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Thread: Can a Software Architect telecommute from a smaller community?

  1. #1
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    Default Can a Software Architect telecommute from a smaller community?

    Hi all,

    This is my first post. It is also a bit more broad than the title suggests. Probably too broad for one post but I'll just lay it out. I'm just curious as to what anyone's thoughts about any of this might be.

    We live in the US now in the southern Appalachian mountains. It is beautiful here but there are some issues for us, both locally and nationally. We are working on a plan for moving to <somewhere> else in the next 2-3 years and NZ is high (highest?) on the list. My wife and I have both been entertaining the idea since before we even met...but we've never been there.

    What we really like here in Western North Carolina is that it is beautiful, not very crowded, and that we are living in a place with lots of wild areas. We also know that there is a lot of opportunity here in the US (though dwindling for many).

    What we don't like is a longer list:
    Locally there is a lack of cultural diversity and opportunities, no great schools, not enough flat ground, and for us a huge issue is that we are far too far from the sea (this is a big one). On a larger scale the problems with this country and direction it has been heading are a drag: A serious medical problem can ruin your family financially (even if you have health insurance which is rather costly), education system is tanking, far too many religious nuts in politics, unhealthy lifestyles, insane consumerism, corporations controlling everything, etc..

    We know that there is no place where everything is perfect. It seems like a big tradeoff for living in NZ is that it is very expensive. We make a combined pre-tax income of about US$120K here. We get by but we aren't able to save any money (though we do travel every year to my wife's home in France). Basically, we're stressed out all the time and really wonder why we are working our butts off when it looks like all we'll end up with is more of the same of what we've got. A major question is if we can get by enough in NZ to at least be noticeably less stressed out than we are here. We don't need to live like kings but we do want to be able to afford to at least buy a house, explore NZ, eat out once every week or ten days, and maybe a small sailboat.

    Things that we would like: Good schools, the ocean (sailing, surfing, fishing, snorkeling (which I understand NZ isn't tops on)), hiking/backpacking, good/healthy food, nice people, less consumerism, living wages, not too feel too crowded, and a hope of retirement. So that gets around to the title question: Is it possible to telecommute from a less crowded community. For me this means having solid broadband connection. This is key for me and a huge determining factor in choosing a community in which to live. It is entirely likely that I can bring my job with me so being close to other developers, offices, etc. isn't a great concern. I could write code from the bottom of the ocean if there was at least 5Mbs connection. That said, I could be open to taking a new job in NZ if it were the right opportunity. Living in a place that is right for everyone in my family is important though (see below). I'm skeptical that city life is right for us, nor is spending 2 hrs a day commuting but living near a city could be fine and is probably better than living way out in the sticks. We live an hour from the nearest city with any real cultural opportunities and it often seems quite far away (at least while we have small children).

    A little more about us.
    Me: American. 41. Software Developer (2nd career -- mostly Ruby development -- medical device communication standards, publishing, etc.). Also with a degree in Biology and post-grad work in Genetics and Plant Pathology and extensive experience with laboratory robotics for genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery. Fisherman, whitewater boater, mountain biker, hiker, xc skier, musician.

    Wife: French. 39. PhD Mathematics. Tenured Professor of Math Education BUT wanting to switch careers -- either Wilderness Medicine or (perhaps more practically) surveying. She would get the proper training/certification before coming to NZ. Sailor, surfer, climber, xc skier, mountain biker, hiker, musician.

    Son 1: 8. Very bright and industrious. Going to want good schools and artistic outlets (theater, martial arts, music).
    Son 2: 4. Probably just as bright and will care naught for school. Will skip class and go surfing. Not a big guy but has the attitude to be a rugger.

    Thanks for taking the time to read. Any feedback whatsoever is welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    New Zealand
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    Hi.

    I'm fairly new to NZ myself, but since you don't have any replies yet, I'll give it a shot...

    Re: Your concerns about a solid broadband connection - it depends on what you mean by solid, really. If you mean reliable, minimal interruptions, reasonable bandwidth, latency, etc, I've found them to be fine in most NZ towns, even the smaller ones. I run on Telecom broadband and work from home a lot as well, and there is minimal downtime. If you are talking rural rural, like on a farm in the middle of the country, I can't comment on that. One thing to note is that broadband here is expensive compared to the USA and usually has a capped bandwidth limit. I pay about $120/month for Telecom broadband that provides 120GB/month with the option of $1 for every additional GB.

    I would be more concerned about how you intend to stay here legally if your job is in the USA. What sort of visa are you considering?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Nelson/Tasman offers all of the things you are looking for in lifestyle. This region has no problems with internet in most areas, even rural areas. Check out the Rural Broadband Initiative to start your research for the areas you might consider.

  4. #4
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    As melange asks, what sort of visa are you hoping to present yourselves for? Being granted a NZ visa, to live and work there, is often a matter of working out how best to show how the reality of your qualifications and experience fits into a particular category of the INZ regulations. http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/ INZ doesn't deal with a life presented as 'I could do this, OR this, OR that' - it has to be a package, with proof, so they can check evidence and tick boxes.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies. As for broadband, I don't mean living way out in the sticks, probably a smaller community or the outskirts of a larger one. If my work were anything like it is now though I would need a lot of capacity. It isn't unusual for me to move large databases (5GB +) up and down one a regular basis -- of course, there are ways around that too. A $/GB isn't that bad of an operating cost anyway. As for a visa, we are just exploring options. My wife could perhaps secure a job (perhaps more easily if she sticks with math ed.), my company could perhaps officially open a branch in NZ (would have to research that), or I could look for a new job in NZ. It does strike me as perhaps daft for INZ to not be interested in people coming to live there that already have stable, high paying jobs where they would effectively be a pipe for money to flow into the NZ economy.
    Last edited by mfaughn; 12th January 2014 at 02:01 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfaughn View Post
    It does strike me as perhaps daft for INZ to not be interested in people coming to live there that already have stable, high paying jobs where they would effectively be a pipe for money to flow into the NZ economy.
    I think your definition of good paying and INZ's differ by about a factor of 10. If you bring enough money you would qualify for an investor visa.

    Note: If you are looking to send data back and forth to the US, it is unlikely that you will get a consistent 5Mbs connection anywhere in NZ. When no one else is using the single Southern Cross Cable, I can get up to about 3Mbs. I expect things to improve in the next few years, but you would probably need an even faster connection by then.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 72andsunny View Post
    I think your definition of good paying and INZ's differ by about a factor of 10. If you bring enough money you would qualify for an investor visa.
    Well, I'll certainly feel pretty good about my salary when it reaches NZ$1M. Not out of the question given the situation I'm in now but it certainly hasn't happened yet. My reading of the investor visa was that you had to have had money invested in NZ for three or four years already in order to qualify.

    Quote Originally Posted by 72andsunny View Post
    Note: If you are looking to send data back and forth to the US, it is unlikely that you will get a consistent 5Mbs connection anywhere in NZ. When no one else is using the single Southern Cross Cable, I can get up to about 3Mbs. I expect things to improve in the next few years, but you would probably need an even faster connection by then.
    That would be a limiting factor. I could potentially get around this. I already bring things home from work to upload because my connection at home is 3-4x faster than it is at work. At work it can take ten hours for me to upload a database. I could set up a server in the US and use that for my heavy lifting but that is less than ideal and is certainly less convenient than having things local.

    Knowing that NZ is bandwidth limited with respect to communicating with the rest of the world is helpful. Thanks.

  8. #8
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    You just need to invest the funds before you take up residency, then you need to keep them here for 3 or 4 years after which you are given permanent residency.

    Really the terms look much more favorable if you bring in ten million, so I would recommend doing that.
    http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migra...nt/default.htm

  9. #9
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    mfaughn please send me your email. Tried to PM you but the system wouldn't let me. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Cheers,
    Ken
    Last edited by IanW99; 14th January 2014 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Rule 10: No Personal details

  10. #10
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    PM system isn't enabled until the poster has made 5 posts (and a short delay).

    Ian

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