Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – fist hand accounts of the Migrant Experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale is a follow-up story from one of our American readers who left New Zealand two years ago and emigrated to Switzerland.
Switzerland promised him nothing, yet delivered what New Zealand promised but could not deliver. You’ll never see the Swiss run a racket that encourages migrants to go there, unlike needy New Zealand.
Here’s his tale, proof that there is life after NZ, and it’s wonderful.
“Life after New Zealand
It has been two and a half years since my wife and I left New Zealand for a better life in Switzerland. I have already chronicled my disappointing and slightly lamentable experience in New Zealand https://e2nz.org/goodbye-new-zealand/ after immigrating to New Zealand from the United States. Suffice it to say, the veracity of this blog’s tales is unquestionable. Any person interested in migrating to New Zealand should read these tales and perhaps avoid a great deal of suffering, both personal and financial, by refraining from immigrating to New Zealand. My aim is not to gloat, but rather, to provide encouragement and inspiration to those that remain trapped in the mire of New Zealand so that they can plan to extricate themselves.
Leaving New Zealand was remarkably easy and one of our best decisions. My wife and I are minimalists, so there was not much to sell or give away. We shipped about a dozen boxes containing personal effects and bought two one-way tickets back to our ancestral lands in Europe. My wife was a New Zealand-born Swiss citizen, so the process of obtaining her Swiss passport and my work permit was straightforward. My wife had to go to Wellington to have her biometric details taken and I applied for my entry visa in the post. The staff at the Swiss embassy were extremely professional and helpful. Unsurprisingly, any dealings with the Swiss government are like the renowned Swiss watches and clocks.
I recall our indescribable joy when my wife’s bright red Swiss passport arrived in the post. The little red booklet symbolised opportunity and the chance to live in the world’s greatest country and to have a fresh start after battling trying to find a niche in life in New Zealand.
Arriving and settling in Switzerland was relatively simple. We found a shared place on Airbnb for the first ten days and subsequently we found another shared place for two months to give us the flexibility to apply and relocate for jobs throughout Switzerland.
My wife was the first one of us to find a job. In fact, she received a job offer in Basel within ten days of arriving in her ancestral country. I still recall vividly the look of astonishment and joy when she opened her offer letter and saw her starting salary. Her salary was triple what she had earned in Wellington and more than our combined income in New Zealand. At age twenty-three, she had a position with a great deal of responsibly that would have been unattainable in New Zealand.
The feeling of success was exhilarating. The first two months were challenging because my wife’s job required commuting 2.5 hours to work each way and we had already signed our temporary two-month lease. However, we quickly managed to find a nice apartment in a small town between Zurich and Basel rendering my wife’s commute much shorter. The rent costs of our apartment in Switzerland were about the same as the small house where we lived in Wellington. However, this apartment had central heating, hardwood floors, and was of far better quality than what we had in New Zealand. Unlike New Zealand rental dwellings, the apartment was spotless when we moved in. The two times that we needed repairs, the rental agency had someone out within twenty-four hours. In both cases, the agency replaced the older washing machine and refrigerators with brand new ones. My wife enjoyed living in a dwelling with central heating for the first time in her life. It could snow outside, yet our apartment was a pleasant 20/21 C.
In the meantime, I studied German and searched for a job whilst my wife worked. I had the fortuity to be choosy and search for the right opportunity rather than taking what was available as I had to when I moved to New Zealand. I will always be immensely grateful to my wife for finding a job so quickly and enabling me to improve my German and search for the right opportunity. It took me approximately eight months to find a job, but I eventually landed an awesome position paying more than triple what I had earned at my last job in New Zealand, which was supposedly a good salary for New Zealand. Unlike my jobs in New Zealand, I worked with many intelligent people from around the world and I had the opportunity to do interesting work and receive outstanding remuneration. My work environment did not have the stultifying tall poppy syndrome that was so endemic in New Zealand. I was able to use the three languages I knew (English, Spanish, and German) on a daily basis. The opportunities here are far better than in New Zealand.
Despite our incomes more than trebling, we paid a lower amount of tax in percentage terms in Switzerland compared to New Zealand, yet the level of public services here is superb and far better. For example, the Swiss public transport system is the envy of the world. We did not buy a car until two years after arriving when my wife’s pregnancy necessitated the expense. If we should have the misfortune to lose our jobs, the unemployment insurance would pay 80% of our salary for up to eighteen months. It is amazing how Switzerland can collect a lower percentage of GDP in taxes, yet provide a far better safety net. The fact that Switzerland has far fewer people sponging off the social system and that the government is very pro-business with low taxes has a great deal to do with it. The Swiss are also diligent workers who know how to things efficiently. New Zealand is a country where one out of five citizens has emigrated, usually the better end of the population, because of the utter dearth of opportunities whereas Switzerland is a country where one in four workers is foreign. Every day, more than 300,000 people commute from the surrounding countries to work in Switzerland. Switzerland is an economic superpower, yet the Swiss are much more reserved and circumspect. One does not see the Swiss boasting nor has anyone in Switzerland ever made a disparaging comment about Americans, as was the case in New Zealand. It is also nice that no one here makes you pre-pay for anything. If I order a book online, the invoice comes with the book. The dentist and mechanic send us invoices at home once they complete the work. Compare this to the vampires in New Zealand who cannot wait to grab your money and run off with it without doing their job properly. Employers also treat you like an adult. No one monitors how many hours you work or watches over you like a hawk, yet somehow the Swiss have the most productive economy in the world.
Switzerland also has far more to do than New Zealand. During the past two years, we have travelled extensively throughout Switzerland thanks to the inexpensive subsidised public transport. Switzerland has an annual GA ticket that allows one unlimited use of the trains, buses, and boats throughout the country. My wife and I took countless day and weekend trips throughout this amazing and spellbindingly beautiful country. Moreover, we have been to many European countries such as France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic and Greece in addition to an epic trip to Japan. Travelling in Europe is much more inexpensive than travelling within New Zealand thanks to budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryan Air. A roundtrip flight from Switzerland to the UK can cost as little as Fr 50(NZ $75) if one books in advance. Contrary to popular myth, living costs are relatively reasonable, much more so than in New Zealand. If one organises oneself well and knows where to look, the living costs are extremely reasonable. This jeweller seems to think so after she announced that she is relocating her business from Auckland to Geneva because Auckland’s commercial rents are higher http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79258617/ponsonby-store-owner-and-rock-widow-ditches-auckland-for-cheaper-rents-in-switzerland.
One can enjoy so many things here such as great food, interesting museums, and the paved bike trails that crisscross the entire country. This afternoon, I went to a nice restaurant with my wife and enjoyed far better food and a restaurant with nicer facilities than what is available in New Zealand. Afterward, I will ride my bike and enjoy a sunny Sunday evening ride.
It is also refreshing to see how well maintained everything is compared to the dilapidated state of things in New Zealand. We have access to superb medical care and an education system that is one of the best in the world. We have also started to look for a home to buy now that our first child, a daughter, will arrive in the coming days. Our daughter will not have to live in a cold damp house or grow up with preventable asthma, as many kids do in New Zealand. Our daughter will also be able to grow up multilingual and with a perspective that would have been exceedingly difficult to obtain amongst the cretins, drunks, and morons in New Zealand.
Overall, Switzerland promised us nothing, yet delivered what New Zealand promised, but could not deliver. I have never seen the Swiss run a racket that encourages migrants to come here, unlike New Zealand. I can comfortably raise a family and have money to save as the sole breadwinner, which would have been virtually impossible in New Zealand. We are thrilled to be here and I am looking forward to applying for my Swiss citizenship next year. Our Swiss daughter will have the opportunity to grow up in the world’s greatest country with fantastic opportunities that she would not have in the United States and especially in New Zealand.
I wish those who are stuck in New Zealand and desperate to leave the best of luck. Remaining in New Zealand has a corrosive effect on people’s psyche and spirit. In other words, those who are stuck in New Zealand often imagine that it is more difficult to leave than it actually is. They often impose obstacles in their minds that in reality do not exist. I encourage those who no longer wish to be there to plan and execute their exit strategy. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “man mistakes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world”. One has nothing to lose but the chains that bind one in New Zealand and a world to gain.”