READER REPORT:

I couldn't live in NZ again

AMELIA WILLIAMSON
Last updated 05:30 11/03/2014
Vancouver
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SPORTY CITY: Vancouver is an easy place to get an outdoor fix. 

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We asked Kiwi expats to share their views on how their new home compares.

I'm a Kiwi who has been living in Vancouver, Canada for about a decade.

I moved to Canada for love, and neither of us ever thought we'd stay here, but I fell in love with this city in a very short time. 

Initially the culture shock was pretty severe. People can speak the same language as you but a lot of Kiwi words and phrases don't translate, so I learnt to drop a lot of my Kiwi slang so that people would understand me.

Clothing is a lot more informal here and people really dress down, which I found sad at first, since I was definitely a dress and high heels kind of girl before I moved. Now I have a million pairs of jeans like everyone else. You adapt.

Vancouver is on the west coast of North America, so it's part of - and heavily influenced by - the west coast culture of Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, etc. For example, Washington state, the state we are closest to, just decriminalised marijuana and Portland is a well-known liberal counter-culture city as well. Because of this, for a Canadian city, Vancouver is very laid-back, with a strong alternative culture, and very forward-thinking in terms of urban design and planning.

We do things to the beat of our own drum here - we have a nude beach in the middle of the city (Wreck Beach), for example, and April 20, Pot Smoking Day, is a big deal here.

It's also a very outdoorsy city. I can take a public bus to a ski hill 20 minutes from my house, or be on the water in the Pacific Ocean in a boat in the same amount of time. From my office, I can bike around a seawall around a huge park full of native trees.

The lifestyle here is fantastic, but it comes at a price that Kiwis can probably relate to: high real estate prices. Further out things are more affordable.

I wish more Kiwis considered Vancouver as a destination. There are a lot of similarities in the climate and outlook, and it's stunningly beautiful here, think snow-capped mountains and inlets and lakes.

Unlike the rest of Canada, Vancouver has a temperate climate and the summers here are amazing - it gets up to 30 degrees with weeks of consistent sunny weather.

There are loads of opportunities here - the film and television industry is a $1 billion dollar a year industry for British Columbia, and unlike New Zealand, there are many production companies here.

Mining and gas are also prominent industries here, and there are lots of opportunities for those in the trades further north.

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Vancouver itself is very diverse, it's truly a Eurasian city which will seem familiar to people from New Zealand and Australia. I know quite a few Aussies working here and they aren't going anywhere.

Don't be put off by Canada's immigration system, it's bureaucratic but they are working on streamlining it. The province of British Columbia has it's own immigration program which is a good idea to look into.

I went back to New Zealand last year as part of a trip to see if our family could return there. I was ready to leave after a week. I found the isolation (think: island fever), parochial media, and lack of choice/crazy living costs a big turn off.

I noticed many of my friends were constantly concerned about their heating bills, something we don't really worry about in Vancouver as electricity is state-run.

I found the standard of living not as good as Canada's, either.

I now know I could not live in New Zealand again. I find there's a lot more freedom to be yourself in North America and people are supportive of your dreams, no matter how big they are.

I would find the conformity of New Zealand really hard to go back to.

Practically, there are just a lot less opportunities in New Zealand than here.

There are some things to be admired in New Zealand, but overall the cons far outweigh the pros for us, and we're not leaving.


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