American Expat Living in New Zealand - Interview with Rhonda

Published: 9 Sep at 10 AM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Filed: Interviews,New Zealand
Rhonda Albom is an American Expat living in New Zealand. She is a travel photographer, blogger and homeschool mum. Living north of Auckland, Rhonda enjoys summer yacht racing, coffee, writing, hiking and she leads a group young Girl Guides. When possible, along with her hubby and two teen girls, they travel New Zealand and the World. Rhonda's expat blog is called Albom Adventures (see listing here)

Rhonda Albom enjoying a morning coffee
Rhonda Albom enjoying a morning coffee

Here's the interview with Rhonda...

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, went to University in Missouri, and later lived in San Francisco.

In which country and city are you living now?
Whangaparaoa, New Zealand

We live on a narrow peninsula north of Auckland, on the North Island.

How long have you lived in New Zealand and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here eleven years, hold New Zealand passports, and don't make long-term plans. I don't think we ever thought we would stay this long.

Lake Tekapo in the early winter on the South Island, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo in the early winter on the South Island, New Zealand
Why did you move to New Zealand and what do you do?
I am a writer and hubby is a consultant, so we can live anywhere with internet access. We were looking for a change, New Zealand offered it.

Did you bring family with you?
Just hubby and our two girls, who are now teens.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Oddly, I found the transition from California to New Zealand easier than the shift from Chicago to San Francisco.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I have been here a long time now, and have many friends. At first it was difficult, as so much of the social life in this country revolves either around family or work activities, of which we had neither.

New born lambs in Shakespear Park, North Island, New Zealand
New born lambs in Shakespear Park, North Island, New Zealand
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Anything outdoors. Eleven years later I am still impressed by the natural beauty of this country. My recommendation would be a joining a club. There are groups and clubs for everything, and they really help with integrating. Members of our family belongs to a yacht club, tennis club, photography club, writing club and Girl Guiding.

What do you enjoy most about living in New Zealand?
Slower pace, fewer people so less traffic and smaller crowds. Also, the cleaner environment and temperate weather (although I would prefer it a bit hotter).

How does the cost of living in New Zealand compare to home?
We came eleven years ago from San Francisco, which at the time was the world's 4th highest cost of living. The exchange rate was also much different than it is today. For us it was a good financial move. It would be more difficult today.

Yacht racing on the Hauraki Gulf, North Island, New Zealand
Yacht racing on the Hauraki Gulf, North Island, New Zealand
What negatives, if any, are there to living in New Zealand?
Like everywhere, there are negatives. I would say the biggest for us is fighting the American stereotype. It's subtle, but it lingers.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to New Zealand, what would it be?
Only the initial container of goods brought in at immigration is duty free. If you are bringing less with the idea of replacing when you arrive, do a quick on-line price shop. Some things, like furniture, computers, cameras are very expensive here and often cheaper to bring with you.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The distance we are to anywhere else, especially family.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?

Swing bridge at Hokitika Gorge, South Island, New Zealand
Swing bridge at Hokitika Gorge, South Island, New Zealand
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. It's cold in the winter here, and there is no central heat in homes. Bring layers, lots of them, and be prepared for much colder homes than you may have been used to if you are coming from the USA or UK.
  2. Tall Poppy Syndrome is very real here, so take caution when you talk about yourself.
  3. Don't try to change things to how you think they should be from your home country, rather try to adapt (this is a big one for fitting in here).
  4. A Tip from my teenage daughter: Buy clothes and shoes before you get here, as fashion is expensive in New Zealand.
  5. Be open minded. Slow down, relax and enjoy the adventure.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Albom Adventures follows our expat life in New Zealand, as well as our travels around the country and the world. We love to explore beautiful New Zealand, and have done extensive travel on both islands. We have also collectively visited over 48 countries.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through Albom Adventures:
On Facebook:

About the author

Expat Blog ListingRhonda is an American expat living in New Zealand. Blog description: Where travel and adventure meet fun. We are American expats laughing at the lighter side of both expat living in New Zealand and family travel.
Please share:

Grab a featured expat badge that links to this interview!

Copy and paste code to display the Featured Expat Badge:

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Articles by Category

Now featuring 633 expat interviews


Latest Headlines