“What’s the biggest elephant in the room about living in NZ as a foreigner?” – E2NZ Redux

Reddit NZ

That was the question asked by IDeclareShenanigans2 recently on the New Zealand sub-reddit.

Here are some of the replies – sorted by best (most points) – from a community on par with the Trademe forums.

elmuzzerino 20 points 6 hours ago

It’s fucking cold in winter indoors. I try to bite my tongue but usually I get ‘prompted’  to say something whenever a Kiwi mate says “hey, this cold must remind you of home eh?” to which I reply ” nah, we don’t live in overpriced uninsulated sheds“.

Then I get the stink eye from them, I feel bad and need to GTFO before I get the bash.

travelinghobbit 3 points 3 hours ago

It’s so true it hurts. First place I lived at was a shady (in both no sun and it’s a student flat), cold, uninsulated place. I quickly resorted to wearing two layers, woolen socks, and sitting in a sleeping bag in bed while on the computer.

travelinghobbit 2 points 1 hour ago

No kidding! My husband (Native Kiwi) has finally after 5 years stopped teasing me about being cold all the time.

I find the cold house helps to compound the damp and mold problems you can have in a lot of older houses. :/ No wonder lots of people are sick. I mean, just look at some of the posts in this sub regarding it. It’s disgusting.

TexasTraveler 15 points 15 hours ago

Things taste different from what you’re used to. For example, the ketchup (tomato sauce) is way too sweet for me (American). The chocolate is better though. Also, I was constantly asked if I was really American. But that’s mainly cause they tend to think white = American. The amount of English influence is very heavy since they still have strong ties to the crown and it can take some getting used to. Mexican food is hard to find but I loved the meat pies and wish I could them here. And I fucking loved l&p, ginger beer, Tim tams, and sweet chili sauce. There are more things but they are overall welcoming ppl. Just go with an open mind and be willing to try new things.

whetu 7 points 6 hours ago

The cost of living.

I work with a wide range of people from different nationalities and it’s their biggest gripe.  They just can’t wrap their heads around the economics of “tiny population at the remote ass-end of distant shipping lines”

Decabowl 18 points 8 hours ago

You guys are drunks. I’m sorry, but you’re worse than the Irish. And you’re hip deep in denial about it.

RainbowPopsicle 6 points 7 hours ago

Denial?  Binge drinking is pretty normal here.

Muter 4 points 4 hours ago

I don’t think we are in denial, but we wear it like a badge of honor.

I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it’s how it is.  We are well aware of our binge drinking culture.

moggetthewhite 7 points 11 hours ago

Aside from food tasting different (sometimes better, sometimes worse), I would add that wardrobe can be a huge differentiator.

As an American (girl) in Wellington for a time, my clothes made me standout and, at times, made me feel like an outsider. I have since described Wellington’s look as “homeless chic” and stand by it. I found girls’ clothes were a standard of neutral colors, torn, ripped, tattered and guys’ appeared as if they grabbed whatever was within easy reach on the floor..mismatched bright colors, wrinkled, and often larger than necessary.

Jeans and a hoodie is not recommended if you plan on leaving your flat ever.

flashmedallion 1 point 1 hour ago

im especially thankful for all the Asian immigrants. They have changed the food landscape and I love it!

I wish I heard this more often.  Instead I hear “they come here and don’t even contribute”… I’m in love with the fact that everywhere I turn there is a new Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, whatever, restaurant.  It’s fucking awesome.  Not to mention lots more little shops and markets where you can get all the fun new ingredients and spices and stuff.  It’s awesome.

MonkeyState 1 point 13 minutes ago

Exactly.  I mean just go to the night market and feel the vibe, I honestly think it was non existent before!

Plus, I see Asian immigrants working their asses off and as such its unfair to simply write them off as people who took billy bob’s job. I mean comon!

smashmouthfootball 2 points 32 minutes ago

There is quite a bit of underlying racism in New Zealand. I don’t think Kiwi’s like foreigners moving in if they want to just form foreign communities. They expect if you come to NZ you should come here to become a Kiwi

thetobester 2 points 9 hours ago

If you’re used to enjoying a nice cheap bottle of French wine you’re out of luck.

Fancy Cheese is a bit shit and overpriced. (this and the above may be due to the pasturisation thing)

If you want a half decent economy on buying regular cheese, you have to buy a whole fucking KG of it.

If you’re into any foreign music that’s not the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, or some derivative of Blink 182 then you’d probably best quietly go and enjoy it alone.

Indian Food has (for the most part) been reduced to chunks of meat in a thin medium of butter and tumeric or red food colour. It smells quite nice but it’s very bland.

Chorizo. That’s not chorizo.

Ditto ‘Parmesan’

Going out to bars mostly consists of going from one place to the next and getting munted on Jagerbombs / Sake-Bombs / SnakebiteNekminutNoHomoBombs, rather than any kind of cultural / philosophical conversation.

Excessive Bro Culture

These are a very small price to pay for the awesomeness.

kezzaNZ 1 point 8 hours ago

Do elaborate on the Bro culture? And its negative attributes you see please. Comparisons would be great also. Intrigued.

thetobester 3 points 7 hours ago

There seems to be a hook-up based culture rather than one of dating.

In the UK, things seem to be a bit more geared towards dating and getting to know the girl before having sex. I’m not saying one night-stands are uncommon in the UK by any stretch, but it seems to be the prevalent way of meeting women as far as I’ve seen in NZ – though I suspect this is more true in Queenstown.

I have a long-term girlfriend and I’m faithful to her. Sometimes I feel in a minority there – it’s like everyone wants to be a player, regardless of relationship status.

This all permeates into the subjects of conversation, and there is much defining judgment of females based on their physical attributes and past behaviour.

There’s a relative lack of responsibility that comes with it (or freedom if you will), and with that all kinds of grey areas where people hop from one conquest to another and someone has to work out where they stand by hearing or seeing who was doing what with who. It seems that amongst all this, a clear behavior emerges for the guys where ‘bros come first’ whatever. And that’s sort of what I mean by Bro Culture.

onsos 1 point 9 minutes ago

There are students and backpackers all over our major city centres. They tend to congregate in godawful bars and drink large amounts of godawful alcohol while they listen to godawful music. This culture is to be avoided.

Except for marijuana, drugs are expensive, rubbish, and hard to get by international standards. As a result, lots of the above scene is fueled by bad amphetamines, which does not make things better.

But the thing people always forget is that it’s an island nation that’s a long way from everywhere. Shit’s expensive, and there’s often not much selection. Everybody knows everybody. There’s not much ‘going out’ culture, and people drink far too much. You need a car to get around. Our roads are terrible, and our driving is worse.

All suggestions to us or : http://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/1vr48q/whats_the_biggest_elephant_in_the_room_about/

Update 23/1/2014

Today we’re adding two more comments from the trademe reddit community.

Promac 3 points 2 hours ago

There’s a lot of truths in there. Take all this with a pinch of salt – I love NZ and would never leave but as a foreigner:

Food is pretty bad here – sugar everywhere. Everything is sweet. Everything has to have as many toppings as possible. Burgers? Stuff everything in the kitchen in there. Add sugar. Pizza? 8 toppings that don’t even go together. Add sugar to the dough first. And the sauce. Oh – and make it all bbq sauce.

When food is good it’s really expensive but expensive doesn’t mean it’ll be good.

Everything here is expensive.

Beer and wine is good here. But bloody expensive.

Some other stuff that surprised me – big, giant sprawling cities and barely functioning public transport!

Big, beautiful country that would be absolutely awesome to travel around – no fucking trains! European train journeys are amazing – here could be even better.

1 connection between the 2 islands – takes you to the middle of bloody nowhere…

Never, ever wear any kind of rain clothes – always complain about how much it rains.

Jistbug 0 points 2 hours ago

To be honest it’s probley (sic) going to actually advertise reddit and particularly this sub reddit for us. They are helping the cream float to the top of the milk.

This sub reddit and reddit in general is my major source for news now because it’s consumable and also allows for a discussion. We should kinda imbrace (sic) what these websites are doing, directing traffic towards reddit.


“Sugar Coating” and Move2nz.com


There is an interesting back story to Move2nz.com. To be fair to Travelinghobbit it was probably before her time, although it was influential in guiding the future direction of the site and its appearance of balance.

It was the censorship, invasion of privacy (alleged reading of private messages) and ‘moderation policies’ of Move2nz.com that led to a splinter group breaking off and forming the migrant self-help and support site Expatexposed.com. More here:

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