Auckland isn't New Zealand’s capital, but it’s by far its most populated and cosmopolitan city, and many expats choose to base themselves here. Of course, as with any city, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of moving here. Below is a list of some of our pros and cons to consider when moving to Auckland.
See and do in Auckland
As the country's economic hub, Auckland boasts a wide array of recreational activities and entertainment opportunities. After a day's work, residents can wind down at a local bar, watch a sporting event or take in a show, while for a weekend break, Mother Nature is a hop and a skip away.
+ PRO: Beautiful sights
From the Sky Tower, Auckland’s 328-metre-tall observation and telecommunications tower, to the green volcanic peaks of Mount Eden and Takarunga, residents can take in magnificent panoramic sights. Auckland's pleasing urban landscape with waterfront views as well as the city's gorgeous natural surrounds make it one of the most scenic metros in the world.
+ PRO: Endless things to do
While Auckland is small relative to other major world cities, there is truly something for everyone. New arrivals need not walk far along Queen Street, the city’s main commercial boulevard, to realise this. There are opportunities galore for tourists and residents alike, including bungee jumping, shopping and sailing around the 'City of Sails' and its coastal islands with friends. The diverse population also means incredible menu options to tantalise the taste buds. It’s truly a cosmopolitan city where one can never get bored.
- CON: Cultural and recreational activities can be expensive
While many sights and attractions cost little to nothing for New Zealand citizens, trips to museums and other cultural excursions can be costly, especially for expats. We recommend budgeting accordingly and scouting around for bargains and deals.
Lifestyle and culture in Auckland
New arrivals may experience mild culture shock, but many agree the lifestyle is relaxed and the people are friendly. Outdoor and sporting activities are major aspects of the lifestyle in this rugby-loving city.
+ PRO: Auckland is family-friendly
With so much on offer, families with children of all ages will surely settle into their new lives quickly and seamlessly. Visits to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium and Auckland Zoo make for perfect activities for the little ones, while the whole family can enjoy Snowplanet, an indoor snow recreation centre less than 30 minutes from Auckland.
- CON: Learning the local lingo
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. Though English is the most widely spoken, the local accent may take some getting used to, especially for those whose first language isn’t English. Kiwis are also known for their unusual slang – vernacular which expats will pick up as they go along.
Weather in Auckland
New Zealand may be far from home for many foreign arrivals, but hopefully, unpleasant weather won't be a reason for homesickness.
+ PRO: Temperate climate
Those who don’t like extreme weather conditions will find Auckland a comfortable place to live. Summer temperatures are warm, but the heat isn’t suffocating, and winters are mild, never bitterly cold.
- CON: Can’t avoid the rain
One of the things that new arrivals soon realise is that it rains a lot. The city doesn’t experience a particularly ‘dry season’ but the middle months of the year are the rainiest. Put on the raincoats and trudge through it!
Getting around in Auckland
Transport and driving networks and systems are well run and well maintained in Auckland, and new arrivals with a driver's licence in English won't need an International Driving Permit.
+ PRO: City centre public transport opportunities
One can travel efficiently with public transport in Auckland. The availability of buses, trains and ferries makes getting around the city pretty straightforward. That said, public transport options outside the city are limited and many people prefer to drive. Expats should factor in the costs of buying a personal vehicle.
- CON: Traffic is a problem
City life in Auckland, unfortunately, comes with heavy congestion, with peak morning and evening traffic easily adding an extra 20 minutes to commutes. Traffic is something residents will have to deal with, and hopefully moves to promote public transport will improve the situation.
Accommodation in Auckland
When finding a place to call home, expats must consider the type of accommodation they would prefer, as well as the distance to work and schools, while also factoring in traffic.
+ PRO: Neighbourhoods boast diverse atmospheres
Whether looking for a beachfront neighbourhood, an area perfect for morning runs, a quirky atmosphere or a home with the best restaurants around the corner, Auckland's suburbs and housing suit diverse tastes. Parnell, for instance, is one of the city’s oldest and most affluent suburbs and affords comfortable accommodation, upmarket boutiques and eclectic eateries, while Kingsland is known for its trendy vibe, live music nights and the famous nearby Eden Park stadium.
- CON: Accommodation expenses are high
Depending on where expats are from, new arrivals may be shocked by the high cost of living, even for basic groceries. New Zealand’s most populated city charges high rent too and, while there are many accommodation options available, not all will suit everyone’s budget. Many residents working in the CBD live in more affordable surrounding suburbs and face a daily commute.
Healthcare in Auckland
New Zealand's progressive political system and first-rate medical facilities are major pull factors.
+ PRO: High quality and progressive healthcare system
Hospitals and clinics in Auckland have high standard facilities and medical care. Almost all services are free to those who are eligible, including fertility services, inpatient and outpatient treatments, and support for those with disabilities. No patients are refused emergency medical attention if they cannot pay.
- CON: Not everyone is entitled to free medical services
Free healthcare is largely limited to citizens and permanent residents, but we recommend expats check their eligibility. Expats with work permits allowing stays for two years or more, commonwealth scholarship students and refugees may be able to access subsidised or free services. Alternatively, it is helpful to invest in health insurance.
Are you an expat living in Auckland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Auckland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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