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Hi and nice to meet you!

I am new in this forum and I am looking for a fellow Canadians (or people who lived in Canada .. or maybe U.S.) who moved to New Zealand to give me their opinions on how life compares between Canada and New Zealand and how do you feel about the move!

I will tell a little bit about myself :)

I am living in Canada for a quite a few years now. When I have immigrated to Canada from Europe it was not an easy adjustment for me since things were really different and honestly it took several years and moving to a right city to finally feel at home. Now I really like living in Canada, people are very nice, work opportunities are great, salaries are decent compared to cost of living. In general I am pretty happy living here but 6 out of 12 months I am not feeling the best.. it is so cold.. -20 c or -30 c is pretty common.. and it is middle of May and it is just starting to get warm.. end of October will start getting cold again.. I am very outdoorsy person but in the winter I am not a fan of being out much. In general I've been feeling sick/tired a lot during the winter months :(

Also it is not that easy to get to nature and it takes hour(s) driving to get out of the city. I dont have a car so the only nature I usually go to is a big park in the city, which is very beautiful but limiting. I am also interested to spend some time in the place where nature looks different to experience something new.

I would like to hear your experience moving from Canada to New Zealand, pros and cons, if it was worth it.
Thank you!
 

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If you are living in Auckland, you might have the same problem in getting to nature. From the centre of Auckland, it would take about 3/4 hour to get out, although to the west is the Waitakere ranges with bushwalks etc, and there's also the beaches.

When you say you are moving to NZ, do you have a particular area in mind? Because NZ is a very diverse country from region to region. Invercargill in the south is also very cold, but no place gets as low as -30 C. Auckland hardly ever gets as low as 0 C, let alone -20.
 

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Thanks for your reply! :)

The place to move will be based on the job location (i am in software) and according to my current research it most likely will be Auckland.. since both me and my partner have better chances to get a work there.
However I think I would prefer to live in the city like Wellington. But since I am also looking for something as warm as possible (haha) Auckland might be good.
I know it would not be the best city to live in order to access the nature, unless we live in the far suburbs. It still looked like there is a lot of nature within 30 minute drive (or maybe some public transit?) if we do not live right in the downtown. I think even if we still can't access nature everyday the option to go comfortably (no -20 c hah) for a hike/bike ride whole year even if it is only during weekends sounds luring to me.. but not sure if I am romanticizing this.

One of the things about nature in Canada (and many other places ).. even when the summer is finally here half of the May, June and July you can only go to certain places because otherwise you will be eaten alive by hungry mosquitoes, black and deer flies. I made this mistake once going into far north wilderness in the end of May and my body was healing for the next month from black flies wounds haha. I am wondering how is the bug situation in New Zealand?
 

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Hi there,

I moved to Wellington, NZ from Northern California (San Francisco Bay Area, where I spent most of my first 30 years!) in 2007. I married a Kiwi which helped me adjust to my new country, and I also quickly built a wide base of friends, but there was a bit of a culture shock nonetheless. We lived in Welly for three years, then went back to CA for three years, and finally moved back here to NZ, but to the Kapiti Coast region, two years ago. We have three small children under 6.

Here are some of the pros and cons in my mind of moving to NZ from a place like the US:

PROS:
- Climate: like inhamilton said, it can get pretty cold in some parts of NZ, but even then, it's mild compared to places like Canada or the midwest US! I found Wellington a bit chilly for my California sensibilities (never warmer than about 27 for most of the summer, and down around 12 most of the winter in the sun, plus ~170 days of the year with STRONG wind, brrrr). But here on the coast, it's much warmer, less wind, and still only a 40 minute commute (and a beautiful one at that) into the city. If you don't have kids and both work in the city, this is a FANTASTIC option.

- Outdoors: Even in Auckland, like above poster said, you have gorgeous beaches nearby, and drive less than an hour (which is short after living in the US) and you're in nowhereville looking at sheep and rolling hills and beaches beyond that. Four hours drive will put you in the wilderness for sure! NZers are way better at getting outdoors than Americans in my opinion! Even their architecture places a high value on "indoor/outdoor flow". Where we live there are dozens of reserves, walks, bike tracks, etc all within a 30-min drive or less. You will never tire of outdoor adventures living here. Yes, there are mosquitoes and some nasty tiny fleas that love my ankles, but if I wear socks and slather on a bit of essential oil they leave me alone. Plus--no bears, no snakes, no coyotes, no mountain lions... nothing like camping in North America!!

- Small population: This is pro in my mind for many reasons, tho also a con for a few (see below). The pros are that things like health care, education, government--while NZers complain, and of course nothing is perfect and there are definitely areas of improvement needed (as with any country)--these systems all run fairly well compared to the US! So much less red tape and so much easier to talk to a real person and get action when you need it. I know people will disagree with me, but having grown up in a major US metropolitan region and rarely (if ever) seeing someone from local (let alone state or federal) government and then moving here where you can run into the local councilors at the local cafe several times a year without trying... yeah, it's different in a good way, I think. Plus the maternity care system here is top notch in my experience. Again, nothing's perfect, but way better than what I've seen back home. Also, it's just cool that you get to know people in your community because it's just that small, but not so small in a place like this that you can't find your own space, if you know what I mean.

- Eco-consciousness: Not sure what to label this, but coming from the US, I have loved this aspect of NZ and how it's impacted my life. The US has become a very consumerist, disposable culture--even if it ain't broke, chuck it in a landfill cuz the newest version just released and it's cheaper than the last one! I find it so much easier to spend, spend, spend in America because things are so readily and cheaply available. But down here it's still (despite the internet) quite expensive to get just about anything, so most people find a way to make do with what they have--recycle, reuse, repurpose, etc. It's part of what they call "Kiwi ingenuity" and it's awesome. Less stuff really does make for a happier life.

CONS:
- Cost of living: despite what I just said above about less stuff, sometimes I still get really annoyed at how expensive EVERYTHING seems to be here! Petrol, food, power, car, housing, clothes, shoes, books, toys, you name it! Everybody wants to sell their old junk for WAY more than it's worth (stuff that wouldn't even be picked up FREE off Craigslist back in California), so even finding things second hand here is a pain. Instead I resort to waiting until someone is coming from the US and hitching a ride for things like books and small toys in their luggage! But shipping is crazy too--I should write a post about our bad experience with that--so no matter what route you take, coming from a place like N America you're likely to find this a con.

- Small population: Related to the above, having only 4.5 million people in the whole country (and an island country at the bottom of the world for that matter) can present its challenges. A lot of NZers are well-traveled and highly educated with ties to global family and other cultures, so have a balanced view of life and the world outside this little bubble. But some don't. And you can't exactly expect them to move beyond it if they've never been outside the bubble. Plus, with a smaller pool of people, it's harder to accomplish some of the things that you can do with so many more. One example for us is homeschooling. It's HUGE in America, esp California, so I've planned to do it for years because of all the amazing options available back there. But here? About 15 years behind because the numbers are just so small--hard to find enough people to organize events, clubs, etc.

- TALL POPPY: I'd never heard of this until my then-fiance mentioned it to me not long before our wedding. I shrugged it off as probably no big deal. Big mistake. It's a HUGE deal, especially coming from the US (though may not be as much of an issue if you're coming from Canada--sorry not sure). I learned the hard way after about a year of feeling like I was running into brick walls with people (mainly at work, which is where it plays out the worst) that this issue is alive and well and strong. Just do a little research on it if you do decide to move here so that you at least are somewhat prepared for it!! And try to find at least a couple of encouraging friends to keep near at hand for times when things get rough--helps you keep perspective!

Other than that, I would highly recommend emigrating to NZ! You'll find heaps of Canadians and other expats here, so lots of diversity as well as familiarity. If you can deal with the cons, then in my opinion the pros are well worth it. If you plan to raise a family, it's one of the best places on earth I'd wager. Hope you found this helpful!

PS--if you do plan to ship stuff over, I might try to hitch a ride for a couple of items with your permission!!! :)
 

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Thank you elism for such helpful information! I am hoping you and others in this forum might be able to help me.

I am in the early stages of planning a possible move to New Zealand (from near Toronto in Canada). I am easily convinced to move on the basis of weather, geography, culture and people. My worry relates to the cost of living. I have done some research and it seems like the smaller areas in NZ might be quite comparable to where I live now in terms of housing affordability, but I have seen a number of posts like yours talking about the high cost of food, transportation, etc. One website essentially told people to never consider moving to NZ for these reasons, but I'm guessing that's a bit of a radical one :)

I am looking at smaller areas such as where you are outside of Wellington, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Blenheim (perhaps others, am still researching - need sunshine, no snow and preferably a view of the water!). I am a speech-language therapist and have been in healthcare management for several years. In your experience (and that of any other North American expats in NZ you may know, or on this forum), is the cost of living relative to income levels in smaller regions very different from what we'd see in California or southern Ontario? I am happy to admit that I don't need much to live on and be happy, but I also don't want to be destitute :) Any thoughts or comments would be tremendously appreciated! My husband and I will be visiting NZ early in 2016 for a scouting mission as well. Thank you!
 

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I have done some research and it seems like the smaller areas in NZ might be quite comparable to where I live now in terms of housing affordability, but I have seen a number of posts like yours talking about the high cost of food, transportation, etc. One website essentially told people to never consider moving to NZ for these reasons, but I'm guessing that's a bit of a radical one :)

I am looking at smaller areas such as where you are outside of Wellington, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Blenheim (perhaps others, am still researching - need sunshine, no snow and preferably a view of the water!). I am a speech-language therapist and have been in healthcare management for several years. In your experience (and that of any other North American expats in NZ you may know, or on this forum), is the cost of living relative to income levels in smaller regions very different from what we'd see in California or southern Ontario? I am happy to admit that I don't need much to live on and be happy, but I also don't want to be destitute :) Any thoughts or comments would be tremendously appreciated! My husband and I will be visiting NZ early in 2016 for a scouting mission as well. Thank you!
Yes, it's better to research as you're doing, and likely the advice to avoid NZ is a bit radical! It's not impossible to live here, obviously--we're doing it. But it's challenging unless you happen to be in an industry that fits where you want to live. Health care is one that seems like you'd do well. I've unfortunately been in and out of hospital a number of times recently, and the majority of staff I ran into seemed to be foreign! Canadians, Brits, Asians... lots of people from overseas in the health care sector.

I've found Immigration NZ very helpful over the years, so if you haven't already spoken to them, I'd recommend checking out the website and opening up contact--they are quite knowledgeable in my experience and willing to help.

A scouting visit is a wise idea. If you can possibly use TradeMe.co.nz to look into home prices, and check with local councils about rates and such, and even check out employment possibilities... you'd start to get a good idea. I'd also say try shopping at the supermarket, walk through the local mall, and compare prices with what you're used to.

Finally, I would say that cost of living is less of an issue if you aren't coming with children in tow! If you have two partners working and no kids, you will probably be okay :) Kids make it a whole lot trickier I believe!
 

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Thank you again elism! I have registered with Immigration NZ and have been astounded with the excellent information they send. The "radical" site I happened across warned readers that they are not to be trusted and are selling a false bill of goods, so I am happy to hear of your experience. I will also look at the TradeMe website.

Yes, it's just me and the husband, no kids in tow! Our ideal situation would be for me to get a job and for us to buy a B&B that my husband would run in conjunction with his woodturning business. However, pulling a massive plan like that off from halfway around the world won't be easy :)

Thank you again for your kind help and hopefully you won't mind if I ask you questions along the way as we get this ball rolling!
 

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I don't mind at all :) It's really nice to have forums like this where expats can share knowledge and experience.

I've actually seen a couple of B&Bs for sale on TradeMe--one in Nelson was gorgeous, originally a monastery or a convent that had been fully restored to its period architectural grandeur, had a vineyard with a label, historic site status etc. And arts and crafts are pretty big in NZ. Especially here on the Kapiti Coast. Possibly due to large retired population who are all getting in touch with their creative sides :) but have seen a lot of people relocating here and establishing studios and getting into local galleries.

All the best!
 

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I made the move from Vancouver to Auckland 3 years ago this week. I had a job organised in advance, which also expedited getting residence. Still took about 3 months from submitting EOI to getting my "blue sticker" visa.

On balance, it's good here. Really good. People are friendly, open to newcomers. Great coffee and some good food. For a city smaller than Vancouver--but still the main city for the country--lots of cultural stuff on offer. Within 2 hours there's lots of hiking, more beaches than I can name, great camping, decent scuba diving. One coast is calm warmer water in summer; the other bracing, big-waves year-round.

Salaries, if you don't convert to CAD are higher. Income taxes are lower. GST is about the same, but it applies to everything. Groceries are expensive, particularly if you want things like tomatoes all year round. They restrict a lot of food imports because of pests. Dairy's a bit cheaper. For other goods, it's often cheaper to order online from the States or Europe, even when shipping and duty are added. Selection is poor compared to Canada for many things. Small country, tiny market.

Winter is milder here, even compared to Vancouver. But you need to know that the quality of housing here is generally poor compared to Canada. Anything built before 1990 probably has no insulation and single glazed windows. And the housing market here is getting stoopidly expensive. Like Vancouver and Sydney expensive. If you have a decent deposit ($150k in NZD) you can still get on the "ladder".

What else would you like to know? ;)
 

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Thanks jawnbc - terrific info! I have read about the housing quality and I wondered when they started being built better, so knowing 1990-ish is helpful.

Do you know if it's crazy expensive to buy land and build?

Also, when you first came over, what did you do for living arrangements - are there many furnished apartments to rent? I don't want to buy a house on-line and it's obviously way too far to come and go prior to moving, so would rather keep our stuff in storage, rent a furnished apartment for 3-6 months, and move into a house then.

One more question - Are mortgages handled similarly to Canada?

Thank you so much for your help!!
 

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I should add - we're probably looking at a smaller city. Will be coming over in March to scout out locations, but currently thinking Napier, outside of Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim/Marlborough. Which coast is the wavier and which coast is the calmer?

And another question re finding a job - the NZ immigration site lists off some job sites that are immigrant-friendly, are those the best places to register or do you have other suggestions? Healthcare is probably the sector I'm looking at, but my background is mixed, being a therapist and a business manager almost 50-50.
 

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For ex-pats coming in with some resources--who are willing to build a ways out from CBD Auckland (25km or more) you can find a "section" and build on it. In other markets besides Auckland and Christchurch the price of land can make this good value. There are lots of companies that specialize in new builds. How that impacts mortgages I'm not sure.

Mortgages are similar to Canada: max 5 years on a locked-in rate, usually. Terms up to 30 years. Very competitive, but expect to pay upwards of 3-4% more than you'd get in Canada right now.

The job search thing really is industry and role-specific. I'm an academic, so I looked at specific universities' listings--and unis all have pre-approval to hire academics from overseas. It will depend on what job you're going for and how high demand is. Like most places, nurses seem to be successful in getting offers; ditto physicians and some allied health professions. Not sure about therapists.

But a lot of offshore folks find it difficult to get an offer until they have the right to work.
 

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Yeah, I was thinking potential employers would prefer to see the blue sticker in hand. So I'm going to submit the EOI later this month. I have 145 points and am in the skill shortage category (speech-language therapist) so am hopeful that bodes well. Is there a site that lists all the universities in NZ? I'm curious where the speech-language training programs are. Thanks for the info about building and about mortgages! I am so thrilled to have found this site, you and elism have been absolutely amazing!
 

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This is probably a stupid question but I'm going to ask anyway :) Is it possible to bring any electric/electronic equipment from North America to NZ? Any adapters I've seen have typically been for really low voltage like shavers. My assumption is no, we'll have to buy all new, but thought I'd ask just in case. Our initial plan had been to sell everything without sentimental value and buy in NZ, but knowing the higher cost of things there, we're changing plans and will ship as much stuff as possible instead. Winter parkas excluded :) Thanks!
 

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I researched this as well with our last move, and we did end up shipping. Now I wish we hadn't! Unless you're willing to pay for a really good company, you run the risk of getting ripped off :( But could just be my bad experience speaking. What happened to us was that we got a quote, they took our stuff, we flew out the next day, and after we'd arrived in NZ got word from them that our stuff exceeded the original estimate such that we required a full container... i.e. several thousand dollars more in shipping and insurance costs, but we didn't have enough to FILL a container. So they got our money, and we didn't ship some basics like a couch/lounge suite that ARE expensive here! Gr.

As for electrical stuff, most of the advice I found was that things with motors (a lot of kitchen appliances, sewing machine, etc) wear down much more quickly using a transformer, so best to buy those here, despite the cost difference. Little things like shavers may as well buy here as well as they don't typically last long on adapters either and the cost is relatively low. What's worth it to bring are electronics, because you'll get way better prices on those in N America, and most of them are universal, so only need the wall adapter (but good to make sure before you buy). We brought smart TV, universal DVD player, laptops, phones, stereo, etc. All work fine.

Just wish I'd bought more stuff at IKEA to fill that dumb container! Or else skipped it and found everything on TradeMe. But again, we have kids (three small boys!) so we are not into high-end stuff at this stage of life and secondhand or IKEA quality suits us. If you have nice things that you've invested in, worth it to check shipping costs. Just do a lot of research and I'd highly recommend having them visit your home to give an in-person quote so they can't pull the rug out from under you as happened to us!
 

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Very good advice! I had wondered if shipping companies could be challenging that way, they sort of have you between a rock and a hard place!!! Really not looking forward to that aspect of this whole plan :(

What did you do for accommodation when you first arrived - did you find a furnished apartment until you could find somewhere you wanted to be long term? Are there many options in the furnished apartment realm?

Also, to buy health insurance, did you buy something in the States to cover you or did you buy something in NZ?

Thanks yet again!!
 

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Yup, they had us over a barrel for sure. Nasty situation to find ourselves in and it ate up most of our savings :(

I married a Kiwi so my first time moving here he had already found us a furnished flat :) Our first three years we moved a number of times, and always rented mostly furnished places as we didn't want to spend much on furniture.

Coming back after 3 years in California, we were fortunate to stay with a couple different friends in Auckland until my husband could find us a rental down this way about a month later. We bought our car at an auction up there as well. Good deals on Japanese imports, btw.

I think you're more likely to find furnished flats in the big cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) than the other outlying areas, but probably more helpful to start in one of those places anyway work-wise.

And re health care, we haven't ever purchased insurance here. You can pay for private insurance, and I know a few people who do, but most are happy with the state health care. We actually came back for that reason! Couldn't find affordable care for our last pregnancy in the US (we're self-employed), but pregnancy and birth and all related costs here are covered! Plus it's a fantastic maternal care system compared to a lot of other countries (esp the US). Always areas for improvement, but overall we've had good experiences. But then, we don't have any major health issues.
 

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I'm very much looking forward to escaping Canada's horrible health care - except for life threatening care, the rest of our health care system is shockingly terrible. And I too am self employed and have no private coverage to fill the huge gaps :(

I had understood that new immigrants are not allowed to access the NZ public system for 2 years? Perhaps things were different for you because of marrying a Kiwi? My husband and I have joked that we should each marry a Kiwi to make this whole transition easier :)
 
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