Kia ora! And welcome. :)
Ever since we arrived here in New Zealand late last year, I’ve randomly been receiving messages from friends back in the Philippines asking these two questions: One, how did we get here? And two, why New Zealand?
The answer to the first question is a long story that I should save for another post, but I personally have been doing a lot of thinking as I compose my responses to the messages I receive as to why we chose to move, and why to NZ in particular.
Why New Zealand?
1. The first reason I always I think of is when my husband (then-boyfriend) and I were here in NZ last 2012 for a 2-week vacation with friends, we absolutely fell in love with this country.
The hero image in this blog is an actual photo I took when we were driving from Queenstown going north, that’s how beautiful this place is. It was a pleasant and memorable trip overall and so it was always at the back of our minds to come back- even if it’s just for another vacation.
2. NZ is always in the top 10 most livable countries and the best countries to raise children in, which says a lot about how this country is ran.
After living in a third world country my whole life, being here is literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. Almost everything is in its proper order that I still get shocked every now and again that that’s actually possible. Legit pala na you feel that the tax you’re paying for is put to good use!
3. The locals are generally nice people.
Having been to several countries, I’ve been exposed to people of different backgrounds and languages. Kiwis are among the few that I would say are kind and normally polite people. Specifically here in Auckland, they are already used to dealing with immigrants from a variety of origins that you’ll hardly feel you’re being discriminated against. Or maybe people just try so hard to hide it to avoid any kind of conflict- but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. In my stay here, I don’t think I’ve come across a Kiwi who showed an unkind action towards me.
4. NZ is happy to open its doors to immigrants.
But that doesn’t mean it’s open to just anyone. They have a rigid process in place to ensure they’re only inviting in people who can contribute to their country in a way that not a lot of locals can. They also make sure you speak English well, your health is in good condition, you’ve got the right educational and employment background, and you don’t have any bad police records from anywhere in the world. As long as you meet their conditions, they’re happy to welcome you in with open arms.
5. Filipinos like me don’t need to learn another language as we already speak fluent English.
We just need to try switching from the American English we’re so used to growing up, to British English. And we just need to try to understand their expressions and copy how they speak so it’s easier to communicate.
6. New Zealand is relatively near the Philippines.
A direct flight from Auckland to Manila only takes about 8 hours, and the time difference is only 5 hours (daylight saving) so we don’t need to fly all the way from the other side of the world just to come home. Australia (also a Commonwealth country) is actually nearer, but we felt closer to the idea of living in NZ. But who knows what the future brings?
Why did we decide to go abroad?
From the first day I started thinking about going abroad (September 2016) until a year later, the reasons why I wanted to leave just kept piling up. There are major and minor personal reasons, economical ones, even political. But I don’t want to bore you with all the reasons so I’m just sharing the major ones that I think many can relate to.
1. My top reason for wanting a different way of life is I wanted to spend more time with my son.
In the Philippines, I am out of the house from 8:00am to 8:00pm (that’s 12 hours!). By the time I get home my son’s ready to jump right into bed and doze off. I felt bad thinking about the days ahead that I couldn’t spend dinner with him because I’m still out. Here in New Zealand, when I leave the house at 8:00am I’m home by 4:30pm. There’s a lot of things you can do with the 3.5 hour difference.
2. I’ve given up on the horrific Metro Manila traffic.
The 12 hours that I’m out of the house can actually be longer depending on the traffic situation. In my last couple of months in the Philippines, I actually took advantage of Angkas, a motorcycle ride booking service, just so I could somewhat cut the travel time going to the office or home. Looking back I realize that yes, it was risky and stupid, but I was also desperate to get home- not necessarily early, but earlier than usual. How crazy a mother am I to actually do that just so I could spend a little bit more time with my son?
3. My working hours back home were quite long.
The work schedule of my past two employments is from 8:00am to 6:30pm (that’s 10.5 hours!). Though these companies I worked for were in some ways lenient, I still didn’t appreciate spending sooo much time in the office. Addict lang sa trabaho. Now I only work 7.5 hours a day and you see people are out the door when the clock strikes 4:00pm. Work-life balance talaga! It’s a different rat race altogether.
4. I couldn’t leave my full-time job in the Philippines because we needed the money.
If I wanted more time with my son, I could have opted for a work-from-home job, but I had to compromise in the income aspect and I just couldn’t- because we were still paying for several loans and expenses weren’t exactly going down. Hence the idea of moving hoping that I could find a job that would pay more but would demand less of my time. Thank God, New Zealand didn’t disappoint.
5. I got attracted to the idea of subsidized healthcare.
Having gone through two major hospitalizations in our family, I know first-hand how in just a few days your bank account can be drained just like that, and your credit card maxed out. What’s worse is after all the trouble, it still led to the death of my two loved ones. I’m not saying that people in NZ or similar countries won’t ever befall the same fate, but at least having free healthcare may possibly help one get prompt and proper treatment, and hospitalization won’t financially burden the family.
6. Subsidized education doesn’t sound so bad either.
I don’t feel the weight of this yet because my son is only 2 years old, but I heard tuition fee for preschoolers in the Philippines are ~P100,000 if you want to enroll him in a good school. Wow. I understand how a parent would opt to get quality education for their children, I probably would as well, but I don’t know if that’s actually a practical thing to do. Here in NZ, when a child reaches 3, regardless of his visa status, he is given free 20 hours Early Childhood Education per week. That is a huge help to working parents here. And when a child turns 5, he is entitled to free education
I don’t know why I’m writing about this now. Maybe it’s because we just reached the 6-month mark of our stay here and the move is still quite fresh that I felt the need to write down these thoughts before I forget about them. If you’re someone who randomly landed on this blog because you’re needing information about moving to New Zealand, I hope this helped validate whatever it is you’re already thinking about. Or if this suddenly made you think that reasons like these are actually mababaw then I hope this still helped influence your decision to stay where you are.
However this helps you, congrats and thank you for reaching the end of this “TLDR” post! :)