Expat tales: There's no place like home
I moved to Calgary, Canada five years ago with the intention of only a short stay to visit family.
After finding myself in a job where I made much more then I had in Auckland, I made the decision to stay for a while and see how things went. Calgary is known for having a wide range of jobs available; many in the booming oil and gas industry.
Jobs are plentiful in the city, with skilled trades people able to make a very good salary... if you are willing to withstand the notorious Calgary weather.
The snow was a novelty at first. I made my first snowman and had my first snow fight. The first winter I spent here was the mildest I have seen yet.
For the most part, Calgary's weather is rather unpredictable.
I have seen the temperature rise or fall 40 degrees Celsius within a matter of hours in winter. The winters are very cold and usually stretch roughly from October to March; however it is not uncommon to see snow even in the summer.
As a result, Calgarians like to make the most of the short amount of nice weather they receive. Camping is very popular, as is rafting down the Bow River that runs through the city.
The Calgary Stampede is held every year in July and features a rodeo, amusement rides, concerts and many more events; all of which attract many tourists. The nightlife scene here is strong all year round, with a good range of bars and clubs to choose from.
It is difficult to compare this city to any I have seen in New Zealand as they are very different.
What I miss most about New Zealand is having a beach nearby. There are lakes within a few hours' drive of Calgary that are sufficient, but definitely not as good as a beach. People tend to work a lot more here and relax less. Annual holidays for most employees are only two weeks a year unless you have been with the same company for any length of time. Canadians are not as laid back as New Zealanders and although they have a reputation for being very friendly, I find this is not always true. The cost of living is lower, wages are higher and houses are easier to purchase. The transit system is adequate and affordable. For the most part, Calgarians seem to be pretty content with their lives.
For me it is finances that are keeping me here for now. Calgary is very much a worker's city and has helped me to come to have a much better appreciation of the laid back Kiwi lifestyle.
Unfortunately the cost of living in New Zealand is just too high for me to return at the moment. My hope is that my situation will improve enough in the coming years to allow me to secure a good job in New Zealand so that my daughter and I can return.
There is much to be said for travelling and experiencing new cities; but at the end of the day there is really no place like home.
I miss you New Zealand!
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