Americans deciding to move to another country
are pretty rare, and the
decision generates lots of curiosity. Understandably, one of the most
common questions people ask us about our move is why we chose New
Zealand. We have probably given hundreds of different answers to this
question, depending on who asks and how long an answer we want to give.
So, now I’ve decided to do my best to write the full answer
of all the factors we considered when making our move decision.
I was able to group together the factors we considered in picking a new
It’s hard to say exactly which things were more or less
important; just suffice to say that it was a pretty complex decision.
Designers say “patterns are personal,” and likewise the specifics of
what was important to us might seem odd to someone else. And that’s
exactly the point- we had to define our own specific agenda,
reduce the chance we would accidentally end up in a hell that
“everyone” thinks is fabulous.
New Zealand is an English speaking country with good access to a
variety of foods where education and travel are valued.
We fairly quickly decided that we wanted to move to an English speaking
country. Parts of Latin America, Southeast Asia and southern Europe all
had some appeal, but in the long run language mattered. Neither of us
is fluent enough in any other language to be able to work and we knew
we still needed some income. Also, as our first time living outside the
US, we wanted to ensure we wouldn’t feel too isolated. We
didn’t want to risk being unable to have meaningful
conversations with locals because of language barriers. In our
international travels we have met tons of locals and spoken in various
pidgins of their language and/or English. Most often though,
these conversations are limited and laborious. While they build a sense
of camaraderie, they just aren’t the same as first language
discussions. And we really wanted to immerse in our new culture as much
as possible rather than hanging out with ex-pats.
We love to eat, so food is another pretty high cultural priority. With
the possible exception of communist Russia, we have always found
interesting things to eat when we travel so we didn’t really
fear that we would starve eating foreign foods. On the other hand, we
do have some essential favorites that we weren’t sure we
could live without forever. We had to have access to alcohol and
chiles. Asian food is pretty important. We like some variety of
starches, meats, fruits, veggies and spices.
Food leads to culture in general. We are liberal, open minded,
creative, food-loving travelers who have been known to drink on
occasion. It wouldn’t do very well for us to end up in a
place where these sorts of values would offend absolutely everyone. We
were also interested in escaping some of the purely selfish consumerism
that is the USA. Wouldn’t it be nice to live where we
weren’t smothered by a continuous barrage of competitive
consumption? Not only did we find it exhausting, but we
weren’t too thrilled with the degree to which it encouraged
people to become extremely self-centered.