Whether you’re a native-born Aussie, came to Australia from somewhere else, or a Kiwi who has been spending extended time in Australia, this page will help you understand what’s different about life in New Zealand and whether a move across the Tasman is right for you.
Visa options for you and your family
If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia you don’t need a visa to live and work in New Zealand.
If you’re in Australia on a temporary visa then you’ll likely need a visa to enter New Zealand. Our visa system is very similar is Australia’s; if you’re offered a skilled job by a New Zealand employer then they may be able to sponsor your temporary work visa application. There are also permanent resident options that allow you to stay indefinitely.
If you are a partner of a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you’ll likely be able to apply for a partner visa based on your relationship.
For more information visit our Visas & Citizenship section.
Living in New Zealand
We speak the same language and share a lot culturally with Australia. You’ll feel very much at home.
The pace of life here is laid back, and we’re fortunate to live in what many people say is the cleanest and most beautiful country in the world.
It’s easy to do things outdoors and you’ll have time for your own interests. Even in the biggest cities you’re only minutes from a beach, native park or mountain biking trail. It’s also a great place for children, with so many healthy recreational activities and a world-class education system that is largely free.
Jumping the Tasman: career & lifestyle (02:13)
Cost of living
Overall, it’ll probably cost slightly less to live in New Zealand than it does in Australia.
Depending where you come from, the cost of living is likely to be cheaper. For example, Sydney is the world’s 31st most expensive city to live in, according to the Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living survey,
By comparison, Auckland was rather further down the rankings at 61st and Wellington even less expensive at 83rd.
Other Australian cities also featured on Mercer’s list; Melbourne came in at 47th, Perth 48th, Canberra 65th, Brisbane 66th, and Adelaide 71st.
If you are eligible for the Australian aged-pension, you can claim this in New Zealand as part of the Social Security Agreement between the two countries. The agreement also allows you to add together your periods of Working Age residence in Australia and New Zealand, so you can meet the minimum requirements for the payment.
Alternatively, you may be able to apply directly for the New Zealand scheme (known as New Zealand Super).
Pension saving schemes
New Zealand has an innovative and very popular employer and government-subsidised scheme that helps people in work save long term for retirement.
It’s called KiwiSaver and it’s designed to make it easy for people maintain regular savings.
A KiwiSaver account grows from a combination of sources; deductions from your pay or salary at a level you choose: a matching contribution from your employer; and an annual top-up from the government.
If you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or permanent resident and you normally live in New Zealand, you’ll be eligible for KiwiSaver. When you start a new job, if you’re not already a member and are eligible, your employer will enrol you automatically in KiwiSaver.
If you have an Australian retirement savings scheme, it may be possible to transfer your savings to a KiwiSaver scheme. However, not all schemes offer this option, so you should check with the provider.
If you’re a returning New Zealander, you should be eligible for publicly funded healthcare if you register with the local Primary Health Organisation (PHO).
For Australians, there are two different eligibility classes.
If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for the full range of publicly funded health care, provided you can demonstrate an intention to stay in New Zealand for at least two years continually. New Zealand doesn’t have a national Medicare system like Australia. Instead, once you are living in New Zealand, you should register with the PHO to receive subsidised healthcare.
If you’re an Australian resident and don’t intend to stay for two years, you’re only eligible for immediately necessary hospital and maternity services and pharmaceuticals. You’ll need to pay the full cost of primary health care consultations (e.g. with a local doctor or nurse), often called the ‘casual’ rate. This is what New Zealanders pay if they choose not to enrol.
The differences aren’t as subtle as people think… the culture is quite different, there is less hierarchy and people tend to get on with things more quickly.
Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand for injuries resulting from accidents – everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home or breaking your arm skiing, even if the person who is injured caused the accident.
ACC helps cover medical and treatment fees and rehabilitation costs such as physiotherapy or residential care, although there are part-charges for some treatments. They will also make a payment to families in the case of accidental death, even if the family live outside of New Zealand.
You pay for your ACC cover through a levy on your income and also charges for running your motorcar.
Under New Zealand’s ACC system, you don’t have the right to sue anyone for injuries from an accident.
ACC’s website has more information about what is and isn’t covered, and what happens if you injure yourself.
Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are classified as domestic students in New Zealand so only pay local fees, including tertiary education. The vast majority of our top quality primary and secondary schools are free (although parents are expected to meet some minor costs).
New Zealand citizens are eligible to apply for Student Loans or the Student Allowance when they begin studying. However, New Zealand residents and Australian citizens and permanent residents need to have lived in New Zealand for at least three years before they are eligible.
Learn more in our Education & Schooling section.
An Australian who is a resident in New Zealand may rent or purchase land and property under the same conditions as New Zealanders. No restrictions apply to land value or size.
An Australian who is not actually residing in New Zealand may be classed as an “overseas person” and must obtain consent under New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Regulations to acquire or take control of significant assets in New Zealand.
New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents visiting and living in New Zealand are liable for New Zealand income tax on all income derived from New Zealand.
Getting a tax number
If you have previously lived in New Zealand you may already have an IRD number and should use this number when you return. If you don’t know your IRD number, you can find it using the IRD website.
If you’ve never had an IRD number, you should apply for one through Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when you arrive in New Zealand, particularly if you will be working here. You can find the form on the IRD website.
If you do not have an IRD number, tax will be deducted at a no-declaration rate, which is higher than the normal deduction rate.