The people are uncommonly friendly, in a real way
The recreational opportunities in New Zealand aren’t news to anyone. Nature has always been the big draw here. But in talking to expats what came up most often was how welcoming Kiwis are. They want you to love their country as much as they do, and if that means going out of their way to make sure you enjoy your time there, they do it.
I learned this firsthand after injuring my knee on a waterfall hike in Wanaka. The proprietor of the Lime Tree Lodge, where I was staying, insisted I go see a doctor and enlisted one of her employees’ husbands to drive me there. On a holiday. And to wait while I got examined.
The national government is so intent on foreigners enjoying their time, visitors receive health insurance for any injury they sustain while in New Zealand. My doctor’s visit and prescriptions weren’t free, but they were cheaper than they would have been without this program.
Every expat I spoke with said if one has the opportunity, they should absolutely book a plane ticket and give New Zealand a chance. If you’re not tied down, quality of life here is just plain better than in most of the Western world. Combining a laid-back attitude with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world makes life here seem almost like a perpetual holiday.
“I just felt like I was always on vacation when I lived there,” says Gribble, who has since returned to Los Angeles. “Every city is within a short flight. You’ve got mountains, you’ve got sea, beaches. You have easy day trips that feel like you just got back from a five-day trip when you return. The combination of nature and people, I never felt like I was in some dull, boring, monotonous life. I felt fully stimulated and excited every day.”
And in an era when more Americans seem to be looking for an international alternative, a year in New Zealand seems at least worth a try.