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Thread: We went, We saw, We decided

  1. #1
    ExPat is offline Member
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    We spent the past 3 weeks visiting New Zealand. We visited North Island (Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington) and South Island (Christchurch/Queenstown). We interviewed various people, spoke to others, got to know the culture, the economic conditions, the housing market, and so much more and we came to a decision.

    We will hold off on migrating to NZ indefinitely and will begin to consider other countries or perhaps stay in the US. While there are many, many positives to NZ there are also some unexpected negatives that will keep us from moving there for now.

    Thanks to everyone for indulging our inquires and being helpful during our research. Good luck to everyone on their moves.

    -The not so Expat

  2. #2
    LilAmy's Avatar
    LilAmy is offline God like figure
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Hi Expat,

    At least you can say you went out to NZ and experienced a bit of the way of life there.

    It's never going to be everyone's cuppa tea, at least you found out before you made the big move.

    Hope you have fun looking for the country for you, wishing you the best of luck!

    Lil Amy

  3. #3
    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Good luck with your continuing quest!

    Would you mind sharing some of the factors that influenced your decision? I'd really appreciate your insights, since I may be headed to NZ 'sight unseen.'
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

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    pianist is offline Junior Member
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    YES! Please DO share with us (other Americans) what you've learned that put you off. I can really appreciate an American perspective on this matter! Regardless, we are moving in September to Christchurch because my husband is accepting a tenured position in the university there. We would have sooner chosen another place in the US to move to IF he had another job offer! That's not to say we are dreading the move...most other places in the world are worse! We have chosen to accept it as a challenge and I know we will have to learn to live without many of the things that is typical of an American lifestyle. I am ready to share just one car, take public transport, live in a smaller home not heated to American standards, eat out much less, go shopping much less.....

  5. #5
    ExPat is offline Member
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Well of all the places I visited, I would say Christchurch would be the #1 city I would select to live in so that's a great choice IMHO. As for the reasons and observations here are a few:

    The good:
    New Zealand is beautiful. The landscape is awesome everywhere! The people were 90% friendly & helpful. I would say 100% but I had too many negative experiences with Air New Zealand personnel and this is where the 10% negative comes in. I felt comfortable and safe everywhere I travelled (I can't say the same for many places in the US - especially at night). I was truly amazed at the number of women walking/wondering around by themselveslate at night almost everywhere. [If you visit the US, please don't try to do this - even in National Parks!]

    I will also add that the food was much fresher and less 'processed' than in the US. I didn't particularly like the bland taste of most NZ food but eggs, ham, bacon, milk, butter, etc tasted fresher and better than in the US. (No preservatives/additives?)

    The bad:
    I had dinner with an ex-pat American I met through a mutual friend in the US. He gave me his 'perspective' on his migration. He married a Kiwi (now divorced) and still lives in NZ because of his kids. He was a fairly high level executive in the US for a major company and spent his first couple of years struggling to find a job. He was consistently told that he did not have the 'New Zealand Experience' for any given job he was applying for even though he had 10+ years of experience. He mentioned some of his expat friends had similar situations/stories. Keep in mind that I've been an executive for 10+ years and I don't particularly intend(ed) to start from 'scratch' to 'prove' myself in the workforce. This was highly discouraging for me and my wife (she's also tenured professional). I heard similar stories from other people I talked to throughout my journey all over NZ so my perspective isn't based on this single person but many different people. I believe I have read similar stories in this forum. I'm not sure if UK people have it easier or not - this is strictly the American perspective.

    As a side note, if I ever told a perspective employee here in the US that he/she didn't have the right 'American experience' you can bet your butt that this comment would likely land me and my employer in a courtroom because of a discrimination lawsuit but I guess laws are different.

    Secondly, New Zealand is expensive! With the current exchange rate of about 1 USD to 1.60 NZD we didn't exactly 'struggle' to pay for anything but it occurred to my wife and I that earning NZ Dollars things would be much more expensive than I pay for in the US. Our cheapest restaurant meal was at McDonald's and a family of four cost $30 NZD to dine as we do in the US. The same meals in the US cost $17.00 (we know because we did it just as we got back). We paid on average between $50 - $140 to dine in restaurants while in New Zealand. Buying groceries at a store wasn't exactly cheap either. 3 or 4 slices of packaged ham cost $3 NZD (almost $1/slice!). The grocery selection is limited. We couldn't find any of our favorite cereals, Frito Lay products, etc. The kids didn't like ANY cereal we bought them and we bought a half dozen different kind!
    We looked into housing and we figured we would need to spend between $400k to $600k to live in an 'equivalent' house of where we live now. We have a two story 2700 sq ft. home with 5 bedrooms, office, living room, dining, room, family room, etc.
    While in NZ, I drove a Toyota Camry (4 door sedan) and every time I filled up the car with gas it cost $100 NZD. Gas is $1.70/litre or $6.44/Gallon!


    The Ugly?:
    I hope no one takes offence to this as I do not intend to offend anyone but just publish my general observation as we heard/saw/felt but...... we noticed many people did not appear to be happy with their jobs or have any passion for their work. In speaking to many people we got the general impression that people had an attitude of 'defeatism'. Many people we spoke to talked about moving to Australia or UK or somewhere else to make a better life for themselves. We ran into a single woman at a car rental place that said she was happy to be living in NZ and that she loved it. Finding a person like this was rare. Keep in mind that people were ALWAYS friendly and helpful but I generally 'sensed' that people showed up to work to do a particular task/function then go on with themselves after. Perhaps I didn't get the exposure to career minded people that I should have but that's the general impression we got.

    I had read about animosity towards Asians and I got some open and honest feedback as to why. What we heard was that many 'wealthy' asians were mirgrating to NZ and driving the cost of housing (and other things) up. We heard that many wealthy Asian fathers send their spouses and children to NZ while they remain in Asia. The net result are wealthy asian spoiled brats driving around in Mercedes and BMW's living it up while others struggle to scape by to afford some decent housing. We noticed that Auckland had a great deal of graffiti almost on every building and perhaps this had something to do with it? I must admit that walking in downtown Auckland I almost felt as if I were in downtown Hong Kong with such a large Asian pop

  6. #6
    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Thanks for taking the time to give us your opinions, Expat. It's always valuable to hear the bad as well as the good.

    Hope you find what you're looking for elsewhere. Good luck.
    Mother Bear

    Try to bloom wherever you are planted.

  7. #7
    pianist is offline Junior Member
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Muchas gracias for taking the time to share your observations and experiences with us, ExPat. My husband and I were in Christchurch for 2 weeks in February and I did as much as I could to find out about life there. I didn't run into too many people who didn't care about their jobs, but maybe it's because we mainly talked to people in academia. We learned about the laid back nature of the Kiwis...and maybe that is part of the reason why people there don't work 80 hour weeks like we do (not that it is a good or healthy thing). The people I met in the dance and music world (I am a professional musician) seemed happy, but they didn't make more money than their counterparts here in the US...at least that was my impression. However, it seems people like waiters and sales people in the mall make more money than their American counterparts.
    Although income taxes for us will be 39%, we realize that it goes to maintain things like health care for everyone (medicine is socialized there) and also take care of the old. We both got sick when we were there and finally gave in and saw a 'doctor in the box'. We were shocked that even without health insurance, we only paid $60 (each) for the office visit. My course of antibiotics cost me a mere NZ$20 at the pharmacy!!!! Before I got married, I had to buy my own health insurance (I am self-employed) and the same drugs would have put me out by US$150
    Yes...the thing about racial discrimination...we were told about that as well. A faculty member's daughter was verbally harrassed on the street. Then again, the Asian population in Christchurch tends to clump together. BTW I am Asian, but this kind of stuff doesn't bother me - I always assimilate wherever I go. To me, the ones who discriminate have problems....we have them here too....I went to college in the South. And...my husband is a light-skinned Hispanic! I guess they don't bother Hispanics there! Haha!

  8. #8
    NickampJacky Guest

    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Ex-pat / Pianist

    I am sorry guys, but in my view your crtical analysis of 'making money', references to 'a fairly high powered executive...in a major company' and also ex-pats lack of contact with 'career minded people' probably indicates that your expectations in life are literally oceans apart from what New Zealand could offer you.

    I hope you find contentment somewhere.


    Nick

  9. #9
    ExPat is offline Member
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    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Nick,

    I really loved New Zealand but seeing billboards all over Wellington talking about the 200,000 Kiwis getting a tax break by moving to Australia was a little concerning. Additionally, a few people told us that 300 people/week were leaving NZ for Australia or elsewhere. New Zealand has a great deal to offer but what slaps me on the face is the high cost of everything. One Kiwi we spoke to said the average salary in NZ is about 30k - 40k and in Australia it's 20k more. Do the math. If the average home is 300k and the average salary is 40k then how can you ever afford a home? Of course, I'm sure there is cheaper housing further away from the cities but then your commute is longer and so is the gas expense. The same Kiwi said the average person there had about 50k in credit card debt! It makes sense because I don't see how one can afford a home (mortgage) at those prices AND still pay living expenses too.

    Lastly, I'm not worried about myself but the hardships my kids might have growing up there and trying to fend for themselves after they're off on their own. I'm not after more money, I can clearly and easily earn more here in the US than there in NZ but I was prepared to move there anyway regardless of this fact. I was after a better quality of life and while NZ is appealing to me for many reasons, I must balance the potential consequences of moving there and the current state of NZ economic conditions and migration patterns.

  10. #10
    NickampJacky Guest

    Default We went, We saw, We decided

    Ex pat

    A well balanced point, and a point well made. I guess at the end of the day its upto every individual with their own agenda on life to view New Zealand on its merits and short comings.

    House prices have shot up exponentially over the last half dozen years, and i guess salaries hevent caught up. We are in the fortunate poistion of being able to buy a property out right. So some of your observations have never figured in our decision making processes.

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