Our pamphlet, “Tips on Emigrating to New Zealand” paints a pretty favorable picture of New Zealand, and in my last blog I even linked to a New Zealand tourism video that presents an even more positively biased impression of New Zealand. With or without my help New Zealand is becoming known around the world as an easy, safe, fun place to live that’s not responsible for any of the bloody conflicts that are making front page news around the world.
This is a point worth dwelling on. In the eyes of the media a country isn’t worth talking about until a tragedy happens there. Since we see the world through the eyes of the media, a lot of young people had probably never heard about New Zealand until the earthquakes in Christchurch happened. If the media doesn’t think New Zealand is shocking enough to cover then that gives some credence to the claim that you can expect to experience an un-problematic life in New Zealand.
As a general rule I’ll stand by my statement that if you move to New Zealand you’ll live in a relatively stable, civilized country. You can sleep soundly at night knowing that. It’s a great place for American veterans, because you can go just about any place in New Zealand and be confident you don’t have to look over your shoulder. It’s a place you can let your guard down a little.
If you’re from New York City you know what I’m talking about. If you live in Uganda or Compton, I can pretty much guarantee that New Zealand would feel like Utopia to you, and you probably wouldn’t even notice the first world problems all the white people around you are always angry about. However, if you currently live in a giant house in a mega-burb outside an American mega city and have central heating and airconditioning, a huge back yard and every super store imaginable within a 15 minute drive (that are all open 24 hours a day) then you’re going to experience a significant loss in your quality of life as measured by material standards if you move to New Zealand.
I’ve talked about Kiwi austerity before, but I haven’t done it justice yet. To enjoy the safety, beauty and culture of New Zealand you’re probably going to have to accept an obtrusively low quality of life by material standards. Unless you’re working in upper management or a highly technical, understaffed career field then there’s a realistic possibility you’re going to have to wear a sweater or two around the house during the winter.
That might not sound like a big deal until you wake up at 6:30 in the morning and it’s dead cold in your room, and your electric blanket turned itself off hours ago. So you don’t want to move, because you don’t want to lose any of the heat you have trapped under your blanket. But you have to go to work. So after working up the courage you dash from your bed to the shower butt naked skipping on your tip-toes because the wood floor is freezing. Then you wedge yourself into a cold, ceramic shower and turn on the water and wait for it to heat up while you squirm like an alien. Then you don’t want to get out of the shower because it’s cold out there and you’re all wet and you know you’re just going to snap-freeze as soon as you get out of the shower and you know you’re not going to dry yourself completely because you’ll be in too much of a hurry to get your warm clothes on. Plus, since the humidity never drops below London fog your towels are permanently damp and asthma inducing, sinus-infecting mold grows on all the windowsills. So you end up going to work feeling a swamp beast.
Then on your way to work in the morning you stop to get gas and pay $9 a gallon to fill up your micro car that you bought because it gets great gas mileage, which is important when gas costs $9 a gallon. You take solace from these problems though by reminding yourself that you have really cheap health care, which is important because you’re not getting enough vitamins since bell peppers and squash cost $4 a piece in the winter, and 3 boneless,skinless chicken breasts cost $14 when they’re on sale. The stores don’t stock much variety of anything. So you’re basically eating the same ten meals over and over again unless you can find some hole in the wall ethnic market to shop in.
At least it’s easy to blend in because everyone you see at any gas station is wearing the same clothes as you that bought at the same three department stores, and those stores are just selling all the old left over stock American department stores had left over from the 80’s.
If any of this bothers you, you won’t be able to smoke and/or drink your brain into a comatose state where you don’t realize you’re broke all the time because cigarettes cost $16 per pack and alcohol costs $16 a six pack.
When you put it all together it’s kind of a big deal. It just never really hit me because I’m used to being completely broke all the time. I hate to say it, but if you’re poor, white trash you’ll likely find New Zealand an easy place to live. Case in point, in New Zealand it’s normal to walk around the city and into stores barefoot. I suspect this is also why there are so many hippies in New Zealand. They’re used to scraping by below the poverty level, and they want to spend their weekends and vacations going on grand adventures to green places. So they stay. The kind of Kiwis who detest hippies tend to move to Australia where they can make more money and enjoy more sun.
I hate to put a specific number on this. I don’t know how New Zealand defines the poverty line, but I see lots of people making $60,000 per year eating wilted vegetables and living in cold, rickety houses where everyone gathers around the space heater at night. If you make $30,000 per year you’ll definitely be living like that.
I can’t guarantee that if you move to New Zealand you’ll ever experience any of this. All I’m saying is that I’ve looked around, and I’ve seen a lot of it. If you want to learn more about Kiwi austerity, see what real Kiwis have to say about this article.
[This was all I could afford to do that day.]
Filed under: life in New Zealand | Tagged: how big of problems does new zealand have, is it hard to live in new zealand, is new zealand poor, whats wrong with new zealand, why do people move to new zealand |