Auckland, New Zealand Report of what it's like to live there - 04/16/12

Personal Experiences from Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand 04/16/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

U.S. -- 3 planes and 27 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse's employment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Homes with small or no yards. It is a 15 to 30 minute commute, which can be much longer depending on where you live.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Almost everything is available at a price higher than the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Cosmetics and shoes are expensive.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All choices -- higher than the U.S. Cafes are very popular.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All food requirements can be found here.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Flies, mosquitoes, spiders, ants.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

You can find childcare and housecleaning services, but it will start at NZD$20 an hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes -- many gyms and classes are available and physical activity/sports are offered everywhere.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are everywhere and credit cards are widely accepted. Check your fees -- it may be cheaper to open a NZ bank account and transfer money if you are here for more than a short time.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes -- many.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, with a slighty higher cost than the U.S.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You won't always be understood with your American accent and many place names are in Maori, but it is an English-speaking country.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains, ferries, buses, and taxis are all safe, but not cheap.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Left-side driving vehicles only. Almost everyone buys a car here or imports one from Japan. Parking can be tight and some streets are narrow.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. Ten days to six months. There are numerous requirements for importing a pet.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. Vets may board cats, but don't board dogs. Boarding facilities for dogs are usually located outside of town or by the airport.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Safe, but smash-and-grab from cars can be a problem, so don't leave valuables in sight.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dampness and humidity can increase respiratory illness. There have also been measles outbreaks. Medical care is good. You must have a general practitioner for regular medical care and referrals to specialists. Children are also seen by a GP and only referred to a pediatrician if specialized care is needed.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good air quality, but very damp and humid with mold problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Can be rainy and windy, but doesn't freeze.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No international schools. Many girls-only or boys-only schools. Some co-ed. School year runs from February through December.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

You may have to find help on your own if your child does not have severe disabilities.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

All 3 and 4 year olds can receive 20 hours a week of early childhood education at no cost at a public or private kindergarten. They can attend more hours a week for a fee. Kindergartens are usually very play-oriented with experienced workers.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes -- every kind you can think of.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large, but not always noticeable because everyone can function so well on their own.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are many activities to go out to and people also entertain at home. Traveling during public holidays and summer is common and it may seem all your friends are gone every three-day weekend.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Big city with the most activities and diversity you will find in New Zealand.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around the country by car, plane, train,and ferry.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beautiful forest, beaches, mountains. Rainy but not too hot or cold. Fantastic parks and playgrounds.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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