Moving to Auckland

Auckland Cityscape
Auckland Cityscape
Name: John
Age: 49
Occupation: Academic
Number Emigrating: 2
Moved to: St Mary’s Bay, Auckland
When did you arrive in NZ: September 2012
My Story Written: 2013
Daily Commute Time: 15 minutes
What were your reasons for emigrating?

We are an international family: between my husband and myself we hold 5 citizenships and have lived in almost a dozen countries (we’ve been very fortunate). We met in Australia a decade ago then resettled in Canada in 2005. Vancouver was home for me and I could have lived there indefinitely. But Vancouver never quite worked as well for my husband–and since I was unhappy in Australia, it would have been churlish of me to blithely ignore his frustrations. I brought him to Vancouver shortly after his 41st birthday: relocating at that age can be socially rather challenging–particularly if you’re not a singleton. We weren’t panicked about leaving, but it was clearly going to be a question of when. And where.

What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

We had both visited several times and loved the place. My first visit was in 1992 and I remember thinking “if I were going to leave Canada, it would probably be for New Zealand.” Clever of me, eh? My husband’s younger sister migrated to NZ shortly after he had moved to Australia: her having two young girls–who were growing up without any whanau–was also a consideration. When we lived in Sydney we acquired several friends in Auckland; each visit here confirmed for us that this was a rather awesome community.

But the impetus for the move was a job for me at the university. I assumed there would be local candidates, so when I got the email for an interview I was surprised. When that went well I shifted my thinking and starting working on getting my documentation for a Skilled Migrant Category visa submission. Once I knew an offer was in the works I completed my EOI online. By the time my ITA was issued I had requested my multiple police certificates, scheduled my medical, and had everything organized. I was not willing to get a “work to residence” visa, only to have to do a full residence application later on regardless. So I negotiated with my employer that I wanted the extra weeks to wait for a “proper” residence visa to be approved. And I’m glad I did!

What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?

The similarities–positive ones–are easier to answer first. NZ and Canada are both ruggedly beautiful, with warm and friendly people and one sport that sucks the life out of most others (rugby rather than hockey). NZ is much smaller (one time zone versus six), much farther (25 hours to Europe rather than 10), and more expensive for most things. The work ethic is strong in both places, but I like that people in NZ turn off their work mobiles on evenings and weekends. Public transport is improving, but has a long way to go in Auckland. And Auckland is about 20 years behind Vancouver in terms of multiculturalism–acceptance of multiculturalism, that is. When I arrived I was married in NZ, though we’ve been married for nearly 9 years. But that will change in a few weeks!

What do you like best about New Zealand?

Bright, fresh, healthy place to live. Air is great. Water is lovely. So many gorgeous vistas. Access to it all is pretty good–even without a car.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

Car culture: I’m used to being able to get by nicely on public transport. Won’t work, even living in city centre Auckland.

I think we get ripped off here with respect to food and electricity: the natural assets of NZ mean that both should be much less expensive.

What do you miss from your home country?

While Canada will always be home, I don’t miss much–probably because it was 9 months between applying for my NZ role and arriving here. The whole “I’m moving” thing–I was over it!

St Mary’s Bay, Auckland Street Scene
How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

Embarrassingly easily: applied for one job from offshore and got it. But it is a rather specialist role and I am a mid-career professional.

How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?

Similar high standards, but better work/life boundaries.

How much money do you now earn?

My salary is higher than the median for Auckland; he’s still looking for work after telecommuting to Canada for several months.

How much did you pay for your house:

2 bedroom apartment for $540 a week

How does your standard of living in New Zealand compare with your previous country?

About the same overall. Cost of living is higher, but income tax is lower. I have to pay out of pocket for my GP, but my prescriptions are cheap.

How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?

A bit better (see above). But really it’s a choice between two of the great countries in the world!

Do you have any other comments?

I am shocked that some people move around the world without so much as a pre-visit–especially with their young families. Do a reconnaissance trip first.

Your Story

Would you like to share your own experiences of living in New Zealand? You can do this at My Story. Or you can read more that people have written about life in NZ.

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