49 Shades of New Zealand – The Pros and Cons

What are best and worst aspects of living in New Zealand?

Work life balance?

Here are opinions shared by members of the ENZ forum.

The best of New Zealand

My favorite thing about NZ, besides how beautiful it is, has to be the emphasis on the work/life balance. What this boils down to for us is less stress in our lives. We have plenty of opportunity to enjoy our new home.

Stunning scenery all over the country; easy to access lovely uncrowded beaches, parks and reserves; quality of life for families with young children far better than we could have afforded in UK; generally laid back attitude to life (although this can also be infuriating in some circumstances); experiencing a different way of life to the one we grew up with; more egalitarian society.

Much slower pace of life than the US, people have hobbies here and time to pursue them. Adults as well as kids! Kids aren’t worried about having the latest coolest sneakers. Hanging out at the beach is better than hanging out at the mall. Much less fear than in America. Not so many guns. Not so sharp political divisions. I don’t know how my friends vote and I don’t care. In the US I did, so much pain at dinner parties if you lean the wrong way politically. Most food is local. Less issues with food poisoning/contamination.

Laid back way of life, friendly people, great scenery, great family life, lack of materialism and work life balance.
The weather coming from Scotland. Less materialistic. Can hang out at the beach. Scenery and space is fantastic, so little over crowding for city living.
Mamee & Co
NZ’s lack of corruption and ACC system for no fault liability coverage with a split public / private health care system.
Lack of stress and anxiety.
The sun, beaches, and all the gorgeous blue and green. NZ just seems so bright to me and you really feel happier in such nice surroundings. And also the warmth (relative to Canada!)

Robertson Island
The blues and greens of Robertson Island, Bay of Islands

The beauty of the country and easy accessibility (i.e. relatively short distances from one breathtaking spot to the next.)
Beautiful beaches, amazing summer, heaps to do with my family, already have made great friends in 5 months time, truly love our life here.
People being nice and helpful, you’re made to feel welcome in a library, community centre, etc. Even at commercial establishments – treated nicely even if you’re not buying anything from them. Low-decibel verbal communication 🙂 unlike in a country I spent a lot of time in.
Easy going lifestyle in a beautiful setting.
We love the slower pace of life and more people actually living the “work to live” philosophy as opposed to the “live to work” too many people in the US follow. People seem to define themselves less by their occupation than you experience in the US. Society is much less materialistic here. I am not saying it does not exist to some degree, but relative to the US it is much much less.
Nuke-free (power plants and weapons)
The life I live is so utterly different that the UK.
Scenery, beauty and the fact that even for Auckland, it is still underpopulated.
Freedom for my children to be children.

Children's Marathon, Auckland.
Children’s Marathon, Auckland. Image Patrimonio/Bigstock.com

Quality of life in certain parts of the country (e.g. Christchurch) – mountains, beaches etc. all close.
Beautiful scenes and great environment for my child.
Beautiful weather, clean and pollution free country, Friendly people, No racism, Free to practice your religion.
Beautiful place, lots of space, car is cheap, friendly people, get to grow our own vegetable garden, great fishing.
Unlike the UK – the lack of: litter strewn along roadsides and in lay-bys; the patina of spat out chewing gum on city streets; Tattered plastic bags strung from every hedge and tree; long winters; Shopping malls and town centre high streets with all the same shops.
Sam B
Less materialism, more trust, friendly people, scenery, be accepted for who you are, not who people think you should be.
I do like the pace of life at weekends (in Christchurch) – i.e. go to the Malls, Beach, walks, local pool and generally speaking, there’s rarely queues and massive crowds, so it’s just, well, relaxing. Open spaces sounds odd, but I guess I like the fact that streets are wide, and houses not close together, kind of adds to the atmosphere really. Beer excellent too.
For me we were super outdoorsy in the Bay Area of CA, but we are even more so here. We have gone boogie boarding and/or hiking or some other adventure every single weekend for 2 months and every weekend it has been a different beach. My boys love their school, which is such a good thing. I don’t worry about guns here nearly as much as I did in the US. All the mass murders just don’t happen here. Less TV, more family time.
Huge support for local produce and rightly so. The white wine is almost universally extremely tasty and pretty darn cheap for the quality. And the local craft beer – magnificent. The support isn’t blind; but if its any good people will support it.
A more beautiful country, lots of beaches/coastline wherever you are. An incredibly geographically varied country: glacier, snow, fiords cities, beaches, mountains, hills, native bush, etc. A better culture in terms of work/life balance. Fresh air and great fresh seasonal food. Better political/military independent country. Not overcrowded. Friendly people more concerned living alongside you than competing against you. Great basic natural resources for independent living water, sunshine, food, climate good for agriculture, clean sea, fish etc.
Absolutely beautiful sunny mild climate (we live in the Coromandel and soon to be Bay of Plenty). The weather is fantastic. Where we live it mainly rains at night and is generally nice in the day. Significantly improved work-life balance, minimal commute, no traffic, work less hours. Landscape/Scenery – absolutely stunning. We came from the USA and find it to be more beautiful here and are able to enjoy the scenery and do more road trips/camping year round versus only about half the year in the States due to winter weather in much of N. America. Less focus on keeping up with the Jones. Ability to travel to a variety of interesting countries throughout the South Pacific. We love this aspect of living down under. Year round gardening/growing seasons. NZ is not a contentious society like the U.S.A. Things are less political and not as crazy. Again, easy access to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, mountains and valleys. No national park fees and crowded trails–the whole country is a national park. Substantially more vacation days (4 weeks here vs. 2 weeks in U.S.)
The people are friendly – very friendly. Like everywhere there will always be good and bad, but I’ve yet to find another nationality so open and chatty to people they don’t know. Walking down the street and people saying ‘good morning’ is a nice way to be, especially when you come from London. As far as landscape/scenery goes – yes there are a lot of beautiful places, just like there are elsewhere in the world. The major difference I’ve found is that it’s much quicker and easier to see the diversity NZ has to offer in this respect – the landscape can change so quickly and so many times in just a few hour’s drive – you get to see and experience so much in a short time.

And now the worst

Limited career opportunities (due to a relatively small market) and the prominence of social networking when seeking a job (the “who you know” rather than “what you know” phenomenon)
I do personally believe that unless you’ve come from LA or Central London, the less materialism, friendly people, accepted for who you are etc. is rubbish; people are no more or less friendly here than any other western country, from the UK to UK, Aus etc., no less or more material (I’ve had the “look at my rolex, porsche etc” types around), and arguably you’re LESS likely to be accepted for who you are in ChCh than many other countries, UK included. Getting a job in NZ if you’re not a Kiwi is far, far tougher than it is in the UK, and same for “unlocking” anything else where if you’re not a local, it’s much tougher.
Distance from other countries and the relatively short history of the country (OK, I know this can be seen as an advantage)
Cost of material items.
Lack of Mexican, Middle Eastern and decent pub food. Finding a job has been a nightmare for my hubs who is a kiwi. Commute into Auckland truly sucks.
Missing Me?

The sun is powerful you have a higher risk of skin cancer. There is an under current of issues arising from the Treaty (of Waitangi) which took sovereignty of NZ from the Maori when it was never that clear that was happening. It has a higher proportion of poor housing than most advanced countries – damp and cold living in winter is a problem for quite a few folk. Gas central heating is rare to find. You have to pay to see your GP. They lock up very high proportions of people. The suicide rate amongst children is high. The road system and train system needs improving and upgrading. The country constantly has minor earth tremors everyday with the risk of a major earthquake lurking.
We’ve still not had a decent curry from a restaurant. We satisfy our cravings by making most of our curries from scratch now.
In the cities consumerism is alive and well. Any illusions people might have about coming here and not being targeted as a consumer should be considered. People like flash things here just like anywhere else. There are friendly people here and not so friendly people just like anywhere. Racist statements are expressed openly. It has been said that at least you know where a person stands. I guess the preference lies with the individual. The cost of living is very high here compared to what you earn. It’s not a personal problem for us as we earn more than the average and don’t buy many consumer goods but it is something that should be considered when moving here. Even though there are a few good houses around, the majority of the stock is very poor compared to other first world nations. Build code here is very low.
Price of books, doctors, dentists, opticians.
The price gouging Kiwis are subjected to. Even taking in to consideration shipping costs and a smaller market, I still don’t feel that 3x the cost of the same item/brand compared to the US market is justifiable. Cosmetics, glasses, contact lenses solution, and books are the things that have most recently irked me.
Everything is expensive, lack of job/career opportunities, far from everywhere.
Houses are too expensive, renting an apartment almost take all your salary.
As much as we would like to see NZ expanding its population, there’s a lack of job opportunities for locals and new migrants which is the main drawback.
If I’m being ultra picky and shallow then lack of consumer choice and good value, good quality clothing.
nz to oz
Those that flee to Australia or more specifically, the country’s lack of patriotism.
Uninspiring, passionless culture, no city life.
In my personal opinion the by far most negative point about NZ is that it is a monarchy! When I want to become a NZ citizen I not only have to declare my allegiance to NZ (no issues here!) but also to ‘Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of New Zealand, Her heirs and successors’.
Costs of basic needs, dental treatment, poor housing quality and generally uninspiring food.
Poor quality of housing; far less comprehensive socialised healthcare compared to NHS (UK) with lots more out of pocket expenditure and few concessions for children & pensioners etc (although the quality of care is comparable); endemic rip-off pricing (far more so than can be explained by lack of bulb buying power, economies of scale or importation costs).
Sandflies. The incredible and varied range of giant multi-legged creatures that have evolved with the sole purpose of living in my house, which beggars belief given how it’s colder and damper than outside.

More to read from ENZ

8 things you need to know before you even THINK about moving to New Zealand

22 ways to slash your cost of living

9 thoughts on “49 Shades of New Zealand – The Pros and Cons”

  1. This was really informative as a US born and bred looking for what else the world has to offer because please dont let this be it ???

  2. I lived in New Zealand for twenty years and I would say that all the above comments are correct, it is not all good appearances, I wish it was as I would still be there.

  3. “Not so many guns. Not so sharp political divisions.” These aren’t really good things, and NZ has had comparable gun ownership rates to many US states for decades but not so much crime, especially murder, wonder why? Comparable crime rates to Australia despite having more guns after the Port Arthur buy back, wonder why?

    1. We moved from states four years ago just got resident visa which we invested 3 M Nzd
      Ito get .. so bought our way in as retiree .. we live half yr in NZ and other half in Cook Islands because weather is pretty awful NZ in winter think Portland / Seattle . ..
      The people kind but not friendly not met expat from states with lots of kiwi friends fortunately 21 k Americans in NZ .
      U.S. politics why we moved ,we sold our business had few dollars but if I was working lack opportunities high cost living I move to Australia or back states or Canada .

  4. One thing that nobody mentioned is the “tall poppy syndrome.” Rather than encouraging your peers – bullying behaviour in the workplace is the norm. If you are good at something, you are seen as a “threat.” It is an “envy” culture. As much as the govt has wanted to “do something to change this” – I see that in most establishments, the bully is generally not let go, and good people in the workplace leave. Thus, it is a very passive aggressive culture, with few wanting to truly talk about their feelings, and work through their issues. Lack of emotional intelligence is what comes to mind is majority of the population.

  5. Re Bobs’s cons:
    All true.
    I would argue that “gangs, crims, corruption, cults, racist groups, rapes, drug industry” ARE completely out of control, open for all to see and expected. Certain sections of society are aggressive and believe themselves outside the law and civilised behaviour:. Ironically this is worse rurally than in most cities.

  6. The perception tat New Zealand is a country easy to business in is not my experience. A planning application to set up a vet practice would have cost me $55 000 in planning application fees in Auckland and taken up to 3 years, with rejection a possibility. In Wales it cost me a few hundred pounds and took a month!. Much as I love this country, sadly it was impossible in my sector to do business here including the cost of commercial premesis, so had to leave to somewhere where this was a lot easier.

  7. Pros:
    – Fantastic Scenery, varied landscape, deserts, mountains, snow, beach, volcanic rocks, temperate forests, marshlands, grasslands, farms, colour is greener than most countries, air is clearer.
    – Nuke free
    – Strong employment law geared towards protecting the employee e.g. you just can’t fire someone on the spot on a whim without going through the proper written, verbal warnings etc.
    – Businesses are very easy to setup with little paper work.
    – Still a young country with enough space for for those to live, not over populated yet
    – More laid back and relaxed pace
    – Very little if none dangerous wildlife
    – Not too cold not too hot.
    – Low medical costs compared to other countries. e.g. ACC and other health subsidies
    – Interest free Student Loans
    – Interest rates are among the highest in the world, good if you’re banking, investing money
    – No capital gains tax yet
    – Freedom and liberal attitude in politics, gender equality, gay marriage, general acceptance of other cultures etc
    – A NZ passport allows travel visas with many countries around the world
    – There is a very lucrative pioneering biotech industry here in it’s infancy stages with a lot of future potential.
    – There is an established movie making, special effects, animation, industry here now.
    – The food quality here is very good compared to a lot of countries I’ve seen

    – NZ’s Environmental track record does not live up the clean green image it portrays yet. In fact it is getting worse, land and sea.
    – There are social issues like gangs, crims, corruption, cults, racist groups, rapes, drug industry and murders just like any other country though maybe not as out of control as some countries yet e.g I wouldn’t hitchhike here with the false perception it’s a safe paradise.
    – Tax is high
    – Interest rates are among the highest in the world, bad if you’re borrowing money.
    – The Transport infrastructure is backwards, no subway, or comprehensive mass transit system setup as compared to other efficiently setup countries.
    – The Internet is still substandard and overpriced
    – Retail goods costs are very high since a lot of international products have to be exported a long distance to get here.
    – Property prices and home ownership are getting increasingly unaffordable for the majority of the population
    – Taxis charges are insane
    – Things close early here, 5pm, unlike other vibrant cities where there always something going on 24×7 and stores stay open till midnight as the norm.

    Maybe a pro or con
    – illegal to spank or hit a child
    – prostitution is legal
    – marajuana is still illegal at this stage (NZ has one of the highest usage rates in the world anyhow)
    – Strict gun laws (lack of a gun culture)

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