READER REPORT:

Life in Tokyo is good

NICK HOLLAND
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2014
tokyo
LIVING THE HIGH LIFE: Nick Holland planned to move to Japan for five years but ended up staying.

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We asked expats to share their views on how New Zealand compares to life overseas.

Ah, New Zealand, I remember it well. Ready access to the great outdoors, wonderful beaches, tramping, cycling, great rugby and.... that's about it. Sorry.

It's a great place to live if you have an after tax income of at least $100,000, but anything under that and life becomes tough, or at least your choices become more limited.

At the age of 32, I was living in shared accommodation in Wellington, paying off a student loan, working as a primary school teacher and managing to get around town in an old car that my students kindly referred to as chitty-chitty-bang-bang.

Life was ok, in a hand to mouth sort of a way. No worries and single. Jonah Lomu was at his peak. Everything was right with the world; but on a before tax salary of $33,000, nothing was going to change much.

Two years later, I was married and my wife and I had to take a longer perspective and to be honest, things weren't looking that rosy. High taxes, GST, user pays health and an ever rising cost of living with a salary that did not keep up, meant that moving overseas was really the only option, especially when my area of specialsation as an ESL teacher was regarded in New Zealand as warranting only mostly part time positions.

We made the move to Japan and almost instantly, our salaries were three times that of New Zealand, tax was at 22 per cent and minimal GST meant we could finally get to work on our future.

The plan was to stay in Tokyo for five years and then head back to New Zealand, but, like other Kiwi teachers living in Japan, that never happened.

We have been here now going on 19 years, and life is good.

Living in a big city like Tokyo has its challenges. Life can be difficult in the midst of 15 million people, but somehow we have managed to adjust.

We do get back to Godzone from time to time, and always, without fail, we do miss it and love the people and the place. However, life for our teaching friends is much the same as it was when we left, if not harder. Costs of living seem to be on par with Tokyo, oddly enough.

Recently, my nephew left New Zealand for London. A new generation heading out for essentially the same reasons as we did: more choices, more opportunities, more income.


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