In international comparisons of national performance, New Zealand ranks highly on quality of life, health, civil liberties, and economic freedom."
I first travelled to New Zealand on a Contiki Tour of the North and South Island in 2006. It's an unspoilt paradise. I have come to know New Zealand as a country that prides itself on its remoteness and independence from the rest of the world. I was constantly reminded of this; riding the scenic train down the North Island, as we swept through vistas of lush green dairy farms, imposing mountain ranges and aquamarine-coloured salt farms. New Zealand's colonies of fur seals sleeping blissfully on little-known coastal rocky inlets always charmed me. Its people bear a charm that comes from being Antipodean.
In fact, New Zealand ranks highly on indicators of wellbeing; in international comparisons of national performance, New Zealand ranks highly on quality of life, health, civil liberties, and economic freedom.
So if you’re already set on New Zealand as your future home, read below to find out more.
How do I become a citizen of New Zealand?
In short, among the requirements to become a citizen, New Zealand imposes a five-year residency requirement (i.e. a minimum of five years’ residence), and you can’t have spent more than four months in any one year outside New Zealand. You must meet a character test, be able to hold a basic conversation in English and demonstrate that you intend to live in New Zealand.
I’m Australian and I’m moving to New Zealand
If you're a citizen or permanent resident of Australia you don't need a visa to live and work in New Zealand. If however, you’re in Australia on a temporary visa you may need a visa to also enter New Zealand. If you need to, a New Zealand employer who offers you a skilled job may also be able to sponsor your temporary work visa application.
There are also permanent residency options that allow you to stay in New Zealand indefinitely. You might be able to apply for a partner visa based on your relationship if you are a partner of a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident.
What pensions schemes are available in New Zealand?
New Zealand has a resilient and well-regulated superannuation system. Australians who are eligible for the aged-pension can claim this in New Zealand as part of the Social Security Agreement between the two countries. Under the agreement, Australians can add periods of Australian Working Age Residence to periods of residence in New Zealand to meet the minimum requirement for the Government-funded New Zealand Super, a fortnightly payment for people aged 65 and over ( periods of residence apply to the Veterans Pension and Supported Living Payments).
If you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or permanent resident and you normally live in New Zealand, you’ll be eligible for KiwiSaver. KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings scheme. KiwiSaver supplements the government-funded New Zealand Super scheme payments. There are options for Australians to transfer their Australian super to some KiwiSaver schemes.
Is there universal healthcare in New Zealand?
Healthcare provision in New Zealand ranks among the world’s best. New Zealand residents and some work visa holders benefit from a public health system that is free or low cost. New Zealand has reciprocal health agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom (UK). Under each, certain services may be publicly funded for people covered by the agreements.
Australian citizens or permanent residents are eligible for the full range of publicly funded health care. They need to demonstrate an intention to stay in New Zealand for at least two years continously. Once Australians begin living in New Zealand, they should register with a primary healthcare organisation to receive subsidised healthcare.
If you're an Australian resident and don't intend to stay for two years, you're only eligible for immediately necessary hospital and maternity services and pharmaceuticals. In this case, Australians will need to pay the full cost of primary health care consultations (e.g. with a local doctor or nurse).
UK nationals may also be able to access healthcare under the health system on the same terms as citizens of New Zealand.
How much is a university education in New Zealand?
New Zealand’s eight universities are ranked within the world’s top 500. Fortunately, Australian citizens and New Zealand permanent residents are classified as domestic students in New Zealand. For Australians, this means that they pay the same fees as local students and do not need to apply for a student visa.
After three years in New Zealand, Australians are also eligible for student loans. Should you return to Australia, your New Zealand qualifications will be recognised in Australia. This is because Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition arrangements allows for the mutual recognition of equivalent registered occupations between Australia and New Zealand.
Can I buy property in New Zealand as a foreigner?
New Zealand banned foreigners from buying property in 2018 to clamp down on rampant house price growth. It is known as the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill. There are, however, exemptions. An Australian who is a resident in New Zealand may rent or purchase land and property under the same conditions as New Zealanders.
As always, it is wise to seek professional financial and legal advice when moving overseas, even if it might be just 'across the ditch'.