Moving to New Zealand from the UK

Looking for a change? Somewhere beautiful and more relaxed, where clean air and clear skies encourage healthier living?

Job expos in the UK

New Zealand employers regularly attend job expos in the UK and Ireland.

Check out our International events & expos page for upcoming events near you.

Find out how living in New Zealand compares to living in the UK, and how you can get a visa to experience our lifestyle. 

How New Zealand compares

New Zealand and the UK have a lot in common, like similar values, a shared history, and the English language. People who have moved here from the UK say that Kiwis are relaxed, friendly, and easy to get along with. Many UK expats find that New Zealand has a friendly atmosphere, an easy going way of life and great work life balance.

Great work/life balance

The quality of life in New Zealand really is excellent compared to many other countries.

New Zealanders have a strong work ethic but we also believe in having a good work-life balance. Even in our biggest cities, you are never too far from a beach, bike trail, or national park. We love the outdoors, and like to make time for rest and relaxation with our friends and families.

New Zealand's balanced lifestyle

Children from United Kingdom exploring NZ bush

In the biggest cities you're only minutes from nature

Otari-Wilton Bush, Wellington

Great climate for outdoor living

Migrant stories

A new quality of life

The Newman’s move from the UK has let them and their teenage sons enjoy new careers and a new pace of life.

Read their story

New Zealand has a temperate climate which means we have relatively warm, dry summers (December to February) and mild, wet winters (June to August).

We don’t get the extreme weather that some parts of the UK do. We have 4 seasons that each last 3 months. Depending on where you live in New Zealand, the weather is different. For example, Queenstown will get more snow than a place like Wellington. Our temperate climate means weather is fairly consistent, so year round, you will find it easier to enjoy a healthy, outdoors lifestyle.

Scenic beauty

New Zealand is famous for its beautiful scenery — from scenic surf beaches, attractive native forests and snow covered volcanoes in the North Island to the great Southern Alps, braided rivers and deep fjords in the South Island. This is why we often feature in movies with dramatic landscapes, like The Lord of the Rings.

Our dramatic scenery spans the whole country and you can see it in just a matter of weeks. If you move to New Zealand, you can use your annual 4 weeks of holiday to explore the whole country.

Clean & beautiful New Zealand

Unique culture

Although British traditions still remain strong, New Zealand has a unique culture with strong Māori and Polynesian influences. This distinctive and dynamic ‘Pasifika’ feel to life here is like nowhere else.

In everyday life there is a spirit of welcome that Māori call Manaakitanga, which means looking after guests. As a multicultural nation, we welcome everyone.

Māori culture

Peaceful and democratic

In New Zealand, we are lucky to be far from the political issues troubling many other parts of the world. But we still take an interest in world affairs. We are active voters in our own country and enjoy a long tradition of calm and polite political debate.

Our constitution

Housing choices

If there is one major difference between the UK and New Zealand, it is space. New Zealand does not have a lot of high-density housing like parts of the UK.

When you are looking for a home here, you have plenty of choices. Whether you want a large home in the suburbs with a garden and room for children and pets, a plot of land in the countryside, or a chic downtown flat in the city, New Zealand has something for everyone. Whatever your choice you can usually enjoy it without wasting hours of your life commuting.

Housing in New Zealand

Subsidised healthcare

Public healthcare in New Zealand is free or low cost — if you are a citizen, resident or hold a work visa valid for 2 years or more.

The New Zealand Government pays for some of our healthcare fees, which means you only have to pay a part of the fee when you see your local doctor — also known here as general practitioner or GP. Accident and emergency treatment at hospitals is free, but you may need private healthcare for elective procedures.

Temporary visa holders

Even if you hold a temporary visa, you may still be able to get a range of services in some situations. Check your eligibility on the Ministry of Health website.

If you cannot access publicly-funded health services, we recommend you get comprehensive travel insurance that includes health insurance.

If you have an accident

If you are injured in an accident, much of your medical and recovery costs are likely to be covered by our Accident Compensation scheme (ACC) — even if you were at fault. It is paid for by levies that get taken from your salary. Because of ACC, we do not sue for injuries in New Zealand.

Healthcare services

Guide to eligibility for publicly funded health services | Ministry of Health

Injuries we cover | ACC

Benefits for families

New Zealand is a great place to start and raise a family. Along with affordable, quality education, your children will be able to get close to nature and enjoy a diverse range of healthy sport, recreation, and adventure activities.

New Zealand ranks second for ‘community’ on the OECD’s Better Life Index covering 40 countries. The 2019 Global Peace Index — comparing 160 countries for the risk of personal violence — rated New Zealand the world’s second safest country after Iceland. The UK ranked 45th equal with Laos.

New Zealand was voted No.1 for Overall Experience, No. 2 for Family and No. 2 Overall in the 2018 HSBC Expat Explorer survey of over 22,000 expats in 31 countries. A resounding 76% of expats reported an improvement in their children’s health and wellbeing from living in New Zealand.

Family friendly


Safe & secure

Better Life Index | OECD

Global Peace Index 2019 (pdf 5.9 MB)

High quality education

New Zealand’s education system scores well in world rankings.

  • New Zealand ranked third out of 50 leading countries — just behind Finland and Sweden — in The Economist’s 2019 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI).
  • The Legatum Institute’s 2019 Prosperity Index ranked New Zealand 10th out of 167 countries for our education system.

Early childhood education

Early childhood education (ECE) is considered a priority by our government, which fully funds the first 20 hours of ECE for 3 and 4 year olds. This means parents can continue to work without spending all of their income on childcare.

Higher learning

New Zealand is also known for the quality of our higher learning. We have 8 universities and 16 institutes of technology that provide domestic and international students with internationally recognised qualifications. All 8 universities are in the top 500 of the 2019 QS World University Rankings — 5 are in the top 300.

Study in New Zealand

Education and schooling system

Educating for the Future | Economist

Prosperity Index | Legatum

QS World University Rankings 2019

Cost of living

The cost of living in New Zealand is similar to other western OECD countries. Depending on where in the UK you come from, the cost of living in New Zealand may be either cheaper, similar or more expensive than you are used to.

For example, London was rated the world’s 23rd most expensive city in Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey, Glasgow was 145th and Belfast 158th.

By comparison, New Zealand’s biggest and most expensive city Auckland was much further down the rankings at 89th, and Wellington — the capital — even less expensive at 114th. However, costs in other UK cities are about the same or less expensive. Living in smaller towns will cost you less.

Cost of living in New Zealand

Cost of living city rankings | Mercer

Working in New Zealand

New Zealand needs migrant workers to fill some highly skilled occupations, for example:

  • business services
  • construction and utilities
  • health care and social assistance
  • education.

If your skills are on any of the skill shortage lists, you will find it easier to find a job and get a visa.

If your job or profession is not on a skill shortage list, don’t worry. There are other opportunities in New Zealand for people with the right skills.

Job market & key industries

Skill shortage list checker | Immigration New Zealand

Finding & applying for jobs

Strong economy

Over the past 30 years, New Zealand has transformed into a successful and resilient free market with an open economy. In 2016, we had economic growth of around 4%. This eased back to 2.8% in 2018. Prior to the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, the OECD expected growth to average around 2.7% in the years to 2023.

Economic overview

Global focus

New Zealand has Free Trade arrangements (FTAs) with China, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Asean Asia-Pacific nations. We’re also part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), cementing links with existing partners and also Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam. More FTAs are under negotiation.

Stable and safe for investing

New Zealand is one of the world’s most stable and corruption free democracies. There are exciting investment prospects in New Zealand, both in traditional sectors and in ‘sunrise’, export-oriented sectors like ICT, biotech, agricultural research and more.

  • In 2019, the World Bank ranked us as the world’s easiest country to do business in and first in the world for ease of starting a business.
  • Forbes magazine consistently ranks us one of the 5 best countries in the world for business.
  • The International Tax Foundation’s 2019 index puts New Zealand second amongst OECD countries in terms of tax competitiveness.
  • Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks us as the world’s least corrupt country out of 183.
  • The Heritage Foundation in 2020 ranked our economy in the Index of Economic Freedom, just behind Singapore and Hong Kong.

A great place for business


Doing Business 2020 | World Bank

International Tax Competitiveness Index 2019 | Tax Foundation

Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 | Transparency International

2020 Index of Economic Freedom | Heritage Foundation

Getting a visa

If you want to move to New Zealand, or to come here to work for a while, there are different visa options to suit your plans.

  • If you’re aged 18-30, working holiday visas can give you up to 23 months in New Zealand.
  • Work visas let you live and work here for a set period and some can lead to residence.
  • Resident visas, like the Skilled Migrant Category, let you access more state-funded public services and stay indefinitely.

Visas to work

Special visas for investors

New Zealand is actively seeking international investors to settle or spend time living here. There are exciting investment prospects in New Zealand, with a lot happening in traditional sectors and in export sectors like ICT, biotech, agricultural research and more.

The government has set up special immigration pathways for investors and entrepreneuers. Visa options include:

  • Investor visa — if you plan to invest a at least NZ$3 million over 4 years
  • Investor Plus visa — if you plan to invest NZ$10m or more
  • Entrepreneur visa — if you plan to purchase or set up a business.

Investor visas

Entrepreneur visas

Hot tip

Visas during the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to COVID-19, some temporary visas and Expressions or Interest (EOIs) are temporarily suspended if applying from outside New Zealand.

Check the relevant INZ web page details for visas you are interested in.

Read more about the investor visa requirements or get in touch with one of our Investment Market Managers by selecting Invest on our registration form

Living in New Zealand permanently

You can live and work in New Zealand indefinitely as a Permanent Resident - but you don't need to become a New Zealand Citizen.

As a Permanent Resident, you have many of the same rights as a New Zealand Citizen. You can

  • get government funded public services, including healthcare
  • vote in local and national elections
  • pay domestic fees for education, including tertiary education.

Organising the move

Once you make a decision to come to New Zealand, there will be a lot to organise. Your top priorities after finding work and getting a visa 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.

Our NZ Ready tool can help you with your planning and ensure you don’t forget the most important things.

NZ Ready planning tool

Want to know more?

Take the first step to your new life by registering to receive emails from Immigration New Zealand.

We’ll send you personalised emails about upcoming events in the UK, relevant job opportunities from New Zealand employers, and practical advice on how to choose the right visa and make the move to New Zealand.

It’s free and there’s no obligation

Interested in coming to New Zealand?

Sign up to receive relevant job opportunities from New Zealand employers and practical advice on how to make your move to New Zealand a reality.


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Page last updated: 13/10/2020

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