So thoughts after the first week:
People are super nice here, none of the Londonesque “dare-to-think-about-looking-a
The place (city) is undoubtedly small but it’s pretty spread out. On multiple days I’ve walked over 20km from the airbnb place to work, around the city centre and then back to where I’m staying. This is largely because I’m lazy to get on the bus though, there’s plenty of that. To contradict myself Wellington is also very compact. Where I am now is considered suburbs and really, anything that’s over 15-20 mins straight walk from the city centre is suburbia. Most things can be found in the CBD only (central business district) or Cuba street, which is the party street, really.
The locals seem to think of Wellington as a ‘small Melbourne’ or a ‘small Montreal’. I think the whole of NZ has a bit of American feeling to it but in a good sense, not the bad sense. Maybe Canadian? :). Oddly enough though nobody I’ve met so far said that they’d want to leave the city. They all seem to be unusually happy that they’re here rather than in Auckland or Queenstown (the two other relevant places).
Weather is so-so. It’s been very nice and sunny this week but apparently that’s out of the ordinary, even with summer on the way. The evenings get rather cold. Some of the guys at work told me that in the winter, winds of 120 (!!) kmh are normal and they are very cold, so even though the temperature never goes below 0, wind makes it pretty bad. Winter is quite far away for now but I’m unimpressed with this bit of information.
Money matters: this place is pretty expensive. The websites that say it’s less expensive than London are using some weird logic. The underlying problem is that there’s a massive lack of newly built flats and they are pretty expensive. Older flats that are very poorly constructed and houses that are even worse are cheap. Also oddly enough there’s hardly any price difference between 1 and 2 bedroom flats, so generally speaking larger flats that accommodate two people are the same price as smaller ones. In that way it’s quite cheap. Add to this that most places here come unfurnished, which is extra investment.
That said, if there are two ppl (couple), it gets pretty inexpensive. The flat I’ll be renting is around $2000 per month, and when someone on a meetup asked me about renting a flat alone they went 😮 – it’s uncommon that single persons would have a place to themselves here because it’s prohibitively expensive unless working in well paid roles. Houses in the suburbs are a lot larger and lot less expensive but the commute is more prevalent there (obviously), and those places are mostly for families.
Buying on the other hand is comparatively inexpensive. A 2-bedroom flat in the city centre that’s brand new build is around $500k. (People working in the IT sector would earn around $100k, which is $6k net a month so for a couple that’s well over $10k household income) Food is also more expensive than in London, both in the shops and in terms of going out. Notwithstanding the GBP going up and down recently (down, mostly), I’d say things in the hypermarkets are 40-80% more expensive, largely because there are none or very few private label brands (like Tesco pasta etc.) and because there is less variety (plus the place is perhaps farther away from the rest of the world than London?) Booze is considerably more expensive than in the UK.
Work: General feedback is that life is a lot more relaxed here than in London. For example, the team I’m in is responsible for the whole inbound data flow of transactions and just about everything of a top bank. The office is empty by 6pm but if you’re in at 5pm ppl start asking questions as to why you’re still there. The morning stand-up-chat is in a café, taking about half an hour. Larger companies here love overseas candidates because they bring experience that’s not available here.