Record numbers are leaving NZ, but is the grass greener overseas?

New Zealand lost more than 1,000 citizens a week in the year to March 31, amid a shrinking economy and rising unemployment. What can they expect in the countries they are moving to?

For every citizen who migrated back to New Zealand in the year ending March 2024, three more New Zealanders decided to leave the country, according to Stats NZ.

The record net migration loss of 52,000 New Zealand citizens came at the same time as the country experienced a net migration gain of 163,000 non-citizens.

As Q+A host Jack Tame wrote last week, New Zealand’s population has grown amid a recession, a 25% drop in new home approvals, an increase in average rent, inflation still at 4% and an expectation that unemployment will soon reach 5%

New Zealanders now find themselves competing with more people for relatively fewer homes and relatively fewer jobs, Tame wrote.

And as we head into a winter of economic discontent, who can blame them for leaving?

But what do the same economic measures look like in countries where New Zealanders often migrate?


Unemployment has risen slightly in Australia, while figures show average rents have risen by 8.5%

Most Kiwis who choose to leave New Zealand decide to cross the channel to Australia, with its promises of higher wages, more jobs and better living standards.

What do these promises look like?

United Kingdom

British pound coin stock image

The United Kingdom has traditionally been another popular destination for New Zealand citizens to relocate to.

Here is how their economic picture currently looks.

  • unemployment The number of unemployed in the UK rose from 3.8% in the last quarter of 2023 to 4.3% in the first quarter of this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
  • Vacancy The estimated number of job vacancies for February-April fell by 2.8%. The ONS said job vacancies fell in 13 of the 18 industry sectors it measures.
  • inflation The UK inflation rate has fallen dramatically since a sharp peak of 11.1% in October 2022. In the year to March 2024, inflation stood at 3.2%. This figure is expected to fall even further.
  • Rental prices – Average monthly rental prices have risen across the UK, according to the ONS by 9.1% in England, 9% in Wales, 10.5% in Scotland and 10.1% in Northern Ireland.
  • MNE The ONS figures show that UK GDP is estimated to have grown by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2024. This follows two consecutive quarterly declines.

United States

The Labor Department says inflation appears to be heading in the right direction in the US

How do things look in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  • unemployment Statistics from the Labor Bureau show that the unemployment rate in the United States held mostly steady at 3.9% in April. Its unemployment rate has decreased to between 3.7% and 3.9% since August last year.
  • inflation The Labor Department reported that the CPI rose 3.4% in April, up from 3.5% a month earlier. He said it was the latest indication that inflation was heading in the right direction for the US.
  • MNE – Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the first quarter of 2024, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.


Canada's unemployment rate is over 6%

The Canadian labor market has shown signs of stress. How are the other economic indicators?

  • unemployment Canada’s unemployment rate is down to 6.1%, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labor Force Survey. It says unemployment rates were higher in all key demographics compared to 12 months ago.
  • inflation The CPI increased by 2.9% on an annual basis in March. This is slightly up from the 2.8% recorded in February. This increase has been blamed on the increase in fuel prices.
  • Rental prices The average monthly rental price in Canada rose 10.5% in February, according to He said Alberta was the province with the fastest growing rents at 20% year over year.
  • MNE Canada’s real GDP grew by 0.2% in the last quarter of 2023, after a 0.1% decline in the previous quarter.

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