Planning a move to New Zealand? Here’s everything you need to know

Temperate climate, lush scenery and low cost of living make it an attractive alternative to Australia

All three major cities in New Zealand - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch -  get more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year.

All three major cities in New Zealand - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - get more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year.

 

New Zealand may not lure as many Irish as its Aussie neighbour, but its more temperate climate, lush green scenery and lower cost of living make it an attractive option for young people and families who are looking to find a new home down under, especially for workers in construction trades.

The New Zealand economy took a tumble around the same time as the recession hit Ireland in 2008, but it didn’t fall as far and recovered much more quickly. The unemployment rate was just 5.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, and half that again in Christchurch, where most workers are in demand to assist with rebuilding the city after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Ireland is one of the countries targeted by the New Zealand government to fill acute skills shortages, which have emerged in industries ranging from construction to hospitality, healthcare and information technology in recent years.

More and more Irish people are recognising the opportunities offered by New Zealand, with the numbers moving there increasing steadily. Almost 5,000 Irish people were granted work visas in the 12 months to June 2014.

Still need convincing? All three major cities get more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year (compared to 1,600 in Ireland’s sunny south east). There are many sandy beaches with top surf spots, ski resorts in the mountains, and beautiful lakes, rivers and fjords to explore.

But no matter how attractive the change of scenery or the promise of a suitable job in New Zealand may be, it is important to do thorough research in advance of such a big move, whether you are travelling alone or with a family.

This guide gives an overview of the main points to consider, with links to official government websites and other useful online resources where you can go for more detailed information.

  • Visa guide: Introduction to the most popular visa types for Irish workers, from the working holiday visa to options for longer stay, including employer and state sponsorship, permanent residency and citizenship
  • Finding a place to live: Overview of the property market, short-term accommodation options, average cost of renting and buying a home in each of the main cities, and how to find cheap furniture
  • Which city? The most popular locations for Irish people, and what they offer in terms of jobs and lifestyle
  • Finding a job: Introduction to the current economic climate in New Zealand, examining the jobs market, what skills/occupations are currently in demand and where, and advice on how to jobsearch
  • Health: Who is entitled to public healthcare, what costs are involved, and health insurance options
  • Education: How the education system is run, third-level options and fees
  • Culture and lifestyle: Multicultural, awash with restaurants, plenty of sport and big events - and that’s just Auckland
  • Finance: How much money you should bring to get set up, how the cost of living compares to Ireland, and an introduction to the tax system
  • Directory: Contact details for Irish organisations, sports and culture clubs, online social networks and other useful support groups
  • Q&As: Irish people who’ve already made the move share their experiences and advice - Sarah Lynch, who moved to Christchurch with her husband and young family in 2012, and Ciaran Lowney, who has been involved with the Irish community in Auckland since moving there in 2003. 
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