Moving to another country is exciting, and the kind of adventure I think everyone should go on at least once. I love to relocate. However, it can also be stressful and overwhelming; there’s a lot of things to consider before you go! Here’s a list of some things to know before moving to New Zealand that’ll make the transition as smooth as possible.
You Need A Visa!
I’m just going to outline the benefits of a Working Holiday Visa as it’s the only experience I have and is most common among backpackers, but there’s a list of all Visa types listed on NZ’s Immigration website.
A Working Holiday Visa will only be granted to those under 30 (or 35, for some nationalities).
There are some other requirements which are clearly outlined here, but I’ll be honest, they don’t ask for proof of half these things. ie. No one checked my bank account, and no one asked to see a ticket home (which is great ’cause I don’t have one).
Brits and Canadians are given the option between a 1 or 2 year Working Holiday Visa.
Other nationalities can apply for 1 year, and they’re all quite easy to have approved as long as you’re not a convict.
The cost of either visa is around $200 NZD.
If you have the choice, get the 2 year visa.
Just do it.
2 years – You’ll require both a chest x-ray and medical exam (includes blood work) which will run you somewhere around $600 in total, and you need to choose from a list of pre-approved physicians. You can find the one closest to you by searching this list.
I know that seems crazy when you have the option to spend just $200 for 1 year, but you’ll kick yourself when you have to pay for everything to extend it when you’re already here. Learn from my mistakes!*
1 year – no medical exam, but you may have to get a chest x-ray if you’ve been to a country that isn’t on this list of places with low incidents of TB. DO look it over, you’d be surprised. The x-ray can cost anywhere between $80 and $300. Strive for $80. I drove to a city 45 minutes out of my way for a cheaper radiologist, and it was the best $220 I ever saved. If you can’t find the price online, you can call up and ask.
If you don’t need the x-ray, you’re in the clear! You can just roll up and start livin’. This is a great option if you know your time must be limited to a year.
*Brits and fellow Canadians: I would advise that you get the 2 year visa for starters.
I learned the hard way. I heard it was easy enough to extend, and while it’s do-able, I wouldn’t use the words easy. It’s harder to find a doctor (and the few that will take 1-year visa holders charge a lot more), and it’s harder to find proper jobs because they don’t want to take the risk on you leaving, etc. If you have even the slightest feeling you might want to stay over a year, apply for it the first time around.
It should be noted that Canadians can work the full 2 years, while Brits can only work 12 months. I don’t know why.
To be fair though it’s 12 months of work in total, so if you work for 7 months of your first year then you can still work another 5 months the next year.
Other Nationalities: There’s an option for you to extend your visa for another 3 months if you’re cool with farm work. 3 months of rural work will earn you 3 more months of fun in the land of the kiwis.
Apply for your visa before you arrive in the country! If you’re here on a tourist visa first and trying to upgrade to a Working Holiday later… I’ve heard it’s a nightmare.
You Need a Job!
There’s also recruitment agencies, which I never considered before I arrived. Companies like Beyond, Velocity, and Salt will help you find temp work. The upside to this is that you don’t have to commit to anything and can have some freedom to travel around between jobs. The types of employment they recruit for varies, as does the length of each contract.
I got ahead of myself and started applying for jobs way before I left Canada. Like, months in advance. That was unnecessary. Employers are going to be way less interested in you as a candidate if they can only meet over Skype, next to someone who’s ready, in the country, and able to start right away. Take it easy, touch down, travel around a little, decide where you’d like to stay, and then start your search. There’s tons of work if you’re not picky about what kind of job you’re after!
Some of the easiest work to find:
– Fruit Picking/Farm Work (hang out at a winery, anyone?)
– Barrista (Kiwis live for the flat white)
– Server/Bartender (Wellington has 40956837 cool bars and restaurants)
– Sales (lots of fundraising stuff)
– Construction (I know a guy who removes asbestos, for example)
– Au Pair (I saw one posted where half the time would be spent in Fiji…not a bad gig)
– Data Entry, Admin, Customer Service, Accounting, etc. (Contract – through recruiters)
These jobs require little to no experience and employers are familiar with hiring foreigners with Working Holiday Visas.
The minimum wage in NZ is about $16/hr. Office work usually pays $20+.
You Need Somewhere to Sleep!
You’ll be staying in hostels for the first little while, which is a great way to make friends when you arrive in a new place! The cost of a cheap dorm room is about $20-$30 per night.
When you’re ready to find a flat, get on the Facebook groups. Before you arrive, join some groups in Auckland and Wellington, just to get a vibe for the rent prices and what kind of accommodation you can expect for your budget.
Be prepared to have flatmates. Many, many, flatmates. The cost of living in New Zealand is high, and there are no skyscraper condos with tiny individual apartments, so you’ll most likely be sharing a big beautiful Victorian house with 4 to 7 other people. Unless you’re coming over here with your recent lottery winnings, you will not be able to afford to live alone. Know dat.
That being said, New Zealand is a very couple-friendly place to travel/live. Lots of rooms are advertised for pairs, and that’ll keep your costs down significantly if that’s your sitch.
You Need to Pay for Stuff!
While the Euro, Canadian, American, and Australian Dollars are worth more than that of New Zealand (at the time this post was published), most stuff is straight up more expensive.
Some General Price Listings ($NZ)
A bottle of Coca-Cola: $4 (They have vanilla Coke here guys!)
A bottle of water: $3 (but you have no reason to be buying those, the water here is clean and plastic bottles are ridiculous #BoycottNestle)
A standard budget meal: $10-15 (You can find some good lunch specials)
Groceries: $50 per week (fruit/veg are crazy expensive. I saw one cucumber for $5 during the off season. Limes go for $30/kg. I wish I were kidding)
Flat White/Tea at a cafe: $4
Pint: $6 cheap (Tui), $10+ craft (but Wellington is the home of craft so you gotta try some)
You can always find $4 Heineken bottles for happy hour, too.
24-cheap bottles from the super market: $30
Decent bottle of wine: $10+
Zoomy Fare From Auckland CBD to Ponsonby: $10
Zoomy Fare from Wellington Central to Newtown: $8
*Uber exists but Zoomy is actually the better choice here. It’s Kiwi-owned and the driver’s get to keep more of the fare! It’s also a little cheaper for customers. win-win-win!
Use my code when you download the app so we both get a free ride – 892HN2A
Petrol/Gas: $2+/litre ($60-100 to fill up. Sorry pals.)
Car Rental: $25-40/day (depends on length of rental)
Bottle of shampoo/conditioner: $4 each
1 zone bus fare, Auckland: $3
1 zone bus fare, Wellington: $2
Airport Bus – Auckland: $18 one way ($32 return)
Airport Bus – Wellington: $9 one way
Wifi: $6/day at some hostels. I’ve found any free/included wifi is usually garbage, and if you want something that works you need to pay. However, you can always count on a reliable free wifi connection at places like:
⁃ The Public Library
Or, life hack – find a cute cafe, pay for a coffee, get unlimited free wifi.
Phone Plan-Per Month: $40 Vodaphone 4GB, unlimited texts, 500 minutes. Pay as you go.
Rent in a shared house: $900/month (but rent is paid weekly)
Cost of a flight here: $1200 (depending on where you’re coming from, of course)
I suggest showing up with at LEAST $5000 NZD.
You’ll easily spend $60+ per day, which means you’ll only survive here for maybe a month and a half without a source of income. You want to be able to do all the fun things when you get here! Fun things cost money!
Pro Tip: Shop at Warehouse and KMart for cheap stuff. They have everything you need to get set up in a new flat. It’s not great quality, but lots of the home stuff is cute! I got everything I needed (bed sheets, blanket, pillows, tea kettle, 2 minute noodles, a mirror, and so so so much more) for $100 when I moved into my first room.
Double Pro Tip: KMart is open until midnight.
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to in my life.
With mountains, volcanoes, beaches, hot springs, glow worm caves, wineries, craft breweries, and so much more, you’ll have no shortage of things to do during your Working Holiday year!