Auckland, New Zealand Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand 06/21/19

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in cities in South America, Europe, and China.

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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?

Auckland has direct flights to LA (about 11 hours), San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Honolulu.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

USG.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a very nice, sunny apartment in Parnell, about 30 minutes walk or 15 minutes direct bus to the US Consulate. People without kids are usually in apartments a little closer in, while families will be in larger houses slightly farther out. The post is small, and therefore, the Consulate often has to find a new housing for arriving officers if they don't match up to the household size as those departing. The housing pool changes often but the local staff do a great job of finding nice places with public transit options to work (there's a decent network of buses and trains and the Consulate is right across from the city's main transit hub). There is limited parking at the office that is allocated by a parking pool sign up so those who want to drive will usually get a spot a few times a month. One quirk of housing in Auckland is that it often does not have any kind of central heating or cooling so you'll be using portable units for both, which are not terribly effective. Expect your house to be colder than you're used to in winter and hotter in summer. Post has very little storage so they won't remove embassy-provided furniture from your house and storage in apartments is somewhat limited. Otherwise, housing is very nice.

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

You can get most anything here you'd find at home.

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

I've brought a few specialty items like pumpkin pie spice and some Mexican spices but overall this isn't a big issue.

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

Auckland has a wide range of restaurants and food delivery from fast food (McDonalds, KFC, Dominos, plus local chains like Burger Fuel) to very nice, trendy restaurants. Auckland is also a very multicultural city with large Asian, Indian and Pacific populations so there is a wide range of different ethnic foods available. Prices are no worse than DC.

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

We've had no issues.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and it's a bit slow. We've mailed letter mail and postcards through local mail and it's more expensive but perhaps a bit faster.

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

We pay someone $100NZD/week (about $68 USD) to clean.

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

Lots of gyms and some specialty fitness places (yoga, crossfit, pilates, etc). Les Mills is a chain with a nice facility near the consulate. Prices are what you'd expect in a big city. I found tennis groups through Meet Up. My husband joined a local soccer league. There is a TON of amazing hiking within an easy drive from the city, as well as kayaking or other outdoor activities. It's a very active place.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted but local bank cards (EFTPOS) is the easiest. We almost never use cash.

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

Maybe some difficulties but probably no worse than places in the US.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

It's left-hand drive here so it's easiest to buy locally. We have a small Honda and rarely drive within the city but it's great for road trips. Though New Zealand roads are often narrow/windy it is a great place to see by road trip.

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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?

Plenty of options for internet with various companies and speeds are fine. It took a couple weeks to get installed and the company we chose gave us a temporary router to use until our full service was available. It's about $90NZD/a month (about $60USD).

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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?

Several options for local mobile phone companies with prices no worse than the US.

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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?

Don't have a pet but this can be tricky here because of quarantines and difficulty finding housing that allows pets. Nonetheless some people do bring in pets so talk to GSO/CLO.

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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?

There are a couple of EFM jobs at the Consulate but I think more people work locally. Being an English speaking country with a strong economy people have not had much trouble finding pretty good jobs quickly once they arrive (universities, health care, IT, etc.)

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Good opportunities since this is an English-speaking country.

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

Business attire at work, but not overly formal; people don't typically wear suits and mean overall rarely wear ties. Auckland in general isn't very formal. No Marines at post so no Marine Corps ball unless you fly down to Wellington.

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Health & Safety:

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

No. New Zealand consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. Traffic deaths are the most serious concern. Road speeds are often too high for the condition of roads but I understand they'll be lowering them soon.

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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?

Local medical care is pretty good. We just go to a local doctor and get reimbursed by our insurance.

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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?

Very good.

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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?

Auckland climate is very comfortable; summers get into the low 80s with mild humidity, winter lows are in the 40s, no snow, but lots of rain in the winter. If you want snow you can drive to a ski area on a volcano on the North Island or fly to ski fields on South Island in the winter.

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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 personal experience, but there seems to be a pretty wide range of good private and public schools.

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Expat Life:

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

There are a lot of expats here from all over the world. I think morale is very high.

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

Pretty much anything and everything is available: theater, movies, restaurants, karaoke, wineries, lots of outdoor activities. It's not too hard to meet people through EFM jobs, kids' schools, Meet-up groups for just about any interest, etc.

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

Anyone.

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

Yes.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I've found locals to be friendly but because the city is so international most of our friends are expats who live here now. I think Auckland was recently rated one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, but that doesn't mean there isn't some prejudice here as anywhere.

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

No worse problems than any progressive country.

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

This place is amazing. It's beautiful just about everywhere you go and there's something for everyone - Northland beaches, mountains and glaciers on the South Island, wineries scattered everywhere, volcanoes, forests, mountain biking, hiking, Hobbiton is magical. We've only left the country twice because there is so much to see in New Zealand. Just get out and explore every corner of this special country.

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

Waiheke Island wineries are a 30 minute ferry from Auckland and it's beautiful there. Tawharanui Regional Park is about an hour drive and has a lovely beach and hiking tracks. Spending a weekend on Great Barrier Island is really special. There are a number of multi-day hiking and biking adventures if you're into that (look for Great Walks, Otago Rail Trail).

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

There are Maori crafts and artwork, lots of cool Kiwiana art and items, possum wool sweaters, blankets, etc., and of course, wine.

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

It's a nice size city with plenty to do and good food, while you can get out into nature very easily.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That I'd never want to leave. Also Auckland is built on a series of volcanoes so it is VERY hilly; walking places within the city can be a real workout and I don't ride my bike around town because of the combination of hills and drivers that don't seem terribly considerate of cyclists (though there are a number of cycling trails and lanes in town)

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

100%.

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

Fear of snakes and wild animals, as there are none here!

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4. But don't forget your:

Hiking shoes, camping gear, sunscreen, sense of adventure.

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

Taika Waititi's movies are great: check out Boy or Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

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Auckland, New Zealand 02/19/15

Background:

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

Auckland is my first expat experience.

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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?

My home base is Boston and my original intention was to just be here to study but the climate is much better in New Zealand!

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3. How long have you lived here?

7 years.

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

Moved to study but stayed when I found work.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The central city is dominated by apartments, although houses start within 20 minutes' walk of the city centre. The majority of Auckland is low rise - one- or two-storey detached houses. Newer developments have seen terraced housing and high density housing developed.
Traffic can be quite severe if you are driving into the city from the North Shore or South Auckland. There is only one harbour bridge from the North Shore. There are many ferries, though.
It's worth noting that it is very difficult to live anywhere other than the city centre without your own car.

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

The quality of fruit and vegetables is excellent. There are many supermarkets and local markets.

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

You don't need to bring anything over. Everything can be bought quite cheaply on Trade Me (the local version of Ebay).

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

Most of the major fast food restaurants are here.

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

In Auckland there are a few mosquitoes. None carry diseases. Some other areas of New Zealand have sand flies which bite during the day.
Ants are a problem in some places.

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Daily Life:

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

Domestic help runs about NZ$20/hour.

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

A gym costs between NZ$500-2000 per year, depending on the facilities, with it typically being around NZ$1200.

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

Very easy - you can use a credit card almost everywhere, and if not, an EFTPOS card.

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

There are lots of churches offering various languages: English, Pacific Island languages (Tongan, Samoan), Korean, Chinese, etc.

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

If you are from China or India you could exist in pockets of Auckland without having to learn English. However, knowing English is very important for the rest of New Zealand as, even though NZ is full of immigrants, you don't hear many other languages on the street other than in the city centre.

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

Legislation exists to assist people with physical disabilities and therefore most modern places have access ramps for wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

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

Trains only run in some regions. Buses are reasonably good, but can be sporadic in some areas at night. Taxis are fairly expensive. It's best to have your own transport options unless you live close to the city or close to a major transport corridor.

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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?

It's not worth bringing your own car unless you have a special relationship with it (e.g. it's a classic). NZ drives on the left, so you will need to make sure you know the road rules. This website http://www.drivingtests.co.nz is the main free source of practice.
Cars are cheap and you will reasonable quality Japanese imports from around NZ$5000. You can purchase second hand private cars via Trade Me (http://www.trademe.co.nz) or Autotrader, or go through a dealer.
Insurance is not compulsory, but is recommended.

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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?

High speed internet is available almost everywhere (some very rural places can't get it). It's not as cheap as in the USA.

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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?

They're a bit pricey here, but I'm not sure whether it's possible to bring yours over.

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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?

There are shortages in some areas - check Immigration NZ's website. If you have skills you'll generally be welcomed as long as your English is good.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Huge numbers of volunteer opportunities especially in environmental stuff like native tree planting.

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

NZ is quite casual. Unless you're working in the financial sector, most jobs are smart-casual dress. The general vibe of NZ is informal.

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Health & Safety:

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

NZ has strict gun laws. Violent crime is low.

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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?

Medical care is excellent. Health insurance is not necessary, but is recommended.

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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?

With the exception of the main commercial area in Auckland (Queen St, Karangahape Road), air quality is excellent. In only 20 minutes you can be well away from the city centre in a bush-clad rural setting, or at a beach.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Those suffering hay fever will find it difficult in some areas at certain times.
The water is safe to drink.

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

The seasons are reversed: summer starts in December, so if you like snow at Xmas, you'll find it weird. It's warm from mid-November though to late March. July/August can be cold and damp with a lot of rain, but rarely below freezing. Usual daytime temperatures in winter are around 15 degrees Celsius, and in summer around 24C degrees.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a huge number of good quality language and business schools aim predominantly at the Asian and Indian market.

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2. 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?

Before- and after-school care is available in most places for working parents at around NZ$16/hour.

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Expat Life:

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

Most of NZ's population either is an expat or is one or two generations from an expat.

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2. 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's a lot to do. Sites like http://www.eventfinder.co.nz list a lot of attractions and activities.

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

Auckland is excellent for families, singles or couples. Singles would most likely prefer the lifestyle closer to the city, whereas families perhaps would prefer suburbs.

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

Yes. There's a yearly Pride Parade and a bustling LGBT scene in Karangahape Road. New Zealanders tend to be tolerant.

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

There are tensions between the indigenous Maori and other settlers although these are gradually being worked through with treaty settlements that return land or money. There's very little religious persecution; most NZers are secular.

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

There's so much stunning scenery, and if you like watersports, it's the place to be.

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

There's a multitude of bush walks and scenic lookouts in Auckland city, many of which are hardly used and all of which are free.

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

Certain types of seafood e.g. paua, kina. Greenstone carvings.

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

There are some incredible features of New Zealand. For one, it's relatively safe. Secondly, even within 20 minutes of the city, there are stunning beaches you can go to and often you'll be one of a handful of people there. The climate is excellent - temperate winters, warm summers (although humidity can be high on some days).

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10. Can you save money?

If you are in a good job or a relationship, yes. If you're single on a low wage, no.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

There's nothing onerous about NZ except that the wages are relatively low compared to other developed countries in relation to house price costs.

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

Absolutely.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen - you'll burn quickly here if you are fair-skinned.

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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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Auckland, New Zealand 07/06/11

Background:

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

First.

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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?

Northa Carolina. It takes 34 hours from Asheville to Wellington with a 3-hour layover in Sydney.

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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.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Very varied. I've seem some huge ones with spectacular views of the harbor, and I've seen moderately sized ones with views of their neighbor's back yard. Yards are very small and houseing is poorly insulated.

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

Everything is exensive. Very expensive. Milk is $8 per gallon, bread is $5 a loaf, eggs are $5 a dozen, gas is @ $8 per gallon.

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

Peanut butter, coffee filters, more sweaters, Legos, kids' toys.

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

McDonald's, KFC & Subway. Lots of fast food sushi restaurants & cafes. It seems to be a take-out society.

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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?

Everything is available. I've met many gluten-free, all organic families and scores of vegetarians.

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

Not too may. You get the odd spider now and then.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

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

Too expensive @ $25 per hour. Nobody I know uses domestic help.

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

Yes.

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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?

Safe and easily available. If you use Bank Of America, they won't charge you ATM fees at one local bank, so we use it for all our cash needs. Capital One also offers a no-fee credit card for NZ.

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

All.

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

All.

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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?

English. The Maori language is interesting, and knowing a few words will endear you to the local Maori -- though I've not met many Kiwis who can speak it.

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

None.

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Transportation:

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

Safe, yes. Affordable, no. Taxis are expensive, but buses and trains are cheap: usually 2 dollars per ride.

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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?

Any, the roads are fine.

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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, very reliable but @ $75 per month.

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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?

They are safe and inexpensive if you get a pay-as-you-go plan. The embassy also issues phones, but they are for work calls only.

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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, I've heard it was just reduced but it used to be 30 days. It is very expensive to get a pet into NZ.

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

Yes.

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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?

Not really, but there are occasional jobs available at the embassy

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

Business for work, casual for public. NZ is seriously stuck in the late 80's when it comes to fashion.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really, though like in most capital cities, I wouldn't walk downtown alone at night when the bars close. Earthquakes are a very real and present danger here, as well as landslides. I was unfortunate enough to be in Christchurch during the February 22nd earthquake that killed two hundred people. It was by far, the most firghtening experience of my life. I saw buildings fall on people and the ground open up spurting liquefaction. It is not a joke or something to be taken lightly. We have earthquakes every single day in New Zealand, some are unnoriceable and some are horrendous.

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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?

No concerns. Health care is adequate but don't expecxt any handholding. There is a definite toughness about the Kiwis, and they expect you to buck up.

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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?

Very clean.

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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?

Cool, WINDY, and rainy in the winter months (June, July, August) with temperatures ranging in the 40 to 55 degree F range. Summer months are glorious, not too hot -- but the sun is very strong due to the thin ozone layer so one must wear sunscreen at all times.

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Schools & Children:

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

Very good. My children have thrived at their school. I've heard nothing but good things.

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

Not as good as in the USA but they do look after the kids.

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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?

Yes, plenty -- but it is costly.

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

All you can imagine including underwater hockey, I'm not kidding.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

For embassy folks: medium. For the general expat public: great.

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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?

Everything you can think of.

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

Both.

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

Seems ok. There are a lot of gay-friendly events downtown and never any trouble.

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

None that I've seen. The Kiwis are pretty tolerant.

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

Gorgeous hiking trails. The Maori culture is fascinating. My children have learned the Haka and how to play Rugby.

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

Hiking, biking, skiing, swimming...any outdoor activity that you can imagine. We've seen whales, seals, penguins, birds, deer, sheep. If you can think it, you can do it in New Zealand.

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

Apparently not much. There was just a big investigation into NZ-made products and most were found to be made in China. I think the sheepskins are authentic but they are not cheap.

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

Great schools, low rate of violent crime, beautiful scenery, wildlife, no dangerous animals or deadly bugs.

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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?

No. It was nice for a one-time deal but the earthquakes killed it for me.

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

expectations that it is paradise.

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3. But don't forget your:

extra money.

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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?

It is truely an amazingly beautiful first-world country.

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Auckland, New Zealand 03/04/10

Background:

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

Yes, I lived in the States for the first 45 years of my life.

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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?

Tampa, Florida is my home base. I can generally make the trip in approximately 23-28 hours. It varies. I usually fly from Auckland to Los Angeles, then I catch a flight from L.A. to Tampa via Denver, Chicago or Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Since March 1st, 2002. I've now been living in NZ for eight years.

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

Married to a New Zealander.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing design varies dramatically on every street. You can have what appears to be a castle on a street right next to a 2BR flat. Again, zoning laws seems to be non-existent. Commute time can be anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on where you live. Traffic on Auckland's motorways is horrible during peak hours. There are trains but they are very unreliable.

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

Loaf of bread - ranges from $2-$4.50. Whole chicken - $15-$19. No iced tea. Sirloin steak - btw $9-$10 each (300grams = 3/4pound).

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

1. Krispy Kreme doughnuts. 2. Grits. 3. Miller High Life beer. 4. To be continued...

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

McDonald's, Pizza Hutt, Dominos, KFC, Denny's. I think that about covers it. Beware, Denny's NZ has almost the same menu as Denny's as in America, but at twice the price.

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

Mosquitoes (NZ lingo = Mozzies) are here, just like anyplace else.the mosquitos are huge here, but the bites don't appear to be any larger than what I experienced back home. The biggest problem I have with insects here is that window screens appear to not have been introduced here yet. I called a company that said they would install them, but the price was incredibly steep!The few neighbors I've spoken to said they "don't want 'screen mesh' because I like to see outside".That was fairly baffling, considering you can see right through a window screen. Oh, well...

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Daily Life:

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

Well, you get a mailbox at your residence...but it's for receiving mail only. You must send mail at the post shop. Someone here asked me about the flags on American mail boxes. I advised it was to notify the mailman of outgoing mail. The response:"Oh, I thought it was a patriotic thing."

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

I've seen no truly professional domestic help. I saw a handwritten ad pinned up on the bulletin board at the supermarket and tore the number off. The quote was for $20 p/h. Fair enough, she was an okay cleaner. The problem arose about two weeks into the deal. She began stealing from me. The first time I noticed it, I thought...well, it's only a half case of local beer. Then she stole my new phone, still in the box and food from the fridge. To be fair, I told her in the beginning that she could make herself a sandwich or something if she wished. She apparently though that meant she could take food home to feed her family, because she did!I buy in bulk when possible, but for the savings...not so my maid can steal it. I told her I no longer required her services.

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

Yes, There are gyms everywhere!That is something I can appreciate!Prices are also inexpensive at the gyms and swimming pools. A one-off visit will only cost something like $7 including gym, pool, hot tub and sauna.

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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?

ATM cards are the rage. Debit cards have been introduced for about two years and they (retailers) seem to have difficulty with them. If I see a frustrated retailer (about half the time) I usually just hand them my ATM card instead. Credit cards accepted in chain stores and petrol stations.

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

Yes, in many places. Churches here hold both English language services and other languages, such as Samoan, Tongan, Maori, Filipino and Chinese.

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

Yes, most channels are broadcast in English. Others are Chinese, Maori, Tongan, Samoan. There is Sky (cable TV) here, but you can get the three local channels for free if you have antenna.

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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?

Well, it's an English speaking country, so no problem there. There are words they use that are different than we use in America, but you learn the quickly enough. At work I was asked if I needed a rubber. I was fairly shocked until it was explained that a rubber is an eraser. We all had a good laugh over that.

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

Well, there are few wheelchair ramps in New Zealand's largest city. Their are stairs on almost every building in the city and the dwellings in the suburban areas. it's a hilly area, so they have stairs everyplace. Commercial buildings do have elevators, at least.

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Transportation:

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

Safe, yes. Cheap, not exactly. For prices see: www.maxx.co.nz

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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?

Anything small, a Volkwagen for example. Parking spaces and streets are notoriously small here. It doesn't help that they allow cars to park on the side of the street here, either.oh yeah, and cars turning left have the right of way, even if you're driving straight through on a major roadway!Gas costs averages $6.66 per gallon.

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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, but is isn't cheap or fast. it does beat dial-up, though!Cost is typically around $70+ per month for little more than basic service.

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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?

I'm told they do for 30 days.

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

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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?

No, unemployment is at an all time high. If you have a job in NZ, stick with it until the economy turns around, please.

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

Typical of any back home. Dress casual, I believe it's called. No jeans, shirt with collar and images or wording that could be considered objectionable...by a nun.

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Health & Safety:

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

Well, there can be but I've had no issues so far. The typical holdup (usually dairies or car theft) always involves local Maori/Pacific Island youth who are on some drug called, "P".They are known to use both guns and machetes in these crimes. Oh yeah, taxi drivers are also a prime target.

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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?

Well, there was a Meningitis scare around a few years ago. That's one deadly disease!My brother-in-law contracted it and damn near died!Apparently it turns your skin black before it kills you.

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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?

Listed as moderate. I'm happy with that result.

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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?

The locals say they love it because you can experience four seasons in one day. They aren't kidding!Try planning any sunny day activity. I'm guessing there is an 80% chance of rain most days. Locals, affectionately known as 'Kiwis' will tell you that this is why their country is so green. Possibly. I know the farmers love it. Don;t be surprised to see sheep on the hills in the city. It seems farming is allowed anyplace. Zoning laws are pretty much non-existent. You will find dairies (kind've like a small general store) alongside homes in the various neighborhoods.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

Yes, plenty of sports programs for kids and adults alike. Sports is a NZ institution and something New Zealanders do well.

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Expat Life:

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

Well, I've met a few Americans, but certainly more than 6 or 7.I'm told most Americans live in Christchurch. There is an American Club here in Auckland, but there always meeting during the week and it's difficult for me to get down there during those hours.

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2. Morale among expats:

Copasetic.

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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?

You've got 3 types of bars. 1. RSA (Returned Services Administration) This is primarily for ex-vets, but if you pay the dues...you can join. Almost as exciting as the VFWs back home.2. Bars for the 18-25 age set. They're okay, if you are in the right age group. Mostly really fast dancing while on Ecstasy or P, while drinking.

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

It's alright, depending on your interests. Again, it is an expensive city to live in.

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

Lesbians and gays are very welcome in New Zealand.i have a lesbian sister and I work with plenty of homosexuals in NZ.

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

There is an American bias, but they're aren't a violent people, which is good. The typical New Zealander is very meek and mild. The Pacific Islanders and Maoris (in particular, the Maori) can be violent, so it's best to avoid the bad neighborhoods at night.

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

Taking the round trip Trans-Alpine Express train from Christchurch to Greymouth. Spectacular scenery!

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

A few. You can do all the fun activities in one day and still have enough time for a good nap. But I'm biased being from Florida which is designed around the tourist's desires.

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

Hamburgers with sliced beets rather than sliced pickles. Strange.

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

No special advantage as far as I can tell.it's a nice country to visit, but there are no diners and almost no hot rod culture. The weather is tolerable, but winters can be a bit too cold for this Florida native. it's an expensive country to live in. Locals tell me that's because NZ cannot import on a scale large enough to keep costs down. I've been able to save next to nothing, which is one of the reasons I'm still in NZ.

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11. Can you save money?

Haven't been able to yet...but still trying.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

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3. But don't forget your:

Grandfather's personal Bible. He was a Cherokee Indian, Lumbee tribe.

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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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