Moving to New Zealand
Expats moving to New Zealand have to make a distinct life choice. The island country is remote, sparsely populated and income levels are low in relation to countries such as the USA and the UK. At the same time, people who live in New Zealand are surrounded by awe-inspiring natural splendour and are able to enjoy a high quality of life.
Around a fifth of the people living and working in the country were born overseas, and New Zealand is host to large communities from the UK, North America, South Africa, the South Pacific, India and China.
Moving to New Zealand with family is especially popular with expats who generally want a fresh start and a better work and life balance. New arrivals are especially attracted by the excellent state-sponsored healthcare, low crime rates, a society that values children and the environment, and a high-quality of public education.
The country lacks the economic might of larger countries and faces challenges such as a growing income gap and high levels of debt. The government has made impressive efforts in recent years to address these challenges, resulting in a growing economy and a positive outlook. As a result, there are opportunities for expats with initiative, energy and optimism. This is helped by the fact that the country has been experiencing an outflow of young, qualified people moving overseas for quite some time. As a result, the New Zealand government welcomes prospective expats in a range of industries, provided that they have the skills and experience to benefit the local economy. Major sectors and sources of employment include agriculture, finance, tourism and manufacturing.
One complication to life in New Zealand is its position in a seismically active region. As such, residents experience around 200 felt quakes a year as well as thousands of earthquakes that are not felt. Thankfully, only two quakes in the last century have caused significant losses. Residents usually have emergency plans for their family and schools regularly practice earthquake drills. Houses in New Zealand are often built out of materials such as wood and plasterboard, which are more flexible and able to better cope with earthquakes than traditional bricks and mortar. Local accommodation does, however, have a reputation for poor insulation and residents tend to dress warmly rather than heat their homes, which takes some adjustment for many expats.
New arrivals will learn that New Zealand’s transport infrastructure is well developed and easy to use. Most cities have a public bus network, all of its major cities are linked by rail, and a regular ferry service connects the North and South islands.
Known to its Maori inhabitants as Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud”, the country gets its share of cold and rainy weather, however the country usually does get more sunshine than most European countries.
Expats who commit to their new home and are suited to the laid-back, outdoors lifestyle that it offers will find that New Zealand has the potential to be an ideal expat destination.