In all the time that I’ve been writing this blog I have never had so many emails from people (mostly from the US) asking me how they can make their dream of moving to New Zealand become a reality.
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My family and I have been living in New Zealand for eleven years. We emigrated to New Zealand from the UK and without going into the ins and outs of how we coped with our new life down under, it was the best thing we ever did.
And that’s not much use to the Americans in the audience.
So what did I do? I hunted down a real-life American who had emigrated to New Zealand, that’s what I did.
A mother of four who moved to New Zealand with her family almost five years ago.
Tara from kiwi-american shared her experience of moving to New Zealand from the US and revealed the biggest culture shocks, the major differences, and the problems she encountered when moving to New Zealand from the US.
Read The Post & Then Listen To Our Podcast Episode: Moving to New Zealand From The US. What To Expect.
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Moving to New Zealand
My family and I have been living in New Zealand for eleven years and things still take me by surprise.
New Zealand, although similar to other countries in the sense that the English language is spoken, is different in ways that you can’t begin to imagine.
New Zealand life takes some getting used to.
You must become accustomed to (and not being offended by) the New Zealand slang, learn all about the different food in New Zealand – gosh, you must even prepare yourself for the very different and slightly weird New Zealand Christmas experience.
It all takes time to get your head around, let me tell you.
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Moving To New Zealand From The US. 3 Major Culture Shocks
If you are thinking of moving to New Zealand (or hoping to) you will want to know e–v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g there is to know about the country.
Here are just three of the major differences that as an American you might notice when you take the leap and come to live down under in New Zealand. (To find out the others you will have to listen to the podcast!)
1: 🌦The Weather
Tara was born in New York and lived in Wisconsin. Both of which have freezing cold winters.
She is now living in Wellington. If Wellington is your choice of destination know that although you may get blown down the street on a few occasions (Wellington is known for being windy), you will never suffer from severe winters ever again.
The winter temperatures in Wellington rarely drop lower than 7°C (which is 44°F).
Depending on how far South you settle in New Zealand, you will find the weather relatively mild.
If you settle in one of the mountainous regions of the South Island then you will get lots of snow but these days are often accompanied by bright, blue sunshiney days.
2: 🏖 The Lifestyle
It’s a tricky one this.
The word lifestyle is thrown around a lot in the circles of those who emigrate to New Zealand (usually when we are justifying our decision to the family that we left back home).
But the term lifestyle can be vague and a bit iffy.
What is New Zealand Lifestyle?
I explain it in-depth in my FREE 5 day living in New Zealand video guide exactly what the New Zealand Lifestyle is, sign up here and get your FREE Moving to & Living in New Zealand Video Guide for yourself – sometimes, things need to be seen to be understood!.
Tara explained that as an American who had moved to New Zealand from the US, the biggest lifestyle change was the pace of life.
The no worries attitude of the kiwis.
Pace of Life
In the US you are expected to work overtime and take shorter holidays, here in New Zealand it is quite the opposite.
The emphasis in New Zealand isn’t overtime, it’s family time. And I couldn’t agree more. I have two children and raising kids in New Zealand was quite simply idyllic.
While New Zealand isn’t perfect (although in my opinion, it comes pretty close) and there are pros and cons of living in New Zealand the focus on family time and well being is a high priority and something you will certainly notice once you move here.
3: ☕️ Tea Time Breaks in New Zealand
I loved it when Tara spoke about this cultural difference between New Zealand and the US! I found it hilarious how she said to me (quite innocently) ‘what’s with the tea??!’
I am from England and believe me I can drink any builder under the tea urn, but even I was surprised when I was introduced to this quirky, slightly old fashioned, gorgeous ritual of New Zealand living.
New Zealander’s LOVE tea (although they still have quite mastered how to make a decent cup of it in the cafes) and the word tea features heavily in the everyday routine of a kiwi.
Let me explain.
Morning tea in New Zealand is a given. Everyone stops at 10 am and morning tea is served. No exceptions.
In schools, this means that the kids (and teachers) take a break, eat a snack and have a cuppa.
If you are working in an office or in retail you will take a break and probably put the ‘jug’ on (kettle to all of those not living in New Zealand and unfamiliar with the New Zealand slang words!).
If you are a tradie (like my husband) you will have ‘smoko’.
Smoko as the hard man’s version of morning tea. You still take a break but you might have a ciggy rather than a brew.
Same as morning tea but this time in the afternoon at around 3.30.
The kids will come home from school and have afternoon tea (usually a scone or a cookie). iI you are working you are expected to stop and take a break.
People will drop ’round to your house for ‘afternoon tea’ and will stay and have a chat. It is assumed that this is what happens, so don’t be surprised by it.
This New Zealand custom is a reminder of the importance for a slower pace of life and a way of giving people time to stop, breathe and reconnect with those around them. (And the kettle).
✔︎ Get instant access to my FREE Moving to and Living in New Zealand Video Guide HERE!, a 5 Day Video Series!
🤔 The major differences between the schools in New Zealand and the US
🤔 What happens when you invite people over for dinner in New Zealand (compared to the US experience)
🤔 What happens when you are late for work in New Zealand
🤔 One thing Tara’s father is shocked about when she returns home to the US
🤔 Tara is absolutely rocking it on Youtube. Check out her fabulous Youtube channel KiwiAmericans
Listen to the podcast: Moving to New Zealand From The US, What’s it REALLY Like?
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