NZ FAQ Series part 2 - The Basics

Every day we deal with many enquiries about working and living in New Zealand, and many people have similar questions that aren't that easy to find answers to through Google. Here's the second edition to the series, covering cost of living, wages, car, mortgage and setting up doctors & dentists.

1.       What’s the cost of living New Zealand?

There’s no straight comparison here, as you have to take into account the different lifestyle you’ll encounter in NZ. You won’t be picking your current life up and dropping it in New Zealand, there’ll be lots of changes to consider such as what you eat, how often you eat out, appliances used or how much time you spend in the pub. If wages are lower or costs are higher, you also have to factor in if it’s worth it for the new lifestyle you might enjoy there. However, to give you an idea of cost of living we have this Table of groceries to help you compare. They’re not fixed rates so subject to change, but will give you a general idea.

Milk (2L/4 pints) 3.75 1.29
Lamb Chops (1kg) 10.99 10.25
Olive Oil 11.99 6.49
Laundry Powder (1kg) 8.15 2.00
Tea Bags 5.59 4.39
Rice (1Kg) 3.49 1.69
Free Range Eggs (12) 6.89 2.79
Butter (500g) 4.99 2.99
Cheese (1Kg) 12.99 5.59
Apples (1kg Loose) 2.99 1.95
Tomatoes (1kg Loose) 2.19 0.99
Potato Chips 2.19 0.99
Total NZ$77.00 or approx £36.00 GBP £42.22 or approx NZ $90


2.       What are the wages like in New Zealand?

There is no simple answer to this one and it’s the most common question. It does completely depend on the industry, and the particular job you may apply for. The real question is will you be better off, and for that you have to take into account both cost of living in New Zealand, and also lifestyle. You also have to consider taxes – income tax rates for instance start at 10.5% and caps at 33% for those earning over $70k (£32.7k GBP). For Construction workers the median weekly salary for a 40-hour week in New Zealand is around $800 NZD (£375 a week).

3.       What’s housing like in New Zealand?

In New Zealand around half the population own their house vs those who rent. There’s a wide variation in rent paid depending on your location, but the average is between $250 and $349 a week per household. The types of dwellings that people live in are by and large houses with around 35% living in flats, however ‘housing’ is also varied. Many houses are on one level, and semi-detached housing is uncommon. The material used to build the houses is also very different which means that central heating is also uncommon. Here’s a look at different types of housing you can get in Auckland alone, from the Villa through to the Seventies home.

4.       Can I get a Mortgage in New Zealand?

In order to get a mortgage, you must be eligible to work and live in New Zealand. If you have a Residency Visa for New Zealand, you will be treated like a New Zealand citizen. If you have a work permit, there are restrictions placed on the type of property you can buy and the banks will seek additional financial comfort from you. The amount you can borrow from banks will vary from one to another, as will the deposit amount. Provided you have no significant debt, you can expect to be lent four and ½ times your gross household income. In terms of interest rates on mortgages, you can expect interest to be 6-7% if you were to fix your interest rate for 5 years. If you were to choose to have a ‘floating’ rate you would expect interest of 5.5%.

5.       Will I need to buy a car when I’m there?

There is a good and growing infrastructure for public transport in New Zealand, but many Kiwis tend to own a car, and commonly purchase second-hand vehicles. There are a wide variety of places you can buy them from including a car dealership, auction house and online. Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) can inspect a vehicle you may be considering buying to advise whether it is sound mechanically and structurally to ensure you make a good purchase. Once you have purchased a vehicle, two forms must be completed to inform the Government that the vehicle has changed ownership – a Warranty of Fitness (WoF), also known as a Certificate of Fitness (CoF), and a current vehicle licence or registration.

VTNZ can help you gain Entry Certification if you have brought over your vehicle from abroad, to ensure that it legally complies with New Zealand standards. If you intend on staying in New Zealand for more than 12 months you will need to apply for a New Zealand Driver Licence, otherwise driving with your licence obtained from another country or international driving permit, so long as they are current, will be acceptable.

6.       How do I register for Doctors and Dentists in New Zealand?

New Zealand residents, and those who hold a work visa valid for 2+ years, benefit from a government-subsidised public health system that is free or low cost. Of course, accidents and emergencies are free - just dial 111. Just like the UK, some residents opt to take out private healthcare, though most rely on the public system.

If you are in New Zealand as a non-resident, you can still use the healthcare service at a cost, but you should ensure you have medical insurance from your home country before you travel.

As a new resident, you should look to register with a GP in your area. You can find one near you on the New Zealand Medical Council Website. Your GP will go on to refer you to a medical specialist if necessary.  Dentistry is offered free to those under 18, and residents on low-incomes. For all others, oral practitioner work out of private practices, just like the UK. You can find a dentist in your area by checking here.

See Part 1 - Application