10 things you should know before moving to Auckland
Beautiful Auckland has appeared in many liveable city lists and recently came in third in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. There’s clearly plenty to love about Auckland – though what should you keep in mind before deciding to call this city home? Here are 10 things to know before moving to Auckland.
1. The accent
Win major points with your new Kiwi friends for telling the difference between the Kiwi and Aussie accents. Not sure what it is? In a nutshell, while the Australian accent tends to be more nasal and drawn out, the Kiwi accent is more “clipped” at the ends. More importantly, it has entirely different vowel sounds. The ‘a’ in “cattle”, or “fantastic” sounds like the ‘e’ in “Texas” (fentestic, kettle). The ‘e’ in “pen” and “Kent” turns into the ‘i’ in hit (pin, Kint). And finally comes the most famous vowel shift, that of “fish and chips” and “Sydney”, or fush and chups and Sudney.
New Zealand’s annual leave policies are pretty decent. Apart from public holidays and sick leave, most full-time employees are entitled to four weeks of annual paid leave. Plus, parents on parental leave will continue to build their annual leave, and (depending on the arrangement you agree in advance with your employer), you can carry over unused leave to the following year or cash it in.
3. Coffee is huge
The coffee boom arrived in Auckland some time ago and it’s safe to say will never leave the city. The price of a cuppa joe can be a little bit eye-watering, but thankfully the quality is excellent. Now for a quick lesson in vocabulary: if you like your coffee with milk you’ll be ordering a flat white, whereas if you prefer without, you’ll be after a long black. Take note as we’re sure you’ll be needing those terms pretty quickly!
Auckland is actually far bigger than many realize. Out of the central business district, its outer suburbs are quite spread out and are sandwiched between stretches of coastline. That means that having a car is convenient (as you can get wherever you need whenever you want) but inconvenient (as you have to assume its expense, deal with the city traffic jams, and chase expensive parking spots).
5. Drive on the left
Oh yeah, it’s important to know that New Zealand observes left-hand drive, just like the U.K., South Africa, and Australia (among others). You can use your valid, foreign-issued license for up to 12 months as long as you are free of any current suspensions. (For more information, check out the New Zealand Transport Agency site.)
6. Humble Kiwis
Kiwis are a fun bunch of people connected by a particular trait: Gloating or boasting is not seen positively. You’ll soon notice their self-deprecating sense of humor and tendency to pull themselves down or playfully mock their own efforts. They are, however, extremely supportive of their peers and friends.
7. It’s far away
Now this may suit you just fine but it’s still something to keep in mind. New Zealand’s isolated location means it can be pretty expensive (and time-consuming) for expats to travel home to visit family and friends. This can be an adjustment for Europeans, being so used to jetting off to different locations for cheap. However, on the upside you’re super close to Australia as well as Asia – so make sure to take advantage of that!
8. The slow burn
Prepare to take a while to fully integrate into your Auckland life, especially if moving for the long term. Not because New Zealanders aren’t super friendly (they’re often people’s favorite thing about traveling through the country!) but because any move across the world brings a necessary period of upheaval and a waiting game to feel “at home” in your adopted country.
New Zealand’s public healthcare system is funded through government taxes and provides free or subsidized care. Permanent residents, work visa holders allowed to stay for over two years, and others (check here for details) are eligible for public healthcare. To access the public system you’ll have to register with a local doctor (or General Practitioner, GP). For peace of mind during the first weeks of your time as a new arrival as you sort out these types of logistics, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance.
10. Unpredictable weather
It’s true what they say about experiencing all four seasons in a day. From sun and heat, to wind and rain, followed by an unexpected cold snap. Or how about flight-delaying fog or the aftereffects of a nearby cyclone? You’ll get used to it (after a couple of times being caught out without warm clothing or an umbrella, that is!).