Moving from Canada
Looking for a change? Somewhere more relaxed, where the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, nothing is too far away, and the people are friendly?
New Zealand could be just the place you’re looking for.
Find out how New Zealand compares to Canada, and how you can get a visa to experience our lifestyle.
How New Zealand compares
Lindsey Shaw found the job market a lot less competitive in New Zealand compared to her native Canada when she moved here with her Kiwi-born husband Christian.
There’s lots to make you feel at home in New Zealand, including all the comforts and conveniences you’re accustomed to.
What many Canadians find different is a gentler pace of life. There’s always time to treat people as individuals and look out for each other.
Another big difference is the weather. We have a relatively gentle climate that means you can get out and about all year round.
Coming from Canada you’ll know all about mountain grandeur, placid lakes and great plains. New Zealand serves up all that (in its own way) and more.
Long sub-tropical sandy beaches, meandering braided rivers, active volcanoes, geysers and boiling mud pools. No wonder we’re top choice as the backdrop for epic movies like Lord of the Rings.
It’s all so accessible. Compared to the vast distances involved in getting around your country, in New Zealand you can be somewhere totally different in a matter of hours. That makes it easy to explore the incredible diversity we have to offer.
You’ll also find the New Zealand culture quite unique. It’s the result of the strong influences of our Maori and Polynesian people. They bring a distinctive ‘Pasifika’ feel to life here.
It’s expressed in excellent arts festivals. It also comes through in everyday life with a spirit of welcome that Maori call Manaakitanga. The basic idea of this concept is that everyone comes out better off through the act of looking after guests.
New Zealand was voted No.1 for Overall Experience, No. 2 for Family and No.2 Overall in the HSBC Expat Explorer survey of over 22,000 expats in 31 countries.
Upbeat outlook, low-key politics
Along with the relaxed lifestyle, you’ll find a relatively upbeat outlook on life.
For example, only 28-31% of people in North America and the EU believe their countries are ‘on the right track’. In New Zealand, optimism in the future is roughly twice that, and has been for at least 20 years.
We enjoy a long tradition of relatively calm and polite political debate. It helps that we’re a long way from the political turbulence affecting so many other parts of the world.
Famous work/life balance
New Zealanders have a great work ethic and like to get ahead as much as anyone else. But we also believe there’s much more to living.
It’s taken for granted by employers and colleagues alike that people have a life away from work. How you use that time is up to you - whether it’s getting sweaty running bush tracks or mountain biking, or just chilling with your friends or family by a beach or in your garden.
No wonder New Zealand scores so consistently highly in international work/life surveys.
Great climate for outdoor living
New Zealand generally enjoys warm, dry summers and relatively mild and wet winters.
Of course it can rain and blow here. But we don’t have the extremes Canadians have to cope with - no long months of being snowbound, or periods of energy-sapping, baking heat.
In summer, our maximum average temperatures range around 20 - 30ºC and in winter, between 10 - 15ºC. Snow is confined to the mountains and the bottom half of the South Island (the ‘deep South’). It’s not seen in Auckland and Wellington, and rarely in Christchurch.
A gentle climate makes it easy to get out and enjoy our fantastic scenery or take advantage of all outdoor recreation experiences that New Zealand offers.
Getting job opportunities
New Zealand’s job market has been strong over recent years, driven by solid economic performances. Economic growth is expected to average about 3.2% over 2016-21, and 2.6% over 2021-26.
Putting that in context - after a strong 2017, the OECD reports Canada’s economy grew 1.8% in 2018. Growth there is predicted to be just 1.3% in 2019 and 1.5% in 2020.
47,000 job opportunities
New Zealand’s government expects we’ll need about 47,000 more workers a year into the near future. That adds up to great career opportunities.
The majority of the new jobs will be in highly skilled occupations, and its expected most will have to be filled by people from overseas countries - including Canada.
Prospects are particularly strong if your skills are on any of the Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) lists of skill shortages updated regularly by Immigration New Zealand.
If your job or profession is not on a shortage list, don’t be disheartened. There are lots of opportunities in New Zealand for people with skills.
Skills in demand
Job openings will grow for virtually every kind of work. But the largest increases will be in business services, construction and utilities, health care/social assistance and education.
The job market is particularly strong in certain parts of the country. For example, Auckland needs people with skills in construction, trades and allied fields to help build new homes for a rapidly expanding population.
There are opportunities in other places too, particularly in the Waikato (Hamilton), Bay of Plenty, Wellington and across the South Island.
A little forward planning and preparation will help in your search for a job in New Zealand.
Education and study
New Zealand ranked third of 50 leading countries in The Economist’s 2018 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index, just behind Finland and Switzerland.
We were one of just six countries to earn perfect marks for emphasising future-oriented, 21st-century skills. We also excelled for extra-curricular activities, “fertile ground for developing leadership, team-work and other skills.”
Another study, the Legatum Institute’s 2018 Index, ranked New Zealand 18 out of 150 countries for our education system.
Laypeople are also impressed. In HSBC’s 2018 Expat Explorer Survey, expats ranked New Zealand school quality ahead of Canada, also Australia, South Africa, the United States and the UK.
Early childhood education (ECE) is considered a priority, and the government subsidises it for every child up to the age of five, when primary school starts. That includes free ECE from age three for up to six hours a day, up to 20 hours a week.
At the other end of the spectrum, all eight New Zealand Universities are in the top 500 of the 2019 QS World University Rankings, five of them in the top 300. All of them offer at least one subject ranked in the world’s top 100.
Getting a visa
If you’re planning more than a brief sightseeing trip to New Zealand - and especially if you want to work here - you’ll need one of the various different types of visa that are available.
If you’re aged 18-35, you can apply for a working holiday visa that gives young Canadians up to 23 months working in New Zealand - almost twice as long as young people from other countries.
Alternatively, there are work visas that let you live and work here for a set period and may even lead to residence.
Resident visas such as the Skilled Migrant Category let you stay indefinitely and access more state-funded public services.
There are also investment visas for Canadians planning to invest at least NZD$3 million.
Organising the move
Once you’ve made the decision to come to New Zealand, you’ll have lots to organise. Apart from finding work and getting a visa, your top priorities will be deciding where you want to live and finding accommodation, sorting out money and banking matters and, if you have a family, finding the best schools for them.
Getting your new life off to a good start is all a matter of preparation. To help with the planning try our NZ Ready tool. NZ Ready will help you build a comprehensive plan outlining what is involved in a move, ensuring nothing is missed.
Want to know more?
Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.It’s free and there’s no obligation