Retiring in New Zealand: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Explore what is needed to retire in New Zealand and why so many seniors choose to settle down in this Australasian country.

Summary 

  • While certain goods tend to be more expensive, the cost of living in New Zealand is 6% lower than in the US overall. 

  • New Zealand has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.  

  • All retirement-friendly visas require investments of between $750,000 and $1,000,000.  

  • Finding a financial advisor to help you with retirement planning can ensure a comfortable future. 

What are the pros and cons of retiring in New Zealand? 

New Zealand has many attractive qualities, such as great healthcare, low crime, and fairytale-like landscapes, but visa application wait times are long, and the geographic isolation can be frustrating. These are the most prevalent pros and cons of retiring in New Zealand. 

Pros 

  • Exceptional healthcare services: Retiring in New Zealand means having access to one of the most organized and well-equipped healthcare systems in the world.  

  • Low crime and high quality of life: New Zealand has a low crime rate and a trusted police system. It offers lifestyle security, friendly people, and diverse cultural influences.  

  • Mild climate and beautiful landscapes: New Zealand's weather is fair and not prone to extremes, while the natural environment is lush and forest-like, with plenty of wildlife, hiking trails, and coastal regions to explore.  

Cons 

  • High cost of living: Retiring in New Zealand is considered expensive, even though the cost of living is 6% lower than in the US. Most retirees need at least $1,500 per month to live, plus high tax rates on pensions.  

  • Travel isolation: New Zealand is a fairly isolated country that requires at least 12 hours of air travel from the US and many other countries. International trips are expensive.  

  • Difficult and expensive visa application program: From a bureaucratic perspective, emigrating to New Zealand can be a difficult process. Large investments are needed, and the waiting list is long.  

What are the best places to retire in New Zealand? 

There are many beautiful places in New Zealand to retire in, both comfortably and in style. However, the best places to retire in New Zealand include: 

  • Whangārei: One-fifth of the residents in Whangārei are retirees, making this lush, beautiful part of New Zealand a great place to spend your latter years. It features waterfalls, forests, and recently improved infrastructure.  

  • Kapiti Coast: Kapiti Coast offers a small-town lifestyle while still giving residents access to city infrastructure. It has a very low crime rate and feels like the open countryside, with plenty of retirees in the community.  

  • Marlborough: Marlborough is one of the most popular spots for people to retire in New Zealand. It has award-winning winelands, incredible wildlife, and great healthcare.  

At what age can you retire in New Zealand? 

There is no set retirement age in New Zealand, but the average age is 65.  

New Zealand residents and citizens can apply for Superannuation, the country’s form of pension.  

Superannuation offers retirees over 65 a fortnightly payment of between $400 and $520, depending on whether you are single, married, or have any dependents.  

What is the average cost of retirement in New Zealand? 

To retire in New Zealand, you will need at least $1,550 per month. This will help you cover your basic costs and lead a comfortable life of retirement wherever you choose to settle in the country.  

Do you pay taxes after retirement in New Zealand? 

New Zealand residents are typically taxed on all retirement income they receive, whether it is from the government or a previous employer. The tax rates in New Zealand are relatively high, reaching as much as 65% for some retirees. However, the ample fortnightly Superannuation eases this cost.  

What programs are there for emigrating to New Zealand? 

New Zealand is an attractive place to emigrate, and as such, they have multiple emigration programs available. However, most of them are based on employment and social contribution opportunities, not retirement. 

What visas do I need to retire in New Zealand? 

To retire in New Zealand, you will either need a Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa (which you can renew until citizenship is granted) or a Parent Retirement Visa.  

Obtaining a Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa requires you to be over 66 years old and able to invest $750,000. You will also have to prove that you have over $500,000 in private funds.  

Obtaining a Parent Retirement Visa requires you to have a child who is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, which will allow you to stay there indefinitely. You also need to invest $1,000,000 and have over $500,000 in private funds.  

What are my healthcare options in New Zealand? 

New Zealand offers a comprehensive universal healthcare system. The government even covers major necessary care, such as cancer treatment. Private healthcare or health insurance is not necessary but is never unadvised for the elderly or particularly ill retirees.  

Is New Zealand a good place to retire? 

New Zealand is regarded as one of the best places in the world to retire. With its secure government, beautiful nature, friendly people, and high quality of life, retirement in New Zealand can be a very pleasant and satisfying experience—if you can afford it.  

Get expert financial advice 

If you have the funds, retiring in New Zealand can be an idyllic experience filled with nature, exploration, and access to world-class public services. However, the high cost of living and the country's isolation may pose challenges. 

Benefit from expert retirement advice to ensure that you plan for your future properly. Let Unbiased match you with a financial advisor who best suits your needs.  

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.