Advice for moving to NZ

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New Zealand Expat Forum for Expats Living in New Zealand Have you moved to New Zealand from another country? Or are you thinking about making New Zealand your new home? Want to meet others like you and discuss Real Estate, sport, socialising, food, cars, insurance, laws, taxes and anything related to New Zealand?

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Old 25th April 2010, 01:15 AM
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Hello all, and greetings from Atlanta Georgia, USA.

I work in the IT world , and have been offered an opportunity to take a position in Wellington, New Zealand. While I'm excited about the opportunity, I have read some negative posts on other blogs, so I'm hoping to get some feedback from anyone ( preferably folks from the US who have moved to NZ ).

Things I've read and/or heard:

1. Outsiders ( especially from the US ) have a very difficult time integrating into the community
2. The cost of living in New Zealand in sky-high, partially due to the large number of imported goods
3. The school system is not the best
4. The lack of quality health care

As a note, I don't believe that folks are trying to make New Zealand sound like a third world country; my primary concern is that I have personally never lived overseas so I am trying to educate myself as much as possible so I can make as informed of a decision as I can.

Thanks everyone for your feedback! If you can provide any links to online resources as well I would really appreciate it...

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Old 25th April 2010, 03:48 AM
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As someone who was born in NZ but grew up in the US and have spent 80% of my life overseas until finally coming back to NZ recently.
I can offer the following overview.
1. I think that the only "outsiders" that have a problem fitting in are the ones that take a superior attitude. This is true in any country I've lived in, New Zealand is no different. But be aware that Kiwis are very blunt and their dry humor can be mistaken as sarcasm. My accent doesn't fit so I am immediately classified as foreigner and I admit I feel like I am in another new country.
2. Cost of living. Still undecided on that. Quality items can seen expensive but so far medium quality items can be found reasonably priced and there is a lot of cheap "****" too. But I do miss having real breakfasts and decent size steak!! There are some good posts on this forum about CoL.
3. Education - No kids sono personal experience, but again some good discussions comparing NZ to English levels. None read so far regarding US comparisons.
4. Medical system. I have had no major problems requiring the medical system apart from medical check-up for work. My sister had an emergency recently requiring an ambulance trip to Wellington, ECGs etc and a few nights in hospital, and she said the service was superb. For me I dont hold NZ or Australian dentists in high regard and will get any further work that can be delayed done in the Philippines or Thailand for a fraction of the cost and get a holiday at the same time. In fact I would do any surgery OS if possible as it often costs less than your health ins premium!

So, sit back and wait for a couple more answers and see if there is a pattern.


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Old 26th April 2010, 05:15 AM
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I have lived here for nearly a year. Don't do it.

1) It is cheap to live here on US dollars, it is expensive to live here in NZ dollars, particularly compared to the costs/wages we are used to in the US.

2) Tall poppy syndrome is rampant, and it's not just for people who have a superior attitude. It includes anyone who is energetic, outgoing, expressive, overtly happy, or thinks that improving the way things are done is a good thing. If you are not a quiet, introverted person who tends toward depression (and likes it that way), don't even try to live here.

3) Things here are of low quality, from the houses (which for reasons unknown are built without insulation) to the food you buy at the grocery to the appliances you buy at the homewares store. Things are expensive, and then they fall apart, and if you have a problem with that YOU will be considered the unreasonable one. The one place where NZ is absolutely superior to the US, though, is in its meat. Grass-fed beef on a regular basis -- awesome. I will miss that a lot.

4) I have never heard so many just plain wrong and ignorant things about the US as I have here, and I'm not just talking about uninformed private citizens, I'm talking about in the newspapers and editorials. The last two doozies I read was that McCain was the darling of the Republicans during the 2008 elections, and that liberals love to shop at Wal Mart. There is nothing wrong with not knowing things, but it is always delivered in a sneering fashion, usually pointing out how inferior and crazy America is. Really, really annoying.

5) There is a kind of low self-esteem/arrogance thing going on, where as a culture they feel inferior, but then they get mad and try to say they are superior. They are insecure about their place in the world and it sometimes gets in the way of having a simple interaction.

Overall, there is just an attitude of be quiet, don't cause trouble, don't try to puff yourself up by coming up with any new ideas, and if something goes wrong, it's probably your fault.

If you think you can live with that, by all means, move to New Zealand. But I am counting down the days until I can go home -- 56 days, 3 hours, 20 minutes and counting...



Quote:
Originally Posted by andywendycox View Post
Hello all, and greetings from Atlanta Georgia, USA.

I work in the IT world , and have been offered an opportunity to take a position in Wellington, New Zealand. While I'm excited about the opportunity, I have read some negative posts on other blogs, so I'm hoping to get some feedback from anyone ( preferably folks from the US who have moved to NZ ).

Things I've read and/or heard:

1. Outsiders ( especially from the US ) have a very difficult time integrating into the community
2. The cost of living in New Zealand in sky-high, partially due to the large number of imported goods
3. The school system is not the best
4. The lack of quality health care

As a note, I don't believe that folks are trying to make New Zealand sound like a third world country; my primary concern is that I have personally never lived overseas so I am trying to educate myself as much as possible so I can make as informed of a decision as I can.

Thanks everyone for your feedback! If you can provide any links to online resources as well I would really appreciate it...

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Old 26th April 2010, 05:49 AM
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Hi Stella

I'm sorry you've had such a difficult time over here.

I will say that (having read quite a few posts in my time on the forum) that it does seem to be US citizens that have the hardest time. I think that even though we all speak English, the NZ and US cultures and attitudes are different (NZ is much closer to the UK culture). I know that when I worked for a US company in the UK, I couldn't get used to the fact that I was expected to sell myself - as a Brit (and even more so as a Kiwi) you just don't do that, or you're seen as 'getting above yourself' and 'blowing your own trumpet'. Unfortunately that's just the way we are. And Pacific Islanders and Maori are even worse. It is considered extremely bad manners to say good things about yourself! (other people can, but the recipient will go very shy and coy). This means that if you don't know that this is their culture, they can come over very badly in job interviews!

It may be that your exuberance was misinterpreted in the first place, and it's very difficult to stop things once they're started.

So my advice to anyone is play it cool when you first arrive, and let yourself be accepted before starting to introduce new ideas. It's not that they don't want them, it's just a culture thing.

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Old 26th April 2010, 07:05 AM
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Topcat, thank you so much for your kind post -- every kind word is like water to a thirsty soul!

Interestingly, I have been thinking about exactly what you say here. I think you are right -- it is probably easier for British people to adjust than people from the US. I come across as quiet and rather serene (though I can be forceful as well), but my husband is quite exuberant and outgoing. There is definitely a culture conflict here. Still, even British people are more outgoing than Kiwis -- I feel such relief when I meet a Brit, as I feel that we have more in common than them than with the Kiwis.



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Hi Stella

I'm sorry you've had such a difficult time over here.

I will say that (having read quite a few posts in my time on the forum) that it does seem to be US citizens that have the hardest time. I think that even though we all speak English, the NZ and US cultures and attitudes are different (NZ is much closer to the UK culture). I know that when I worked for a US company in the UK, I couldn't get used to the fact that I was expected to sell myself - as a Brit (and even more so as a Kiwi) you just don't do that, or you're seen as 'getting above yourself' and 'blowing your own trumpet'. Unfortunately that's just the way we are. And Pacific Islanders and Maori are even worse. It is considered extremely bad manners to say good things about yourself! (other people can, but the recipient will go very shy and coy). This means that if you don't know that this is their culture, they can come over very badly in job interviews!

It may be that your exuberance was misinterpreted in the first place, and it's very difficult to stop things once they're started.

So my advice to anyone is play it cool when you first arrive, and let yourself be accepted before starting to introduce new ideas. It's not that they don't want them, it's just a culture thing.

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Old 26th April 2010, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andywendycox View Post
Hello all, and greetings from Atlanta Georgia, USA.

I work in the IT world , and have been offered an opportunity to take a position in Wellington, New Zealand. While I'm excited about the opportunity, I have read some negative posts on other blogs, so I'm hoping to get some feedback from anyone ( preferably folks from the US who have moved to NZ ).

Things I've read and/or heard:

1. Outsiders ( especially from the US ) have a very difficult time integrating into the community
2. The cost of living in New Zealand in sky-high, partially due to the large number of imported goods
3. The school system is not the best
4. The lack of quality health care

As a note, I don't believe that folks are trying to make New Zealand sound like a third world country; my primary concern is that I have personally never lived overseas so I am trying to educate myself as much as possible so I can make as informed of a decision as I can.

Thanks everyone for your feedback! If you can provide any links to online resources as well I would really appreciate it...
I also worry about these things but my company insists I go. I do not like what I hear about New Zealand and worry about the crime and low education. How do the Kiwis like Germans?

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Old 26th April 2010, 07:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braulio View Post
I also worry about these things but my company insists I go. I do not like what I hear about New Zealand and worry about the crime and low education. How do the Kiwis like Germans?
Not a problem - Kiwis are very welcoming to most nationalities. However (and I'm sure we'd be the same if someone tried the same in our own countries) they don't take too kindly to people coming in and telling them that 'other countries do it better'.

Come with an open mind, play it cool when you first arrive and let the locals get to know you before you try and tell them what to do. They're much more likely to accept you then....

And I hope you'll find that crime and low education are not an issue. We certainly haven't found them to be a problem, and neither have any of our friends.

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Old 26th April 2010, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andywendycox View Post
Hello all, and greetings from Atlanta Georgia, USA.

I work in the IT world , and have been offered an opportunity to take a position in Wellington, New Zealand. While I'm excited about the opportunity, I have read some negative posts on other blogs, so I'm hoping to get some feedback from anyone ( preferably folks from the US who have moved to NZ ).

Things I've read and/or heard:

1. Outsiders ( especially from the US ) have a very difficult time integrating into the community
2. The cost of living in New Zealand in sky-high, partially due to the large number of imported goods
3. The school system is not the best
4. The lack of quality health care

As a note, I don't believe that folks are trying to make New Zealand sound like a third world country; my primary concern is that I have personally never lived overseas so I am trying to educate myself as much as possible so I can make as informed of a decision as I can.

Thanks everyone for your feedback! If you can provide any links to online resources as well I would really appreciate it...

I moved to NZ 18 months ago and I've learned to love it/hate it/live it. I'm still relatively new here and on any given day I can either love it or leave it. Mostly my reasons for wanting to leave it boils down to one thing - its so friggen far from friends and family. But, that's my deal and I hear homesickness fades, so I will try to stick to answering your questions.

1. I'm Canadian and my husband is American. He says he felt more anti-American sentiment living in Canada than he has here. However, I still struggle with the integration/culture shock. The biggest shock is how culturally acceptable racism is, and how sexual harassment is just "harmless jibing". I'm constantly astounded at how they can get away with commercials and radio stints that make fun of orientals/indians/mexicans. No, it's not funny and stereotypical, people. It's just flat out racist.

2. Cost of living - be prepared to pay A LOT more for every day stuff. I'm also in IT, and I find that my salary doesn't go quite as far as it did in North America. Shoes, books and makeup/skin care is close to tripled in price. Food and groceries, gas... they still make me flinch. My husband and I averaged $200 a week at the supermarket before we started changing our shopping habits. We now go to a separate butcher, grocers, and supermarket and average $160 a week. Electricity bill for a 1 bedroom apartment averages $130 (summer) and $180 (winter) per month! Going to a movie costs $15.50 for adults, a tall latte and a muffin costs $9 at Starbucks, a Wendy's baconator meal costs around $12. An oil change costs $90. Although gas prices are higher, you'll probably end up driving a lot less. Wellington is tiny compared to Atlanta...you may experience more culture shock from moving to a smaller town than from actually moving to a different country. However, Wellington has its appeal. It's vibrant for it's size, and has the most amount of public art (and free museums/exhibits) I've ever seen in a city.

3. School system - sorry, no kids (yet). But, my husband is in University and can expect a level of education in his Bachelor's (Physiotherapy) that surpasses Masters programs in the States. Tertiary education here is excellent.

4. Medical system - I've had to go to a few medical clinics at $80 a pop before I became a resident, and $65 afterwards. You don't automatically get health insurance or any other perks from employers, which was a big adjustment for me. You'll have to pay for insurance or out of your own pocket for dentists and extras like massage, physio, chiro. All medical services incurred due to accidents are free. My husband sprained his ankle really badly and thought he could have broken it...we went to the Emergency room, he got the all clear with digital x-rays, a set of new crutches and pain pills all within 40 minutes. It wasn't a serious problem but it was fast service, and the people were great. I can't comment on the quality of healthcare for other issues, simply because I haven't experienced it.

As for crime, I don't think its any worse than many parts North America. We had our car window smashed in and someone attempted to steal it in Auckland. But, I also had my car window smashed in Vancouver. Like any place, you just learn to avoid the dodgy areas.

So, it comes down to what you are willing to let go and give up. You WILL take a hit in standard of living and the "niceties". You WILL live in drafty damp place and will be in a constant state of cold for half the year. You WILL have to adjust your habits. Shops close at 5:30 on weekdays and many aren't open Sundays, so you end up doing all your errands and shopping on Saturdays. Eating out (even fast food) is expensive. I've learned to cook and bake, mostly because you can't buy stuff like perogies here and because I refuse to pay $12 for an apple pie, but also because shops are closed by 5:30 anyways.

If you take advantage of what New Zealand has to offer, what you WILL gain is an amazing adventure. The landscape is a mixture of Queensland, California, Hawaii, Middle Earth, Oregon Coast, Ireland, the Rockies, and even Mars. You may not be able to afford to travel outside of the country often, but there's lots to see and do here. There's a reason why tourists love it. If you're willing to adapt, you'll be fine. Just don't expect the same lifestyle you had in America.
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Old 26th April 2010, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kea View Post
I moved to NZ 18 months ago and I've learned to love it/hate it/live it. I'm still relatively new here and on any given day I can either love it or leave it. Mostly my reasons for wanting to leave it boils down to one thing - its so friggen far from friends and family. But, that's my deal and I hear homesickness fades, so I will try to stick to answering your questions.

1. I'm Canadian and my husband is American. He says he felt more anti-American sentiment living in Canada than he has here. However, I still struggle with the integration/culture shock. The biggest shock is how culturally acceptable racism is, and how sexual harassment is just "harmless jibing". I'm constantly astounded at how they can get away with commercials and radio stints that make fun of orientals/indians/mexicans. No, it's not funny and stereotypical, people. It's just flat out racist.

2. Cost of living - be prepared to pay A LOT more for every day stuff. I'm also in IT, and I find that my salary doesn't go quite as far as it did in North America. Shoes, books and makeup/skin care is close to tripled in price. Food and groceries, gas... they still make me flinch. My husband and I averaged $200 a week at the supermarket before we started changing our shopping habits. We now go to a separate butcher, grocers, and supermarket and average $160 a week. Electricity bill for a 1 bedroom apartment averages $130 (summer) and $180 (winter) per month! Going to a movie costs $15.50 for adults, a tall latte and a muffin costs $9 at Starbucks, a Wendy's baconator meal costs around $12. An oil change costs $90. Although gas prices are higher, you'll probably end up driving a lot less. Wellington is tiny compared to Atlanta...you may experience more culture shock from moving to a smaller town than from actually moving to a different country. However, Wellington has its appeal. It's vibrant for it's size, and has the most amount of public art (and free museums/exhibits) I've ever seen in a city.

3. School system - sorry, no kids (yet). But, my husband is in University and can expect a level of education in his Bachelor's (Physiotherapy) that surpasses Masters programs in the States. Tertiary education here is excellent.

4. Medical system - I've had to go to a few medical clinics at $80 a pop before I became a resident, and $65 afterwards. You don't automatically get health insurance or any other perks from employers, which was a big adjustment for me. You'll have to pay for insurance or out of your own pocket for dentists and extras like massage, physio, chiro. All medical services incurred due to accidents are free. My husband sprained his ankle really badly and thought he could have broken it...we went to the Emergency room, he got the all clear with digital x-rays, a set of new crutches and pain pills all within 40 minutes. It wasn't a serious problem but it was fast service, and the people were great. I can't comment on the quality of healthcare for other issues, simply because I haven't experienced it.

As for crime, I don't think its any worse than many parts North America. We had our car window smashed in and someone attempted to steal it in Auckland. But, I also had my car window smashed in Vancouver. Like any place, you just learn to avoid the dodgy areas.

So, it comes down to what you are willing to let go and give up. You WILL take a hit in standard of living and the "niceties". You WILL live in drafty damp place and will be in a constant state of cold for half the year. You WILL have to adjust your habits. Shops close at 5:30 on weekdays and many aren't open Sundays, so you end up doing all your errands and shopping on Saturdays. Eating out (even fast food) is expensive. I've learned to cook and bake, mostly because you can't buy stuff like perogies here and because I refuse to pay $12 for an apple pie, but also because shops are closed by 5:30 anyways.

If you take advantage of what New Zealand has to offer, what you WILL gain is an amazing adventure. The landscape is a mixture of Queensland, California, Hawaii, Middle Earth, Oregon Coast, Ireland, the Rockies, and even Mars. You may not be able to afford to travel outside of the country often, but there's lots to see and do here. There's a reason why tourists love it. If you're willing to adapt, you'll be fine. Just don't expect the same lifestyle you had in America.
Thanks Kea - a great post. And a really good balanced view of life in our beautiful (but far from perfect) country.

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Old 26th April 2010, 03:12 PM
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Thanks all for the incredibly valuable posts!

Keep'em coming!

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