You get lots of choices and the chance to choose the sort of lifestyle you want for you and your family, whether you're buying or renting.
Housing in New Zealand is as varied as our people. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor lifestyle, a place in the heart of the city or a family home with room for the kids to run around in, you’ll find it here. Your options include suburban homes, rural living and lifestyle blocks, apartments, flats and town houses. All of these choices are listed on Trade Me, a popular real estate website in New Zealand.
In terms of style, New Zealand architecture tends to be strongly connected to, and integrated with, the environment. For example, a good indoor/outdoor flow is considered a priority by Kiwi house seekers.
Rentals and house prices
Prices for both renting or buying homes vary widely, and are often more expensive than some migrants expect. (The Kiwi dream of home ownership for all keeps housing demand and prices relatively high.)
But to give you a benchmark, the national median rental in May 2013 was NZ$357 per week for a three-bedroom home. In central parts of Auckland and Wellington, the median was nearer NZ$460 a week and depending on the desirability of the property, up to NZ$580-660.
If you’re considering buying, the national median house price was NZ$392,000 in May 2013.
There are wide regional variations however. For example, the median in Auckland was $NZ565,000 but just $354,000 in the Nelson-Marlborough area of the South Island, where prices are generally lower.
Like many new arrivals you’ll probably start your stay by renting while you get a feel for your new location and decide what sort of accommodation you want longer term.
Rentals in New Zealand are regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act and administered by the Building & Housing Group within the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. The Group provides standard contracts that outline the terms of the contract and both sides’ responsibilities. They also hold the bond, and provide a dispute resolution service.
Obviously there are lots of places where you can look for rental accommodation, including newspapers, but a popular place to start is online at Trade Me – a New Zealand institution and more popular here than eBay.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has more detailed information about renting.
While you may feel the urge to buy as soon as you arrive to help your family feel settled, it’s a big decision and you shouldn’t rush in. Owning your own home is part of the Kiwi dream.
Once you’re ready to buy, you’ll find the buying process is well organised and regulated to ensure a fair process for both buyers and sellers. It can take as little as three to four weeks to complete the purchase once you’ve found the place you want.
If you do decide you want to buy, make sure you get a LIM – Land Information Memorandum. It’s a document produced by the local Council that includes all sorts of important information about the property you’re considering.
Also be aware that some homes built with a plaster finish (mainly in the 1990s) have developed problems with weather tightness. If you’re considering a home of this type, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for useful information.
For a guide to property valuations and reports visit Quotable Value.
For Government information about buying a house visit The Real Estate Agents Authority.
If you own a property in New Zealand you're charged rates. This is an annual fee charged by your local council to fund public services such as rubbish collection and libraries, and is based on the value of your home. It can be a substantial amount so check with your council before committing to a property.
Houses and apartments are advertised in local newspapers and property websites such as: