I was told recently about a new study which proclaimed New Zealand as the most socially advanced country in the world. I must say that the coincidence of my arrival to these shores with such an announcement is striking. I thought I should look up some further detail for you, loyal reader…
Click here for the NZ.Herald article.
I couldn’t find a comparable headline to see if the UK index had fallen since my departure, although I can imagine a general drop in a joviality index could be attributable. Wouldn’t that be a great tracker to have? 😄
I am not a sociologist but there is understandably a lot of national pride for a small country when results like this are announced. People do genuinely feel pride in living here and being from here. I have also seen similar studies proclaiming Auckland as one of the top places in the world to live.
All I can say from my experiences so far are that the people are friendly almost without exception (but being a cynical Englander, the doesn’t mean they aren’t out to fleece you in some way). There are of course social problems because I have observed some homelessness, a (friendly) dislike of Aucklanders from elsewhere in NZ, obesity on a pretty grand scale (there are some big people here for sure!), and undercurrents of a dislike for Asian people at times due to an immigration influx and the perceived effect this has – but then we are all immigrants here at the end of the day. A reminder that nowhere is perfect and that nobody should pat themselves on the back too much – too much smug can be toxic.
The ease with which I can settle in must, at least in part, reflect on a progressive nation (and speaking the English language) although I am far from integrated just yet.
OK, so I wrote a list about what I needed to do before leaving and included some views on what I thought I needed to do when I got to NZ. I can now create a new list, to help any budding immigrants out there, of those things to consider when you get to where you are going…and a couple more pointers before you even apply…
Before you apply, make sure you try to do some research on culture, and especially relating to work as this is where you will spend a good deal of time. It is not always easy but quite important. For example, in the UK, I was getting 30 days of holiday per year, in NZ this is typically 20. In North America this can be only 10. You have to have an idea on what you want your life to look like. At the end of the day, with less holidays you are unlikely to be able to spend a lot of time with guests if they visit and weekends and evenings become more important.
OK, post arrival…and assume for this list that you already have a job…
1. Find somewhere to live. In NZ, you have to pay the real estate agent for setting up a tenancy…unusual? Consider your commute, locality, amenities, ask local people for advice on areas to look at or avoid.
2. Open a bank account…you will need money and as such proof of ID is important. You may need to get proof of address from your hotel to start with. Also, work out how to transfer money to your new account from back home – there are foreign exchange websites which do free transactions at better rates than a Swift payment from your bank.
3. Obtain an IRD number – this is to enable you to be taxed (and paid!). You do this at a Post Shop and will need 2 forms of ID (passport and driving licence). You may need to use a hotel address.
4. Buy a car – you don’t want to be stuck in one place! Don’t forget to get to know the rules of the road. It is worth noting that as you have no credit rating in the new country, buying a car is a great way to establish this so part finance it if you can.
5. Get broadband, water, electricity, TV, insurances (car isn’t compulsory in NZ but worth having!) etc.
6. Get a driving licence, you can only drive on an overseas licence in NZ for one year maximum.
7. Assuming you settle, keep an eye on when you can apply for permanent residency.
8. Get a mobile phone…or just a local SIM…so that you can start making and receiving calls from new contacts ASAP.
9. Get out and about on foot, on public transport or hire a car – you need to become familiar with your surroundings. See some of the tourist sights before you get entrenched in daily life.
10. Enjoy yourself! You don’t want to spend ages just doing the serious stuff…make sure you get out there
I hope someone finds this useful! As with anything, the more you research, the better.
There comes a point after several weeks of concentrating on moving and finding a place to live and doing the essentials…and acting like a tourist…that you have to start earning some money once again and I am no different. Let’s be honest…even long term holidays can get boring eventually…although I was not at that stage yet!
I am lucky to have had people in my previous job to throw in a good word to help me out getting a job over here which is great because it helps my wife and I to settle in more quickly and meet new people.
We have established a Park and Ride commute from our new home in Auckland’s North Shore (the bus drivers drive like bus drivers everywhere…like they own the road). There is a dedicated bus lane which enables the buses to zoom past all of the other traffic for most of the journey (in the words of ELO, hold on tight!)…with great views of the cityscape (shared in previous blogs), over the harbour bridge and then a 10 minute walk at either end. Works really well.
The walking part even includes views of the sea, Lake Pupuke (volcanic crater) and Rangitoto Island. To use a Kiwi phrase “It’s All Good”…”Sweet As”.
The people in a working environment have been great so far…the content of my role becomes a little clearer each day but I don’t want to bore my readers with that sort of detail. One thing that is interesting me is how to get involved in day to day conversation when you aren’t aware of the news or of simple cultural things…I guess this will change over time but you do take things for granted in your homeland when you just have an assimilated handle on cultural things. We talk the same language but with different frames of reference.
Small world but I discovered yesterday that some of our neighbours are from the UK! We are still getting items set up at home (and waiting for our furniture to arrive by ship) so the blog frequency is lower due to a lack of broadband…but hope to be back in full mode in the coming couple of weeks.