Moving to New Zealand

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March 2003

There's a good chance we'll be moving to Wellington, New Zealand, in a few months. Does anyone have recommendations about neighborhoods, schools, communities, activities, and things to be sure to see in this beautiful country? We are a family with a toddler and a first-grader. Thanks! future kiwi

I am currently living in Wellington New Zealand and left the Berkeley area 15 months ago. I would be more than happy to share my knowledge of Wellington and living in New Zealand in general. (email me for more details) There is so much say but mostly Wellington is an amazing place to have a family. Wellington is the Polar opposite of the uber rich bay area where childcare, school and the cost of living are so expensive and so competitive. (Also, I think I have been stuck in traffic 2 times in 15 months! ). I have a 3.5 year old who attends a wonderful preschool walking distance from my house and it is free. My husband walks 30 min to the center of town to work and our rent is very cheap for a 3 bedroom house in one of the nicest sections of town. For your First Grader there are wonderful schools in each neighborhood (there may be a small wait to get in) and there is crhche for kids 18mos to 3.5 that my son started 3 hours a week and it cost us $5nz an hour. Also there is playcenter and playgroup for babies - toddlers where you go spend a few hours with them in a preschool like center with toys, books and other Mums who have simmilar age kids etc. The best thing is the Toy Library which rents all the best toys very cheaply so you don't have to bring many toys. It is like a dream and everything is so organized and efficient. I am pregnant and there is no cost for me to have a midwife and labor and delivery are all free as well. The level of care is better than I had in Berkeley. Also, it is incredibly safe here - I have not seen one incidence of road rage, bitchiness or anything resenbling hostility except the occasional rugby game. Kids are watched by the community and there is little fear of anything ever happening to them. And terrorisim and war seems a million miles away. It is so safe and peacefull here. Some other good points are the coffee is amazing, the down town is very happening and cultural and there is some really good food (but a lot of bad food). There are some down sides for sure...the weather is not at all pleasant. Picture 9 months (april-December) of Bay Area rainy cold winter and 3 months of a cool summer. And the wind is enough to make you crazy - I have never experienced anything like it. Because of the wind, you don't want to live in certain areas that are exposed. Also, the homes don't have heat (that's right!) so you feel freezing all winter long. The cost of food, appliances, clothes, shoes and toys and many other things are double so bring lots of US dollars. In this way the cost of living is harder for us earning NZD. Other American friends (work for WETA) rented furnished apartments and then checked on extra boxes on the airplane with toys, clothes etc. Some things are very expensive here and the selection is seriously limited so you may want to buy before you come. Also, eat as much Mexican food as you can before you come because you won't find any here. Hadley