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what's it REALLY like in NZ?

what's it REALLY like in NZ?

Old Jun 11th 2010, 4:08 pm
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Default what's it REALLY like in NZ?

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
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Old Jun 11th 2010, 9:33 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

Hi triahtlonmum, welcome to BE!

You were spot on to put your first thread in our Intro's forum, but I'm going to pop it in to the main forum as you ask some interesting questions and I think you'll get more response from the main forum.

I will be back along later to post a more useful reply of my thoughts on NZ. But for the time being ... I'm in the "Love It" camp!
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 1:17 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

Briefly, I'm in the "at the end of the day you still have shopping, cooking, housework etc to do and work to go to wherever you live" camp, but it does help if you have nice views to look at whilst you're doing that and countryside nearby to enjoy in between

But then I lived near the Quantock Hills in Somerset, so had all that there as well
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 2:32 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

Originally Posted by Woodpigeon View Post
Briefly, I'm in the "at the end of the day you still have shopping, cooking, housework etc to do and work to go to wherever you live" camp, but it does help if you have nice views to look at whilst you're doing that and countryside nearby to enjoy in between

But then I lived near the Quantock Hills in Somerset, so had all that there as well
Its way better than the Uk from a pop. density angle. Its very, very isolated in world terms. I adore NZ warts and all. You will do one of three things. Love it, think its just average or you will loathe it like many. I think the question should be more about 'what are you like'. I think to like NZ you need to be a 'certain' type of person. How do you feel about being the furthest away poss. from kith and kin? How do you feel about starting your WHOLE life again? How do you feel about coming to a country that is soooooooooooooooooooooooo far removed from your own its untrue. What about living in a place where both the roads and public transport infrastructure are very 1960s? Don't get me wrong I love the place but then I am very off the wall, odd and quirky. Never ever really fitted in amywhere until I came here at 45. Felt like coming home. Been here 5 years and apart from Tasmania can't imagine living anywhere else.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 3:10 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

we have been here now for 16 months, kids hated it to start with, fell out with the locals. Could not find work and cost of living is high compared with the wages.
So we moved from Golden Bay to canterbury , things are better kids our making friends and there is more to do in the community. I have work and the OH is relieving in local schools. Hard to get a job in NZ at the moment as people not hiring and tend to not hire poms.
But we love it and the kids have not demanded to go back to the uk for a least 4 months now. Skiing 30mins away, beaches the same and we are only working half as much for the same lifestyle.
Just remember you can not get everything here and it could cost an arm and a leg to get, but if you want to live basically and can turn your hand to most things give it a go you may like it.We do.

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Old Jun 12th 2010, 6:53 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

I have no idea on the employment prospects side of your question I'm afraid, but worth remembering NZ is still in recession with most jobs severely oversubscribed when advertised. I guess you have to keep looking on www.seek.co.nz and www.trademe.co.nz where most jobs are advertised.

In terms of lifestyle in NZ and how it might suit you and yours, from what you say regarding how sporty a family you are, I would say it would suit you down to the ground. There's an absolute plethora or activities in NZ, surely with something for everyone. Triathlons seem to be huge as are half-marathons etc. Most towns/cities seem to have running clubs which might be a great way to meet other people in the area. Kids sports are also massive, Saturday mornings here are dedicated to the children's sports teams, and boy do they take it seriously! I think the better climate (depending on where you live) definitely helps with fostering a more active, outdoorsy life.

You say you don't like big cities and noise so I am interested in why you have earmarked Auckland as a potential place to live and not a smaller city?

Best of luck in your plans anyhow.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 9:44 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

I like living here. but i miss the uk. If i could live in the uk i would but i simply
could not tollerate the state of the country anymore.
There is no simple answer to your question. Some things are hard to adjust to
but you get used to them over time, other things just get on your nerves.
It all depends on what you expect from the place.
Kiwis are a funny race, they genuinely belive the "kiwi way" is the best way
and are pretty closed to the idea that things are better elsewhere.
They put a lot of store in the "kiwi built" or "made for kiwi's" stuff even when
the product or item is not a patch on what is available elsewhere in the world.
There is not as much choice here in anything, Food, clothes, cars, furniture.
A lot of things cost far more here than in other countries, homes are
generally of a low standard (even new) and heating options are few.
There is a lot of racism from both sides (maori and whites), drug use is rife,
seriously, its out of control. Driving standars are low and the accident rate is high.
How much of that you allow to effect your day to day life is up to you.
On the plus side kiwis are sport mad (if you like that sort of thing) there are
opportunities available to participate in pretty much any sport you like.
There are much fewer people around and generally they are friendlier than the uk
although saying that i still dont know my nieghbours.
The houses on modern sub divisions tend to be squashed together giving a
rather hemmed in feeling at times.
The pace of life is much slower and more relaxed than the uk,the numerous
coffee shops that now inhabit almost every street are usually pretty busy
with people just chilling out.
Kiwis are a race of doers, at weekends they make the effort to get out and
enjoy whats around them which is good to see.
The education system is different to the uk's and gets a fair only slagging off
on here from time to time but i have no complaints. My eldest finished his
education here and got accepted for all the universities he applied to in the uk.
And my youngest is doing even better than his older brother so it cant be that bad.
Apart from that its much like the uk, people still work to earn to pay their bills.
people still grumble about stuff,live love and laugh.
We have more friends here than we had in the uk and we do more with those
friends than we did back home.
I'm happier here than i was in the uk so it'll do for now.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 11:56 am
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

thanks so much for your replies.. really kind of you all to take the time to answer!

Auckland seems the logical place to go since OH is more likely to find work there and prob more choice of schooling?? we hadn't really considered other towns as it might be harder to find work? pleaes correct me if I'm wrong though.. so long as I've got some space, beach and fresh air on my doorstep I'm happy. I dont' want to be stuck in centre of city though, but one of suburbs looks ok - thinking of North Shore for schools ??? OH would use motorbike to commute to CBD ..

We're not big 'city' types - in that we're not especially fussed about designer stuff etc. We like hiking, mountains, dog walking, running, triathlon, cycling, swimming etc.. so it sounds like the outdoor lifestyle would suit us.

it's nice to hear about the education system still allowing entry to UK Uni's too as I'd heard the opposite.

we're hoping to plan a trip in October to come and check it all out and are going to an expo in London in July to find out more..

if anyone knows anything about IT work or jobs in finance then please feel free to chip in!
thanks
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 12:44 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

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....
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

From the sport point of view, I found NZ crap. Very few mountains to run up they are pretty inaccessible without a long drive. There are exceptions but it is boring.

Cycling, not enough tarmac roads and the flipping drivers are complete nutters. Been back in the UK cycling and no hassles yet. In Canterbury they come past at 100-120k and give you 6 inches.

Hardly any events that you don't have to travel hours to get there. The Cross country races are crap and few and far between.

Football for kids is good, but the Kiwi's don't understand the rules and are pretty foul mouthed towards the Ref.

What the other poster have said it's all true, it depends what floats your boat and where in the UK you come from.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 8:47 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

I have to agree with mcuddy on the access to the countryside comment.
NZ is not like the uk in that there are very few areas where you can have free
to roam access to the countryside. Most of it is set aside for agriculture and
there are little or no R.O.W. What access there is tends to be along made made
footpaths that completely spoil the whole experiance for me.
I am surrounded by lush fields and hills and have no access to any of it
NZ is very nice to look at but not great for exploring.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 8:52 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

blimey! well thanks for all your comments... good to hear it from the horses mouthes so to speak I'm rapidly going off the idea to be honest.... UK sounds hugely preferable! as you say 'the grass isn't always greener'... you just gotta water your own..
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 9:00 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

Not so fast trimum! I'd guess and say that the majority of folk on here with experience of NZ and the mother country would plump for NZ ..
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 9:01 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

okay Yotty.. tell me more! I'm listening ...
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 9:28 pm
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Default Re: what's it REALLY like in NZ?

I can see why you'd want to get away from TW ! sent you a pm btw ..
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