British expats who are interested in retiring to New Zealand will be allowed to apply for residency via a new visa which was introduced on March 29 2010.
Anyone who is aged 65 or over will be allowed to apply under the new retirement category, which gives a temporary retirement visa for retirees unconnected to New Zealand, and a parent retirement visa for those who have existing ties to the country.
The temporary visa gives the holder the right to initially spend two years in New Zealand. However this new found hospitality comes with a price, the complimentary ‘bottle of wine’ that people will have to bring comes in the form of making investments into New Zealand. Retirees will need to have an annual income of NZ $60,000 or higher, make qualifying investments of NZ $750,000 and also have NZ $500,000 for maintenance purposes. Providing these financial requirements are met the visa will be renewable when the two years have elapsed.
Those that have family members already in New Zealand will be allowed permanent residency under the parent visa however they will also be required to meet the same financial requirements.
This marks a significant change in New Zealand’s outlook with regards to allowing older expats into the country. Previously, British immigrants were only being issued with working visas, visas that came with a cut-off age of 56.
New Zealand currently houses around 215,000 British expats. Britain gives New Zealand its highest number of permanent resident applicants, 17 percent in total. What remains to be seen is if the financial requirements are too restricting for retirees to truly embrace New Zealand as a legitimate place to spend their twilight years. An employee at Migration Matters, a leading migration company, said: “New Zealand is a place where it is difficult for Britons to retire to unless they have substantial wealth”.
There are also issues regarding pensions for expats; recently a landmark court case ruled against pensioners who were requesting that their overseas pensions were unfrozen and brought up in line with inflation rates. Unfortunately New Zealand is one of the countries that will be stuck with the frozen pensions.
A spokesperson for Age Concern and Help the Aged encouraged pensioners to make informed decisions when choosing their retirement destinations: “A large number of UK pensioners currently live overseas, with over nine percent of UK state pensions being paid abroad. Retiring abroad can be a great experience for many, but clearly living in another country is very different from holidaying there. We would encourage anyone thinking about retiring abroad to do their homework first”.
However some expats who have already made the move speak highly of their new life. Lori Hope, a British Expatriate who has been living in New Zealand for almost a decade gushed about her home away from England. She told The Telegraph: “I haven’t looked back. It’s a beautiful country, with a great climate, friendly people and a safe environment, it really can give you a new lease of life”.