Auckland, NZ – Moving Downunder

Auckland Harbour Bridge
Auckland Harbour Bridge. Yes, the slope is real.
Name: Brigid
Age: 42
Occupation: Online Communications Manager (Marketing)
Number Emigrating: 4
Emigrated from: San Francisco, USA
Moved to: Auckland
When did you arrive in NZ: September 2012
My Story Written: 2013
Daily Commute Time: 45 minutes
What were your reasons for emigrating?

My husband and I married 12 years ago. He is a Kiwi, born and raised here in NZ despite the fact that most Kiwi’s think he is American because of his slight accent and living in the US for 11 years. I have to be honest, that is really annoying that people can’t hear his accent. 😉

We had originally thought we were going to move here once we got married, but changed our mind at the last second and it took us 11 years and 2 boys later for me to finally convince him to move back to NZ ;). It wasn’t really all that hard to convince him once we had kids, as he wanted them to have a more outdoorsy lifestyle and what better place to do that than NZ. Also, we wanted a simpler life and more access to beaches etc. We had a great life back in CA, with wonderful friends and great jobs but we knew if we didn’t go for it, we’d always regret and wonder what if. We viewed our move as an adventure and we figured if we hated it we could always move back.

What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

We chose New Zealand as this is where my husband was born and raised. He has his dad and step mum still here and heaps of aunties and uncles and cousins.

Ironically his older brother lives in the US on the East Coast and his younger brother is in Australia. But we didn’t move back for them. For us is was about getting a more outdoorsy lifestyle and hopefully a better way life overall. We were sick of keeping up with the Joneses and our boys wanted more and more electronic toys and we wanted them to be outside more.

We watch so much less TV here and our kids don’t even miss it. And for me, I have always wanted to live in NZ and we figured why not try it and see how we do.

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

What we notice most about where we live in NZ and where we lived in CA is that we don’t spend nearly as much time driving to see friends, driving to school, or driving to get groceries etc. We are so much closer to everything now than when we were in the US. Most of our friends and our kid’s friends are less than 5 minutes away compared to where we lived in the US. Our friends were anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour away. So that really made it challenging to get together very often.

My commute is about the same amount of time, but I now have to drive my car vs. when I was back in CA I was able to take public transportation so I could read much more and I walked heaps more.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

We really love NZ. We are 5 minutes away from 4 different beaches and 30 minutes away from an amazing surf beach that we frequented every weekend for nearly 4 months. We can walk our boys to school, and that is such a wonderful thing. Back in the US we had to send our boys to private school, given the school district we lived in didn’t have a good public school offering and we had to drive 20 minutes one direction to get them there. So that got really tiring to say the least. There are tons of different activities that are offered up at school too and soccer practice is 2 minutes away from us. We had to drive 30 minutes one direction to go to soccer practice so having to drive 2 minutes is a dream. We love the school our boys go to as well, there are 3 play grounds for the kids and tons of grass to play on. We didn’t even have a blade of grass at our school back in the US, which I know is a rarity for most people in the US I presume, but this is our story.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

We hate the costs of houses in Auckland. Crappy, damp, moldy houses are selling for $500,000. The real estate market is ridiculous and keeps going up.

We hate the bad drivers, they are really rather stupid.

I personally don’t love my job, but I keep hoping I can find something better soon. My husband is looking for a job now and he is having some difficulty, so we are hoping things will fall into place for him soon.

What do you miss from your home country?

Cheap Mexican food, but my husband makes amazing burritos, guacamole and salsa. So I can’t complain too much. I just miss having the ease of running up to the corner store to get an amazing taco or going to our favourite Mexican restaurant for dinner on a whim.

We miss really good pubs/sports bars and good pub food. I am shocked at how mediocre some of the pub food is in this country.

Finally we miss Costco and the ability to purchase TP, paper towels, vitamins, beer in bulk. 😉

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

Not as easy as we had thought it would be. NZ companies in general want you to be able to do EVERYTHING on the job description whereas in the US you can do most of the job description, but they understand there will be some learning and growing within any new job. So, I find that very myopic for NZ overall.

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

The company I work for is way behind the times. But it isn’t fair to compare given I worked for a technology company back in the US and this is a Nutrition company. So, I am not comparing apples to apples.

How much money did you bring to New Zealand:


How much money do you now earn?

I earn around $100,000 NZ. My husband is still working for his US company for now.

How much did you pay for your house:

We pay $650 per week for 3 bedroom/3 toilets, with a very private tiered back garden in a quiet neighborhood. It is clean, dry and mold free which was key for us in our decision making process.

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

I think we have a similar standard of living overall. We have warmer summers and the autumn we just experiences was amazing. Winter should be milder for us too. So that is all a good thing.

Life's a Beach
Life’s a Beach – Image by Brigid
How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?

We have a great quality of life here, but we had a great quality of life back in the US too. We are people who like to entertain ourselves for free as much as possible and we did that fine in the US and we do that here as well. We used to go out to dinner more in the US than we do here, but that is fine with us.

Do you have any other comments?

Clothing is more expensive, but because my husband currently goes back to the US every two months, I just do an order for whatever we need and have him bring it back with him. So, I haven’t done too much shopping here to be honest.

We have a list of pros and cons about NZ just based on conversations with people asking us what we like what and what we don’t like etc. And what is ironic is that there are actually more cons on our list, but our pros are bigger. So overall we love living here and hope everything falls into place and allows us to stay and be successful. This is our home.

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