Happy Nations #10: New Zealand

Here is how New Zealand compares to the United States in each of the six factors for Happiness:

  • GDP: 1.852 v 1.982
  • Social Support: 1.235 v 1.182
  • Healthy Life Expectancy: 0.752 v 0.628
  • Freedom to Make Life Choices: 0.680 v 0.574
  • Generosity: 0.245 v 0.220
  • Perceptions of Corruption: 0.483 v 0.177

New Zealand has one of the lowest perceptions of corruption and high freedom to make life choices.

I’m intrigued.

Other Scoring Systems

Now that we are in the top 10 countries, we’re starting to see some domination. I’m excited by New Zealand’s social purpose; they were one point away from the top spot at FreedomHouse.

Health Care

New Zealand does have universal health care. However, prescription drugs are around $3, and while accidents are fully covered, you have to pay a small fee ($10-$30) for general visits.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are all eligible for publicly funded healthcare. It even extends to those with visas, refugees, and victims of people trafficking.

New Zealand ranks #6 in quality of healthcare and #13 in Global Health Security.


Although Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, almost a third of the population lives in Auckland.

Christchurch is a little colder than Auckland and Wellington but has calmer winds and less rain.

Overall, Auckland is quite similar to Melbourne and excites me.

Cost of Living

New Zealand is cheaper to live in than the United States.

Comparing Saint Louis, MO, to Auckland, we see it will cost 11% more to live in Auckland.

Not terrible.


English is the predominant language and a de facto official language of New Zealand. Almost the entire population (95%) speaks it either as native speakers or proficiently as a second language.

Acceptance of Others

64% of New Zealanders have a favorable view of migrants. Unfortunately, the perception of how welcoming New Zealand is has been steadily declining since 2011 (down to 66% in 2021 from 82% in 2011). New Zealanders generally feel Muslims, Indians, Chinese, and refugees are the most discriminated against.

9 out of 10 New Zealanders have friends born outside of New Zealand. In addition, two in five New Zealanders say they often spend their social time with people born outside New Zealand. This measure has been rising since the research began in 2011.

New Zealand has had a significant population growth (25%) over the last 17 years. However, some New Zealanders feel that infrastructure has not kept up with the growth and may have a negative view of immigration but not particular groups.

Moving Feasibility

You can stay in New Zealand for up to three months without a visa.

New Zealand immigration website lets you select “work,” “invest,” “join the family,” and “study” as permanent residence options. Not, “I want to retire and chill.”

My wife may be able to qualify for a “Skilled Migrant” visa. But since she’s self-employed and would have no contracts in New Zealand, who knows?


New Zealand seems like a lovely country. Unfortunately, it is also a 20-hour plus flight from the midwest of America. I’m not sure that we would qualify for immigration, either. However, the English language, weather, and government make it a top contender.

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