How our lives are different since our move to New Zealand

Since we realized the other day that we have been in New Zealand a little over 5 months, I thought it would be good to reflect on some of the ways our lives have changed since we moved 8820 miles from “home”.   Obviously this isn’t an all encompassing list and is more for fun to help everyone get an idea of some of the stuff we encounter in our daily lives.

  • Lifestyle changes/a more simple life
    • No cable
      • We haven’t bit the bullet to purchase cable. We haven’t felt the need.  Between work, exploring, trying to ensure we are keeping in touch with everyone from home (being 18 hours ahead can be a REAL pain), and just trying to figure out shit in New Zealand, we don’t find much down time.  Pandora is now our background noise instead of the tv.  That is not to say we don’t watch some things every few weeks.  We purchased Showtime so we can watch it on the computer (and hook it up to the television) or watch it on the ipad.  We also bought Unlocator so we can watch American shows/movies.  Luckily we know my mom’s Comcast user name and password and still have our Amazon prime subscription.  If we didn’t have Unlocator we wouldn’t be able to watch a lot of the same shows as in America.
    • No microwave
      • Yep, it sounds a bit crazy to think you can live without a microwave but it is absolutely possible (speaking from a couple without kids). To be honest, we really don’t miss having one and aren’t sure we will purchase one in the near future.  We reheat everything in a pan on the stove or in the oven and it’s easy enough.
    • A grill
      • We held out to buy a grill (called a barbeque in New Zealand) until they went on sale at the end of summer. We got one 50% off.  I love sales!  It’s a tiny two burner gas grill, but it does the job.  We’ve only had it a week and have used it 3 times already. We’ve definitely missed having a grill!
Anthony was so excited about the grill he immediately assembled it as soon as we got home from the store.
  • Kitchenware
    • We very fortunate that the couple that lived in our townhouse prior to our rental was moving to Australia and were looking to sell a lot of their stuff. We bought majority of our kitchenware from them.  It was convenient for both of us.  Some of the items we had to buy were dishes, glasses, storage containers, silverware, etc.  We initially bought only 4 dinner plates, 4 small plates, 4 bowls, and 1 large bowl.  After realizing we didn’t have enough dishes to fill the dishwasher and we had to wash them by hand, we went back to Kmart (yep, one of the best ‘reasonably priced’ stores in NZ) and bought 4 more large plates, and 2 smaller plates and bowls.  We also ended up buying 4 large plates from the Warehouse for $1 each.
Our kitchen cabinet where you will see all of our dishes. Looks a little different than our cabinets did in Pittsburgh.
This cabinet holds our glasses and food containers. We have found yogurt containers to be good especially because we can use them for a bit and then throw them away. The food containers you can buy here are generally not that good and leak.
  • Having one car
    • We live in a really convenient location. We are centrally located to everywhere from CBD, the airport, the Port Hills, and the coast.  We generally don’t need more than one car, but it can be an annoyance when I have to drop Anthony off at work every day at 7:00 AM and then head to my job.  It can be a real pain on days when he has to be there at 6:00 AM or when I have to travel for work and be dropped off at the airport to catch my flight.  Besides work, there isn’t a reason for a second car so we suck it up and deal with it on the weekdays.
    • Own a bike
      • I finally got my own set of wheels! Anthony got a bicycle in November and has been able to cruise around town while he leaves me at home.    He really hasn’t done that on many occasions but I have wanted to be able to go out riding with him.  He had one on his watchlist on TradeMe (similar to if Craig’s List met eBay in the States) that went up from auction to ‘buy now’ and we were able to pick it up yesterday.  We had fun riding around Hagley Park and CDB together on my first day as a bike owner.
I love my bike. I can’t believe Anthony found exactly what I was looking for on TradeMe.
  • Not paying for water
    • If you live within Christchurch you don’t have to pay for water. It is my understanding it isn’t that way other places in New Zealand.  It is a nice perk to being so close to the Southern Alps in which the water supply comes.
  • Experienced our first earthquake
    • We experienced a large one on 11/14/2016. We have since felt a few smaller ones and ones that have been further away since then.  Our first earthquake wasn’t at all what we had expected.  In case you missed it, you can read our experience here.
  • Heat Pump
    • Most houses in New Zealand do not have central heat or AC. What you have instead is a heat pump, which provides heat and cool air.  It is interesting that we haven’t had it on since moving into our townhouse in November.  The sun provides plenty of warmth while opening the windows (which don’t have screens) provide a nice cool breeze (especially in the evening when it gets much cooler).
In the States you will find vents in each room for the heat/cool air. With a heat pump you get the air through inverters that hang on the wall. We have only one. You will also see our 32 inch TV with the laptop hooked up.
  • Meeting people from all over the world
    • We’ve met so many awesome people from all over the world – France, Ireland, England, Australia, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Japan, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, and the US (just to name a few). These are just some of the places the people are from.  It doesn’t begin to reflect all of their travels.  We learned that this time of year the people from the Antarctic program are finished with their contracts so they have traveled from their bases in Antarctica to NZ.  If you are wondering, their lives and stories are so much cooler than ours.
This Jason who lives in northern Michigan 7 months of the year and lives in Antarctica the other 5 months.
  • Singing the National Anthem
    • As an American citizen and having lived there my entire life (until this move), I admit I only know the Star Spangled Banner and most of O Canada. We met some of the most awesome people ever while at the Great Kiwi Beerfest in January.  After an entire day of day-drinking we made our way to an establishment that hangs the American flag with pride.  After all we had to drink that day, it seemed like a great idea to stand on the stools and sing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of our lungs.  I’m not going to lie, it was awesome but only got better when 2 of our now Kiwi friends joined in and knew every word.  No matter what else New Zealand brings, 3 Americans and 2 Kiwi’s singing the US National Anthem will always be one of my favorite memories in New Zealand.  That I promise you.
When you are halfway around the world and there is an American Flag it’s only natural to stand on the stools, get a pic, and sing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of your lungs. The 2 Kiwis were a bit more reserved in their approach and sang from the floor. (I totally stole this pic from one of my favorite Americans, Lyss.)
  • Driving
    • On the other side of the road and roundabouts
      • While we have travelled to places where we had to drive on the other side of the road, I was always a passenger. I didn’t even drive much here until I got a job.  At that time, I had to concentrate a bit to ensure I didn’t turn into oncoming traffic and had to learn about the different intensities of roundabouts.  Some are simple and easy to navigate while others are bigger with more lanes, traffic, and exits.
    • Drivers side is on the right
      • While it was more common before to find myself walking to the wrong side of the car, I sometimes still find myself doing it. It doesn’t matter if I am the driver or the passenger.  It is often I find myself on the incorrect side when I internally tell myself to concentrate and not end up on the incorrect side.
    • Using the metric system
      • I was able to master the conversion of Fahrenheit to Celsius very quickly. Mastering the metric system, is a totally different story.  Google maps will tell me to turn in 500 meters onto a certain road.  WTF is 500 meters?  I won’t see a street sign and am not 100% sure whether I drove the distance so I end up missing the turn.  That’s just one example but it has happened more than once.  Luckily Anthony is better at this stuff than me.
    • The weather
      • Wind – While we haven’t been to Windy Welly (Wellington) yet, I wonder if it really is more windy than Christchurch. Christchurch is often more windy than not.  I never had to think much about the wind in Pittsburgh, probably because we were so far from the ocean.  I understand that a norwester means it is a warmer wind from the north that could bring rain while the southerly winds bring cold, arctic winds.  In Pittsburgh, it would just be a windy day (and way less intense).
      • 4 seasons in 1 day
        • I’ve written about layers and the changing weather before. In general, everything about the weather is different than what we are used to.  Generally it isn’t humid and gets cooler in the evening during summer.  On some days, I really could change my outfit 4 times to be comfortable based on the changing weather conditions.  Don’t be silly, I don’t really change my outfits.  I always try to prepare and dress for cooler weather and have layers to put on over top.
      • Flying/Travel
        • Since we have been in New Zealand, I have flown 22 times. That doesn’t count our flights from the US to NZ or any connecting flights.  I think it’s pretty accurate to say it is a bit different than in my past life.  22 flights during the last 4 months.  (Any travel we did during October was by car.)  While a lot of people think that we are living a life of being on an extended vacation, majority of those flights were for travel for my job.  I often wake up at 4:00 AM on Tuesday, have Anthony drop me off at the airport, fly to Dunedin, work, and fly home late Wednesday evening.
Looking out the plane window. A sight I see more often than I really would like (since it’s travel for work and not leisure).
  • Security for travel
    • It might be more appropriate to indicate the lack of security while travelling domestically within New Zealand. My first flight for work, which was actually my first full day in my job due to the earthquake (that’s a very entertaining story for another time), was me flying with an incorrect surname (last name).  I was concerned about this because I didn’t understand how I would get through security since my passport wouldn’t match the name on my ticket.  Well…you don’t have to go through security for all domestic flights in NZ.  When I fly to Dunedin for work I check in at the Air New Zealand kiosk in the Christchurch airport and walk for about 15 seconds before I am at the gate.  No security, no taking off your shoes, and no showing any ID.  If you do travel on domestic flights to the north island, you do have to go through security.  There you will have to take out your laptop, go through the metal detector, and show you have a boarding pass.  They do not check your ID, you do not take off your shoes, nor do you have to take out your liquids.  It’s taken me awhile to get used to this, but it is quite nice to feel like you stepped back in time and are living in a more innocent time.   Oh and if you have a domestic flight you no longer can make, you can sell it to someone else online.  Since they don’t check ID’s it isn’t an issue as long as you have a boarding pass.  They are only worried about having 1 body per seat.
  • Garbage
    • In NZ you have 3 separate garbage bins. Red = Rubbish  Green = Food Scraps (Compost) Yellow = Recycle.  Green gets picked up every week while it rotates between red and yellow every other week.  Generally people keep the food compost in a separate small container in the kitchen and take it out to the green bin often so it doesn’t smell.
Garbage Bins. You have to take them to the curb for pickup.
  • A coffee and café culture
    • They say there are 10 sheep to every person in New Zealand. I think there may be 10 cafes to anything else in Christchurch.  People here love their cafes and coffee.  While we thought all cafes have the same menu, service, and atmosphere, we are finding a few (few being the keyword) that are a bit different, which is refreshing.  It is a bit difficult to understand how all of the cafes can be busy and/or stay in business when most don’t have a differentiating factor.  That’s one of the things we are still struggling to learn and/or understand about the culture in this city.
  •  Chefs
    • If you’ve read some of my other posts or kept in touch, you will know I’ve struggled a bit with the NZ menu/cuisine. Based on this, it is safe to say that Anthony and I are the best chefs in Christchurch.  HA!  Obviously I am basing this off of our taste buds and being sarcastic but in NZ you do not need to have a culinary degree in order to be a chef.  We traveled to Auckland last weekend and were able to get things like a real bagel and Dunkin Donuts.  We had a short amount of time there so we get to spend much of it at restaurants.  We did have some great food when we were in Queenstown, which caters to tourists.  Maybe my taste buds will stay that of a tourist?!?

Overall we are embracing all of these daily changes.  If life were exactly the same, then why would we have moved 8820 miles away???

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