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Country Facts – New Zealand

This information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. For more information we recommend that you speak with your national government Foreign Office (or equivalent).

NEW ZEALAND – An expatriate’s guide

New Zealand – also known as Aoteoroa to its indigenous Maori population – is a country famous for its breathtaking landscapes and laidback lifestyle.

For expatriates considering a move halfway around the world, New Zealand could offer adventure and a variety of new opportunities, both in your personal and professional life. Of course, it can help to have a more practical understanding of life down under.

Local laws and customs

Expatriates living and working in New Zealand can generally expect the laws and customs of the country to be similar to those in the UK.

Before travelling, be sure that all of your documentation is in order – including your visa and passport. Unless you’re already established as a permanent resident, you will need special permission to work or stay longer than six months.

Due to the country’s fragile environment, there are very strict laws when it comes to bringing plant and animal-derived products into the country, so be sure to declare everything before going through customs and immigration.

Cycling is a common option for transportation and all cyclists are required to wear a helmet. Meanwhile, getting around via car, bus and motorcycle are all popular choices. Hitchhiking on motorways is illegal.


During the early 20th century, a public healthcare system was established, but a number of reforms have been introduced over the years, resulting in a more mixed system comprising both public and private options.

Public hospitals provide free treatment to citizens and permanent residents, but there are often long waiting periods for procedures that aren’t considered urgent. In addition, primary care usually requires a subsidised co-payment.

In order to ensure a higher quality of care and faster treatment for non-emergency conditions, many people in New Zealand opt for private medical insurance – such as the options offered by Expatriate Healthcare.

Schooling for kids

New Zealand’s education system has been ranked one of the best in the world by the UN and the Programme for International Student Assessment.

School is compulsory for all children aged six to 16, although free education is available from the age of five until the end of the school year after a student’s 19th birthday.

The school year typically runs from sometime in January until the middle of December, although the exact dates will depend on the school in question.


Home ownership is relatively high in New Zealand, thanks to affordable house prices and a wide range of financing options available from banks.

In addition, many expatriates can enjoy more spacious homes with larger gardens than they would back home. Indeed, you may even be able to find a home with its own private swimming pool.

Costs of homes will vary, depending on the location. In general, Queenstown and Auckland are the most expensive places to buy a home.

Most properties are sold with the assistance of a real estate agent, while private sales and auctions may also be options.

If you’re interested in purchasing particular property, you should first get a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from the local council.

It’s recommended that buyers seek out independent valuations and property inspections before putting an offer forward. A lawyer could also be helpful when dealing with legal documents.

Also, you should be sure to consider insurance options like income replacement and term life cover, as these can provide financial security for you and your loved ones should the worst happen.


For many expatriates, one of the hardest parts of moving to a new country is leaving their friends and extended family behind.

However, it’s unlikely that you’ll have difficulty meeting new people, as New Zealanders are friendly and hospitable.

If you’re invited to somebody’s home for a meal, be sure to bring a small gift like a bottle of wine or some flowers.

Meanwhile, socialising also commonly occurs outside the home and just some options include pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs as places to go to meet friends and make new acquaintances.

For more information on moving abroad visit

Of course, if you’re planning on travelling to New Zealand please ensure you have adequate expat travel insurance.

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