New Zealand Immigration Department statistics suggest that migrants from the UK overwhelmingly settle well in New Zealand, but we know from the many migrants we have worked with that some don’t. It may pay to have a think in advance about how all of the members of your family can start fitting in.

One of the most important things is to have realistic expectations of life here – do as much research as you can. You have obviously made a good start on your research already if you are reading this!

New Zealanders are well known for their friendliness, and you will probably find that you have more conversations in passing with neighbours and shop assistants that you would in a city in the UK. It really is a massive advantage to you that you share a first language with Kiwis, and that many of them have visited the UK. But many migrants report that striking up friendships with New Zealanders is quite hard, and find that they initially socialise mainly with other migrants.

On one level this is understandable – many of the people you meet will have social and familial networks that have been in place for years, much the same as your own may have been in the UK. If you think back, you may not have consciously gone out to make friends since you first left home. So how do you start?

Migrants who are working may find it easier to meet Kiwis, and work can be a great place to get started on a social life – after-work drinks, functions, sports teams and conversations around the coffee machine about last night’s TV are all a big part of working life in New Zealand, as they are in the UK. Just be aware that while you speak the same language, the sense of humour is slightly different in NZ, and note especially that Kiwis tend to be quite aware of politically correct language.

Outside work, have a think about any interests you may wish to pursue once you are in New Zealand – perhaps something you have not had time to do for a while, or something you have always wanted to try. Most high schools and tertiary institutions have night and weekend classes in a wide range of subjects, and there are hundreds of clubs and societies out there.

Consider also subscribing to the local paper when you arrive – it can be a great way of finding out what is going on. For example, the Christchurch Press prints a comprehensive events guide on Mondays, and a weekend version on Saturdays. Admittedly there is always much more on in summer than in winter, a factor to consider in your migration planning.

If you have children, consider taking the time to get involved in their pursuits – sports clubs , social clubs and schools are always on the lookout for volunteers, and many offer the opportunity to get involved with a short-term project such as a working bee or sausage sizzle rather than committing to committees!

Give yourself a few months to get settled in your new home – many migrants we have spoken to have commented that things were a bit quiet for their first six months in New Zealand, and that their first winter was particularly hard. Keep reminding yourself why you left the UK, and try to stay positive and open to new experiences. We sincerely hope that, like us, you’ll feel at home in no time.

Top Tips for Living in New Zealand

It’s not on the official list, but emigrating must be one of life’s more stressful experiences – there is so much to organise, there is the emotional wrench of leaving home, and then you have the challenge of setting yourself up in a new country.

The better prepared you are in every aspect of your life, the smoother the physical and emotional transition will be for you and your family. Here are our top five tips for not only surviving but enjoying the process of emigrating to New Zealand and settling in to your new life.

Our Top 5

  1. Research, research, research – decisions that you make fairly early on in your emigration process can have long-lasting implications. Get as much information as you can from sources you trust, and give yourself time to think things over.
  2. Shop around – emigrating to New Zealand is expensive, but there are savings to be made in everything from foreign exchange to shipping to visa advice. Get at least three quotes and compare like with like. As well as getting a good price, you’re likely to pick up plenty of valuable advice along the way.
  3. Have realistic expectations about what your new life will be like – get an idea of how far your pay packet will go, what there is to do at the weekend, and what the weather will be like. Kiwis have a great lifestyle, but they don’t spend their whole lives lounging by the beach!
  4. Know that not everything will go exactly to plan – no matter how much planning you do, there is bound to be something that you didn’t expect along the way. Not all surprises are unpleasant of course, but be prepared to be persistent and stay positive.
  5. Get involved – you’re probably emigrating because you want a change in lifestyle, so have a bit of a plan for each member of your family – things you’d like to try, places you’d like to go – then when you’ve arrived and sorted out life’s necessities, throw yourself into social, community and sporting activities. You’ll meet new people, you’ll try all sorts of new things, and within a few months you’ll really start to feel at home.

To find out more, request a free copy of our Financial and Pension guides for New Zealand.