Is New Zealand REALLY A Good Place To Live?
It’s been a while since we looked in on the ‘New Zealand’ thread on Amazon.com.
This must be one of the longest and most controversial threads about New Zealand on the internet, with almost 200 responses. It’s well worth taking a look at if you have the time, a lot of time. Here’s some snippets from the thread that demonstrate some of the problems with living in the land of the long white cloud.
The scenery may be wonderful in places but life in New Zealand can be complex, challenging (Kiwis are given preference for most jobs, cultural conflicts and xenophobia) and not always rewarding. Even Kiwis describe it as being incredibly dull and boring with no sense of culture or history.
NB Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this page and read our readers’ comments too.
(this thread was started well before the Christchurch earthquakes)
“With rising fuel prices, food prices, the ever-so-tempting ‘Big Brother Country’ Australia looming over us (which for the record pays a lot better), and with terrible crime, gang and drug problems that resemble places like, oh I don’t know, South L.A., is New Zealand really a great place to live? I’ll tell you what I think. Living in NZ myself and growing up here, I can quite easily say it’s an awesome place: Great scenery, lovely warm summers, great sporting pride (Go the All Blacks! (National rugby team – look it up on Wikipedia)), and nothing too dangerous here at all whether it be animals, or natural disastors or even ‘smaller’ problems like racism. NZ is a great place – no doubt about it, we’re a really relaxed bunch of people living in what we all refer to as paradise. Puting to one side my thoughts on NZ, take into consideration people living in South Auckland (New Zealand’s major city). They are prodominantly Maori (Native New Zealand) or Polynesian (People from the Pacific Islands). South Auckland is notorious for youth gangs, P labs, crimes and particularly murders, which for a country of only 4 Million is at a rediculously high rate. Here’s why I believe it happens.
The Maori’s Aotearoa (New Zealand) was a couple of hundred years ago, flooded with European people (not all at once obviously), and ever since then they have had trouble over land and race. The Islanders as we call them, often come to NZ to bring up their family in a more western environment and or because most of their relatives all ready live here! A lot of the time they don’t know english, so can’t get a good job or education, they tend to have many children who then go and steal or get lost on the streets of South Auckland (Because it is a cheap place for them to live) and then get involved in gangs and the like, feeling they are more ‘accepted’ under their arms. This is a similar case for the Maori.
However, it is not only the Maori and Pacific Islanders that get invloved with this (I say this for fear of being called a racist). Allthough there are a lot more European New Zealanders living here, many still get into similar situations.
It seems every night on the 6 ‘O Clock news, the main headlines are of another murder or two, rising food and oil prices (which may I add, will not help the already struggling Maori and Polynesian communities), and generally all things possible going down hill. I know rising food and fuel prices are a problem globally, but because New Zealand is so small, yet with SOOOO much ingenuity and potential, it is costing too much to ship overseas and make here – Why do so when it can be made HEAPS cheaper in China. It’s so frustrating for us.
NZ is also a very proud sporting nation, with our national rugby team – the All Blacks being ranked Number 1 in the world. However, recently the Rugby World Cup was held in France. We lost. In the Quater finals. To France. In front of a crowd on 90, 000. It was sooo devastating. It was the headline on the news – and the only thing on the news that night, and I think the team’s fans lost a lot of faith in the All Blacks. Our fantastic players are being signed off to high-paying clubs in France and Japan. I think New Zealand sport is going downhill from here on in. We definately have the talent – we’re probably the best sporting country according to per capita in the world. Our stars are going over seas (as well as normal citizens) and we just don’t have the money for the facilities.
To give you an example, New Zealand’s most sought after meet and other foods, are much cheaper to buy in say London then half the world away back here in NZ.
I’m writing this not only to discuss this ‘issue’ but to warn travellers (after all this is under the travel section), that although New Zealand has stunning scenery as portayed in the Lord of The Rings trilogy and in the Narnia films, and is far, far, far less crowded than almost anywhere, we are, as a nation, moving towards some dark times ahead and are now up there if you look closley enough with crimes of New York, South L.A., Detroit and London to name a few. Just take this into consideration when you next visit NZ.
It used to be considered a crime to leave for Ausrtalia of all places, and I’m a proud New Zealander, but I don’t blame the 500, 000 NZ’s now living in Australia…..I really don’t.
It has been a while since I have posted to this thread but I must admit I do enjoy the bashing in both directions. The one area that New Zealand absolutely excels at is marketing the image of a “hidden island paridise.” Once you start investigating the country you will be blown away by the marketing material that you will receive. And while no place is paradise, the fine folks in the NZ tourism and immigration departments would should like pull the wool over your eyes. Thanks to Mr Smith, this discussion is one of the few places where you get a taste of the other side.
The one area that has not been discussed but should be is Medicine in NZ. My daughter was born in Whangarei, so we experienced both the best and worst of NZ medicine. Only one of the doctors we dealt with at the hospital was Kiwi. As far as I know there are only 2 medical schools in NZ for a population of 4M….. The foreign born doctors were very vocal in their criticism of the current system and felt that they were misled when being recruited. The biggest problem we ran into was the constant conflict between the foreign born doctors and the Kiwi administration. We witnessed a couple of heated discussions and one shouting match when in came to my wife’s treatment. Often, the foreign born doctors are very limited in their experience and want to do things the way they were taught ‘back home’, while the administrators try to implement a New Zealand standard. This conflict leads to lots of talking but not much action.
My wife had complications after she gave birth and when an emergency arose it was very frighting until the senior doctor showed up in the middle of the night and took charge. The senior doctor, who was Kiwi, was great but told us she tried to retire a few years ago but just couldn’t leave because of situations like this. I shudder to think what would have happened If she wouldn’t have come in to perform emergency surgery that night. I would venture to say that the lack of medical professionals is the biggest crisis that NZ will face over the next decade. The current plan is to continue to rely heavily on foreign born medical professionals. To make matters worse, 30% of New Zealand’s doctors leave the country within three years of graduating from medical school. While this hopefully will not impact your 2 week vacation, anyone who is seriously thinking of moving to NZ for the long haul should do there research on this important topic.
I did get a good chuckle about the comments that kiwi’s are friendly. Have to disagree with that one. If you have an American accent you will get lots of dirty looks and snippy comments, unless you have your wallet out, tourism is the #1 industry in NZ and they love that tourist dollar. As soon as I would mention I was born in New Zealand the attitude of the locals would do a quick 180 and then the ‘friendly’ side would come out. Then the US bashing would begin. They get a heavy dose of anti-America on the News and Newspapers and the FOX news channel plays there 24/7 so you can understand why the US is not their favorite country. Funny, the same guy who owns FOX also owns a big chunk of the NZ media and his recipe of scare um and sell um is applied in NZ just as it is in the US.
We seriously considered living in NZ and did a lot of research about the country. As far as living there, we did not consider crime a problem, the problem is the economy. Kiwis are heading for the same economic crisis that the rest of the world is finding itself in. The interest rate is very high and so are housing prices, cost of goods and services, and fuel. They are quite isolated and almost all of there goods have to be imported. The rising cost of fuel will really hurt the NZ economy. One alarming item that was happening while we were there is NZ signed a free trade agreement with China. First country in the world to do so and soon the Chinese goods will overwhelm all of the local manufactures. There is a significant ‘brain drain’ of Kiwis moving to Australia and a serious shortage of Doctors and Nurses. Finally, the NZ dollar is inconsistent and subject to large swings in value.
The houses were okay, new construction was average in quality and lot sizes are typically small but that is no different than anywhere else we have traveled. Transportation was terrible. The roads are narrow and drivers lack common sense and do not match there driving style with the conditions of the road. They are not aggressive drivers (I used to commute in the bay area) they are just careless drivers. Everyone drives and the traffic in Auckland is awful and was even a problem in the small town where we lived.
If you are a US citizen you will have a tough time gaining residency unless you have a particular skill that the government deems desirable. They are looking for Doctors, Engineers, and people will skills in the dairy industry. You must also be in good heath to gain residency. If you have medical issues that need constant medical attention you do not want to live in NZ. We found the health care system to be overburdened and doctors seemed quite preoccupied with how little they were earning in NZ.
Finally the weather. I grew up in Arizona and California and enjoy sunny, warm days and mild winters. We found NZ cold and wet. We were living in the winter-less Northland which means it does not snow, but that doesn’t mean the weather is nice. Think Washington state without the snow. The summer was short and still had lots of rain, think Washington State without the sunshine.
Well, that is my 2 cents. I have a feeling my opinions will not be all that popular with the Kiwis, and I am sure they can point out all the great things about the country. The original question was ‘Is New Zealand really a good place to live’ and I would answer that it is no better than anywhere else we have been, and the condition of the economy was enough of a concern that we decided not to live there.
I am an American and had the opportunity to first visit New Zealand in 2001. I traveled with a friend as the flight was cheap after 911 and the Fx rate was ridiculous at .40 USD/NZD. I found it funny that an Aussie said early on that he was surprised that any Americans knew where NZ was. That is the truth! When I came back and told people about my travels, many thought NZ was in Canada. Good thing LOTR came out and educated a few Americans on geography.
I was fortunate to be placed on the short list of needed professions in NZ in Dec 2004 (I am a CPA), and got a job with Fonterra in Auckland. I lived and worked in NZ for about 6 months before I finally got so annoyed at my job responsibility being constantly redefined (among other things) that I decided to move back to the USA.
I have to say that to move to NZ from the USA will require a great deal of adjustment for the average American. Kiwis are xenophobic and do not make friends with foreigners easily. They love American tourists who come to spend money, but are apprehensive to any foreigner who does not want to leave (I remember NZ was in a fuss about Shania Twain buying a house on some nice beach property while I was there). They also seem to be quite racist toward Asians and I guess they have their reasons, but the remarks I heard from coworkers about them would of gotten these people fired in the USA.
The taxes are ridiculously high. This is on top of the higher costs for just about everything. The infrastructure can also be a little behind the rest of the world. The housing you get in Auckland is equivalent to prices in Orange County, CA and definitely not worth it.
I would say go down for an extended stay before making the decision. Figure out what you are going to do for income and what to do for fun and whether you can afford it and whether it is enough to keep you entertained.
I was disappointed as NZ is quite slow and the local women were not very attractive. I guess the attractive ones had already left or married foreigners. The best looking girls I saw were Asians or a mix (I guess Asian-Kiwi). This surprised me as Kiwis seem to detest Asians (I guess not in bed though).
- Migrant Tales – British Cop in Northland: NZ’s “Crime Statistics a Work of Fiction” (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – NZ Not The Land Of Promise For Me (e2nz.org)
- Ungrateful New Zealand Complains About Poor, Low Quality Tourists (e2nz.org)
- E2NZ Quoted on the SA Going to NZ Forum (e2nz.org)