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Moving to New Zealand - Living in New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand permanently, or simply living in New Zealand part-time, presents the new immigrant, resident or investor with many opportunities for elation or disappointment. Much depends on your attitude, your information, and your preconceived notions. Being a guest in a country and actually living in a country can be two very different things. The attendant differences in culture, morals, background, and business practices can be quite surprising. Here's a sampling of how one American family found their transition into a new life in New Zealand...

A Personal New Zealand Immigration Experience:

"Kia Ora," Greetings! [City Living - New Zealand Style]

My name is Joey and I'm a personal consultant at NuKiwi.com in Auckland, New Zealand. My husband, two children and I first arrived here around five years ago. The idea of New Zealand was introduced to us by a well-travelled acquaintance of ours who kept a home here and enthusiastically urged us to “get down there and see it for yourselves, ASAP”. So we checked it out, and we liked much of what we saw. As I write this, we're enjoying a pleasant, safe, and peaceful life just north of Auckland.

However, all was not bliss. We had zero friends or family to rely on and were totally on our own. Quite often things did not go smoothly. Information on both simple and complex matters that we would try to locate was often not to be found in the usual places. We became quite tired of hearing, "No one's ever asked that question before" repeatedly given in answer.

A Tourist Only Gets Part of the Real Picture

It must be understood that visiting a country and actually living there are two completely different things. We made two lengthy visits to NZ before actually moving here. We virtually lived in libraries, scouring countless databases, documents and reports. We asked questions of hotel employees, store clerks, restaurant servers, and anyone else who would talk to us. Although most everyone tried to be helpful, including our immigration consultants, they simply did not see their country from the same perspective as we did. Everyday things that were inconsequential to them were often of great importance or maddeningly irritating to us. This complaint has since been repeatedly echoed by many of our migrant friends and acquaintances.

New Zealand - Where the Ordinary is Extraordinary

Some of the things we now appreciate most about New Zealand are also the most commonplace aspects and events of everyday life. For example, the gorgeous local beach where we walk regularly. In other places such an incredible beach would be surrounded by multi-million dollar estates and would probably not be accessible to the general public. Yet we are free to enjoy not only this beach but many others like it whenever we please.

New Zealand - Where Kids are Allowed to be Kids [Moving Scenery - Fiordland, New Zealand]

My husband and I simply love the fact that NZ kids are still allowed to be just kids. In fact, it's very reminiscent of growing up in the U.S. during the 1950’s and 60’s. I was never quite comfortable when my children were at their schools back in the States. Peer pressure, unsavory situations and their personal safety were always on my mind. Although nothing is perfect, this place comes darn close. Since coming here, my children’s lives are much more casual and relaxed. For example, during the warm summer months, students commonly attend classes barefoot! Our children, who are somewhat shy by nature, have friends coming out of their ears -- not only New Zealanders but also migrants from places like Africa, Hong Kong, Britain, and Eastern Europe. We often joke about how the schools in NZ have the best views in the neighborhood. Just stand on most any one of their rugby or cricket fields and chances are you will be treated to grand vistas. Courses in boating and water safety are part of the regular curriculum even for the younger grades. After all, this is an island nation.

In New Zealand, Change is Good

We have seen many changes in New Zealand in just the last few years. We can remember not being able to find a store open after 5 p.m., a restaurant serving into the late evening, or pretty much anything open on a Sunday. Alcohol could only be purchased at special stores on certain days of the week. The quality and range of goods was often quite limited. In fact, as recently as the 1980’s, a major fashion designer visiting NZ, who shall remain anonymous, is said to have likened shopping in NZ to shopping in a communist bloc country. But that's all dramatically changed now. Department stores and grocery chains now serve a range of products the envy of many throughout the world, the first 24-hour stores have sprung up, and restaurants serve world-class cuisine late into the night.

Another Day in Paradise? - Something for Everyone!

With all of the afore-mentioned changes some important things still remain the same. You’ll be happy to know that Rugby continues to reign as the national pastime and is still just as raw and tribal as ever. Also, sailing, the only national mania to rival rugby, is thriving with NZ having the highest boat ownership per capita in the world. In Auckland it has been said that many boat owners spend more time on their boats than they do in the office. Ever since the America’s Cup upset of 1995, NZ has been discovered by international sailing enthusiasts. This is substantiated by the large numbers of massive luxury yachts taking up residence in the marinas and bays around both islands. Auckland's moniker, "the city of sails” is certainly well deserved.

Baby You Can Drive Your Car -- but on the right please. [City Living - New Zealand Style]

Don’t be put off on driving in NZ. It has been said that when Kiwis drive they seem to be trying to reach the next world as soon as possible. Sure it can get a bit brisk, but hey, it’s not like circling the l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris although speeds can resemble the autobahn on the more lonely stretches of country roads. If you've driven in any of the larger cities in the States or Europe, driving in NZ will not be a problem. It is important to always look right, especially when stepping off the curb! In NZ the pedestrian does not automatically have the right of way. It may take time for you to sort out the windscreen wipers (on the left) from the turn indicators (on the right). If you confuse them and it's not raining, expect to be the object of great hilarity. NZ does actually have marked lanes, speed limits, road signs etc. You simply have less personal space on the roads than you would have, for instance, in the States. This is a fact which quickly becomes apparent as you move down a street watching the left side of your car come within centimeters of the parked cars along the curb. Four-way intersections using stop signs are virtually unknown here. Any four-way intersection that is not controlled by a traffic signal will usually rely on the use of a "roundabout" where you must always give way to the car on your right. It’s kind of a kick once you get the hang of it.

Living in New Zealand on the Cheap

Another plus to living in New Zealand is the exchange rate. Over the last several years the NZ dollar has hovered at a discount to many of the world's currencies. This can be a boon to anyone considering travelling here, setting up a household, buying a car, purchasing a business or investing in real estate.

New Zealand English

New Zealand is an English speaking country...sort of. Kiwis, who are quick to remind you that they are neither a bird nor a fruit, speak a highly recognizable version of the Queen's English. It has been said by many people from the northern hemisphere to be a bit more easily understood than the Australian variety. Linguists find New Zealand English to be the youngest version of the language in the world. English is one of New Zealand's two official languages, the other being Maori, the ancestral tongue of New Zealand's ancient Pacific Island discoverers. Maori is an important language to have at least a passing grasp of since most of the town, place and street names are derived from their original Maori names. New Zealanders never cease to be amused by tourists' ability to butcher most any given Maori name.

New Zealand is "Godzone" [Country Living - New Zealand Style]

With just over 4 million people on two islands roughly the land area of California, New Zealand is truly clean, green and uncrowded. All in all, if you’ve got to be someplace, New Zealand is a great place to be. My best advice -- keep an open mind, leave your preconceptions at the door and come learn firsthand why the locals have named it “Godzone”. My colleagues and I are here to help.

"Cheers" and best wishes,

 ' Joey
 

 

 

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