Quick facts for Australians moving to New Zealand

Australians moving to New Zealand

We all like to joke about all the kiwi’s crossing the Tasman to live in Australia, but there are increasing numbers of Australians moving to New Zealand.  We investigate some of the key things you should know if you planning on moving to New Zealand.

Introduction

New Zealand, known as ‘Aotearoa’ in the official Maori language, has gained a reputation as an attractive destination for many people around the world. Known for its relaxed, easy going lifestyle and also for its safe environments, New Zealand is a great place for raising a family or for retirement.

Australians moving to New Zealand will find a great number of benefits  with trans-Tasman agreements looking to extend many of the benefits accorded to New Zealand citizens to Australians as well.

The basics at a glance:

  • Currency: NZD or New Zealand Dollar (two names for the same currency)
  • Population: New Zealand’s population as of 2016 is 4.7 million.
  • Main languages: English is the main language in New Zealand (spoken as a fluent language by 96% of people), and the indigenous language is Maori.
  • Weather: New Zealand has four seasons, however, seasonal weather patterns also exist in different regions – for example, the South Island experiences periods of snowfall in the winter with average temperatures of 10 degrees C, whereas the North Island can experience temperatures of 16 degrees C.
  • Timezone: New Zealand is under the New Zealand Standard Time, which is +12 GMT. New Zealand also observes daylight savings time, changing to +1 during the summer. It is usually +3 hours ahead of Sydney.
  • Emergency number: 111. All emergency services (fire, ambulance, police) use the same number.
  • Electricity: The same as Australia, 240 volts, and the three pin plug.
  • Religions: Christianity is the main religion, however, New Zealand is becoming more diverse and secular in general.

Australians Moving to New Zealand: The Things You Need to Know

Immigration

As an Australian, getting into New Zealand for work and play is a very easy process. Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed to visit, study, work and live in New Zealand, and are not required to apply for a visa before travelling.

You can be granted a New Zealand resident visa upon arrival if the following criteria are met:

  • Identity: Passport details are checked for proof of identity.
  • Australian Immigration Status: Your citizenship or permanent resident details will be verified.
  • Character: You will be asked some questions about your character. You may not meet this criterion if you have a criminal conviction, have been deported or excluded from another country, or are deemed a risk to New Zealand’s security, public order or public interest.

It is important to remember that every time you leave New Zealand, your Resident Visa will expire and you will have to ‘reapply’ when you next enter New Zealand. The New Zealand Immigration website contains more details about the Australian Resident Visa.

Money and Banking

New Zealand and Australia are very similar in terms of their banking infrastructure and processes – in fact, some popular Australian banks are in New Zealand as well (ANZ and Westpac). New Zealand’s currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) and cents.

The exchange rate is relatively stable. $10 AUD will get you around $11 NZD. You can check out CurrencyFair or OFX for an always up to date exchange rate. If you need to transfer money from Australia to New Zealand, you can use a service like CurrencyFair.

You will be able to use your Australian credit card at both ATM’s and shops in New Zealand, and plenty of shops now support contactless payment for ease of use and convenience.

Banks are generally open Monday to Friday during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm), and some banks are also open on the weekends (particularly those in urban shopping malls). Banks, like most businesses, are closed on public holidays.

Getting a house

Renting a property in New Zealand can be a varying process depending on where you are looking to stay. The major population centres such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are popular renting destinations and rentals homes tend to get snapped up quickly. There are however a wealth of websites to give you a clear idea about what you can expect to pay depending on the area and amenities you are after.

Generally, fixed-term tenancies for 12 months are the standard in New Zealand, with tenancies generally expiring around December/January. Standard terms include two weeks upfront rent, four weeks bond (security deposit), and if you are using a property agent, an agency fee.

Websites such as Trademe Property and Realestate.co.nz are good websites to check for up to date listings. They contain filters so you can narrow your search to homes of your liking, and also by the length of term.

Given the close proximity to Australia, you will find a wealth of Australians live around New Zealand, in particular, the urban centres. There are plenty of Aussie pubs and meetups to help you get settled in.

Further information about renting in New Zealand can be found on the Government’s Tenancy Services website.

Taxes

Australians moving to New Zealand will be subject to paying income taxes if you are working in New Zealand. If you are employed by a New Zealand company, your income tax will be dealt with through Pay As You Earn (PAYE). This means that it will be automatically deducted from your salary.

You will need to determine whether or not you will be an Australian resident for tax purposes.  In any case, if you have Australian sourced income (eg. business income, or rental income) you will still need to file a tax return in Australia.

Taxes in New Zealand are paid on a sliding scale rate on a tax year that runs from April 1st to March 31st.

Indicative Income rates and bands (at time of writing)

Band Taxable income Tax rate
Basic rate $0 to $14,000 10.5%
Medium rate $14,001 to $48,000 17.5%
Higher rate $48,001 to $70,000 30%
Maximum rate Over $70,000 33%

Schools

If you have kids who are of schooling age, the Australian Residence Visa means that Australian Citizens are treated as domestic students in New Zealand, so are only liable to pay local fees (this includes tertiary education).

The majority of New Zealand’s primary and secondary schools are free (although there may be a small school donation requested by the school). There are also private schools available if you have the means to afford it.

Typical school term dates run along the following lines.

Term Start Date End Date
Term 1 – 11 weeks 29 January – 7 February 13 April
Term 2 – 10 weeks 30 April 6 July
Term 3 – 10 weeks 23 July 28 September
Term 4 – up to 10 weeks 15 October 18 December – 20 December

Healthcare

New Zealand has universal health care through the public system. Through a reciprocal heath agreement between Australia and New Zealand, Australian citizens and residents are entitled to two tiers of healthcare benefits, as outlined below.

If you are an Australian Citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for the full range of public health care benefits, provided you can demonstrate an intention to remain in New Zealand for at least two years continually.

If you are an Australian resident and do not intend to stay in New Zealand for two years continuously, you are only eligible for immediate/emergency hospital visits and maternity services. You will need to meet the costs of seeing a local doctor or a nurse, and pay the full rate for pharmaceuticals.

Further information on the New Zealand healthcare system can be found here and more information on the reciprocal health agreement between Australia and New Zealand can be found here.

Shopping, measurements, and language

Australians moving to New Zealand will discover that the two countries are very similar in terms of cultural practices around shopping. The same weights and measures are used (The metric system – kilograms, metres), making things easy to understand.

Day to day life in New Zealand

Your day to day life will largely depend on where in New Zealand you plan to live. If you prefer the fast-paced, urban lifestyle, then Auckland or Wellington would suit you, being well developed, cosmopolitan cities.

Fancy something a little slower? Then the countryside might be for you – where you can take it easy and live life to the fullest.

Internet coverage is better in the cities than in the countryside, however, the New Zealand government is in the midst of rolling out ultra-fast fibre broadband nationwide, which should enable high-speed internet everywhere.

Additional useful websites when moving to New Zealand

About the author

Craig

Craig is an Australian Expat and the founder of The Australian Expat Investor. Craig is passionate about investing, and while Craig cannot give personal financial or tax advice, Craig enjoys sharing investing, tax, and other tips for Australian expats to help them to build their wealth while living abroad and get the most out of their time living overseas. Get his free ebook on 9 Financial Surprises That Could Cost Australian Expats Thousands of Dollars

Leave a comment: