Living in Auckland, a Kiwi reflects on his first year back from living abroad

1 year has flown by.

Seems like yesterday we were at Schipol Airport waiting to board our flight to Singapore

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I’d be lying if I said the transition back into Kiwi life has been easy.

It’s been the complete opposite. Living in Auckland has been difficult

Before we get into the details, a bit of context.

I hadn’t lived in Auckland since I left in 2004. Auckland back then was, for choice of better words ‘a shit hole’. I wasn’t exactly the best example to judge Auckland by though. I was working a dead end job, no real drive or ambition, no real girl friend, no real anything other than a circle of ever decreasing mates that were jetting overseas.

Change was needed. In hindsight, Auckland wasn’t the problem, I was. I didn’t realise this till later in life. Still I believed in my soul that the grass was greener on the other side. Anywhere other than Auckland. I wanted a bigger city, because bigger means better. Better jobs, better income, better life.

I’ve returned to a city that is familiar but has changed so much in the 12 years I’ve been away. loads. I get to that soon.

I’d returned with a wife (not a Kiwi) and two kids. Oldest was 2 years, and the youngest 3 months when we landed. No job. No network, professional or otherwise, but I was determined to make this work. I had to, family are counting on me.

Why don’t we start with what I feel is bad about Auckland, good stuff later..

Job Market:

Don’t get it twisted! This is not for ALL jobs, just specifically for me. I work in sales. What kind?. Media sales, B2B media sales. Event sponsorship and/or print advertising sales. That’s a very specific (narrow) field to be in. I don’t think so as I believe my sales strategy can be adapted to suit any industry. Well, that maybe true but put yourself in the employers shoes. Quick skim down my CV and I’m just another guy whose trying to get in with no experience in their industry. Timing also plays a role as to what is available, depending on who you talk to they will say December – February is down time for placements. This is when we arrived, regardless though if you’ve been out of the country for any length of time you may find it difficult to get your foot in the door like me.

Competition:

The job market is highly competitive for the roles I was going for. Leadership roles within sales don’t come up very often and when they do, it’s a shit fight. I was tossed out quite quickly because of my lack of NZ experience in my field. On the flip side my wife applied for 3 jobs and got offered all 3! First was with The Warehouse that offered her over and above what the JD was asking. It’s all about your industry and how much talent is available.

Market size:

‘New Zealand is a village’ I’d never heard this saying before. Actually there’s many sayings I wasn’t familiar with when I got back, for instance Skux, Uce and Dox. I won’t be using any of these in my vernacular I think it’s only for the cool kids, but anyway. Villages are small and so is the size of not only job opportunities but everything else. Here are some examples:

Deal sizes:

The average deal size at my previous London based company was around £15k. At my first sales role it became apparent how little businesses spend on services. NZ is mostly made up of SME’s. There are not many large corporations. Actually there are only 200 big companies. Here’s a list of them: www.top200.co.nz .

Economies of Scale:

This transcends everything and why I’m so keen on more immigrants coming to our shores and Kiwi’s staying. Higher population will mean more housing, more jobs needing to be created and more traffic. I can live with that !. With a small population (and not being able to access markets in close proximity) prices for everything is expensive, in particular..

FOOD!

Our weekly shop is around $200-$250 on a cheap week when we don’t need much. On the weeks where we need cleaning products nappies etc it can get up to $300-$350. Agreed we don’t live cheap, so I’m sure other families could get away with reducing this even more.

Here’s a video of our weekly shop over a year ago:

Here is a picture of a weekly shop from last week at Pak n Save.

 

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Other things that are pricey are furniture, clothes, toys..  in fact just about everything . Even the cost added to have something delivered for items is exorbitant.

Go Go Go, No No No !!

When you’ve lived in a fast paced, do it now god dammit!! , urgent world for the last 10 years. It’s difficult to adapt to a sweet as bro, no worries, take it easy world. I found my fellow Kiwis like to take their time with everything like, getting back to me about job opportunities. Hooking up the internet. Delivering anything on time. Building an underground rail network in the city. Meeting up at a particular time, on time! One of the joys of living here is to enjoy a slower way of life, granted. It’s taken a year for me to settle down and get use to this way of living. Don’t try and push people to do things quickly, you’ll just come across as a dick!

Enough of the moaning!

How about the good?

I’ve had to cut this down from my draft of 20!!! So here’s my top 5

1. Level Playing Field

I honestly believe that we Kiwi’s treat each other the same regardless of race, creed or background. This is of course my own opinion. You might think otherwise. I’ve lived in a class structure society where you’re immediately judged on the way you speak English. Judged might be a step too far, but it was easier for me to connect with Londoners from a particular part of town, than the blue bloods.

I was fortunate to connect with CEO’s, Board Members and upper management of companies when I arrived. Each time I was treated with respect and someone that is on the same level. Never was there a time where I felt inferior to the CEO or beneath them. It might have had something to do with the way I presented myself, regardless though I was amazed at how easy it was to speak to then meet up with these people.

2. Great for kids

I live in Panmure. Within 2km of my house I can count 5 playgrounds, at least 10 indoor centres including trampoline park, rock climbing, indoor kids centre, 3 swimming centres, 5 sports grounds including rugby, tennis, soccer, netball, a lagoon and several beaches or estuaries. Childcare/Day care centres are plentiful and we are spoilt for choice, check a quick Google search

daycare

 

 

 

Ambury Farm is only 20 mins away, a public farm that is free all year round

 

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3. The Food:

I know I just bitched about the price of food, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love our Kiwi cuisine. Although this looks like a scene in a Belgium cafe, it is in fact in Auckland.

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Love my bbq

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.. and seafood

 

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4. The Opportunities:

With a small market of talent to go around, there is serious opportunity for an enterprising person to return back to NZ and start a business that hasn’t already been done yet. I’ve gone on my own and started working for myself as a contractor. I’ve completed 3 projects this year and about to embark on a major event that has the backing of Auckland Council.

Get yourself familiar with who’s making the most noise in this space:

Deloitte Fast 50 : The fastest growing companies in New Zealand

Tim Norton: Founder of 90 seconds cloud video editing

Jake Millar: 20 something entrepreneur.

Robett Hollis: Serial entrepreneur and ex snowboarder.

5. Family

Being able to call my mum and dad whenever I want and not have to worry about waking them up, is a bonus. They’ve also met our two boys and adore them as much as we do. Although I haven’t seen all my family since being back, it’s nice to be in the same time zone again. Great for me, but no so for my wife.. Her mum is arriving any day and is super pumped! so am I !!!

Conclusion:

This post is heavily weighted towards someone who has a family and loves Auckland. I can’t speak for the rest of the country. Nor can you derive from this story how your repatriation will go. If I was single and still in my 20s and wanting to party everyday will Auckland be my first choice of city? Maybe not. In fact a few of my pet hates will be that everything closes early and not many people go out during the week. I could be wrong on that last point, so maybe I should speak to someone in their 20s to get their perspective.

It’s been a hard road trying to find the perfect balance back in Auckland. Me and the wife have had our fair share of up’s and down moments. I couldn’t do this without her, so if I could leave you with one bit of (obvious) advice. Keep talking with each other to ensure you’re both on the same page. It’s taken us 12 months to get into a regular routine, hope you find your feet faster than us.

 

 

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Nicholas Manarangi

After 10 years away Nick and his family are returning to New Zealand. Leaving their busy London lives behind and exchanging it for new challenges in Auckland. Motivated by family and a change in lifestyle.

Nick's Dutch wife is mostly concerned about the quality of NZ chocolate and cheese.Hope we don't disappoint.
connect here

Nicholas Manarangi

After 10 years away Nick and his family are returning to New Zealand. Leaving their busy London lives behind and exchanging it for new challenges in Auckland. Motivated by family and a change in lifestyle. Nick's Dutch wife is mostly concerned about the quality of NZ chocolate and cheese. Hope we don't disappoint.