A guide to moving to Wellington: How to find a job & somewhere to live

The countdown has officially begun.

We only have a matter of days left in Wellington before we fly to the South Island to tick off a few things we missed when we travelled the country in our campervan! As the date draws nearer, I’m becoming increasingly aware of what an exciting, quirky little city we have been lucky enough to call home for the past 10 months. And of course, it’s only now, when our leaving date is impending, that I’ve realised I haven’t shared any advice on my blog about how to move to Wellington, how to find a job and somewhere to live etc!

I wrote a similar post to this one way back when we first moved to Auckland in 2015. If you’re moving straight to Welly from overseas, (great choice by the way; you’ll love it!) I recommend you check out that post anyway, as I’ve mentioned a lot of other tips and tricks to make things tick along nicely. It’s a bit overwhelming when you find yourself in a new place with nowhere to live and no income – but it’s also very exciting as you have so much freedom. The world is your oyster, but it’s good to be a tad prepared before you enter into the unknown.

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How to find a job in Wellington

Finding a job in Wellington is much the same as anywhere else in New Zealand; you need to search, search and keep searching until you find something. Welly is a great place to find a job as there are lots of options. Office work is abundant, with many companies being located in the capital, and the governmental bodies tend to pay a little higher than your average administration role too. Sales jobs are aplenty, with many shops and boutiques across the city. Construction work and manual labour is also common to find here in Welly, and of course, you cannot forget the endless opportunities in the many bars, cafes and restaurants across the city.

Obviously I can’t tell you what job to go for as I have no idea what kind of experience you have – so that part is up to you to decide. Depending on what kind of job you are looking for, you may need to take a different approach (listed below). First things first – read this post on how to ace your New Zealand CV. Then, get on the job hunt!

Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies are my best friend and I cannot praise them enough. They cost absolutely NOTHING to use; they earn money by invoicing the company who hires you – basically, the company pays the recruitment agency to find them employees; the employee doesn’t pay to find employment!

There are many recruitment agencies based in Wellington and many are specialised for certain types of work. I recommend spending a bit of time on their websites to find out what sort of work they can offer and if it’s what you’re looking for. The recruitment agencies James and I have worked with are:

And others worth contacting, but which we haven’t personally found employment through, are RandstadVelocityForteAlphaBeyond and Chandler MacLeod.

Websites

Trademe.co.nz/jobs and seek.co.nz are the two number one websites when you’re job hunting. On both sites, once you have created a profile and uploaded your CV, you can browse job listings and set up alerts.  Seek have an app which is really handy and easy to use – you can apply for jobs anytime. Many recruitment agencies list their vacancies on these websites, as well as listing a generic advertisement about the types of vacancies they specialise in – both are worth a look.

Another great website is backpackerboard.co.nz. We haven’t personally used it, but many travellers really recommend it for all sorts of work, from fruit-picking jobs to tour guides to au pairing and hospitality work, there are a lot of options here. You can search by location and also list an advert to advise you’re looking for work.

A final website to mention is more popular with locals than travellers: neighbourly.co.nz. I only found out about this site recently but it’s a great place for locals and travellers to list things to buys and sell, work wanted, lost cats etc… it’s like an online noticeboard. Often there are odd-jobs advertised, as well as au-pairing, tutoring, cleaning etc. It’s a great place if you’re looking for some easy cash-in-hand work on top of another job.


Applying directly within

This is an option that’s best for hospitality and sales jobs, as you need to be a people-person to work in these roles. Make sure you’re well-presented, take a copy of your CV along with you, and go for it. James and I tried this approach with recruitment agencies when we were in Auckland; instead of registering online beforehand we went directly to the branch with our CVs and explained our situation to a slightly overwhelmed receptionist.

Our experience

We’ve had mixed luck with finding jobs here in Welly, and by “mixed,” I mean that I had really great luck and James was a bit worse off. We both have a background in administrative / office roles.

After about 10 days of job-hunting, I was offered a job at Wellington City Council by Madison Recruitment from February to December, on a salary much higher than I was expecting and in an exciting role with many responsibilities; I am a personal assistant and team administrator in the Human Resources department. I was even granted two weeks off work to fly home to go to my friend’s wedding and visit my sister in Spain. This placement finishes next week – and I am very sad to be leaving!

James found a temporary role in ANZ contact centre through Madison, which ran up until we went home for the wedding. When we got back to Welly, his experience was a little less stable, however he has only had around 2 weeks of solid unemployment. He was employed through Madison at Xero for a few weeks, then by GBL Recruitment at the Ministry of Education for a month or so, and finally he found a 3 month role at Westpac Life Insurance through Madison which finishes next Friday. His roles have been in data entry, processing claims/applications, paying invoices, and managing email mailboxes and phone calls.

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The view on my walk to work

How to find somewhere to live in Wellington

Although you’re visiting for a short period of time, finding somewhere to live is still very much an option. Lots of people think that if you are only going to be around for 3-4 months, you’ll be confined to a hostel. NOT TRUE.

Hostels

Many people juggle living in a dorm bedroom with having a 9-5 office job or with working in hospitality. If you are a friendly, outgoing person looking to meet new people, then a hostel could easily be your home for a few months. With people coming and going, you’ll never be bored, and hostels often organise events to get everyone together.

Many hostels offer discounts for long-term stays, or often a weekly rate instead of paying per night. Of course, no bills or additional costs are payable on top of your weekly “rent”, however internet is sometimes not included. As I haven’t researched this myself, I can only advise of hostels I know about where friends of friends have lived long-term, and those are the Trek Global Backpackers and Nomads Capital Backpackers. Other popular hostels in Welly are the YHA Hostel and the Dwellington (Great name, ey!) My advice to anyone looking to commit to this option would probably be to stay in the hostel for a few days to see if you like it, and its atmosphere, enquire about long term stays.

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Wellington by day – the view from Mount Victoria
AirBnB

I’m in two minds about AirBnB because on the one hand, it’s a great, affordable option for travellers, but on the other, it does capitalise on hostel and hotel businesses’ profit. I think I would prefer to use AirBnB for a longer stay than just for one or two nights.

With AirBnB, you can choose how long you would like to stay for when you go to book, and many places offer weekly or even monthly discounts. AirBnB also opens up opportunities for longer stays, as it connects you with a local, who may be able to offer sound advice on where to live – for example, they may know someone with a spare room. Or, like what happened to our friends Hollie & Luke, the host may have a spare room that they are willing to rent to you themselves!

If you’d like $45NZD off your first stay with AirBnB, click here.

Flatting / Renting a room

This option is so easy and so affordable! Moving into an existing flat with other people is a great way to meet others and live in your own space, comfortably, for a longer period of time. Wellington has many students because it’s home to two universities, which means there is lots of affordable accommodation with young people and post-graduates. The best place to search for a room in Wellington is on Trade Me and Facebook Groups.

On Trade Me, there is a ‘Flatmates Wanted’ category, and you can refine your search by location, cost of rent per week, whether or not pets/smokers are allowed etc. You can contact the sellers to ask questions and arrange a viewing.

The Facebook groups where people advertise rooms for rent are listed below. Personally James and I did not have any trouble finding a room suitable for a couple, however I believe these may be harder to come by.

Renting a room in a flat will normally mean that the weekly rent cost excludes bills, though cold water is normally included. Sometimes you may be required to pay a bond, which is similar to a deposit; these vary depending on the accommodation.

I 100% recommend this option!

Wellington Cable Car
Wellington Cable Car
Renting a place (independently)

Again, this isn’t something I have looked into very much as I knew it wouldn’t be the right option for James and I. Whilst I haven’t actively searched for a property this way, I am aware that most rental agencies list their properties on Trade Me. However, the lease normally lasts for a full year, and if it is “broken” (i.e. you move out before the end of the lease) an additional fee is incurred. As we learnt when we moved into a self-contained flat in Auckland, rental agencies tend to add on lots of additional move-in costs, such as admin fees, letting fees, and connection fees, as well as requiring the normal bond and rent up front. This isn’t an option I would recommend for a short-term stay.

Housesitting

Housesitting is becoming more and more popular for travellers and locals alike to find somewhere to stay for free! I only really found out about housesitting a few months ago, when a Kiwi flatmate here in New Zealand left our flat to housesit a property in Wellington for two months. The amazing thing about housesitting is that you get an entire house to yourself, sometimes with a pet included, and just have to make sure it stays clean and tidy – it’s usually absolutely free!

However, housesitting is probably not a completely reliable option, as they are normally only for a month or two maximum, and the dates are normally always set in stone because they are when the owners are away. That said, it would probably save quite a bit of money!

Housesits can be found on Facebook groups listed above, but obviously go very quickly! There are also a number of websites I haven’t used myself but am keen to try, as they have been recommended by other bloggers: TrustedHousitters.com, Nomador.com, and KiwiHousitters.co.nz is aimed at NZ properties! Worth a look, surely!


Help-X, WOOFF or Workaway

The big three for working in exchange for accommodation. Normally, hosts require around 4 hours of work per day and will offer a bed and food in exchange for this. Possibly, this is something to consider if you are looking to stay somewhere while you look for a job; we even know someone who had a full-time job alongside working through HelpX! It is also a good place to look if you have part-time work. James and I have used Help-X but not in Wellington.

Our experience

James and I booked an AirBnB for our first week in Wellington while we got settled. We posted in the Flatmates Wanted Wellington Facebook Group the day we arrived in the city to advise we were looking for a double room, and about an hour later we received a message from a girl named Emily inviting us to view a house. We went to view the house, loved it – and moved in a week later!

The view from our bedroom window
The view from our bedroom window

So how can I actually apply for jobs and search for somewhere to live?

The key to mastering Life Admin is by having two things: unlimited wifi, and a printer. You’ll need wifi to be able to search online for both jobs and flats, and a printer to print out any necessary application forms and your CV. Unfortunately, neither wifi nor printing is free in New Zealand, however there are a couple of handy tips to using both of them efficiently.

Personally, I found staying in an AirBnB really helpful when we first arrived in Wellington, as we were able to use the free, unlimited wifi at any time to be able to browse employment listings, apply for jobs, and search for a room to rent. The AirBnB we stayed at ended up costing the same amount for a week as we would have paid in a hostel – most of which incur extra fees for wifi usage or there’s a limit on the amount of MB you can use per day. It was really helpful being able to spend the day in the city to go to interviews and meet with recruitment agencies, and spend the evenings browsing job and flat listings online. However, the Central Library on Victoria Street or any of the internet cafes on Manners Street also have internet access including the ability to use the desktop computer, however you have to pay for this and your time is limited.

Printing is unfortunately quite pricey, and for that reason my advice is to bring a number of copies of your up-to-date CV with you if you are moving straight to Wellington from your home country. The Central Library or the internet cafes as well as many hostels where you are a paying guest will offer printing and photocopying services and it normally costs 20 cents per A4 page.

Note: For the nitty-gritty on how to open a bank account, get a tax (IRD) number, and get a New Zealand mobile number, see this post and this post.


Is it possible to save money in Wellington?

If you’re coming to Wellington on a Working Holiday Visa, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to save money in the capital, so you can afford to travel the country too! In short, the answer is yes, it is possible to save money in Wellington. Whilst New Zealand is an expensive country (there’s no avoiding that), if you budget well, you can save a reasonable amount of money in a short time. You just have to prioritise and not give into the temptation of Wellington’s abundance of bars, restaurants and boutiques! On a positive note, Wellington is not as expensive as Auckland. Rent prices are generally cheaper, as is public transport, and because Wellington is smaller than Auckland you can easily get around the city centre and closest suburbs on foot.

James and I have managed to save a considerable amount while we’ve been living in Wellington, and that includes the odd meal out, night out, and larger expenses such as sight tests and dentists appointments. Much of what we’ve done in Wellington is the same as our experience in Auckland, however our rent is lower in Wellington and our wages are higher. Like in Auckland, we walk to work, so rarely spend money on public transport, and we buy our fruit and veg at the farmers markets instead of at the supermarket. To avoid running the risk of repeating myself, I’ll leave a link here to how we saved money when we lived in Auckland to give you an insight into our thrifty habits.

The view from Mount Victoria at dusk
The view from Mount Victoria at dusk

Have you lived in Wellington? Will these tips put your mind at ease?

I wish you all the very best of luck on your move to Wellington – you’ll fall in love with the city, I’m sure of it!

Thanks for reading and happy travels,

abbi-signature-spinthewindrose

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for these truly informative posts (and terrific photos). Wellington sounds wonderful indeed. I’m looking at trying to do some temping in Wellington on the Working Holiday Visa as well. I noticed you were an assistante de langue in France (which is, amusingly, what I’m currently doing, though in Normandie). Had you done a lot of admin work before applying in Wellington/Auckland? I worked for about 2 yrs before the assistante program coordinating and teaching education events for environmental programs so some reception stuff and a fair amount of writing but not sure if that’s broadly what they’re looking for or specific things! Merci, Noe

    1. Hi Noe! Thanks for your comment and apologies I’m only just replying! Hope you are enjoying your year abroad and that teaching is going well! Before New Zealand I had worked in a call centre, as a language assistant, and in retail as a sales assistant – so not much! If you are fairly confident on a computer and are generally quite organised etc, you’ll find a job easy peasy. You can ask recruitment agencies to find you a certain role or you can ask what they think you would be suitable for. With my job at the Council, I had no PA experience but my advisor at Madison recruitment was confident I would be good for the role – and I got it! There are various admin jobs across the city, some will be the more mundane tasks like data entry, others more customer focused like reception work, and some with more responsibility. Best thing would be to speak with the recruitment agencies before/ when you arrive and see what sort of jobs are available and what they think you’d be good at! 🙂 Hope the rest of your time in France goes well and good luck on your move to Welly!

  2. Hi! Thanks much for your response! It is so helpful to know and puts my mind at ease a bit (sorry for the late response myself, had phone issues that led to new vocabulary in various French tech stores, haha).

    Nice write up about Warsaw too. I went at the vacances de Touissant so it’s interesting to read about it especially from the winter perspective. If you’re in the area again or in Kraków, I’d suggest going to Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO heritage site and primeval forest on the border of Poland and Belarus. The actual protected forest requires a guide (totally worth it) but there are also paths near the town. Quite an interesting place and fun to see the Polish countryside as well.

    At any rate, thanks much for all the advice. Best of luck on your next adventures!

  3. Hey Abbigail, thank you for writing up this post. It’s so informative and would’ve taken me hours to compile this info if I were searching! I was wondering, because you lived in both, did you enjoy Auckland or Wellington more? I am contemplating living in one of these cities for a while, but am unsure about which. I work as a writer, am pretty creative, social and love the outdoors, and can’t decide which city would suit me more! Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey Serena glad you enjoyed the post! I definitely liked Wellington more. There’s so much more to see and do and it has such a cool vibe. Lots of cute cafes and bars. It’s also very easy to get out & hike, whereas in Auckland you really need your own transport. In Welly the nature is all around you in the suburbs etc, it’s very green. Auckland is a bit more built up with more skyscrapers etc, to me it felt a lot more corporate (even on the weekends). They are both great cities but I fell head over heels for Wellington!

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