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Home > Living & Working in New Zealand > Getting settled

Getting Settled


Our client employers are generally very happy to help organise accommodation for you on arrival. Sometimes this is at your cost, sometimes they will offer to pay for a short period for you. It is often a staff residence or nearby backpackers hostel. Finding rental accommodation is rarely a problem and most therapists have found longer term accommodation within their first two weeks here. Your new work colleagues are often the best source of local advice about this, and very willing to help new arrivals.

For those with long term plans, buying property can take a much shorter time than in the UK once you have found the right house. 4-6 weeks is usual for all standard mortgage and ownership paperwork to be processed, and it can be less if the house is vacant. We advise that you do not purchase a property over the internet prior to arrival. In New Zealand, to advertise a house on the internet costs extra, so those listed online are only a small proportion of what is available.

It is the exception for any property to be rented or sold furnished. Shopping for second hand household goods is considered quite acceptable, and is something of a sport for many people! You will find that your new work colleagues will usually follow the kiwi tradition of offering to lend you key items until you can gather your own household goods.

If you're looking for rental accomodation, either a whole house or to share with existing flatmates, the TradeMe Rentals site is a good place to start and it's also free.

Two of the major real-estate companies are:

Cost of Living

A direct comparison of salaries/exchange rates is not always a good way to judge the differences between New Zealand and other countries, as tax rates and other factors have a big influence. You would earn enough to have a comfortable lifestyle and do things at weekends but be unlikely to save enough for a 3 month, luxury tour around the country at the end of a one year contract.

NZ Immigration publishes an excellent free booklet which is only available from their offices called "New start. New Opportunities. New Zealand" which has much more information on this topic.

Item Price†
Weekly rent for a modest 3 bedroom house
(Most houses/flats are rented unfurnished. The major cities would be higher)
$200 – 350
Litre of Petrol
(Prices fluctuate)
Car Insurance
(per year)
Meal at an a-la-carte restaurant
(per person, excluding drinks)
$25 – 40
Loaf of Bread (700g) $3.20
Bottle of Milk (2 Litre) $3.60
McDonald's Big Mac $4.45
Cup of Coffee (at a good café) $3.50
Movie Theatre Ticket (Adult, Full Price) $15
Music CD $25
Pair of Jeans (International Brands) $80 – 200
Landline Phone Rental
(for one month)
Cell Phone TXT Message $0.20

  † Correct as of March 2007

Bank Accounts

New Zealand has an advanced banking system and it is not usually difficult to open an account. However, all NZ banks do charge relatively high fees so you do need to check which account is going to suit your needs best. We suggest waiting until you arrive and choosing a bank close to your work place. You will need to take some ID, your job offer letter and an NZ based address. Some banks will require your New Zealand IRD number when opening an account. You will need to have a bank account into which your employer can pay your salary by automatic payment so this needs to be done before your first day of work.

Below are links to all the major banks in New Zealand:

Car Rental / Purchase

If you are going to buy a car, then you can get one to suit most budgets. Second hand Japanese imports form the bulk of the NZ car market. A basic older car that's reliable enough to see you through a year or so can be purchased for between $2,500 - $5000. A typical 4-5 year old 7-8 seater 'people mover' style car will cost approx. $16,000 - $20,000. You would be strongly advised to take someone with local mechanical knowledge when shopping.

New Zealand Drivers Car Rentals:

NZ Drivers License

Most employers include a current driver's license as an essential requirement for appointment. You will be expected to drive hospital pool cars on home visits or to attend off-site meetings, and these are usually manual geared cars. If you don't have a full license, it won't eliminate you from getting a job, but it will severely restrict your options. You can drive on your current license for up to 12 months before you have to pass a NZ driving test.

Visit the following web site for all the details you need

Cell Phones

If you wish to bring and use your cell phone to New Zealand there are couple of things to check before you leave:

  • The Handset is Unlocked
    Handset locking is where the phone's firmware is locked to one network preventing customers from getting a discounted phone from one provider and then connecting it to another provider's network (often one with lower calling rates). You will need to check that your phone is unlocked with your provider before leaving your home country, as they cannot normally be unlocked while abroad. There maybe a small charge to unlock the handset and it can generally be done "over-the-air" by the provider sending unlock codes to your phone. If you arrive in New Zealand with a locked phone, you will most likely need to buy a replacement phone.
  • The Handset supports the right Frequency
    Cellular phones send and receive information on different frequencies in different parts of the world. You will need make sure your phone supports the frequencies used in New Zealand, otherwise it won't work here. New Zealand uses GSM 900MHz and CDMA 870-890MHz, check the manual for your phone to make sure it supports one of these. In general, most phones sold in the UK, Europe and South East Asia will work here, however most phones sold in North and South America will not.

Once you get here, you can get your phone connected to one of the New Zealand networks quickly and cheaply. In general it costs about $20-30 which often includes some call time credit. New Zealand currently has two cellular networks and both offer good nationwide coverage and a range of prepay and monthly post paid calling plans.

New Zealand Cellular Networks:


Travel Insurance

eNZed Paramedical recommends that you discuss your needs with a reputable travel agent and look for an insurance that will cover the cost of your return home should this be medically necessary, as we are not aware of any New Zealand based policy that would do this. You should definitely carry full travel insurance while in transit and for an initial period while you make other arrangements. Be particularly careful to check if your travel insurance becomes invalid once you start work—some do.

To Insure Your Belongings

You can choose to buy as much or as little private insurance as you wish in a very short time once you arrive and start work.

Medical Insurance

A few countries (e.g. UK) have a reciprocal arrangement with NZ, which means that you would not have to pay for urgent hospital care while in NZ. Citizens of other countries (e.g. USA) should have full medical cover while here in any non-work capacity.

Once you start work, if you have an accident in NZ our compulsory Accident Compensation and Rehabilitation Scheme (ACC) automatically covers you for accident related matters only. This means that much of your health services would be covered as well as a portion of your lost salary (NB if your accident occurs during your first year of employment, the portion may be very small). Your employer deducts ACC premiums from your salary in the same way as your tax.

As an NZ tax payer, you will also be entitled to free access to any public health service, including hospital treatment for non-accident issues. To access private health services you would need to pay directly or have medical insurance. Even with this level of subsidised health care, you do still need to pay a surcharge for GP visits and prescriptions. $50 per GP visit for an adult is usual, and $15 per prescription. Dental care is not subsidised at all once you leave school so you need to pay the full cost. Maternity care (except private consultant) is totally free from confirmation until 6 weeks after delivery, for NZ residents.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional indemnity insurance is not required by most employers, but can be purchased by members of your New Zealand professional association only, for a minimal fee. It is not an automatic part of membership. ACC legislation means that no client can sue you for damages resulting from your work. However, either a client or your employer could complain to the Registration Board or Health and Disability Commission, and if unsafe or unprofessional conduct was proven, they could discipline you. There would be significant legal costs for you should this happen, no matter what the outcome. eNZed Paramedical recommends that you do purchase this but that you wait until arriving in New Zealand to do so. Some therapists report to us that they have access to 'world wide cover' via their own professional association. It is strongly advised that you check to prior to departure as it is usually an excellent option.

New Zealand Insurance Companies

Transferring your Pension Scheme/Retirement Fund to New Zealand

This is far too complex to cover here, but if it is not done at the right time, you can end up paying a double tax assessment on the same money which results in a considerable loss of funds and related retirement income. We have recently had recommended to us an insurance broker who specialises in this particular field which is extremely specialised within the insurance industry.

Once you are here, he can also offer a whole range of other insurance and mortage brokerage services.

Neville Johnson Financial Services Ltd
incorporating Pension Transfers International Ltd


We get lots of questions about schools from therapists with families. The New Zealand Education system has long been highly regarded throughout the world. Except in very small towns there will be a choice, and little or no difficulty in getting your primary school age child into a school that meets their needs. High schools, because they are bigger and there are less of them, can be harder sometimes but still it is quite easy to get into the school of your choice in most cases. New Zealand high schools are not split into 'comprehensive' or 'grammer' as in the UK. Every high school offers a range of subject choices for all levels. It is the assessed level of ability and interests of the child that determines which school is likely to suit them best.

Schools (both private and state funded) do actively compete and promote themselves, just like businesses. We do not recommend that you commit to any particular school until you have visited it in person on arrival. Like buying a house, no-one else can judge what will 'feel right' for you and your children. Normally it takes only a day or two to choose a school and the children can start just as soon as you and the principal agree on a convenient date. You can visit the web sites listed below, but your new manager and colleagues will be the best source of local advice. This will be closely linked with their advice about accommodation options.


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Last Modified: 20 November 2014