How to adjust to life in NZ


Gone are the days when “Lord of the Rings” was the main thing people associated with New Zealand. The country’s strong response to COVID has received global recognition.

Over the past couple of years, the country has increasingly been the destination for people moving from abroad.

So, if you’ve moved to New Zealand in 2020 you’re in good company. But, understandably, life in a new country such as New Zealand still requires some adjustments. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you overcome the learning curve.

1. Money without borders

Moving abroad is expensive. And in the first couple of years of living in a new country, you may still be juggling expenses or transactions from home or your last country of residence. So, long story short, don’t spend money where you don’t have to — particularly on international money transfer fees and exchange rates., which can be deceptively costly.

“When we moved we had to sell our London house, and moved all the proceeds of the sale through Wise. I remember looking at the rates for doing it by a bank and the buy/sell rates were completely awful. I must have saved thousands with Wise,” Hugh tells Wise about moving his family from London back to his home of New Zealand.

With Wise, you get the mid-market exchange rate, for a small transfer fee — it’s a fraction of the price compared to banks, brokers and PayPal. Wise’s online account lets you hold balances in over 50 currencies, send and receive payments, and spend or shop internationally with its debit card. It means you won’t be charged the high international transaction fees or exchange rates that other providers charge.

2. Fun finances

No matter where in the world you are, 2020 has certainly reminded us all to pay close attention to our finances — and New Zealand isn’t known for being cheap.

In New Zealand, the government actually advertises both COVID-specific and non-COVID-related related financial management assistance. These are not necessarily relief or support programs, but actual budget tips and recommendations. The Live Sorted website, also sponsored by the government, tackles some of the grittier aspects of finances, like debt, in an easy-to-understand and practical way.

Also, unless you’re moving from Australia, Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) cards may be new territory for you. All you need to know is that they often come with a bank account, they’re similar to a debit card, and downright difficult to use anywhere other than New Zealand or Australia. Do your research on what the right bank for you is, eventually building a credit history in New Zealand, and becoming just overall familiar with the country’s different banking systems.

3. Keeping up with COVID

New Zealand’s response to COVID has been hailed as the best in the world. That, at least, is according to a recent Bloomberg Media Survey. The government went ‘hard and early’ against COVID measures and continues using a science-led approach to stop the spread of COVID.

For more information about New Zealand’s COVID response and tips — ranging from testing to shopping safely — use this government website. The site also links to the country’s current alert level and clearly describes what that means for residents. You can also learn more about the NZ COVID Tracer app there, too.

4. Respecting Maori culture

New Zealand politics and culture is a blend of Maori and European influences, from the time it was a British colony. The government records that the use of the Maori language, Te Reo Māori, has actually been growing in recent years.

And while day-to-access to Maori culture may depend on where exactly you reside in New Zealand, it’s important to respect its significance to the country in both its understated and more visible ways.

5. A national name

New Zealanders are colloquially called Kiwis. At first it may sound a bit awkward, maybe even potentially offensive to new ears, but that’s what they’re known as. The kiwi bird — not the fruit — has long been a national symbol of the island nation. Therefore, why not call your citizens Kiwis, too?

Cool New Zealand slang continues past Kiwis. Like “chur,” which is an expression of gratitude much like “thanks.” Then there’s the versatile “sweet as.” Apparently, saying “sweet as, mate” can mean “thanks,” “no worries,” “congrats,” “awesome,” and a few other things.

New Zealand-speak seems pretty fun and, surely, you’ll get the hang of it as you interact with more locals, which is always recommended. Just make sure you don’t forget your “togs” at the beach!


Being in a new apartment, starting a new job, meeting new people all in a new country can be a lot, especially in 2020. But Wise can at least be a low-cost, reliable, and convenient solution to one of your financial stresses — sending money abroad.

Need to send or receive money internationally? Wise can help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily. Join our 9 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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