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Ten Top Tips for Buying Property in New Zealand

New Zealand has regularly been voted one of the best places to live in the world, but just how accessible is it for those hoping to own property in the region? If you’re thinking of making the leap to the place many call the real Middle-Earth, here are ten of the most important things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t Rush It!

Moving abroad is a huge decision regardless of where you go. While it can be better to bite the bullet and go for it rather than spend an extended period of time worrying about whether you should wait, it’s also extremely important to know exactly where you’re going, how you’re going to manage the move and what you expect to get from the venture.

This is especially important if you have family with you. Do you have loved ones who have obligations where you live now, or children in the middle of an important phase of their education? In cases like these, it can be better to hold off until everyone is ready for the transition.

2. Really Think About Where You Want to Be

You may feel spoilt for choice when trying to whittle down a specific area or town to live in in an entire country, but there are various factors you can keep in mind that may help you research which area could be best suited for you.

Asking yourself what you need to support the lifestyle you want to have is a good place to start. Do you need a place with good schools, or are you prioritising a good job market? Do you want to live somewhere more affordable or are you willing to splash out? Other factors that may influence where you’d like to be could even include things like sight-seeing. Do you want to live closer to things or places you’ve always wanted to see?

3. Have a Concrete Plan for Supporting Yourself

Emigrating to your dream location unfortunately means you’ll need the funds to pay for the move and support yourself once you’re there. Several months before you move you should start to set aside the funds you’ll need for travelling, moving your possessions and securing somewhere to live.

Even once you’ve organised where you’ll be living, you’ll need to consider living costs going forward; like the price of rent or your mortgage payments, bills, food, clothing and such. If you aren’t retiring to New Zealand, you’ll need a job to cover these expenses. It’s highly recommended that you research the job market and secure a job before moving abroad (and in some situations you have to have a job lined up before you can get a Visa) so you’ll start generating an income soon after you move.

It’s also worth considering a grant or homeloan. The New Zealand government’s website features a brief guide which includes links to various loan and grant services for your consideration, though not all will apply to expats. NZ’s migration guides also have information on this.

4. Look Into What Help’s Available

As well as consulting guides on moving abroad, you can of course contact those who’ve been through similar situations if you’re struggling to plan your move overseas. For this reason, websites like expat forums and blogs can be extremely useful and many expats who have been through the move you’re hoping to make are happy to share their experiences and offer advice.

You can also get specific help and support when buying property in the nation. The New Zealand government’s immigration website suggests that you engage a lawyer to help with the buying process. The New Zealand Law Society website can be a good place to find a lawyer to help you with your purchase.

5. Research Your Property Purchase Options

As explained on the NZ government’s website as well as their immigration website, there are various ways to buy a property – it’s worth exploring these in-depth as you decide where and how to buy. You can purchase a property through auction, tender, or at an advertised price.

As mentioned above, a lawyer can help you with this process and is also helpful for when you’re contacting real estate agents. The NZ government website mentions that it’s important to watch out for issues with estate agents and to not get caught out by unlicensed agents and agents that don’t meet standards. Because of this, having the advice of an expert in the area can help make your experience more secure.

4. Try Before You Buy

When buying property overseas it can be tempting to pick your dream home on the basis of pictures or videos rather than go to the expense of a pre-move property visit or having to pay for rental accommodation while you look to buy. However, if this is a place you’re hoping to live in for an extended period it’s highly recommended that you visit the property before you buy it.

It is not uncommon for properties to be advertised as too good to be true, and it would be a nightmare to purchase what you think is a dream home only to arrive with your belongings and/or family to find that it it’s far from what you expected.

If you can’t take a trip to New Zealand before the move, arranging to rent in the nation while you look for a property is highly preferable to buying sight unseen.

5. Save Money on Currency Transfers to New Zealand

There are more affordable ways of transferring your savings into New Zealand Dollars than using your bank. Banks aren’t foreign exchange specialists and so often offer limited options when it comes to exchange rate flexibility.

If you want to secure a highly competitive exchange rate, benefit from fee-free transfers and have a range of transfer options, you may be better off using the services of a dedicated currency broker. Currency brokers can provide a range of specialist services like ‘forward contracts’. A forward contract is particularly useful when buying a property overseas as it can help you budget for an extended period.

6. Manage Your Wage or Pension Payments

Further to the point above, you may find that you need to move money to and from New Zealand on a regular basis once you’ve moved – potentially to manage wage or pension payments or pay your mortgage.

As many banks charge for managing foreign currency transfers, making these regular payments can prove costly over time. However, some currency brokers work on a fee-free basis and offer Regular Overseas Payments services. With such a service you can arrange for your regular transfers to be conducted automatically on a day of your choosing at a competitive exchange rate.

7. Consider Tax and Citizenship

As with moving to many new countries, buying and living in a New Zealand property will mean abiding by that country’s tax and citizenship laws. Your property lawyer can also help you through this step, but you will ultimately need your taxpayer identification in order to buy a home, and a New Zealand IRD number.

The Inland Revenue website has information on IRD numbers for overseas buyers, mentioning that you will need a functional New Zealand bank account. The New Zealand Immigration website also has a brief guide on citizenship, for those looking to become a New Zealand citizen.

8. Weigh up the Pros and Cons of Selling Your Old Property

The nitty gritty of moving abroad can often leave you with limited options, but there are a couple of choices when it comes to deciding what to do with your old property. Many expats choose to put their property on the rental market so they can hold on to it for the future and have somewhere back home to return to if they change their mind about a life abroad. However, you may need the proceeds of your old house sale to fund your emigration. If you intend to sell, get the process going far in advance of your planned move abroad so unexpected developments or delays don’t disrupt your plans.

Ultimately there are many important factors to consider when buying property abroad, but if you bear these ten tips in mind you can begin to get your plan to emigrate to New Zealand moving. Good luck with your adventure!


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