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 New Zealand today compares to the UK, and how you can get a visa to experience our lifestyle. 

How New Zealand compares

There’s lots to make you feel at home in New Zealand including a shared history and all the conveniences you’re accustomed to.

What you will find different is how much easier it is to enjoy a healthier outdoors lifestyle here, and the extra time you’ll have for your own interests.

New Zealand is also a great, safe place for children, with so many recreational activities and a world-class education system that is largely free.

Scenic beauty

New Zealand is rightly famous for its fantastic scenery: sweeping sub-tropical surf beaches, mysterious native forests, dramatic mountains, bubbling mud pools, braided rivers, deep fjords and more. No wonder we’re so often chosen as the backdrop for blockbuster movies like Lord of the Rings.

Tourists only ever get a taste. If you come to New Zealand for longer, you’ll have time to explore the lot.

Children from United Kingdom exploring NZ bush

In the biggest cities you're only minutes from nature

Otari-Wilton Bush, Wellington

Unique culture

There was a time when New Zealand used to be called ‘Little Britain’. Not any more.

British traditions remain strong but the strong influences of our Maori and Polynesian people have injected a distinctive and dynamic ‘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.

Famous work/life balance

The quality of life in New Zealand really is outstanding and the pace is relatively relaxed.

We 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. Plus - commuting isn’t the big deal it is in the UK. Even in the biggest cities you’re only minutes from a beach, native park or mountain biking trail.

All of which means more time to do things you want to do away from work - 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.

New Zealand's balanced lifestyle

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’s climate is officially ‘temperate’ which means generally warm, dry summers (December to February) and relatively mild, wet winters (June to August).

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.

You’ll almost certainly find New Zealand sunnier (although of course we get grey days too).

According to your Met Office, the provisional UK sunshine total for 2018 was 1581 hours. In contrast, New Zealand’s three major cities all get over 1900 hours a year. In 2018 our three sunniest regions (Nelson, Bay of Plenty and Marlborough) all got over 2,500 sunshine hours.

A more welcoming climate means it’s easier to enjoy our great scenery and opportunities for outdoor recreation, year round.

Upbeat outlook, low-key politics

You’ll find Kiwis an easy-going and welcoming people with a generally upbeat outlook on life.

For example, a recent poll across the EU (still including the UK) found only 28% of people there believe their countries are ‘on the right track’. In New Zealand, optimism about 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.

Exciting housing choices

Unlike many parts of the UK, New Zealand cities and towns aren’t dominated by rows and rows of tower blocks and high-density housing.

There’s a wide variety of accommodation options on offer so you’ll be able to choose the style of living you’ve always wanted.

Whether your dream is a spacious stand-alone home in the suburbs with a garden and room for children and pets; semi-rural living on a larger plot of land in the countryside, maybe with goats, sheep or even horses; living by the sea; smart urban apartment living with a view - it’s all possible here.

Whatever your choice you can usually enjoy it without wasting hours of your life commuting.

Housing in New Zealand

Benefits for families

Coming to New Zealand is probably one of the best choices you could make for a family. It’s why, when it’s their time to start a family, so many expat Kiwis return.

Along with affordable, quality education, your children will be able to get closer to nature and enjoy healthy sport, recreation and adventure activities that are just that much harder to access in the UK.

You’ll be able to choose a home with room for you all to spread out in, and you’ll enjoy excellent healthcare and public facilities.

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 life in New Zealand

Recreation opportunities

Expat Explorer | HSBC

Solid educational standards

If you have children at school or you’re coming to study, you can be confident of the quality of New Zealand education.

New Zealand ranked third of 50 leading countries in The Economist’s new 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.

In contrast to the UK, the vast majority of our best quality primary and secondary schools are state-run and free (although parents are expected to meet some minor costs). Schools usually have plenty of sports and playing fields, often a swimming pool, and provide a safe environment where students stress less and learn more.

Early childhood education (ECE) is considered a priority, and three and four year olds have the first 20 hours of their ECE fully funded by the government.

New Zealand is well served at the tertiary level too, with eight universities and 16 institutes of technology providing internationally recognised qualifications.

All New Zealand’s Universities are in the top 500 of the 2019 QS World University Ranking, five of them in the top 300. All of them offer at least one subject ranked in the world’s top 100.

Studying in New Zealand

Education and schooling system

Healthcare system

Educating for the Future | Economist

Prosperity Index | Legatum

Expat Explorer | HSBC

QS World University Rankings | Top Universities

Living costs

You’ll find some things cost less in New Zealand, some more - particularly items that have to come long distances. But generally, the costs of living here are comparable to other western-style OECD countries.

Depending on where in the UK you’re coming from however you may actually find the cost of living in New Zealand cheaper than you’re used to.

London was rated the world’s 23rd most expensive city to live in by Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey. By comparison, Auckland was much further down the rankings at 89th and Wellington even less expensive at 114. Costs in other UK cities however are about the same or less expensive. And like everywhere else, city living in New Zealand costs more than living in smaller towns.

Cost of living in New Zealand

Cost of living | Mercer

Finding work

New Zealand’s job market has been strong over recent years, driven by solid economic performances.

47,000 job opportunities in a year

The government expects we’ll need about 47,000 more workers a year well into the 2020s. That adds up to great career opportunities.

The majority of the new jobs will be in highly skilled occupations, and it’s expected most will have to be filled by people from overseas countries - including the UK.

Skills in demand

Job openings will grow for virtually every kind of work. But the largest increases will be in business services, construction/utilities, health care/social assistance and education.

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.

New Zealand's job market & key industries

Skill shortage list checker | Immigration New Zealand

A little forward planning and preparation will help in your search for a job in New Zealand.

Finding work in New Zealand

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.

Working holiday visas give UK people aged 18-30 up to 23 months in New Zealand - almost twice as long as young people from other countries, although you can only work for 12 of these months.

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 people planning to invest at least NZD$3 million.

Visas to work in New Zealand

Visas to invest in New Zealand

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.

NZ Ready planning tool

Investor opportunities

There are exciting investment prospects in New Zealand. The land is fertile, the people are generally well off and well-educated and officialdom is actively welcoming. There is lots going on, both in traditional sectors and in ‘sunrise’ sectors like ICT, biotech, agricultural research and more.

Over the past 30 years successive governments have transformed New Zealand into a successful and resilient free market, open economy.

We came through the global recession comparatively well, undoubtedly helped by our relatively low exposure to Europe.

For several years observers described us as the world’s ‘rock star’ economy.

New Zealand hit a high point in 2016 with economic growth of around 4% in 2016. In 2018, growth eased back to 2.8% and is expected to average around 2.7% in the years to 2023.

To put that in context - the OECD reports that the UK’s economy grew 1.45% in 2018 and forecasts 1.22% and 0.98% growth in 2019 and 2020.

About our economy

Visas to invest in New Zealand

Investment opportunities

Economic overview

Tax system & rates

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: 22/06/2020

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