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December 6, 2022

Moving to New Zealand: Tips for Migrants Choosing Where to Live

Start your move to NZ by knowing where to live and the places that support your job industry best. In this article, learn more about NZ’s cities and regions.
Moving to New Zealand: Tips for Migrants Choosing Where to Live

For many migrants, moving to New Zealand is the ultimate dream. It offers a beautiful, safe environment to work and live in. But first, finding the best place to live in NZ, with the right work opportunities, is essential. 

If you're curious about what part of New Zealand you could call home, keep reading for some information about suitable places for different interests and industries.

The Top-Rated Cities In New Zealand for Migrants

This guide will help you understand more about the many places in New Zealand and what they offer you as a migrant. Use this information to help you decide where you want to call home.

You can also learn more about things you can do in New Zealand to get the full NZ experience


The biggest city in New Zealand is Auckland, with 1.5 million people. The population is spread across Auckland, which is the area size of Los Angeles.

Now you may be wondering, what are the benefits of Auckland life?

  • Diversity of Culture. Auckland is the most diverse city in NZ and is considered the largest Polynesian city in the world.
  • Wide Range of Industries. Auckland has the highest big-city cost of living compared to other places. However, it has the most jobs in the broadest range of industries. Auckland typically has about three times as many jobs as Wellington and five times as many as Christchurch.
  • The Scenery. Auckland's warm, temperature climate is accompanied by gorgeous scenery and beaches. Aucklanders spend much time outdoors, with weekends spent at the beach, surfing, sailing and hiking.
  • Entertainment. Auckland has all the shopping, dining and entertainment of NZ combined in one city.
  • Public Transport. There are a few options for public transport in Auckland, with future improvements to be made. You can get an 'AT Hop card' for Auckland's buses, trains and ferries. The train runs between the city centre and eastern and southern Auckland, while the ferry network transports passengers between the CBD, Devonport, Hobsonville, Waiheke, and the Great Barrier.

Auckland has a high cost of living. This is evident with the high renting prices and real estate. However, migrants often find this balance by finding NZ jobs that pay well and quickly. You are also more likely to find a cultural group to support you in the transition to living in New Zealand, as Auckland has a higher percentage of immigrants.  


Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. It is situated on the North Island and is the third-largest city in New Zealand by population.

What is life like in Wellington?

  • Moderate Cost of Living. Wellington's prices are moderate compared to other NZ cities like Auckland.
  • Creative Industries. Wellington is famous for its creative scene, like the success of Wētā FX's film empire, which is also a crucial part of the city's active film and theatre scene.
  • Government Branches and Agencies. Close to 20% of Wellington's jobs are within government branches and agencies, with many accepting job applications from qualified migrants and sponsoring skilled workers from overseas.
  • The Social Scene. Downtown Wellington has a modern entertainment culture with bookstores and record stores, unique bars and dining, and NZ boutiques.

While Wellington is known as the windy city, it is perched on the hills around the Wellington Harbour, where the stunning scenic landscape compensates for the windiness. Wellington is not the largest metropolitan area, so it might not offer as many opportunities. However, many migrants consider it to be a 'cool' city (not just because of the wind), and it remains a desired destination for many overseas visitors and workers.


Christchurch is the largest city in NZ's South Island, centred around the scenic Hagley Park and the Avon River. 

Why should migrants consider moving to Christchurch?

  • Lower Cost of Living. Christchurch offers a much lower cost of living than most NZ cities, which is why it's so popular with migrants from the UK, Europe and Japan.
  • Industry Opportunities. Migrants often find work easily in specific industries within Christchurch, including software, medicine, and hospitality.
  • Housing. Christchurch has rebuilt itself better than ever following the 2011 earthquakes. Migrants and Kiwis choose Christchurch for its well-priced and well-built housing. 
  • Transport Options. Christchurch is desired for its 60km of cycleways, as many people cycle around as their primary form of transport.
  • Accessibility. Christchurch is close to the South Island's activities, like skiing, hiking and vineyard touring.

Christchurch might be known globally due to the 2011 earthquake. But this unfortunate event isn't the reality that the Christchurch population lives in. In fact, as the South Island's largest city, it has rebuilt itself and is stronger than before, with a focus on innovation. Migrants are drawn to Christchurch for its artwork, Port Hills views, and surf beaches.


Hamilton is just an hour south of Auckland, initially desired as a quiet regional centre with workers coming to the city for its many services.

What are the many benefits of living in Hamilton?

  • The Climate. Hamilton has a warm mild climate, which is showcased and made more aware by the popularity of its main attraction, the Hamilton Botanical Gardens. 
  • Innovative. Hamilton chose the "The City of the Future" motto in the 1990s, and today this ambitious motto is becoming real. Hamilton is on the rise as more migrants move there as houses and rent prices are 20% to 25% less than in Auckland.
  • Location. Not only is Hamilton only an hour outside Auckland and its international airport, but it's also a city with the opportunity for migrants to stay connected to the world while living affordably.
  • Intercity Transport. There are new rail services that now connect Hamilton with Auckland. In addition to the intercity transport, Hamilton is only a short hour and a half drive from Auckland International Airport.

Hamilton is situated on the mighty Waikato River and only continues to grow, with new opportunities popping up everywhere. While the city is a good hub for visiting places like Raglan or touring the Hobbiton movie set, this town is only becoming more popular. Many Auckland companies have relocated to Hamilton to lower their overheads, increasing opportunities for migrants to find work.


Dunedin is also one of the larger cities in New Zealand. Historically, it's the most European-style city in NZ, with its growth opportunities.

Why is Dunedin a good option for migrants?

  • Study Options. Dunedin is home to the University of Otago, which brings events, opportunities and lively students from around NZ and the world. The University of Otago is NZ's top university for educational performance and academic excellence.
  • Rewarding Lifestyle. Dunedin is populated with families and working professionals who enjoy the rewarding lifestyle that comes with the city, from scenery to affordability.
  • The Nature. Dunedin is perched on hills around a clear blue harbour, where the population enjoys four clear seasons every year. As part of the Otago region, it has various scenic experiences, like wildlife spotting.
  • Reasonable Prices. Dunedin ranks well with affordable living costs for Kiwis and migrants.

Dunedin is situated south of the South Island and is home to a population that enjoys the region and its lifestyle. While it may not offer as many growth opportunities as Auckland, it is well-loved and admired for the lifestyle, scenery and affordability of the city. 

Look for Employment in New Zealand by Region

New Zealand's population is centred around its cities, with a high rate of jobs and opportunities. However, looking for employment regionally in the smaller centres could open up more opportunities for migrants. 

Applying for roles in New Zealand region centres may mean less competition for the roles. However, this depends on the industry. For example, roles in medicine or teaching may allow a migrant a pathway to residency and help support the regional community. 

Agriculture, especially in these regional centres, forms a large, important sector for New Zealand. Skilled migrant worker roles are prioritised by Immigration NZ Green list to support this industry. 

New Zealand immigration can seem complicated. Reach out to NZ licensed immigration advisers and let them take care of the process for you. 

What is Life Like in the Regional Centres? 

Life in these regional areas is much quieter, focusing on the family and enjoying the outdoors. On the other hand, vast areas of the countryside may be supported by one central hub for food, facilities and community support. 

Not every regional centre has access to an airport, so the main form of transport is by car. 

As the New Zealand climate differs in the extreme from one end of the country to the other, It is wise to understand the region's climate before applying for the roles. 

How Migrants Who Are Moving to NZ Can Find Accommodation

If you're a migrant moving to NZ, there are various accommodation options available and amazing places to live. From renting your own house to flat-sharing, we discuss the available accommodation types and how to find your new property to call home.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation in New Zealand can come in many different forms at a wide price range, depending on location. We'll walk you through the different rental options and the average cost for different-sized rental properties.

However, it's important to note that we haven't provided details about purchasing property and other accommodation ownership options in New Zealand, as the eligibility to do varies. Typically only New Zealand Citizens, Resident Visa holders and a small group of other individuals can purchase Residential Property.


The average rental price of an apartment depends on the location of the apartment, the quality of the build, and the size of the property. On average, apartment rent ranges from $460 to $800 per week. 

  • One-bedroom apartment rents include the lower quartile at $460, median rent at $493, and higher quartile at $523.
  • Two-bedroom apartment rents include the lower quartile at $495, median rent at $550, and higher quartile at $593.
  • Three-bedroom apartment rents include the lower quartile at $590, median rent at $730, and higher quartile at $800.


The average rental price of a house depends on the location and the size. On average, house rent ranges from $520 to $1050 per week. 

  • Two-bedroom house rents include the lower quartile at $525, median rent at $560, and higher quartile at $590.
  • Three-bedroom house rents include the lower quartile at $676, median rent at $705, and higher quartile at $780.
  • Four-bedroom house rents include the lower quartile at $750, median rent at $820, and higher quartile at $878.
  • Five+-bedroom house rents include the lower quartile at $900, median rent at $950, and higher quartile at $1050.


Room renting is common practice in New Zealand, which refers to boarding, flatting and house sharing. It involves moving into a house or apartment you share with other people. If you are moving into a rental with other people, but somebody else holds the rental contract (also known as the tenancy agreement), you are classified as flatmates. 

  • The average rental price of a room arrangement depends on the property's location and size. On average, room rent ranges from $220 to $440 per week. 
  • One-bedroom rental arrangement includes the lower quartile at $220, median rent at $320, and higher quartile at $440.

How to Find Accommodation

Finding accommodation in New Zealand doesn't have to be stressful. Reach out to our experienced immigration advisers for advice and resources, or keep reading to find out some good places to look for accommodation online.

Trade Me Property

As New Zealand's largest online auction website, Trade Me Property is the best place to start searching for accommodation. It has a great filtering system, meaning you can specify price range, property type, location and more to find the best accommodation.


Similar to Trade Me Property, Facebook's marketplace has its own category for rental listings. There is no additional cost for people to list their property for rent, so you may find more options here that may not have been listed elsewhere.

Real Estate Companies

Contacting various real estate agencies is also feasible if you would instead search for property more directly. Some well-known and established real estate agents include Crockers, Barfoot & Thompson, and Harcourts. Most real estate agents have their own websites that list available rentals.

Start Your Move to New Zealand

Here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration, we understand that moving to a new country can be challenging. We are here to help, whether you need reliable NZ housing information, NZ work visa assistance or advice about your move to the country under your new Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Get in touch with our knowledgeable immigration advisers in NZ today for assistance.

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