With a high standard of living, low crime rate, laidback lifestyle, temperate climate, uncrowded communities, as well as beautiful, rugged landscapes, it’s not hard to see why New Zealand has become an attractive destination for expatriation. It’s also one of the best places to work as it offers good job prospects for international workers and attractive salaries across all industries. Working in this country offers a great opportunity to build your international career. Its small business culture offers several opportunities to learn fast, take on many responsibilities, and assume leadership roles earlier than you would in your home country. Given how difficult moving abroad can be, I’ve summarised some useful information to help you make an informed decision about relocating and working in New Zealand.
What is the average salary in New Zealand? A person working in this country makes an average of $67,222 a year, $5,600 a month, or $32.29 an hour. New Zealand salaries vary greatly by industry, job titles, and regions. Generally, salaries are higher where the cost of living is dearer, which is in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington at $74,595, $71,275, and $68,654 a year, respectively.
Understanding New Zealand’s job market is the first step to a successful relocation. That’s because most foreigners need a job offer first, to obtain a work visa. But, if you’re eligible for a working holiday, partner, or residence visa, you can search for a job while in New Zealand. If you’re looking to work abroad, you are going to want to do it right. Learn all you need to know about working in New Zealand, including how to find a job, salaries offered, job opportunities for foreigners, the cost of living, and more by following my guide.
Average Salary in New Zealand
If you wish to join New Zealand’s job market, it might be a good idea to check out average salaries by occupation. I’ve highlighted the average gross annual salaries of a few professions to help you get started:
- Accountant – $81,880
- Actuary – $84,050
- Cashier – $38,717
- CEO – $154,870
- Construction Manager – $78,060
- Investment Banker – $79,600
- Lawyer – $75,680
- Management Consultant – $75,720
- Oil and Gas Engineer – $80,120
- Real Estate Agent – $83,200
- Receptionist – $37,857
- Sales representative – $41,735
- Software Engineer – $76,470
- Systems Architect – $86,720
- Teacher – $62,695
- Waiter/waitress – $38,925
Factors affecting income
Salaries in New Zealand are affected by a number of factors. Generally, higher qualifications will lead to higher salaries, but your payment may also be affected by:
- The subjects you studied
- The demand for your skills
- The industry you work in
- Your work experience
- Where you work (both the employer and region)
- How well you can negotiate your salary
- New Zealand labor force market
This country’s job market has been strong over the past couple of years. It’s driven by solid economic growth as evidenced by the low unemployment rate of 4.3%. Its labor force participation rate is at 66.6% in a total population of 4.794 million.
How to find a job
There are several ways to find a job in New Zealand. For starters, the official Immigration New Zealand website has the most up-to-date information on industries with a shortage of skilled workers. You can also search for jobs in the classified section of major newspapers, through recruitment agencies, or visit job search websites such as New Kiwis, Workhere, Working In, TradeMe, and Seek among others.
Some jobs aren’t formally advertised, so networking and making connections might prove useful. You can research New Zealand companies that specialize in your field and contact them directly to discuss job opportunities. If you’re currently working for an international company with offices in New Zealand, you might want to consider an inter-company transfer.
Job opportunities for expatriates in New Zealand
If you have the right set of skills and good academic credits, New Zealand has something for you. While New Zealand is known for its large agricultural output, other industries that continuously employ expats include tourism, IT, engineering, construction, finance, new media, and health. The majority of opportunities are in highly skilled occupations, but even those with general skills, particularly in business and in construction/trade services, also have many opportunities.
Certain skills are in short supply in New Zealand. Possessing such skills will mean finding a job much faster. Industries that experience long-term skills shortage include finance, trades, ICT, construction, engineering, health and social services, electronics and telecommunications, hospitality and tourism, as well as science. Other occupations like an accountant, nurse, baker, winemaker, university lecturer, a midwife, and building inspector experience immediate skills shortage.
Due to the high competition for jobs in this country, international job seekers often accept more junior positions to gain experience working here.
Working conditions in New Zealand
Despite having no standard working hours, the majority of employees in New Zealand work between 37 and 40 hours per week. They also get generous benefits from international standards. For starters, they are entitled to at least 4 weeks of paid annual leave, paid public holidays, and up to 52 weeks of paid parental leave. You’ll also be entitled to several social security benefits if you’ve lived in the country for two years.
New Zealand Average Household Income
The average annual household income from all regular sources was recorded at $105,719 (before tax) for the year 2018. This is a 41% increase from last year’s figure. Over the same period, the average annual housing costs increased by 43% to reach $17,122. This means that the ratio of household income to housing costs remains relatively unchanged. Despite the rising prices, housing costs have been held in place thanks to lower mortgage rates. The average annual household income in Auckland is rising faster than anywhere else in the country, and it’s currently over $120,000.
Minimum Wage in New Zealand
The idea of a national minimum wage (NMW) has been around longer in New Zealand. Did you know that this country was the first to implement a minimum wage policy back in 1894? Well, this policy has been modified over time to ensure equal pay and fairness in the workplace. It also aims to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living. Today, New Zealand has one of the highest minimum wages in the world.
There are three types of the minimum wage in New Zealand:
This minimum wage applies to all employees, 16 years and above. They should be involved in training or supervising other employees and be employed by the same employer for six months. The adult minimum wage is currently at $17.70 per hour from 2018’s figure of $16.50.
This applies to 16 and 17-year-old employees in their first six months with a new employer, 16 to 19-year old employees who are required to undertake industry training to become qualified in their area of work, as well as 18 and 19-year olds who have been on a benefit for six months or more and haven’t completed their 6-months of continuous employment with 1 employer. This group should not be on training or supervising others. The start-out minimum wage is currently at $14.16 an hour.
This applies to 20-year olds or those who are on an industry training program that requires at least 60 credits a year. The training minimum wage is $14.16 an hour.
Minimum wage is reviewed every year. It has been increasing since 2000 and shows no signs of slowing down. The adult minimum wage is set to increase to $18.90/hour in 2020 and reach $20 an hour by 2021. These changes impact businesses across all industries and often put pressure on other wages to be increased. In case of non-compliance, an employer may be required to rectify the breach or pay a severe penalty.
Average Salary in Wellington
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city. It’s filled with culture, art, entertainment, and has beautiful and diverse scenery, making it a fantastic place to settle down. This city is home to many government agencies, national institutions, not to mention, it’s the seat of New Zealand’s government. It’s also the country’s hub of innovation and creativity, has a great quality of life, great outdoors, a wide dining scene, and much more.
Like most cities with thriving economies, Wellington is a great place to find work as there are lots of opportunities for locals and foreigners alike. Office work is abundant because many local and international businesses have set their offices here. While there are opportunities across all industries, high priority areas include business and finance, ICT, construction, engineering, and health. Sales jobs are also in plenty thanks to the many boutiques and shops located across the city.
Wellington employers offer some of the highest salaries in the country after Auckland. The average gross salary is currently at $68,599 a year, $5,717/month, and $32.91 an hour. Given that these figures are before tax, the average monthly net salary is around $2,808.12.
Wellington is home to 10.7% of the country’s total population. Several industries contribute to its economy. As mentioned earlier, it is home to many corporate offices and houses a busy port. Hospitality, tourism, films, and arts have also become key industries in Wellington’s economy. All these features make it the ideal place for a variety of employees to find work. In 2018, the region contributed 13% to the national GDP and employed 11.5% of the working population.
Cost Of Living in New Zealand
New Zealand is a dream destination for expatriation but can you afford a decent lifestyle living and working here? New Zealand may not be the cheapest place to live in but it’s still affordable compared to other popular expat destinations such as Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, etc. Plus, everyone’s comparison is different, depending on an individual’s income, lifestyle, where they are relocating from, and other factors.
Most expatriates live in the main cities of New Zealand. Auckland has the most expensive housing with the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment at $1,182/month. Cheaper options are available in the countryside at around $760/month. Expats who wish to stay in New Zealand permanently may consider purchasing property, which costs an average of $4,427/square meter in one of the city centers and $3,436/square meter outside of the center. There should be no problem obtaining a mortgage from a local bank.
The main cities in New Zealand have efficient public transport systems. A one-way ticket will set you back around $2.15, while a monthly travel pass costs between $73 and $137. Buying a car, particularly second-hand, can also be a cost-effective solution. It’s not compulsory to have car insurance but it’s advisable to get a third-party cover. Gasoline costs about $1.39/litre.
The cost of food will depend on your lifestyle, where you shop, and how often you cook at home. Expect to spend about $591/month on food if you eat at home. New Zealand has all kinds of restaurants, ranging from Italian, Indian, fusion, and everything in between. The cost of eating out will depend on what establishments you visit and how often. Generally, a single meal in a cheap restaurant costs $11.41 while a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant costs $7.16.
Other costs you’ll need to budget for include clothing, personal care, entertainment, health insurance, as well as childcare and education costs for those with kids.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.