“US to NZ: Want to Live in NZ for Several Years” Is this Out of the Frying Pan and in to the Fire?

Moving to New Zealand could be worse than staying put

As predicted, there has been an increase in expressions of interest from aspiring emigrants in the US after the election of Donald J Trump.

Most of the interest has been in other countries, but some has focused on New Zealand. The latter is an obvious ‘frying pan to fire situation’ given the country’s Dirty Politics Scandal during the last election and the fact that this is an election year.

Add to that New Zealand’s other issues – not least its appalling housing, low salaries, and career crushing employment market – and what could possibly go wrong?

Here’s another post that was made to the sub-reddit forum ‘I Want Out‘,  followed by some of the responses it received. What would you advise the OP to do?

US to NZ: Want to Live in NZ for Several Years

I’m a citizen of the USA, I’m 25, currently living in US.

My education is that I’ve almost completed my bachelors degree in transfer studies, i.e. once I’ve completed that, I’ll be able to go to a different university/college. I would like to study/work/live in NZ, specifically in the realm of geology.

I do not have a lot of money, like, at all, because I am basically poor as we are all aware of the minimum wage issue in the USA, but I’ve been looking at the housing market, and it looks like I could (along with my SO) afford living in NZ, and even in a house (which is more than I can do in the USA).

Quite obviously, this is an election-related move, but, I will admit I have always wanted to leave the USA, I just never knew when or how, or the why, which would prompt me to actually do it.

After the election, I realized, “Oh shit, well, I guess my plans got bumped up.”

So, yeah. I just want to live there, because to me it’s like CO on steroids, without the recreational cannabis (which is a bummer, but I could deal with that).

I would like to eventually qualify for dual citizenship, but I have no idea how that works, because like, my dream is to retire in not the USA, and it’s either Switzerland (which I know you’ve gotta be like, major rich), Sweden (because I just love Sweden), or NZ (because hello it’s gorgeous). It’s gorgeous AF, and I have heard that the people there are extremely nice, although being on politics too long gets you the response of “what makes you think we want you” to which I just ignored.

I have had educational experiences with respect to geology, earthquakes in particular (In fact I studied in China for a month 1/2 about earthquakes), and it’s been my dream, and I just want to be able to gain citizenship, and then go to school there, because NZ is nothing but incredible geology.

So, basically, how much should I be saving up for a move there?

I will be completely honest, my boyfriend already has this all taken care of, but he’s not really sharing the information with me (probably b/c I haven’t really asked in detail), so I just wanted to hear from people who live in NZ who didn’t used to, what their experience was, etc.

Basically, I’m looking for some pro-tips.

Thanks a bunch! Take care! source


I lived in NZ for 10+ years and hated every minute of it. I lived in Auckland, so in a shitty city nowhere near the pretty stuff, but I couldn’t afford to actually visit the pretty stuff even with my fairly well-paid job because NZ is SO FUCKING EXPENSIVE. I mean sure, if you look at rent alone in some rural areas it might not seem too bad, but have you calculated that a weekly shop for two people maybe be $150-200? Not to mention bills, petrol, public transport, basic living costs like going to the pub ($8 for a beer) or buying clothes.

I’m not sure where you saw rent was cheaper than somewhere in the states, but make sure you realise rent there is WEEKLY, not monthly.

It is a beautiful country but what is the point of living in a beautiful country when you can’t even afford to go on a holiday to see it? And you said you are into quakes, but if you live in Chch, are you prepared for your nerves to be frayed beyond recognition because you are woken up in the middle of the night by ANOTHER quake or stuck out on the road because a quake has blocked off your route home? Or even worse, have friends and neighbours die?

I also found NZers to be very anti-immigrant in general, but I am Australian and they seem to hate Australians for some reason there. There is a vague anti-American feeling but I am not American so I wouldn’t know, you may be fine.

So there is my anti-NZ post – I am obviously not a fan of the place, and I feel like if you had the right attitude you would probably love it (as long as you earn good money).

This all really means nothing though if you don’t have the skills needed for a work visa – try a working holiday instead?

NZ housing is of generally poor quality and very expensive. FYI, rents are quoted per WEEK not per month. NZ is indeed beautiful, but the location is remote and its a very expensive place to live.

First question: have you ever been to NZ? I agree that it’s beautiful, the people are great, etc. but your experience as a resident will be much different than that of a tourist. Ultimately, it’s a very different country than the US.

Second question: have you looked into the visa process at all? It sounds like you haven’t, judging by your plan, so I’d recommend giving the Immigration New Zealand website a good read first. If studying is your goal, you’ll need a student visa. You do need to prove that you already have enough money to support yourself, plus pay your student fees, so this may already be a roadblock for you. It’s also questionable whether any of your already-earned university credits would transfer, if this is of concern to you. Alternatively, you could spend a year on working holiday while saving money and getting more familiar with the country. I think this might be your best option.

Now, assuming you go on to complete a degree in NZ, you won’t be guaranteed residency. You’ll have to secure a job, and after that you can begin the process of trying to live there permanently. In your case, there’s no path to residency/citizenship you could obtain without a skilled job offer. Also, you would not be able to have dual citizenship – you’d have to relinquish US citizenship if you did want to become an NZ citizen.

I’m also not sure how you figured you could afford buying a house in NZ – it’s notoriously one of the most expensive housing markets in the world, with housing shortages in the news constantly. If you’re looking to live in one of the major cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch), expect to rent, and expect to pay a lot for quality that’s below what you’d be used to in the U.S. Houses built in past decades can be quite “leaky”, with little to no insulation and with mold/ventilation problems. I would recommend looking in a mid-sized city or town, just to keep costs down – for instance, my 2br/1ba flat in Palmerston North was $300 NZD/week. I’d recommend saving as much money as you can in the US, as cost of living is much higher in NZ (though the exchange rate is working in your favor right now).

To be honest, it sounds like you need to do much more planning (and talk to your boyfriend?) before you proceed.

Can’t afford rent in USA so you want to go to New Zealand. Not to be rude but have you done any research at all?

new zealand’s housing situation is beyond fucked.

I lived there for a year and in my opinion it’s a perfect country but due to low wages, high cost of living I just couldn’t justify staying there.

honestly there are 100x more opportunities in the USA to make more money and live in a cheaper area. If you’re not doing well in the USA I really doubt you’ll be fine in New Zealand.

Like I said before life in New Zealand is great but it’s extremely expensive/low salaries.

…I’m from CO (Denver/Lakewood) myself, and your thinking that NZ is “CO on steroids” is incorrect. In CO, you hop on I-70 and an hour later you’re in Copper and hitting the lift. Or you’re trekking a fourteener. Not here. NZ is LONG, and very stretched out. It’s also very expensive – think $6/gallon for gas, so road trips aren’t cheap…

it is stupid expensive here. Unless you’re coming from New York or San Francisco, you will be STUNNED at how much it costs to rent here. And no matter where you are coming from, food and gas is WAY more than what you’re used to. And wages are positively criminal. I’m an IT manager and I make 65% what I could make if I went back to the US. And that’s in NZD, too….

You may also be interested in

New Zealand Will Give You a Free Trip If You Agree to a Job Interview” and The LookSee Wellington Privacy Fail
5 Things You Should Know About New Zealand
The Reason Why NZ Needs Migrants Is Because Kiwis Use Too Much Drugs, Poor Work Ethic
Reddit NZ: “What Sucks About Living in New Zealand?”
Migrant Tales – New Migrant Doctor Laments 3rd World Housing, Says So Bad Will Leave NZ

The Migrant Tales series

11 thoughts on ““US to NZ: Want to Live in NZ for Several Years” Is this Out of the Frying Pan and in to the Fire?

  1. We did not leave the US for any “political” reasons, but I would be more encouraged to move BACK to the US because of President Trump.

  2. Went to the beach today,millions of dead shellfish between Foxton and Otaki,every single bed of Pipis dead ,welcome to the 100% pure N.Z and also I read that thousands had died on stuff .co very funny thousands died every 10 meters,also met a local man who got really sick eating shellfish from the area 3 days ago and in typical N.Z fashion ,not a single sign warning people not to eat the fish,even the seagulls aren’t eating them .

    • Think same issue here at Waitarere beach ,happened after rainfall so I can only assume it’s effluent from the Manawatu river ,obviously nothing to do with to much fresh water as it is not likely a possibility to dilute the saline content of the Tasman sea 40 kms away from the river mouth

  3. I would advise against a move to NZ. I grew up there but I have spent most of my life in the US. Opportunities, especially for someone skilled, are very limited in NZ. Yes, NZ is a beautiful country but spectacular scenery and geological wonders are abundant in the western US too. Plus as many have noted NZ is very expensive especially if you want to live somewhere desirable. My recommendation is to hunker down in a liberal state until the Trump reign is over.

  4. Wow, that post is so hard for me to read. I’ve been living in Auckland for almost 2 years now and can’t wait to make my move (escape) back to Colorado in less than 3 wks. NZ and CO have little in common. The outdoor lifestyle that I was looking forward to here is a joke. It’s either raining, cold/cloudy, or my skin feels like it’s getting melted off by the sun. On the weekends and holidays all the beautiful spots are filled with people. It can be a pain just to find a place to park. Everything is so expensive and bland here. Not much to do in the evening or when the weather is bad. My house is Colorado will be like living in a mansion compared to my shack of a rental that I am paying $650 more a month to live in.

    Every time the NZ media brings up Americans fleeing to NZ in order to feel safe I want to barf! Never in my life have I felt so unsafe! I worry about my house getting broken into, getting in a car accident with a crazy Kiwi driver, and I wouldn’t feel safe walking alone at night or even sitting at a bus stop! I feel that Kiwis have a false since of security because they are so isolated from the rest of the world and local stuff goes unreported. The media spends a lot of time gossiping about other countries problems

  5. There aren’t reliable figures, but the total number of people from the United States living overseas is estimated to be somewhere around 3 to 8 million. With a population of 324.676 million people, this works out as 0.92% to 2.46% of their total population. Compare this to New Zealand, where the number living overseas is around 650,000. This is of a population of 4,690,000. This equates to 13.86% of the population living overseas – an increase of over 600% from what is seen in the worst case scenario for America (with the best case scenario the difference is well over 1300%!). It doesn’t take too much to realise that on these percentages alone, the chance of living a happy, satisfying and fulfilling life in NZ is far lower than in America.

  6. She sounds horribly naïve and she would be far better off going elsewhere, such as Australia. Admittedly, it has become universally more difficult for young people throughout the world to make a start in life. However, the problem is especially acute in New Zealand and the opportunities are so miniscule that most qualified young people emigrate leaving the retards behind.

    BTW, are you still on your self-imposed exile into anonymity? I would be keen to phone you and even invite you for dinner to say thanks. Have you changed your mind :)?

      • Very relevant ,however this is so fucking obvious to everyone ,it’s ridiculous ,cultural experience sleeping on a mattress in a warehouse ,kiss my ass,I’ll take a nice hotel room anyday.

      • Here is a classic example of the kind of BS you have to put up with in New Zealand with infrastructure. A switch of internet providers shouldn’t be a major thing to do, but even something like that WILL turn into a nightmare in this pathetic country. My own experiences of a recent change require the installation of Ultra Fast Broadband cabling into the property with a combination of 3 houses and a block of flats. The total number of owners altogether is 3. All were contacted and gave permission for the work to take place within 6 days. It is now 4 months, and at least 6 phone calls later and the installation company STILL hasn’t got around to doing the work. This kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME.

        You only have to look at Christchurch and Kaikoura, and the speed of repairs in both places, to realise that Kiwis live their lives in slow motion.

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