Welcome to our very popular series Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
This tale was taken from comment left in a very robust discussion about New Zealand, first published on theguardian.com. But first, here’s the stimulus for it
Trump, Brexit … Is New Zealand your escape route too? by Eleanor Ainge Roy. 5 August 2016
What many people don’t know is what I try to cover in my work for the Guardian.
That we have the second highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD. That a third of our children live below the poverty line and 10% of our working-age population is on social welfare.
Many New Zealand homes are cold, mouldy and damp, and our prisons are over-flowing. We have serious problems with alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabis – the Kiwi way is to binge to the point of oblivion.
Choosing to live at the bottom of the planet can sometimes feel like you have checked out of life – that you can’t hack it in “the real world”. The perennial angst of antipodeans, former convicts – are we good enough? Why do we live on islands that are so far away, and so expensive to flee?… read on
Here’s the tale
Had lived in Auckland for 11 months and…….. felt like a culture junkie on cold turkey there. When I finally made it back to London Heathrow I almost fell onto my knees, kissing the airport floor, so happy was I to be back. I then spent my next few weeks going to cultural events more or less non stop, as I was starved out for this.
What you dont know about NZ is: its really expensive to live there, when you are someone who has to work for a living. Salaries are comparatively low (I am an engineer) and a normal job has normal 40h+/week working hours. House prices are sky rocking in Auckland. Renting is no real option and again expensive. The 4 season a day weather results in one of the highest global asthma rates and damp houses with very low ceilings (the newly built ones). Life in NZ is: lawn mawing, barbecue, rugby, talking about the All Blacks and mortgages, sailing if you can afford it. Everything closes by 6pm, streets are empty at the latest by 10pm. Kiwis are usually friendly people, but I felt that life down there was very narrow. Kiwis usually live a close knit family life that includes childhood friends. Activities are lived in their back yard. For overseas newcomers its relatively difficult to get access. In work life, things are done the Kiwi way, sometimes the laws of physics, chemistry etc. are ignored to “save” costs thereby resulting in even damper houses. Business partners conduct meetings a little like village talk as everyone somewhat knows everyone else and is somehow related, part of family etc. which has an effect on how decisions are made > resulting in a lack of quality > the job does not always go to the best, but the best related person group etc. Life down there felt like living in a transit and I am very glad to be back in Europe again.”
Here’s another one, just for good measure
Bulgaria over New Zealand – wins hands down
“My wife and I recently emigrated from the UK due to the fact that the country is clearly going down the toilet at a pretty rapid rate. I have a NZ passport and she has a Bulgarian passport so last year we spent six months living in summer in both countries so that we could make up our minds on which one would suit us best.
Bulgaria won, hands down. I hadn’t lived in NZ for ten years but going back was a weird experience; on the one hand, it was like nothing had changed; on the other hand, I could see that the country is suffering from the same economic and political problems as the rest of the Western World. Except that the country is in massive denial about its problems.
NZ is a lovely (but extremely expensive) place to viisit, but living there brings little relief from the problems in the Northern Hemisphere Anglosphere that people would be running from, whilst adding its own new list of problems. Mainly that there is very little to keep the inquisitive mind occupied.
British people looking to escape all the Brexit bullshit would be better off in France or Spain.”