Five Finance Tips For Americans in New Zealand


Moving to New Zealand? Catherine Treyz, writer and American abroad, breaks down 5 important tips that will help set you up for financial success.

New Zealand’s lush landscapes have been known to attract Hollywood directors shooting films, and they seem to be charming many others. A popular vacation destination, New Zealand is, for many Americans, also home.

Be it for temporary or more permanent moves to the world’s second most peaceful country, here are 5 financial tips for Americans currently residing among New Zealand’s 600 or so islands:

1 - Design a budget

New Zealand’s world renowned wine and nature come with a price.

Writer and Young Adventuress blogger Liz Carlson tells Wise:

“You’ll be living on an island nation that exports everything of value and imports everything it sells, which makes it inherently expensive, especially food. Even though the USD is often significantly stronger than the NZD, you’ll still end up paying more here.”

Liz adds, if you’re still in the planning stages of your move to New Zealand:

“My major financial tips for Americans living in New Zealand would be to save more before coming over because costs are much higher in New Zealand than in the US.”

Whether you’ve long called the islands home or are still new, crafting and maintaining a budget that fits your savings/earnings and suits your needs is important. To stave off financial surprises, the government has this useful cost of living calculator. It also recommends this budget tool called Live Sorted.

2 - Transfer your money wisely

It is almost inevitable that you will need to dip into your American savings while in New Zealand -- that’s where rWise can help.

With just a few clicks and in less time than a cross-Pacific flight takes, Wise provides both an affordable alternative to traditional bank transfers. Wise eliminates the hidden fees that are notoriously associated with traditional bank or wire transfers. Additionally, Wise now provides the Wise account that allow account holders to receive and convert currencies in one spot, which may be helpful if, for example, you’re a freelancer and invoice international clients. You can also create and send your invoices by using our invoice generator, or the downloadable free invoice template in Excel, Word or PDF.

Due to her job, Liz is often paid in various international currencies and has experienced the headaches and lost money in complicated transfers.

“I am often paid in Australian dollars, which is always stronger than the New Zealand dollar. But by the time the money would arrive in my New Zealand bank account, I would have earned less in NZD than AUD, which was very frustrating. Finally, friends turned me onto Wise, a service I’ve been using for years to pay and be paid, with the best rates and it was a game changer.”

3 - Understand New Zealand’s tax landscape, not just its natural ones

As a basic introduction, New Zealand’s government has a simple, easy-to-understand breakdown of its tax system.

While that may still seem pretty comprehensible, it’s highly advised to meet with a tax adviser to make sure you’re navigating the processes correctly.

Also, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), means that US citizens and Green Card holders living in New Zealand need to file taxes to both American and New Zealand authorities. Speaking with a tax professional in the States, New Zealand, or both, will help you manage your taxes properly — everyone's financial situation is unique, so you should check your tax obligations with a professional.

If you don’t file your foreign income with the US, there’s the risk of racking up expensive penalties. While there are certain mechanisms in place that seek to limit double taxation, it is still highly advised to speak with professionals on tax matters.

4 - It’s not quite a debit card

If not done already, you’ll need to open a new bank account. In New Zealand and Australia, banks often offer Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) cards.

They’re like a debit, but they aren’t a debit card.

EFTPOS cards predominantly work in Australia and New Zealand, making using them overseas near impossible. With that being said, it’s important to 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.

5 - Travel

Managing your time is often a way to manage your money. Take travel, for example.

With New Zealand’s rather distant position on the globe, your trips overseas should be planned well in advance. Doing so will likely get you the best prices for accommodation and airfare.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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