US Expat Living in New Zealand - Interview With Jenny

Published: 11 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,New Zealand
Jenny is an American nurse living in New Zealand with her husband, Chris, and their son, Joe. She shares her experiences on life in New Zealand and life as a parent at Practically Perfect (see listing here). Jenny loves exploring her adopted home country, spending time with family, and traveling around the world (when possible!). She and her husband have been living in New Zealand since May 2010. In addition to living in New Zealand, she has lived in Indiana, Massachusetts, and (briefly) in the UK. The best advice she could give a potential expat is to do your research and network. She and her husband are expecting their second child in mid-2013.

Practically Perfect

Here's the interview with Jenny....

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from the United States. I was born in Indiana but have also lived in Massachusetts.

In which country and city are you living now?
I currently live in Auckland, New Zealand.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here since May 2010 and am planning to be here till July 2013.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved with my husband, Chris. He was offered a wonderful job in New Zealand and we decided to accept it. I am a nurse and work at a hospital in Auckland.

Practically PerfectDid you bring family with you?
I came with my husband. We also have a son, born here in New Zealand, and are expecting our second child.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It took me about 6 months to feel adjusted and about a year to feel that New Zealand was "home". There were times when I was quite homesick, but I knew from previous moving experiences that it was important to give myself time and not to expect things to feel comfortable and familiar right away.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was easy for me to make friends and meet people because (a) I got a job right away and (b) we joined a church. Both of those two things were great ways to meet others. The majority of my friends are either Kiwis or expats. New Zealand has such a high expat community, at least in Auckland, that you naturally have friends from other countries.

Practically PerfectWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Auckland has many of the attractions of a large city - the theatre, sporting events, good food, concerts - with the addition of many water activities because of its location on the harbour. It's a very spread out, green city in comparison with most other large cities, so there are plenty of things to do if you're interested in outdoor activities. We love to take walks through various parks in the city and visit area beaches.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I enjoy the laid-back lifestyle. The thing that I was told shortly after moving to New Zealand is that "Americans live to work, whereas Kiwis work to live." The mandatory 4 weeks of annual leave is a wonderful thing. I love how people take advantage of time off and enjoy being with friends and family. New Zealand is also very family friendly, something that we've grown to appreciate since the birth of our son.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is more expensive to live in New Zealand. Taxes are higher, as is the cost of housing, goods, food, services... just about everything. However, I tell people that you don't move to New Zealand because you want a cheap place to live. You move here because you want to live in New Zealand and take advantage of all that it has to offer, including things like access to healthcare and benefits for parents.

Practically PerfectWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
It's hard to be so far from family. Also, the cost of living in comparison to earnings is a bit frustrating. You may find that your selection of goods is limited, but we quickly adjusted to this and don't mind it anymore.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
If you can, visit New Zealand before moving here. Please don't watch a few commercials, read some websites, watch some movies filmed in New Zealand, and think that it's the place for you. It's sad when people move here and find that reality doesn't match with their dreams. New Zealand is a wonderful country, but it's not for everyone.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The cost of living has been the hardest for me. We're able to live within our means and have not had to worry about running into debt or being unable to pay our bills, but it has required making some sacrifices. Aside from that, the only other hard things has been to live so far from our families. We both have large families and not seeing them as often as we'd like has been an adjustment.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
It will be difficult. I found that living outside of the USA broadened my mind and made me think about things differently. It will also be difficult to adjust to the less family friendly aspects of American living, such as the expectations for longer work weeks, less vacation time, etc. However, we will have the wonderful benefit of being able to see our families more often. Everything involves a trade-off.

Practically PerfectWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your research by reading blogs, visiting the country, finding out about the government, and learning what the healthcare system is like in your new potential country.
  2. Take a visit there before you move and during your trip, do even more research on things like the cost of groceries, rent, etc.
  3. When you do move, get involved: find a job, volunteer, join a church, join a club. This will make moving and settling in much easier.
  4. Give yourself time. Depending on how different the country is from your home country, it can take at least a year to feel settled, sometimes longer. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask yourself how long you've been there and if it's less than a year, tell yourself that you've got time before you need to make a decision.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If I can, I try to answer any questions that people email me about moving to New Zealand and what life is like here.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My expat blog is a personal blog that I started in December 2006 to keep family and friends up to date on what was happening in our lives. It has slowly grown since then and is definitely an expat blog now. I found it hard to find expat blogs in New Zealand and even harder to find expat bloggers who were willing to share their experiences and answer my questions, so I decided that when we moved, I would try to be available and help others. I think that I've been able to do that, and I've enjoyed meeting so many great people through blogging as a result.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted via email at mrs(dot)practicallyperfect(at)gmail(dot)com.

Jenny blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Practically Perfect has an listing here with some great reader comments - although there's rom for more, so add some blog love and support her at her listing! If you appreciated this interview with Jenny, please let her know by leaving a comment below.
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Comments » There are 2 comments

Justyn wrote 11 years ago:

Thanks Jen! Your blog was certainly a resource for me before our New Zealand move (and it still is, 2 weeks in!) and I plan to share this interview ;)

Justyn wrote 11 years ago:

Love it ! A great resource for those considering a move to NZ. We read regularly (moved to NZ 2 weeks ago) and pass on the blog whenever anyone asks for sites to prepare for such a move.

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