READER REPORT:

New Zealand: Paradise at a premium

MARK MIDGELY
Last updated 08:00 06/06/2014
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WORTH IT: Despite all of New Zealand's pitfalls, the grass is certainly greener, writes Mark Midgely.

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My biggest shock when coming to New Zealand was how much everything costs.

Coming from England I was surprised at how much more expensive everything is here. It's like a paying a premium for your bit of paradise. But it is a premium that I am happy to keep paying.

It seems crazy that foodstuffs cost so much when so much of it is produced here. I have to question why the Government doesn't force exporters to sell a percentage of their product to New Zealanders at a reduced price.

The cost of alcohol is also very high here. The cost of this should be lowered to reduce pre-loading which seems very much part of Kiwi culture. I found if I was going for a night out back in the UK, I would head out to the bars between 7pm and 9pm, then normally head home around 2am. The culture here seems to be to get as drunk as possible at home, before heading into town around 11pm staying out until 3am - 4am.

New Zealand Immigration made the process of moving here very difficult. I opted to do the paperwork myself as the process didn't appear to be too difficult to follow. But then Immigration start throwing in documents, policies and procedures that were not clearly available at the time of making your residence application. The level of bureaucracy involved is more than it needs to be. Instead of looking to help you, I found Immigration are just looking for reasons to reject you as a skilled migrant. It's difficult to argue your points with them as you have everything to lose.

Whilst sorting out my residence I also had to battle for work visas. Having obtained a three-month contract, I lost a month's wages whilst waiting for the visa. This was also a lot of tax that the New Zealand Treasury was losing.

It was only after I sent a lawyer after them that my visa suddenly got approved. Their excuse was that they had a backlog of student visas. I think they have their priorities wrong when it comes to issuing visas. Surely someone who is paying tax and spending more in the economy should be assessed first.

My other shock in moving to New Zealand is how Kiwis are such bad drivers. I thought that the roads would be safer here compared to the UK due to the lower population. How wrong was I!

How do you confuse a Kiwi? Build a roundabout! The standard of driving here is terrible. Observation skills are the biggest problem. Kiwis just don't look at what they are doing or what is going on around them. I'd like to say blame the new young drivers but its the over 30s that are the biggest problem. Such arrogance when driving, manners are non-existent. It seems strange when Kiwis are known for being friendly, how they change so much when behind the wheel.

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Despite all this, there is a lot that New Zealand does right.

This country has a fantastic environment and outdoor scene. I love hiking and enjoy the national parks here. It's just a shame I can't take my dog with me like I could in the UK. The scenery here is breath-taking and very much unspoilt.

Non-compulsory car insurance. This is the biggest rip-off going in Britain. By not forcing it to be compulsory in New Zealand it helps keep premiums down. Only an idiot wouldn't buy it and those that don't buy it now, still wouldn't buy it if it was compulsory.

ACC. Fantastic idea at keeping lawyers from ambulance chasing. I think this should pay out at 100 per cent of your wages though. It seems unfair that you suffer financially because of an accident that was possibly not your fault.

Good sized homes. Houses in the UK are like shoe boxes with the current town house trend split over three levels to save on actual land space. Too many New Zealand homes are not insulated properly and are missing central heating/double glazing but you certainly get more for your money out here.

The weather. It is so much warmer here. I do not miss the ice, slush and snow that descended throughout the UK winters. You just have to be really careful to apply the sunscreen as the sun is much stronger.

Cheaper fuel! Fancy paying $2.50+ for a litre of fuel? Head to the UK and you can!

The relaxed way of life. Kiwis are just so chilled out compared to the UK. Everything has to happen yesterday in the UK. Here it just happens when it happens.

It's often said that the grass is greener on the other side. In New Zealand I would say it's a lot greener here than in the UK.


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