The Southland region offers an attractive lifestyle with affordable housing. Southland house prices as a percentage of take home pay are the some of the lowest in New Zealand.
Your new home
Setting up your new home is one of the most important tasks once you arrive in Southland. New Zealand and Southland have a variety of housing options. Most houses are stand-alone (detached) single-level units, although two-story homes are also common. The majority include a garden or an outdoor living space.
When finding a place to live you have two options: renting or purchasing.
Purchasing a house can seem a daunting prospect on arrival in a new country. Many people choose to rent for a while before buying a house. This gives you a chance to familiarise yourself with a location, town or city before committing to a house purchase.
Renting a house
Most rental houses are unfurnished although they do have curtains, floor coverings and a stove. The landlord is not obliged to provide heating. Tenants are responsible for the general upkeep of the property, including weeding the gardens, mowing the lawns and normal day-to-day maintenance.
For rental property listings look in the local newspaper, The Southland Times, under the 'To Let' column. Websites for listings of rental properties include Trade Me and Real Estate. Some real estate agents also handle rental properties.
Once you have found a house to rent, the landlord will provide you with a Tenancy Agreement that both parties sign. This will outline the conditions of your lease and you and your landlord keep a copy each. It is important that before signing the lease you understand the document fully.
You will also be required to pay a bond for the rental property - usually the equivalent of two to four weeks rent. The bond is refunded when you leave the rental property, so long as all your rent payments have been met and there is no damage to the property.
For more information on renting, tenancy agreements, bonds, bills, maintenance and inspections please visit New Zealand's Tenancy Services website.
Buying a property
Most houses in Southland are bought and sold through a real estate agent. Real estate agents advertise properties for sale in the newspaper, in free property magazines or on the internet. Trade Me is an increasingly popular website for properties.
Most properties up for sale will have 'open homes' - a designated time for potential house buyers to view the house and ask the real estate agent any questions.
While most New Zealand homes are insulated, few feature central heating or double glazed windows. Winters in Southland can be very cold and preparing for the seasonal change is important. The main sources of energy in Southland are electricity, gas, diesel fuel oil and solid fuels such as coal and wood.
Most New Zealand homes use electricity as the main source of energy. For a comprehensive list of electricity suppliers, visit the Power Switch website.
In the South Island liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for domestic use is supplied in cylinders. Small cylinders (approximately 9kg) can be refilled at most vehicle service stations or at depots in the main centres. For large cylinders (45kg and over), generally used for heating and cooking, contact an LPG gas supplier. Many electricity providers can also supply LPG (45kg) cylinders.
Households that use diesel fuel for central heating have a small fuel tank to which fuel is delivered by a contracted supplier.
Wood and coal can be delivered to your home or you can collect it from one of the many suppliers listed in the Southland phone book.
Internet and telephone services
Whether you need a mobile phone plan, internet or landline, there are many options available for Southlanders.
Most Southland homes will have a wall plug for your phone connection and 96% of Southland households have the ability to access the Internet. Mobile coverage is available is all urban areas however some rural and wilderness areas do not have mobile coverage.
All libraries in Southland have a free WiFi service. Free WiFi is also available at the Invercargill i-Site, Gore CBD, Gore Multisports Complex and at certain local cafes throughout the region.
In order to watch television and gain access over 35 channels, Southlanders now need a Freeview set-top box, a television with Freeview built-in or a subscription to a digital pay-television service such as Sky TV.
Southland District Council, Gore District Council and Invercargill City Council offices are the contact points for information on local business development, building permits, community safety including hygiene, noise and dog control, libraries, town planning, liquor permits, rubbish disposal, recycling, roading and footpaths, sewage and waste water, public swimming pools, parks and recreation centres, water supply and visitor information.
Environment Southland is also a key organisation for any enquiries about the use and management of Southland's resources and natural environment - air, land, coasts and forests.