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Thread: Canada to NZ 2018 - 6 Months In. What we learned.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    14

    Default Canada to NZ 2018 - 6 Months In. What we learned.

    My wife, dog, and myself moved to Christchurch in August 2018. We're on resident SMC visas. We're over the 6 month hump now, here's what we learned:

    Moving
    1. We should have sold our house before we moved. Partially constrained by my previous employer. Small town, everyone knows if you list - you leave. So we listed after we gave notice. The timing ended up such that we sold in month 3 in NZ but before the tax year roll over. Had to declare ourselves non-residents of Canada to avoid any future complications. Too much detail to get into but I would not do it this way if it can be avoided. It's expensive, you open yourself up for taxation on your principal residence and getting clearance (i.e getting your money) takes months!

    2. Shipping our goods by ourselves was the right decision. We down-sized. Got rid of ~50% of our belongings and ordered our own 20' container. We moved via Vancouver and packed and delivered our goods to the exporter in Richmond, BC. Saved about $2k there. Total cost CAD from drop to door in ChCh was ~$7k CAD. Took almost 2 months to the day, so not bad timing as well. Only downside - you cannot get insurance for damaged goods if you self-pack...or at least reasonable insurance. Just total loss. Our stuff isn't that great so we took the risk. Glad we have our belongings! And yes - mattresses are ridiculously expensive (to the point of being comically insane). Bring a good mattress. Box springs are reasonable.

    3. The dog was a lot of money. Total cost was ~$8k CAD. Yup, you better *really* like your dog. There is no real cheap way to do it. It was 10 vet visits in CAD + all the export non sense and the quarantine once you arrive. You can try to do it yourself but unless you have support on either end, it can be a nightmare. We used a pet exporter and they were poor quality service. Wife ended up doing most of the work and saved the day a few times as the clerks were inept to say the least. Still - dog made it a-ok. She's happy and healthy so it worked out.

    Rentals + Living
    1. ChCh has a lot of options, have a look around. Lots of bad places for $450/wk...and then lots of good places for $500+/wk. Totally doesn't make sense with that close of price but we found it true. We looked at ~20 places. Search was harder with a dog but we found a post-quake town home, near parks, closeish to CBD. Very close to work. $525/wk. Good enough for the first year.

    2 . Car shopping is fun/nightmare. I enjoyed it. Wife did not. Lots of cool Japanese cars you've never seen/heard of. Downside, lots of Japanese cars you've never seen nor heard of...hard to have a baseline. We stuck with a NZ New Honda CRV and Japanese import Honda Fit. Prices were reasonable. Comparable to CAD. Fit was actually decent value (< $7k good used, late model, lowish kms). Insurance was cheap. Gas is expensive ~$2/L right now. Although we run high grade through both vehicles..and they both get good mileage.

    3. Cost of living is more True/False? True-ish.
    We found it to be "choose your own adventure". If you want to stick to a NA diet you'll be dropping $2k/month at New World. However, farmer's markets and smart shopping the sales we found you get better quality basics (meat, veg, fruit) at the same or lower price than CAD. Some toiletries are stupid. Shampoo can be $14/bottle for a $3/bottle in CAD. Again - choose wisely and you can narrow things down. We're probably around $1k/mo now for 2 people with toiletries and basic household sundries.

    4. Housing is underwhelming. It's not horrible in ChCh, just a quirky market. We're looking to buy at the end of the year and have been looking around. Prices are all out of whack with value. Still, some things are áffordable' by global standards and that's why we only could do Canterbury. The north island is a write-off as far as we're concerned (unless you're coming in cashed-up, which we're not). Pre-quake homes here are mostly poor quality vs CAD/US standards. Some newer builds are nice though. And similar to rentals - lots of garbage out there people are asking a mint for. Shop around. You still have that luxury in ChCh. It's very easy to overpay in NZ for housing. A housing downturn here would be scary, you could easily get caught in a dump that drops $100k in a year and you just couldn't sell it. Hopefully the contagion from Oz doesn't float this way...not sure what we're going to do, potentially looking at building. We'll see.

    5. There are no "deals"in NZ. Straight up - you get the B run import stuff here for plastics, furniture, etc on sale or for cheap. Real chunky stuff from a NA perspective. However, pay a premium and the quality can be exponential. Sometimes that can be as little as 10-20% for something made in Germany, Japan, USA versus B-grade import stuff. Remember - almost all of your consumables come in via boat. So everything is baseline more expensive. You can still order online via Amazon USA (NZ Post has a cool service call YouShop - check it out)...although there are *still* good small businesses here. Thank god for a small market economy. It has yet to be ruined by online shopping. We have literally stopped buying anything online and try to shop local. After 10 years of an Amazon addiction I'm recovering well. Sorry Jeff.

    Work
    I got a job before we left through old work connections. That's probably less common than most. The one thing they did like here was that we came visa in hand. We also did a recce trip and did some informational interviews as a back up plan. Well received. I work in engineering/hi tech. Salaries are 10-20% lower here on a dollar-dollar basis (not PPP)...but work life is definitely better. Very few people work over 40 hrs/wk where I work (~300 ppl).

    My wife has struggled to find a job here. We're still working on it and ramping up the effort but not a ton going on in ChCh and lots of young folks around so she's got an uphill battle. All we can say is skill-up before you leave. Have good references and a plan of attack once you're ready. Good luck!

    Overall, the move was expensive. We cooked $60k-$70k NZD in about 4 months (in the 2 mos before, 2 mos after the actual flight). But it's a major life change and an adventure. We're glad we did it.

    Hope this helps someone. Ask if you have questions. Responses might be delayed but I will check back every now and then.

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,538

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    Thanks very much for coming back with all this information. It's a big help and reassurance to people still going through the process.

    I agree with your remarks about the cost of living, with reference to food and consumables shopping. People who try to buy just what they used to, and in the same way as, in (for instance) the USA, Canada or the UK, will pay through the nose. It is necessary to relearn how to shop like the locals do - newcomers reading this, ask or watch your NZ neighbours and colleagues. Supermarkets have a rotating programme of reduced prices on certain items - 'specials' - so stock up on your basics then, enough to carry you over till those come cheap again. But look out for farmers' markets, local direct suppliers, people with a glut etc., and you can get high quality at much lower prices. It needs acceptance of a new routine of going the rounds of more places. Also, many people get into growing at least few (easy care) vegetables for themselves, and learning and using what is local. (My son looked at me with a quirky smile when I complained that I couldn't find lemon juice in the supermarket, and said, 'Lemon trees are WEEDS - go and pick yourself a lemon outside.' Ah...) When it comes to furniture and household appliances, suppliers have regular reductions, too, so it can be worth waiting for what you want, or checking out the competitors. And learn not to mind haggling, because it's accepted in NZ (not in a corner dairy or supermarket, obviously, but...) that it's okay to ask, 'Is that your best price on this? Can you do any better?' and often, there can be a big reduction. See this old thread. https://www.enz.org/forum/showthread.php?t=43666 In your early days, if you can get a NZer to go along with you, this can help get you not to get milked of money by people who realize that this new immigrant just doesn't know the drill.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Blenheim
    Posts
    1,540

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    Interesting read - it's such a long time that we've been through the procedure now that a lot of things have become blurry
    What is 'NA'..., can't seem to figure that out!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,538

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    I'm assuming "North America/n".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    34

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    Ha i agree with pretty much everything too. Cost us nearly 10K for the dog to come over. Been a year and 12 days since we moved. Hands down the best decision we have ever made.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Canada
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    14

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    Thanks for the comments and sorry, NA is "North America".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    SteveCAD, glad it's going well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Blenheim
    Posts
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    Ups..., didn't even think of that!

    Still curious.., what would you call a 'North America(n)' diet?
    Last edited by newarrival; 28th February 2019 at 06:36 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    162

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    Wow, thanks for the detailed information.

    Two things I'm curious to know more about. The first is can you break down the $8,000 figure for the pet moving any further? That's an incredible amount of money. We have considered getting a dog but are concerned about the costs overall. We do have family in NZ, so if a lot of that costs comes from paying services on the NZ side to handle tasks that could otherwise be managed by family, we might be able to save a lot.

    Second thing is, if you're willing to share, we would both love to know how you are adding up to $2,000, or even $1,000, per month in grocery bills. That seems truly astronomical for two people. My wife and I typically average 300€ (~$500 NZ) per month in grocery bills in Germany, and even when we have spent some extended chunks of time in NZ we were maybe spending $150 per week on food, which included indulgences like alcohol and sweets. I will say, however, she is a native Kiwi and she is incredibly tight and careful with spending, especially with food spending, so we might not be a good barometer for comparison. She pretty much never buys anything that isn't on special, and she becomes incredibly cross if any food goes into the bin...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    14

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    For sure. (Approx)
    CAD Pet Exporter: $5000
    CAD Vet Appts: $1500
    Quarantine: $1500
    Very little you can save on the NZ side. NZ Quarantine is mandatory with few options. They were actually the best, and most efficient, part of the process. The Pet Exporter in CAD was terrible, definitely not worth the $5k. Not sure what we actually paid for as the flight component was only around $1000. My wife did most of the actual work. But again...our dog made it. We're happy.

    So groceries...that includes toiletries, basic household goods (toliet paper, laundry soap, hygiene products, etc), booze, dinners out and groceries, etc. We've tracked it via our Visa on a monthly basis and that's how we've learned to narrow it down from $2k to $1k NZD. We've found things are more expensive here on a dollar-dollar basis compared to CAD. Although - as I mentioned - we found the quality and price of *some* basic goods better and cheaper than CAD. But some other items are 3-4x the price (cosmetics, hair products, lotions, etc are ridiculous here) which swings your expenditures the other way. We've had to really eagle-eye shop to get our spending down. We haven't found a real "deal" place such as Costco or Walmart like they have in Canada. In fact, the Warehouse (a NZ discount shop) has prices that are sometimes more than Fresh Choice and New World (two major grocery chains). Doesn't make any sense but it's a small market economy...

    Full disclosure: We aren't the best folks at efficient consumption. Both of us are from the land of the consumer pigs so waste is a common way of life when things are cheap. Some of those habits came with us but due to the high cost here our attitudes quickly changed. So we're doing better here and wasting less but we can do better (and we will). So the cost may be a bit inflated by our shortcomings.

    Hope that helps.

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