A complete guide to moving to New Zealand

New Zealand has long been popular with British expats, with its picturesque scenery, excellent quality of life and English-speaking residents.

As the UK and New Zealand have a shared history and language, cultural integration is almost effortless. Not to mention the low crime rate, world-class education system and free public health arrangement, which makes the “Kiwi” lifestyle very attractive for individuals and families.

According to New Zealand Electric Travel Authority, British citizens can stay in the country for up to six months at a time; however, all British nationals will have to obtain a mandatory visa to enter if they plan to take a long-term trip.

Those aged 18-30 can apply for a working holiday visa, which will allow British nationals travelling and working in New Zealand to stay in the country for up to 23 months.

However, if life in New Zealand appeals to you and you plan to relocate to the “Land of the Long White Cloud” you will need to apply for a residents visa.

New Zealand immigration facilitates this with the Skilled Migrant Visa which assesses applications via a points system to determine eligibility or the Residence from Work Visa, which you can apply for if you have held a working visa for two years.

However, regardless of whether you are moving to New Zealand for a job opportunity, to start a new business or relocate permanently, obtaining residency or citizenship can be a complicated process.

If a move to New Zealand is included in your plans, our complete guide to living in New Zealand covers the pros and cons of moving and how to best manage your finances to ensure your finances are protected while you build a life in your new home country.

Guide to living in New Zealand

What are the pros and cons of living in New Zealand?

New Zealand relies heavily on commodity imports and exports to support economic growth, which can make some consumer goods in the country fairly expensive.

According to Numbeo, the overall cost of living in New Zealand is higher than the UK; however, Auckland, which is New Zealand’s most expensive city, is considerably cheaper to live in than London.

In Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey, London ranked 19th in the world for the most expensive city to live in, whereas Auckland was rated much lower in 103rd place.

But while rent, groceries and food bills tend to be higher in New Zealand, the country offers a higher quality of life than the UK, boasting a better work-life balance, beaches and temperate climate.

According to the latest economic survey from the OECD, life expectancy in New Zealand is higher than in the UK. Meanwhile health status, income and wealth, personal security, housing, environmental standards, subjective well-being, education and skills, among other measures all rank above average.

New Zealand education system world-leading

High-ranking education system

New Zealand has been heralded for having one of the best education systems in the world, with a high percentage of the population possessing university degrees.

New Zealand has eight state-funded universities, all of which rank within the top 3% in the world, while OECD has graded New Zealand’s higher education system as the 7th best in the world.

The education system in New Zealand is free for residents and citizens; however, those who do not have permanent residency will be subjected to fees when enrolling children into state schools.

Annual fees for state schools start from approximately NZD 11,000 for primary schools, NZD 13,000 for secondary schools and NZD 25,000 for private schools.

High-quality government subsidised healthcare

If you’re planning to relocate to New Zealand permanently, you will be able to enjoy free, or low-cost public healthcare.

The New Zealand government subsidies healthcare through a service similar to the UK’s NHS, which is funded through taxation.

While private health care is available, New Zealand boasts a comprehensive, high-quality healthcare system that covers inpatient, outpatient, mental health, and long-term care, as well as prescriptions.

However, to be entitled to free healthcare, foreigners will need to prove they hold a work permit, permanent residence permit, or citizenship.

 New Zealand citizenship

What’s the difference between permanent residency and citizenship?

New Zealand officials have acknowledged that there is little difference between citizenship and permanent residency, as permanent residents can enjoy much of the same rights as citizens.

For instance, permanent residents are eligible to vote, travel freely without a visa and access all available government-subsidised benefits, including public healthcare, and free education.

However, foreigners who become New Zealand citizens will avoid the risk of having their visa nullified and have the right to apply for a New Zealand passport.

How to obtain citizenship in New Zealand

Whether you’re an expat already living in New Zealand, considering relocating in the future or moving to start a new job, there may come a time where you are ready to apply for citizenship.

While the difference between permanent residency and citizenship in New Zealand is virtually non-existent, it’s worth knowing how to obtain legal status in the country.

If you were born overseas, you would be eligible for two types of citizenship, which is by descent or by a grant.

You could be eligible for citizenship by descent if you were born in another country, but one of your parents was a New Zealand citizen when you were born.

On the other hand, if you were born outside New Zealand but or in New Zealand to parents who do not have NZ citizenship, you could be eligible for citizenship by grant.

Although requirements differ for a child and adult, in most cases, you will have to prove you have lived in New Zealand for five years to be able to apply for citizenship.

If you have lived outside of New Zealand for four months or longer in any 12 month period, this could be held against your citizenship application.

You will also be assessed on your ability to speak basic English and the nature of your character to become a citizen.

Applications can be made online, in person or via post at the cost of NZD 470.20 for adults aged 16 and above and NZD 235.10 for children aged under 16.

While New Zealand offers dual citizenship, this can only be obtained if the government in your home country permits eligibility.

What is inheritance tax in New Zealand?

If you’re considering relocating to New Zealand, you’ll be relieved to know that there is no inheritance tax in the country, courtesy of New Zealand’s simplified tax system.

However, if you’ve inherited any assets in New Zealand while you’re a resident of another country, you could be forced to pay taxes from your home country. In Britain, the standard rate of inheritance tax is currently 40% on an estate that exceeds the threshold.

Estate refers to a person’s property and personal possessions, including jewellery, furniture and heirlooms, as well as financial assets, shares and insurance earnings.

Having said that, the New Zealand government has introduced measures to minimise the chances by crediting any tax paid overseas on income that has also been subject to tax in New Zealand.

Yet, despite not having to pay inheritance tax, you will likely be subject to other New Zealand taxes if you’re transferring money internationally.

If your income is being paid overseas, the NZ government offers links to foreign exchange services; however, we advise you be cautious about using these providers as they could charge foreign transaction fees and other hidden costs.

Even when transferring money through traditional lenders such as the bank, hidden charges tend to be levied on the exchange rate, which will significantly impact the value of your currency transfer.

Consider using Halo Financial when sending money internationally, whose fees cost a fraction of what banks and brokers typically charge.

Halo Financial is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and mitigates the risk associated with fluctuating rates to ensure their clients have a competitive advantage.

Not only does Halo protect against adverse exchange rate movement, but they facilitate same-day delivery. As banks don’t tend to employ foreign exchange specialists, Halo Financial can better serve your needs with our dedicated team who can tailor offerings that correspond with your values. Why not sign up for Pound to New Zealand Dollar currency alerts