Ahead of the Bank of England’s Super Thursday meeting, the first for 2020, some investors are expecting the Bank to cut interest rates, with markets gauging a 50/50 chance of a rate cut.

On Tuesday, the pound dropped, while UK government bonds rose higher, suggesting that some currency strategists are expecting the BoE to cut its benchmark rate to 0.5 percent, from 0.75 percent.

Some economists believe that rates will either be cut this week or at the next meeting of the Bank in late March since currently there are encouraging signs that the country’s private sector is growing.

 In the Financial Times, Andrew Harman, portfolio manager at First State Investments stated that “Data from the second half of 2019 shows the UK economy was soft, although the recent January 2020 PMIs suggests a modest pick-up in economic activity [after] the election.”

 

How is the pound going to respond?

The British Pound has increased against the majority of leading currencies the beginning of the week, but on Tuesday it dropped against the euro and dollar ahead of Thursday's key BoE rate decision.

George Vessey, currency strategist with Western Union said: "The British Pound remains elevated but is lacking upside traction as it failed to hold at multi-week highs against the Euro and U.S. Dollar last week. If the BoE does cut rates, given the slide in inflation and lacklustre GDP growth, we can expect to see the Pound sold off." Vassey has also added: "Leaving rates unchanged may not have such an impact on Sterling as it didn’t weaken much when the probability of a rate cut jumped to 72% at the start of last week. Recent positive CBI and PMI surveys may be enough to prevent a rate cut this month, but the focus will be on sustained positive data for any real advancement in GBP upside."

With the possibility of a rate cut remaining unclear, the pound could initially fall if the Bank chooses to move on with a cut. Whatever the decision is, the pound will possibly be volatile as the result will be unexpected.

As mentioned, there are a few reasons that have driven investors to believe that the Bank might cut interest rates. Earlier in January, speeches from the Monetary Policy Committee members demonstrated their inclination towards a rate cut, with former governor Mark Carney stating that a weakness in the pound and weak economic data could lead the bank to a rate cut decision.  Indeed, economic growth has slowed down towards the end of 2019, while inflation was at 1.3% in December, below the Bank's 2.0% target.

With high volatility predicted on Thursday, all nine members of the monetary policy committee could vote for a rate cut, considering global recession fears, Brexit uncertainty, UK economic slowdown and inflation pressures.

On the other hand, if the majority votes for the rates to remain unchanged, taking into account improved business sentiment, then the pound could possibly stay flat. Ingvild Borgen Gjerde, FI and FX analyst at DNB Bank ASA clarified: "Expectations of a rate cut have fallen somewhat... and the GBP has strengthened as a result. We expect a rate cut this week but see significant risk that the BoE will remain on hold. As markets are only pricing in a 50% probability, the GBP should weaken this week if our projection materialises."

Finally, if only a very small number of members votes for a cut, then the hawkish sentiment could send the pound higher. For some analysts, economic data is not seen from a negative point of view and instead suggests that a rate cut is simply not justified. Marc-André Fongern, Head of FX Research at MAF Global Forex, noted that "The most recent UK economic data does not provide any justification for a rate cut at the end of January. The market may, therefore, be correcting its overblown expectations regarding an easing of monetary policy. Britain's economy is currently torn between the impact of potentially complex EU-UK trade negotiations and a spirit of optimism.”

If you are transferring funds abroad, contact a currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX, whose dedicated brokerage team can offer valuable support when navigating an unpredictable currency market. Give them a call today to discuss your currency transfers and schedule your next currency exchange.

With the pound falling against the Swiss franc in the five years to the end of October, and after a period of decline, the Swiss housing market has seen a rise in prices. Particularly, major cities such as Geneva are now more expensive than other European cities. With some of the priciest homes located along Lake Geneva’s south bank in Cologny and Collonge-Bellerive overseeing the lake and magnificent gardens, it is not hard to see why such properties could fetch high amounts.

For many expats, renting a property is more affordable, and 60 percent of residents rent their properties. However, if you can afford to buy a property in Switzerland, certain rules and regulations might change due to Brexit. While there won’t be any changes if you have already bought your home before Brexit, after Brexit, you will be considered a “person abroad” and you will be subject to the restrictions of Lex Koller.

Here, we will have a quick look at the Swiss property market and then the rules regarding buying property.

The Swiss market

Before 2017, house prices increased by 80.5 percent, forcing the Swiss National Bank to adopt stricter lending criteria and abandon its cap against the euro in order to limit investor demand. In 2017, purchase prices fell by 0.75 percent, while in the second half of 2017, according to Swiss National Bank data, the average asking price per square metre was CHF 11,800 (€10,100) in Zurich, CHF 11,530 (€9,865) in Geneva, and CHF 9,260 (€7,920) in Lausanne.

According to the Financial Times, prices have now risen again due to falling mortgage rates and a shortage of supply, while “imminent corporate tax reforms” are particularly increasing Geneva’s appeal. Alex Koch de Gooreynd, who specialises in the Swiss, Austrian and Portuguese market at Knight Frank, explains that demand from overseas buyers was reduced due to the strong franc, the fall in the pound and euro. An average €23,400 per sq m prime property is, for example, higher than its equivalent of €19,400 in Paris and €13,500 in Frankfurt.

In Collonge-Bellerive, a four-bedroom villa can go for CHF 4.3m (£3.38m) and in Anières a four-bedroom house can go for CHF 3.29m (£2.58m). In Chêne-Bougeries a two-bedroom duplex is CHF 1.595m (£1,25m). With 169 sales this year for properties over €3.6m (£3m), it is obvious that only millionaires can afford a three-bedroom apartment or a four and five-bedroom house.

But, if you cannot afford to buy, renting is a an alternative, with a two-bedroom apartment near Lake Geneva priced at CHF 2,200 (€1,997) per month.  

Purchasing property

Brits’ residence rights have been secured by the Agreement on Acquired Citizens’ Rights (AACR) signed by Switzerland and the UK on 25 February 2019 (new FMOPA). Among other things, the agreement also covers the purchase of real estate by UK citizens in Switzerland and vice versa. The new FMOPA agreement will come into force after the end of the transition period agreed between the EU and the UK. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the AACR shall apply immediately after the UK leaves the EU.

Lex Koller

Lex Koller is the law which limits ownership by foreigners and distinguishes between Swiss residents and non-Swiss residents. The law allocates 1500 permits for non-Swiss residents annually to buy holiday homes not exceeding 200m2 in tourist locations and mountain resorts. However, even those non-EU/EFTA citizens who have a Swiss residency permit are covered by Lex Koller’s restrictions as it applies to their main residence.

According to Lex Koller, “persons abroad” are classified all citizens from the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) who have no legal or actual Swiss residence and citizens of other states with no permanent Swiss residence permit. They are subject to restrictions and, in some cases, may need to acquire Swiss residential property.

Currently, since the UK is still part of the EU, UK citizens are not classified as persons abroad if they have a legal or actual Swiss residence. After Brexit, UK citizens with a legal or actual Swiss residence will need to acquire a permanent Swiss residence permit. However, some of these may not apply with the new FMOPA, as UK citizens will be able to safeguard the rights acquired under the FMOPA.

So, if they already purchased property, this will be respected after Brexit. If at the time of Brexit, UK citizens have already a legal or actual Swiss residence in order to buy Swiss residential property, they won’t require a permanent resident permit.

UK citizens will be able to retain their status as cross-border commuters in Switzerland after Brexit if they purchase Swiss residential property, as a secondary home.

However, after Brexit all those who have no prior Swiss residential property, or legal or actual Swiss residence, and do not qualify as cross-border commuters will be subject to the restrictions of Lex Koller.

Not only does Switzerland have strict rules about purchasing property, but also the process of purchasing a home can be lengthy, lasting more than three months. When you finally decide on your property, keep in mind that you will also need to pay 5% of the purchase price for the notary’s fees (0.2-1 percent) and charges, including a 3 percent property transfer tax and around 1-1.5 percent for registering the deed with the land registry office.

This is why it will be good to plan ahead and get in touch with an expert foreign exchange firm such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX’s specialist currency brokers will make sure that your money is safe by providing you with a range of hedging strategies against the volatility of the currency market.

After over three and a half years of talking, fighting, delays and fearmongering, Brexit is going to happen on 31st January.

This is a cause for celebration for some, but for others it represents the start of great uncertainty – or worse still – the start of decades of decline for the UK. This may come down to the deal that we agree, or if there is a deal at all.

Which way it goes will still be debated and argued over the years to come, but what will happen after 31st January when Brexit is confirmed?

The Brexit deal

Firstly, let’s take a look at the key points of the deal itself. Currently being examined by the House of Lords, the main issues involve travel, money, health, the rights of citizens and of course, trade. The policies set out in the deal will potentially affect currency which can then further impact such things as property prices.

The main focus of the deal is to leave the EU customs union, meaning that the UK will have the freedom to establish their own trade deals with countries around the world.

A significant sticking point was determining how Northern Ireland would be affected, with Boris Johnson eventually replacing the Irish backstop with a new agreement that will begin in December 2020, after the transition period has ended. In summary, this includes a customs declaration system for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as continued access to the UK market for businesses. Northern Ireland also have the option to vote on their continued membership in this deal four years after the transition period.

Travel

After January 31st, travel plans for UK citizens travelling to EU countries will not be affected.

ABTA, the travel industry’s trade association has said: "If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020."

After the transition, a visa similar to the American ESTA will be introduced, expecting to cost around £6 and last for a number of years.

All transport entering the EU, including ferries and cruise ships will not be affected but there may be an additional driving permit if you wish to use your own vehicle within your UK insurance policy in the EU.

Money

Savings are not expected to be affected after Brexit due to all bank trading agreements bought from EU firms being protected by the transition period. There may a short-term gain for savers if interest rates are increased when the Conservative Budget is announced next month.

However, British retirees living abroad may have their pension payments frozen, not benefiting from the EU payment increase, which is based on either inflation, wage increases or 2.5% - whichever is highest. On top of that, those living in the EU and being paid in GBP may lose earnings if the pound falls after Brexit.Property

With house prices showing an increase from November to December last year, estate agents are optimistic that Brexit will finally end the uncertainty that had led to prices stagnating – and falling in some areas - in the UK.

Even with renewed confidence, the February Budget could affect the market, with the potential for reforms for first-time buyers. No-deal is still a slight possibility, so foreign investors will be keeping a close eye on negotiations before parting with their money.

Most estate agents say that surveys have shown that potential buyers generally have overestimated the impact of Brexit so far, and with the political climate much calmer, expect buyers who were holding back to come forward in 2020.

Rental prices are forecasted to rise, due mainly to the lack of rental options on the market.

Currency

The value of the pound can go either way, with a lot of experts claiming the volatility of the past 3 years will calm and the pound will be more stable. Since the start of negotiations, the strength of the pound has been linked to a clean break that protected business, whereas the chaos of a no-deal Brexit has sent the pound down in value. Since the general election result, the pound has rallied due to investors being more comfortable with the prospect of a strong majority Conservative government.

However, with a lot to be done by the end of the transition period – including crucial trade agreements with the EU itself – there could still be choppy waters ahead for GBP. In fact, just this week it was revealed that there are fundamental disagreements between the EU and UK that will almost certainly require more than eight months of negotiations, which formally begin in March.

Trade negotiations

The obvious reason for any difficulties in the negotiations is that the EU believe that the UK should continue to follow some of the EU regulations in order to secure a free-trade agreement. This is mainly due to EU members, including France, asking for a level playing field to be maintained. Trade-offs will likely come into play as the transition period progresses, with a report recently claiming that the UK will allow EU fleets to fish in their waters if bankers and financiers are allowed favourable access to the EU financial markets. The issue with such trade-offs is that invariably they will affect certain demographics unfavourably, which can lead to more stand-offs. With such a tight deadline any significant delays could be disastrous and can bring the no-deal prospect back into the reckoning.

If you require any guidance on your currency exchange during this crucial step of Brexit, reach out to Universal Partners FX; a specialist in delivering expert guidance and the best possible rates for those dealing with foreign currency.

Moving to Spain

Moving to a foreign country is usually a big decision that requires a lot of planning and preparation, whether it’s a long-term commitment or a short-term lifestyle choice.

For many British expats, Spain is the ultimate emigration destination, providing the perfect terminus for those seeking a change of scenery.

Whether you’re seeking a fresh start or a place to retire to, a whole host of Brits have no problem swapping the cold, damp greys for warm, cloudless blues.

If you’re one of those Brits looking to relocate to the land of the siesta, this handy guide for expats in Spain is a must-read.

Do I Need a Visa to Live in Spain?

First things first, as is the case with any international relocation, it’s important to know the legalities of moving to your country of choice and moving to Spain from the UK is no different.

For short-term visits, British expats are allowed to remain in Spain for 90 days over a period of six months; however, if you are planning on residing in Spain for longer than three months, you will need to apply for Spanish residency.

Under the Freedom of Movement Act, citizens of EU countries don’t need a visa to visit, live, work or study in Spain. Instead, EU nationals simply need to register with the authorities and get a national identity number.

However, with Brexit ominously hanging over the UK like the Sword of Damocles, those terms have become somewhat clouded, muddying the Spanish waters for Brits looking to make the journey south.

Expats in Spain After Brexit

If you are or will be an expat in Spain after Brexit, it’s important to become well acquainted with the Brexit process. The results of the negotiations are likely to have a significant impact on expats living in Spain after Brexit, so it’s wise to familiarise yourself with the latest updates.

While the exact details over Brexit and the subsequent implications are murky at best at this stage, there are a few pieces of information that have emerged with regards to Spanish travel.

If the UK severs ties with the EU without a deal, UK nationals that were officially living in Spain prior to the date the UK exits will be considered legal residents for a period of 21 months. According to gov.uk, this ruling will be enforced regardless of whether or not the British national currently holds a Spanish residency document.

Conversely, if the UK does leave the EU with a deal in place, UK nationals will be able to register as a resident in Spain under the current rules, provided they arrive before the end of the implementation period. Such expats will also have their right to Spanish residency protected for as long as they remain living there.

In short, should the UK leave the EU with a deal, travel to the EU will remain unchanged until the end of 2020. On the other hand, if the UK leaves without a deal, rules for travelling and working in Europe will change accordingly.

Good to Know

With the visa/Brexit issue covered, there’s more to life in Spain than admin, paperwork and entry documents.

To prepare you for your Spanish arrival and help you settle in once you touch down on Iberian soil, here are a few facts about life in Spain that are good to know:

Mediterranean Climate

Arguably the biggest draw for would-be expats in Spain, the toasty warmth of the Spanish climate is an attractive proposition for many Brits seeking escape from drab and damp weather of the UK.

The south of Spain is particularly blessed with sunny weather, with the Balearic and Canary Islands boasting a warm climate all-year-round. In the summer months, temperatures in Spain can even break the 40 degrees Celsius barrier.

Even when temperatures drop, the sun is a virtual constant regardless of the season and it’s not unusual for islands like Mallorca to feature sunshine even in December.

According to Spanish travel experts, SeekingTheSpanishSun.com, the five warmest winter destinations in Spain are Marbella, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Costa Tropical and Seville, with temperate highs of 16-22 degrees.

- Property Prices

While growing housing prices in Britain have made it increasingly difficult for many to mount that first rung on the property ladder, the same can’t be said for real estate in Spain.

Low-interest rates – particularly in coastal regions – make Spain an attractive proposition for property buyers.

In fact, national statistics show that there is 78% home ownership in Spain, considerably higher than the UK and notably above the EU average.

For additional help buying a property in Spain, you may want to enlist the aid of a gestor who will be able to guide you through the process smoothly.

Cost of Living

Another huge perk of life in Spain, the cost of living is lower than the UK in almost every measurable metric.

According to statistics website, Numbeo, Spanish prices trump the British equivalent across the board, with an overwhelming majority of goods and services costing less en España.

From groceries and rent to cigarettes and beer, the Spaniards have us Brits well and truly trumped.

Dining out is also cheaper, providing all the more reason to enjoy some tapas and a few sangrias with friends.

However, there are some curious exceptions to the rule, with items like cheese, beef and bananas all costing around 15-20% more.

However, it’s worth noting that the average monthly salary is also less in Spain, which does offset the price differential somewhat.

Easy Does It

Spain is renowned worldwide for its laid-back lifestyle and the slower pace of life can be a huge culture shock for those used to the hectic pace of working life in the UK.

That being said, it’s undoubtedly a welcome change for many and the relaxed approach is the polar opposite to the daily rush many of us Brits have become accustomed to.

A famous part of this calmer approach is, of course, the mid-afternoon siestas. Meanwhile, it’s not unusual for morning routines to run into early afternoon.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the entire month of August is traditionally viewed as a domestic holiday month for most Spanish natives.

While this is great for relaxing and reinforces Spain as a fantastic destination to unwind and enjoy life, it can make things difficult when it comes to errands and admin.

As such, if you need to get something important done, it’s best to arrange your activity outside of these times, where possible.

Transferring Money to Spain

Of course, no UK expat in Spain will be able to survive very long without financial backing. As such, moving money to Spain from the UK is a vital part of the process.

Whether you’re looking to purchase a property or arrange accommodation rental, transferring funds from the UK to Spain is a necessary part of securing a place to stay prior to arrival.

Prior to doing so, it’s important to secure the best exchange rate possible. Doing your due diligence and getting the right exchange rate can provide substantial savings.

In order to ensure you get the best exchange rate for transferring money to Spain, Universal Partners FX is here to do just that.

Our safe, secure transaction process allows you to transfer money to Spain quickly and effectively with no hidden transaction fees or strings attached.

To transfer money to Spain, simply follow our easy three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

With a 5-star rating from independent review site Feefo, we have a proven track record as a top-quality FX partner. Send money to Spain with Universal Partners FX and give your transfer trouble a siesta today.

For more advice for expats in Spain or to find out more about sending money to Spain from the UK, why not drop us a line today? Call 020 7190 9559 now or get in touch online by using the button below.

Get in Touch >

IBAN Validation

If you are attempting to conduct international business, payment or money transfer, you may have come across the acronym “IBAN”. If not, it’s well worth getting acquainted.

Luckily, this blog aims to do just that. Read on for a crash course guide to IBAN validation.

What is an IBAN?

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, referring to the numerical identifier used to differentiate foreign bank accounts and streamline cross-border transactions.

As of 2019, there are 75 countries in total that officially use the IBAN, 34 of which are SEPA members.

Features of an IBAN

The IBAN itself consists of two letters and two digits followed by up to 30 alphanumerical characters.

IBAN vs SWIFT

Often lumped together as one in the same, IBAN and SWIFT codes are, in actual fact, separate entities used to identify different things.

While the IBAN is used to identify an individual account involved in an international transaction, a SWIFT code is used to identify a specific bank during an international transaction.

Checking an IBAN Number

IBAN validation is an effective method of minimising failed transactions when processing domestic and international payments.

For more information on IBAN numbers and IBAN validation, why not speak with one of our financial experts today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or get in touch online by clicking the linked button below.

Get in Touch >

The pound has dropped to its lowest level since 27 December, after the ONS released its latest GDP estimate for the month of November.

ONS numbers

According to the ONS, the UK GDP grew by 0.1% in the three months to November, while it shrank by 0.3% in November 2019. The contraction in November was worse than expected as uncertainty over the general election and the threat of crashing out of the EU without a deal in October weighed on the economy.

As the ONS figures demonstrate, the services and production sectors grew by 0.1% and 1.1%, respectively in the three months to November 2019, but the production sector fell by 0.6%, its second consecutive rolling three-month decline, while manufacturing output fell by 1.7%.

The ONS stated: “Production fell by 1.2% in the month of November 2019, following growth of 0.4% in October. Within production, manufacturing fell by 1.7%. This was largely driven by large falls in the manufacture of transport equipment, food, and chemicals. These industries were also the main drags on growth in April 2019, just after the UK's original planned date to exit the European Union as shown in Figure 5. This may be indicative of some changes in the timing of activity around the second planned departure in October.”

Today’s figures confirm that the UK economy has slowed for two consecutive months, shrinking in April-June, then showing 0.4% growth in July-September, something which has helped to avoid a recession. It has slowed again to 0.2% in August-October, and 0.1% in September-November.

The Office for National Statistics’ head of GDP, Rob Kent-Smith, said that UK growth was at its lowest level since 2012: “Overall, the economy grew slightly in the latest three months, with growth in construction pulled back by weakening services and another lacklustre performance from manufacturing. The UK economy grew slightly more strongly in September and October than was previously estimated, with later data painting a healthier picture. Long term, the economy continues to slow, with growth in the economy compared with the same time last year at its lowest since the spring of 2012.”

UK economy stagnant

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) noted that the “latest data confirm that UK economic growth had petered out at the end of last year. GDP was virtually flat in the 3m to Nov & latest surveys point to further stagnation in Dec. The short-term economic outlook is for more lacklustre growth.”

More importantly, the idea of the Bank of England having to cut interest rates has resurfaced as investment strategists and traders have mentioned.

Bank of England: Interest rate cut?

The latest GDP data has boosted the chances of UK interest rates being cut soon, possibly at the Bank of England’s meeting at the end of January. Matthew Cady, investment strategist at Brooks Macdonald, said: “UK GDP for November has come in at negative -0.3%. This is quite a bit weaker than had been expected. Consensus had been looking for zero growth month on month. Against this, both September and October were revised up by 0.2% and 0.1% points respectively. The weaker GDP print today puts beyond doubt that the next Bank of England meeting at the end of January is going to be a ‘live’ meeting.”

Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank, said that the possibility of an interest rate cut has risen to 50%: “With a growing chorus on the MPC apparently open to the prospect of a rate cut, if the data points in that direction, today’s release might well tip the balance of one or two members ahead of the meeting on 30 January, where the market probability assigned to a 25 bps cut has risen to 50% versus 5% at the start of last week.”

However, it is also wise to be positive and consider the GDP numbers as indicative of a specific time period rather than of a future trend, as business confidence can return after Boris Johnson’s election. As chief economist at PwC, John Hawksworth, clarified, today’s data relates to a specific “period of heightened economic and political uncertainty” and that “our latest survey of the financial services sector with the CBI does suggest some boost to optimism since the election.”

Transferring funds abroad?

If you are worried about currency volatility and the uncertainty over Brexit, contact Universal Partner’s FX expert foreign exchange team. UPFX’s currency specialists have years of experience in transferring money overseas delivering funds safely and securely. If you want to safeguard your finances, avoid huge bank fees and get competitive rates, UPFX is your choice. Get in touch with them today, to get the best deal on your international money transfers.

Two-Factor Authentication

When signing into a website, the information typically requested consists of a simple combination of a username and password. This is often all that is needed to sign in to a user’s account.

Some websites will also include additional steps, such as security questions and PIN numbers, in order to gain access to your account.

However, perhaps the most secure means of protecting your account is to utilise two-factor authentication as a way of preventing unwanted access.

But how does it work? Our article explores the inner workings.

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Also known as 2FA, two-factor authentication is a supplementary measure applied to the login process in order to protect your account. This provides an additional security measure to help keep your account safe.

Why Use Two-Factor Authentication?

When it comes to dealing with money and financial accounts, access by anyone other than the account holder can pose a huge issue. As such, any actions to prevent such an issue are welcome.

In order to avoid anyone else gaining unwanted access to your account, many sites have implemented two-factor authentication as a means of providing additional protection against hackers and illegal entry.

Naturally, using additional login steps to confirm your identity and grant access to your account provides additional barriers and reduces the likelihood of your account be hacked.

How Does Two-Factor Authentication Work?

As the name suggests, two-factor authentication involves a two-step process whereby you confirm your identity by using another account personal to you.

Common methods of two-factor authentication include SMS text message and voice call to your mobile phone or landline.

Upon login, you will be prompted to enter a code, which you will be sent via one of the means above. Once received, simply enter the given number to prove you are who you same you are and you will be granted access instantly. 

For more information on two-factor authentication and the benefits of account security measures, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 to speak with one of our experts or drop us an email online by clicking the button below.

Get in Touch >

Moving to New Zealand

Whether it’s for work purposes, living closer to family or just because you fancy a change, there are several things you’ll need to consider and plan out before moving to New Zealand. From finding somewhere to stay, to securing the right visa and the cost of living, Universal Partners FX is here to make sure you’re clued up on the ins and out of becoming a fully-fledged kiwi.

Research, research, research

The first thing that we recommend doing before you make the big decision of emigrating to New Zealand is doing as much research about the country as you possibly can. Jump online and take a look at what New Zealand has to offer and in particular if there is anything that you can offer New Zealand. If you possess certain skills that are in demand, then making the move can be a whole lot easier. The best way to find out if New Zealand is the place for you, however, is to simply visit.

Book a flight for a holiday and use it as an opportunity to experience the lifestyle, the culture, the people, the weather or to meet potential employers. The best way of knowing whether New Zealand is for you is to get up and go there.

Visa time

Once you’ve decided that New Zealand is the place for you, the next thing to do is to secure your visa and the right visa for what you intend to do after you get there. The reasons behind your move to New Zealand will dictate which visa type you ultimately choose, including the length of your stay, whether you have a job lined up already and the time needed to gather the required documentation. Some of the most popular visa types are a Working Holiday Visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for up to a year. An Essential Skills Visa for people temporarily working for a specific employer or Skilled Migrant Visa that provides people residence in New Zealand.

Now, if your intention is to move to New Zealand, which is the whole purpose of reading this blog, then there are two visas for you. The Skilled Migrant Visa which we’ve already looked at and the Work to Residence Visa which always provides a pathway to living permanently in New Zealand. However, there are certain conditions that need to be met to acquire each of these visas types.

  • Skilled Migrant Visa – This visa is best suited to people who want to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, have been offered a job and possess the skills, qualifications and experience that the country needs. In order to obtain this visa, however, you will need to send the New Zealand government an Expression of Interest (EOI) telling them about the skills you have the job that you’ve been offered. A points-based system will be used to asses your application, where if granted the required number of points, you will progress onto the visa application. This visa is available to peopled aged 55 and under, lasts for an indefinite amount of time and takes approximately 11 months to process. The cost of the EOI is $530 whereas the application sits at $2,710.
  • Work to Residence Visa – This type of visa is best suited to people who have been offered a full-time job and want to eventually live in New Zealand permanently. This visa is tied to a specific occupation in an area of skill shortage with an accredited employer. You’ll be able to apply for residence if you continue working for your employer for two years. Available to anyone aged 55 and under, a Work to Residence Visa lasts for a total of 30 months, costs $635 and takes approximately 2-4 months to process.

Find out about other New Zealand visa types here.

The job hunt

If you’ve made the decision to move to New Zealand without having a job lined up, finding a job whilst you’re out there may not be as daunting as you think. New Zealand’s job market has been strong over recent years, with solid economic performances a huge driving factor. The New Zealand government expects the country to need around 47,000 more workers per year going well into the 2020s, a very promising statistic for anyone looking for a permanent position in the country. The majority of the new jobs will be in highly-skilled occupations where an expectation exists that most of these roles will be filled by people from overseas countries.

Job openings will grow for virtually every area of work, but the largest increases will be seen in business services, health care/social assistance, construction/utilities and education. The chances of landing a job will be particularly high if your skills are on any of the Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) lists of skill shortages which is updated regularly by Immigration New Zealand.

The right move

Now that your visa and hopefully job is covered, finding somewhere to live is the next thing to check off the list. That is of course if you haven’t already got somewhere to live. Finding accommodation in New Zealand should be relatively stress-free. The housing market is well regulated, with options for both short and longer-term contracts, with buying a house taking only a matter of weeks.

  • Renting – Rent in New Zealand is calculated weekly, so it’s important to keep that in mind when considering the value of the rent you’ve been advertised. The average rent is around 400 NZD a week for a small home and 530 NZD for a two or four-bedroom apartment or house. Rent prices, however, will be largely affected by the region of New Zealand you choose to live in. Auckland is the most expensive city to rent in, with accommodation costing anywhere between 600 NZD to 850 NZD a week.
  • Buying – If you’re thinking of buying a property when moving to New Zealand, you’ll be pleased to hear that the process is very well organised and regulated, making it simple and fast. You can buy a house as quickly as three to four weeks and will never have to worry about any last-minute bids stealing your home once you’ve submitted your official bid. The average house price in New Zealand currently sits at around 560,00 NZD and again, is heavily influenced by the region you choose to live in.

A few very important things to note about relocating to New Zealand are the strict Customs rules, tight border controls and required documentation needed to enter the country. Firstly, all of your belongings need to be declared and inspected when you first arrive in New Zealand. The tight border controls may prevent you from bringing some of your possessions with you or may even confiscate and destroy them. Many items are considered ‘risk items’, some require permits to import and others are strictly forbidden. Bringing pets into the country is another thing you will need to prepare for with difficulties surrounding some animals. In terms of health requirements, as long as you have all your vaccinations in order, there shouldn’t be much trouble when entering the country.

Living costs

Depending on where you’re emigrating to New Zealand from, you may find the cost of living pretty similar or cheaper. Some things cost less; some things cost more, particularly if they have to travel a long way to get to New Zealand. But generally, the cost of living is comparable to many other western-style countries.

Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey listed London as the world’s 23rd most expensive city to live in, whereas Auckland was ranked lower at 89th and Wellington even lower at 114th.

The healthcare system

One of the most promising aspects of moving to New Zealand is the quality of the healthcare system. If you are ever in need of medical care, you will not have difficulty in finding a well-trained, experienced doctor, fully-equipped hospital or speedy emergency care. The healthcare system may be slightly different from what you are used to, especially if you live in the UK, with a mix of public and private services. But we try to break things down into a simpler way here.

Since the 1980s, New Zealand has had a mixed public and private healthcare scheme. Here, public healthcare is subsidised by the government, but some services may be partially charged when private providers are involved. The extensive range of hospitals treats citizens, permanent residents and some holders of work visas for free. If your work visa entitles you to remain in New Zealand for at least two years then you will be eligible for public healthcare. Non-residents can also utilise the healthcare on offer but at a cost. If you are not eligible for public healthcare in New Zealand, then it is advised to have medical insurance from your home country.

Healthcare cover

The healthcare system provides free services for prescriptions, x-rays, treatments and laboratory tests. Services for pregnant women, dental care up to the age of 18, breast exams for women ages 55 and older and general practitioner (GP) referral visits. Public healthcare also covers maternity for the entire duration of the pregnancy and up to six weeks after birth. You’ll also be pleased to hear that public health insurance also covers any accidents you may have. The New Zealand government has a ‘no-fault’ insurance scheme known as Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which covers the cost of any accident regardless if you have applied for public or private healthcare.

Healthcare levels

There are three levels of healthcare in New Zealand; primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary healthcare covers family doctors, pharmacists, dentists and allied health which includes a number of health professionals including counselling and physiotherapists. Primary care also refers to the first general treatment of symptoms or medical concerns, such as the flu, bone fractures, or acute medical conditions. These services are provided in public hospitals and clinics and are free of charge depending on eligibility. Secondary care includes hospital services, either public or private, and specialist care and is provided by publicly-owned hospitals. Patients have a choice to access either public or private services, which may depend on preference or the availability of the services. Tertiary care includes cancer treatment, plastic surgery and other types of procedures.

Etiquette

Now that all of the essentials are more or less covered, it’s time to look at some of the general etiquettes of New Zealand that will help you go a long way on a more day-to-day basis and will help your transition go easier:

  • The people drive on the left side of the road – perfect if you’re moving to New Zealand form the UK.
  • New Zealander’s tend to not tip, so never find it rude if you don’t receive one, it’s just part of the culture.
  • Rugby and golf are very popular sports – there are more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population than anywhere else in the world.
  • Kiwis are very similar to the British whereby small everyday encounters are often met with a polite ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Learning a few words in Te Reo, which is the Maori Language will certainly help you settle in with some of the locals.

Sending money

Now, with all of these things in mind, you may be required to transfer money to New Zealand at one point or another. Whether it’s buying a property, paying for a visa or ordering goods for when you arrive. But when you do, the last thing you want is to pay extra cash to the bank at a mediocre exchange rate on top of the already huge list of things that you’ve done and will need to do. With Universal Partners FX, you’ll never have to. Here, we offer bank-beating exchange rates that you can secure in advance, with absolutely no transaction fees. Simply sign-up for an account to access our easy-to-use online money platform and send your funds quickly and securely. Visit our page below to learn more about how we can help with your money transfer when moving to New Zealand.

Sending Money to New Zealand >

 

For more information or if you have any further questions about how Universal Partners FX can help make emigrating to New Zealand easier, be sure to get in touch with one of our currency experts today.