Looking out towards the rock at Pah Beach on Aotea, Great Barrier Island.

Can I move to Great Barrier Island?

I’m ready to throw it all in and move to Aotea, Great Barrier Island.

Wow, okay, well that’s a big move. Great Barrier Island is a beautiful and unique location, but moving here can require some planning and consideration. Here are some questions to ask before making the move:

  1. Cost of living: Aotea is a remote location, which can mean the cost of living is higher than in urban areas. Consider the cost of housing (we don’t have a ton of rentals and building can cost twice the price of town). Food, and transport on and off the island, can add a fortune to your yearly budget.
  2. Job prospects: Aotea is a small community and job opportunities are limited. Consider whether you have a job lined up or whether you’re flexible on what you do. Can you work remotely or start your own business? Barrier ChitChat is a great place to see if you’re in demand, and what jobs are going. But some of us have a couple jobs to make ends meet.
  3. Healthcare: Great Barrier has a small medical clinic and a number of support providers, but specialized care may require travel to the mainland (again, not cheap). Consider your healthcare needs and whether you’re comfortable with the available options.
  4. Immigration: As a part of New Zealand, the island is governed by New Zealand law. This means the pathway to becoming a resident here for international citizens involves navigating through Immigration New Zealand.
  5. Weather: Aotea has a temperate climate, but we also experience extreme weather conditions, ranging from heavy rain to unbelievably high winds. For some, winter can seem downright miserable on the motu. Remember, there’s no electric grid, so you better like chopping wood, or be willing to pay through the nose for LPG.
  6. Transportation: Great Barrier Island is only accessible by ferry (4 hours) or light aircraft (25 minutes), which can make travel to and from the island challenging, not to mention hugely expensive (between $75-250 p/person each way).
  7. Social butterfly? You’ll have more luck with real butterflies. With a population of only around 1,000 people, Aotea has a vibrant, kind and open-minded community, but it may not offer the same social opportunities as larger cities. Many come to Aotea to hide, but the truth is, humans are social creatures and we need connection. Those who hide away often suffer deteriorating mental health, the opposite of why they moved here. The good news is there’s tons to do here. From sports and yoga, to the markets, bush walks, surfing, church, karaoke, movie nights and more.
  8. Education: It’s one of the toughest decisions made by Aotea Whānau, what to do when kids hit high school. Aotea doesn’t have formal secondary schooling, and while there’s little question it’s one of the most idyllic places to raise children, many kids ultimately end up being sent off island to boarding school for secondary education. Ask yourself, if you’re okay with sending your young ones to the mainland for schooling? Then ask yourself again, and again.

Okay, so you’re still keen to head over? Epic! Aotea is a unique place that offers breathtaking natural beauty, amongst the best marine life in the gulf, incredibly diverse outdoor activities, a rich history and culture, and a close-knit community that values sustainability, conservation, and self-sufficiency. Welcome!

You can find jobs here on Barrier ChitChat.

Property to buy here, and rentals are again best found on Barrier ChitChat.


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