Moving from Germany
Find out how New Zealand compares to Germany, and how you can get a visa to experience our lifestyle.
How New Zealand compares
There’s lots to make you feel at home in New Zealand, including all the comforts and conveniences you’re accustomed to.
What many people from Germany find different is a gentler pace of life. There’s always time to treat people as individuals and look out for each other.
New Zealand was voted No.1 for future outlook, No.2 for lifestyle, No.3 Overall in the 2021 HSBC Expat Explorer survey of expats in 46 countries.
New Zealand is rightly famous for its fantastic scenery.
Our country has sweeping sub-tropical surf beaches, mysterious native forests, dramatic volcanoes, bubbling mud pools, braided rivers, deep fjords and more.
No wonder we’re so often chosen as the backdrop for blockbuster movies like Lord of the Rings.
Of course, Germany has many beautiful spots too. For example, the mountains and lakes of our South Island may remind you of parts of Bavaria. But the scale and sheer diversity of our scenery is sure to impress you.
Compared to most of Germany, you’re a lot closer to the sea. Being a long, skinny country surrounded by oceans, you’re never more than an hour or two from the coast.
With less than 5 million people spread across a country three quarters the size of Germany, there’s less population pressure on the environment and more wide open, clean spaces to enjoy to yourself.
New Zealand has a unique culture with strong Māori and Polynesian influences.
Māori tikanga (protocols and customs) runs deeply through New Zealand's culture.
One of the most important Māori customs is 'Manaakitanga'. This means hospitality, kindness and generosity. As a multicultural nation, we welcome everyone.
Upbeat outlook, low-key politics
Along with the relaxed lifestyle, you’ll find a relatively upbeat outlook on life.
We’re the world’s 4th most stable country according to the 2021 Fund for Peace report covering social cohesion and other economic and political indicators, Germany ranked 13th. We enjoy a long tradition of relatively calm and polite political debate.
Famous work/life balance
New Zealanders have a great work ethic and like to get ahead as much as anyone else. But we also believe there’s much more to living.
It’s taken for granted by employers and colleagues alike that people have a life away from work.
How you use that time is up to you - whether it’s getting sweaty running bush tracks or mountain biking, or just chilling with your friends or family by a beach or in your garden.
No wonder New Zealand scores so consistently highly in international work/life surveys.
Great climate for outdoor living
Like Germany, our climate is technically ‘temperate’ with warm, dry summers and relatively mild, wet winters. But while much of Germany is continental, we’re a maritime country which means we avoid extremes: no stiflingly hot summers, no months of being snowbound.
Of course it can rain and blow here. But in summer, our maximum average temperatures range around 20 - 30ºC and in winter, between 10 - 15ºC. Snow is confined to the mountains and the bottom half of the South Island (the ‘deep South’). It’s not seen in Auckland and Wellington, and only rarely in Christchurch.
A gentle climate makes it easy to get out and enjoy our fantastic scenery or take advantage of all outdoor recreation experiences that New Zealand offers.
New Zealand cities and towns aren’t dominated by rows and rows of look-alike tower blocks and high-density housing.
There’s a wide variety of accommodation options on offer so you’ll be able to choose the style of living you’ve always wanted.
Whether your dream is a spacious stand-alone home in the suburbs with a garden and room for children and pets; semi-rural living on a larger plot of land in the countryside, maybe with goats, sheep or even horses; living by the sea; smart urban apartment living with a view - it’s all possible here.
Many of our houses tend to be built for our temperate climate and often don’t have some of the creature comforts (e.g. central heating, double glazing) people may be used to in cooler parts of the world.
Public healthcare in New Zealand is free or low cost if you are a citizen, resident or hold a work visa valid for two years or more. This is thanks to heavy Government subsidies. Optional private healthcare insurance is also available.
If you hold a temporary visa, you may still be eligible for a limited range of services in certain situations. You can check your eligibility on the Ministry of Health website.
If you are not eligible for publicly funded health services, or you’re not sure, it is strongly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel insurance which includes health insurance.
Family doctors (known here as general practitioners or GPs) are found in practically every town and suburb. Most Universities have their own Student Health services. Accident and emergency treatment at hospitals is free.
If you’re injured in an accident (even if you were at fault), medical and recovery costs are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). You’re unlikely to find anything like New Zealand’s ACC in Germany - it’s pretty much unique in the world.
Benefits for families
Coming to New Zealand is probably one of the best choices you could make for a family. It’s why, when it’s their time to start a family, so many expat Kiwis return.
Your children will grow up in a clean and green land with unmatched access to nature and all sorts of healthy sport and recreation opportunities.
You’ll be able to choose a home with room for you all to spread out in, and you’ll benefit from excellent healthcare and public facilities.
You’ll also feel safe. In fact, the 2021 Global Peace Index which compares 163 countries for the risk of personal violence rated us the world’s second safest country, after Iceland.
We also rank 8th for ‘community’ on the OECD’s Better Life Index of 41 developed countries, Germany ranked 26th. “In New Zealand, 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need,” they comment.
Solid educational standards
New Zealand's education system is ranked as the 12th best in the world according to the 2021 Legatum Institute Prosperity Index out of 167 countries, Germany is ranked 23rd.
Education here is focused on preparing young people for tomorrow’s world. We ranked third out of 50 leading countries — just behind Finland and Sweden — in The Economist’s 2019 Educating for the Future Index (EFFI).
In New Zealand, the government subsidises early childhood education (ECE) for children under 5 years old.
State primary and secondary schools are free for domestic students. However, they can ask for donations towards their running costs and parents usually need to pay for things like school uniforms, stationery, exam fees and some course-related costs.
State-integrated and private schools usually charge parents compulsory fees.
New Zealand also offers top quality higher learning. We have eight universities and 16 institutes of technology that provide domestic and international students with internationally recognised qualifications.
All of our universities are in the top 500 of the 2023 QS World University Rankings — five are in the top 300.
Cost of living
New Zealand’s cost of living is similar to other western OECD countries. Depending on where in Germany you come from, you may actually find the cost of living in New Zealand cheaper than you are used to.
Mercer’s 2022 ranking of the most expensive cities to live in featured eight German cities including Munich at 33rd, Berlin at 46th, Hamburg at 59th.
Only two New Zealand cities featured on the list.
Our biggest and most expensive city Auckland ranked 95th. The capital city, Wellington, was 120th. Living in smaller towns around New Zealand is more affordable.
Both Auckland and Wellington were ranked less expensive cities to live in than Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Dusseldorf.
New Zealand's job opportunities has been strong over recent years, driven by solid economic performance.
47,000 job opportunities a year
The government expects we’ll need about 47,000 more workers a year well into the 2020s. That adds up to great career opportunities.
The majority of the new jobs will be in highly skilled occupations, and it’s expected most will have to be filled by people from overseas countries including Germany. Perhaps - people like you.
Skills in demand
Job openings will grow for virtually every kind of work. But the largest increases will be in business services, construction/utilities, health care/social assistance and education.
Prospects are particularly strong if your skills are on the Green list, but if it's not , don’t be disheartened. There are lots of opportunities in New Zealand for people with skills.
Getting a visa
If you’re planning more than a brief sightseeing trip to New Zealand - and especially if you want to work here - you’ll need one of the various types of visa that are available.
If you’re aged 18-30, working holiday visas can give you up to 12 months in New Zealand.
Alternatively, there are work visas that let you live and work here for a set period and may even lead to residence.
Resident visas let you stay indefinitely and access more state-funded public services.
Over the past 30 years successive governments have transformed New Zealand into a successful and resilient free market, open economy.
While we’re nowhere near the economic powerhouse that is Germany, for several years observers described us as the world’s ‘rock star’ economy.
Our GDP growth reached 5% in 2021.
As with other countries around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed economic growth in New Zealand. The OECD predicts NZ’s GDP growth will ease to 3% in 2022 and 2% in 2023.
In comparison Germany's economy is projected to grow by 1.9% in 2022 and 1.7% in 2023.
International trade makes up around 60% of New Zealand’s total economic activity. With trade so important, our economy is very outward looking.
As the international centre of economic power shifts away from Europe towards USA/Asia, we’re increasingly well-placed geographically.
We have Free Trade arrangements (FTAs) with China, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Asean Asia-Pacific nations including Indonesia and the Philippines.
We’re also part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), cementing links with existing partners and also Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam.
More FTAs are under negotiation with the UK, the EU and other trading partners.
Stable and safe for investing
New Zealand is one of the world’s most stable and corruption free democracies. There are exciting investment prospects in New Zealand, both in traditional sectors and in ‘sunrise’, export-oriented sectors like ICT, biotech, agricultural research and more.
- the International Tax Foundation’s 2021 index puts New Zealand third amongst OECD countries for tax competitiveness
- Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks us first equal with Denmark and Finland as the world’s three least corrupt countries out of 180
- New Zealand was rated the world’s fourth most free economy in the Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of Economic Freedom
Organising the move
Once you’ve made the decision to come to New Zealand, you’ll have lots to organise. Apart from finding work and getting a visa, your top priorities will be deciding where you want to live and finding accommodation, sorting out money and banking matters and, if you have a family, finding the best schools for them.
Getting your new life off to a good start is all a matter of preparation. To help with the planning try our NZ Ready tool. NZ Ready will help you build a comprehensive plan outlining what is involved in a move, ensuring nothing is missed.
Interested in coming to New Zealand?
Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.It’s free and there’s no obligation.