A British Canadian’s Perspective

From Expatforum.com this post was written recently by a British Canadian woman who’d returned to Canada after a spell in NZ. A good many of the problems she encountered are experienced by other migrants, she is by no means unique. (see Migrant tales from NZ)

“My husband and I just left NZ 2 weeks ago after living there for 11 months and we are now back living in Canada. I was born in the UK, but married a Canadian. I lived in the UK until I got married in 1986, lived in Canada until 2007 and then we moved back to the UK. My husband has the right to live and work in the UK. We spent 7 months in the UK and in March 2008 hubby saw a job advertised by an Accredited Employer in NZ. (Google Accredited Employers for a list of employers who sponsor people to move to NZ)

Our experience living and working in NZ was an absolute nightmare and it would take me days to explain why, it was mainly related to work, so may I suggest that you look into the following points extremely carefully before you make the move.

Employment
– Make sure the job is what they say it is. Many employers lure people to NZ with great job offers and it turns out that it is not what they are making it out to be. I had a freind who was a NZ Police Officer, he told us that the NZ Police are one of the worst offenders for doing this and another friend who was in the Prison Service said the same thing. Some employers will hire you and not pay you. (That was my job, worked and never got paid a penny.) Still trying to get the money via a debt collection agency, but that’s another story. I was ripped off by 2 different employers to the tune of $15,000.

Doctor’s
– You will pay for every visit to the Doctor, it ranges between $40 & $60 per visit, depending on which Doctor you get. That’s if you can get a Dr., to regsiter with, as there is a definite shortage. The health system is like it was in the UK about 30 years ago, it SUCKS! If you are on expensive medication they have to apply for a special number from the government so you can get the medication and if they say no, then you either can’t have it, or you will need to pay full price for it.

Shopping – We found prices to be high, for both food and household items. Most NZ’rs buy stuff 2nd hand from Trade Me because they can’t afford new things. Wages are low compared to what things cost. Amongst other things, a cooked chicken as big as your fist, costs $15.99. Yes, they really are that small. 3 Litres of milk is $6.79 and forget cheese. There are places like the Warehouse where you can get cheaper things, but most of it is imported from China and breaks within a few weeks, cheap tat, but you get what you pay for. Do your homework on prices and wages before you go.

Housing – Oh my gosh, we have lived in many Countries, but NZ has to have the worst housing in the world. It’s just like living in a shed at the bottom of your garden. No heating, no insulation and no double glazing and for this you can pay $350 A WEEK, yes we did. I am not exagerating here, most of the garages in the UK are better heated and insulated than the houses in NZ. The 1st house we rented was only 7 years old, no heating whatsoever, little insulation and no double glazing. Double glazing has only just been introduced as a requirement for new builds this year, so houses pre 2009 do not have double glazing and houses are cold! Mould is common place in 90% of all houses because the condensation is incredible. You will need to run a dehumidifier constantly and we bought oil filled raditators for heat because they were the cheapest source of heating if there is no wood burner and our electricty bill for ONE MONTH was $400!

Cars & InsuranceVehicles are expensive compared to the UK. A car which is 10 years old in the UK can be picked up for under 1000 pounds, the same car in NZ will cost you $5,000 and the mileage will be extremely high. You need a WOF, (warrant of fitness, which is the equivalent of an MOT) every 6 months at a cost of $55 each time. Car insurance is not mandatory, you don’t have to have it and many people don’t. If you do get it, it will cost you around $365 per year if you have full no claims bonuses, but take a letter of experience with you from your home Country or you won’t get them.

Telephones, Internet and TV – Cell phones, not a lot of competition here. You have Telecom and Voadafone, both are expensive and sim cards will cost you approximately $35 to buy and then another $20 for the minutes. Most people in NZ text as it is cheaper. Landlines, Telecom charges 45 cents per minute for long distance calls within NZ, shudder to think what the per minute rates for overseas were. I never used them I used a VOIP program on the internet for all my calls and texts which was next to nothing. TV, if you don’t have Sky you get about 6 channels, same as Freeview, you pay $350 for a freeview box and only get about 6 channels, what a rip off. I couldn’t believe the price of the Freeview boxes, especially as UK Freeview boxes can be picked up for 25 quid. Internet, not cheap. I paid $80 month for my internet, you can get slightly cheaper packages, but it’s still too expensive. Mostly DSL, only get cable internet in the bigger cities.

Utilities – Check out the real cost of electricity, gas, telephone, tv, internet before you go because none of these are cheap.

Crime – Considering there are only 4 million people in NZ, the crime rate is horrendous for such a small amount of people. Police are understaffed and crime is abundant. Petty crime is rife and you just don’t realize how much crime there is until you live there. Even my friend who is a NZ Police Officer admits the crime rate is extremely high and I myself am an ex Canadian Police Officer and I know what high crime rates are. Many criminals get away with things because the Police don’t have the manpower. Boy racers are all over the place too. Kids who race their cars up and down residential streets.

Weather – It depends on if you like rain or not. Maybe we were unlucky, but it seemed to rain constantly during the 11 months we were there. We had a few sunny days, nothing too hot, but the summer was nothing to rave about.

People seem to think that NZ is the land of milk and honey. Nowhere on this earth is there anywhere like that. Having lived in many different Countries there are problems with every Country in the world, good points and bad everywhere you go. People leave their homeland because they think they will get a better life somewhere else. Well, it doesn’t matter where you live really, life is what you make of it. You can’t change a Country, you have to live with whatever you get. NZ for us had more bad points than good, that is why we left, but for you it will probably be completely different. Heavens knows we certainly did not go for the money. We went because we heard stories of a better life and more freedom etc. It didn’t work out for us, my husband’s job was not what they said it would be and he was incredibly unhappy.

They often say “home is where the heart is” and this could not be more true. My heart is in the UK and for all it’s faults, it’s my ‘home’ and we will be returning there after hubby has finished his work here in Canada.

For anyone who is thinking of moving out of their own Country, please do lots of research before you go anywhere. It is so easy to be starry eyed because living in another Country sounds romantic. When you actually have to live there, it becomes a different story completely. I wish I could take all the good little bits of every Country I have lived in and make a whole Country out of them, but of course we can’t do that. Just remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Statistics in NZ show that 1,000 people EVERY WEEK leave NZ to go to another Country and may people who do immigrate there from the UK, end up going back.”

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9 thoughts on “A British Canadian’s Perspective

  1. Wow, that is the perfect description of what it is like to live in New Zealand, S Millward. I just wish my Kiwi husband had a similar taste for civilisation, but he went native not long after we arrived, and does not want anything more than a tent, bonfire, rollies and case of VB while our teeth all fall out.

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  2. Have returned after 5 years in nz to the uk! A beautiful country but really lacks alot of stimulation,there was always a bit of an obsession with talking and playing sport ,which is good but many kiwis mentioned that this supplied a good way to release the serotonin to counter act the quiet depression that seems to permeate through the people! A reason for this ,I think,maybe the fact that kiwis can be incredibly cold,emotionless,hard people(warm with the mouth,but cold with the heart) an inability to laugh at themselves,and huge shoulders that they need patting regularly.alot are well educated which sees them head off overseas and rarely return ! I met some good kiwis, my wife is one,but always found a self serving side to them in many circumstances!

    I still have never known a place like Christchurch for some real nasty crimes ,and I’ve spent years in Africa,far east, Aussie etc, nothing comes close to Christchurch! Good luck to people who are going to give it a go but don’t sell your house before you emigrate ,rent out there for a few years and see if it suits,seen too many burn bridges heading to “godsown” also heard an awful lot about “kiwi ingenuity” but have only ever heard about it from kiwis! One more thing,the term “whinging pom” tends to be cast when your comments seem too close to the truth! But fair enough,if it’s not for you leave,we did,and my kiwi wife couldn’t wait!!

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  3. Normally we don’t publish abusive posts on the blog because it lowers the tone.

    Occasionally we do let one or two see the light of day when we think they are a typical example of the xenophobia and small mindedness that is directed at immigrants in New Zealand.

    It’s incredible that so many people share these “collective lies” yet people like Sam would have us believe that it’s people like him who don’t have a problem.

    And New Zealand used to be such a friendly country.

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  4. My partner and I visited NZ for about a week about 6 years ago, has a lovely holiday and subsequently considered emigrating there. To cut a long story short, we never got round to it and remained in the UK.

    Anyway, we just got from Auckland yesterday (a week there on business) and, boy, we so glad we didn’t go! It’s a city that lots of things going for it – the water, the hilly topography, great Asian food etc. But it’s expensive as hell…books cost 2 to 3 times more than the UK, a pair of ordinary Clarks trainers sell for about £130-150 (!!!), quality clothing (ie. good UK or US brands) costs the earth…I could go on and on but you get the picture.

    Britain isn’t perfect by any means but it’s better than most places – and I’ve lived in the US (parochial and place that felt absolutely at odds with my values and politics), Canada (quite boring, ongoing identity crisis and constantly in thrall to the US), Hong Kong (bad air quality, obsessed with money), South Africa (too edgy, crime-ridden, still divisive culturally, expensive and crappy wages that will leave you trapped).

    I had dinner in Liverpool the other night…great restaurant, brilliant people around, great sense of humour. Spent sunday morning walking Crosby beach and admired the Anthony Gormley figures that have taken up permanent residence there. Yup, this’ll do me. No place like home, really.

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  5. I would like to tell tourists who are thinking of migrating to take a good close look at the Kiwis you see walking around when you visit. Its citizens do not radiate physical well-being. They do not all look like Lucy Lawless. Too many are obese (from cheap starchy diets because fresh vegetables are so expensive, and because they put sugar in everything here), have rotting teeth and ancient clothing and shoes, melanomas and gin blossoms. They cannot afford cosmetics. Take a very close look. Try to engage them in intelligent conversation and see how many intelligent answers you receive. Examine the houses very closely – and their prices. Once you pull your eyes off the dazzling scenery, it isn’t as pretty a picture.

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