Renting a Residential Property in NZ

Looking for a place to live here in Auckland with your family seems easy but it is actually not. If you are coming here alone and are looking for flatting options (room rent or bedspace) then might be easy, but if you are planning to rent the whole apartment/house, then you have to allot ample amount of time, money and effort.  Even before I got here, my wife and I spent some time browsing through available options. I’d like to share with you my experience and I hope that I can give you a glimpse of the housing conditions here in NZ. Please note that this article is based from our experience in Auckland (could be different in other regions).

When we decided to move to NZ, we were a bit worried because we did not know anyone from here. As mentioned in my previous post, I came here by myself first. This came out as a good decision especially when I realized how hard it is to find a place for my family in Auckland. I think you are lucky if you have a relative where you may have the option to stay with until you can find your own place.

When I came here early this year, I stayed on a serviced apartment for a week which cost me $165 a day. This gave me enough time to do the things I needed such as opening a bank accountapplying for an IRD Number and finding a short term flatting option. I was able to find a flat easily. Here in NZ, one of the most popular property posting sites is TradeMe Property. In TradeMe, you can filter your search based on the location, price, number of rooms, etc. In my case, I sent an email to the property manager, and he replied promptly. We met the next day for the signing of the tenancy agreement and rental payment. Below are the things that came up

  1. The minimum rental period is 3 months. I did not expect this. I used to rent a flat in the Philippines too, but I was able to “negotiate” a minimum rental period. Nevertheless, the amount of time was just right for me to settle and prepare for my family.
  2. Rent is $200 weekly. That is right. Rent in NZ is paid on a weekly basis. Rent for a flat typically ranges from $150 to $400. My rent already includes gas, power, and water. Internet/broadband is an additional $20 per month. 🙁
  3. You have to provide 4 weeks rent as a security bond. This bond is held by the government’s Tenancy Services, and will be deposited to your bank account when the tenancy ends. I had an experience in the Philippines where the landlord did not give the security bond back. Those dirty tactics are not possible here!
  4. You have to pay letting fee which is equivalent to one week rent to the agent. Another $200 dollars from my pocket. Ouch!

Ok, you might say that was easy. We’re not on the difficult part yet. Three months have passed; everything seems fine at work and looks like I am ready to move my whole family to NZ. Again, I went to TradeMe to search for a two bedroom apartment where we could enjoy living with privacy. Search returned many results from TradeMe, so I say to myself everything is going to be fine. I found a perfect place on a perfect price. I sent a message to the property manager saying that I am interested. His reply – property viewing is available the following week, and I could visit if I’m really interested. The day came. I was excited and early. I wanted to check the premises first before I meet with the property manager. Few minutes have passed, I noticed that other people were also coming. I asked myself, do they come here to view the property? Exactly at the scheduled time came the property manager. He asked everyone to come inside to have a look at the property. That confirmed it – all of us (around 15 in total) were there to view the property. The place was really nice, and everyone seemed to like it. After viewing, the manager handed the application form and asked us to fill up with our personal details. At first it felt like I was applying for a job. Unfortunately, that’s how it works in Auckland. If you want a good deal in rental properties, then you need to stretch your patience.

I’ve expressed my interest to around 15 rental properties, and had been to 8 viewings before finally succeeding. I even met a regular participant in several viewings who is also a Filipino and told me that his family temporarily stays with his relative. Wanna know how I got it? Luck maybe. If I analyse the property manager’s story, I guess she picked me because 1) She needed the property rented immediately. Unlike me, other applicants wanted to start rent after few weeks 2) I have a stable income knowing I am an IT professional 3) The unit is ideal for a family of three. 4) Lastly, I think others shy away from the rental price which is $35 dollars more compared to other units in the same compound (around 5,000 pesos per month).

Again, I had to provide 4 weeks rent worth of security bond and a week’s rent of letting fee for the property manager. As for the rental cost, it is quite expensive compared back home. A 2-bedroom apartment typically costs about $450 or more depending on the location. Those which are nearer to the city center cost a lot more.

Buying Goods/Availing Services in New Zealand

As a new migrant in New Zealand, it is really helpful to have a guide on where to find the things that you want to buy (or where to get services that you need). Below is an itemized list of goods and services with some quick facts about them.

Food and Groceries

If you want to buy food and grocery items like meat, rice, flour, fruits and vegetables, then you can go to any of these supermarket chains.

  • PAKn’Save – They live up to their policy which is to have the lowest food prices in NZ. Did you know that many PAK’nSave stores have on-site fuel stations? When you checkout, you will get a voucher which you can use to get petrol discounts. 6 cents per liter is not bad.
  • Countdown – A New Zealand supermarket chain which is a subsidiary of a large Australian retail company.
  • New World – Owned by the same group as PAK’nSave. A member of the loyalty programme, Fly Buys, which gives you points on your purchases.

Home Retails / Department Stores

Ranging from whitewares, clothes, books, toys, kitchen appliances and furnitures, you can buy  almost anything for your home from these stores.

  • The Warehouse – really cheap items and almost everyday they are on sale on selected items.
  • Farmers – mid-market department store chains

Office Supplies and Services

Papers, ink, print & copy services and more

  • Warehouse Stationary – Owned by the same group as The Warehouse. Their print service is awesome. Here in New Zealand, if you want to have your passport photos taken, you need to pay around 20NZD per person. If you know a little about Photoshop, then you can take your own photo and have it printed here for only 20c!
  • OfficeMax – another major office supplies provider.

Household Warehouse / Hardware

Cements, woods, electrical, tools, plumbing, paint, you can find them here.

Electronics and Home Appliances

Computers, tablets, phones, TV’s, etc.

  • Noel Leeming – member of The Warehouse Group
  • PB Tech – largest computing and I.T. retailer
  • Harvey Norman – large Australian based retailer of electronics goods. Offers furniture and beddings too.
  • Dick Smith – another Australian player

Telecommunications

Mobile, Landline, Internet

  • Spark – formerly Telecom, largest provider in New Zealand. Spark is our mobile and internet service provider!
  • Vodafone – British multinational telecommunications company.
  • 2Degrees – new comer in the NZ telecom arena with increasing market share

Power/Electricity Retailer

  • Genesis Energy – largest energy provider (electricity & gas) by market share as of 2016.
  • Trustpower – provider of electricity, gas & internet.
  • Powershop – electricity provider which gives you option to “shop” from their products (e.g. if you care about the environment then you might want to buy their Green Packs). Note that you have the option to buy on prepaid when shopping which gives you savings.

Health Insurance

New Zealand’s ACC is very good in covering accidents. The government also subsidizes GP consultations and have “free” services on public hospitals. But if you want convenience and don’t want to be on a waiting list, then you might consider getting a private health insurance.

Malls

  • Westfield Mall – the largest chain of malls in NZ (like SM in the Philippines but definitely fewer store options)
  • Sylvia Park – ok, not really a “mall”, but is the popular large business park and shopping center in Auckland.

Banking Services

  • Kiwibank – subsidiary of state-owned New Zealand Post.
  • ANZ – largest financial services group which is a subsidiary of Australia’s ANZ.
  • Westpac – large Australian bank operating in NZ.

Cars for Sale

  • AA – you can browse for cars for sale from the Automobile Association itself.
  • Turners – large car auction in New Zealand
  • 2 Cheap Cars – popular used car dealership. Most of the cars are coming from Japan.
  • Trade Me Motors – You can buy almost anything from Trade Me which includes cars.

Petrol / Service Stations

  • Z Energy – the successor of Shell New Zealand
  • Caltex – petroleum brand of Chevron. Same brand we have in the Philippines.
  • Mobil – major American oil company whose parent company, ExxonMobil the direct descendant of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company.
  • PAK’nSave – As mentioned previously, they have on-site fuel stations which gives you discounts when you buy groceries. 🙂

Car Services

  • AA – New Zealand Automobile Association, the largest and oldest motoring club in NZ. They provide a wide range of motoring services which includes vehicle & driver licensing, car advertisements, repair & maintenance, insurance and road assistance.
  • VTNZ – Vehicle Testing and more.
  • Pit Stop – car repair, maintenance and road assistance.

Rental Properties

  • Trade Me Property – You can almost find anything in Trade Me. In fact, most rental properties that you can see online is in Trade Me!
  • NZ Flatmates – Living in Auckland by yourself? You can find the right flatmates for you here.

Haircut Services

A lot of salon here in NZ might require you to book an appointment.

Car Rentals

Bus transport is the main form of public transport in NZ. If you are travelling with a group, you might find the fare expensive (compared to PH). If one of you have a valid license and know how to drive, then you can rent a car and save some cash. When I moved here, my taxi from airport to North Shore had cost me 150 dollars!

  • Omega Car Rentals – cheap car rentals in major cities in NZ
  • Jucy – another cheap popular car rental
  • Thrifty – newer car models but more expensive

Pharmacy

Both brands below are under the same pharmacy retail group in New Zealand.

Online Streaming / Cable Television

  • Sky – The only “cable” tv provider that I know (i.e. not internet based). They recently launched Sky Go which allows you to view contents on any internet enabled devices. This is not related to Philippine’s Sky Cable company.
  • Lightbox – Owned by Spark New Zealand. I actually got a free subscription when I signed up for Spark broadband. Sweet!
  • Neon – Online streaming owned by Sky
  • Netflix – Nothing can beat the price of Netflix. So far, I think they have the cheapest service here.

Do you have anything that you want to add to the list? Please feel free to share in the comment section below.

Buying Asian Products | Mamonde, 3CE and Innisfree

I just received a package from Hikoco, an online Korean beauty products store. I am a fan of Korean products since I feel like they’re a perfect fit for my skin, Asian skin. I purchased 2 lipsticks and a mask! I have been watching some Korean TV shows since we got here in NZ and I realized that the girls are usually pretty. So it got me to buy and try some of what’s popular in Korea! 

Here’s what I purchased:

  1. Mamonde Creamy Tint Color Balm Intense in shade #16
  2. 3CE Matte Lipstick #907 (old dress)
  3. Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask

mamonde_3ce

 

Korean products

 

I have been eyeing the Mamonde one since I’ve recently taken an instant liking to Park Shin Hye, the Mamonde model. I’ve seen her in Heirs and You’re Beautiful. She’s really pretty and she looks natural. I read that the products became quite popular too because of her! The other products were just randomly chosen with a bit of research.

As for the buying experience, I was happy with the super fast delivery. There were also some freebies! 🙂

Aside from Hikoco, I also got some Asian beauty products from Ippondo store in Westfield Mall. I got a Kracie Hadabisei facial wash for Acne prevention.

 

New Zealand Among the Top 10 Most Peaceful Countries | PH Among the Lowest | Global Peace Index

New Zealand has made it again to the Top 10 Most Peaceful Countries according to the Global Peace Index (GPI) report by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). GPI ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness using indicators such as violent crime, terrorism, militarisation, safety & security, to name a few.

 

Global Peace Index - New Zealand Ranking
Global Peace Index – New Zealand Ranking – Source: www.visionofhumanity.org

 

In contrast, our beloved Philippines is in the bottom 25 of the list among other countries like Mexico, India, Venezuela, and Turkey. Aside from North Korea, she is at the bottom in Asia Pacific region, and also the least peaceful among South East Asia. 🙁

 

Global Peace Index - Philippines Ranking
Global Peace Index – Philippines Ranking – Source: www.visionofhumanity.org

 

Apparently, as far as the PH is concerned, this is really the case. Just turn on your TV and listen to daily news. In the Philippines, a big chunk of airtime is spent covering violence, crime and terrorism. Whereas, NZ news spend lots of airtime covering international, business and sports news. And sometimes to make up for excess airtime, some kind of stories are being aired which in my opinion would not make it in a PH news setup. Not saying that New Zealand is perfect, it has its own problems too, but comparison of peacefulness is a no-brainer.

We really hope that our new President-elect can do what he claims he can do and next year’s report will show an improved ranking for the PH.

 

Global Peace Index Map - Source: www.visionofhumanity.org

Global Peace Index Map – Source: www.visionofhumanity.org

 

How to Apply for IRD Number | New Zealand

As migrant worker in New Zealand, you will need to apply for IRD number for tax purposes, unless you want your employer to deduct income tax at the highest tax rate of 45%. Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number is equivalent to a TIN number in the Philippines. It is worthy to note that starting 1 October 2015, you cannot apply for an IRD number unless you have a fully functional bank account in NZ. You will know that your bank account is fully functional if you can make withdrawals from it (banks normally will only allow you to withdraw funds after completing their verification process). As mentioned in an earlier post, I applied for a bank account while overseas, and the first thing I did after my arrival was activate my bank account by going to the nearest branch. I actually set up an appointment with them while still overseas. After verification, the helpful bank officer assisted me in withdrawing 10 cents from my account, just to make sure that my bank account is active.

Going to documentation requirements, you need to prepare the following (ideally before you arrive in NZ)

  • Photographic Identification – I used my passport (driver’s licence is also accepted).
  • Proof of Most Recent Address – I provided a copy of utility bill from the Philippines.
  • Proof of Intended Activity in New Zealand – Since my intention was to work in NZ, I provided a copy of my work visa.
  • Proof of New Zealand Bank Account – a copy of statement of account showing my transactions (deposits and withdrawals). Most of the time this is available thru online banking or you may ask your nearest branch.
  • Proof of Tax Identification Number of Your Most Recent Country – I gave a copy of my recent tax form from the Philippines and TIN ID.
  • Completed Application Form IR742 – Complete the form and sign. A more detailed list of requirements can also be found in the form

Scan all your documents and send to offshore@ird.govt.nz. After a day or two, I received a call from Inland Revenue and they gave me my IRD Number. Easy, right?

It is advisable that you register and create an account in Inland Revenue Online Services as soon as you get your IRD Number.