For several years, New Zealand has enjoyed a position at the very top of the Legatum Institute’s prosperity index.This annual study aims to quantify the measures of a good quality of life – and distil them into a single hierarchy which aims to tell us which countries are doing well, and which aren’t doing well.

To what do the kiwis owe this success? And for what reason are so many would-be British expats moving to New Zealand from the UK? Let’s examine some of the key contributing factors.

Social capital

In order for a country to function properly, and be a pleasant place to live, its society needs to cohere.It’s in this respect that New Zealand excels – with 99% of residents reporting that they have a close family member or friend that they can rely on in times of need.If you compare this to Britain’s notoriously fractured society, it’s clear why so many seek to move down under (even if you consider the reports of Britain’s social ills to have been exaggerated.)

Why this should be the case is not entirely clear.New Zealand is something of an outlier when it comes to social capital – which traditionally correlates with GDP-per-capita.New Zealand, while economically prosperous, is not the world’s richest nation – but it does rank the best when it comes to social capital.One explanation centres on the country’s history of agriculture, and the structures of its native Maori tribes.The country, for much of its history, was a network of remote farming settlements which had to rely a great deal on one another for support.These circumstances have fostered an emphasis on the family unit, the community and the tribe.


Of course, while New Zealand punches well above its economic weight in terms of social capital, it still enjoys a huge amount of wealth – and this is largely attributable, according to the Legatum Institute, to the ‘Anglosphere’ effect – which sees New Zealand, along with Commonwealth nations like the UK, Canada and Australia, enjoy greater prosperity, personal freedom and education.

This is thanks to a liberal approach to market economics.Commonwealth countries like New Zealand put into place fewer trade barriers, deregulate, and are friendlier to those looking to come to the country and set up a new business than rival nations.It’s for this reason that New Zealand is ranked at number one when it comes to measures looking at economic prosperity in the years to come.

That said, this prosperity isn’t universally-shared.There still exists an issue of child poverty in New Zealand – and it’s largely to be found in the native Maori tribespeople.It remains to be seen whether this problem will be eradicated in the future – but New Zealand remains in a great place to do so.

While the GDP per capita in New Zealand might be lower than in the United Kingdom, this wealth is a great deal more evenly shared – and so you might not need to take a pay cut in order to make the switch.But even if you do need to make a sacrifice, it’ll likely be worth it – as your money will be far likelier to buy you happiness.


One of the key driving forces behind this success is the level of freedom Kiwis are afforded.These freedoms extend to newcoming migrants – for whom New Zealand is the most tolerant nation in the entire world.This freedom, too, is available to those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder – since educational attainment is nowhere near as closely linked with class as it is in Europe.

Naturally, this freedom is not worth a great deal if it’s in the context of a society that’s weak and uncaring.So it’s worth noting that New Zealanders score very highly on measures of altruism like charitable giving, volunteering, and helping a stranger.Again, while the reasons behind this might be complex, we can at least partially attribute it to the rural nature of kiwi society – where you’d need to be able to rely on the kindness of strangers, and expect the same in return.This culture persists in modern New Zealand – and is a large part of why it’s such a great place to live.


If you’re looking to make the switch to New Zealand, or nearby Australia, then you’ll need to make it past the respective points-based immigrations systems of the two countries.If you’ve got skills that can contribute to society down under, and you speak the language, then you’ll find that New Zealand and Australian skilled visas are easier to come by than you might imagine.