Someone used our Gtalk chat feature to ask me if they should move to Australia or NZ. This is never a simple question, and of course it depends on your personal context.
My experience to answer this question comes from living in NZ two years and Australia 30 years. My response is that:
New Zealand is best if you are a retiree looking for a place to live out the last remnants of your life. Some people from the UK are particularly keen on this option because they live in the UK in summer, and NZ in summer. Regardless, NZ is appealing because it has good services, idyllic lifestyle, favorable tax laws for expatriates (4yrs tax free on passive offshore income), similar climate and low currency. Houses here are cheap, most particularly if its only a summer house. If you are buying a house as a permanent residence, make sure you get one which is insulated, as many are not. I personally like the old Federation homes, and they withstand the earthquakes better.....particularly those on concrete or wooden piles as they have been stress release. Avoid houses built on sand as the sand suffers liquefaction during any earthquake, so your house sinks into it. e.g. Christchurch being a case in point. Having said that, NZ is far less vulnerable than Japan. The population of NZ is fairly static, but it grows nominally in the major cities.
Australia I thinks more sense if you are looking for a warmer climate, you are looking for work, and you want to introduce family to a more progressive society. The appeal of Australia is that the average income is 30% higher than NZ, and the job skills level is probably higher there, and you are more likely to get a job.
If you are an immigrant in Asia, you will experience less discrimination in Australia, and I think still less so in the cities. It is still rare to see Asians in professional services, and where they are, it tends to be in banking & accounting. So those glass ceilings are still there.
Be careful going to some forums for opinions because people are inclined to mislead. I was thrown out of a NZ forum for suggesting Australia was better in a number of respects. The reason of course is that those people want you to share the 'pain' of living in NZ. But that I don't mean to imply that NZ is a bad place to live, I mean to say that for salary earners its worse, and hard to justify. I frankly prefer the NZ lifestyle if you like the country town life. If you like cities then I'd probably live in Tokyo or Sydney, as I have done before. If I wanted to live on a beach, it would be in Port Macquarie, Port Stephens or Stockton (Newcastle), NSW, Australia.
The population of Australia is growing 1-2%, with most of those people going to the major cities, so the cities are probably growing in population by 4%. The government has long restricted property zoning so property prices are set to stay high....so you will be a slave to an expensive house, but in the long term it will appreciate. The country is well-endowed with minerals and energy, which makes for easy money for a nation of just 21mil, so its an idyllic place to raise a family, knowing mining royalties will underwrite the welfare state. Mind you, such benefits tend to undermine personal motivation.
NZ is wetter and greener, Australia is generally dry with endless blue skies. Australia has 42,000 white sand beaches, most of them uninhabited. NZ probably has 50 white sand beaches, and its mostly too cold to swim at the black ones. NZ has wonderful gardens, Australia for beaches. Australian facilities are better developed, i.e. parks, bush walks, etc. NZ is not so developed. Hardly any roads and aside from your standard tourist 'extreme sports' and town clubs, there is very little to do.
Having said that, there is plenty of cricket, rugby, tennis clubs, etc. I even found a philosophy group in my town, but its all foreign immigrants....no NZ'ers.
Hope that helps. Might think of more to say. Australia for the money. NZ for dying. :) Or a dislike of Australians.