Life in Wellington, New Zealand

What were your reasons for emigrating?

Mainly it was the political climate in the Philippines… we tended to get a lot of clowns in the government, and life in general was going down the drain, so to speak. We wanted to live somewhere where life was not a rat race, but opportunities especially for young people would be plenty. Our kids were foremost in our minds when we decided to fill up the EOI. My husband and I both felt that if we couldn’t feel safe anymore in our own backyard, then it was time to go. Also, maybe the time was ripe for leaving, as it was relatively easier (a minimum of fuss actually) to apply for migration, and we didn’t want to be stuck in the country until such time it would be very difficult to leave.

Name: Annie Robrigado
Age: 46
Occupation: Clinical Coder
Number Emigrating: 5 of us, 2 still waiting
Emigrated from: Laguna, Philippines
Moved to: Newlands, Wellington
Daily Commute Time: 40 mins
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

We never thought, even in the days when we weren’t considering migration, that New Zealand would be a choice of countries to migrate to. Usually for Filipinos, it was either USA or Canada. However, out of the blue a cousin who apparently lived in Christchurch for the last 20 years had suddenly emailed us for an entirely different reason, and we just noticed that his email address had a “.nz” We asked him if he was living in NZ and when he said he did, we asked how was it living there. He said “if you have growing children, it’s a wonderful place to raise them.” Since we did, we looked up NZ and right there decided, okay, we’ll try to migrate here. We submitted our EOI online, and when we were selected, we said, it’s a sign! Even if we had all our relatives in the US, it was never our choice to go there, because we would always be looking over our shoulder. Canada was too cold, and Australia turned us down outright because of my husband’s age at the time we started the migration process.

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

Cold and windy? Despite the climate, I guess there are a few differences. Both are relatively quiet and peaceful, close to schools and shopping and other vital centres, and the city as well. But I prefer NZ because the buses are orderly, scheduled, and the drivers manage to be friendly and helpful too. Also, there are no noisy tricycles plying the streets transporting people for a few metres and charging exorbitant fares, not to mention the diesel fumes that come out of their exhausts because they overload the two-person side car with 5-7 people. Oh, and even if both my home town and NZ have cows, at least NZ keeps her cows on the hills and mountains. Cows back home (privately owned) have no pens, and pass indiscriminately through our subdivision streets and gardens and yards (those unfortunate ones without fences), eating our plants and flowers and leaving dung heaps all over the place.

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Streetscene from Newlands, Wellington
What do you like best about New Zealand?

EFTPOS! I don’t have to bring too much cash to pay for things. We have eftpos back home but confined only to supermarkets, groceries and selected shops, and even there only a certain bank has wide access to eftpos (it’s called express payment system which is patented by one bank in the philippines). I can pay for my Mcdonald’s meal using my bank card here, whereas I have to line up at the ATM back home to withdraw cash just to be able to pay for fast food. It’s terrible! and not all eating establishments back home have this point of sale facility. It’s either cash or credit card.

Another thing I like is the ease of going around places, even if I don’t own a car yet. Well, I haven’t been to places beyond Wellington yet, but I know I can reach them by train, bus or ferry. I can’t do that back home, because of the traffic and danger, and inconvenience of public transport there. Much cheaper to own a car and go, relatively speaking. But owning a car back home is nothing to sneeze at either. I have to work 12 years non stop in order to afford the downpayment on a brand new car, (don’t try buying second hand unless you know the previous owner), and then work another 20 years to pay the amortization. By then the car would have been ready for the junkyard.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

If the wind blows and the temperature drops and the rain falls all at the same time. I just don’t like also having to wait for a doctor’s appointment for a long time if I need to have medicine refilled or something.

What do you miss from your home country?

When the wind blows at 100+kmph, bringing a strong downpour, it’s a typhoon in the Philippines, meaning storm signals are raised, which means classes or work are suspended because of floods. yay! Here, there’s no such thing as storm signal. So we all trudge to work and school even if it’s raining lions and dobermans (dobermen?)

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

I was amazed actually, because the day after we arrived in Welly, the HR called for an interview, and probably a week after that she said I had a job offer. How cool is that? But it’s not true for everyone, because my husband doesn’t have that great job yet, and he’s been here almost a year.

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

Even if I take two buses to and from work, I’m not that stressed out because the whole trip just takes a little less than an hour. Back home, it takes me 3 hours to work, and 3.5 hours back home.

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

Can’t say yet, because we’re only a one-income family here, whereas we had two incomes back home. But at least we survive – we have the basics.

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

We’re close as a family; we learn a lot of things together. We make new friends – true ones. And we enjoy discovering new things that we never thought we’d get to see in our lifetime. And we lost weight!

Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?

Just that one has to keep an open mind about New Zealand. It’s not perfect, but one’s perspective about it can make it so. We’ve made a serious leap of faith when we came to NZ, since we have no family or other relatives here, we had only a beginner’s knowledge of life in NZ. But Kiwis are a very tolerant and friendly people, and they’re very well adjusted to welcoming strange faces to their country. There may be some maladjusted ones that don’t see beyond the brown color of skin, but thankfully these are rare, and easily ignored. Just be well conversant in English and you will not get lost in this land of the long white cloud.

More Asia to NZ Reviews

Auckland/Hamilton – Jean from Beijing, China
Paraparaumu, Kapiti Coast – Ganasons from Penang, Malaysia
Palmerston North – KT from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Auckland’s North Shore – Astin from Singapore

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 more personal experiences.


  1. Renee Victoria Camarillo says

    Hello. Just read your blog here. Been working in UAE for almost 7 years as an admin assistant. Hubby, baby, and I are going to NZ in Feb 2013 and I would like to know if it is easy to get a job in NZ. Any admin work is acceptable for me. Any advice in terms of school records etc? I want to come prepared.

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