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Five top tips for expats and migrants renting property in New Zealand

Ready to relocate and set up home? Don't miss these tips from our partners Mobile Relocation.
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The Kiwi lifestyle has an enviable international reputation. But just how accessible is it to rent a property and move to New Zealand? If you’re ready to relocate and set up home, here are some insider tips on how to do it:

Location, location, location. 

New Zealand’s cities are pretty stunning – beachside village vs hillside suburb with views, or even living on an island like Waiheke and commuting by ferry!  Thinking about your lifestyle is a good place to start when choosing where to live. What’s the commute to work?  And more importantly the traffic congestion at peak hours? Do you prioritise local options for food shopping or eating out? Is there public transport in the area?  Are good schools important?  Can you easily get to a soccer field, the art gallery, bushwalks or whatever you like to do at weekends?

Try before you sign.

It’s tempting to set your heart on your dream home in your dream area on the basis of online pictures or videos.  Instead of rushing into a lease agreement, book an Airbnb or serviced apartment in your favoured suburb.   Experience the area first-hand.  If it does turn out to the ‘the one’ you’ll have achieved a head start with making valuable local connections like real estate agents, neighbourhood families and work colleagues who live nearby.

Get a bank account first. 

Rental properties move fast in the high-demand cities of Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.  To secure a home you’ll need to make payments as soon as a landlord accepts your application.  So a New Zealand bank account is a top priority. Setting up it up from offshore is much quicker than starting the process when you get here. 

To buy or not to buy? 

It might seem like a no-brainer to invest in your own property rather than just paying a landlord.  But checking your eligibility to buy must be the first step.  There’s a minimum residency period, as explained on the NZ government’s website.  And the big question for both overseas and local buyers is which way house prices will go.  After a prolonged property boom, the Auckland market slowed into 2019, and values in Christchurch have dropped.  But prices in other parts of the country, including Wellington, are still rising.  Check here for current reports on property prices.

Save on currency transfers.

Whether you’re having to come up with bond and advance payments for a rental, or the funds to purchase a house, expats and migrants need to bring money into New Zealand.  Most people still use a bank to transfer their savings into New Zealand dollars.  Another alternative worth investigating is a specialist currency brokering firm. They generally don’t charge fees and offer highly completive exchange rates.  A difference of 3-4% can be worth a lot.

Good luck with establishing your new home away from home!

Visit Mobile Relocation Experts to learn more.


The author of this post, Bridget Romanes, is Principal at Mobile Relocation Ltd.  Mobile helps businesses attract, retain and maximise the productivity of expat talent.

By sharing our knowledge through this blog we hope to help newcomers prepare and accelerate their adjustment to life in NZ.

Mobile designs and delivers expat onboarding programmes – finding housing and schooling, community connection, cultural awareness training, coaching, spousal support.  We get expats (and their families) settled and focused on their new jobs and lives.  Mobile’s mission is to connect newcomers with what they need to thrive in New Zealand. 

If you’ve got a question or a comment, please feel free to get in touch via our contact page or message Bridget on Linked In.

Note:  I don’t have commercial relationships or take commission from any of the organisations mentioned in this article.  So you can be assured that the advice is impartial and based on the experience of Mobile’s team and our expat and migrant clients.