Green and pleasant land
Those who live in New Zealand do not have much to complain about — there is room to roam and the education system is good. The downside is the price of property
In the grand scheme of things the land of the long white cloud may not be the biggest country — it only measures about 1,600km in length and is roughly 400km wide — but it is also one of the world’s least populated. There are just under 4,7-million people in New Zealand, placing it at 127 out of 238 countries according to the CIA World Fact Book. The World Bank puts it at 17 people per square kilometre. There are no recent statistics to indicate the number of South Africans living in New Zealand, but it is obvious from earlier surveys that the country is a popular option for those who emigrate. The love affair started during apartheid when modest numbers emigrated. By 2001, South Africans comprised the fifth largest migrant group in that country and by 2006 there were 41,676 expats living in New Zealand, the Integration of Immigrants Programme found. The five-year research programme ran from 2007 to 2012. What is it about these small islands that lures South Africans and what should those who move there expect of their new life?
Safe and Secure
Crime, or the lack of it, seems to be a main motivator for choosing New Zealand. Statistics released by the country’s authorities reveal that crime rates have been dropping steadily since 2012 and, as with a lot of countries, most crime happens in larger cities. Overall, the country is regarded as being a safe place to live. The education system is also held in high regard and qualifications are recognised internationally. Schooling can start the day the child turns five (interestingly, this means that a child does not have to start school at the beginning of an academic year) and is compulsory from six to 16.
House prices are, however, less attractive, particularly in the larger centres such as Auckland. In a report earlier this year in the New Zealand Herald, property editor Anne Gibson noted that Auckland’s housing affordability had worsened. According to the annual Demographia survey, it had risen from ninth place to become the fifth most expensive city in the world. The survey found that with a median price of $748,700 (R7,9m) and a $77,500 median income, Auckland had a house price/wage multiple of 9.7. Any more than three was classified as unaffordable by the report’s authors. To give some idea of the sharp increase, Auckland house prices had risen by 68% since 2007, according to government agency Quotable Value, it was reported in the Otago Daily Times late last year. Much of the blame for the increases has been placed on foreign investment and steps have been taken to slow demand from this sector, including demanding higher deposits from foreigners investing in the city. This category of property buyer also needs to provide a tax registration number from the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department.n.
At the end of 2015, the average price of a New Zealand property was $550,000, up 14% from the previous year, stuff.co.zn reported. Low interest rates, investment demand as well as a shortage of property are the reasons most often cited for this increase. The cost of living is also quite high: in fact, according to statistics released by numbeo.com, the cost of living for homeowners is 3% higher than in the US, although consumer prices including rent in SA are 54.56% lower than in New Zealand.
Despite any negatives, New Zealand is a great place to live and perhaps more importantly, a good place to raise children. In 2014, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children found that the country was the best place to raise a family. It consistently performs well in other surveys which poll expats, including the 2015 HBSC Expat Explorer Survey, in which the country came second behind Singapore. Quality of life, healthcare and work/life balance all scored highly. Although other areas such as property, school quality and culture scored slightly lower, overall it appears that those who choose to live in New Zealand are happy with their lot.
“New Zealand consistently performs well in surveys which poll expats, including the 2015 HBSC Expat Explorer Survey, in which it came second behind Singapore. Quality of life, healthcare and work/life balance all scored highly”.
Auckland: Cost of living
$85 – three-course restaurant meal for two
$8 – half-litre draught beer
$4.55 – cappuccino
$200 – monthly utilities (electricity, heating, water, rubbish) for 85m2 flat
$84 – internet (10Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)
$0.64 – one minute of prepaid mobile tariff local
Average monthly rental and purchase prices
$3,088 – monthly rent city centre three-bedroom flat
$2,330 – monthly rent outside city centre three-bedroom flat
$8,641 – city centre per m2
$6,270 – outside city centre per m 24.93% – annual mortgage interest rate
$3,730 – average monthly disposable salary
Words: Lea Jacobs Photos: iStock