Due to the relatively small population and relaxed Northland lifestyle it is easy to quickly build a social network. Whangarei is especially becoming more and more multicultural and there are a number of great support organisations which are open to all newcomers.
Northland DHB engages the services of Whangarei Relocation Service to provide individual personalised welcome packs and support: www.whangarei-relocation.co.nz.
Whangarei Settlement Support is sponsored by the Government and provides information and referrals to agencies, seminars and a link to cultural groups: www.wdc.govt.nz (search 'Settlement Support').
The Whangarei Migrant Centre organises many multicultural activities: www.wmc.hostzi.com or www.newcomers.co.nz.
WINGS, the “Womens International Newcomers Group Social”, organises lots of family events and activities for newcomers: www.wingsnz.org.nz.
There are Korean, Indian, Scottish, Dutch, French, Filipino organisations and countless sports and hobby organisations you can join, see the directories on these websites: www.whangarei.co.nz, northland.2cu.co.nz, www.cab.org.nz, www.ethnicaffairs.govt.nz.
Northland DHB also operates its own free Employee Assistance Programme where staff and their families can access appropriate professional/specialist counselling assistance when they need it. There is also a social club, a swimming pool and a fitness centre for after work socialising.
Northland is a growing economy with an ever increasing and changing range of job opportunities in diverse sectors, but there are also interesting options for educational training, volunteering positions and creative endeavours.
Northtec is the leading educational facility in Northland with dozens of programmes ranging from nursing to IT courses, trades and arts. There is also great community education in school premises and the artist community organises plenty of workshops and events to participate in.
Job search websites are www.trademe.co.nz, www.seek.co.nz, www.jobzone.co.nz, www.jobsearch.co.nz, www.jobs.co.nz, www.jobhunt.co.nz, www.search4jobs.co.nz, jobs.nzherald.co.nz, www.jobuniverse.co.nz, www.jobsdirectly.co.nz etc.
You can also visit the Career Services offices (www.careers.govt.nz), they can help optimising your CV to the New Zealand environment. The newcomer support groups often organise helpful seminars for job seekers.
If you can spare some time and have the right skills there are about 60 charities, trusts or nonprofit organisations looking for volunteers, from health support groups to social work or conservation projects - a great chance for networking and gaining new experiences.
There is great support for parents from childbirth education and early development all the way to teenage counselling organisations.
Cost of living
The cost of living is comparable to other OECD countries, but the total tax burden is one of the lowest in the OECD. With residence your income tax will already include health care services and every person is automatically insured for accident cover. Generally the public sector of New Zealand provides an outstanding amount of free services and bureaucracy is kept at a minimum level.
In Northland average salaries are lower than in the big New Zealand centres which means properties and some local items are much more affordable. On the other hand the remote location of New Zealand can lead to higher import prices and the smaller population means less competition for some goods.
Northland communities are continuously growing especially on their outskirts and there is still plenty of land left to develop. New and modern houses get established in rural subdivisions, just outside of town the sweeping countryside begins. Near the coast there is a markup for waterfront property and sea views in general, but as an alternative big lifestyle blocks are also very popular, and even close to the centre you can find many green and quiet neighbourhoods.
Renting a house: Usually you can find renting options within all levels of the market, from small units in town to waterfront mansions. Most houses on the market are not furnished, if you stay longer than 6 months an unfurnished rental may turn out to be more economic. In addition to the weekly rent you will probably have to pay for a bond (in case you cause damage this money is retained in an official government bank account) and the letting fee for the rental agent, if one is involved. Water is often included in the rent, but telephone and electricity will have to be organised and paid for by you.
Buying a house: New Zealand boasts one of the highest home ownership rates in the world and real estate is much more affordable in Northland than in the big centres. The buying process is simple and efficient, with the exception of a few private sellers most houses on the market are offered by real estate agents, their commissions and a fixed lawyer's fee are the only major costs involved. Councils charge annual rates based on the valuation of the house and insurance is of course highly recommended. Foreigners face no hindrances when buying a house and mortgages are easy to obtain with a proof of fixed income. There is traditionally a high turnover of houses, especially in the standard segments of the market.
New Zealand's public health system is good by world standards. Comprehensive life-long medical care is available to everyone. All essential health care is provided free through the public health system. This means that while some routine services like visits to local doctors and dentists have to be paid for, more costly services are, with minor exceptions, available free to all residents. The government funds further subsidies for young children, people who require frequent healthcare and those on low incomes.
To be eligible for public healthcare you need to be a New Zealand resident or the holder of a two-year work visa. Non-residents may have to pay for some hospital services, but you will not be refused emergency care if you cannot pay. Our new employees are offered six-months free basic cover by the Health Service Welfare Society (HSWS) from their date of employment.
Additional private health care may be used for elective and non-urgent care without the waiting lists associated with some public hospital services.
Ambulance services are free of charge for emergencies, as are the rescue helicopters based in Whangarei.
For young couples and parents the services of the Family Planning Clinic, the Whangarei Parents Centre and the Plunket support services are free.
Many newcomers successfully bring their cats and dogs along, but due to biosecurity reasons there are requirements for medical checks or even quarantine.
Other services and facilities
Apart from the fantastic sports infrastructure Whangarei offers a wide range of further facilities:
Dozens of well maintained walking tracks and reserves.
The modern Whangarei Library with a million books and 550,000 visitors per year and many community libraries are free for ratepayers and residents.
Museums like the Whangarei Art Museum, Whangarei Museum with Kiwi North and Heritage Park, the National Clock Museum and smaller local exhibitions.
Conservation organisations like the Native Bird Recovery Centre and the Kiwi creche Limestone Island which is public.
Free public gardens like the Whangarei Quarry Garden or the Botanica fern collection.
Event venues like Forum North with ticket office, Octagon and Riverbank theatres and the Rugby stadium multievent centre.
Whangarei has its own daily newspaper and two bi-weekly free newspapers.
The domestic airport has connections to Auckland and Wellington, public buses connect a number of suburbs with town centre, while schools organise buses to collect students.
There are 4 major marinas and lots of boat ramps for boaties, also many jetties to fish from.
The Quarry Arts Centre is run by a trust and helps local artists with workshops, supplies and infrastructure.
Northland is a mecca for campers with countless campsites in the most idyllic locations.