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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.
December 6, 2022
|
5
 min read

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

Auckland

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

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

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

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

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 on the 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.

Apartment

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.

House

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

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.

Facebook

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.

Stay up to date with the latest NZ immigration news on our blog.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our team is on standby, ready to help.

Get started with a FREE consultation today

Our highly experienced licensed Immigration team will take away the stress and worry of navigating the complicated world of New Zealand Immigration. All you need to do is get in touch. Our employer team is on standby, ready to help.

Latest Updates

Our team keep ahead of all the latest immigration developments and post updates regularly. Stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter and get these updates directly to your inbox.

Our team keep ahead of all the latest employment and immigration law developments and post updates regularly. Stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter and get these updates directly to your inbox.

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Update

Migrant Worker Residence

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrants Opportunity

Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.

January 9, 2023
Update

New Employer Accreditation Process

The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 19 July 2021

  • The median wage used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications increases from $25.50 per hour to $27 per hour.
  • Applicants paid below the median wage may be granted a work visa for up to 24 months. The usual 6-month visa validity restriction is suspended until mid-2022.
  • In certain cases, the labour market test is waived and in some cases, it will still apply.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 30 June 2021

  • Employer Accreditation and Approval in Principle applications are now closed.
  • No new Employer Accreditation applications (including renewals) will be accepted until the new process goes live in mid-2022.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Employer Accreditation Becomes Mandatory

Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From mid-2020 (delayed)

  • Government to negotiate and introduce Industry Sector agreements setting minimum conditions for industries that heavily rely on overseas workers. Sectors include; residential care, meat processing, dairy, forestry, road freight transport, tourism, and hospitality. Construction, horticulture, and viticulture may also be included.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 15 February 2021

  • Dairy Cattle Farmer job offers are now assessed by three new occupation descriptions: Dairy Farm Manager, Assistant Dairy Farm Manager and Dairy Herd Manager. Pay rates and job tasks will determine how long a work visa is valid. Take advice.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2020

  • Introduction of "Oversupply" and "Undersupply" occupation lists used to assess Essential Skills Work Visa applications when a job offer pays less than the median wage.
  • Employers offering jobs to migrant workers where an occupation is on the "Oversupply" list will not get Skill Match reports issued by Work & Income. Solid evidence of genuine attempts to find a local to fill the job will be critical for approval.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:

Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 July 2020

  • Essential Skills work visa applications are now assessed based on the current median wage (NZD $25.50 or more per hour.).
  • Job offers paying below the median wage require employers to pass the labour market test* and secure a Skills Match Reports from WINZ (work visas granted for a maximum of 6 months).

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 27 May 2020​

  • Regional Skill Shortage List goes live. 15 regions around New Zealand list occupations reflecting local skill shortages in each region. The labour market test is not mandatory provided the job offer matches the occupation and region plus the visa applicant has qualifications and/or work experience set out on the list.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:

  • Has employment paying double the median wage which is currently NZD $51 per hour OR NZD $106,800 per annum; OR Has New Zealand occupational registration and is required to hold valid registration to lawfully carry out their job.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 24 February 2020

  • Wage or salary thresholds increase for Essential Skills Work Visas applications lodged on or after 24/02/2020 (labour market tested; read more here).
  • Higher Skilled employment increases to $38.25 or more per hour ($79,560 per annum*)
  • Mid Skilled Employment increases to $21.68 or more per hour ($45,094 per annum*)

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 7 October 2019

  • Base salary to qualify for a Work to Residence Visa (WTR) supported by an accredited employer increases from $55,000 per annum to $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour).
  • Pay rates for WTR visas are now reviewed annually.
  • Work visa applicants paid less than $79,560 per annum by accredited employers need to apply under other work visa categories.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Skilled Migrant Changes

The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Rules

From 1 November 2021

  • Work to Residence Visa (Accredited Employer and Long Term Skill Shortage) applications close.
  • Applications lodged on or before 31 October 2021 will be processed under current visa settings.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Mandatory Vaccination Required for Travel

From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.

January 9, 2023
Update

Employer Accreditation

Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:

  • Had lodged a residence application under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) or Residence from Work category; OR Had lodged an SMC Expression of Interest (EOI) in the SMC pool that included at least one dependent child aged 17 or above.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:

  1. Settled.
  2. Skilled.
  3. Scarce.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:

  • Workers in NZ who held an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and on the day they apply for residence; OR Applied for an eligible work visa on or before 29/9/2021 and the work visa application is subsequently approved and still hold an eligible work visa on the day they apply for residence.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

2021 Resident Visa

The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Critical Purpose Visitor Visas

A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • July 4. Applications open for the new Accredited Employer Work Visa.
  • July 31. Applications for the 2021 Resident Visa close.
  • August. Skilled Migrant Residence category scheduled to reopen.
  • August. A new pathway to residence for people earning 200% or more of the median wage.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

January 9, 2023
Update

Policy Decision Key Dates in 2022

  • February 13. Fully vaccinated Kiwis plus certain other travellers entering NZ from the rest of the world* can skip MIQ.
  • April 30. The border starts a phased reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
  • April 30. The Productivity Commission reports back to the government on immigration settings.
  • May 9. Applications open for mandatory Employer Accreditation.

*Excludes high-risk countries.

January 9, 2023
Update

Work Visa Categories Closing

The work visa categories set to close are:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa – approval in principle
  • Work to Residence (Talent – Accredited Employer)
  • Work to Residence (Long Term Skills Shortage)
  • Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa (closed October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Work Visa.
January 9, 2023
Update

The Green List

From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.

There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.

Read more here.

January 9, 2023
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