Learn New Zealand, Toward Living Abroad

Work and live in New Zealand permanently: Our Personal Experience

Last updated @ 29 Aug 2017

New Zealand Map

If you are considering to work and live in New Zealand and do not know where to start, maybe you can get some ideas from this post. Trust me, you will not regret choosing New Zealand because it is such an amazing and lovely country.

I wrote this post because many people asked me about how to live in New Zealand, so I consolidated the experience of myself and my friends. I will refer to this post if anyone asks me again. 🙂

Disclaimer: This post is not an immigration advice – I am just sharing my personal experience and my friend’s experience. If you are keen to come to New Zealand and want to get advice for your situation, you should get it from professional immigration advisers.


passport with camera


Relocate from the company

Some of my friends’ company has branches in New Zealand, and they negotiate with their company to see if they are willing to relocate them to New Zealand. It is easier to get a job offer in NZ if you are referred by someone instead of finding a new employer from scratch.

Even if the companies are not interested in relocating the employee in the beginning, who knows what will happen later? Before I resigned from my ex-company, I asked the manager if they needed a staff in New Zealand. At first, they said no, but they thought of me once they needed someone in NZ and then offered me the job.

Tips: You should check if your company is under Accredited Employer List in New Zealand. If yes, your work/residence visa is a lot easier to get approved.


Study in New Zealand

I have seen quite a few successful cases from my friends. They studied in New Zealand; once they graduated they found a job and live in New Zealand. It is easier to get a job offer in New Zealand if you have studied here.

Studying in New Zealand also gives you more points for the EOI (about 5-15 points). Even if you cannot find a job, you may be eligible to apply for Post Study Work Visa. If you can afford to study in New Zealand, why not give it a try?

work abroad


Working Holiday Scheme

If you are under 30 years old, joining the Working Holiday is a very good experience in your life. A few of my friends and I received a permanent job offer in New Zealand when we were working temporarily in New Zealand with a working holiday visa. The employer may offer a permanent job if they like us, and help to apply for work/ resident visa. Though it is not always successful – one of my friend’s application for a work visa was rejected (agricultural industry).

We cannot take a permanent job with the working holiday visa. Our employer will need to apply the work/ resident visa for us if they want us to stay for long term. In my case, I started by working in my company as a contractor and they applied for the work visa (through an agent) for me after 2 months. The work visa was valid for 2.5 years, and then I applied for the resident visa through Skill Migrant Category Resident Visa by myself.

Remember: do NOT apply for Working Holiday Visa for the reason that you want to live in New Zealand permanently. This visa is for you to enjoy and travel in New Zealand while giving the opportunity to work temporarily and earn some money. It is good if you receive a permanent job offer, but do not take it as granted or otherwise, you might be disappointed.


Explore all options of Work/ Resident Visa

Besides the options stated above, there are other work/resident visas options. The NZ Immigration website (updated @ 2016) provides an interactive visa explore the option for the work & resident visa that are available for you in NZ.

You just need to fill in your details, i.e. whether you have/don’t have a job offer as well as your home country and age, and then the website will suggest all the visa that may be suitable for you. For example, there are other work visas such as Specific purpose work visa, Silver Fern Job Search Work Visa, Business Visitor Visa. Then check the one that may suit you.


Find a job in NZ from scratch

This is very difficult (without a work/residence visa in the beginning) but, never try, never know. No harm trying! There are plenty of job seeking websites on the internet which are free and easy. It is no harm sending resume and asking. 🙂 I have a friend who is successful with this approach – her wife got a nanny job offer in New Zealand and they both can live here.

Tips: Go check if your occupation is under the skill shortage list. If yes, it is much easier to get work or residence visa. Once you have the right visa, it is easier to find a job in New Zealand and live here.


Try every possible way, and do not delay

Opportunity doesn’t knock, so just create it! Some decisions are life changing. If you still cannot get a job offer after trying, do not feel discouraged as it is still possible to live in New Zealand.

There are some other ways besides work visa, such as Entrepreneur and business visa / Investor categories. I am not familiar with them; you can find more information on the official New Zealand Immigration website. If you are desperate, you can also seek the help from professional agents. They are expensive and depending on the type of visa that you are applying, some of them can cost more than $10k NZD and take more than a year.

Lake Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand
Last thought: do you really want to live in New Zealand? It is a very quiet country, e.g. most of the shops close at 5 pm. It took me a while to get used to it. Nonetheless, it was one of best decisions that I have ever made. If you love the peacefulness and laid back lifestyle; if you love the beautiful nature and scenery; and if you love the friendly culture and atmosphere… You should give it a try. Good luck. 🙂


Useful Links:

NZ Ready Tool by NZ Immigration – A free online tool for planning your move to New Zealand. You start by answering a few simple questions about yourself, and it will generate a personalised task list for you. It is a very helpful tool to get you stay organised as well as making your life easier. Just try it!

New Zealand Immigration – This is the homepage of the NZ Immigration’s website. Though it might seem a bit overwhelming at first, it is extremely useful and offers a lot of information. You can also submit online for some of the visa applications.

New Zealand Now – Offer a lot of great information about working and living in New Zealand. I am also following their Facebook page because it updates some good information regularly especially for people who are new to New Zealand.

LINKZ Magazine – This is the magazine for new migrants. It is free and you can download all issues in pdf format. You can read inspiring stories from other people and how they are able to work and live in New Zealand.


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  • Reply gentak August 18, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Hi Chui Yeng,
    Thanks for your precious experience that sharing here…
    I’m actually taking the same initial phase as working holiday visa in this coming November.
    Anyhow i’m also trying to looking for my profession as Quantity Surveyor in New Zealand as it listed
    “long term skill shortage”…
    wish me luck but if you would like to share me more detail for applying work visa, you always welcome~
    Coffee treat on me…

    • Reply CY August 18, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Gentak,
      Thanks for reading my blog! And congratulations on getting the working holiday visa (I understand the competition is very intense this year as too many people are applying at the same time)…
      I heard that QS is a job in high demand in New Zealand. I wish you good luck and all the best 🙂 Also hoping you will fill your blog with amazing stories and photos in New Zealand. It is a wonderful country and I am sure you will have a good time there.
      Let me know if I can help you in anyway – do not be shy to ask! 😀

      • Reply gentak August 19, 2016 at 4:18 am

        hahaha…im sure Maylim will surprise how i’m bump into your blog too…
        i can see she keen to travel as well…
        u sure going back NZ early of new year?

        • Reply CY August 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm

          hahaha yes 🙂

  • Reply Eric July 18, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Chui Yeng

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I started my NZ journey from working holiday as well. I’m currently on my Graduate Job Search Visa and hunting for a permanent job. I strongly agree with your statement that “It is easier to get a job offer in NZ if you are referred by someone instead of finding a new employer from scratch”. It was really hard to land an interview by applying jobs thru advertised website even though I have done my best to stand out. I wish I can use “networking” for job hunting but I’ve no idea on how to start. Do you mind to share if you know any approach to do this?

    • Reply CY July 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Eric,

      For my case, I worked for an IT company in Malaysia and I kept the contact with my ex-manager in Malaysia and he referred me to someone at my company in New Zealand. I think ‘networking’ just means get more social with different people (I am not naturally good at this but force myself to talk to people), and with some luck, you may just get an opportunity. An article to read about networking: https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-use-networking-to-find-a-job-2058686

      I know it is hard to use “networking” for fresh grads. If you studied in New Zealand, you may check with your classmates on how they get their first job and they may be able to refer or help you (which is part of the reasons that I got my first job in Malaysia), or they may recommend the recruitment agents that they used (which will be mentioned below).

      If you have no ‘networking’ contact at all, below are my personal suggestions. I am not too sure of your situation and your field so not sure if my advice below is applicable to you. I would suggest (1) find Recruitment Agency (not the immigration agent) and, (2) find Fresh graduate program,

      Actually, I am now in the same process with you. I had resigned from my previous company and started looking for a job 2-3 months ago, so I understand how hard it is to get a job now. Luckily I have many friends who also quit my previous company gave me some advice, and all of them get a job thru recruitment agency. As far as I am aware, most of the recruitment agent will require you to have the valid visa to work in NZ before helping you. There are many online tutorials about how to find and contact with a recruitment agency. I haven’t got a job yet, but I was invited to 2 job interviews thru the recruitment agent channel. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform so well in the interview (as I am not familiar with NZ Behavioural interview) so I didn’t get the offer, but I believe it was a good start because at least I received the opportunities.

      I always look at Seek website and occasionally would see the Fresh Graduate program for my field (finance), so it is good to keep an eye on that! My previous company also had a Fresh Grad program in the past and I have seen many fresh grads in my project in NZ. I know it is really difficult to apply for jobs from scratch but it is not impossible. Once I read a website, it says only 10-15% of jobs in the market is filled by applying directly and is more common with a junior role. So it is not impossible, right? 🙂

      Omg sorry for the long reply and I realised this can become a blog post 😱 Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you know any other ways as I am learning as well. 🙂 I am in the same frustration as you, but we never give up! Wish you good luck and hope you get your dream job very soon!! 🙂

      • Reply Eric July 25, 2017 at 11:25 pm

        Hi Chui Yeng,

        Thank you so much for your long reply. According to your suggestions, I have done the first and second approach but not really work at all. The reason is because the market was extremely competitive especially in IT. For example, if a job requires a minimum of 1 year experience but I only have 5 months internship experiences, the employer will definitely select for those who have 1 year experience or above. As a matter of fact, an entry level IT position requires a minimum of 1 year experience, this is the MINIMUM requirement i’ve seen so far. That is why I am struggling right now. I can’t get any advantage from recruitment agencies as they have too many qualified candidates to choose.

        Today, I attended a conference where job seekers can seek advice from employers and recruiters. For my case, They advice me to stop applying jobs through job advertised website. They can guarantee that I will get nothing from it. In contrast, they suggest to use different approach and strategy for job hunting such as meet more people and fully utilize networking in my job search. The strategy is something like searching for any Malaysian that is doing IT in Auckland. It might be easier to get help from the same origin and culture. I think maybe you can use the same strategy as well, by searching for any Malaysian that is doing Finance. You can use LinkedIn for your job search as well (I’m not too familiar in using it). For instance, I think you might be easier to get a job than me as you already have some experience in NZ.

        Well, thanks for your wish, hope you will get your dream job as soon as possible. Please let me know if you have any friends that is doing IT, haha, Cheers!

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