I have wanted to visit New Zealand my entire life.
When I was a small child, I used to stare endlessly at huge world maps and globes. I was in a financially strapped, lower-middle-class family, so visiting all of these interesting and faraway places seemed like a distant, impossible fantasy. China, Europe, South America, Russia, Japan. My eyes would also invariably be drawn to that tiny, remote island at the bottom of the world, tucked so far away from everywhere else, New Zealand.
“What a cozy place that must be,” I thought. All I knew about it was that it was full of beautiful landscapes full of sheep, relaxed people, and not much else.
Fast forward 40 years later, and by complete coincidence, based on all of my research, New Zealand eventually became one of the most likely places to establish one of my part-time homes when I leave the Collapsing USA in a few years.
Therefore, this trip is unlike any other international trip I’ve taken before. I’m not here to just experience the country and enjoy myself; I’m also here to ruthlessly analyze this place as somewhere I’d possibly spend six months out of the year, every year, for the foreseeable future. I say six months, since if I stay less than 183 days per year, I pay no taxes in NZ, and I want to spend the other six months of the year in more exciting places, namely Hong Kong. New Zealand will be my “rest” time.
After a week here, here’s what I found…
1. The People
NZ is full of very kind, chill people. In terms of niceness, they are a little nicer than the Australians and tie with the Canadians (who are the second nicest people on Earth behind the Fijians who are number one).
They’re also very polite. At the subway, people here calmly wait until every single person walks off the subway before entering, unlike people like the Chinese who smash themselves through the doors the split second they open without waiting for anyone. Everyone here actually says “thank you” to the bus driver whenever they leave the bus(!). It’s hilarious and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. (I did it too. Hey, when in Rome…)
NZ people are also extremely informal. Walking around downtown Auckland, their largest city (about 1.5 million people) almost no one is wearing suits. There are probably less suit-wearers here than in any major city I’ve ever visited.
NZ is massively interracial and multicultural, rivaling even Singapore in this regard. One third of people in NZ were born in another country(!), so I guess if I get a place here I’ll fit right in, though as always, there are pretty much no Americans here. During my entire week here I didn’t meet any; all white visitors and expats here are Australians and Europeans.
Huge, consumer-based corporations like Subway and McDonalds always test out new products and promotions in NZ first before introducing them to the rest of the world. Why? Because there are so many different nationalities here, they figure that if it works in NZ, it will work anywhere. Interesting.
One problem with New Zealanders is that they’re spacey as fuck. Walking around, you will constantly have people walk into you or almost walk into you because they’re walking in one direction while staring in a completely different direction, off in their own world. At first, I thought it was just the Asians here doing this, but no, the damn white people do it too. The chill, slow people of New Zealand apparently live in their own little dream lands even when they’re awake.
They also share that lackadaisical culture with the Australians and Southern Europeans, where business moves very slowly, lots of things don’t work, and people just don’t take their work seriously the way we Americans do. I once needed to buy some socks, so I went to a clothing store in downtown Auckland, and the entire store was closed in the middle of the day because the one person working there (and this was not a small store) left a note on the locked door saying “I needed to get some food! Sorry! I’ll be back soon!” Again, hilarious.
There are pros and cons to this though. The good news is that the tax and residency attorneys I met with here could see me immediately, pretty much whenever I wanted. If this had been a place with more hustle like the US or Hong Kong, I would have had to wait a week or two, and they would have had to squeeze me in at some inconvenient time.
The population seems to be very young here. There are far more young people (i.e. people well under the age of 35) walking around than any other place I’ve seen. That might not be statistically true, but that’s what I’m seeing, and I’ve been all over the northern end of the north island.
Granted, once you get way out of the city, as in several hours away and into the boonies, the population does indeed start getting fatter and older, much like other nations.
2. The Women
Uh. Yeaaaahhhh. This is going to be a slight problem.
Sadly, the stereotype is true. There are virtually no attractive women in New Zealand. It’s really, really bad here. It’s not that the women here are ugly (that would be London), nor are they fat (overweight people are very rare in Auckland; everyone is skinny or average, men and women both). It’s just that the women here are overwhelmingly plain-looking and there are virtually no attractive women no matter how hard you look. You could walk around downtown Auckland for two or three days, see thousands of women, and perhaps see two or three moderately cute girls and one hot one. I also checked out some of the dating sites and sugar daddy sites here, and holy crap, it’s bad. Even on the sugar daddy sites (where women tend to be much better-looking) you have to really hunt hard for hotties. Oh, you can find them, but it’s needle-in-a-haystack game to be sure.
Any concentrated form of daygame or online dating in New Zealand would be impossible unless you dramatically dropped your standards. Like I said when I talked about London, I suppose if you grew up here and never traveled to any other country, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. But as a guy who has spent significant time all over the world, I can tell, and man, it’s bad.
Once you get out of the city and into some of the more affluent suburbs (particularly the north and the east) where I was looking at homes, the women do get a little more attractive by a notch or two, but it’s still bad.
But BD, why the hell would you want to have a home there then if you can’t get any hot girls?
Because there’s a difference between “any” and “one or two.” As I’ve said many times, I’m not some young, horny Thrill of the Hunt pick-up artist looking to bang 100 chicks. I’m a guy in his forties with an open marriage who just needs one or two girls on the side. I can find one or two hot girls here. At a suburban mall today in a more affluent neighborhood I saw two girls I would enjoy, so based on my modest goals, it can be done, but if you’re the standard guy who wants to have sex with many women, NZ is not the place for you (again, unless you really drop your standards).
3. The Culture
If I were to summarize what the Auckland region is like, it would be “Seattle/Portland without all the disadvantages.” In other words, it has chill, mildly left-wing people and a mild climate, but with far less rain, cooler buildings and shops, better-dressed people, no fat people, no hippies or hipsters, and no one smells like weed. I really like it.
Auckland, and all of NZ, is also extremely clean, surprisingly so, even in the industrial areas. I spent some time in some commercial zones with machine shops and the like, and I was quite surprised at how clean everything is even there. NZ, like Singapore, is an example of multiculturalism actually working, rather than the cluster fuck it’s become in Collapsing USA and Suicidal Europe.
It’s not all perfect though; there are definitely problems. The internet here is horrifically bad, the worst I’ve ever encountered in the first world. On 3G, 4G, H+, and yes, even corporate wifi networks, the internet is noticeably slower no matter where I’ve tried it. Often you get “server unavailable” errors and all kinds of other problems. Even when it works, some apps either refuse to work or work oddly, including AirBnB and Google Maps. It’s a real problem. Jesus New Zealand, get your fucking internet working.
Like most of the Western world, NZ’s subway/light rail system sucks, in that it works, but is not well-designed at all. It’s about on par with the US, but still not as bad as Australia (which is the worst in the first world).
Exactly as I was warned by a few friends who are familiar with NZ, there are not a lot of brands of things to buy here, and that includes food, which can sometimes be a problem. For example, there is pretty much only one brand of bottled water in the entire country. It’s called “Pump” and it tastes like donkey piss. I was forced to drink this shit during my entire visit here. Yuck.
Auckland is a rapidly growing city, as indicated by the data and by the fact there is construction just about everywhere you go. Always a good sign of economic health.
Like the rest of the West, NZ is socialist as fuck. Many of the restaurants here plaster “Licensed!” on their marquees. “Look everyone! Big government approves of us! Isn’t that awesome?!?”
However, and this is something that surprised me, I don’t “feel” the left-wing here like I do in other places. Not once during my week stay did I “feel” the left-wing nature of this society, even when watching their television; much unlike Australia, where this gigantic wall of left-wing SJW bullshit smacks you in the face during the entire time you’re there and never lets up. No, New Zealanders would rather talk about things like food, cars, and going to the beach than politics.
Regardless, like a lot of left-wing cities, there are lots of homeless people, and they’re pretty aggressive. It’s not as bad as places like San Francisco, but it’s still bad. And I’m sure this problem will get worse (since left-wing governments think it’s “mean” to displace aggressive homeless people from the streets).
Shit is pretty expensive here, as I expected, though the difference in currency valuation from US dollars to NZ dollars helped me out a lot. Hopefully the US dollar will retain its lower value as compared to the NZ dollar indefinitely, so if I get a place here I can continue to take advantage of this. (I will not own any assets in NZ, ever, including their currency or bank accounts; this is required to keep my zero tax status.)
Speaking of taxes, there’s a god damn 15% sales tax here. This is on top of income tax rates that would make you shit your pants. Insane. (Gotta love that socialism. Jesus.) The good news is that the sales tax doesn’t appear to apply to food, which is helpful. Per my five flags plan, I won’t receive any income from NZ sources, nor buy anything here except consumables. (Just like my fellow Americans who refuse to move, I’ll let the New Zealanders who live here full-time pay their exorbitantly high taxes for the rest of their lives. Cool with me.)
The New Zealand accent is interesting. To my American ears, it sounds like a more feminine version of the Australian accent. This means that while the Australian accent sounds good when men speak it and bad when women speak it, the NZ accent is the opposite. When women speak it, it sounds a little sexy, but when men speak it, it makes their voices sound more girly. Just my impression.
What is not my impression, and I spent several days confirming this, is that men in NZ have higher-pitched voices than men in other Western countries. I’m serious. This is not my imagination. Men have higher voices here. They just do. Weird.
4. The Landscape
During my stay, I went as far north as Warkworth and as far south as Hamilton and Matamata. I didn’t see the south island (which is supposed to be even more beautiful than the north island where I was staying), but I was still able to see quite a lot.
It’s confirmed. New Zealand is the second most beautiful place on the planet I’ve seen, easily matching the Pacific Northwest where I’m from, and coming in second to Sicily which is probably the best. It has a hugely jagged coastline which is fantastic, because it means tons of beaches, all of which are amazing. The hills, the mountains, the forests, the trees, everything does indeed look like Lord of the Rings.
Which, by the way, I visited… Hobbiton anyway, where Bilbo and Frodo met Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. It was really fun.
The air here is amazing, probably the best air of anywhere I’ve ever visited, and that’s coming from a guy who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where we have amazing air.
There is always a constant, pleasant breeze off the water that’s all around NZ. It doesn’t feel hot here even when the sun is intense. It’s really, really nice.
I’m here now in May, which is their version of October, yet all week, it’s been sunny, clear skies, and warm enough to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt at night time. Fucking perfect! I can tell you for a fact that back home in my October, it’s cold and rainy as fuck, with little to no sun. It rained one day I was here, but it was weak pussy rain compared to what I’m accustomed to.
It’s official. I love New Zealand despite a few of its problems, most of which won’t affect me under my Five Flags system, and would be more than happy to stay part of the year here on a regular basis. My next step is to bring Pink Firefly over here and stay here longer, perhaps 3-4 weeks, and do that a few times to make absolutely sure we like it here. Staying in calm, relaxing New Zealand part of the year and spending the other part in exciting, pure-awesome Hong Kong, while paying 4% or less in total taxes, would be my ideal lifestyle.
And I’m going to have it. I can’t wait to get started.