Ask an Expat: Living in Christchurch, New Zealand

What is it like to move to and live in Christchurch, New Zealand?

In this Ask an Expat series I interview expats living all over the world. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for other (future) expats and share information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat now calls home.

Expat Life in Christchurch, New Zealand

living in Christchurch
living in Christchurch

Location: Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Name: Jessica
Age: 44
Home town: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Her story:

“I was just living a “normal life” but not feeling as fulfilled. Groundhog day sorta thing.

When an opportunity came up for my husband to get a job overseas, doing what he was already doing, we decided to go for it! Two of our kids were just starting school, and the other was just about done with school so we went for it.

It was the perfect time so we sold our house (and belongings) and left. It was risky, but we wanted to live life without regrets and shake up our lives a little. It was super hard to say goodbye to friends and family but we knew we had a short window. And so far it’s been amazing!!”

Why Did You Move to Christchurch?

“My husband is a carpenter and because there were these big earthquakes 6 years ago, there is a lot of work still  to be done.”

What Do You Like About Living in Christchurch?

“I like the people! New Zealanders are happy people always ready to lend a hand. From the moment we arrived, we have met so many incredibly kind people. Kiwis are so friendly and they care about their “neighbors”.

There is also quite a sense of community. It might be part of a city coming together after such devastating earthquakes all those years ago, but it makes you feel a little less homesick.

On top of that Christchurch is a very diverse city with people from all over the world living here and the weather is pretty nice too.”

What Do You Dislike About Living in Christchurch?

“The houses that aren’t insulated (there are lots) and the lack of central heating (it does get cold here).

The distance from New Zealand to everything else is hard too. Family is so far away which makes vacations home very difficult.”

What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do in Christchurch?

“We love going for walks and checking out the city.

We will also often pack lunches and head out on a road trip for the day so we can discover more of this beautiful area. We have already seen quite a bit just by doing this.”

What Is Your Favorite Place to Hang out in Christchurch?

“Being such a “good coffee” sort of city, there are so many cafes to visit.

We usually grab a coffee and visit one of the many parks they have in Christchurch with our two younger kids. Our favorite park is Margaret Mahy Family Playground which is a must see if you are visiting the area with kids.”

What Is the Expat / International Community like in Christchurch?

“I think the expat community in Christchurch is pretty large. There are lots of groups on Facebook and online to join or attend meetups and such.

I knew that having school aged kids was going to introduce me to lots of people. This way I met people from a number of different countries, including fellow Canadians.

It is very nice to meet other “new” people as they know what you are going through.”

Any Tips for Moving to / Living in Christchurch?

“Start researching ahead of time and get a sense of the area a little.

But keep in mind that its difficult to rent something over the internet. We had a hard time and pretty much had to wait until we arrived in New Zealand before we found something. We noticed that reputable people were weary of doing stuff online, as were we.

Book a hotel or Airbnb so you have time to look properly once you are in New Zealand. We had kids, so we wanted to be sure the suburb had a school and was close to stores and such.

Lastly, make sure that you have copies of documents and your identification, just in case.”

Any Resources You Found Useful During the Process of Moving to And/Or Building a New Life in Christchurch?

“We found very useful as well as the New Zealand Immigration website. There are also several Facebook groups about moving to and living in New Zealand.

Also, try to ask your family and friends if they have any connections in the area. My brother knew someone in Christchurch so I contacted him and asked about areas of town, school, etc. Even knowing one person helps!”

Is There Something You Just Have to See or Do When You Are in Christchurch?

“You must visit the old Christchurch Cathedral, even though its quite damaged and is all fenced in. It’s an incredible site to stand in front of as it has got so much history.

In summer you have to go to the beach. While you are there you can get some yummy fish and chips too!”

About Jessicainterview with an expat about moving to Christchurch, New Zealand

Jessica was born in Montreal, Quebec but grew up on the west coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island, BC.

She is a mom of three and a new adventure seeker! Follow her family’s adventures on Instagram @davis_family_adventures_abroad or her personal account @jessdoesdiy

About Christchurch

moving to and living in Christchurch, New Zealand
Life in Christchurch – By Roger Wong

Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

The Avon River meanders through the city center and on its banks you find cycling paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Christchurch City is known as the “Garden City” because of its many beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets.

In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic center’s stone-built buildings.

Christchurch nowadays offers an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island it’s a must-visit.

Are you traveling to New Zealand? Then also read:

Like this article about expat life in Christchurch? Pin it!

Have you always wondered what it would be like to move to New Zealand? Check out this interview with an expat about moving to and living in #Christchurch, New Zealand. #NewZealand #expat #moveabroad

Featured image about life in Christchurch by Mjobling



Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

13 thoughts on “Ask an Expat: Living in Christchurch, New Zealand”

  1. Thank you this really helps. I am in an LDR with a guy who lives in Christchurch and I was doing some research on if I should move here or not but the downside is all my family are where I currently am right now and its 7,124 mi from where I am so birthdays for my family are going to be a little rough and my bf has family where he is so when it comes to meeting family it will be hard because the distance and Iḿ going to school where I´m living and I´m planning to go to UNLV for College and I was thinking of moving to Christchurch when I´m 18.

  2. Hi Jessica, we’re a family with 2 kids and moving to Christchurch very soon. Can you please share your research about the good schools and the neighborhood one might consider good and safe for family living. Appreciate the help.

  3. I swear by for events and making friends in NZ too. I found that having some money saved up also helped my arrival be a lot more comfortable – New Zealand was VERY expensive for me, and I don’t have expensive taste!

  4. Your post has been definitely informative,thank you! I’ve been looking to find recent expat reviews about Christchurch since I’ve been contemplating about trying a different city besides Auckland to live in. I come from a tropical country so, I am also abit curious with how the weather would be like year-round there…how has it been lately?

  5. I have just moved to Auckland just 2 weeks ago but feel far from the New Zealand I want to experience in my daily life in terms of space and nature. Would I find this more in Christchurch? Can I work in the city and live more rural commuting in on bike?

    • Hi Lisa,

      Although I can’t speak much for Auckland, or the North Island, I have quite enjoyed living here in Christchurch. This area is approx. 4 times the size of where I moved from. And even with that I have felt like we aren’t missing out. There are all kinds of tracks to climb that take you way up into the hills and even to different communities. The ocean is right there with many beaches to visit on any given day. There are mixtures of smaller “communities” or suburbs that are a little more rural as well. Cycling is fairly common here too with all kinds of new bike lanes and paths in the city centre. There is even a biking trail that goes from Christchurch to I believe Akaroa ( or almost) and is quite well known one to do. So it definitely isn’t as busy as I’d say Auckland is. I feel we have enough to remind you how close nature is. The only time I feel like there’s too many people is if I head to a shopping mall. There are so many places within 2 hours from Christchurch that offer wonderful things, from mountains and tracks to hike, nature parks, quaint little towns , great surfing spots, biking paths, skiing/snowboarding. And if you have more time, it opens it up further. Milford Sound is unreal! I would say definitely Christchurch checks off those boxes for you!

  6. I have been thinking to go and live in New Zealand some day in the future. I have heard so many great things and it is good to read the experiences of other expats there. I am only wondering if it is hard to get a visa there.

  7. Nice! Are you enjoying life in Canada? If you’d like to do an interview do let me know because I would love to share your expat experiences!

  8. Making decision as a lone traveler to relocate to another country is a big task not to talk of relocating the whole family and I’m glad you guys made it. Life is beautiful and educational exploring outside of home knowing diverse cultures and meeting new people.


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