Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump last year, an increasing number of frustrated Americans have considered moving to seemingly idyllic countries like New Zealand.
More than 2,000 US citizens immigrated to New Zealand in 2017, with net migration growing 65% since 2016, according to The Financial Times. And about 17,000 Americans “registered an interest in studying, working, or investing in New Zealand” on its government’s immigration website in November 2016, which was a 13-fold increase from the year prior.
The country may soon enact limits on what types of real estate foreigners can buy, however. In late 2017, the new Labour-led government vowed to fix New Zealand’s housing crisis with several measures, including banning foreigners from buying existing homes or residential land there. The proposed law is a reaction to New Zealand’s surging housing prices, which have increased more than 60% in the past decade amid a construction shortage and record immigration. It’s still unclear whether the ban will pass, but if it does, it will take effect this year.
For now, sites like Homes.co.nz and Trade Me list properties for sale across New Zealand that foreigners can purchase. We’ve picked a few of our favourites, which you can check out below. But first, take a look at how to buy a home there.
Note: All prices are listed in USD.
In New Zealand, it can take just three to four weeks to buy a home. Unlike in the US, once a bid is accepted, last-minute offers can’t be considered.
Source: New Zealand Immigration
Most prospective buyers work with a real-estate agent, and get independent advice from a lawyer experienced in local real estate.
You can find a lawyer using the New Zealand Law Society’s site. Under “area of practice,” click “property.”
When looking at homes, take into account the taxes (known as “rates”) charged by local councils.
They vary by town, but they’re always based on the value of the property. This site has more information about rates in every region of New Zealand.
Major trading banks in New Zealand provide home loans. As a new arrival, you won’t have a credit history, so you’ll need to bring some evidence of your credit history in the US.
There are restrictions, called loan-to-value ratio requirements (LVR), on how much banks can lend you for a home.
Borrowers with less than a 20% deposit (or 30% in Auckland) may find it harder to get a loan.
You can browse property listings online, either through real-estate sites or individual agents’ sites.
Lastly, you will want to consider purchasing home insurance, which is usually calculated on a “sum-insured” basis. This means that if your house is destroyed, the insurer will only pay the maximum sum that you agree on when you take out your policy.
You may need to get a valuation to figure out how much the max sum should be. Most home insurance companies have calculators online.
According to the New Zealand government, it costs about the same to live in the US as it does on the islands. But housing prices vary by town.
Source: New Zealand Immigration
This two-bedroom apartment in the popular city of Auckland, for example, is selling for $US594,660, which is about the median price for the area:
For comparison, the median home price in San Diego, California (a city with a comparable population) is about $US540,000, The San Diego Tribune reports.
It features a balcony accessible from the living room …
… and the master bedroom.
This house in the Auckland suburb of Point Chevalier is much more expensive at $US835,242.
The 1940s-era art deco house is walking distance from the water.
The kitchen features timber floors.
And the bedroom is fairly simple.
In the Auckland suburb of Titirangi, there’s a single-family house that’s going for $US769,640, less than the median price for homes in the area:
It has three bedrooms, a homey kitchen …
… plus a living room with a fireplace and large bookcase.
In Wellington, this two bedroom condo will sell for at least $US359,830 (the buyer inquiry price):
It offers sweeping views of the Balaena Bay …
… and a large kitchen.
The median home price in the Wellington suburb of Kaiwharawhara is about $US1.2 million. This cost of this wooden house is up for negotiation:
Source: Just Paterson/Homes.co.nz
Thanks to the house’s large windows, natural sunlight floods the space.
It features a sun room …
… a living room with a skylight …
… and a balcony.
In tourist-heavy Queenstown, the median home price is around $US631,700. But many of the houses currently on sale in the area are selling for much more. This one is asking $US1.34 million:
It spans 2,360 square feet and includes stunning views of Lake Wakatipu.
The home’s open floor plan features three bedrooms.
This ranch-style house in Christchurch is much more affordable at $US239,160:
Source: Ray White
It measures 968 square feet and includes three bedrooms.
Foreigners can also buy land in New Zealand. In Rai Valley, Marlborough, 52 acres of grazing land are up for auction.
But keep in mind that immigrating to New Zealand is not as simple as just buying a house. Check out our guide (linked below) on how to become a naturalized Kiwi, which lays out the immigration process for Americans.
Read more: How to move to New Zealand
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