The Cost of Retiring in New Zealand

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a beautiful island country with majestic landscapes, incredible bio-diversity, a pleasant moderate climate, and a rich cultural heritage. People who are contemplating relocating to another country to spend their retirement years, would do well to make New Zealand a dream destination. New Zealand’s geography is comprised of two large islands called the North Island and South Island, along with other smaller islands. As with any major life decision, it is important to do the necessary research, weigh the pros and cons, and arrive to a conclusion of the best location to enjoy your retirement.

The New Zealand Lifestyle

Voted among the top 5 healthiest places in the world to live in 2018 by International Living, New Zealand’s population is expected to reach 4.9 million people by 2020. To put this into perspective, New Zealand’s population represents just over 2% of the population of the United States’ 328 million people. Imagine living in an enticing environment with seemingly unlimited outdoor activities, fresh seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, and a higher life expectancy than the United States. Also, according to Tourism.net, New Zealand is considered one of the most photogenic places in the world.

Clearly, there are amazing benefits to living a retired life in a country known for its rolling hills, sandy beaches, the sport of rugby, cycling, the indigenous Maori culture, and a population affectionately referred to as “Kiwis.” Planning a trip to visit New Zealand and seeing for yourself what this country has to offer, could be the first step towards deciding when and where to make your new home as an expat retiree. For example, you can travel to New Zealand with just your passport, but be aware of the following requirements:

Passport and Visa Requirements for New Zealand

• Passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand or
• Passport must be valid for one month beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand, if the issuing government has consular representation in New Zealand that is able to issue and renew travel documents (check with your issuing authority before traveling).

Other options for making New Zealand a retirement destination include getting a Parent Retirement Resident Visa or a Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa, both of which are summarized below.

  1. Parent Retirement Resident Visa: This visa offers the opportunity to live, work, and study in New Zealand on a permanent basis. However, caveat with this kind of visa is that you need to have a New Zealand citizen or a resident adult willing to sponsor you. Also, there’s an eligibility factor, meaning that you need to have a yearly income of NZ$60,000, NZ$1 million for investment purposes over a period of 4 years, and approximately NZ$500,000 to live on. After 4 years, you can then apply for permanent residence and may also be able to include you partner in the application process.
  2. Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa: The stipulations for this visa offers the future retiree a chance to live in New Zealand for up to 2 years. The requirements are that you must be at least 66 years old or above, and financially be in a position of having $750,000 for investment purposes for 2 years. In addition, you will need another NZ $500,000 to live on along with an annual income of NZ $60,000. In this type of visa, the government does allow you to include a spouse or partner during the application process, but you cannot include dependent children.

Choosing Your Retirement Spot

Choosing where to retire in New Zealand depends in large part, on your personal preference, which is why carving out some time to visit as a tourist will give you some perspective on a potential destination spot to retire. For example, if you’re are seeking beautiful scenery and an active lifestyle, then you should consider the South Island mountain towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. If you’re a wine connoisseur and seeking a lifestyle closer to the coast, then the sunny Bay regions of Tasman and Hawke will surely satisfy your personal preferences.

Those who consider themselves urban city dwellers and enjoy traveling around town trying a variety of cuisine at restaurants, sipping latte’s in cafes, going for a run in the park, visiting museums, all while using public transportation, will find the capital city of Wellington to be the perfect destination to enjoy the city-living lifestyle. An important factor to me mindful of when deciding where to live, is whether you will have access to an international airport.

This is especially relevant to retirees who spend a great deal of time traveling to and from New Zealand and rely heavily on a short drive to the airport. In this case, it is best to consider living in urban destinations such as Christchurch, Wellington, or Auckland.

Retiring in a beautiful country like New Zealand would be a dream come true for anyone looking to enjoy an easy-going lifestyle. However, another key factor to weigh before committing to making such life-changing transition is researching how the cost of living will affect your budget. According to Jenny Smith of MoveToNewZealand.net, the cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to many cities in the United States, especially large expensive cities such as New York City.

If you are researching cost-of-living indicators such as rent, groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities pertaining to where you decide to live in New Zealand, you should go to Numbeo.com. This site researches cost-of-living indicators that can help you make the right decision based on your personal budget

New Zealand is Worth It

Although choosing to retire in New Zealand does require a sizable financial investment, there are clearly some amazing long-term benefits to relocating to an Island country famous for its natural scenery, friendly people, active lifestyle, and filming destination for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Zealand’s Immigration Department gives a great account on why this country is an incredible place to live in the following statement:

“In many ways, it’s not what we have that’s important to the quality of our life – it’s what we don’t have. We don’t have high crime rates, our police don’t carry guns and instances of corruption are virtually unheard of. We don’t have abject poverty or hunger and we don’t have pollution, congestion, health issues and cramped city living that we see elsewhere.”

Deciding to get started in making New Zealand your retiring destination can be an exciting adventure and once you’ve settled-in to your chosen small town or urban center, you will soon realize that you made the right choice in making this country your new home.


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