Discussion: Closer to Home?

135 Responses

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  • Kimberley Verburg,

    @Paul Campbell That's good advice. But it's harder to set deadlines without kids. :) Most of the London Kiwis I know who've left did so because they wanted to have kids. As much as they love London, no one wants to raise their kids there. At best, they're prepared to stay for the first few years, but as soon as it's time for school they speed home to NZ or to Aus.

    Btw, I know a few ITers who are choosing to stay in jobs in London because they don't want to risk returning to unemployment. They're hoping for a better exchange rate too.

    I was part of a mostly UK-based discussion group long before I moved to London, which meant I was lucky enough to have an English social circle ready and waiting. So London felt quite different to me, culturally speaking. It was an unexpected relief to be able to hang out with the Kiwis, even if they did drag me down to Walkabout to watch the ABs play...

    Leiden • Since Jun 2007 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    If it gets to the point where I need to move to Newcastle it will probably be a good time to head back home

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    It hasn’t felt like a different country in the slightest, nor required any substantial adjustments that I can think of, except to slightly modify my phone voice at work, so people don’t call me Iain instead of Ben.

    Lucky lucky you, Ben. When I went to the UK,almost 23 years ago, it did indeed feel like a very, very foreign land. I remember being very surprised at just how different. I spent much of the first three months between tears at people not understanding me, and laughter at just how ludicrously different everything was. As Simon says, not as different as Asia would have been, but still.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It hasn’t felt like a different country in the slightest, nor required any substantial adjustments that I can think of, except to slightly modify my phone voice at work, so people don’t call me Iain instead of Ben.

    I had the same problem in Oz, except they were inclined to call me Bin. That was, in fact, my first email address over there, on account of a silly ozzie helpdesk chick.

    The main way London differs from both NZ and Ozzie cities is simply the hugeness of it. Certainly Oz is much more like NZ in most ways, but London only really feels foreign until you go anywhere else . The US feels like a totally different planet by comparison, and they still mostly speak English. Smalltown UK felt extremely comfortable and familiar to me, more so than, say, Sydney.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Horth,

    Well I'm half an expat as we have spent half the past 2 years in the States and half at home (chasing summer). I lived in Tokyo for a long time before that.

    We love NZ and consider it home, but the work here is good for my hubby R. Not just the pay, but the interesting projects - he's an engineer specialising in medical products. Lots of development here in Seattle. And they pay on time. But I couldn't live here in the long run - the medical system being the big reason. We're on travel insurance at the moment and that works just fine for us. I've been explaining our health system to anyone who will listen! Letting them know that government intervention (ACC) actually makes us freer as we don't have all that waiver stuff they do here.

    I see some people mentioning their overseas work experience - I did find coming back from Tokyo that my overseas work experience wasn't recognised as I expected. My career path wasn't the usual path that you would have had in NZ as it was with a huge company, so I had to take a position that was quite a drop(I expected a salary drop but it was the drop in level that surprised me) from my last job in Japan. I didn't fit the mold. I guess that is what some new migrants find as well.

    There is something freeing about living away from your own country - but we do miss some things: friends (although skype is great), the bach, R misses Auckland coffee - way better than here! I've been cooking lots and converting those Americans to Pavlova, ginger crunch and mince and cheese pies. They love it!

    That was fun - I tried the edit button!

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    R misses Auckland coffee - way better than here!

    Have you tried making it yourself? Then you can spread the good word to guests ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Horth,

    We have a wee espresso maker, that does OK, but just getting a good mocha while out for the man is difficult - all that hersheys chocolate that is around. yuck!

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Mocha? Not surprised you have troubles! That's not just a coffee and milk problem, but a chocolate problem too. Borders on insoluble.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Horth,

    We did find one place that did this amazing mexican chocolate mocha - sadly it seems to have closed shop though. Divine!

    I'm not a milk person, but I hear it is not so good here. Probably a big part of the problem.

    Seattle • Since Aug 2009 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Since we're talking health, I've got to say the Australian system is very very good. Lots of it is free at the point of use, but higher income earners almost all have medical insurance (or pay an additional tax).

    When my family last seriously considered relocating back to NZ, our excellent family GP (who is a pediatrician) was a significant factor in our thinking.

    I couldn't tell you what percentage is private-provision, but I'd guess more than in NZ and you can be a private patient in public hospitals (as I recall you can in NZ too). Interestingly, despite my guess that more is private, drug companies can't directly advertise to the public as they can in NZ (though some find work-arounds)

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    all that hersheys chocolate that is around. yuck!

    I believe they call it "chocolate flavored candy" or "chocolate candy" now, because it's so poor it's not even still chocolate.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Whenever I visited London I always envied the kiwis I knew there - living in the SF Bay Area (late 80s, 90s) we were so effectively cut off from NZ that we'd meet perhaps one kiwi a year - usually someone manning a ski lift at Tahoe - meeting actual kiwis living near us was so rare I think it only happened 2-3 times in 20 years. Flying home on a trip every few years we'd sit in the departure lounge and eavesdrop luxuriating in the kiwi accents around us.

    But in London every pub seemed to have a kiwi bar tender, our old friends had an extended kiwi social circle, many of whom we already knew

    (BTW this is also why National Radio was such a treat when it appeared on the 'net)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    The main way London differs from both NZ and Ozzie cities is simply the hugeness of it.

    there are other ways..the endless grey smack filled council estates come to mind.

    And a week after I arrived in London I was talking to a NZ friend's UK boyfriend. He worked at the MOD and was, so I understood, quite good at his job. He told me though that he planned to quit the job as he'd gone as far up the ranks as he could, having not gone to the correct school. It was an unspoken barrier but a barrier nevertheless.

    Those sorts of stories were similar to others I encountered over my years in the UK.

    It's the one huge difference, there is an us and them (and I don't mean colonials..we're another class).

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I didn’t intend to downplay the differences between NZ and the UK – they are many and varied – but being in London is different – the city is as Ben says, huge, which means that most of us seem to be able to live within the inner parts of city (zones 1-5), so do not really see regularly the huge depressed suburbs that sit around the periphery of most of the big UK cities, it is a case of out of sight, out of mind.

    But that is pretty similar to my experience back home as well. I lived on a farm for 18 years, then North Dunedin for undergraduate, then Kelburn in Wellington for post graduate and then work. This means that my experience of the depressed towns and suburbs is pretty much confined to living through the long decline of rural towns in the 1980s and early 1990s, which was pretty horrible. So I’m not really in a position to pass judgment on the UK in that regard and probably never will be, as the moment I cannot support myself in the UK or when my visa expires I’ll need to come back home. Which sounds like a pretty clichéd middle class experience but there you have it

    Oh and Ben, yes I get that as well. I currently have four first names - Ben, Iain, Bin and Benjamin.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Kimberley Verburg,

    Oh yeah, those council estates. I look them and wonder which human beings decided to put other human beings in *there*. Jesus.

    I actually live on a part council/ex-council estate in Bethnal Green, one of the most deprived areas in the UK, yadda yadda, but at least it's not a grey tower block in a hopeless outer suburb.

    Also, while the area isn't super scary, it's hardly 100% safe either. So I really don't get the expats who paint NZ as this suddenly violent society, it's nothing like here! E.g., some time ago, a teenager was stabbed just outside the primary school I volunteer at. Shortly after, there was another (unrelated) victim. That's worth a few articles in the local rag here. I could give more examples, but point is, it's just on a different scale.


    The class system has probably been the single hardest thing for me to understand. Four years in and I still feel clueless.

    Leiden • Since Jun 2007 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Until I started working with a definite majority of British (that is, British nationals or people raised here) I didn't really encounter the class system. That has changed now, and it is pretty dammed weird I must say. I pretty glad that as a foreigner I seem to get put into a separate grouping as I'd hate to have to start playing those games.

    Re the violence issue - I've been living in the traditional destination of Earls Court, so between me, the people staying at the 2 star hotels and the various other long term immigrants here, it is pretty safe and I've never seen any violence. Although the Knife Collection Bin that used to be outside the station did kind of worry me

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Yeah as i said the thing about the NZ papers is that they cover everything and loudly- largely I think because they feel they have to to compete with the immediacy of TV.

    It didn't used to be like that: My father-in-law looking to move his family from the US to get his 16-year old son away from the reach of the Vietnam War draft chose NZ on the strength of an early 1970s NZ Herald headline: "Man knocked off bicycle"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    As far as I'm concerned, NZ faces a much more destructive threat from "suburban mediocrity"/Kath-and-Kim-ism than nuclear warheads or hordes of AK47-toting riflemen. And sadly it seems to be actively encouraged by the usual suspects. To cut a long story short, "We don't care if you can build a space shuttle, we only care if you own the latest Hummer H2."

    I agree with most here that the real reason NZers emigrate is to fish in a great lake when they've outgrown the pond. But I also agree that every bigot who emigrates from NZ has fulfilled their civic duty - the interviewees in a Sunday Star Times article, "White flight to Queensland", on a group of Sunshine Coast-based Kiwi emigrés about 5 years ago, is a case in point.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Your Views bleaters complaining about "Crimz having two many rightz in Nieu Zild!" would do well from reading Keith's latest post on the prison population. Their love of tax cuts is ill-matched with their love of incarceration.

    I miss the friendly culture, the laidback life.

    I'll give you laidback, but I'm not too sure about the friendly culture. Ask a recent migrant from Asia, or even a 'white' migrant with an 'American' accent (real or perceived), just how friendly the place is, and I'm not convinced you'd get many positive responses.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    a 'white' migrant with an 'American' accent (real or perceived), just how friendly the place is

    If our experience is typical, any person with those qualities will be very popular with teenagers in south Auckland. Of course, they will be asked constantly if they knew Tupac or hung out in the LBC. (The best response to these sorts of questions is 'yeah, I knew Tupac. He still owes me five bucks.')

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    What about the snarls (and constant reminders of negative - rather than exotic - foreignness) elsewhere in the country, though?

    I'm happy to report no such negativity in Canada - people are generally just happy if you can speak and understand English (or French, as geographically appropriate).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    What about the snarls... elsewhere in the country, though?

    TBH, he really hasn't had too bad a time. He is quietly-spoken and self-deprecating, though, so tends to be a 'good fit' in NZ social situations. Not that that's any comfort to people who are louder talkers or more openly confident - I imagine we kind of suck for those people. I do recall my father being called a 'Yankee bastard' by someone about twenty years ago. As he's from Louisiana, the choice of words was doubly insulting. ;)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Ask a . . . 'white' migrant with an 'American' accent (real or perceived), just how friendly the place is, and I'm not convinced you'd get many positive responses.

    If they project a trailer-trash hillbillyish manner they'll go over a treat with local fundies, to whom Americans are one notch below angels.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    At best, they're prepared to stay for the first few years, but as soon as it's time for school they speed home to NZ or to Aus.

    As far as this goes the expats are going to have to look more closely as this government slowly but systematically destroys public education in NZ moving ever more closely to systems being discarded in places like England and the States. National Standards, 35 mill for independent schools, cutting ACE funding.And that's just the start.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    NZ is a truly great place, so beautiful and that beauty is so accessible. While I am happy and settled where I am, every time I come back to NZ I think “Why the hell don’t I live here?” I am a boatie type person, so the accessibility of the coast and beaches in NZ is just about second to none. On the other hand, being a hop, a skip and a jump from the Caribbean isn’t a bad consolation.

    When I married my wife, who is from Venezuela, which is a very long way from NZ, I knew I was probably not going to be going back to NZ, which was quite a wrench, as I had always had the “when I go back home …” thought in the back of my mind. Still my wife does really like NZ, so a move back is not completely out of the question.

    All countries have their drawbacks, the ones NZ has that stand out to me include: infrastructure. I mean how long should it take to plan, approve and build a road? Way too long in NZ. Cost. It seems to me that NZ has become quite a bit more expensive, especially housing, and interest rates are definitely higher. Combine those higher costs with reduced opportunities due to small size and the consequent lower salaries and that does make things in NZ tougher than they might be.

    On the plus side, NZ has become so much more cosmopolitan over the last 15 years. NZ also seems to be losing that old tall poppy anti achievement attitude toward business and entrepreneurs that used to be so prevalent. From my observations business success in NZ is now more likely to be celebrated these days than suspected or criticized with that old socialistic “if you got rich, you must have screwed someone” zero sum game attitude. There are many great business successes in NZ these days; Trade Me, Xero, Peter Jackson etc, NZ wine, the boating industry, dairy just to mention those that immediately come to mind. It is great to see these world class successes in NZ

    While no system is perfect, least of all anything involving government of any kind, NZ’s ACC system has a lot to recommend it as opposed to the “Jackpot justice” of trial lawyers and ambulance chasers we have in the US. It is the biggest single problem in healthcare in the US, something like 30% of medical tests run in the US are “defensive medicine”, done for protection in the event of a suit. How can you even pretend to be serious about healthcare reform and reducing costs and insurance premiums without a robust plan for tort reform? The big O sticking it to trial lawyers? Now that is change I could really believe in!!

    NZ’s struggles with productivity growth have surprised me. In my estimation, Kiwis are some of the best original and creative problem solvers in the world so productivity growth ought to be a natural outcome of that. The recent discussions on capital depth or lack there of being a major cause, make sense. NZ has to fix this issue or it will continue to suffer relative decline to a lot of other countries which will impact the numbers of Kiwis leaving or not coming back in the future.

    Interesting to read a few comments on this thread about the negative views of NZ of some expats being created by the news media. “If it bleeds it leads”, which I think it is fair to say is the modis operandi of all media worldwide and a major factor in many peoples’ negative views and I would say misunderstanding of a quite a bit to do with the USA, as well as screwing up some expat Kiwis views of NZ.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

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