Harry Fraser has no regrets moving to the country ranked second worst destination for expats.

The healthcare worker arrived in Auckland in mid-2019 with a permanent job offer in hand, leaving the UK’s National Health Service behind.

Despite the results of a recent survey by expat community InterNations, which ranked New Zealand 51st out of 52 countries for living and working abroad, Fraser says he had an “extremely positive” here.

“Above all, I felt unconditionally welcomed in New Zealand, by people from all walks of life and from all cultural backgrounds,” he said.

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“I felt more welcome here than when visiting unfamiliar parts of the UK.”

Fraser said his salary was “modest, but comfortable”, and although his work was busy and sometimes exhausting, it was no more than it would be in the UK.

But it was Fraser’s life outside of work that really made it worth it.

“I know we hear it all the time, but New Zealand is really beautiful,” he said.

In the past few weeks alone, Fraser and his partner have explored Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve, Whau West Walkway and Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve.

Harry Fraser and his partner, Anita, love to get out and explore the country.


Harry Fraser and his partner, Anita, love to get out and explore the country.

“The wealth of open green space Auckland has to offer is truly a treasure, and the majority of things I like to do in my free time here are completely free,” he said.

“It wasn’t really an option where I lived in the UK.”

Fraser admitted he had been hit by the rising cost of living – ‘another reason to cherish the free stuff’ – but on a recent trip back to the UK he found prices widely comparable, although the fresh products were considerably less expensive.

But Fraser said he felt compelled to share his experience after seeing the results of the survey and felt “increasingly frustrated and discouraged by the general feeling of negativity”.

“I personally feel deeply grateful and indebted to this country,” he said.

“He welcomed me as one of his own, made me feel at home and gave me a much better quality of life – so I can only say ngā mihi nui ki a koe, Aotearoa.”


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Another expatriate who answered a call from Stuff trip to share their experience, Diego Rego, originally from Mexico but who has lived in Spain, Japan, Italy and Sweden.

He and his girlfriend moved to Tauranga three months ago. Rego was able to easily move with his job, and his partner, an engineer, was also able to find work.

They had chosen New Zealand after doing “a lot of research”, wanting a better work-life balance. And so far, they were happy with their decision, he said.

He understood why other expats might complain, as salaries were “significantly lower” than in other places he had lived. But there were economic problems everywhere, he said, and he thought you got more for your money than in a European city. .

Rego was surprised to see that his home country was named the best overall destination to live and work abroad.

“I was like, there’s no way Mexico is number one,” he said.

He believed the investigation was flawed, as it failed to account for Mexico’s complicated immigration policies for longer-term expatriates. Back home, he had friends with relatives from other countries who had lived there for 50 years, but still had to renew their visas every five years.

“If you’re temporary in Mexico, then of course it’s a lot nicer. You are two years old and you don’t have to work too much.

Mexico has been named the best place to live and work abroad.


Mexico has been named the best place to live and work abroad.

American expat Salvatore, who has lived in New Zealand for six years and asked that only his first name be used, agreed the investigation should be taken with a “big grain of salt”.

Mexico was home to many retired “expats” who could live on their retirement income. Many expats also earned higher salaries than locals, making the cost of living considerably cheaper.

But while the cost of living in New Zealand was “definitely high”, it was no less expensive for people born here.

“It looks like a lot of Kiwis, locals and immigrants, are struggling.”

However, in exchange for that high cost, you got “a decent quality of life, a moderate social safety net, a generally safe place to live, and a high degree of personal freedom,” he said.

“The weather is mild most of the year and the locals, while not overly friendly, are not overly hostile either. All in all, I think New Zealand is a great place to raise a family and be an “expat”.

But a long-time expat, who first arrived from the UK as a backpacker in 2010, planned to leave within the next two years because New Zealand was “just not an attractive place for the moment”.

The expat, who asked to remain anonymous, said she loves living here – and even convinced a friend to move here, along with her partner.

“Both of them regret it now,” she said.

“Unfortunately I now feel like New Zealand have lost almost everything they were good at and haven’t kept up with the rest of the world. It’s expensive to live in, boring and it doesn’t encourage people to contribute their skills and efforts to society.

She said crime was now such a problem in Auckland that she no longer felt safe walking or going out alone. Nothing was happening to ‘excite and entertain’, downtowns weren’t appealing or inviting, and domestic travel was too expensive.

An expat said she no longer felt safe in Auckland.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

An expat said she no longer felt safe in Auckland.

“Why would someone come here to work hard, barely able to buy food and groceries, have nothing exciting to do on the weekends and can’t get around because it’s is too expensive?” she asked.

“A two-night weekend shouldn’t cost more than $500.”

The immigration process for her partner, who moved here in 2020, had made him feel like a criminal, despite the job he does being on the skills shortage list, he said. she declared.

“He hates it here now and wishes he had stayed…I feel even worse for telling him how great it was and how much he would love it here when in reality he hasn’t been well treated or received.”

Aisling Waldron and Richard Dowling, who moved to Wellington from Ireland in 2018, agreed the hardest thing about building a life in New Zealand was that it was ‘almost impossible’ to get visas .

“Everywhere I look there are job vacancies, help-seeking signs and businesses closing due to a lack of staff, but the process to get a one-time visa is soul-destroying. “Waldron said.

Both were currently stuck on temporary visas, unable to leave the country until their new visas were granted.

“Although we have waited over a year to obtain a temporary visa, work, pay taxes and contribute to the economy, this time is meaningless and does not count towards the time needed for permanent residence or citizenship,” she said. .

“When we finally get that visa, the time and the wait start again.”

While the couple liked certain aspects of their life here, such as their group of friends and their jobs, they also found New Zealand “significantly” more expensive than Ireland – another country notorious for its cost of life.

“We know we’re not the only ones not surprised by this survey and can really see the downsides of living here.”

According to the survey, 60% of expats in New Zealand were satisfied with their life here.