Zealand might not experience a strong culture shock. English is the official language, but it tends to be spoken more directly –so cut the small talk!

If you get homesick and want to swap stories with other Americans, connect with online expat groups. With only 16,000 Americans currently living in New Zealand, you might need to do some searching!

Pros and Cons of Living in New Zealand

Can we boil down to living in New Zealand to mere pros and cons? Not without leaving a lot out, but below we list the highlight points we think you should consider:

Pros:

  • Incredible nature with a landscape for every taste
  • Renowned work-life balance
  • Progressive & egalitarian culture
  • People are (really) friendly

Cons:

  • Geographically isolated
  • Quiet (perhaps too quiet) pace of life
  • Inflated housing market (even more than elsewhere, if you can believe it!)
  • Limited career opportunities

Things to do

New Zealand is famous for (among other things) a great work-life balance. This means you’ll have plenty of downtimes to enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes and cityscapes. Are you a swimmer? A surfer? A hiker? A photographer? Every passion will likely find a home when living in New Zealand!

So what can you get up to? Below we list a few entertainment activities (and their associated costs 😎).

PlanAverage Cost
Single ticket to the Auckland MuseumNZ$25
Two tickets to the moviesNZ$33
A cappuccino in a local caféNZ$5
Two tickets to the theaterNZ$216
Monthly gym membershipNZ$72

Did You Know…?

  • New Zealanders are commonly referred to as “Kiwis
  • There are roughly 43 million sheep in New Zealand (which comes down to 9 sheep per person)
  • All but one of the scenes of the Lord of the Rings movies were shot in New Zealand
  • New Zealand is the 3rd closest country to Antarctica

Moving to New Zealand: Auckland

Sirelo Makes Moving to New Zealand Easy!

We hope that by now you already feel like you’ve become a bit of a Kiwi yourself! 🥝 If you feel like you still need some extra help moving to New Zealand, we recommend that you check out the articles we have linked for you below. Good luck!