People have many different motivations of migrating to a new country. Whatever the reason, taking the big leap is an expensive, time-consuming and life-altering decision so you really have to do your homework. For myself, making the move halfway across the globe was the most sensible choice during the time I decided to migrate alone at age 29.
In Manila, I used to work over 80 hours a week and spend an average of four hours on the road because of heavy traffic. Like most pinoys, my job required me at times to work overtime and weekends. Aside from less time with family and friends, I knew that this routine in the long run can put a serious toll on my health.
Enter New Zealand – where employers place a heavy emphasis on work-life balance and people work an average of 37 hours a week. Auckland and Wellington, two of New Zealand’s biggest cities, consistently rank high on Mercer’s”Quality of Life” index. All employees are entitled to a minimum four weeks paid annual leave on top of ten public holidays a year, and mandatory paid sick and bereavement leaves. With the radical change of pace, working in New Zealand feels almost like semi-retirement.
2. Clean and beautiful
Dubbed as the “youngest country,” New Zealand was the last large landmass on earth where human beings set foot — first by the Maoris and then the Europeans. It has almost the same land area of the Philippines but only 4.5 million people (estimated as of June 2014). Because of its low population density, it does not have the problems of pollution and congestion like most big cities in the world. In my six years of living here, I have not seen even one cockroach or rodent.
3. Less corruption and red tape
Transparency International consistently ranks New Zealand as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Although this perception index is highly subjective, you can see that government budgets and processes are publicly published and officials are held accountable. Government services like renewing a driver’s license or passport is fast and efficient, and can be done online.
4. Adventure playground
New Zealand is also known as the “adventure capital of the world” more specifically Queenstown in the South Island. This was where commercial bungy jumping was first introduced. If you are an adrenaline junkie like myself, NZ offers all sorts of terrain from 14,000 kilometers of coastline, to mountain ranges, lush forests, caves, lakes and rivers. This is one of the few places in the world where you can go skiing in the morning and spend a day on the beach in the afternoon.
There is always something to do all year round. Thanks to its temperate climate, you don’t have extreme winters like in the States or Canada or very dry summers like in Australia or the Philippines.
5. Immigration process relatively faster and straighforward
The entire process from the first step known as the EOI or Experssion of Interest up to the issuance of permanent resident visa through the Skilled Migrant Category takes up to an average of 1-2 years. This is a lot quicker and less complicated system than similar skilled migrant intakes in the USA, Australia or even Canada which takes a whole lot longer. In the event they decline your visa, they have to cite a reason and you will be given a fair chance to respond.
I managed the whole application by myself and didn’t require the help of a costly immigration adviser. All you need is to visit here and do a job market research that I will tackle on a separate article.
6. English speaking and multi-cultural
Since most pinoys speak good English, we usually have an easy time communicating and integrating into New Zealand society as a whole. Although the Kiwi accent may take a while getting used to, it does not present a big barrier from understanding each other. NZ has in fact a long history of migration dating back to the 17th century and today, 1 out of 4 New Zealanders is already born overseas.
7. Family friendly
New Zealand is one of the best countries to raise children and I can’t emphasize this enough. There are an abundance of parks and wide open spaces where children are free to play and roam around. There are also generous paid parental leaves (16 weeks during the time of this writing) that allow parents to spend time with their baby during its early life. Primary and secondary education is free. Those in low income families are given tax credits to supplement their income.
8. Access to world-class education
When a child reaches time to enter tertiary education, they will have access to borrowing money from the government to pay for their studies whatever course they want to take. As a permanent resident of New Zealand, you also have access to this same benefit if you decide later on to upskill yourself. Most universities in New Zealand rank consistenly high in the QS World University Rankings, at par with the best universities in the west.
9. Strong consumer laws and access to credit
Remember the last time you shopped at SM and you had to return a defective electronic product? Not only was the process a pain and you were given a run around, consumer laws in the Philippines is very weak if not totally non-existent especially against big corporations. Not in New Zealand, wherein a faulty product can be returned to the shop and repaired or replaced with no questions asked. You also have bigger access to credit here which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you manage your finances.
10. “Almost Free” Healthcare
I say “almost” because there is a lot of misinformation regarding this. If you get hit by a car and you call an ambulance and then they take you to the hospital, all charges relating to your treatment and recovery is free. But what are the odds of that happening more than once in your lifetime? In most cases, children under the age of 13 pay zero fees when they get sick but older people have to pay for their doctor’s visit (called a GP or General Practitioner) while prescription medicines are subsidised but not free.
Up next, I will discuss 10 reasons NOT to choose New Zealand as most of the information found on the internet today allude only to the reasons cited above and totally dismiss the downsides of moving here.