Category Archives: Lifestyle

What is it really like to live in New Zealand?

My friends and family back in the Philippines ask me this question all the time and I would say that no amount of money can actually quantify the lifestyle changes that I experienced.

Let’s begin with how my daily work day starts. Back in Manila, I used to wake up really early to get a headstart with the traffic. My daily commute would around 1.5-2 hours going to, and getting back from work. At the end of the day, I am dead tired not really from the work itself but sitting in public transport, heat and pollution.

In Wellington, New Zealand where I work now, my daily commute is around 10 minutes, 15 minutes if there is “traffic”. I can take my own car to work or ride the bus and it will not make any difference. Sometimes, when the sun is out I take my bike to work and in the office, there are bathroom facilities where I can take a shower before beginning my day.

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You save petrol and parking money biking to work

Here in New Zealand, the water coming from any tap is clean enough to drink. It is the same whether it flows from the shower or the garden hose you use to wash your car. Imagine how much it will cost you in Manila to shower using mineral water everyday?

In Manila, I work on an average of 10-12 hours a day. Here, it is almost unthinkable for anyone to go beyond 40 hours per week and if you do, the employer has to pay overtime or give you a day off in exchange for the extra hours worked. Labour laws are strictly implemented here and you can raise a grievance with an employer if this is breached.

Since I spent less time at work and commuting compared to the Philippines, I actually have more time to spend with family, friends or pursuing a hobby or a passion. Add to that, there is a mandatory four weeks paid annual leave for everyone that you can use to travel outside the country or simply do what you want.

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Biking on the weekend at Rimutaka Hills! Fresh air is priceless

Another thing that saves up time is that most government services are efficient and can be done online -whether getting a driver’s license or passport renewed.You just pay up using your credit or debit card and you will get it after a few days. No need to spend an entire day lining up and dealing with red tape. Same goes with utilities or every other service imaginable.

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Even National / Local elections are done by postal mail

If I go to the USA, Middle East or Singapore, I could probably make more money. But the freedom that New Zealand gives me is so much more. At this point in my life, I value the currency of time more than anything, having good health and being stress free. For that, I am eternally grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to settle in New Zealand

WHERETO

When you apply as a Skilled Migrant to New Zealand, one of the questions normally asked by immigration is your choice of destination. This is an important part of the assessment process wherein the case officer measures up your knowledge and familiarity of the region as this is an indicator of your capability to settle.

In recent years, there have been steps to incentivise migration to places outside of Auckland but ultimately, the decision of settlement city will depend on the employment opportunities in your field. For Filipinos, the top three cities is centered on the most populated regions – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. For this article, I will breakdown the pros and cons of living in each city, having spent significant time on each.

AUCKLAND

PROS: 2 million+ population offers greater employment opportunities. Busiest airport offers international connectivity for businesses. Most main offices of NZ companies are based here.

CONS: Housing shortage causing high cost of rent and living expenses. Places too spread apart and poor public transport requires you to buy a car, often one for you and your partner. Crime and burglary are statistically higher.

WELLINGTON

PROS: Compact city centre, virtually any point is walkable. Average salary is statistically higher. Centre of government where jobs are more stable. More international flavour with cultural events all year round. Bus and train network more reliable.

CONS: One of the windiest cities in the world. Lower population of around 300,000 offers less jobs. Also less choices/range in commercial establishments.

CHRISTCHURCH

PROS: Earthquake rebuild opens more jobs, albeit temporary, particularly in the construction industry. Canterbury Skill Shortage could be a window of opportunity for some Filipinos. Gateway city to the South Island which is the most picturesque part of New Zealand.

CONS: Snowfall, extreme cold during winter means heating costs are higher. Still experiencing housing shortage due to recent earthquakes. I wouldn’t say it has fully recovered.

Other cities to consider:

HAMILTON: Fastest growing city, one hour drive from Auckland but rents are cheaper.

NEW PLYMOUTH: Highest salaries in the oil and gas industries, currently experiencing positive growth.

QUEENSTOWN: Tourism capital of New Zealand. Particularly attractive for those in the hospitality industry (i.e. chefs)

 

Why the Working Holiday Visa is nothing more than a money making scheme

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In less than 24 hours, 100 places will again open for young Filipinos wanting to stay in New Zealand for 12 months. More information about the requirements can be found here.

There had been recent excitement over New Zealand Immigration offering the Working Holiday Visa to Filipino Citizens and some even claim that this is the “easiest pathway” to New Zealand.

However, it is important to note that this is a TEMPORARY visa and the expectation is that you will RETURN to the Philippines once the visa period ceases.

There are three major caveats with regard to this visa:

  1. The target age group of this visa of 18-30 years old is also the group of people with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Government estimates 20% or 1 out of 5 young kiwis have no jobs. Being allowed to work is one thing but actually securing work is another thing.
  2. Part-time, fixed-term work is hard to find. Usually 3 months temporary work can be found in far-flung farms doing fruit-picking and other labour intensive jobs. Not only is it back breaking work, but it is usually paid minimum wage of $14.75 per hour (or $12 after tax) that is not enough to sustain your living costs here.
  3. Immigration requires that you need to have $4,200 to meet your living costs. But as above, if you are unable to find a job, there is no way you are living here with that sort of money. I would say you need to have at least $200/week to survive in the city centres. Multiply that 52 weeks in one year and you would need $10,400 (around P331,000) for the whole duration of your visa. The present reality is that there are heaps of long-term unemployed in New Zealand (some spanning multiple years) living off taxpayer subsidies. Look into the jobs and careers section of the Trade Me forums and there is plenty of discussion about that.

Knowing these facts, the working holiday visa would be more suited for someone who is:

  1. Boy/girl with wealthy parents who can finance their holiday.
  2. Those seeking first world training and a bit of overseas experience and then come back to the Philippines to use this to benefit their careers.
  3. Those who can avail of free accommodation from relatives/friends and spend this time for reunion and bonding.

If you are looking to stay permanently in New Zealand and have the skills that New Zealand wants, you better be looking at the Silver Fern Visa or the Residence Visa – Skilled Migrant Category.

The working holiday visa is called as such because it is really meant for young people doing their holiday with a chance to earn a bit of money on the side if they are lucky. If you are to apply for a work permit after your visa expires, you will go under the same tedious process (i.e. proving that there is no Kiwi for the role) like everyone else but not on equal footing, as you have already spent heaps after one year.

Truth be told, this is actually an opportunity for New Zealand not only to boost their tourism revenue but also supply the remote, low populated regions with cheap, youthful and energetic labour on a seasonal basis.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Working in Retail is a Good First Job

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When I first arrived in New Zealand, my first job was a part-time computer salesperson for a local retailer to “get the ball rolling” so to speak. At that time, it was not ideal for me but quickly realized that it was a tremendous learning opportunity that allowed me to transition to kiwi life more smoothly and here are some of the reasons.

  1. You’ll learn the most basic business skill – selling something.

Businesses sell goods and services with a perceived value to the customer. In the same way, when you are looking for jobs, you are essentially selling yourself to employers. You articulate your features and benefits, solutions to problems the employer might have or differentiate your value from the competitors. When you are on the sales floor, you quickly learn these things in order to move products. Aside from job hunting, having selling and customer service skills are valuable if ever you decide to become an entrepreneur later on.

  1. You get to practice your Kiwi English.

There are nuances to the way Kiwis speak English and what better way to practice it than doing it everyday by talking to Kiwi customers! Correct Kiwi greetings, the handshake, how to build rapport, telling stories, listening and closing the sale will get you used to the culture and language in no time.

  1. You learn how not to get ripped off.

By working in retail, you get to understand how business in New Zealand works and how they structure their pricing and profit margins. You will then have an idea when it is the right time to buy things or how to negotiate for a lower price.

  1. You meet people and widen your network.

When I worked for retail, I met an average of 15 new people everyday. As I mentioned with previous articles, this gives you a very good network opportunity not only beneficial to job hunting but also when you need access to certain services (tradies for example) or if you are seeking activity partners like additional players for basketball games.

You will realise that there are always openings in Retail and applying usually entails just filling up a one page form. The reason being is that it caters to young people in university that usually come and go. It won’t pay much, but as above, you will learn those essential skills during your early settlement days in New Zealand.