What were your reasons for emigrating?
We found that despite earning a lot of money, we never had the peace of mind. Despite having all the material wealth, we never had the quality of life we wanted. It was not safe to leave your front door open, never safe for kids to play unsupervised, even in your own front yard. Life was about where you bought your house, what car you drove and where you dined. We didn’t want our kids to grow up in that environment.
Number Emigrating: 4
Emigrated from: Penang, Malaysia
Moved to: Paraparaumu, Kapiti Coast
Daily Commute Time: 1 hour by train
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?
We researched Australia, Canada and New Zealand. We picked New Zealand because it offered the lifestyle we wanted and also it was a relatively small country compared to the other two countries. Also we just read too much negative stuff in the media about Australia as well as Canada’s neighbour. Being here for almost 2 years, we have no regrets.
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What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?
For a start, everything is a fraction of what we were used to. The surburb we lived in Malaysia is larger than all of Wellington put together, in terms of size as well as population. The weather, although initially was too cold for us, is a lot more pleasant than the heat and humidity we had back in Malaysia. When we went shopping, just being served was considered good service in Malaysia and we were initially taken aback when even supermarket cashiers greeted you. Taxi drivers that do not rip you off just because you look foreign. No one here I know judges you buy the size of your house or the type of car you drive.
What do you like best about New Zealand?
Politeness of its people. The landscape and how easy it is for us to access nature. The education system that teaches our kids to be a whole person rather than just focussing on academia. How everyone is treated as equal. Initially I thought it was because of the law against discrimination but I realised it was beyond that. Respect for another being, be it human or animal. Something rare in Asia. The pace of life is another plus. Hardly anyone is in a rush. People patiently wait at queues without trying to find the shortest one in a supermaket. Cars don’t blare their horn when you take too long to make that turn.
What don’t you like about New Zealand?
Its location – just too far away from everyone else. Flying back home is very expensive. Because of its population size, choices are limited. A lot of shops and brands we are used to in Asia are not available here. The tax stucture is way too high. Despite the high taxes, medical facilities are not easily accessible nor are they affordable. Dental is very expensive.
What do you miss from your home country?
Family and friends!
How easily did you find work in New Zealand?
I was surprised to be able to find work quite easily. Found work within a week of arrival. But one must be prepared to accept a lower position. Fluent English and 15 years of experience at senior levels in multinational organisations is just not enough until you have Kiwi Work Experience. I find that a little bit absurd but that’s the reality. Also depending on what you do, the choice of jobs are pretty limited.
How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?
There is a lot of emphasis on “work life balance” which is good. I am able to see my family more now than I was able to do before. Co-workers readily accept you as one of them without thinking that you are an immigrant, which makes you feel accepted.
How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?
We find the quality of life here is a lot better. It is all those little things that you cannot measure that makes life here a lot more pleasant. While I am earning a lot less here, our home is more comfortable, we always have food on the table and the food we eat is a lot more healthy and we get to do a lot of things as a family that we can only dream of in Malaysia.
Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?
Moving to a new country is always stressful especially to children having to make new friends and settle to a new lifestyle and a different weather. We did not find it hard to adapt but did and still do find it hard to blend in. We adults have 4 decades of history with us and it is hard to throw it all away and take on a new culture. In order to be able to make it in a new country, one needs to assimilate and this I believe is the biggest hurdle for an immigrant. We see a lot of people still trying desperately to hold on to their previous way of life. Some are not so obvious but some just don’t fit in this society. You should not forget where you came from and your roots but you should also recognise that you are no longer among them. I think assimilation is a very important aspect to moving to a new country. It affects both the immigrant as well as the people around him or her.!