15 March 2017

Rhonda Albom - Expat in New Zealand

Rhonda Albom - Expat in New Zealand

We’ve had the chance to talk to Rhonda Albom, an American expat who has moved to New Zealand with her family. Mrs. Rhonda who has been living there for 14 years, now works as a travel writer and photographer. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born and raised in Chicago, and then spent 15 years in San Francisco before moving to New Zealand.


Q: What made you move out of the USA?

A: Adventure.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: New Zealand. We started with a list of every country in the world. We eliminated countries where we don't speak the language, where there was civil unrest, and where there are cold winters. From our short list, we researched and fell in love with New Zealand. 


Q: How long have you been living In New Zealand?

A: 14 years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Family of four, with two girls who are now teens. Both consider themselves to be Kiwi now.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: We lived in a different state from family, so it was always a plane flight to see them. Now it's just a really long flight.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I have plenty of great friends.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in New Zealand? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: We immersed ourselves in the community activities and social groups for the girls. At first, it was more difficult to make friends here than in America. But now we are more Kiwi, and make friends easier.


Q: How does the cost of living in New Zealand compare to your home?

A: Because we came from San Francisco, it is similar.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: $4.50 (latte).

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: $10.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $40 without alcohol.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: I don't drink or smoke.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in New Zealand?

A: Back when we came here, only two of the main banks would open bank accounts for non-kiwis.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: The current system is completely different than when we came. Our experience was black and white. The rules were clear. You either qualified for residency, or you didn't.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in New Zealand is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: New Zealand has excellent healthcare.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the US or New Zealand? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: New Zealand has socialized medicine. The public system works well, although the waits can be quite long.  It has ACC and accident compensation scheme that covers injuries. However, we have private insurance, which allows us to get faster treatment.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to New Zealand?  Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: Most memorable would be our insurance claim agent, who actually found more damage rather than less. Our move didn't go so well. Our best advice would be to fully insure your belongings for their replacement value.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Making friends.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in New Zealand?

A: Positive: healthy outdoor lifestyle, great place to raise kids, clean food, few crowds, one of the least corrupt governments in the world, police don't carry firearms, and safe.

Negative: housing costs, and far from everywhere so expensive to travel, sometimes provincial.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Sail


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: We don't make plans.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Immerse yourself into the community.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about New Zealand?

A: Mine of course: AlbomAdventures.com