What’s It REALLY Like In New Zealand?

Continuing in our series of Migrants’ Tales – first hand stories from migrants living in New Zealand.

Today’s tale was taken from an emigration forum, it’s a thread that started with the question “What’s it really like to live in New Zealand” we’ve included one of the best and most balanced responses it attracted:

“Hi everyone

We are at the very start of this journey. Just beginning to think we might like to start a new life in NZ. OH works in banking IT and as far as we can make out, his skills are in short supply out there. I’m a running coach, triathlete and freelance sports writer – which I know won’t get me into NZ but I”m hoping I might be able to find work once there. I have an MSc and OH has a degree (although not in computing).

We have 2 children – both boys – aged 10 and 8. We currently live in East Sussex and OH spends 3 hours per day commuting to London… something he’s desperate to change.

We are a very active family, we all do running, swimming, cycling, triathlon etc and love the outdoors, esp mountains etc. Not a big fan of big cities and noise..

We don’t have rose tinted glasses, and want to know the good bad and ugly of living in NZ. There’s nothing really much wrong with our life as it stands – there’s no desperate need to escape – but we feel life in NZ would suit us. The slower pace of life and outdoor/sport opportunities really appeals. I love the idea of our kids growing up with more sport and active lifestyle than they have here.

Been doing lots of research and think Auckland could be for us – we’d need to be there for OH’s work and kids school I think. Plus I’m not a fan of wind! so that rules Wellington out..

Reading all the posts on here is scary. Some of you love it, some hate it and can’t wait to go home!

SO…. what I want to know is what is it REALLY like??? one friend says she loves it (she lives in Auckland) another says’ the pace of life is too slow and she hated it.

Also, does anyone know how hard it is to find work in banks as a project manager/business analyst etc?

Just thinking about it all is mind boggling…

Thanks in advance.”

“The grass isn’t always greener”

“Based on living in East Sussex (I do miss the castles and stately homes), the lack of the commute is the main benefit you are going to experience if you can afford to buy close enough to work – I used to commute to London daily from further away than you do. Think your employment in IT in banking sector would be limited to certain probably larger places such as Wellington/Auckland/Christchurch at a pinch – don’t know though.

The other thing to consider is the smaller amount of annual leave people usually get here, the lower wages v higher cost of living ratio (much lower disposal income once essentials met – so savings/pension provision harder to make), the geographic isolation and the prohibitive cost and time required to get out to somewhere different.

Even with the proposed budget changes by the National Government where income tax rates have been lowered (especially for those at top end), GST (Vat equivalent has been increased) to pay for them (feels a bit like Groundhog Day from UK in 1980s)..even with this…there is still no tax free allowance in NZ, you pay tax on every dollar earned. No CGT here but how often would you pay this in UK anyway with the tax free allowance which also applies to it?

If you did have some savings (credit interest is higher here than UK in current crisis) BUT the Government guarantee on bank deposits is about to run off in October this year (duhh!).

Car insurance is not compulsory in NZ (and there is ACC cover for accidents taken out of income) but you do have to pay for GP visits and there are (smallish) contributions to make, even for State schools.

Also quite isolated internally one town to another – virtually non-existent train service(Wellington does have one along Kapiti coast so commuting is an option lol – understand there is only 1 train to Auckland per day from Wellington which is mindblowing if you are from UK), driving is slow (and scary road death stats on empty roads) so flying is only option to get anywhere else quickly within NZ itself and then you need to hire a car when you get there which puts costs up.
Once you’ve done the NZ Road Tour holiday driving round North and South island say in your own car and using the ferry, where do you go next? Australia I suppose but culturally very similar, different geography admittedly.

Outdoorsy lifestyle – yes this is true – they are sport mad with organised weekend sport in Wellington for kids from about age 5/6…the counter is the UV factor – the sun is extremely strong in NZ even on a cloudy day and so staying outside too much arguably isn’t that good for you…on balance even in Wellington the weather is better here on the whole than on UK South Coast but it’s also more severe here..storms, strong wind, colder than you’d expect at times and do you really want to live in an earthquake zone?

If you get on really well with extended family and spend a lot of time with them and value their company, then please think very very hard about this aspect of the move – you simply won’t be part of their lives to any great extent. I’m not permanently here and try to return to UK annually although I did go for 2 years with no return at one point. The grandparents are not getting any younger and illness/death of loved ones in UK is a problem every expat has to contend with at some point.

Scenery is great but architecture nothing to write home about – art deco is about as old as it gets – NZ townships (with a few exceptions) are very samey with an art deco clock, some out of town stores such as The warehouse and canopied shops ‘Wild west style. As others have said you do have to take steps to guard yourself from cold damp housing – recently learned ‘full sun’, roof insulation is key – makes such a difference even though it means more wind.

Personally having seen an awful lot of NZ I could only hack it in a major centre despite being an outdoorsy type….you don’t understand how small small can be and how isolated isolated can be until you come here. I like the cafe culture in Wellington and find I can get most stuff I need (I do miss M&S) at a price. In Wellington I find customer service very good in all aspects.

If you are happy with the senior school state education options where you live in UK for your older junior school age kids then I’d say stay put because here (unless you could afford the private sector) it would be more of a lottery based on where you purchased a house v decile rating of the school. There is generally no uniform in NZ state schools until Senior level and then it suddenly goes all 1950s short trousers and in some areas single sex lol.
It is a bit like living in a timewarp in some respects but the important stuff is reasonably up to date….apart from housing standards, driving standards etc etc

The grass isn’t always greener….”

10 thoughts on “What’s It REALLY Like In New Zealand?

  1. piccadilly ‘sqaure’? 😀 Don’t you mean Piccadilly Circus?!

    And that’s in London…not East Sussex.

    Like

  2. Kiwis think the rest of the world is all paved and depraved.
    It’s the only way they can keep themselves sane, to think they have the only bit of pure nature remaining on Earth while the other developed nations have “put up a parking lot”.

    Like

  3. Living in Florianopolis I took a decision! go travel throught NZ to improve the language and enjoy the “greenest image” about NZ widely spread around Br, surfing and rock climbing my hobbies. visitor permit first and then work holiday visa cool !now im working! but came one day I had to go to the hospital but I couldn’t couse is not allow under working holiday scheme or 1 year of work permit but at my payslip had noted taxpayer and also acc taxes ok then. girlfriend thai hard worker(with business degree) under minimal weges with a dream to get PR here been mislead and dating me, a guy from Br who has seen my country growth rate for this year between 7% and 10% for 2010. Plz im not complaint. Your country is grate! But 3 months waiting for a partner visa!?Too much. Ka kite Aotearoa! 2,5 years enough!

    Like

  4. Cesar :
    Living in Florianopolis I took a decision! go travel throught NZ to improve the language and enjoy the “greenest image” about NZ widely spread around Br, surfing and rock climbing my hobbies. visitor permit first and then work holiday visa cool !now im working! but came one day I had to go to the hospital but I couldn’t couse is not allow under working holiday scheme or 1 year of work permit but at my payslip had noted taxpayer and also acc taxes ok then. girlfriend thai hard worker(with business degree) under minimal wages with a dream to get PR here been mislead and dating me, a guy from Br who has seen my country growth rate for this year between 7% and 10% for 2010. Plz im not complaint. Your country is great! But 3 months waiting for a partner visa!?Too much. Ka kite Aotearoa! 2,5 years enough!

    Like

  5. Mmmm what can I say… well here’s my story. Arrived in NZ in 2007 with the biggest pair of rose tinted spectacles you have ever seen. Yes, I had done research, I just wish I’d fallen on this blog before I came. Would I still have come? Probably. Been here nearly 5 years now and I am so ‘over it’ it’s untrue!! I have never felt so isolated, alone, bereft the list goes on…

    I moved out here with a fourteen year old boy, and two girls four and nine. My son was excelling at school in England, ‘destined for university’ were amongst some of the comments made by his year head in his leaving letter. Three years after being in one of the most shocking schools in the county he left with sweet FA!! They don’t have an education system here unless you are earning copious amounts of money and can send them to ‘private school’. We are currently paying for extra maths and english lessons for my daughter just to give her ‘half a chance’ at NCEA.

    It’s like treading mud…. one step forward and five thousand back. If your kids aren’t into sport then theres little else to keep them occupied. Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti-sport and my two daughters play lots but they need more as teenagers. Its just not here. What they tend to do is go looking down the wrong path… I’m by no means a snob but getting dressed up to stand round an oil drum in someones garden, getting pissed on a grotty flea ridden sofa is not my idea of a night out.

    Friendships… ha ha ha what a joke.. they don’t do friendships. In all my years as a parent and a teenager growing up in the UK I have never come across such disloyal, backstabbing, emotionally retarded people in all my life. Unless you’re the type that change your accent on touchdown and spend your days licking arse then forget friendships.. they don’t do them!

    Expensive… what an understatement. You just get ripped off for everything. Food, dental, clothes, as soon as they hear your accent a plumber or electrician etc are in seventh heaven.. Lets rip the balls outta these guys!! Curtains.. please, you need to remortgage the house for a set. Paint!! don’t even go there, get the sugar soap out and get the walls washed.

    ‘What a negative person” I hear you say.. “why don’t you move back then”. If only.. it’s not as simple as it sounds. My nineteen year old son has started an apprenticeship and If I went back now he wouldn’t come with us. My daughter would be thrown into her GCSE year and has never had a geography, history, chemistry, physics or language lesson in other words she is ‘light years’ behind and I feel it would be cruel. Its called being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    On the plus side (because I’m not such a negative person really) it has nice scenery!!’

    Like

    • One of the easiest ways to get your children on-board for the idea that there’s going to be plenty of hard graft ahead …
      is to set them a target to make some money from their own effort while in NZ.
      Ideally, the people that pay for their goods and services should be strangers.
      I can guarantee it will be an interesting experience that should clear up how “welcome” they actually are … and the rejections may give them ideas for improvement, or where they see themselves in a few years’ time.

      Like

  6. Thank you for that P Ray, it can be hard slog but children can make up their lost years in New Zealand. The sooner they leave the less harm will be done. Good luck Adele.

    Like

    • I agree with that, but the realisation has to come early. Short, sharp shocks are unpleasant – but a long period of anguish is far far worse. The older you are with that realisation – the fewer mistakes you can afford to make.

      Like

By making a comment you agree to abide with the comment guidelines: E2NZ.org/comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s