The Four Best Places To Live In New Zealand

Discover the four best locations in New Zealand to live as an expat.

Most immigrants who move to New Zealand end up living and working in and around Auckland.

And yet speak to New Zealanders, and they’ll quickly tell you that among their own, Auckland is actually one of the locals’ least favourite places to live.

So where are the best places to live in New Zealand?

Auckland is a great place to start in New Zealand.

However, ask seasoned expats about living in Auckland, and they will tell you about high property prices, high costs of living, higher than national average crime figures, and also competition among the increasing number of international migrants making Auckland their home! 

Another popular option is Wellington. Living in Wellington means a perfect blend of urban and nature. It’s a great place to live for families and single professionals alike.

Following the trend among local migrants, it’s clear that the most attractive places for lifestyle reasons are Christchurch in Canterbury, the Bay of Plenty, and in particular, Tauranga, Waikato, and Otago.


Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand, and so it is a viable option for those considering emigrating to live and work abroad rather than those just looking for a retirement paradise.

Best places to live in new Zealand - Christchurch
A pretty Worcester Boulevard in Christchurch, New Zealand

It’s considered one of the best places to live in New Zealand for families in particular, as there is so much going on.

The climate is excellent, the educational and social facilities are fabulous, and among the majority of residents, a perfect blend of working and relaxing is achieved.

Christchurch is also a good place to get a job in New Zealand.

Living in Christchurch means living close to the coast, it is close to winter sports resorts, and there’s a wealth of activities available throughout the year for all the family to enjoy.

Christchurch is famous for its culture and history as well, making it a really lovely place to consider living in New Zealand.

The Bay Of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty and in particular, the region’s largest city of Tauranga have been increasing in appeal among New Zealanders who have been escaping the Auckland experience

Best laces to live in New Zealand - Bay of Plenty
Bay Of Plenty, view from Mount Maunganui

The coastal areas of this region enjoy a stunning micro-climate meaning that it’s a perfect area for fruit cultivation and a perfect place to retire. 

The region experiences an average summertime temperature in the mid-twenties and enjoys 2260 hours of sunshine yearly. 

If you’ve been thinking about retiring abroad and New Zealand is one of the nations on your radar – look more closely at the Bay of Plenty and see if its climate and laid-back lifestyle would suit you.


Located in the central North Island, the region of Waikato is very fertile in agricultural terms and also fertile ground for recent city migrators searching for more affordable housing options. 

Property in New Zealand in Waikato’s towns, such as Hamilton, continues to be far more affordable than in its main city of Auckland. 

Best places to live in New Zealand - Waikato
Lush green rural scenery is a big part of why living in Waikato can be so appealing.

What’s more, there are increasing employment prospects across the region as well as decent educational facilities, making it a good area to consider for families interested in relocating abroad and starting a brand new life overseas.

Waikato is where New Zealand’s famous dairy and thoroughbred horse racing industries are located. It also houses many agri-businesses and research institutes.

Choosing Waikato doesn’t mean going completely rural. You can live in Hamilton, the region’s largest city and New Zealand’s fourth-largest city.

Hamilton is not far from Auckland, about an hour and a half’s drive south, but it offers quite a different lifestyle.

Hamilton is vibrant and diverse. With its extensive network of walkways and cycleways, it encourages an active and healthy outdoor lifestyle.

Cafes, bars, and restaurants are plentiful, and the city hosts a number of hallmark events, including Balloons of Waikato and the Gallagher Great Race.

If you are interested in surfing, the coastal town of Raglan is known for the long surf break at Manu Bay.


And finally, you might like to consider living in or near Dunedin in Otago, which is on the lower South Island. 

Whilst the climate in this part of New Zealand is not the best, there are still huge variations all across the region. 

Best places to live in New Zealand - Dunedin
Dunedin railway station, Dunedin, New Zealand

The city of Dunedin is one of the best places to live in New Zealand for employment and education, as it is the second-largest city on the South Island of New Zealand (after Christchurch).

There’s a reason why the city is known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. It is deeply rooted in its Scottish heritage.

Many would say Dunedin beats Wellington when it comes to the question of where to live in New Zealand.

It offers affordable housing and a strong sense of safety, first-class education for families, and an old-world charm emanating from the period architecture.

All of this, combined with a great outdoor culture and some excellent restaurants, make Dunedin a very special place to live and work.

The best places to live in New Zealand – our summary

If you’re not reliant on New Zealand’s employment landscape and you’re moving to the other side of the world to retire perhaps, you’ll find cheaper housing, a laid-back lifestyle, friendly local citizens, and picture-postcard beauty in landscape terms.

If you are moving to live in New Zealand and you’re really not sure where you want to settle, Auckland can be a great place to begin, you can rent accommodation easily within the city, and it has fantastic transport links for the rest of the nation.

But be sure to use these transport links, explore the North and South Islands, and find the location that best suits you before you buy a home or even commit to living in New Zealand full-time. 

Whilst the nation is not vast or overpopulated, it does encompass such an impressive array of geographically different regions that it would be a crime not to explore far more of the country than its leading city before you settle on a place in New Zealand to call home.

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