My top 5 reasons why you might want to consider migrating to New Zealand rather than Australia (from a Malaysian/Singaporean worldview) - by Ken Soong


Contrary to popular belief - especially that of people living in Malaysia, Singapore and Southeast Asia (or anyone who lives outside Australia and new Zealand for that matter), I actually think that, moving forward, New Zealand is a better country than Australia to migrate to. Conventional wisdom tends to suggest that Australia has more to offer new migrants.

Traditionally for many decades, the number of New Zealanders relocating to Australia in search of jobs had been on a steady rise annually. That situation is no longer true today. 

Most Malaysians/Singaporeans (and even Australians too!) have yet to notice that the Titanic has actually turned around last year!

On 22 May 2015, UK's media  Independent reported the following,

"Last month, for the first time in 24 years, more people headed east across the Tasman Sea than in the opposite direction. Long viewed as Australia’s poor relation, with lower wages, less sunshine and a duller cultural life, New Zealand is booming. Paul Bloxham, chief economist in the region for the bank HSBC, has dubbed it the “rock star economy”."

This has huge implications for Malaysians and Singaporeans planning to migrate to Australia. Consider this - Australia, a country with 23 million people had 56,800 of its people moving to New Zealand, a country with 4.5 million people between April 2014 and April 2015. It clearly reflects how the two economies have been performing over the last few years and how they will perform in the decades to come, doesn't it?

Do you want to jump from a what you might think is a heating pot to a sinking Titanic or to a rising submarine? The answer is obvious. 

Long story short. Here are the reasons why New Zealand compares favorably to Australia - from a the perspective of a middle-class (and below) average-income earning Malaysian/Singaporean family.

Reason 1: Lower exchange rate of the New Zealand Dollar. The first two years of settling in a new country is crucial. To minimize the negative impact for your family, you want your savings to buy as much time as possible before you are able to land yourself a more secure job in a new country.

Reason 2: New Zealand has a lower cost of living and a lower rate of taxation. This is because it has a more business-friendly government under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister John Key, a leader who comes from the business world. So is Australian PM Mr Turnbull, one might argue. He may be good as an individual, but too many economically destructive big-government policies have been in place for too long that no PM can undo them unless he stays in office long enough (even so, we must assume he has the political will) - say four terms? 

Reason 3: And the terms and conditions for securing your New Zealand permanent residence visa is much more flexible. This allows you to fly in and out between Malaysia/Singapore and New Zealand without much hassle. The Australian terms and conditions are so strict and rigid that you can hardly manage your business affairs (logistically) once you have secured your Australian PR visa.

Reason 4: Generally, the educational institutions in New Zealand have a much higher standard than its Australian counterparts. I have been told this time and again. Personally, I have met some scholars from New Zealand institutions who are really brilliant i their work. Do not take my word for it. Go do your own research as well - especially in your field of study.

Reason 5: Children of non-PR visa holders (for most visa categories) are entitled to free education from New Zealand's state schools. Not so in Australia and the fees are much higher even before taking the exchange rate into account. Also, for those who are especially keen on politics, you get to vote in the general election in New Zealand even if you are a PR visa holder. In Australia, only its citizens are allowed to vote.

Despite all the five reasons, there are still people who might think that since Australia is a bigger country and their cities are much larger, they will be more at home in Australia. This consideration is not totally irrelevant since most Malaysians/Singaporeans are more used to living in busy, vibrant and fast-paced cities of Asia.

Personally, it does not make much of a difference. You can go live in New York City, London or Tokyo which literally operate 24/7 but your social life isn't going to get any busier or bigger. You will not have the time nor commitment nor interest nor stamina to make new friends on a regular and persistent basis unless you go live there as a single living completely on passive income.

Whether in Australia or New Zealand, your social network will be very limited compared to when you live in Malaysia/Singapore. So, the size of the town/city you choose to live in is not going to make much of a difference. What can an extra 1 or 2 million human beings do to your social life, anyway - except lengthening the time you spend in traffic jams?

Whether you like it or not, for better or for worse, one thing is for sure - your mobile phone is not going to ring as often as it would in the home country you've left behind.

For more Australia-New Zealand comparisons, please also read up the following articles: