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Thread: Such an amazing country. Feedback from my trip and questions about living there.

  1. #1
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    Default Such an amazing country. Feedback from my trip and questions about living there.

    Hi all,
    This is my first post.
    I was on a road trip for 3.5 weeks in both islands and needless to say I was overwhelmed by the beauty of New Zealand and also the people.
    I started from Auckland, went to Paihia, then Rotorua, Tapuo, Wellington, crossed to Nelso, Motorueka, Glacier country, Te Anau, Twijzel and finally Chirstchurch.

    Please understand that the intention of my post is not to offend anyone but it's a sincere expression of many questions I and my wife had that I would like your insight, because we though about "the move".
    Please take into consideration that I'm not Belgium, but Greek that has immigrated to Belgium for financial reasons and that I also understand the mess that European Union is in. So I'm not looking over here.
    Please forgive my abbreviation for New Zealand as NZ.

    With regards to beauty both Greece and New Zealand are amazing. Top 2 from all the places I've been around Europe, North America, Mediterranean sea and Hawaii.
    Although you will be displeased, Greece wins on the subject of sea because the combined experience of sky, weather, sea and actually swimming is much ahead of what is otherwise a very impressive scenery in New Zealand (e.g. Paihia). Didn't go to Coromandel because we didn't have enough days.
    But when the scenery was not coastal, OH MY GOD. The place is amazing. More amazing is that it allows a fairly easy access to a close proximity of mountains and lakes and national parks, while the beauty is still preserved.
    I also liked much the adoption of the Maori culture, although me coming from a country that has been so often wronged, I can't say that certain things that the guides said in Waitangi resonated nicely with me.
    The story though was very emotional.

    The story that I enjoyed the most and shows much about New Zealand to a tourist is the story of the department of conservation came to be after the save of lake Manapouri. The guide (bus drive for Doubtful sound excursion) really transferred the genuineness and kind of verified are much appreciation to this department that we often heard already.

    Driving was a bit of pain as 100km/h is unreasonable in my opinion for the distances you have combined with the easiness of the roads. Compared with e.g. Greece's scenery and geography ( or the island of La Palma in the Canary island complex ), the only difficult place to drive was the part between Fox and Franz Josef glacier. The rental car was the worst I've ever rented, dangerous I would say and very hungry. More aligned to what USA offers to car rental service in contrast to the what you get for the same money and type in Europe. Similar was our feeling for the accommodation service. We found it so bad and expensive that made us question why aren't you complaining and what is the average quality of cars and housing in New Zealand. They look nice the houses but are they also comfortable to live in?

    After Auckland we started wondering about prizes and this my main reason of the post. I don't want to compare absolute prices between NZD and EUR so I checked about income in New Zealand. We were also worried by the sheer number of homeless people we noticed lying in the streets of Auckland and that is not aligned with happiness at least for Greeks. So I checked what is the income in New Zealand in general and for my profession. Then I cross correlated with rent, activities and supermarket costs. I did this because I liked what I saw but something doesn't add up. From the little I could figure out while surfing with my phone I was surprised and scared.Although money is means to happiness, it is kind of prerequisite in the form of a reasonable financial income and I wonder how you guys(mates ) manage to rank as the 8th happiest nation in the world? And you felt happy.

    Let me mention some numbers. Set aside the crazy rents in Auckland, the beer costed easily 10NZD everywhere that is roughly 7EUR. A cheap dinner for two with burgers and without drinks would be minimum 40NZD that is roughly 27EUR. A hotel room was on average 100NZD that is roughly 70EUR. I don't remember more specific prices in the supermarket but they also felt expensive. Now, as I don't compare absolute values, I checked the income and from little I saw the salaries would ranged from 30K NZD to 110K NZD gross that are 20K EUR and 75K EUR gross respectively. If I understood correct, the tax would be around 30%.
    I find the analogies to high relative to the salary. In Belgium for example a beer would cost max 4 EUR, a similar dinner (much less tasty though) max 30 EUR and a hotel room in Brussels 70EUR with breakfast included and much more dissent services. My job as a software engineer pays me roughly 42K EUR net annually. Similar income you can find in The Netherlands, less in Germany and France and for Greece (under financial occupation) don't get me even started. As a new not-specialized starter in IT, you could earn 25K net annually. So it seems that the salaries are bit higher in central Europe but cost of living much cheaper. If in EU people complain about the financial situation, what is going on in NZ?
    I understand that beer is not an essential to survive but as a tourist you don't get to evaluate water, electricity bills. Only what you use which is primarily food, gas and activities. I'm one of those that I go around the supermarkets isles to get a more local feeling.

    We also met a couple of Australians that also thought that its expensive but they correct absolute numbers as the dollars are roughly on the same rate . I corrected them to not compare absolute amounts and that you have to compare relative to average net income. Then I got the feeling that its not very easy for them either.

    So my question is first and foremost, how far off am I in my understanding. Is New Zealand so expensive to live in but its worthwhile because it is such an amazing country? How do New Zealanders cope when a 4h rafting activity is almost 150NZD per person? Is it something often enjoyed or is it the one family activity of the year? What is the secret to so genuine happiness and relaxed people? As I've been to the USA and there the same politeness is so fake it makes you sick. But in NZ, you guys were awesome. Anywhere except Cromwell, all people we spoke to, or guided us were so enjoyable to interact with. British sarcasm uplifted to a more pleasant humor was so pleasant. And always so keen to help us.

    I've got more questions about living in total there. But let's first set a reference point and verify or not my understanding.

    Again with all the respect and not intention to be offensive if someone is itchy. This are genuine questions of two visitors that so much liked our trip there, discussed what if we like to move and then I started digging around. Wife was driving as a was in much pain with my back.

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    This from the 2015, Mercer cost of living survey;

    Cost of living

    How New Zealand’s cost of living compares really depends on what country you’re coming from and what part of New Zealand you settle in.
    On this page

    Goods and services tax (GST)
    Typical prices in New Zealand
    The average family budget
    Planning your finances
    What you might earn
    General costs
    Food costs
    Accommodation costs
    Vehicle costs
    Insurance costs
    Mortgage and finance costs
    Utilities
    Tips on shopping in New Zealand

    But in general, while some things may seem more expensive and others cheaper, overall the cost of living in New Zealand is comparable to what you’ll find in any OECD country.

    You’ll find we offer the same sort of consumer goods you’re used to, at competitive prices. Costs for imported items like cars, electrical and computer equipment and petrol are similar to what you'd find in Australia or other similar countries.

    To give you more of an idea - one independent international survey ranked Auckland 61st in the world in terms of its cost of living, and Wellington 83rd, far better than other major cities.

    More expensive cities included Hong Kong (2), Singapore (4), Shanghai (6), London (12), New York (16), Guangzhou (15), Sydney (31) and Melbourne (47) - showing that comparatively, New Zealand’s major metropolitan areas are more affordable than those in other countries.

    Read more about Mercer's 2015 Cost of Living survey.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fern49 View Post
    This from the 2015, Mercer cost of living survey;
    Interesting. Shanghai is a tricky one. I went through the city as part of my trip and in absolute numbers it was bargain to buy everything. But in relative numbers that are more interesting for the locals I have the feeling that it could be expensive.

    I would be still interested in some real life number examples. based on all that goes on around the world, I don't trust much organizations such as OECD.

    I also find strange the fact that Wellington is more expensive than Auckland. Just based on rents, Auckland seemed like you rent square meter's like they are from gold

  4. #4
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    Driving was a bit of pain as 100km/h is unreasonable in my opinion for the distances you have combined with the easiness of the roads. Compared with e.g. Greece's scenery and geography ( or the island of La Palma in the Canary island complex ), the only difficult place to drive was the part between Fox and Franz Josef glacier. The rental car was the worst I've ever rented, dangerous I would say and very hungry. More aligned to what USA offers to car rental service in contrast to the what you get for the same money and type in Europe. Similar was our feeling for the accommodation service. We found it so bad and expensive that made us question why aren't you complaining and what is the average quality of cars and housing in New Zealand. They look nice the houses but are they also comfortable to live in?

    Driving at 100 does seem slow initially but as you come to drive some windy rural roads competing with tractors, cyclists, pedestrians, milk tankers and stock, and see the head on crash toll over here you can understand why. Cars are older as they have to be imported, and they are very expensive, and unlike the US(where we moved moved from), no one cares what car you drive, how expensive you house is etc. Not that materialistic, which is what I love. Houses(older) tend to be damp and cold but laws are changing and most of our immigrant, and actually kiwi friends as well, have all insulated their houses. We built ours. Accommodation we found fine...yes NZ is expensive,

    Glad you had a great trip.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hagabel View Post
    Driving was a bit of pain as 100km/h is unreasonable in my opinion for the distances you have combined with the easiness of the roads. Compared with e.g. Greece's scenery and geography ( or the island of La Palma in the Canary island complex ), the only difficult place to drive was the part between Fox and Franz Josef glacier. The rental car was the worst I've ever rented, dangerous I would say and very hungry. More aligned to what USA offers to car rental service in contrast to the what you get for the same money and type in Europe. Similar was our feeling for the accommodation service. We found it so bad and expensive that made us question why aren't you complaining and what is the average quality of cars and housing in New Zealand. They look nice the houses but are they also comfortable to live in?

    Driving at 100 does seem slow initially but as you come to drive some windy rural roads competing with tractors, cyclists, pedestrians, milk tankers and stock, and see the head on crash toll over here you can understand why. Cars are older as they have to be imported, and they are very expensive, and unlike the US(where we moved moved from), no one cares what car you drive, how expensive you house is etc. Not that materialistic, which is what I love. Houses(older) tend to be damp and cold but laws are changing and most of our immigrant, and actually kiwi friends as well, have all insulated their houses. We built ours. Accommodation we found fine...yes NZ is expensive,

    Glad you had a great trip.
    Indeed I had one! Thanks.
    100km/h is indeed too much for national roads. In comparison same roads in Europe get a maximum of 70 or 80 depending on the country. But in NZ they are considered a high way.
    I'm all in favor of not creating motorways as they take too much space of the scenery. But modern automotive industry is far more advances in my opinion from the times that set those limits across the globe.

    I was exaggerating on this matter because it just prolonged the driving. The car might be safe to do 130 but human reflexes probably have not evolved the same.

    Regarding cars, what I found most impressive was the sheer number of different brands and models. There were all these brands and models that you don't normally see in Europe, but you had most of the brands of Europe.
    I wondered where do people fix their cars? In Europe (not so much in rural Greece) every garage is much specialized to a couple of brands and practically the garages are a special section of the dealership.
    I didn't see that many dealerships, kind of strange for a country that depends so much on cars, and for such a rural country, the mechanics and engineers must be expert with old/new models from different brads.

    Cars are imported almost everywhere. The numbers and specialization make the difference I believe in the selling price.
    How expensive are they in NZ? Because you really depend on them.

  6. #6
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    Sharing some of my pictures https://1drv.ms/a/s!ApIBwbkZthDEhOZVmtcIVznaJxxCVg. To Anyone who reads the post and hasn't been there, start saving money now!

  7. #7
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    About your comment about motorways, don't forget that NZ is the size of Britain, with a population less than half the size of Greece, so financing motorway building would have huge impact on tax-payers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chat1978 View Post
    Hi all,

    Driving was a bit of pain as 100km/h is unreasonable in my opinion for the distances you have combined with the easiness of the roads.
    ...
    So my question is first and foremost, how far off am I in my understanding. Is New Zealand so expensive to live in but its worthwhile because it is such an amazing country? How do New Zealanders cope when a 4h rafting activity is almost 150NZD per person? Is it something often enjoyed or is it the one family activity of the year? What is the secret to so genuine happiness and relaxed people?
    You should be ok to drive up to 104km/h. Anything above might get you a ticket. I know, not that much faster but you may eventually get used to it.

    Yes, NZ is expensive. Most of the time we do free activities. $150 rafting is for tourists. If you really like these things, you may consider getting your own raft, or look at Groupon for vouchers. Many families go for camping in the summer for 1-2 weeks and it's a nice relaxing time to have a time out. I guess it depends on what you like to do. I am never bored but some people find the slower pace gets old.

    Tax is high but welfare is good. Some things work very differently here than overseas so if you're keen on moving here, it pays to leave things (especially prices) Europe behind.

  9. #9
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    It will seem expensive at first until you find the bargains. Some things are more, (some ridiculously so) and some less than W. Europe/USA.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by breeze View Post
    You should be ok to drive up to 104km/h. Anything above might get you a ticket. I know, not that much faster but you may eventually get used to it.

    Yes, NZ is expensive. Most of the time we do free activities. $150 rafting is for tourists. If you really like these things, you may consider getting your own raft, or look at Groupon for vouchers. Many families go for camping in the summer for 1-2 weeks and it's a nice relaxing time to have a time out. I guess it depends on what you like to do. I am never bored but some people find the slower pace gets old.

    Tax is high but welfare is good. Some things work very differently here than overseas so if you're keen on moving here, it pays to leave things (especially prices) Europe behind.
    So many of these activities are for the tourists you say. Funny, because it's other way around in Greece.
    But I like relaxing. In Greece we are the kings or relaxing during our vacation. To give you some reference, hiking in my vacation is something that I started doing just a couple of years ago.
    Most of us, go to the beach, get under the umbrella, swim+read+sleep and play games in the beach, one of that which is unique to Greece.
    Although I visited during the last month of spring, I noticed some similarities near the coast. Coffee shops with great view, coffee to go etc.....

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