Migrant Tales – American Stuck in NZ. There is no Summer in Wellington

Wellington, windswept and bleak. Google street view

Continuing in our very popular Migrant Tales series – first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand.

Today’s tale was sent in by an American stuck in New Zealand. They live in Wellington and say the natural environment is awesome but say they’re shocked by the terrible salaries, abysmal housing stock and the climate – its windy and there is no summer. The author also has some comments to make on Kiwi hospitality and culture…

Here’s their tale

“Some of you may have heard that a Deutsche Bank ranking just rated Wellington as the city with the world’s highest quality of life, beating out Edinburgh, Sydney, Melbourne, and so on. Their rating was based on the following: Purchasing Power, Safety, Health Care, Cost of Living, Property Price to Income Ratio, Traffic Commute Time, Pollution, and Climate.

I’ve lived in Wellington for about four years now. (The past three not at all by choice). To its credit, the natural environment is awesome, and although everyone complains about the traffic, in reality it is very easy to get around by car or (incredibly expensive) public transport.

But really, on all the other metrics, I am flabbergasted that Wellington would be even in the top 10. In most sectors, the salaries are pretty awful by comparison to other major cities in the world. The housing stock is abysmal — insulation is still rare, and double-paned windows even rarer. This becomes a major problem when the wind comes ripping through your house. Seriously, at times I have been unsure whether the windows are rattling because there is an earthquake or because of the wind. Central heating? Yeah nah. House prices aren’t as bad as in Auckland, but they are rising. And they certainly aren’t cheap.

And the climate. Well, it is true that it doesn’t snow here. But there is also no summer. At all. It’s also windy as hell (remember: Wellington, not Chicago, is the windiest city in the world) and rains all the time. I used to have an umbrella, but the wind ripped it inside out so I gave up.

Wellingtonians are a super-reserved bunch, in my experience. Four years on, ZERO of my Kiwi colleagues have even invited me to their house for a drink or dinner. It is virtually impossible to establish friendships, except with expats. People are rarely friendly to strangers or acquaintances — I went back to the states recently and was astounded that people actually chat to each other in parking lots and public spaces. Smiles are rare in Wellington. It baffles me.

There is virtually no culture here, and as others have documented on this blog, any dissent from the notion that NZ is the best place on earth is met with criticism and the typical “what, you think it’s better in your country?”

How did Wellington get itself into the #1 position this time? I can only imagine it’s the Kiwi spin campaign in action. Absolutely, positively, Wellington! (Bleh)

Don’t believe the hype. This is most definitely not the best place on earth. By any stretch.”


More about the Deutsche Bank survey

This year Deutsche has added a few new series to its real time global prices.

In particular average after-tax salaries, average 2-bed apartment rental costs and finally a quality-of-life index that is the most subjective measure in the report and will probably cause most arguments, debates and disagreements. A lot of the data in the report is crowd sourced (including this new quality-of-life index).

The data was collected by http://www.numbeo.com – a large crowd-sourced information database on global prices, quality of living etc. The data is based on the following 8 variables; purchasing power, safety, healthcare, cost of living, house prices/income, commuting time, pollution and climate.

Within the quality of life table, somehow Wellington was placed first overall but 12th for safety, 23rd for healthcare and 28th for cost of living.

As we know, crowd sourced data is easy to influence, and is not an objective nor a scientific metric.

Currently the OECD has New Zealand ranked 7th on its 2016 Better Life Index below Norway, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada and Sweden – all of which make far better migration destinations than New Zealand. Interestingly, Finland, USA, and Iceland are ranked just below New Zealand.

Here’s the rankings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OECD_Better_Life_Index#2016_ranking







17 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – American Stuck in NZ. There is no Summer in Wellington

  1. Hey I just moved to Wellington 4 days ago! No rentals available for under 500 a week. Must be a great place to live or just tons of people making the same mistake I am! Wish me luck Im gonna need it.

  2. If you’ve ever lived anywhere half way decent in your life then Wellington will bore you to death and you’ll freeze there ,the dump has an eternal winter

  3. I wonder who comes up with these rankings. What a façade. This confirms to me that the only rankings I believe are those of the UN.

  4. New Zealand is, after all, a hick , under developed, colonial, poor, underpaid, polluted, anti-social, anti tourist, anti everything really, unfriendly lie ridden lower Pacific island. I am a New Zealander by birth, and I understand all you say. So, as far a Welly being the best place to live – just like everything else this country wants you to believe, and spends millions to make that happen, it’s not true at all. The biggest thing is that those who emigrate to NZ, often can’t afford to leave! I would implore people to not waste their lives on a place which is wholly dishonest, polluted, racist and broke. If you don’t drink the Kool-Aid in the first place, it won’t get stuck in your throat!

    • I don’t think Wellington is polluted by any stretch of the imagination. Be careful: if you say everything sucks, no one will take you seriously. The commute is easy, the nature is beautiful, and occasionally (maybe 5 days a year) the people smile. Not enough for me…

        • I don’t drink kool aid either. I hate wellington. But I’m willing to concede that certain things aren’t horrible. Unfortunately the ones that matter to me are horrible.

  5. Spent 3 years there…too windy..really bad weather made my nose always congested……people looked friendly but never social until drunk AF………never invited me to anything…….I don’t know why on fucking earth did I lose three years of my life there?!

  6. My family, and I have been in NZ for 15 years now.
    Same as you, we have never been invited by locals to their house for a drink or dinner.
    Prior to NZ arrival, I have been living in four other countries, and the experience was very different.
    I have asked recently my migrant colleagues the same question. One of them was raised, went to school here. Over 25 years in the country, and the answer was exactly the same.

    • yep same here live rural and dont see a soul from one week to another. some jehovahs witnesses called round the other day i was so excited invited them in and listened to their blurb for hours was gonna ask them to move in but decided against it lol. kiwis are not friendly at all when i lived in england if you stood waiting for a bus someone will walk up start talking to you, then you get on the bus together and by the time you get off youve made a mate exchanged numbers and booked in a coffee morning how i miss that. i just want a friend to go for a coffee with or go to the shops not a lot to ask you would think but impossible here. wish i could set up a website for lonely expats im sure it would do well but no good on computers there must be someone out there with some ideas to get us all together then maybe life wouldnt be so bad. oh i noticed no one mentioned estate agents over here what a shower of rip off merchants dont get me started on them

  7. Oooh. This is timely. Having had enough of masterton after 8 years, i was going to head to Wellington to see if life was better. My idea was to try and find some like-minded people (into concerts, comedy ,theatre and the like) but this does not sound promising. I’m a 50 year old single white female (!) with few major child related responsibilities now my kids are over 18 (I said few,not none!) and rural life is now slowly killing me. So are you telling me it’s going to be worse?!

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