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How to Retire to New Zealand as a Briton or American


New Zealand is well known for its hospitable and laid-back environment. When you live here, you enjoy a peaceful outdoor lifestyle surrounded by a friendly community. Residents of New Zealand, admiringly called Kiwiland, enjoy its pleasant climate, awe-inspiring landscapes, and high-quality food sources.  

As a primarily English-speaking country, New Zealand is a popular spot for Americans and Britons to retire to. It even made Forbes’ list of the best places to retire.

New Zealand
Image by Casey Horner on Unsplash

However, there are several barriers in place that prevent retirees from making New Zealand the spot to enjoy their golden years. 

Navigating the laws for settling in New Zealand can be complex. Plus, you have to ensure that you have enough funds and ongoing income to support your lifestyle.

Here, we will review what you need to know about retiring to New Zealand, including the country’s cost of living, property ownership restrictions, and visa requirements.  However, you can learn more about retiring in New Zealand by clicking here.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in New Zealand?

A lot of retirees will flock to certain Eastern European and South American countries to experience a cheap post-career lifestyle.

Unfortunately, New Zealand is not one of these countries, as it has a relatively high cost of living.  The costs of transportation, utilities, and groceries are roughly the same as they are in the U.S., and they are even more expensive than they are in the U.K.

On average, housing in New Zealand is around 20% lower than it is in the U.S. but 5% higher in the U.K.

Your exact cost of living will depend on the specific location you choose and your spending habits. 

What Property Ownership Restrictions Does New Zealand Have for Non-Residents?

Unfortunately, New Zealand does not allow foreigners to purchase existing housing outright. You will need to seek purchase approval from the Overseas Investment Office. You will also need this approval if you want to buy any property that’s located on an island, rural land, or another “sensitive” area.  

Even with these restrictions in place, you can still buy land and build a dwelling on it. To do this, you will need a New Zealand bank account and a tax number from the Inland Revenue Department.  

Retirement Visa Options in New Zealand

There are a couple of ways to enter and remain in New Zealand as a retiree:

As A Short-Term Visitor

Some individuals may be able to visit live in New Zealand as short-term visitors.  

To do this, you must meet certain health, character, onward travel, and financial criteria.  

There are two ways to stay as a short-term visitor:

H4: Visitor Visa

A visitor visa lets you stay in New Zealand for an extended period each year. This is an ideal option for retirees who want to get away from the worst of their home country’s winter months.

If you’re a U.S. citizen or passport holder, you can visit New Zealand for up to three months at a time without a pre-approved visa. U.K. citizens can stay for up to nine months if you can prove you have enough funds to support yourself.

If you want to come and go during your stay, you will need to apply and qualify for multiple-entry travel.  

H4: Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa

A temporary retirement visitor visa lets you stay in New Zealand for up to two years at a time. Individuals who are 66 years old or older can apply for this kind of endorsement. While you can’t bring dependent children, you can include your spouse in your application.  

To qualify for a temporary retirement visitor visa, you will need to:

  • -Invest NZ$750,000 in New Zealand investments
  • -Have NZ$500,000 saved up
  • -Produce an income of NZ$60,000 per year

As A Permanent Resident

Just like with a short-term residency, you will need to have decent health, good character, and sufficient funds to qualify for permanent residency in New Zealand.

You can become a permanent resident by obtaining one of the following two endorsements:

H4: Parent Category Resident Visa

The parent category resident visa requires that you have an adult child living in New Zealand who is willing to sponsor you. You must also have:

  • -NZ$1 million to invest in New Zealand for four years
  • -NZ$500,000 saved up
  • -An additional NZ$60,000 in annual income

Once the four-year investment period ends, you will become eligible for permanent residency.  

H4: Investor Visa

The investor visa lets you move to New Zealand to buy a business or set up your own. You will need to run this business for a certain time frame before you can enjoy full retirement.  

There are two different categories for this visa:

  • -Investor 1: Need to invest NZ$10 million in the country
  • -Investor 2: Need to invest NZ$2.5 million in the country

For either type of visa, you will need to have health and travel insurance when you apply.  

Be Patient with the Visa Application Process

Applying and getting approved for a retirement visa can be time-consuming. However, with the right mindset and perseverance, you will be rewarded with a great retirement experience. 

Do plenty of research on each city to make sure there’s a community that can support the lifestyle you have in mind. Once you’re set on beautiful Auckland or the vibrant community of Oamaru, click here to prepare for the retirement of your dreams!

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