With Europe continuing to languish in the financial doldrums, and the UK climate enduring an endless cycle of drought, floods and below-average temperatures, the prospect of moving abroad to pastures new is more compelling than ever.
New Zealand is becoming increasingly popular as a relocation destination for UK nationals thanks to its favourable climate, English-speaking population, magnificent landscape and excellent quality of life. From basking on the beaches to boarding on the black runs, New Zealand has it all. So what do you need to know if you are planning a move down under?
The first thing to do is to research your options and likelihood of being offered residence in New Zealand. Residency is generally granted on the basis of a points system, though there are a number of different routes that can be followed. Your options and chances of success will depend on your professional or practical qualifications, experience, personal circumstances and funds.
If you have higher education qualifications and some relevant work experience behind you, there is a possibility that you will qualify for New Zealand residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. This is worked out on a points system, with 100 being the minimum required for application, ranging up to 140. The higher the number of points, the higher your chances of success, however with 100 points there is every possibility of selection even if it takes a little longer for your application to be considered.
If you do not have enough points to qualify under the Skilled Migrant Category there are still various other ways of achieving the right to live and work in New Zealand. A number of Work Visas and Work Permits are available to individuals who can secure an offer of employment before they relocate. The more desirable type of work visa is the Work to Residence Visa, which is automatically approved for conversion to residence at the end of two years’ employment in New Zealand. These can be obtained in three ways – as a Talent visa for an accredited employer, as a Talent visa for the arts, culture and sports or for a job on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.
For the talent visa you will need to demonstrate exceptional talent in your field and be in receipt of a job offer from an accredited employer or be sponsored by a New Zealand arts, culture or sports organisation. With 450 New Zealand employers accredited to offer jobs qualifying for Talent Visas achieving one is not as complicated or unlikely as it may sound.
The Long Term Skill Shortage List features many roles in engineering, medicine, IT and communications and is an excellent option for individuals with skills, qualifications and experience in these sought-after fields.
If you have no success in finding work with an employer who has accreditation for Talent Visas or if your skills do not match those on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, you may still be able to qualify for a work visa. An Essential Skills work visa requires you to have skills, qualifications and experience in one of the areas listed on the Essential Skills list and is dependant on holding a valid job offer. It does not automatically qualify you for conversion to residency, however it will provide you with enhanced points if you hold onto your job for a year or two, increasing your chances of success if you then choose to apply for residence under the skilled migrant category. A maximum of three years is granted on a standard Essential Skills work visa, though further permits may be granted if you are still in employment.
Do take the time to research all the working and residence visa options carefully to ensure you choose the route that is right for you. Individuals with funds or a sound business idea may also qualify under the Investment or Entrepreneur Visa categories. And if you have close family members already living in New Zealand this may be sufficient to qualify you for residency in itself.
Do take the time to research the opportunities available in New Zealand carefully before you arrive. Certain cities and areas will provide more opportunities for your line of work than others, so make sure you know what to expect and position yourself in the right place to make the best of your new situation.
Deciding to up sticks and live in another country, especially one that is on the other side of the world, is not something to take lightly. It has been known for individuals and families to simply receive their visa, sell up and move to New Zealand lock, stock and barrel without having visited first. While this may work out well for some, it is well worth visiting first to get a feel for the place and make sure it is really for you. It will also give you the chance to meet people already living there and to test out different locations to find out which you feel suits your personality, work requirements and any family or other personal requirements the best.
Choosing whether to rent or buy is another consideration. While you may not want to rent long term just to line the pockets of a house owner, buying when you first arrive and then deciding that the city or even the country is not for you, could prove to be a costly mistake. If you are unsure whether you will stay or which city you wish to base yourself in long term, set aside enough in your budget to rent comfortably without worrying. This could save you thousands in the long term.
Do your maths
Moving abroad is expensive. Current immigration law has no set requirements regarding how much you take with you, but the more you have the more comfortable you will be. There will always be unforeseen costs, especially while you are still figuring out how things work.
Do your homework and set yourself a budget for at least the first three months while you get up and running – and longer if you will be arriving with no firm job offer in your hand. Plan badly and you could be looking at some difficult challenges. Plan well and you are likely to have a rosy future ahead.
See our Moving to New Zealand page for lots more information about moving to New Zealand