Follow our blog for all of our New Zealand Adventures
Where are you from, Kimberly and Tyler, and what are you doing nowadays?
We moved to New Zealand in September 2015 and have been living in Tauranga, about 2 hours below Auckland. We decided to leave Southern California and try living in New Zealand for a year. We have been together for 8 years now and just got engaged in July. After getting our work visas for New Zealand, we have been working in the hospitality field and enjoying our free time by traveling around the country.
Why did you choose to expatriate to New Zealand?
We were drawn towards New Zealand's beauty and outdoor opportunities. We both love to surf, hike, and snowboard, so we thought New Zealand has a lot to offer us. We were excited to spend our free time exploring all of New Zealand's mountains and coastlines.
As US nationals, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
If you are under 35, you can get a one year Working Holiday Visa (WHV) that allows you to work in any industry for a full year. The only restriction is that you cannot sign a permanent contract. It has to be a fixed-term or seasonal contract. We went through a company to set up both of our visas.
How long have you been in the country?
We have been in the country for nearly 3 months now and loving it.
What has attracted you to Tauranga?
We really liked the beaches here on the East Coast. We also liked the location of Tauranga to other parts of New Zealand. You can get to Auckland in around 2 hours if you want a taste of big city life and it's only 2 hours from Taupo Lake which is great for fishing and hiking.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
We were really surprised at the cost of groceries and of eating out. It is expensive to buy food here. We actually started a little garden in our yard to help out.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?
Accommodation is very easy to find here as it is really set up for travelers. We had no problem in finding long-term accommodation as well. They have a great campsite system set up here, as well as a ton of motor lodges, hotels, and hostels. For long-term accommodation, websites like Trademe is the best place to find houses and apartments for rent.
Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?
We are both in the hospitality field, so it was pretty easy to find jobs as the tourism industry is huge here.
How do you find the Kiwi lifestyle?
We really like the lifestyle here. Everyone is extremely nice and welcoming, and also very sporty and outdoor orientated.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
We think so. The only thing that took a bit of adjusting too was not having dryers to dry our clothes. We have never used a clothes line in our whole life! But electricity is expensive here and it's better for the environment, so we quickly got the hang of it. We also had to adjust to stores and offices not being open past 9-5. They are a very work-life balanced country, so we were not used to not being able to get items at odd hours. And of course, learning to drive on the left side of the road!
What does your every day life look like in Tauranga?
We work during the week then try to take off to camp in a different spot every week-end, or at least try to get in a hike or a surf. We like being active as much as possible.
Any particular experience in New Zealand you would like to share with us?
Since we have been here, we have been white-water rafting, cave abseiling, and have done at least 10 different hikes. There are also many waterfalls to check out around the country. Moreover, it is not a myth that there are more sheep than people, but its spring and baby lambs are everywhere!
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Tauranga? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
Clothing, household goods, and electronic pricing is pretty comparable to the US, especially if you wait for a deal or sales. But food here is definitely more expensive, as are gas prices and electricity.
Your favorite local dishes?
The coffee here is absolutely to die for. Kiwis love their coffee and it is like a piece of art when it comes out.
What do you like the most about Tauranga?
The beaches are seriously the best.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
I miss Mexican food. Nothing compares to the Mexican food you can get in California. And Trader Joes! I definitely miss that grocery store chain.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in New Zealand?
Start learning the rules of rugby union as its a religion around here! Also, buy a good pair of hiking boots as these are quite expensive to pick up here. You would be missing out if you didn't do any hiking in this country.
What are your plans for the future?
We will be here for at least a year, enjoying all New Zealand has to offer.