Retirement Around The World – New Zealand

Published on March 10, 2015


Welcome to New Zealand—home to the intriguing kiwi bird, beautiful beaches, emerald hills, lush rain forests, and landscapes so enchanting they were used as the backdrop for the popular “Lord of the Rings” films! This scenic two-island country offers retirees a relaxed lifestyle, temperate climate and an array of activities that include golf, boating, hiking, as well as shopping, browsing the local art and craft galleries, and attending performing arts venues. Expats can also enjoy New Zealand’s fresh Pacific Rim cuisine and try their luck at its glamorous casinos.

Another reason why New Zealand is a popular retirement destination for Americans and others from around the world is its warm, friendly people. New Zealanders are known to be relaxed, easy to get along with, and make expats feel welcome.

Retirement for New Zealanders

New Zealand’s state pension is known as Superannuation and is one of the world’s most generous pension plans. The pension is paid out every two weeks to people ages 65 and older. To qualify, you must have lived in New Zealand for 10 years and be a permanent resident. There are some reciprocal agreements with other countries which may allow expats to claim the pension earlier than age 65.

Superannuation is calculated on 66% of the average couple’s wage after tax. Payments can be made to single people or married couples. Once granted the New Zealand Superannuation, seniors and veterans will automatically receive a Super Gold Card which provides them with discounts and concessions.

In addition to the government plan, many New Zealanders will have a private pension plan through their employer, although it’s also possible to set up a private plan independently.

Healthcare in New Zealand

New Zealand’s healthcare system has undergone significant reforms during the past several decades, creating a mixed public-private system. The public healthcare system is free or low cost due to heavy government subsidies. Under this system, certain types of healthcare are provided for free to residents and those who have work permits or temporary residency. Such services include prescriptions, basic hospital treatment, x-rays and laboratory tests, as well as breast scans for women over age 50.

The healthcare facilities in New Zealand’s cities are of a high standard; however, in rural areas it can be more difficult to access good healthcare and the nearest hospital may be far from where you live. It’s a good idea to research medical facilities in the area you’re considering moving to, especially if you have a medical condition that requires regular care.

In order for expats to access free public healthcare, they need to have a work permit or a permanent residence permit. Non-residents should get medical insurance from their home country. Note that dental care is not free. Expats say these costs tend to be high, so you might want to consider obtaining a private healthcare plan.

Americans in New Zealand

U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to New Zealand for up to 90 days do not need a tourist visa.

In 2010 New Zealand introduced a “retirement visa” to make it easier for those looking to retire here. This visa is available to applicants aged 65 and older. It takes the form of either a parent retirement visa (for those with family in the country), or a temporary retirement visa for those who have no existing relationship with New Zealand. The temporary retirement visa requires $750,000 in qualifying investments, along with a $500,000 sum for maintenance and an income of at least $60,000 per year. Retirees can renew this visa on a bi-annual basis provided that all criteria are met.

For those who don’t qualify for the retirement visas, there are alternative ways in which people can retire to New Zealand, providing they qualify for residence in one of the alternative immigration categories. For more information you can go to

Cost of Living

Retirees will be happy to learn that expats living in New Zealand enjoy a high standard of living. Due to the strength of the New Zealand dollar against many other currencies, retirees can get a lot more for their money here. The cost of living varies from city to city, with bigger cities being more expensive than some of the more rural areas. As mentioned in previous articles, it’s a good idea to travel to different regions of a country to become familiar with various lifestyles and the cost of living.

Renting before you buy gives you the opportunity to see if an area meets your needs before making a financial commitment. Rentals in New Zealand are regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act and administered by the Building and Housing Group within the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. This group provides standard contracts outlining the terms of the lease and the responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord. They also hold the deposit and provide a dispute resolution service.

A one-bedroom located in the city centre averages approximately $1,016 while the same apartment outside the city centre goes for about $766.00 a month. A three-bedroom apartment in the city centre rents for approximately $1,652 per month; the same apartment outside the city centre goes for about $1,304.

If you decide to purchase property in New Zealand, you’ll find the process to be well organized and regulated to ensure fairness for both buyers and sellers. Once you’ve found the home you want, the purchase process can be completed in as little as three to four weeks. When buying a home it’s important to get a LIM—Land Information Memorandum—which includes important information about the property you’re considering.

Home prices in New Zealand vary depending on where you look. Auckland, one of New Zealand’s largest cities, has the most expensive housing with an average price of approximately $500,000. It’s followed by Central Otago Lakes, where prices average about $374,000 and Wellington at about $358,000. Southland has the least expensive prices, averaging approximately $167,000.

As with other countries, the cost of living varies from city to city. A three-course dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant averages around $65.00, while a combo meal at a fast-food restaurant averages approximately $8.00 per person. At the market you can buy a dozen eggs for $3.35 and a fresh loaf of white bread for $1.94. A movie ticket costs $12.26, and a fitness club membership for one adult runs approximately $57.00 per month.

Cities/Towns That Attract Expats

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is among the country’s hottest cities. It attracts many visitors as well as expats who want to live there for the long-term. Wellington has a strong community feel that can be experienced throughout the city’s neighborhoods. It has a vibrant night life with an abundance of trendy restaurants, bars and cafes. Both outdoor enthusiasts and movie buffs flock to locations that were featured in “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” films. Miramar, southeast of the city centre, is where Weta film studios are located and where movie producer Peter Jackson calls home.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest, most diverse city and main transport hub. This vibrant urban environment with its outstanding food, wine and shopping is within a half hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting holiday islands. For nature lovers Auckland offers diverse landscapes: lush rainforests and black sand beaches in the west, golden sand beaches in the east, picturesque wine country and stunning coastlines to the north and beautiful country gardens to the south. Auckland offers plenty to do day and night and expats will never be bored.

, located on the North Island, offers retirees picturesque rural surroundings, a golf course, mineral pools and a large indoor/outdoor pool complex. The pace is calm and there are several retirement homes in the area. Hamilton’s International Airport is less than an hour away which makes it convenient for expats to return to the U.S. for visits. The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” were filmed in this area so the Hobbiton Movie Set has put Matamata on New Zealand’s tourist map.

Nelson, located on the South Island, is positioned between two national parks and is a cheerful, sunny and relaxed place to live. It offers a variety of entertainment and a strong arts scene with more than 350 resident artists (traditional, contemporary and Maori).

Motueka is very popular among retirees. Horticulture is the main industry here with hops and apple orchards. Many artists, potters and reggae musicians reside here. The “green” atmosphere here is furthered by its proximity to the large International Pacifist Community at Riverside which specializes in organic farming.

From the natural beauty of its breathtaking countryside, exquisite beaches, and lush rainforests, to the vibrancy of its friendly, artistic and multicultural cities, New Zealand offers expats a truly wonderful and diverse lifestyle!

Have a question now? Contact Next Generation at (888) 857-8058 or, or read through our Starter Kits for more information about building a retirement future today.


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