Moving to New Zealand from the USA

Are you thinking about moving to New Zealand from the USA and starting a new life? You are not alone in this. Thousands of Americans move to New Zealand each year and many more would love to do so if given the opportunity.

Between 2013 and 2019, about 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. citizens moved to New Zealand. And as of the 2018 census, there were a total of 27, 678 US immigrants living there. This makes the USA the 7th highest nationality of immigrants in NZ.

Read on as we look into New Zealand immigration, what relocating there looks like, eligibility, visa application procedures, and more.

Here are some other articles that might help you plan your move:

  • Best International Movers: The international moving industry is full of scammy movers, and when all of your belongings are at stake, don’t take chances. These are the top international movers.
  • Ship your car overseas: Taking your car with you? Use a company that prioritizes professionalism, cares for your vehicle and is experienced.
  • International Moving Costs: Moving internationally comes with its own set of expenses. Learn more about the specific costs associated with an international move.

What are the best International Movers?

Company Price Vendor Type Quoting options Storage Minimum Move Size
JK Moving Services $$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
North American Van Lines $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
Allied $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom

How to move from the USA to New Zealand

Going to New Zealand:

If you’re just passing through New Zealand or are visiting as a tourist, all you need is the NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). It’s a virtual pass that you can apply for online. It grants you 90 days of stay on multiple entries and is valid for 2 years after issue.

Relocating to New Zealand long term or permanently:

To stay long-term in New Zealand, you’ll need a work visa or a permanent resident visa.

NZ needs 40, 000 jobs each year to support the growing economy. According to New Zealand Now, accommodation, food services, business services, construction, and retail trade make up the bulk of new jobs each year. Areas of the economy facing long-term staffing challenges include construction, engineering, finance/business, science, ICT, hospitality & tourism, health & social sciences.

Auckland and Canterbury are known as the largest regions with shortages in skilled labor. Your employer in New Zealand will need to show that they can’t find a local employee when hiring you. Some of the websites that you can use to connect with potential employers in New Zealand include Working in New Zealand, Work Here, and New Kiwis.

Getting a New Zealand Visa:

There are several work visas available through Immigration New Zealand.

The Working Holiday Visa is a temporary visa for persons between the ages of 18 to 35. It is only valid for up to 12 months for US citizens and allows you to hold a part-time job in the country.

An Essential Skills Visa is eligible for 5 years but applies to full-time jobs only. There is no age limit. The Work to Residence Visa and the Skilled Migrant Visa is for people 55 and under who have full-time jobs that meet certain salary caps. These visas have validities of between 30 months to indefinite, respectively.

If you cannot get a work visa, you can seek entry or residence into NZ based on having family there or special circumstances such as refugee status.

How to move your things from the US to NZ

If you are moving to New Zealand from USA for work, or to live permanently, there are several ways to go about it:

International moving companies

These companies work similarly to your typical interstate and local movers. The only difference is that they relocate you from the USA to another country. International moving companies understand all the different laws that pertain to such relocations and will get your goods to NZ within the agreed timeframe and cost.

International container companies

With these companies, you get a delivery of a shipping container of your choice. You then load your furniture/goods into it or hire the labor to do it for you. Once you’re ready, the company ships your belongings to New Zealand. International container companies are cheaper than international moving companies but you miss out on some of the full-service treatment.

Sea freight companies

With sea freight, you have your goods shipped over water from port to port. You will have to arrange packing on your own, or via a 3rd party mover. It’s possible that you may also need to transport your packed goods to a warehouse facility before international shipping. You will be charged based on the weight and volume of your goods.

Shipping companies

Shipping companies are like sea freight but with more support. They offer add-on services such as packing and transfer of goods to their warehouses. They can handle anything from a single box to an entire house. For the extra convenience, you pay a little extra compared to using sea freight companies.

Why are people moving from USA to New Zealand?

Why people are moving out of the USA:

Almost a million Americans leave the US each year for other countries. Statistics peg the rate at about 2.93 people for every 1,000. This migration is driven by many varying reasons. The most common are:

  • Work/career opportunities.
  • Retiring abroad.
  • Looking for a better quality of life.
  • Joining family members abroad.
  • Education/studies.

Why people are moving to New Zealand:

New Zealand has a very high number of foreign-born immigrants – about 20%. The country gets over 70,000 net immigrants each year. While most of these immigrations are either due to work, family, or refuge, the main reasons these people chose New Zealand include:

  • Beautiful outdoor living.
  • Lots of skilled job opportunities.
  • Great weather and temperate climate
  • Rich cultural diversity.
  • A slow pace of life.
  • Strong democratic institutions.

Why people are moving from the USA to New Zealand:

There are many Americans interested in moving to New Zealand from the USA. As we said earlier, over 27,000 Americans are living in New Zealand to date. The reasons why people are moving there (and many more would wish to) include:

  • It’s a very beautiful country with diverse landscapes.
  • Rich multicultural diversity.
  • A more balanced work/life culture.
  • Great ambiance with less air and noise pollution.
  • Great weather most of the year.
  • Better public healthcare and health insurance options.

What are some of the best places to move to in New Zealand?

If you’re set on moving to New Zealand from the USA, it is important to have a good understanding of the geographical layout of the place as well as the customs and traditions of the people you’re going to find here. But even more importantly, you must know where you’re going to live.

Generally, New Zealand is divided into two: North Island and South Island. And it is hard to choose which half is better. The north is warmer and has most of the cities, white sandy beaches, geothermal springs, and mud pools. South Island is cooler and has a more virgin terrain dotted with mountains, farmland, and beautiful green sweeping landscapes.

If you’re relocating here via a work visa, your place of work will most likely determine which city you’re going to live in. But overall some of the best places to consider here include:


Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and employs the most foreigners. It is surrounded by ranges, parks, and beaches. It is located on the upper, warmer side of North Island.


Wellington is located on the most southern tip of North Island and is the main link to South Island. Thanks to its central location, it is the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is surrounded by forest cover, parks, mountains, and a large coastline.


Rotorua is located in the central region of North Island. It is 10 miles inland from the coastline and is surrounded by mountain cover and fronted by Lake Rotorua on the North-Eastern side. Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal springs, Maori culture, and mud pools.


Christchurch is located on the mid-eastern side of South Island. It is the largest city on South Island and has exciting outdoor spots for hiking, cycling, gondola rides, as well as attractions such as the zoo, botanical gardens, and more.


Queenstown is located on the lower half of South Island. Surrounded by mountains, rivers, and fronting Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is known for adventure sports such as skiing, snowboarding, wine trails, hot pools, and skyline gondola.


Can you move to New Zealand as a US citizen?

Yes, you can. You can apply for many visa options mostly for temporary, part-time, and full-time jobs. You can also apply for a residence visa to join a family member in the country, or if you have been working there for a while and would like to settle permanently.

How much money do you need to move to New Zealand?

The average cost of living in New Zealand is higher than that in the US even though housing there is cheaper. On average, a standard family of three or four gets by on about USD 50,000 per year. If you plan on settling in the more elite areas of the biggest cities and splurging on entertainment and travel then your annual upkeep could easily be double that.

Is it easy for an American to move to New Zealand?

It is easy for an American to move to NZ. If you have professional skills that are wanted by employers there and have no criminal record you stand a good chance of sailing through the New Zealand Immigration process.

Can a US retiree move to New Zealand?

Yes, but the New Zealand government has economic requirements that must be met for eligibility. They include investing NZD 750,000 in the country over the course of two years, having NZD 500,000 in living expenses, and an annual income of NZD 60,000.

How can an American move to New Zealand?

When moving to New Zealand to retire, you’ll need a financial nest egg ready to see you through the financial requirements listed above. If you’re still working, relocating for work is a good option. If you’re young and not well established financially you could try temporary jobs visa options.

Do I qualify to immigrate to New Zealand?

The best way around this is to check your eligibility for various visa options via the New Zealand Immigration department. You can look up visa options on their official website or even call and visit their embassy for further guidance and information.

How long does it take to move to New Zealand?

The visa application process, eligibility, and approval are key determinants of how long it will take. Different types of visas take different amounts of time to process. Most take between 30 days and 75 days. Shipping your belongings there will take about 30 days and planning your move from the US will take anywhere from 30 days to several months based on your preparedness.

What are the requirements to move to New Zealand?

To move to New Zealand from the US you will need to be eligible for work based on various skills shortages in the country. You can also move there to join a partner who is either living or working in the country. Thirdly, you can apply to retire in Zealand.

Do I need a visa to move to New Zealand?

Yes, you will need a visa to move to New Zealand. There are several visa options for everyone. A New Zealand immigration official can talk you through them or you can head straight to the site New Zealand Now to comb through them by yourself.

What is the best way to move to New Zealand from the US?

The best way to move to New Zealand depends on your unique position. You can apply to go there to work, to join a partner already living there, or you can apply to retire there.

What are the difficulties of moving to New Zealand from the US?

Some of the main challenges US citizens face while trying to move to New Zealand include:

  • Not qualifying for jobs listed under the skilled migrant category.
  • Having a criminal record.
  • Not having enough money to apply for a retirement visa.

Final Thoughts

Are you seeking a slower pace of life or a better work-life balance? There are lots of job opportunities in New Zealand for U.S. citizens like you. Escape the high costs of living in New York and San Francisco and move to New Zealand to start a new life. Explore the visa options we have touched on above, and if you are eligible, New Zealand could just become your new home!

Meanwhile, moveBuddha will be here with all the resources you need on all matters to do with relocating.

Good luck!

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