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Is New Zealand all hype?

March 9, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

First of all, thanks for all the well-wishes for my speedy recovery. I’m feeling much better today, no doubt due to this exotic root that my ladies have been giving me. I haven’t asked what it is yet, but rest assured I will be traveling with it from now on.

Since I’m still a bit groggy from my illness, though, I thought today would be the perfect time to introduce you to a colleague of mine who has kindly offered to pen a few words in my stead.

To give you a bit of background, Mark is a friend and sometimes business partner who has been traveling the world in search of a new home.  He’s traveled extensively in Latin America and Asia, and has been living in New Zealand for about 5-months to get a feel for the place.

Below are some of his recent insights from that country:

When Simon approached me to write a piece on New Zealand I was a bit surprised.

I’m just a regular guy… sort of.  Like Simon, I’m a serial entrepreneur.   I’ve pretty much always worked for myself.  I don’t have a family, but I am married.  Unlike Simon, there are no topless Peruvian sunbathers in my life…  My ‘work’, if you can call it that, allows me to travel wherever a cell phone and laptop can find a signal.

Nowadays that’s pretty much anywhere and everywhere, so New Zealand seemed a reasonably ‘safe’ bet for me.  Plus I had wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.  It’s a safe, clean, green and under-populated country where one can reconnect with nature and man’s inner spirit… and I think it lives up to its marketing hype.

So what makes New Zealand a place worth considering for an American or European expat?

Let’s start by looking at what was important to me, since my values are probably not that much different than most people, and see how New Zealand stacks up.  I’ll list my Top 10 ‘criteria’, in no particular order:

1.    Geo-politically and physically ‘Remote’
2.    Abundant and reasonably priced lifestyle type properties
3.    Plenty of water.  Ocean, lakes, rivers…
4.    Reasonable annual sunshine hours
5.    Clean environment
6.    Educated, English speaking population
7.    Safe, clean and readily available organic food
8.    Physical safety and the rule of law
9.    Fair taxation
10.    Accessible, high-quality health care

I can tell you that New Zealand checks all the boxes, with the exception of fair taxation; New Zealand is NOT a tax haven.  I believe the only ‘fair’ taxation is no taxation, but you won’t find that here, or anywhere.  Like most first world countries, taxation in New Zealand can get complicated.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not… but if it’s wide open spaces, beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, mirror perfect lakes, roaring rivers, quaint towns, empty roads, great food, cheap property (if you know where to look) and an educated, English speaking population that you seek… look no further.

I’ve been traveling the world, in a modest way, for the better part of the last few years.  I’m an American, so of course I started off in Canada, worked my way down to Panama (where I met Simon and continue to do business), Ecuador, Peru (an organic banana business gone wrong), Uruguay (where I enjoy residency), Argentina, over to Viet Nam (where I was involved with the first Vietnamese company to list its shares publicly in the US), and now New Zealand.

I’ve been here for almost 5 months, and it’s been phenomenal. While it doesn’t tick all the boxes, I’m sure that I’ll continue to live here on a part time basis unless/until I reach the point of becoming an ‘involuntary tax resident.’

Simon again. If you’re interested in hearing more from Mark about New Zealand, let me know by dropping a comment, and I will ask him to write something more customized based on your requests.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Howard

    So does it hit the base on the issue of citizenship or obtaining a Kiwi passport?

  • Will


    Thanks for the report as I have friends looking to establish a business there.

    Three of my concerns are:

    1. Is it a bit chilly in all but the most northern parts?
    2. Gun laws ??? Americans sell your guns before moving there?
    3. I know an internet marketer who lived there a year after marrying a gal from there (met her in the U.S.); but after a year just couldn’t take it any more. Thought it was a great place to visit, but not live. Even led to a divorce.


    • Nick

      Gun laws are stricter than in the USA. You will need to get a NZ firearms license to the necessary level (you need a different license for handguns and can not carry them on you ever). You will then have to import your firearms, some of which may be banned in NZ like certain military style automatic weapons, rocket launchers, land mines, you get the picture.

      Basically, any firearm resonably used for hunting game is permitted so I guess that would inclide a sniper rifle…

      I know what you mean. I doubt I could take more then a year of internet marketing either ;-P

  • razz

    Would like more info on cost of living REASONABLY inexpensively, as a retiree. Also what are the best part of NZ for year round sun, year round beach living. (I’m not a snow person.) Are there expat commuities in NZ and/or do they meet regularly at a bar or restaurant to network: hook us in to 2who to contact to network into the expat community in NZ. Things like that would be great to hear about, from Matt. Regards, Razz

    • Robert

      Retiring to NZ is not encouraged based on their health packages – they do not want to over burden the system. There are ways around it, by investing money in NZ, see http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/invest/migrantinvestment/ or buying / starting a business, see http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/invest/entrepreneur/ For more information see their country’s website at: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/

    • Steve

      New Zealand is also a place I looked into.Thought the cost of living and less feel of Island life would not be for me , but I do luv the larger country, more diversity etc. Any info you can give me is much appreciated as this is a major life change.
      I am considerng going to Belieze this fall for a month. I heard it is close to paradise and for $2,000.00 per month can live there very well.
      This I can afford the rest of my life with what I have, I amy want to work when I move , but only if iwant to. Relaxing and enjoying a peace filled day is my biggest goal.
      I have been to Juarez, Cancun, Cozumel, Puerta Vallarta, Zihuatanajo.That is as far south. I really like the island feel-life.etc.
      Sick of what the U.S. has turned into, the bush administration did me in. My financials will not last in U.S.. I have also heard Panama is great…Brazil, etc.
      I want the move to be as easy as possible,that is why i like the english speaking Belieze.
      Do you know from your experience other places where this dream can be fulfilled? Do you know much about Belieze? Reallly appeciate this ability to communicate with you and others of the same mind-set.
      All the best, and hope to hear back from you.
      Thank You,

  • Mark

    I have been to New Zealand for seveal days three different times in the last 5 to 15 years. Those trips have made me place it at the top of my list
    of places to consider, as at least a part time home, now that Obamas
    regime is causing me to look elsewhere to live. More on New Zealand please.

  • http://thebigride.org Hasben

    Just what part of New Zealand are you in ?
    What IS the (general) tax rate ? Is the heavy income or property tax ?
    How does the price of real estate stack up vs. US ?

  • Dana

    The question was if we wanted to here more from Mark about New Zealand. Absolutely!

    If one could keep busy & prosperous with one’s portable business and bounce between first-world, English-speaking countries with their excellent overall infrastructure while one is avoiding those countries’ obligations for income taxes — I vote let’s hear more!

    I don’t know tons about taxes, citizenship, residency in NZ or Oz — let’s hear more!

  • P Riehl

    Yes, NZ is beautiful (and I’ve never even been to the South Island!) but for someone of retirement age, the cost of residency is punishing – 2.5 million NZ$ investment last I checked, several years ago. Possibly higher now.

  • jaci

    Yes I would like to know more about New Zealand.

    Thank you

  • randy wright

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for the info. So where does one look for cheap property in New Zealand? I thought after Lord of the Rings things would have been all bought up.

  • Robert Vogt

    I have been interested in New Zealand for a long time. I have heard that it’s hard to get permanent residence. what do you know about this?

    • Robert

      Hard but fair. They do not want anyone that will be a burden. If you do not have a good command of the English language, you will not get in. The business laws also seem encouraging. For more “official” information, start with http://www.immigration.govt.nz/

  • Lewis

    Dear Mark,

    I enjoyed your comments about New Zealand, but since you have traveled and lived at least part time in several places I had on my list to consider as a second or third home, such as Panama, Canada (Vancouver), Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina and maybe Viet Nam, I would be interested to hear what you liked and did not like about these other places in a summary view, if possible. I assume that since you are still looking and have not made a final decision on a place to live. You did not mention Europe, but I like Budapest at least for a few months per year to allow me to enjoy the sidewalk cafes and see other parts of Europe by train. I understand that there are a lot of nice places in the world and it is hard to select just one or two. I am getting older also, so being near good health care and at a fair price is a major consideration for the future.


  • Andre` Martell

    I’m all ears, please allow Mark to continue with is revelations on New Zealand. Immigration requirements would be a great post along with business incentives.

  • Tim Pontrelli

    I have 1 comment. I have friends of mine that bought a house in New Zealand. They are Americans. What they discovered, is that you can only stay in New Zealand for what works out to be about 4 1/2 months per year before you have to leave as that is how long the visa is issued for. (It is acutally on an 18 month basis, but yearly this is what it works out to be). It is difficult (not impossible) to establish full residency in New Zealand unless you are bringing something they need (ie, a profession such as medical doctor, etc.), or a business, etc.

  • brian | No Debt World Travel

    I’ve heard of and actually met people from New Zealand who are leaving the country to go to Australia and points beyond because there are not finding opportunities there. Are you finding a stable workforce or are people (especially the well-educated) planning to leave for greener pastures?

  • Mark Swanson

    Mark: I have been looking at New Zealand for some time and have developed some relationships with individual citizens of the country, all being from the south island, Marlbourough Sounds area. Does New Zealand require that you meet the minimum investment/employment requirements to maintain residency? I have been studying this and at my age (65) it will require a $10-20 million dollar investment in order to waive the age limitations so that I can maintain residency there. Any comments?

    • Robert

      At 65 & younger, an investment of $1.5 NZ will work. $10M NZ for any age, as long as it is working $ for at least 3 years.

      • Mark

        Robert is correct, however even with $10M it isn’t cut and dry. Almost every Kiwi I spoke to has a story of an expat who tried to ‘buy’ their way into NZ. It isn’t a guarantee… more on that later.

  • Troy J.


    Great info on New Zealand, thanks alot. I was wondering if you had a site you could direct me to. I want to learn about the real estate ownership rights of foreigners in New Zealand.



  • Charmaine

    Great information Mark! I would like to hear more about real estate prices and weather on the North Island.

  • McMuscle


    Thanks for having Mark give his overview of New Zealand. I think it is great to have other people contribute to “Sovereign Man”….with their own “spin” of similar thinking.

    I have had the opportunity to visit New Zealand (making multiple stops on a cruise ship) but it is great to get an American’s “insiders view” with a similar “Top Ten Criteria” for living there.

    I love your posts, —which give a great “business view” of other countries around the world, and the living environment there. Having traveled much with business as a VP of S&M for medical device companies in the past, it is hard to get the real “flavor” unless you live there for a period of time…instead of the “in-out” business visit. Plus, some of the countries you visit…..I have never had the opportunity to visit & enjoy!

    Thanks….and stay well!

  • Deirdre Hardy

    Simon, thanks for your very interesting points of view. I do hope your recovery continues speedily.
    I am interested in how the taxation situation in New Zealand compares with Australia. I know that country well and that it filfills lots of Mark’s check list except for things like water and cheap land. (Although some isolated areas will checkout here too, I’m sure, but then access to health care might be questionable!).
    Thanks for the research you do. Deirdre

  • George

    For Mark in NZ…OK, where does one look for cheap property in New Zealand? How does an American qualify for a longterm visa? How about cost of living and inflation there? Thanks for more info.

  • David

    WOW!! I love it.
    Talk more about the “cheap property (if you know where to look)”.

    Thank you,

  • Robert Reach

    Certainly would like to read more about New Zealand, more as a tourist for 2 months than becoming a resident.

  • Jay

    Thanks for the note on New Zealand. I have thought about the possibility of moving there, but I believe it is very difficult for retirees to become permanent residents unless they are quite wealthy. Am I right? In fact, is that not the case in most first-world countries? Are there, perhaps, other ways for retirees to obtain residency in New Zealand?

  • Andrew

    Hi Simon,

    Would love to get more feedback/insight from Mark on living and working in New Zealand, especially from a family perspective. New Zealand – along with Uruguay/Argentina/Chile/Thailand – are high on my list of potential real estate investments and relocations for my family.

    Hope you are feeling better and would be interested in learning about any alternative health treatments you run across in your travels. Cheers!

  • http://www.ThatSpecialPlace.com arnold & lynne

    We have travelled to NewZealand (most of both islands) three times.
    Nz is truly “paradise”, however, one thing Mark did not mention was the EXTREMELY restrictive immigration policy. We would LOVE to move to NZ, but we are over 55, and don’t have one million NZ dollars to invest. Neither of us have “suitable” job descriptions. And as for pictures, well, no picture can really do NZ justice, as the people are absolutely wonderful….

  • John Czar

    Hi Simon,

    I’d be very interested in knowing about New Zealand tax laws regarding a retired person who has his money overseas in several banks.

    Can you friend let me know what their policy is?


  • Jason

    I’ve heard that NZ home prices are quite high, so an explanation of if you “know where to look” deserves some amplification.Thanks.

  • Will

    I’m sure New Zealand is a very nice place. I have interest
    in Latin America countries, I’m very interested in Brazil and
    Peru, both countries enjoy of a boom economy, somebody
    has been visited this countries?…please

  • Burt Stanley

    Mark’s right on all counts. I recently spent two weeks there. He should report frequently, especially about the food.

  • Richard Deckelman

    How Mark would compare/contrast NZ and Panama especially as relates to items 1,5-9.

  • Tom

    Thanks for the great article. Here are my questions about New Zealand…

    How long can one live there before you would become legally obligated to start paying taxes there? 6 months?

    Would you just live there on a tourist visa, or are there other requirements? And how difficult is it to meet NZ’s requirements?


  • dwight marcus

    Marks mentions Uruguay in passing. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen anything on Uruguay – and specifically on the region around Montevideo. My casual research has been promising for this area.



    • Dan Simon

      Dwight, I was in BA, Montevideo and Punta del Este in September. Punta is a nice beach resort. Mostly Argentines and Europeans there. Reasonable health care, friendly people. MVD is a little rough. But you’re a short flight or 2 hour ferry ride over to BA- which is a great city. Both Argentina and Uruguay governments lean hard to the left. Climate wise– you do have winter down there, but a fairly mild one. I’ve got some good real estate contacts in Uruguay if you decide to visit.

      • Spencer

        Dan, Could you be more specific about what you mean by “MVD is a little rough” ? I’m headed there for a look-see in 2 weeks. Thanks, Spencer

    • Spencer

      Dwight, I’ve been researching Uruguay for the past 2 years, and will be going there (1st time) in 2 weeks. Contact me mid-April, and I’ll gladly share my observations. Spencer

  • Howard Thompson

    At what point do you become an “involuntary tax resident”?

  • John

    Happy to hear that you are feeling better
    and please let us know what that healing
    herb (?) is.
    Could you please ask Mark what’s involved
    in taking up residence in NZ.

  • http://numisnetworkcom/int2010 Christopher Cradock-Henry

    Simon , more from Mark please . I’ve spent holiday time only in NZ ; but I do have property in Ecuador and “residency” elsewhere (We live in Canada) .I have a business concept which would fly from/in NZ or almost anywhere as it is NOT dependent on the internet . So i’d enjoy hearing more from Mark . For several reasons this concept and other factors (none of them geo-political) have come to the fore in our family’s life . Most importantly NZ AIR is soon to be flying reclining/sleeper seats in coach class from LA to NZ in the late summer – please ask Mark to focus on bus opports – its a “high cost” place from which to operate but the people are fun .

  • Ed Atkin

    I and my sweetheart visited N.Z. by sailboat in the 1980s and fell in love with just about every aspect of the country. We bought a car and spent a year visiting, in depth, both Islands. Being on Visitor’s Visas we had no tax concerns but could not stay indefinitely. The first rate medical care, free to even us, the meats, we could buy half a Hogget (a two tooth lamb) for about three dollars, U.S. The fresh produce, usually organically grown, the beautiful scenery, friendly and helpful people, whom we compared to our Old West, and the reasonable prices on most everything kept us in love with the country. Our best description of the countryside was, “Tidy”.
    In twenty years of visiting more than eighty countries around the world the only one to come close was South Africa and that was before the new government took over.
    More recently we hear from Kiwi friends that Socialism is now more pervasive, freedoms are less and prices are higher and that as we are now in our seventies and not wealthy, we would probably not qualify for residency. Any comments would be appreciated. Ed Atkin

  • wilson

    all best 2 every1…

    can we get year ’round high and low temps 4 the warmer, north island?

    sounds beautiful, but maybe 2 late 4 all except extremely wealthy 2 legally stay on permanent basis? is it true longest americans can stay is 4 1/2 months b4 getting booted? i do know the people r top shelf from driving them in LA.

    is OZ as restrictive on welcoming peaceful immigrants?

    sincere thanks 4 ALL the good work, w

  • CS

    Great! Would love to hear more on New Zealand.
    Good snow skiing?

  • http://justenrobertson.com Justen

    I looked into NZ early in my expat research but there was an instant turn-off: the NZ government loves its censorship. It’s actually a crime to purchase or own violent video games and other forms of media that violate the tastes of their legislature. No. Thanks. I’m not much of a gamer any more – I don’t have time for it – but I am not going to resort to hitting the black market and owning a safe for storage of the latest XBox game.

  • leonard h. frankel

    would love to hear more about new zealand

  • Brian


    Is there any way around the stringent residency requirements? Are you there on a tourist visa, and if so, how have you been able to stay this long?

    How long can one stay in-country if one does establish residency without having to pay NZ taxes?

  • Dee

    Hi, I live inSouth Africa, country on a verge of a collapse( contrary to what everybody tells you). Many SA whites left for N.Z. but not happy there, rains all time, so humid you have ti keep heaters in your cupboards!!!as it stinks, not really educated people but sheep growers!= primitive farmers who do nort know anything but NZ. Bad place in general unless you are retired, also expensive, surpise it is being recommened

  • lrm

    yes,please more on new zealand,for sure!
    NZ had an agressive marketing campaign to attract californians,in the early part of the 2000’s,but now,their economy is not as robust,either…and some of their ‘in demand fields’,really don’t pay very much-less than CA for sure-many NZers head to AU for employment.
    Add to that,relatively high cost of living-sure you can find cheap,away from population centers,and often don’t have central heating in the winter,with many areas having damp and or very windy weather…and I’ve heard that NZ does not have as much in the way of organic as hyped about-that they still use quite a bit of chemical pesticides and fertilizers?
    Basically,would love to hear more on the ground info about NZ.
    We thought it would be a fantastic consideration for people like us-americans with children. [except for the remoteness-which,depending on your extended family/in-laws,may be a plus or a minus-lol]
    Though not the best option for residency for tax purposes/investment,obviously. And not really a place to retire well on less,for those of us who are not very wealthy. Thanks in advance-also appreciate the perspective for those of us who do not lead,or wish to lead the peruvian topless sunbather lifestyle,either(:

  • Rod

    Would like to hear more about NZ – particularly as to the conclusions versus each of the stated 10 criteria.

    Also, would like more info about the other countries considered and apparently rejected.

  • Pat

    Dear Mark,
    What is the business climate? What are the taxes? Pat


    Hi Mark,
    Nice to read your report about New Zealand. In your 10 criterias you do
    n o t have FOOD as a topic -which is highly important for me and surely
    for many others-. Will you please therefore write about Food choices in New Zealand and about the cities ? You have indeed lived in many interesting countries in the world. B u t you missed SINGAPORE &
    MALAYSIA, which you definitely should try as next, as especially SINGAPORE surely surpassed all your justified 10 criterias for a good living.

  • http://www.stokesinsurance.com stacey morris

    i have visited a new zealand website and took a survey to see if i ca quailify to live and work there.survey said yes.question is it safe to use a relocasting company or should i do it allmyself?

  • Steve

    Thanks for the write-up Mark. I’d love to hear more about the details of setting up part-time to full time in NZ. Benefits/trade offs etc.

  • Rick Govern

    I would like to hear more about New Zealand. This has always been on my list but I have not heard much about the finances of the country or how to plant a flag there.

    Rick G.

  • Mo

    I’d be very interested in more information from Mark, as I just returned from a vacation on the north and east coasts of NZ’s south island. The people are delightful, and there are no words to describe the spectacular beauty of the place. We were surprised at the price of books.
    You can pay kiwi $45 for a mass market paperback, due to the tax on books. That made us curious about taxes there in general.

  • Robert

    Love the extra outtakes like this Simon. We spent a month in an RV in both north and south islands. Got to see the people and towns most do not see. I have a brother that is just getting permanent residence status by working hard and being only 50. We found the govt to be very sensible, especially in keeping the attorneys from distorting everything. We are looking to establish a business or make an investment to gain our entry, so any and all information is more than welcome. Thank you again.

  • Howie

    a bit off subject, but I’d love to hear more of your organic hydroponics business in Thailand.

  • Ying

    This is an excellent thread post on the New Zealand topic – finally! NZ is one of my favorite countries to live in the world. I’d suggest that we should have more expats living in NZ, part-time or full-time, to write more “insiders tips” on NZ (tax, property, cost of living, residency, citizenship, etc.), the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps Simon can invite other expats to write similar threads on Argentina, Uruguay, Thailand, Malaysia, Crotia……

    NZ does not have a visa for retirees. No international social security agreement with the US, either. It has agreement with Canada. Australia, on the other hand, has retirees visa category, and has international social security agreement with both the US and Canada. NZ is a great place to live and enjoy life if you have enough money, but its job market is a totally different picture. Many young elite Kiwis have been migrating to Australia, UK, and the US to seek more opportunities and money. In many ways, except weather and country’s size, I think NZ is very similar to Canada. I’m sure Kiwis would love to swap their citizenships with Americans. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! ;-)

    Can American/Canadian expats do “visa-run” in NZ, that is, stay in NZ for 3 months or so visa-free, go to Australia for a vacation and back to NZ for another 3-4 months visa-free, like Argentina/Uruguay?

  • http://www.kazonkapede.com(NEW) Greg Tom

    Did you know that quite a few people live between NZ and Australia?
    Ie Buy property in NZ where there is NO stamp duty on property and NO CGT TAX……..
    Australia is a great place to create cash and NZ a great parking station-albeit one of the best looking on the planet and the wine is abundant……I think this part of the world is pretty cool

  • steve campini

    Traveled several months throughout New Zealnd several years ago and loved it so much I put on offer on a beach side condo. However withdrew said offer when I discovered at my age, 57 at the time, I would be uneligible for permenant residency. Six month visa stay would be the limit. I would be interested toknow if this policy has changed.

  • tglobal1

    Simon, THANKS for the info on New Zealand. I’m newly retired, 65,in good health and am financially sound.
    So I would like to know if it’s possible for Americans to establish residency – either now, or if the NZ government has plans in the near future to ease up on American retirees.

  • bob


    Yes New Zealand is a lovely country. I am looking at Malaysia, can you give me your thoughts on that country. They have the MM2H program which looks good


  • Ken

    Hello Mark,
    Is there any work available.
    Thanks, Ken

  • Roberto

    Hi Mark
    We have got to get away from the UK soon owing to the current political climate and to be polite the “Unterclasse” that now pervade our country. NZ seems a good bet; for one thing although I enjoy the challenge of speaking a foreign language for a while, it does become wearing on a long term basis. However my question is this:
    Although I am not of a nervous disposition, I have heard recent worrying reports that the indigenous population of NZ are rampaging in a drug and alcohol induced gang culture frenzy, making life dangerous for normal folk.
    This was an article in a newspaper supplement magazine.
    Any comments?

    Best wishes

    • Mark


      the North and South Islands have very different demographics. the Issue you mention (drugs/gangs) exists in Auckland and elsewhere on the North Island, but from what I’ve observed you can easily position yourself away from that element. We’ll talk about this issue in the future.

  • Karl

    I’m a New Zealander, entrepreneur, and daily reader of Sovereign Man (Simon, love you work!). I have a small early stage trans-national managed services business (9 years old) with existing operations in New Zealand and South East Asia (very portable and “nearly” a perfect business, according to Richard Russell’s [Dow Theory] definition of a perfect business).


    Mark’s assessment of New Zealand is 100% correct. New Zealand is a great lifestyle location but it’s over taxed, in my opinion too. Currently, the top marginal personal income tax rate is 38% and consumption tax (GST) is 12.5%, and may be rising to 15% in the near future. Company and trust income tax rates are 30%.


    Currently, I am actively doing a “recce” of Singapore with the view to relocating my holding company and myself there, to get closer to Asia and to benefit from Singapore’s more favourable tax environment, i.e. flat 20% personal (15% if you spend <180 days in country) and corporate tax rates and consumption tax (GST) of 5%. I am applying for an E1 entrepreneurs pass and am hopeful that it will lead to PR after a few years of successful business operation in Singapore. In my spare time, I hope to complete a master of applied finance degree there too, to improve my school boy level maths. :-)

    Unfortunately, the Singapore property market is a major bubble at the moment (very similar to Hong Hong) owing to China's new rich property (real estate) investors bidding up the local prices. Same on the Gold Coast in Australia too.


    So, I intend to wait until after the expected second wave down crash later this year "and some (2011-12)" before buying property in Singapore.

    Answers to a lot of the above immigration related questions can be found at the New Zealand Immigration Services website below.


    For "warm blooded" Sovereign Man readers and budding New Zealand residents, far north is the way to go, i.e. Auckland city or further north.

    In my own case, I was born in sunny Nelson in the South Island but now live in a beautiful beach side suburb of Auckland city called Takapuna Beach, which has a gorgeous golden sand beach and is only 5 minutes from the Auckland city centre (off-peak, which is only time that any self respecting and self employed person should travel anywhere!). New urbanisim enthusiasts will appreciate the fact the everything in Takapuna Beach is within easy walking distance, i.e the beach, bars, restaurants, transport hubs, and the local bank branches (including ANZ and HSBC).


    Alas, I will really miss New Zealand and my much loved Takapuna Beach. However, Mark's right about the "over taxation problem" here, which is a real dis-incentive for tax savy global entrepreneurs, which is exactly why I'm heading off to Singapore in 2011.

    Safe travels!

    • Nick

      Hi Karl,
      I lived pretty much my entire life just North of Takapuna Beach and as a fellow entrepreneur, yes I agree with your assessment.

      That said, there is (currently) no capital gains tax on NZ or Australian shares or real estate. The GST (like VAT) is a flat rate – ie it is levied on everything, which means that at least doing the tax return is easy compared with elsewhere. All costs advertized are also by law inclusive of this tax so there are no hidden surprises like in Canada.

      Retirees are “asset tested” to assess how much of a pension they are elegable for (The less you have, the more you get) so it makes sense to hold your wealth in a trust or some other vehicle.

      I am one of those young(ish) professional types and yes, Australia does offer higher wages, but it is also has a higher cost of living.

      Immigrants from different countries tend to settle in pockets. South Africans for instance concentrate about 15km North of Takapuna Beach. Auckland is very humid in the summer and damp in the winter. It can be overcast for long periods as well. This is not like the whole country which is actually very long and narrow so you get a wide range of climates.

      Houses tend to be under insulated and not have central air like in north America. No double paned glass, furnaces etc. I am living in Northern Canada now and I find the winter warmer hear because of the dry air and warm homes.

      Food in NZ is plentiful, varied and cost effective compared to North America. There is much Asian influence in the cuisine there and I find the NA diet much more restrictive – I am yet to find a cheese worth eating in Canada :-(

      Immigration has tightened a lot. Australia is tougher so the natural thing to do if one wanted to live in Australia was to move to NZ first, get residency there and then use this to gain Australian resisency. There are many “schemes” in place to do this and also collect various forms of social security while waiting to the time to pass. I personally know people in the government there who are ware of the schemes and the people involved but are powerless to take action due to the strict privacy laws in place.

      Censorship is not nearly as bad as the UK or the USA. The media reports from all over the world however, due to certain attributes of the NZ population, there is a lot of social engineering going on behind the scenes.

      the population is small so the ifrastructure is also small. This means technology is very quickly assimilated into the system. I have found the banking and point of sale technology to be ahead of North America by quite a way. If they chose to, the government could roll out big brother very rapidly.

      NZ is also a very competitive environment business wise. The population, being small, means that there are less consumers. It also means that you can very quickly make a very bad name for yourself if you conduct business improperly. It also means that you can also build a great reputation quickly if you are honest, honorable and trustworthy. Business networking is not as it is in North America although there is an elite network of sorts. You do need to prove yourself first and most elite business people are approachable, open and easy to talk with. People prefer telephone or direct contact and if you are seeking work, always follow up with a phone call, or call first before submitting an online application.

  • WHIT

    I was on a 2-week motorcycle tour of both islands in 2008. Beautiful country and friendly people. As I recall, very restrictive immigration policy. The older you are, the more $$$$$ you need. I wish we would learn a little from them. I got the impression that it is a nice place to visit, but rather overall expensive if you lived there.

    Would like to know more about just how long you can be there on a part-time basis, before the restrictions kick in.

    As an aside – I am sure a few of us are IL readers. I will be at their Panama seminar in April – would like to meet a few of you if you are there. Simon – if you are there you should have a big name tag or something. Tripped across you about a year ago and look forward to your posts.

    Not to wear out my welcome, but would like some comments about Chile. I was looking pretty heavily until the big shake-up a couple weeks ago.

  • Alexander London

    Thank you for all the good information you send us each day!
    I have not been reading posts on your other daily reports, but it seems there is a lot of interest in New Zealand. I, too, am interested in the suniest, warmest part of N.Z. Is it Auckland? One big reason it is so desirable is the very restrictive immigration policy. So it is designed to protect the existing population, which is only right. They have refreshingly reasonable laws about accidents — they are nobody’s fault.
    Mosquitos? Racial tension? I have been looking on the Web, and it seems that houses and rents are less than in America. Would you kindly give some representative prices?
    Good Health! Alexander London

  • Chuck B

    Simon, great to hear you are feeling better.
    Mark, your comment; “My ‘work’, if you can call it that, allows me to travel wherever a cell phone and laptop can find a signal.” I would like to hear more tips on how to make the transition from corporate stiff, to being an international citizen with the ability to generate cashflow with a laptop and an internet connection.

  • http://voicesfromthepacificwar.com Bruce M. Petty

    My wife is French, orginally, and I was born in the Big Avocado–California. We moved to New Plymouth on North Island six years ago. We flew direct from Saudi Arabia, where we survived one war, several car bombings and a number of shoot-outs. We broke all the rules by flying in on one one-way ticdkets, announcing on our arrival that we were staying, handing the people at customs a letter announcing that my wife had a job offer at a hospital in Hamilton. Like I said, You ain’t supposed to do it that way, but we did; and we are still here. Getting residency for us and our three children was no problem, and now we are citizens. We have five acres that would have cost us millions if we had bought it in the Big Avocado (We paid $280,000, and that was with a three-bedroom house and a sleep out. On top of that we have a septic tank and creek.) After five years, at the same hospital, my wife now works half-time. I write books, do docos and give an occasional lecture. Everything you read above is true. No way are we going back to Silicon Valley, mate.

  • Bill Goode

    Hello Mark,
    I have thought about New Zealand a great deal for many of the reasons you give. I feel as you do about taxes. The thing I wonder about is the complexity of filing taxes. In the USA one can’t get through the tax forms any more without an accountant. How complex are New Zealand taxes?
    Thanks for your insight.

  • James Salvail


    Thanks for the article about New Zealand. I would like to move there, but the strict policies for residency make it a problem. I would like to know more about residency policies, and under what conditions a non-permanent resident can live there, especially if they are over 55. Can a non-permanent resident buy a house or own land? Is NZ a good place to have an offshore bank account? Thanks again!

    • Nick

      The easiest way to get a visa is to enroll at a teaching institution and become a student. You can stay as long as you are studying.

      • Nick

        Oh, and yes, you can buy and own land as long as it’s not a huge tract that cuts access by the public to the natural assets of the country. then you need special permission. Google “shania twain nz” for an example.

  • JJ

    Would like to hear more about cost of living and also some info about the different areas, so we know more specifically where to go.

    I’ve been living on Phuket for a year now, but here is not enough unspoiled nature. The only nature is the beaches, but I would like some nice places to hike. I think new zealand will be next stop looking at those pictures.


  • Larry

    what area of nz are you living in??

  • domlanic

    I migrated to NZ in 1980, left for Australia in 1988; those were boom years of the ‘Think Big’ era when NZ politicians had delusions of grandeur trying to industrialize NZ via refinery & steel mill developments. IDIOTIC! With only 2.5 million population the economy could not support such dreams & those projects were sold off to China… meanwhile Roger Douglas (the “World’s Greatest Treasurer”) wrecked the economy by instant deregulation, meaning thousands were bankrupted & 88,000 skilled people left in a ‘brain drain’ to Oz in 1988.
    (We were paying 24% interest on a home mortgage!!) So, beware of small economies and the rapid rate of change, which could ruin the unwary…
    Same old story, really; beautiful country run by bloody idiots! Also, with agriculture/fisheries as the only staples of its national wealth, NZ is a bit limited some respects; my time there was a liberating experience after UK, and I have nothing but good memories, even allowing for being forced out by Mr Douglas!!

    • Nick

      I would personally like to see a zero income tax and a 25% GST similar to what Mr Douglas wanted.
      Because a sales tax taxes consumption, not labor. It does not hinder your ability to invest, it is fairly proportional (the rich consume more), the compliance costs are less (easier to administer) and it immediately levies an indirect tax on all black markets (drug money is taxed as soon as it enteres the system as an example)

  • Kate

    I am an American seeking expat status in a “safe” country in the not-too-distant future. I love the idea of NZ, but do you think there’s risk from China? I’m concerned about Panama because of their connections to the US. Although I love the idea of some parts of Ecuador, if the US collapses I’m not sure it would be wise to be in a 3rd world country. Seriously, Simon, help! Can you provide a top 5 list based on your experience and knowledge?

    • Dan Simon

      Kate, If you expatriate the key is not so much where you live, but where you hold your assets and in what currencies; if you expect USD collapse and rampant inflation. We’ve been looking at establishing a 2nd residence outside the US. Panama is quite stable politically. Ecuador (Correira) has gone far left since last summer and my Ecuadorian professional friends are looking to come to the US. Fantastic climate, people and scenery, but would require caution. Both have USD as their currency. Take a look at Oaxaca province in Mexico.

  • domlanic

    Another comment- NZ has much the same residency for taxation laws as any other developed nation; all income including that earned offshore must be declared and you must declare residency SOMEWHERE… then the matter of dual taxation and international tax treaties complicates things. Cost of living is not as good as in earlier years but the Kiwi dollar is weak right now so it might be a good time to go there.
    Climate in North island is good, a bit cool in winter (we once had severe frost in Auckland!) and humid/warm in summer; plenty of rain and many shades of green. Building laws are relaxed, you have freedom to build your dream within reason but remember the country is seismically active (Shaky Isles). Maori history & culture is fascinating and they have a great sense of humour (Aotearoa = Land of the Long White Cloud = Land of the Wrong White Crowd!).
    Remember also that Rugby Union is the national religion… its a bit like American Football but without all that wimpy body armour and tights; players play the whole game (no ‘Offense’ or ‘Defense’) and they have to be FIT!! Not like the huge lumps that lumber around for the 10 seconds of movement that happens in each ‘play’ of gridiron! Enough teasing for now; I admit I have little idea of how US football works; it is so complicated as to mystify the uninitiated!

  • http://www.lunarianart.com Octavia

    Hi Mark and Simon,
    I love your articles its a must read for people seeking an easier life. But this one is close to my heart. And I would love to here more on New Zealand.

    My partner and I have been traveling since 2006 and we spent out first time there last year visiting my brother,and looking to spend up to 6 months living there part-time. From a residency point of view, my brother had a job over there so the company helped him in, 3 years on he is now running a small business himself and seems to be doing very well. He has made a lot of friends by joining a snooker club, motorbike club, and travels all over NZ with his custom mini, so his advice if you move there get active in things you love and you will meet wonderful people like yourself. Why I can ask many questions from my brother, we live a different lifestyle living 3 months here and there, so there are many aspects of life to consider.
    Currently we are in Thailand for the next year learning to speak thai and I can see us living between Asia and New Zealand.
    Mark I understand Obama is making life more difficult I’m sure it won’t be long before the British follow suit :(

  • http://RunAlone.com Sunny

    Wishing you a speedy recovery Simon! Thanks Mark for the funny comment about the topless Peruvian sunbathers. :)

  • JC


    I enjoyed Mark’s column about New Zealand yesterday and since I have just married a beautiful Kiwi lady, I’m curious to learn more about what parts of NZ where Mark has found “Abundant and reasonably priced lifestyle type properties”.

    Keep up the good work!


  • “Mateo”

    NZ looks like a great place to visit and certainly stay for an extended period of time but as planting a permanent flag of some sorts there I think it may be a little risky due to the higher prices and possible health care issues.
    Great guest article though and I enjoyed the insight from a friend of Simon’s. Thanks for the opportunity to let us read it, much appreciated!

  • http://www.aurora.nl Alex

    Hi Mark and Simon,

    Let me start with a quote from Mark. “I believe the only ‘fair’ taxation is no taxation, but you won’t find that here, or anywhere.”

    Living both in Luxumbourg and the Netherlands and working as an free lancer for a trust company, I can tell you there are still options for living without paying a dime of tax. Ever considered Andorra as a place for residency? Sure, you have to know the way and you need some good friends. (but as a sovereign man I’m alway’s willing to share…)

    Can tell you a lot of good stories about Luxembourg and Andorra. On request I’ll share it with the rest of the audience.

    By the way, Mark’s assessment of New Zealand is very much correct. New Zealand is a great lifestyle location and I love it! Hope to spend some years over there soon.

    Keep up the good work Simon! enjoy (almost) each article


    Luxembourg, Andorra

    • Mark


      I’d love to hear more about Andorra… ask Simon to shoot you my email. always like to chat with fellow sovereigns!

  • Pat Erickson

    Been there, done that, comments are always welcome, keep them coming. In the multitude of counslers….Thanks, Pat

  • Laura

    It sounded wonderful to me, and I had similar expectations before I started reading, but the “involuntary tax resident” sounds scary.

  • Jillaine

    Hey Simon and Mark,

    As always, it’s a pleasure reading on the latest adventure!

    When I was in NZ last year, totally fell in love with the place. Not only was it a very laid back and chilled mentality, but hospitality of Kiwi’s was surpassed.

    I did however find things to be more expensive then the norm (but then again, you’re on a pretty small island and most things are imported so what do you expect).

    Even with the extra cost factors I am looking to make it back down in a couple years to buy that little get away place. So ANY info you find (Mark or Simon) would LOVE to hear about it!

    Again, total pleasure guys!

    Lot’s of love from Canada,

    P.S. Simon, hope you’re feeling better! :-)

  • http://www.targettendonitis.com Alex

    I have been thinking about NZ for years now, and would love to hear more about the country, in as much detail as Mark (and/or Simon) would care to offer.

  • Joe

    I would like to know how the New Zealand economy is likely to fare as the US and other western developed countries go into the “greater depression”, which is near. How would the New Zealand economy do? They have 10 sheep and about one cow per person. Great agriculture. Export wool, mutton and beef. What happens when there are few who can afford to buy these exports? (Or will China and Asia be enough?)

    I have been to New Zealand for three weeks (during the New Zealand winter) and greatly liked the “feel” of the place. There is space, beauty and regions with many different climates, so there is something for all tastes.


  • http://Firefox Fran

    Hi Guys,
    I discovered you today and as a 2nd generation New Zealander from
    Scotish, English, European stock, I was curious and interested to find
    out more about the buttons that push Americans in their view of the
    outside world. There are many points I agree with i.e. the taxation issue
    keeps most of us here poor. Cutting out personal tax etc and having a
    one off reasonable G.S.T. would be a good start. Lets face it the wealthy however they obtained their wealth have exploited many avenues which see them living scot free at the expense of ordinary folk
    in this country.
    At least with G.S.T covering all items available for sale and purchase
    the score would be more even. Unfortunately the heavy investment in
    New Zealand real estate by some outsiders and others internally with
    no capital gains tax pushing the issue many young people in this country
    cannot afford to house themselves decently. There are plenty of horror
    stories relating to this rather scandalous state in this country.
    It’s rather ironical that I find people from the U.S. and elsewhere wanting to leave the country of there birth for the very same reasons
    that I wish to leave New Zealand. I have traveled to some far away places both as a mariner and an architect seeking all the time that
    better place to live indeed investing in land overseas and being prepared
    to do whatever to make a new life in a less complicated society.
    Family of course, filial duty and on top of that my health find me still
    glued to these shores a very unwilling participant, and in no small measure because of the influence of American big business, especially
    the pharmaceutical industry. Need I say more.
    I would warn Americans that in certain circles of New Zealand society
    declaring your self a Canadian is not unheard of. For us it is not
    so easy to “pick the accent “so to speak. Canadians are more
    acceptable having endeavored to be of assistance in our darkest
    moments. I have to say that every time I find Americans moving in to
    so called 3rd world countries and influencing the above mentioned
    subjects I cringe. Sorry if I am offending your sensibilities, but you would
    do well to mark my word.

  • Nate

    What is the medical system like over there? I have been interested in applying for some of the hospitals for a awhile and I would appreciate your take on the overall quality and level of care they have both in the hospital as well as prehospital. Thanks

  • Mike

    I don’t know why everybody say NZ people are friendly- they are not.

  • Seth

    Simon; as a black person, retirement outside the US poses many problems in terms of acceptance than perhaps I am not assessing correctly. I know what my experience has been here, and occasionally it has been worse in some other countries where laws and or people aren’t as open as we have become. If one does not want to go to Brazil or Panama, what is left?

  • Andrew

    Hi Simon et al.
    Interesting to hear all the comments on NZ, and today’s update from Mark about recent NZ immigration changes. I’ve grown up and lived here for most of the last half century. Much of what has been said by Simon, Mark, and others is true – the physical beauty, friendly folk, and so on. But there are some aspects that aren’t apparent to newcomers.
    1. Weather. NZ is surrounded by ocean – so it gets lots of moisture in its atmosphere. That means lots of rain (that’s why it’s so green), and mould in the cupboards. The high humidity also means mould spores in the carpets, and high levels of house dust mite in the carpets, since they like the moist conditions. Consequently, NZ has the highest rate of asthma in the world. The ocean means in never gets really cold (snow in the south though), or really warm. Shorts and light tops all year? Forget it – try another country. Also pretty windy in most places – because the country lies across the prevailing westerly winds circling the globe at this latitude. Especially bad in Wellington, but our roofs are well tied on. You’re more likely to lose yours in other parts of the country. NZ is also suffering its own effects from climate change. (I just finished a PhD on a related topic. If you don’t believe climate change is real and dangerous, you’ve been duped. Something for our kids to worry about? Ha! Coming good and hard in OUR lifetimes.) . Recent winters have seen cold conditions (like, keep the fire lit) right into December, when historically we’d be at the beach. For NZ, climate change means droughts, on the east coast and (this year) in the north. Like, the far north is due to run right out of water in the taps this week. And floods all over, but especially the west. So be very careful if you’re buying land – it may get washed away (the soil, that is), or parched. Yes, lots of rain – but that’s an average. Sometimes (like this summer) it just rains all the time – in most places. Climate change means rainfall is coming, more and more often, in huge damaging downpours. Because NZ is so reliant on primary produce to keep its economy going, this is a major problem going forward – the economy may suffer more than most as climate change bites harder with floods and droughts. We have seen $billions of losses to the economy over recent years because of drought.
    2. Racial tension. The warnings are well sounded. Unlike many other countries, the indigenous Maori population don’t take a subservient role easily. They’re definitely a stroppy race. And smart – they’re learning white man’s business skills pretty fast, so they’re not going away as a societal force anytime soon. There is a very real chance of an explosion, if the situation is not handled carefully.
    3. Societal tension. The current right wing government is business-friendly. They are also pretty down on the poor. No surprises here. The problem with that approach is that, because of NZ’s egalitarian history, the poor (like Maori), don’t know how to be quiet about their lot. Again, a real chance for an explosion.
    4. Small mindedness. NZ society, while friendly at first, has a very punitive attitude to all sorts of things. Especially anyone who does well. The ‘tall poppy’ syndrome is very real. Anyone who ‘shines’ too much is likely to get cut down.
    5. Guns. No hand guns. Leave-em behind. Rifles for shooting goats are OK. People are friendly here ‘cause no-one is worried about getting shot. Knives are the weapon of choice for thugs.
    6. Property prices. Yes, you can get cheap land in the back blocks. But its cheap because it hasn’t got much going for it. Any property in nice places (like the Marlborough Sounds) went up to city price levels about 7 years ago. I know – I did quite nicely from it, thanks. I got in, I got out with the cash. I wish I still had at least a house there, because now it’s expensive to get back in. Quaint small towns – true. But dull as ditchwater. If you want to make all your own fun , OK, but you won’t find much intellectual or social companionship there.
    7. Earthquakes and volcanoes. If you’re visiting, the risk is minimal. If you spend time, your chances of feeling the earth move are significant. Wellington, for example, is overdue for a really big quake. It sits astride the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, just at the point where the plates can’t decide who’s on top – so they are locked together like two pairs of spread legs at right angles. That just means the pressure builds up more before it lets go. When it does, the capital city will be right out of action for many months. Auckland, on the other hand, is built on a belt of volcanoes. Silly huh? In the middle of the North Island is Taupo – home to the biggest eruption in human times – and it is definitely active – which is why there’s a tourist attraction there.

    I want to get out. I enjoy Simons writings, because they’re entertaining and because I am looking for somewhere good to go. I have a lovely house on a piece of land overlooking the sea, near the capital city. Lots of beauty – the view, the bush (forest) full of native birds, great neighbours (mostly English, not kiwis), the city nearby when I want the buzz. So why do I want to get out? Because of all the above. Beautiful mountains ain’t everything. Beauty is how you look, not what you look at. Mostly, I’ll be looking for something that will do OK as the Greater Depression (thanks Doug Casey) and climate change take hold of the planet. NZ’s indebtedness (yes, we’re as bad as some of those sad European cases), social tensions, and economic reliance on primary produce mean I don’t think NZ will do too well as things get tough. But good luck to us all.

    • Dexter Morgan

      I would like to hear more about other countries as well as NZ. I too am looking for a place to “run to”– (if such a place exists).

      On side-note, I think even a complete moron can see that the climate of the Earth is changing. I think what everyone is debating is human-caused climate change. If you Google “ClimateGate”, you will find all sorts of links to the fact that much of the “human-caused global climate change” data was “cooked”. What happened was an insider leaked the location of the emails and “cooked data” to a hacker, who then copied the emails, “cooked data” (and the “real data” before “cooking”) and even the “cooked” super-computer program; and then he placed all of this (about 64MB) on the WikiLeaks.org site for all to see. The main scientist that was coordinating all of this “bad science” (University of East Anglia in England) even tried to commit suicide over this (because he ruined his reputation). But, that doesn’t mean that climate change is not happening– it just means that *WE HUMANS* probably have little to do with it. The whole ClimateGate thing was done so that a “global warming” (or carbon) tax could be foisted on the entire world, setting the stage for a handful of people to get rich off of the “carbon trading”– (Al Gore, et. al.). Imagine that– they managed to convince the “dumbed down” public, that a gas that all higher animals breath out (and plants breath in) is somehow a “bad gas” and we need to control it. In fact, studies have shown that you can increase the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere up to about 3 times what it is now, and all that will happen is plants (and the algae in the ocean) will simply grow faster– ie., it is a self-regulating system. And they did all of this for the oldest reason on Earth– greed for riches and lust for power.

      The *REAL* reason for global climate change, appears to be that our sun is acting very strangely– the 11-year sunspot cycle has been affected. I *do* know that the sun has had many “solar ejecta” (giant flames shooting out) incidents– and one of them would have seared the Earth (which we narrowly missed). This has NASA worried so much that they designed a special probe to investigate this phenomena, and this satellite was launched not long ago. I have yet to see any of the data- they are keeping very tight-lipped about it.

      I don’t have a PhD in climatology, I am just a lowly systems engineer– so please correct me if I am wrong; and (while you are at it) please explain why the ClimateGate conspiracy was the Right Thing to do.

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