GlobeOver here or over there? Influences on migration

Kiwis like to travel, to do the 'big OE'. It’s said that it’s all to do with our size and isolation. We may be a popular destination for international visitors, but at any one time, around one in five New Zealanders is living and working overseas.

So why have people left in such big numbers? What’s keeping the rest of us here? We’ve trawled the internet to find some of the reasons:

Ten reasons for leaving New Zealand Ten reasons for staying put
1) More opportunities/better pay 1) Family and friends
2) See other lands and cultures 2) Where home is
3) Better weather 3) Fewer people
4) Lower cost of living 4) More open space
5) Safer roads 5) Slower pace of life
6) Better education 6) Māori culture
7) Join family and friends 7) Landscape and scenery
8) More cultural diversity 8) Haven from rest of world
9) Better quality houses 9) Holidays in Australia & Pacific
10) Lack of infrastructure 10) Lack of money

New Zealanders overseas

Outside New Zealand, the only places in the world where Kiwis can be found in large numbers are, not surprisingly, Australia and the United Kingdom. Around 1 in every 10 New Zealanders lives in Australia, and 1 in 80 lives in the United Kingdom. That’s a lot of Kiwis who’ve chosen to live overseas. In 2003, 43 per cent of permanent and long-term departures were to Australia, and 21 per cent to the United Kingdom. The next most popular place to migrate to was the United States, attracting 4 per cent of Kiwis going to live overseas1.

It works the other way round too. New Zealand is the top destination for Australians moving overseas, followed by the UK2, while New Zealand is the fifth most popular destination for Brits heading abroad, after Australia, Spain, France and the USA3 in that order.

If you’re a Kiwi thinking of returning home, the New Zealand Now website has information that can help with a smooth transition. You can also connect with other expatriate New Zealanders at

Travel resources

Browse the resources in our libraries


  1. 1: Carl Walrond. 'Kiwis overseas', Te Ara — the Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  2. 2: NZ Herald, 28 Dec 2006
  3. 3: Office of National Statistics UK, 20 Jan 2007