Who wouldn’t want to move to the city with the best quality of life in the world? Join us as we discover what makes Wellington such a great place to live.
Wellington is located on the southern tip of the North Island and is an exciting spot offering its lucky residents culture, outdoor activities galore and waterside living. In Wellington, you’re never more than 15 minutes from the seashore. Nicknamed the “coolest little city in the world” by Lonely Planet, Wellington boasts more cafés, bars and restaurants per capita than New York City. With farmland to the north and ocean to the south, the capital is known for having some of the best restaurants in the country, complemented by excellent regional wines, and a café culture that rivals Melbourne. Wellington is cultural spot too – it’s the centre of New Zealand’s film industry, has a rich history, great galleries, live music, world-class education and healthcare and a population of friendly, outdoorsy, environmentally-conscious people.
Deutsche Bank named Wellington the city with the best quality of life in 2017.
If you’re looking for somewhere to get stuck into outdoor pursuits, this could be the location for you – there are preserved green spaces around the city, beautiful nature and coastal walks and plenty of hills to climb to enjoy spectacular views. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and spot some dolphins or orcas frolicking about in one of the bays.
Who does Wellington appeal to?
The Wellington region is home to just under 500,000 people – 10% of New Zealand’s population. It’s a culturally-diverse spot with 25% of the city’s population born overseas. Wellington is also the most educated place in New Zealand. Nearly 30% of Wellingtonians have a degree, compared to a national average of 20%. The city’s three universities, three institutes of technology and numerous private training establishments make the capital hugely appealing for students and for families keen to give their children the best start in life.
This year, Deutsche Bank named Wellington the city with the best quality of life in 2017 – it beat 47 other global cities to secure the number one spot. The study looked at pollution, property prices vs income ratios, and traffic and commute times to determine the result. In last year’s Nielsen Quality of Life Survey, 87% of Wellingtonians rated their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Nine out of ten agreed or strongly agreed that Wellington is a great place to live. Sounds good to us! Team these accolades with the fact that most Wellingtonians live within three kilometres of the coast, there are 102 parks and playgrounds in the city, and there are 50,000 hectares of regional park and forest, perfect for hiking and camping, right on your doorstep and it’s little wonder it’s a popular spot with all Brits – singles, families, young professionals and retirees.
Brits love New Zealand! This year it was voted our favourite country for the fourth consecutive year by Telegraph Travel. Although over 11,500 miles away, the distance is more than worth it. Over 200,000 British people have made the move to the country, and many of those have decided to set up shop in the capital, enticed by the job opportunities, the way of life and the lower cost of living. Wellington is home to lots of expat social groups – a quick search will reveal a variety to choose from when you first arrive.
Many Brits are enticed by the job opportunities, the way of life and the lower cost of living.
Wellington’s property market
As Wellington is such a hilly city, a lot of the properties are built into the hills – some swankier residences even have their own private cable cars. The city’s hills may sound like bad news, but one benefit (besides to your health) is that most properties enjoy spectacular views of the ocean. Like any city, there’s a wide range of property choices from urban living in the city centre, to spacious family homes with large gardens in the city’s suburbs and nearby coastal towns.
The cost of living in Wellington is 12% lower than living in London and, more good news, Wellington is the place to be if you’re looking to earn the big bucks in New Zealand. Across New Zealand, the average annual pay packet is $45,800, yet in Wellington this leaps up by a third to $59,529. If you’re a four-person family, you should budget $2,250 (£1,200) per month for your expenses, before rent. A single person’s monthly costs before rent are around $600 (£325).
When you first touchdown in Wellington, it’s probably advisable to rent for a couple of months before you determine the right area for you and invest in a property you love. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom, city centre apartment is $1,750 (£900). Outside of the centre you can expect to pay an average of $1,150. If you’re moving with your family, a three-bedroom city centre property will set you back on average $2,822 per month in rent. In an outer suburb, you’ll need to budget around $2,200.
When it comes time to buy property, a recent Real Estate Institute of New Zealand survey found that the median house price currently sits at $531,000 (£277,500). This is considerably less than Auckland’s median home price, which currently stands at $845,000 (£442,000).
The values in pounds we show here are based on the interbank rate at the time of going to press. This isn’t available to the general public, but click here for a free, no-obligation quote from Smart Currency Exchange and a friendly chat about exchange rates in general. Also, read Smart’s Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency, packed with insider tips.
Top five Wellington suburbs
1 – Brooklyn
A far cry from its New York namesake, Brooklyn in Wellington is known for being nice and green. To confuse matters, however, the park here is called Central Park. The suburb is located on the top of Brooklyn Hill, close to the Central Business District, and enjoys spectacular panoramic views – a highlight being the suburb’s wind turbine site. There are properties here to suit all budgets and tastes – Victorian villas, colonial cottages, modern family homes and incredible mansions. The suburb also boasts excellent schools and miles of walking and cycling tracks.
This three-bedroom family home enjoys incredible views over the city, harbour and Polhill Reserve. The bright property enjoys lots of natural light and the sun decks catch rays all year round. The property is on the market for $1,100,000 (£575,000).
2 – Churton Park
This wealthy area is located in Wellington’s northern suburbs and is a favourite with executive commuters and families, due to all its small parks and green spaces. This is one of Wellington’s most culturally-diverse areas, and has some great schools.
3 – Hataitai
Hataitai is another family favourite due to its excellent primary schools, public transport options, and the variety of housing options available. The suburb boasts its very own microclimate, making it sunnier and more sheltered from Wellington’s famous winds. The suburb overlooks Evans Bay and you can walk from bay to bay en route to the CBD, or enjoy one of many scenic walks along the coast or around the Town Belt. There are also some fab bars and food outlets serving up all kinds of cuisine. Most properties in Hataitai tend to be Californian bungalows or Victorian era properties.
4 – Island Bay
The most impressive thing about this lovely village-like Wellington suburb is the fact that you can see the South Island across the water. This is a relatively affordable part of the city. Island Bay is just a 20-minute bus ride into the CBD, it is home to lots of great schools and there’s an impressive arts and culture events calendar to help you meet people and to keep you entertained.
Imagine waking up to this view every morning! This stunning 1920’s three-bedroom home offers a wonderful combination of contemporary and period features, and you’re just moments from the beach. The property is on the market for $825,000 (£432,000).
5 – Aro Valley
This trendy inner-city suburb is a favourite with students, singles, young professionals and families due to its events, parties, performances and wonderful sense of community. The suburb is within easy walking distance to Wellington’s CBD and remains relatively affordable in comparison to other central suburbs.
New Zealand is set to ban foreigners from buying existing homes in a bid to improve the affordability of residential property.
This Aro Valley home has three bedrooms, bathed in light in its elevated position and set back from the road for peace and quiet. It’s within walking distance of both the university and the city, which you can see from its balcony and barbecue area, perfect for entertaining. All for just $695,000 (£370,000).
Getting there, all year
You can fly to Wellington all-year round, although as yet there are no direct flights – you’ll have to change somewhere along the way. A word of warning – Wellington’s infamous strong winds blowing in off the Cook Strait do mean that some landings and take offs at Wellington Airport can feel a little treacherous. Don’t let that put you off though – lots of excellent airlines service the city, including Etihad, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Air France, Qantas and China Southern. Tickets tend to clock in at around £630 return, but you may be able to secure something cheaper if you travel to Wellington during their winter – May to August.
Once you’re there
Te Papa is an absolute must for new arrivals – the popular museum tells the stories of New Zealand’s unique cultural, social, biological and geological history via innovative, interactive exhibits that the whole family will enjoy. For the best views of your new home, you’ll want to head to the top of Mount Victoria. The view of the harbour from the top is quite remarkable on a sunny day, plus it’ll help you get your bearings. Wellington is a fab place for film buffs – you can get a glimpse into the phenomenal amount of work that goes into creating epic movies on the scale of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit at the Weta Cave Mini-Museum. For more wonderful views, go for a ride on the Wellington Cable Car, which runs from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn where there’s a great lookout, a cable car museum and Space Place at Carter Observatory in Wellington’s Botanical Gardens. As we mentioned, Wellington is home to some excellent restaurants, so we highly recommend getting acquainted with them. The city’s craft beer and coffee are also top notch!
Need to know…
New Zealand is set to ban foreigners from buying existing homes in a bid to improve the affordability of residential property. This ban, which would follow the example of Australia, is being introduced by the new Labour PM Jacinda Ardern. It will only apply to non-residents and is designed to reduce the numbers of Asian and US investors snapping up residential property purely for investment, mostly in Auckland. If you’re a resident of New Zealand, you will be allowed to buy property.
Before buying any property, always check its Land Information Memorandum (LIM), which provides detailed information about the land and buildings on a particular property. You can purchase this LIM report from your local council.
You want another reason to move to Wellington? In the rest of New Zealand you are charged $100 if you use an ambulance, even if you didn’t call it. But not in Wellington, where ambulances are free. To read more about New Zealand healthcare, read our new guide Healthcare Abroad 2018.