Making Southland your home
Southland is an affordable place to live compared to other areas in New Zealand, with opportunities to buy and rent property across the entire region. Like other parts of New Zealand, there is a growing demand for quality housing and as a result house prices and rental costs in Southland have increased. Despite this, Southland still offers affordable living with housing, and general expenses sitting below the national average (where are these stats from?).
The majority of houses in Southland were built before 1978 before insulation was a legal requirement. From 1 July 2019 it will be compulsory for all rental housing to have a minimum standard of insulation.
Buying property in Southland
The rules for overseas people buying or building residential property in New Zealand have changed and in general, only residents and citizens can buy homes to live in, but other investment opportunities for international purchasers are available.
The purchase process
Most home and land sales in Southland, as with the rest of New Zealand, are completed using a real estate agent, with a smaller number of sales made privately. In either case, it is wise to get independent advice from a lawyer or conveyancer experienced in home buying (‘conveyancing’) before you make an offer.
Renting in Southland
In Southland, there is high demand for good rental properties so it pays to make contact quickly. Rent is often advertised as a weekly price, rather than monthly and fixed-term residential tenancy agreements are often short to medium term.
When you first rent a property, you will likely need to pay rent in advance, and a bond, potentially bringing your total first payment to five or six weeks' rent.
- Landlords can only ask for one or two weeks' rent in advance, depending on whether you will pay rent weekly or fortnightly (every 2 weeks).
- A bond can be up to four weeks' rent. Landlords must give you a receipt for your bond money and lodge it with Tenancy Services within 23 days. Tenancy Services will hold your bond money until your tenancy ends and you will get your bond back if you leave the property in good condition.
Southland is currently experiencing an increased demand for rental houses, with wait lists for certain types of rental housing, especially warm and affordable housing in desirable areas.
You can find rental properties buying by browsing Trademe, contacting real estate agents, or by checking out local community notice boards.
Invercargill is the largest metropolitan area in Southland and a significant number of Southlanders live and work in Invercargill. However, it is quite common for people to live in more rural areas such as Riverton, Winton, and Edendale, and commute into Invercargill for work.
Other settlement areas in Southland include Gore, Te Anau, Winton, Lumsden, and Riverton which all offer schools, medical services, supermarkets, and Council offices.
Southland is lucky to have little traffic on the roads which makes it easy to travel across the region with few delays.
Utilities & services
Local government provides a number of services to the community, with the local city or district council responsible for rubbish disposal and recycling services, water, footpaths and roading, and sewage and wastewater. The Southland region has three City/District Councils, each responsible for these services in their area; Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council, and Gore District Council.
Environment Southland is responsible for the environmental management of the Southland region. This includes the use and management of the Southland’s natural resources including water use, air quality, land-use regulation, and pest management.
In Southland, our water is safe to drink from the tap. Some households receive their water through a "town supply" owned and operated by the local council, and paid for through your rates or rent.
Other households (particularly those in rural areas) have a water tank which collects rainwater. If you have a water tank, you may have to monitor your usage and pay for more water to be delivered if you run out.
In New Zealand, Electricity makes up the largest portion of the monthly household utility bills for the average household. We have a number of electricity providers who offer a range of different pricing and plans. Contact your landlord to find out who is the current electricity provider for the house. If you wish to change providers, it can usually be done within three to four days.
When you first arrive, you can find free Wi-Fi in city centres, cafes, and libraries. When you find somewhere to live longer term, you will need to set up a permanent internet connection with an internet provider. Providers include Spark, Vodafone, Trustpower and many more.
It is important to note that internet in rural parts of Southland can be slow and intermittent at times, however central government is in the process of working to provide reliable internet to rural parts of New Zealand.