The Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to New Zealand
You can never know too much. So we took a bit of a poll around the office and put together a list of things to expect (or not) about life in New Zealand. Sure, things are different. But you knew that, right? Or else you’d stay put! Take it from us: it’s worth it
- Kiwis speak English. But that doesn’t mean we are English. We’re … kiwis! That means we’re all kinds of stuff.
- Increasingly, we also speak Maori, which is one of the three official languages (along with English and NZ Sign Language). Maori culture gives a unique character to New Zealand and if you don’t get some while you’re here, you’ll miss out on something special.
- The weather is particularly not English. Still, it’s no coincidence that the Kiwi band Crowded House had big hits called “Four Seasons in One Day” and “Always Take the Weather With You.” It’s not that the weather’s bad. It’s just that there’s … plenty of it.
- The health system is nowhere near as well subsidised as the NHS, so they’ll sting you a few bucks for prescriptions, doctor visits, and rides in the ambulance. See here for more on the health system.
- The seasons are the exact opposite, which takes some getting used to. Christmas comes at the onset of summer. Easter ushers in winter, not spring. And the academic year runs from February to November.
- People are more laid back at work. There’s less hierarchy, and generally less pressure than you’ll find at home. Because of the small population, Kiwis take pride in their practicality and adaptability.
- More houses are made of timber than of brick. Try not to look surprised when they tell you that’s because they stand up better in earthquakes. And there’s virtually no double glazing or central heating, although this is starting to change in more modern houses.
- The cost of living is higher than you’d think. As an island nation, a lot of stuff gets imported. As a result, there’s a healthy respect for the three Rs of modern life: reduce, reuse and recycle.
- You don’t have to be completely obsessed with the All Blacks to survive New Zealand, but it helps. Interestingly, almost as many people play netball as rugby. One thing Kiwis hate is to be beaten by Australia in any sport. It pays to remember that down at the pub.
- New Zealand is the furthest place on Earth from pretty much anywhere. Which means that going home is going to cost you, regardless of how much you like it here. As to that, all we can say is, all the more reason to stay. Ka pai!
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