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New Zealand: Housing, Health, Education

Have you always dreamed of packing your bags and going to New Zealand? Beautiful natural scenery and welcoming locals make moving to join the “Kiwis” an attractive prospect for many expats. This guide gives New Zealand newbies everything they need to know about public transportation, healthcare, and education.
The marina in Auckland is one of the biggest yacht harbors in the entire world.

The House Hunt

One of the concerns expats have about starting a new life in New Zealand is finding suitable accommodation. Most expats choose to rent a home, although foreigners may also buy property. Short-term accommodation is available as well, giving newly arrived expats the chance to look for a suitable long-term home.

Houses are mostly built with earthquakes in mind, meaning buildings do not usually have basements. Another thing — often sorely missed by many expats in winter time — is central heating.

Buying, Renting, or Flatting?

When searching for a home, you’ll notice that rental costs are given by week rather than by month. As with anywhere else, the price depends heavily on the location, size, and quality of the property. You can find further information about renting a home in on New Zealand Now.

Rents in the bigger cities, especially Auckland, can be more expensive as the number of rental apartments and houses is limited. This is especially true for popular neighborhoods along the coastline. Most houses and apartments are rented unfurnished with only basic equipment, unless you are choosing to share a place, commonly called “flatting”.

Staying Insured

Although it’s not widely known, New Zealand actually has one of the most comprehensive public healthcare systems in the world. As it differs considerably from the American or European systems, however, it is essential for expats-to-be to familiarize themselves with the details.

Certain kinds of medical services are provided free for all residents. This includes treatment at public hospitals, x-rays, and laboratory tests, injuries from accidents as well as dental care for schoolchildren. Additionally, fees for visiting a general practitioner are subsidized by the government. Those considering moving to New Zealand should note, however, that only expats whose work permit is valid for two or more years are eligible for publicly funded healthcare.

Services such as dental treatment for adults are generally not included, so it’s recommended to take out additional private health insurance, even for those who are covered by the public system. Many residents also have additional private coverage in order to access private healthcare providers.

From Daycare to Play Centers

Expatriates with young kids have many options to choose from when it comes to finding daycare or early childhood education. There are kindergartens for children aged three to six. The first 20 hours of early childhood education per week are free and funded by the government, regardless of their visa situation. However, in some cases institutions charge an extra fee.

So-called play centers are also very popular. This childcare concept originated in New Zealand, and relies on children’s parents to manage the establishment and run the sessions. Babysitters, nannies, and other private daycare opportunities are also readily available.

High Quality Education for Expat Children

There are several schools, mostly in the Auckland area, which offer the International Baccalaureate (IB). Most expats, however, prefer to send their kids to the local public schools, which have an excellent international reputation.

Education in New Zealand follows the common divisions of primary, secondary and tertiary education. Public schools are free of charge, although there are numerous private schools which charge tuition fees. For children living in remote areas, the government has established a public distance-learning program, called the Correspondence School.

Students in New Zealand complete eight years of primary education before starting secondary school when they are around 13 years old. After three years of secondary school, students receive the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), Level 1.They can then leave school and immediately start a job. Those who remain in school for an additional year can take the NCEA Level 2. This makes them eligible  to study at one of New Zealand’s Technical Institutes, which offer vocational training and technical degrees. With an additional two years at secondary school and NCEA Level 3, students are able to apply to universities. To find out more about New Zealand’s school system and the NCEA Levels, you can check Careers NZ.

Students with the NCEA Level 3 can choose from 13 universities — the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, and Massey University are some of the most well-known. Studying at a university in New Zealand isn’t cheap, and tuition fees are usually higher for international students. The New Zealand Education website provides more information about studying in New Zealand.

In addition to the universities, there are a number of other tertiary education institutions, such as Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and the so-called wānangaThese provide higher education with a heavy focus on the culture of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Serhat Ahmed

"With all of the information that InterNations provided on Wellington, it made my move from Turkey easier than I could have imagined."

Melanie Rasbery

"Since I knew about the active expat network in New Zealand, InterNations made moving to Wellington more exciting than it had seemed before."

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