So why are we moving back to New Zealand? Primarily we want to be close to our extended family. Our parents love time with their grandchildren, our children love their grandparents, we appreciate the childcare, and the benefit increases with every additional child we have. Something similar applies with aunts and uncles. It's a big win all around.
Another reason specific to us is that Janet and I are New Zealand citizens. In New Zealand we'll enjoy the rights and responsibilities that brings --- voting, jury service, and so on. Also, New Zealand subsidised my education and I feel a responsibility to repay somehow; I don't like it when people take advantage growing up, and then leave at the first opportunity to cash in elsewhere; I don't want to be one of them.
But more than that, New Zealand is objectively a wonderful place to live. When I meet Americans recently returned from a visit, more than half the time they ask me "How could you leave?!" or something to that effect. I started to wonder what the answer is. Of course it's famous for its natural beauty. But I like so many other things about it, especially Auckland:
- Auckland's climate is mild year-round, so you can always go outside and do things.
- There are very many fabulous beaches and parks within easy reach where you can go and do things.
- Auckland is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city, which means the food is excellent. Lots of Chinese food and culture to enjoy.
- It's safe. I really enjoy New York but I always check CNN before I go down to the city to make sure no-one blew it up.
- New Zealand is consistently ranked one of the two or three least corrupt countries in the world.
- The government appears more democratic and competent than in most other countries --- regardless of which party is in power. This may be a function of size.
- Therefore, I believe in NZ's long-term prospects more than I do for most places.
- Christians get more contempt and less lip service. I like that.
- Lifestyles are generally more laid-back.
- People have a realistic view of their country --- often veering into unwarranted pessimism, which isn't good, but I prefer it to arrogance.
- The metric system. Seriously.
- The best of British and US television.
- You can wear shorts all year round without feeling silly.
It's not all rosy. Sometime I'll write about what I don't like. And I'll have to reassess everything once we're actually back seeing it all first-hand --- I think I've forgotten both good and bad. But I don't think the balance will tip the other way.
alt="Boats at anchor in the Bay of Islands" src="http://www.ocallahan.org/blog/BOI.jpg" width="800" height="600" />
The Bay of Islands, 3 hours north of Auckland