New Zealand is a stable, liberal democracy where a high value for
social services is balanced by a desire to maintain a thriving economy.
With the limit of English language, the list is considerably shortened.
In fact, most of our choices were now confined to the British
or related nations. There were just a few other options, such as the
Philippines or Ireland, where a large percentage of locals are
So, income and taxes became a distinguishing factor. We, again, knew we
might need to find jobs, and therefore wanted an economy where we
wouldn’t be competing with a huge unemployed population. And
on the other hand, we needed to ensure that our investment and work
income mainly remained ours and wasn’t consumed by a
government with outrageous tax rates. Being British Commonwealth would
be a bonus factor since our long-term vision includes the possibility
of retiring in the Mediterranean, which could be aided by having
The socialized economy was another major consideration. With the
abysmal state of the US Social Security and Medicare systems, we
definitely wanted to trade up in this area. While we were wary of
nations so heavily socialized that taxes would be unbearable, we still
hoped to find somewhere that basic medical care was a right for all
residents and that the elderly were also cared for. Free public
education and affordable higher education were similar criteria; maybe
we don’t have kids but we still prefer a society that invests
in them. Not only did we want to be sure that we wouldn’t be
bankrupted by a major illness, we were also looking for some level of
institutionalized sharing of these major responsibilities.
Politics are sort of like culture and sort of like economy. We needed
be able to fit in a little with the local political views, at least
some wing. And also we wanted to ensure a certain political stability;
was going to be a long-term enough commitment that we
couldn’t settle where we would have no idea what the future
might bring. We didn’t particularly want to lose everything
we’ve saved to war or riots.
While political stability leads to a certain security, crime and safety
were another factor. By an international standard, we are fantastically
the top few percent in the world in fact. We
didn’t stand out
in the US where most people are in the top percentiles, but once you
leave you at least have to consider how local people will react to your
New Zealand is a modern Green nation that’s fully hip to 21st
century technology with a keen interest in the outdoors.
In the area of lifestyle, transportation is a top consideration for us
in two key ways. First, though you might not believe that access to our
families was important since we moved to the other side of the globe,
our reasoning was that as long as we had decent access to an
international airport, we could get home in a day or two if needed.
Second, we wanted a place where cars were less dominant and alternate
transportation modes such as walking, biking and public transit were
reasonably safe and common. As we get older, this will be even more
important since we hope to stop driving before we become a threat to
ourselves and others.
We also wanted to ensure access to modern, relatively affordable
telecommunications and internet services. This is almost a given in
English speaking countries, but still we needed to maintain some
minimal version of our digital lifestyle. We wanted to ensure we had
good and email and phone connections to friends and family that we
could afford to use regularly. With a dream of building this website,
high speed internet was also part of our ideal.
Assuming we would be successful in establishing a flexible mode of
earning, we would then hopefully have time for pursuing our outdoors
passions. We were seeking lots of national parks and public open spaces
for hiking, biking, photography, etc.