I wish I’d read a post like this when we were looking to move to New Zealand ten years ago.
At least then I would have been prepared. I could have packed a hot water bottle and a sun hat and some hankies.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I got to the other side of the world and blubbed for six months about how my family never returned my calls and that the bathroom in the house that we were renting was cold and smelly and damp.
Things You Might Miss When You Move To New Zealand
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I’m not a doom and gloomer. No sir. Not me.
My family and I have been living in New Zealand for almost a decade. We love it. New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on earth and raising my kids in New Zealand was the best decision we ever made.
(That and selling our old VW van with the dodgy exhaust before we left the UK).
If you are hoping to move to New Zealand and believe that in doing so all of your problems will suddenly evaporate into a puff of dust along with Dorothy’s shoes? Then you and I need to talk.
I don’t want you coming here thinking that everything in New Zealand is perfect.
It nearly is, but not quite.
1: ☀️ Having Nice Skin
I don’t quite know how to say this without sounding harsh.
The sun. In New Zealand. It’s relentless on the skin. In fact, it’s so bloody relentless and vicious and unforgiving that once you’ve been here ten years, you will start to resemble an old leather handbag.
One from a second-hand shop. One that has never been oiled.
As a family, we have travelled all over the world and have experienced lots of sunshiny weather and I tell you this: nowhere else in the world does the sun feel as though it is ‘biting’ into your delicious English rose skin.
Not India, not Sri Lanka, not Europe. Nowhere. New Zealand wins hand down for the harshest sunshine in the world.
My husband told me that it has something to do with the ozone layer being thin.
Don’t ask me about that I haven’t got a clue about science or clouds.
All I know is that my skin is starting to resemble a scrunched-up bag of crisps and I don’t want yours to do the same.
So. Taking into consideration that the best time to visit New Zealand is when the sun is shining, take some advice from a wizened old prune and remember to slather yourself in sunscreen, wear sunglasses and, if you are really paranoid about keeping your opaque skin looking young and beautiful, consider going down the Michelle Jackson face mask route.
(As a side note, if you do come to New Zealand and get caught unawares by the sun then try apple cider vinegar for sunburn – it works wonders!)
2: 🥝 Cheap Groceries
Is there anything worse than a moaning Minnie? Especially a British one – they’re the worst. Always complaining about the price of beans and speaking loudly at BBQ’s about how ‘back home in Asda’ you can get a packet of Rolos for 30p.
It is true that the cost to live in New Zealand tends to be higher than in most countries, and because of this, almost all ex-pats (those who have made the move to New Zealand from the UK at least) moan about the cost of groceries.
But I don’t agree. There. I said it. It’s not true.
(You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why I don’t agree but let’s just say I did my homework and I give an example of a comparison between food from Walmart and food from the New Zealand supermarket Countdown).
Listen to the podcast and you’ll see that there really isn’t enough difference in prices to justify coming to New Zealand and getting your knickers in a twist about a tin of Heinz tomato soup.
Just go to the BBQ and have a sausage. For everyone’s sake.
The post includes a podcast and a video where I take you around the city and share with you the price of different items.
3: ☃️ Warm Houses
You’ll know when you meet a real kiwi. They will stand in front of you with their teeth chattering; wearing a million jumpers and rubbing their hands together.
Pretending it’s normal to live in a house that is colder inside than out.
For those of you coming from cooler climates, the kiwi homes (especially the older ones) might come as a bit of a chilly willy shock to the system.
One of my favourite New Zealand slang words is ‘she’ll be alright’. I think this term came about when a young son ran outside to his father to inform him that his mother had just frozen to death while peeling the potatoes.
She’ll be alright son. Tell her to put another jersey on and take a cement pill.
Gulp.The kiwi houses. They’re a tad on the cold side. I recently went glamping in New Zealand and the outside day bed was warmer than some of the houses I’ve been in.
It is not uncommon to see electric heaters being wheeled from room to room or fleecy blankies laying in waiting on the back of sofas.
Listen to the podcast, and my husband will tell you how much it will cost you to heat your New Zealand home to the warm standards that you’re accustomed to. Either that or pack plenty of woollies.
4: ✈️ Cheap Flights
How naive I was.
Me, ten years ago. Waving goodbye to my relatives in England. Reassuring my mother in law that I wouldn’t let my daughter marry a sheep shagger and promising with all my heart to make the trip back home at least every 18 months.
I’m sad to say that those regular trips never happened. Why? The cost of flights back to the UK are extortionate.
Here’s a funny thing. Hillarious actually. If you fly from Heathrow to Auckland return, it will cost you pound: £851 (1639.00 NZD)
Reverse the journey and fly from Auckland to Heathrow return and it costs you: 1802 NZD (£934 )
H-a-n-g- on a minute…
Same flight, same date and it’s almost $165 more expensive?
I have flown both ways and yes, the complimentary New Zealand wine is far nicer than any British plonk that I have ever been offered, but not two hundred spondoonies nicer.
While this might not seem like a great deal of money to some rich and wealthy people, start multiplying that price difference by four and the cost to get back to Blighty starts looking rather hefty.
$650 more than our family ever anticipated.
So then kids. Looks like it’ll be a camping trip to the free hot pools in Rotorua again this year.
Something to remember. Flights to get out of New Zealand aren’t cheap. Get saving.
5: 🤝 Customer Service
If you are moving to New Zealand from the US (or even visiting from the US) then be prepared.
The customer service in New Zealand? There isn’t any. It doesn’t exist.
New Zealand’s answer to customer service looks a bit like this:
Me: Hello. I’m not happy with this bank/restaurant/garage
Me: Yeah, if things don’t improve I might leave and go elsewhere. I might even tell my friends that you’re really crap
Them: Ok. Bye then.
It appears to have bee drilled into all young New Zealanders who look to enter into the service industry that they must first understand one rule.
The customer is always wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me, the New Zealand people are gorgeous. They are lovely, kind and friendly (maybe a bit crazy and weird about certain things) but nevertheless, they are wonderful people AND there has been a vast improvement in customer service over the past ten years of us living in New Zealand, but.
New Zealand still has a loooong way to go before they come anywhere near close to providing the customer service that you would receive in America (or even the UK).
It’s no big deal. Just put your big girl pants on and take a concrete pill.
6: ⏰ Texting Family & Keeping In Touch
You know how when you are at home, and you think ‘oh, I’ll just flick my brother a text to ask him what the name of that guy was who used to walk his manky dog around the block on Tuesday’s?’
Well, you can’t.
And it’s hard.
Because sometimes you just need to know the name of that bloke and laugh about his manky dog. Preferably with someone who has the same accent as you do and who remembers things like you.
(Can you tell I miss my brother?)
If you move to New Zealand from the US, then the time difference is such that you will still have a decent window to contact friends and family.
Up until 2 pm NZ time you can safely call the folks in the US and not have them get annoyed or risk dragging them out of bed.
If you move to New Zealand from the UK on the other hand, then the time difference is a killer.
There are pros and cons of living in New Zealand, and this con right here has to be the hardest one of all to bear.
As much as you promise each other that you’ll all keep in touch and say you’ll Skype each other every week, you have to be realistic.
It’s not going to happen.
Not unless you are super strict and stick to a time and a day like clockwork (so much so that it becomes part of both your routines).
Do this and you might find keeping in contact with old friends and family a little easier, but for most, the reality of keeping in regular contact is much harder than you first think.
Talking of Friends. Would You Like To Be?
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The Moving To New Zealand Travel Podcast
(What happens on this New Zealand podcast stays on this New Zealand podcast)
In this week’s podcast episode, Brian (my husband) and I talked about:
🤔 What we missed the most since moving to New Zealand
🤔 How you can combat some of the issues mentioned above
🤔 Why my teenage son couldn’t get into the movies and why we were eating cake
🤔 The most common thing that other ex-pats cite as being negative (but that we don’t agree with)
Now, Listen to the podcast episode! Moving to New Zealand (& what you’ll miss)
Next, you could read…
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Did You Enjoy Our Podcast On Moving To New Zealand?
Ok. Let me think of what I need to say to you before you click off and leave me forever down under…
✔︎ We’d love to know what you think about this week’s show and if there is anything you would like to know further so that we can include it in our question time next week.
✔︎ If you know of someone who is thinking of moving to New Zealand, then please, share this podcast with them!
That’s’ it. Please don’t let this post put you off moving to New Zealand – you are going to LOVE it. Life in New Zealand is the best I have ever known. Message me with any questions that you might have, and I will gladly help you in any way that I can. Until then, Kia Kaha.