I’m Moving to New Zealand!

Or, I suppose I ought to say “we.” Greg (alias G.), that initial that sometimes hangs out at the bottom of my posts and takes credit for my photos, is going to New Zealand, too.

In early September we’ll be flying to LAX and then straight on to Auckland. We’ll likely (I say “likely” because we’re chronic procrastinators with a distaste for concrete plans) stay in a private room at some Aucklander’s house for a week or two before either finding more semi-permanent accommodations or moving on to a smaller, less expensive city. We’re going to be in full-fledged tourist mode for that first fortnight, so if you’ve ever been to Auckland (or anywhere in New Zealand) let me know what I can’t miss!

Now, onto the questions that we’ve already fielded numerous times…

Sunset Flight

1). Why?

There are many ways to answer this question. It sounds corny, but we are driven primarily by our desire to seek out and integrate ourselves within a healthier society — or at least one not as psychotic as the United States’. While being born, raised, and educated in the U.S. has been a tremendous privilege, its disturbing characteristics are growing too obvious for us to ignore.

The United States was founded and shaped by the co-operating principles of capitalism (i.e., avarice) and independence (i.e., a twisted form of disaffected individualism), and the collusion of these two euphemisms has produced a staggeringly wealthy, yet also profoundly unequal and mentally distressed, country. Thoughtful criticism is frequently drowned out and delegitimized by excessive, extremist noise. Growth, work, and success via material gain are prioritized over everything else, creating a breeding ground for manipulation, low self esteem, and “corporate culture.” Reckless mindsets on education, health, social welfare, finance, and authority prevail, to the detriment of not only Americans, but the rest of the world. To take one simple, particularly salient example: It’s astonishing that in 2014 someone can break their arm and be denied treatment. Access to medicine is a right, but in the United States it’s traded like a consumer good. One should not profit off of others’ misfortunes.

Depending on your opinion of the United States, you might think that Americans either won the citizenship lottery, or scratched off a very, very unlucky ticket. Either way, it’s not anything that you chose. Do we expect New Zealand to be a utopia? No. It would be the height of foolishness to expect that moving to another country would magically eliminate all of the societal grievances we have. But at least moving there is an active choice, and it’s a choice that not many have the privilege to make.

2). Ok. But why New Zealand?

Honestly? A big part of it is because they speak English. Shameful Americans that we are, we can’t speak any other language fluently. I spent time in Argentina and while I enjoyed it, not being able to communicate effectively left me feeling severely disenfranchised. Plus, it’s supposed to be freakin’ GORGEOUS, and the country’s quite a bit more socialist, and hopefully significantly less materialistic, than our own. I’ve heard that TV shows/cereal/basic consumer goods/fashion trends take a looooooong time to reach New Zealand. I hope that’s the case. We’ve had enough of this race-to-get-the-latest-version-of-the-iPhone mentality. It also has a lot to do with the availability of a working holiday visa (see below).

3). Do you have a job lined up?

No, neither of us does. We have year-long working holiday visas — emphasis on holiday. We’re primarily supposed to be tourists, but we’ll likely hold a variety of short-term, minimum wage jobs. Many apples on many organic farms will be picked.

4). So… how are you paying for this?

Answer: We saved. Though we will have to work while we’re there, of course. You’ve also got to keep in mind that 1) we don’t have cars, 2) we don’t own a home, and 3) marriage strikes us as a quaint (not to mention expensive!) institution. We don’t expect any of these things to change when we are in New Zealand.

5). Why now?

Why NOT now? Seriously, the timing could not be more perfect. I’m 23, Greg’s 24, and if we don’t go now, then it’s highly likely that we’d NEVER go. And that would be sad indeed.

6). Be serious. Is this just because you’ve watched too many episodes of Flight of the Conchords?

Not really. No, no. Well, maybe. A little bit. Yes.

In all seriousness, I’m incredibly excited. So much so that I’m already having trouble sleeping. We’re planning to see as much of the country as we possibly can, and, if all goes well, I might go on to graduate school in New Zealand (big hypothetical!!). I’m planning to post LOTS of pictures and stories about our travels right here on this blog. There’s a new “New Zealand!” category in the right sidebar AND a page just under the header where all of the posts will be archived. I hope that all of you will follow along! Cheers.

Kiwi higher res

Cloud photo by Greg. Kiwi logo designed by Christopher T. Howell for The Noun Project.

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42 thoughts on “I’m Moving to New Zealand!

  1. Alina, I’m late to the party but this is wonderfully exciting. I studied abroad twice in college and assumed I’d have gone overseas again at this point. Two years after graduating, I’m still in the US. So congrats for putting muscle to your inner conflicts and channeling that frustration into a new living location. Best!

    1. Yes, I know your frustration! I did three separate research & language trips abroad while I was in college, and rather naively assumed that I would be awarded a Fulbright/fellowship after graduation (I didn’t even end up applying for a Fulbright because my senior year was so hectic, and I got turned down by all of the development-based fellowships I applied for). It was sobering, but ultimately for the best, as I’m now traveling through New Zealand on my own terms, with my own money, and with no ambiguous responsibilities to an NGO or nonprofit. I wouldn’t have been able to come to NZ so soon after graduating if I hadn’t been sharing an apartment, or if my student loan balance was bigger. All of this to say: just because it’s been two years since you graduated doesn’t mean you’re behind in any way! I have confidence that if you are determined to go abroad, you will manage it eventually. Best of luck 🙂

    1. Everyone we have met has been extremely kind, friendly, and generous! We’ve only been here for about a month now but we’d like to stay permanently if at all possible. Where did you sister settle in New Zealand, if you don’t mind me asking? We’ve only seen the top 1/2 of the North Island so far.

  2. OMG! I fall out of the blogosphere for a few weeks and look at the news I miss!! I’m so excited for you, and you are totally right about the timing. NOW is always the perfect time for a new adventure and experiences that will broaden your worldview and mindset. 🙂 Can’t wait to read about all your new adventures!!

    1. haha no worries! I know that you’ve been traveling in Thailand and Canada! And THANK YOU for the kind words! You are so right — NOW is always the right time to make a change. I’m so looking forward to September!!

  3. Now hold your horses just one minute. Are you speaking unkindly to ‘Murica? I hope your flight leaves before the NSA finds you.

    Just kidding, good luck! I hope you share plenty of pictures and stories preferably with an obnoxious amount of kiwis.

    1. Ha! If the NSA were doing their job, they would have known about my plans to move to New Zealand a long time ago!
      Many good pictures will definitely be taken 🙂 Greg is bringing his tripod and I think he might go full-on nature photographer.

  4. Way to not give in with “the fear”. People just need to just ……….go! You know I’m very happy for you, blog friend. 😉 I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you see and experience in New Zealand. I’ve lived to ample amount of countries to know that America is not the best place to live for those who are not in it for material things, vanity, and monetary values. 😉

  5. Alina, that’s great news! You’re right, do it when you can. I’m sure you guys will love it there. Never been myself but have always wanted to. Will likely be a refreshing change of pace, considering a lot of the U.S. social-political frustrations that you mention. Look forward to reading your posts from there. Rick

    1. Many, many thanks, Rick! I’m really excited, in case that didn’t come across in my post! I don’t expect the social-political frustrations to disappear completely when I’m in New Zealand, but I do hope that they will be significantly diminished. I also hope that the rumors about Kiwis being laid-back are true, and that the country is easy to navigate! Regardless of what happens, I am no longer doubtful whatsoever that it is a journey worth undertaking. Cheers!

  6. Go on you crazy kids — run for it! I think it will be an amazing adventure and experience for you both. I wish I had lived in a different country before I was married, not that we can’t now, but it’s much harder to leave careers and family behind at this point. We similarly have a distaste for the obsessive consumer society we live in, as well as the policies of this country, especially as related to health care, capital punishment, and minority rights. We talk about defecting to Canada sometimes, being too chicken to dream further because of the limitations I mentioned above. I admire your views and your actions and wish you all the best on your journey. I look forward to reading all your great stories and seeing Greg’s photos of New Zealand!

    1. Hehe thank you! We are definitely crazy kids with a thirst for adventure! I hope that we learn a lot, and either get to stay there (semi)permanently or that we come back significantly changed. I also wouldn’t mind defecting to Canada, and capital punishment, minority rights, and restrictive immigration laws infuriate me, too! Even if we had cars I think it would be much more difficult to move, so I completely understand your perspective. And yes, Greg is bringing his tripod and has been experimenting with long exposure shots and short videos/gifs, so I expect that there will be a litany of photos to share!

    1. Many thanks! I am sure that some of my reasoning is naive, but at least I’ll be sure to learn a thing or two while I’m in New Zealand. I’m so happy that I started blogging regularly last September, because now there are a handful of people who care enough to follow along with me 🙂

  7. Thrilling news! Congratulations! I’m feeling a lot of things reading your post, because I was in your shoes 15 years ago when I decided I was going to move to Japan. I think it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in your life. I moved back to the States 8 years later, this time with a hubby and son in tow. Questions about which country’s values resonate with us most plague me all the time. For personal reasons we chose the US though there are things that I sorely miss about Japan, like the security of affordable health insurance NO MATTER what happens to me, safety from guns, and the strong emphasis on personal responsibility. The benefit of having really seen and breathed another country is this broader worldview. It makes life harder because you see more but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love that you can view your home country critically and that you already have the makings of a person with a global view.

    1. Thank you, Cecilia, for responding to the more critical aspects of my post! As always, posting this kind of thing made me a bit nervous, but I thought it was important that I explain why I’m undertaking such a drastic move. I did try to tone it down, as I can see myself looking back on this post in several years and shaking my head for being so naive. Then again, although it sounds overdramatic, ever since I returned from doing research in South Africa my sophomore year, I somehow knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay in the U.S. permanently… Or at least, not permanently during my 20s. In fact, I thought I would start traveling immediately after graduation, but now I think it was a good thing that I had a year to relax and refocus. I enjoy reading your blog in large part because of the self-awareness you demonstrate, so if my year(s) in New Zealand will shape me in the same way that your years in Japan shaped you, then I think I’m on the right track.

      1. Oh, what a nice thing to say. Thanks, Alina. I can’t recommend living abroad enough. When my son grows up, I will encourage him to as well even if it means having him far apart.

        I understand your tentativeness about some points in your post and it takes great courage, thought and honesty to lay out opinions like that. But I think they are valid and thought-provoking and necessary. I think you can still care about your country while being critical.

        You are miles ahead of where I was when I left for Japan. I think you are going to get a lot out of this experience!!

        1. And thank you, again! I’m really happy that I put up this post today. I was so nervous last week that one night I couldn’t fall asleep until 4:30 and subsequently had to take a sick day from work the next day. But so far I’ve gotten nothing but positive reactions to the news, and it is really helping to remind me that I’m making a good decision.
          Yes, do encourage your son to travel. It’s one of the best ways to learn!
          And I don’t mean to completely trash the United States. Obviously, like anywhere, it has its good aspects alongside its bad ones.

  8. This is so exciting! Have a wonderful time and I look forward to your updates. I heard you can ski the slopes and see the ocean at the same time in New Zealand. It has always been a dream of mine to do that.

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