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An Expat's Guide to Living in Auckland, New Zealand

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Dream of moving to one of the most livable cities in the world? Where the weather is never too cold or too hot and you can get the city bustle but also the perfect amount of outdoor nature?

Believe it or not, this place actually exists. And it’s Auckland, New Zealand.

Situated in the South Pacific Ocean, away from many countries, New Zealand is split into North Island and South Island and sadly is often missed on the world maps. New Zealand is an amazing place to move to and start your new life. Auckland, New Zealand is as good a place as any to help you adapt to the country, and begin your new chapter.

Often confused as the capital of the country (that’s actually Wellington), it is the largest city in the country by over 1 million inhabitants.

I didn’t have the most open-mindedness when I moved to Auckland, as I didn’t have the best first impression. However, after living here and actually exploring the city and its surroundings, I started to appreciate what a good place I’m living in! And now I’m a proud resident of New Zealand.

Whether you’re here on a working holiday visa, another type of long-term visa, or are here for only a few weeks or months as a tourist, Auckland is a great place to start and get settled into this beautiful country. There is a mix of many nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and communities. You will fit in very quickly and find your place!

There are many job opportunities in the hospitality sector, as tourism is kicking back up as borders are opening up. With a minimum wage of NZD$21.20 and raising yearly (one of the highest minimum wages in the world) and the cost of living is quite reasonable.

Top Reasons to Move to Auckland, New Zealand

Famous Te Henga Hike in Auckland

A Great Work-Life Balance

New Zealand is a country that believes in work-life balance, which has created such a laid-back environment. Auckland in particular is a very liveable city, especially considering how large it is. It’s also quite family-friendly. And with so many outdoor activities and things to do, it’s easy to get away from the city. Just a 30 minutes drive from the CBD (Central Business District) can transport you to a completely different scene! You’ll absolutely love the high quality of life Auckland can offer.

Friendly Environment for LGBTQIA+

There are many good LGBTQIA+ communities in Auckland and the people are very welcoming, making it a safe and accepting environment. Same-sex marriage is legal, they have all the same rights as any other people! It is a very open-minded country towards LGBTQIA+.

City and Nature Combined

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand so you can easily find anything you’d want to do within the city. And when you’re a bit tired and stressed out from city life, you don’t need to drive much to escape from the hustle and bustle. There are many places in or near Auckland that offer serenity, and peace!

Just the Right Temperature Throughout the Year

It is the best place to live if you’re not a fan of extreme weather and temperatures but still want the balance of four seasons. Unlike the rest of New Zealand where there is a best time to visit with the extreme temperatures, Auckland enjoys a semitropical climate. Summer is just warm enough for you to enjoy the beach and get tanned. Whereas winter is cold but not too cold which will put you off from going out or doing anything outdoors.

Variety in Accommodation

Undoubtedly the rent, and house prices have gone up insanely throughout the years in Auckland. However, there are many options ranging from apartments, flats, tiny homes, houses, or farmhouses for you to choose from. So, you’re very likely to find something to your liking without much issue or breaking the bank.

Visa to New Zealand

View of landmark Skycity and the high-rise buildings in Auckland

Tourist Visa

There are many countries that are on the visa-waiver list to visit New Zealand, all you need is to request NZeTA online and you can visit NZ for up to three months. (British citizens can stay up to 6 months). If you’re not on the visa-waiver list, you can apply for a visitor visa! Keep in mind though, this visa option is only for tourists. You won’t be able to work or really settle down on this visa but it is a great option for you to fully travel the country or get to know Auckland.

Student Visa

If you want to study in NZ, you can either get a visitor visa which allows you to study for up to three months (perfect for language school students). Another option is the working holiday visa, which usually allows you to study for up to 6 months, while you can work for up to 12 months.

For those that would like to study in New Zealand for longer, you could apply for the Pathway Visa. This visa allows you to study up to 3 consecutives study programs, allowing you to stay for up to 5 years. Keep in mind that to apply for this visa, you need to know all 3 programs you’d like to take. The University of Auckland is a world-renowned university so keep in mind that the standards will be high to be accepted there.

Work Visa

And if you are wanting to stay in NZ longer term to work, there are many visa options to explore. Getting sponsored by your job is one of the most popular options, as long as the company is happy to prove and sponsor your work visa. However, it also means you are tied to the company, so unless you get another visa, or find another job to sponsor you, you can't leave the company!

Explore here for your visa options to come to Auckland.

Neighborhoods in Auckland: The Fun & the Reality

View from the Auckland Harbour Bridge


If you enjoy some good food and funky bars/eateries, this might just be your neighborhood. Ponsonby is a place for you to visit or to call your new home abroad. It has many options from Asian fusion, Italian, Kiwi, Indian, etc. so it provides a great mix of cultures and ethnicities. You can easily find some cool bars, good vibes, and good food! Unfortunately, the rents and houses in Ponsonby are quite pricey.

Auckland CBD

The Central Business District has the most high-rise buildings in New Zealand and is also where many big cooperative offices are located. This neighborhood is right in the city center, as you might have guessed from the name. If you prefer staying in apartments over houses, this is the best place to find one! It also has the most boutique, luxury shopping in NZ!

A Few Sub-Sections in the CBD:

  • Harbour Viaduct: Many groovy, fancy restaurants, bars, and where yachts are spotted. This is the area that gives the City of Sails its name.
  • Britomart: Boutique shopping, eateries, cocktail bars, gentleman clubs, etc.
  • K Road: It is filled with gay bars, clubs, and karaoke/drag queen bars. A bustling area with vibrant nightlife. However, it is also considered a dodgy area, as there are many homeless people here, many people dealing drugs, and many drunk people as you could imagine, given the amount of clubs and bars.
  • Queen Street: Where the major high-end luxury shopping are is. You can shop brands like LV, Gucci, Coach, Prada, etc. It’s also probably the busiest and most congested street in Auckland.

Car crime is quite a big thing in Auckland, especially in the CBD area. If you want to park overnight, it is recommended to park somewhere secure and be sure to leave your car locked. Otherwise, there’s a high chance it will get broken into, stolen, or just damaged.

North Shore

You can find many great beaches here, like Takapuna, Long Bay, Browns Bay, and so many more. Across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, coming from the North Shore to the city, you will have the best panoramic view of the Auckland City Skyline. However, it is a nightmare route when it comes to driving at peak hours. Expect traffic jams but, on the bright side, it’ll give you more time to soak up the view.

Other Notable Neighborhoods:

  • West Auckland- Many outdoor wonders and nature to explore, from hiking to beaches and caves. This is best for someone who prefers more nature than city in their lifestyle.
  • South Auckland- This area has the most Polynesian and Maori population in Auckland. Keep in mind, it’s not a real zone on a map, but is what locals referred to the area as.

Not so sure if living in New Zealand is right for you? If you’re still itching to live in Oceania though, consider a move to Australia. Sydney, the Gold Coast, and Melbourne are all fantastic cities that all provide expats with a high quality of life.

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A Little Reality Check to Prepare You to Move to Auckland, New Zealand

Photo by Eric Feng.

Expect Heavy Traffic

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. Given that it’s such a big city, there are some pros and cons to this. On the plus side there are a few different forms of public transportation. But, the truth is they pretty much suck and are not the most reliable. Auckland is constantly working on it, but at the moment it still needs lots of improvement.

Driving is the best way to get around the city, but traffic is a huge pain, especially during peak hours. Also, the fuel prices are rising to an insanely high price now. This just means that when you’re relocating to New Zealand, take some time to really decide on the best area off the city to live in. For example, if you’re moving here for work, you’ll be better off settling closer to your job so you don’t have to deal with a big commute each day.

It’s an Expensive City

Your wage will be high in NZ but the living cost can be high, as well. Sadly, if you want to save some money, eating out or visiting cafes every day is very unlikely. On the plus side, your cooking skill will definitely improve!

Petty Theft is Common

New Zealand is reasonably a safe country compared to many others but crimes like theft, car crimes, and burglary still happen quite often in New Zealand. So, be safe, don’t leave any belongings in the car, keep everything out of sight, and LOCK your door!

Rain Also Means Wind

Raining is common in Auckland, and having an umbrella is not. Well, more so that umbrellas aren’t very useful. As when it rains in Auckland, it’s also very windy; so you’ll end up breaking the umbrella instead. Don’t worry, there is plenty to do on a rainy day in Auckland!

Accommodation and Job Hunting

Photo by Steven Biak Ling

The best thing you do for yourself is to find a place to live and a job that is close by, it’ll not only save you money but also a lot of precious time!

Finding Accommodation

The most affordable option of housing in the city is to find a house share. This is an apartment/house that you’ll share with a group of friends. TradeMe is a great place to look for house shares. Many agents or owners will put listings on there. It’s a safe and trustworthy website!

If you’re here alone and are looking for flatting opportunities, join some Facebook groups in Auckland. There’s a handful of “flatmates wanted” groups. You will find many options there, and people usually introduce their houses/apartments well. They also state what kind of tenant they’re looking for!

Make Your Agreement Clear

Most of the time if you go through an agency, they will ask for credit checks and references from your ex-landlords, managers, etc. But on the Facebook group, usually, it’s up to whether you click with the housemates or not. Regardless, always make sure the agreement is clear. Bond is usually sitting around 3 or 4 weeks’ rent if there is one.

Once you get a place, make sure you have pictures/videos of what the place looks like when you move in. And always have written trials of any maintenance issues, repair documents, etc. It will save you a lot of hassle when you move out and help get your bond back!

Finding a Job

My expertise lies in the hospitality and tourism industry, so I’ll focus on job hunting for this sector. Seek is a good website to find a job. You simply upload your CV and cover letter, and start applying for a job. It’s very straightforward and you can clearly see the skill sets and requirements each company is after.

Another option is to join a Facebook group, like Auckland Hospitality jobs, Auckland jobs, etc. A lot of hotels/restaurants and bars start advertising there as it’s a free platform. You can find many opportunities, also you can post about a certain type of job you’re after, and some companies will directly message you!

Job Expectations

You are entitled to annual leave or holiday pay, the minimum wage is currently $21.20 NZD (as of 2022). You are entitled to a 30 minutes unpaid break after a 4 hours shift, and a few 10-minute paid breaks depending on your hours of work.

The majority of employees are on an hourly wage, with managerial roles more likely on salary. Full-time jobs are from 30 hours to 40 hours, and part-time jobs are whatever your contract agreement is. Read your contract fully, and thoroughly, and make suggestions where you see fit before signing anything.

Now You’re Ready to Move to Auckland

I hope you find the courage to move abroad, even if it’s not Auckland, New Zealand! If it is, then welcome, and hope you will enjoy living in Auckland as much as I do.

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