Retire To New Zealand From the US

Do you want to spend your twilight years in awe-inspiring natural settings? If that’s the case, New Zealand might be the right place for you to retire. In this article we will discuss everything you need to know about retiring from the US to New Zealand.

What you need to learn before moving to New Zealand:

  • Accomodation
  • Visa
  • Healthcare
  • Weather
  • Activities
  • Safety

Let’s go a little deeper into these topics and why you should move to New Zealand from the United States.

What is the best place to retire in New Zealand?

There are many beautiful cities in New Zealand and some of those cities have a nice mix of coastline and mountains. Many expats have been drawn to New Zealand because of its cultural richness and diverse cuisine. The most well-known cities Wellington and Auckland are also the most expensive with Auckland being the most expensive. 


Queenstown is a tourist town on New Zealand’s south island which nestled between Lake Wakatipu as well as the stunning mountain hills.

Even though it’s tiny in size, there is plenty to do and a vibrant community atmosphere. There are several events and festivals such as Gibbston Valley Summer Concert in the summer and because it is a resort town the city is just as vibrant in the winter.

Many foreigners in New Zealand prefer to reside in Queenstown because it offers some of the best ski slopes in the country.

You may spend your leisure time skiing or snowboarding in beautiful surroundings During the winter. The one disadvantage of residing in Queenstown is that, as a result of its popularity, rental costs have risen.

LINK: Queenstown Official Tourism Guide


Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand with a population of approximately 1.5 million people. It is the country’s business center and it attracts a large number of foreigners.  This cosmopolitan metropolis is the greatest city to stay in New Zealand because of the career possibilities, education, and healthcare, 

Even so living in Auckland isn’t entirely work. The city of Auckland is located on the Pacific Ocean’s Hauraki Gulf and it is home to gorgeous natural landscapes and pristine beaches.

Due to the city’s position you can take a ferry to several islands like Waiheke Island, that is only 40 minutes from Auckland’s downtown area. However, there is a lot of traffic and the cost of living is considerably greater with it being in the warmer north island.

If you enjoy the rush and bustle of the city during the week and the chance to escape to nature on the weekends, then Auckland is for you. The popularity of Auckland is more to do with the warmer weather on the north island.

LINK: Auckland Official Tourism Guide


Wellington is the capital of New Zealand so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the greatest places to live in the country. Wellington may not be as large as Auckland but it does have a lot to offer.

Beautiful beaches, no traffic, and extremely friendly locals characterize this coastal city. Wellington offers several lovely and tranquil suburbs where you can live a calm and peaceful life. There’s also a vibrant cafe scene as well as a variety of festivals and events.

As a result Wellington strikes as a good mix between tranquility and social participation that makes it one of New Zealand’s best places to live.

LINK: Wellington Official Tourism Guide


If you’re thinking of moving to New Zealand, Napier is an excellent place to start. The cost of living in Napier is notably lower than in larger cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown, making it an appealing option. 

Napier has a lot more to offer than it may seem. There are some wonderful vineyards, a lovely coastline, incredible golf courses, and fantastic cycleways in this area. It also gets plenty of sun all year and is a little warmer than Auckland especially in the winter making it very appealing to newcomers from the United States that seek warmth and an enjoyable winter.

LINK: Napier Official Tourism Guide


Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island in size and population and a popular destination for expats. Christchurch is a great city that is now undergoing redevelopment following the devastating earthquake in 2011. Despite the obstacles, the city has grown stronger and has drawn the residents of Christchurch closer together. There is indeed a vibrant community in or around the city making it one of New Zealand’s best places to live.

There is a lot of stuff going on in Christchurch. The quiet city core situated on the river Avon is a fantastic place to reside. Away from the city various lovely beaches are within easy driving distance and make an excellent base. Sumner is among the most popular drawing a large number of visitors during the summer.

LINK: Christchurch Official Tourism Guide

Is it cheaper to live in New Zealand than the US?

Property in New Zealand is less expensive than in the United States. That does not imply that rent in New Zealand is inexpensive. A studio apartment in the city center may cost around $1,160 USD while a three-bedroom in the same region could set you back  roughly $1,900 USD each month. 

Depending on the city in New Zealand, your monthly expenses may vary. We’ll examine monthly expenses in five of New Zealand’s cities that have been mentioned above: Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Napier and Christchurch in this article.

The Cost of Living in Auckland

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and is also its most costly. The cost of products, services, meals, amusement, and rent in Auckland is among the highest in the world. While the city has some of the best career prospects, they aren’t proportional to its population of about 1,658,000 people.

Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment$2,700 USD
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment$1,700 USD
Public transportation monthly pass$215 USD
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$206 USD

The Cost of Living in Wellington

The cost of living in New Zealand’s capital city is the second highest in the country. Wellington is rapidly developing particularly in the administrative and financial industries which resulted in skyrocketing property costs. 

The good news is that the city boasts a nice integrated public transportation system. This means you can easily live in the suburbs while taking a trip to the city center. Wellington is 17% less expensive than Auckland, and the suburbs are much more economical.

Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment$2,000 USD
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment$1,182 USD
Public transportation monthly pass$108 USD
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$128 USD

The Cost of Living in Queenstown

Queenstown is indeed an expensive city to live in and is ranked among the top 5% of the world’s most expensive cities. It isn’t New Zealand’s most costly city but it is the third most expensive.

Queenstown has earned the title of New Zealand’s Adventure Capital due to its breathtaking mountain scenery which attracts both foreign and domestic tourists, making it a must-see on anyone’s bucket list.

Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment$1,755 USD
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment$1,124 USD
Public transportation monthly pass$100 USD
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$133 USD

The Cost of Living in Napier

Napier is among the cheapest cities to live in New Zealand. It is a lot cheaper than the bigger cities like Auckland and Wellington.  While also providing a lot of activities you can do during your retirement.

Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment$1,029 USD
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment$563 USD
Public transportation monthly pass$47 USD
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$96 USD

The Cost of Living in Christchurch

Christchurch is the South Island’s busiest business center. Unlike the other cities it has a relaxed vibe that is ideal for residents and expats who enjoy outdoor activities. It is the most inexpensive metropolitan area in New Zealand for house prices although being still pricey when compared to other towns and cities around the world.

Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment$1,445 USD
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment$878 USD
Public transportation monthly pass$74 USD
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$121 USD

NOTE: These prices are for the suburban area of each city. The prices will be higher if you decide to live in the city center.

If you want to know more about prices check Retire To New Zealand: Cost of Living for specific costs, groceries prices, and more.

What retirement visa is available in New Zealand?

Yes, US citizens can and are allowed to retire in New Zealand. For individuals considering retiring in New Zealand there are two visa options available. The two visas are the Parent Resident Retirement and Temporary Retirement Visitor visas. 

The Parent Retirement Visa is a visa for those who have children already in New Zealand.  To qualify for the first visa you must be at least 66 years old, have no criminal record, and be of good health.  You must also have invested in New Zealand of NZ $1000,000 (about $715,000 USD) over four years. For most people this just means buying a house in the country or business to that value.  When you apply for the visa you have to show half of these funds available.  You’ll also need to establish that you have at least NZ $60,000 (about $42,000 USD) in annual income for living expenses. You can not work while in New Zealand and the visa renews every 2 years.

The Temporary Retirement Visa has the same basic requirements as the parent visa but you don’t have to have a child in New Zealand.  The entry monetary requirements are also a little lower with investing $750,000 NZD (about $525,000 USD) and you still have to have the same living expense money and money in the bank account.

LINK: New Zealand Visa Requirements

Do foreigners receive free healthcare in New Zealand? 

Non-residents in New Zealand must first register with a general practitioner (GP). There are no requirements as to which GP an expat must register with. Expats might join the Primary Health Organization (PHO) to further decrease medical costs. 

This is a district-funded initiative that lowers the cost of consultations and medications. Because membership can take up to three months to be authorized.  If you are an expat going to New Zealand, apply for the residential PHO as soon as possible.

You won’t be able to get public medical insurance in New Zealand if you don’t have your residency visa. As a result you must obtain expat health insurance from a reputable insurance provider prior to your arrival. 

Private healthcare facilities will provide you with high-quality medical care while also allowing you to bypass significant wait times. Private medical facilities are all over New Zealand ranging from radiology clinics to well-equipped testing labs, recuperative medical facilities and specialty hospitals.

Here are a few recommended private health insurance in New Zealand:

What is the weather like in New Zealand

While summers in the north part are subtropical and winters in the inland alpine sections of the South Island can be as cold as – 10°C, the majority of the country is close to the shore with warm temperatures as well as moderate rainfall and plenty of sunshine.

The average temperature in New Zealand drops as you travel south due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. The northern area of the country experiences average temperatures of around 15°C while the deep south experiences temperatures of around 9°C. 

The warmest months of the year are January and February while the coldest are July and August. The north island temperatures range between 25°C or 75°F to 9°C or 48°F which is very nice weather all year around.  The south island temperatures range between 24°C or 75°F to -2°C or 28°F so great for snuggling up in winter near a fire.

The average rainfall in New Zealand is between 640mm and 1500mm and evenly distributed throughout the year. This high rainfall not only creates beautiful indigenous forest but it also makes New Zealand an ideal environment for farming and horticulture.

What to do in New Zealand?

Most people are unaware that New Zealand is a much larger country than they think. With great well maintained roads and highways means getting around is quite easy. The majority of New Zealand’s best sites are reachable by car and nothing is more than a few hours away.

Here are a few places you can visit on your day off in New Zealand:

How safe is New Zealand?

New Zealand is among the world’s safest countries. It came in second place in the 2018 Global Peace Index.  It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it is routinely ranked as being one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

The police are very friendly and most don’t even carry guns which shows how safe the country is.  Don’t be afraid to ask for direction or help from them as they are more than happy to help out.  There are also no guns in the country which means very little gun-related violence which seems to escalate in most other countries every year like the US.

You can also check Retire In New Zealand: 9 Pros And Cons and have a look about what are the common pros and cons for many retirees and travelers feel like in New Zealand.

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