Migrant Tales – Heading Back to First World Canada

Canadian homes

Warm, dry Canadian homes

Continuing in our series of migrant tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Today’s tale is from a Canadian, resident in New Zealand for three years. Here’s his reasons for why he’ll be headed home soon.

I’m from Canada, and I’d rather spend a winter there where it’s -20C because my entire house has central heating, so it’s a nice cozy 20-22C in every room. I’ve lived in NZ nearly three years and I’ve seen a lot of its beauty, but NZ is seriously at the bottom of the first-world country barrel when it comes to housing standards. I’ll be leaving NZ at the end of this year.

The quality of life is MUCH lower.

There is a housing crisis. No, not the price of housing in Auckland. I’m talking about the other housing crisis – the lack of insulation and central heating.

91% of homes in the UK have central heating, and similarly in other Western countries such as Canada, where I’m from, it’s around there as well. I’ve never known a home to not have central heating where I’m from. I’ve lived in NZ for almost three years now, and it’s been the opposite: I’ve NEVER seen a home with central heating. It’s causing serious health issues across the country due to cold temperatures, especially in regions like Christchurch and Dunedin. The houses are quite honestly crap. Barely any insulation or none at all, and no central heating. Christchurch, a city, mainly relies on wood fires to heat their homes.

I’m from Canada, and it gets much colder in the winter, but it’s healthier to live there because at least every room in your house is at a constant warm cozy temperature year round. Here, it’s early autumn, and just this morning it was 5 degrees outside, so our entire house was that cold.

I’ll be returning to Canada after this year. I’ve had a few good years here seeing and hiking across wonderful natural landscapes, but to live here permanently? No way.

See this study for details: http://www.branz.co.nz/cms_show_download.php?id=a5280831d2e1489927904cc2ef904c1c2301545a

For more migrant tales click here

You may also be interested in
NZ’s High Winter Death Rate And Burning Wood To Keep Warm

The University of Otago published a report in 2008 stating that NZ was in the upper end of an international scale for excess winter mortality (EWM) and that 1600 more people died over the winter months than the summer (On overage, 600 more deaths occurred in July compared to February) and that this high EWM had remained pretty constant for the last 20 years.

Otago’s Associate Professor Michael Baker reported that NZ’s EWM is 2% higher than the mean mortality rates of 14 European countries, even though many of those countries had lower winter temperatures than New Zealand. Why is that?… read on

Most People Consider Hypothermia A Symptom Of Being Cold, Rather Than An Expression Of National Identity

There is a lovely piece of writing by Linley Boniface in the Dom Post.

It’s her account about what it’s like to suffer the winter cold in a “flimsy wooden shack” (aka house) in Wellington, New Zealand.

If you’re tempted to emigrate to New Zealand and been seduced by stories about its sub-tropical climate read on. If you already live in New Zealand you’ll know what she’s talking about and will perhaps manage a laugh through your chattering teeth:…read on

29 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Heading Back to First World Canada

  1. I just moved home to Toronto, Canada after 2 years in Queenstown. Obviously Queenstown and the Central Otago region is stunningly beautiful. And much of NZ is gorgeous also. Where I’m from in Canada is ugly in comparison.

    But that’s where the buck stops. I just couldn’t face another winter shivering in a cold, damp, moldy house that costs 50% more than a rental in Toronto. Try complaining about it and the Kiwis act like you’re a whinging pansy. Even my house builder and property manager friends couldn’t understand the virtues of insulation, double glazing and central heating.

    The high cost of living and the lack of real opportunity or consumer choice also took its toll on me. NZ is great if you want to go camping and hiking and get away from the world for a couple years. But they seriously need to get their shit together with regards to housing and roads and infrastructure. I can put up with high prices if the wages are good, but unlike Australia you’re forced to skimp and live in poverty like conditions if you want to save money. I made an almost decent wage compared to most other people in my field in this town, I can’t imagine how the rest of them survived.

    Now I’m home in Canada and immediately I see how much better everything is here. Houses are always warm, trains and buses run mostly on time, people show up to work on time and work hard. Bars don’t need security staff at all times to deal with all the drunken rednecks because people can actually control themselves and their drinking. Best of all I can actually afford to eat well again and I can save for a decent future.

    I recommend that anyone thinking about moving to NZ does some serious research before making the jump. Unless you’re from a developing country you probably won’t have a better life there.

    Good luck to all!

    • you must be so happy beached as bru ! Good for you. you made it home. Can’t wait to leave Christchurch once and for all . You must be looking forward to an warm house in the winter.. I can’t believe Queens town is more expensive then Toronto?! I heard and read everywhere that Toronto is supposed to be so expensive.. Incredible! I would defiantly prefer Toronto over Queens town. Just for the civilized people and excitement. Although I like Queens town and its beauty. In my opinion Toronto and it’s area offers much more than Queens town.

      Thanks for sharing this

  2. Western Chick, Happy to go on, Safe from NZ a.o. Similar experiences here. These wooden asbest filled cardboxes are wrongly named as ‘houses’ as they are in fact Sheds. As wrong this is in itself, even worse is the state were people live in. No it’s not just Chch (Earthquake related) , it’s al over this damn country. This country draines away 1. Health 2. Money 3. Mental health 4. People’s conficence, courtesy, honesty and basically to live. I never knew a more depressing bad tasting area in the world as NZ. But….. What I do understand now is why the NZ youth is so #&£:£;% Up!

    • Well said bss ! Not to get the confidence more down of the kiwi’s.. But the truth will set them free.

      One of the main reason the country has become in the worst shape ever is the kiwi PRIDE in my opinion.

      They refuse to learn from other countries. While infact like other American’s have said here on the page they only take on America’s junk. Instead of the simple comforts of the civilized world.

      If they started learning from western countries about thirty years ago they would have been maybe even ahead of us.

      But there is this saying ” one who exalts oneself will be humiliated ”

      This surely has happened to new Zealand.

  3. OP, are you kidding me? I have spent 8 winters in Alberta and one winter in Vancouver and its soul destroying! Winter comes as early as October and can stay until April! You don’t get to see grass for several months a year! All outside water, rivers, lakes are frozen (two winters ago even Lake Superior was 90% frozen). That is NOT living (IMO), In Canada, I have seen snow in Jan, Feb, March, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec. -20C and more is crazy. Most of the world just does not have these kinds of temps. lets face it anything below zero 0 sucks big time. Everyday for months and months in Canada, you have to put a very warm jacket on (even just go to your next door neighbours house). North Island, NZ hardly gets below 0C and if so, will not stay all day. Most NZ friends that have never experienced those extreme, frigid temps that are just a normal winter in Canada, they just can’t imagine living that way and felt sorry for me as I had to live there.

    Not all houses are cold in NZ. Obviously Canada has to have warm homes or you will die. Some parts of Canada do have very expensive winter heating bills.

    • In New Zealand, you don’t only have to put on a jacket to visit your neighbours, but many people wear jackets INSIDE, because the houses are so badly made there is little temperature difference between inside and out. In essence, most New Zealand homes are more like glorified garages with tin roofs, no insulation, and cheap building materials for the walls. Even when insulation IS installed, it is only put in the roof and floor, NOT the walls, and double glazing is almost unheard of. Most Kiwis have NO idea what a properly insulated house is.

      I’m sure the 1,000 plus children that end up in hospital each year with respiratory problems caused by New Zealand’s cold damp houses, and the parents of the 100 or so that DIE each year because of this would disagree with you about New Zealand not needing warmer housing.

      I’m also pretty sure that the numerous people who end up wrapping themselves up in blankets each winter, because no matter how many heaters they have on, their house CANNOT be heated would disagree with you too.

      Outside temperature has little correlation to inside temperature, in a house that is properly built and insulated.

      • YES it is like camping 24/7, 365, in your house or flat – you have this weird feeling entering these “homes” that you don’t get in homes (at least in USA homes) – you can hear all the traffic, obnoxious neighbors and noise outside, amplified (make sure you buy 10 years worth of silicon ear seals before moving to Auckland) …drafty as frozen-hell. I don’t know what has been worse, the near-death experiences I’ve had from so much respiratory sickness in winter, or sodden moldy smelly clothes-stick-to-you other 3/4 of the year.

        • sounds both pretty horrifying to me ! Makes me think of the first winter on the south island. We were staying in an cottage made out of stone. When we first arrived there were horrible floods , the pastures where the horses where standing turned into lakes and we felt so sorry for those horses.

          Another issue in NZ NO SHELTER FOR FARM ANIMALS….this is an obligation in my country by the way. anyway when the coldest peak winter hit I found myself constantly drinking tea to keep myself warm.

          The living room wasn’t that bad but I really didn’t look forward to go to bed…boy that room was freezing !!
          I am almost convinced that that bedroom was actually colder than the fridge !! it would have made an difference to wrap myself in electric blankets but back that I did not know they sold them here. It would have made an difference though.

          you might actually be better of camping guy’s ..because at least the van/motorhome heater keeps you warmer. No wonder all campsites in and around Christchurch are full … have a great day you guy’s !

    • I have lived in places that are equally cold as Canada and I enjoyed the winters. However, I simply had to turn my thermostat on to keep my house warm after spending time enjoying the outdoors in winter. Contrast that to the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand where the temperature inside my house some mornings was 2C and the house was frigid. New Zealanders are incapable of building a warm house with central heat and proper insulation.

      • exactly ! entering an new Zealand home in winter just reminds me of the time I opened the freezer room at an restaurant where I worked or the freezer where they kept the dead animals at the animal ambulance. For sure kiwi’s would be better off living on the Arctic or in an igloo. Even the ice hotel in Scandinavia or Iceland would be warmer.

        It is no wonder actually so many people seem to loose it and get an total mental breakdown. I am happy to leave before I’ll ever reach that point.

        • Another aspect that I enjoyed upon returning to Europe was the higher intellectual calibre of people and the myriad of cultural activities. Regrettably, New Zealand is an indescribably boring place populated by some of the most boring cretins that I have ever encountered. Aside from gossiping about other people, watching rugby, and drinking themselves into a stupor, there is not much else to the average Kiwi.

          • Higher intellectual culture in Europe for sure x 3000. Here there is simply an enormous vacuum. I do not really regard rugby and excessive drinking as culture, but in NZ apparently that is “the culture!” Yogurt has more culture. In my village, here in the south bogan island, friendships are forged over the sharing and distribution of alcohol and drug supplies. Lifestyle tips are shared, such as how to deliberately shoot yourself and then claim ACC as a viable and secure income source. I kid yee not.

    • How many winters have I been though in NZ? approx 34 years worth…. For me personally I can not stand not seeing the simple things in life everyday like ‘green grass, running water 12 months a year’ Seeing snow on the ground for months and months is no fun to me.

      Obviously no country is perfect. If you were bought up in Canada, that is your up-bringing so it’s normal. Others adjust just fine. I wouldn’t be surprised when you go back that you will miss the milder winter temps you have experience here when you walk outside during winter.

      • I was talking to a Canadian, a couple of weeks ago and I said I wouldn’t be able to handle the cold there. He said that the place he lives is on about the same latitude as California and has long lovely warm Summers and the Winters are the same as the South Island. It is a vast Country with different weather systems. Likewise New Zealand has very different weather depending on where you live.

      • [Deleted – passive aggressive, ad hom attack, ‘don’t like it leave’ etc. Read the comments guidelines before you post. Admin]

    • As an northern European I will never agree with you Karen. I have to admit that most of the time there is plenty of sunshine in Canterbury and especially this year it has only rained a couple of times which I really liked. But after spending 4 winters here I do prefer to live in an Western country because of reasons the rest of you guy’s have mentioned here. Northern Europe gets about the same kind of weather as many parts of Canada , but because of the well build houses people don’t seem to care that much about cold winters. Good wages and cheap living in Northern Europe will make people take a short flight to Spain or Italy in winter . And many folks in Canada might spend some winters Arizona , Florida or Mexico. And yeah many people love to ski or snowboard too !!

      I would defiantly prefer an Western winter over an New Zealand one because of the horrible and expensive housing. Sorry but I would like to spend my savings on travels and not on an rotten shed.
      The winters here don’t get as cold as the ones we have in Northern Europe but it just seems so much **** colder than there !! The reason so many people just hang around in their cars all the time is to get it warm I guess. Sad but true..

      Perhaps things are a bit better on the north Island but I declare houses here in the south Island unliveable and most certainly I will not pay an fortune to live in it making an greedy kiwi disgustingly rich ! Just spending one night at an hostel in the summer time made all my muscles go sore. No heating in the room whatsoever !

      • @Western Chick – I can tell you North Island (especially Auckland area) is AWFUL – stinking miserable, especially on the 3/4 year-long humid summer days where there’s 0 wind, 90-100% humidity and no rainfall. I would have braved the cold of the S.I. if I had been able to move there instead. The only worse places I can think of would be to live in the middle of the Amazon or knee-deep in the rice-paddies of Vietnam… (Can you tell I cannot WAIT to get out of here – but am waiting on the final go-ahead…? lol…)

        • so are we happy to go. Hopefully I won’t have to bear another winter here.. that is another one to much. the fresher air is an plus here but there won’t be not much fresh air left when they start to burn plastic and other chemical junk in their log burners..very soon . they don’t seem to get it this may seriously harm one’s health…

          I would certainly prefer to live in the humid places you mention then in NZ because of the super friendly and warm people and the amazing animals and wildlife though.. and interesting cultures.

          My experience with Auckland is not much better , stayed there for weeks and almost not one glimpse of sunshine..Besides it felt even pretty cold too. Couldn’t understand why people move there for the weather while here in Canterbury in my experience seem to be much more sun hours and dry weather.

          People told us many people they know or themselves got sick when they came to live in Auckland and they had to deal with asthma , bronchitis and other lung conditions. Doesn’t sound like an very healthy stimulating place to live to me.

          good luck with getting out !

    • We are most likely heading to Alberta this year. Where did you live ? Somebody I know just went to Calgary in the winter time and head an amazing time there… so if you “suffered” there so much ..why did you spend 8 long years there then ?

      • First off, I see A LOT of generalizations on this forum (and I have only read a few things). From poverty to culture and the people. Every country has these issues. I have seen plenty of extremely poor housing in the US and the same for Canada. There are old houses everywhere! Surely poor folks in Canada find it hard to find the cash for a new furnace to replace their 30 year old one. It’s only I guess because it’s a necessity. And if they don’t want to replace it, it’s not my place to judge them or their old house. A lot of people run only window a/c units in the southern US, does everybody here think this is a terrible thing? Not everyone can afford a whole house a/c unit to put in or run it.

        Anyhow (to western chick), I spent the above years in Edmonton. Most people we knew did not like it there, but were trapped. When you grow up near water (not a river), it’s very difficult to not be near this. My DH could not find any IT work after 2005 there!

        Edmonton can get snow on the ground from Oct though April. And you will not see the ground in that time (at all) unless its a freak year where the snow comes late like Dec or Jan (if you’re lucky).

        • I agree that every country has its problems. In NZ it is difficult to have an honest conversation with people about problems in the country. We have witnessed high profile Kiwis who have muttered a mild criticism of the country and had to suffer extreme abuse. At a local level, I have witnessed similar. I come on here to let off a bit of steam as don’t have another outlet for it. There may well be a similar website in Canada or perhaps it isn’t needed. Maybe in Canada you can say the weather sucks and people don’t tell you to leave the country for saying that.

        • ” It’s only I guess because it’s a necessity. And if they don’t want to replace it, it’s not my place to judge them or their old house. A lot of people run only window a/c units in the southern US, does everybody here think this is a terrible thing? Not everyone can afford a whole house a/c unit to put in or run it.”

          I’m in a flat – with the high rent we pay for a dilapidated slum like this, they absolutely can afford it. It IS our place to judge – the problem is that they are (1) too lazy and tight to do it, (2) they justify this laziness by telling the victim (tenant) to “harden up” and (3) they rely on the rest of the tenants who are conditioned not to ever complain, to not stand up for what is right.
          I’m from the Southern USA, spent 3/4 of my life there. The Huge difference is that whole house A/C is not needed there as the climate is much drier and more comfortable – heat and cold are far more bearable when not so severely damp/humid. The asthma and respiratory issues do not exist there like here. Here, the smart, economical, sane thing to do is for the entire country to wake up and enforce proper insulation/building codes – it would in turn save the populace untold millions in healthcare, both physical and emotional.
          In First world countries, these are Basic necessities – it’s true that even in first world countries we have our city slums and problems that need solving. That’s not what’s in question here. What’s in question is the fact that NZ is so oversold and people are being misled, and come to the country not realizing how utterly trodden down they will be if they dare “complain” – as even mentioning there is a problem is automatically equated to “whinging” whereas in First World countries – if people do not “complain” as they call it here… everything would fall down to total crap. When NZ as a whole recognizes that the need for problem solving does not equate to “complaining” then maybe some positive change can begin. Til then, sorry, I don’t buy it, I’ve seen enough.

          • I fully agree with you Happy to go. Have spend quite some time in Texas houses and while they might not have been the best of the best , I truly enjoyed living there because of the dry climate. Yet airconditioning/heating is of course not as expensive as here . Basically everything is really cheap there. My family owned an amazing villa there for 3/4 less of the price then here and yet with all the first world luxuries.

  4. you guy’s are so right !! I just wander how can anybody live like this and still act like everything is fine in NZ?
    I miss Canada too and am dreaming of the day I will live there hopefully this year. I was so spoiled in Europe. We lived in two nice comfortable apartments in Belgium before arriving here.

    The first was in an traditional Belgian old house but with central heating which we used three quarters of the year. We left the heater on the whole day and night ! We only had to pay around 700 euro’s a month all included for this cosy three bedroom apartment. The funny thing is this house must have been much older than the oldest house in NZ and yet still had central heating ! It was so nice and comfortable while stepping outside to buy an nice warm coffee AND Belgian WAFFLE all for as cheap as can be and better quality than anything you’ll ever get in NZ. Yes life can be good !!

  5. I just remodelled a 4 bedroom house ,We pulled off every piece of wall lining Sheetrock/gib board and re insulated the entire building including underfloor insulation ,Installed state of the art heating system and double glaze windows ,I have studied and achieved qualifications in sustainable housing and insulation practices in the U.S .Nobody gives a shit here ,they are more concerned about the colour of the kitchen counter top than the fact that they could now have a warm environmentally sustainable home so forget it and f..k them and their whining.

  6. Don’t be a whimp ,harden up freeze and get arthritis like the rest of the people on this sub tropical rock !! Our govt has cut deals with international corporations to keep energy prices high so that corporations can make profits from infrastructure our parents and grandparents paid off years ago recently our government decided to sell these electrical generation companies to multinational companies .Harden up and freeze your ass off in this sub arctic climate because you pay a premium for everything here including keeping your family alive and healthy .

    • I remember once seeing a promotion run by the New Zealand government giving different ways to save power. Almost the entire pamphlet focused on the use of energy saver lightbulbs, turning of lights in rooms you aren’t in, and turning off things like computers and TVs when they weren’t in use. All of these things are a good idea, but they would only save $10 or so worth of power over a month. Not once did they mention insulating your home, installing double glazing, or installing a heat pump.

      • The charges are mainly fixed line charges and other hidden bullshit ,admittedly you would pay about $300 to $400 a month to keep your house at a reasonable temperature during the winter even if it is well insulated ,most people don’t do this as they can not afford to be a comfortable warmth as this has become a commodity,like food and shelter .

Comments are closed.