Motherhood

17 Surprising Things About Parenting in New Zealand

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Today, for our Motherhood Around The World series, we chat with Katie Wolf, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband Adam and their two young daughters — Hazel, 3, and Maggie, 1. Here, she talks about double rainbows, going barefoot in the grocery store and the wonderful way Kiwis take care of new mothers…

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Katie’s background: After Adam and I got married in 2011, we moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Auckland for his job in merchandising. I’m a therapist but am currently staying home and taking care of our girls, who were both born here. Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand (a third of the country’s population lives here), but the laid-back culture makes it feels like a small town.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On the scenery: New Zealand is breathtakingly beautiful. Everywhere we turn, one of us is always saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s pretty.” Our house looks over the ocean, and you can see Rangitoto, a dormant volcanic island, in the distance. Sometimes we’ll take the 30-minute ferry and hike around the bush (the indigenous forest). The girls love the wild gray branches of the trees and listening to all the birds. There’s one bird called a tui, whose song makes it sound like it’s talking.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On wildlife: There are basically no dangerous animals in New Zealand — like venomous snakes or scorpions. When hiking in the States, you’re always aware that there could be something out there, like a bobcat or bear. Here, we never worry about our kids running ahead. Nothing that can harm you except your own clumsiness!

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On swimming in the ocean: The beach has become a huge part of our everyday life. Many beaches have amazing playgrounds; our girls love the oceanfront swings. No matter what time of year, you can always find a New Zealander swimming in the ocean! When we first moved here, I found the water too cold and would barely dip in more than a toe. But when I was pregnant with Maggie, my third trimester fell smack in the middle of summer. I needed relief from the heat, so I started swimming in the ocean every day. It was a special time for me, floating weightless in the sun with Rangitoto in the background, wondering how life would change with a new baby. It’s one of my fondest memories here.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On bare feet: When we first arrived, I was shocked to see so many people running around barefoot. Both kids and adults would be without shoes in restaurants, while shopping, at the doctor’s office, everywhere. Yesterday, I saw a man barefoot at the grocery store, and it’s the middle of winter here! Children are required to arrive and leave school with shoes, but they don’t have to wear them at school. I used to think it was so surprising, but now half the time my own girls aren’t wearing shoes either. The other day, I ran out of the house to go to the store and I looked down and I was like, ‘I guess I’m a Kiwi because neither my children nor myself have shoes on and I am not going back to get them.’

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On community toys: New Zealand is incredibly family friendly, and most stores, wineries and banks have boxes of toys to entertain kids. The hardware store has a bouncy castle, and our local café has a trampoline in the back. Even the local pharmacy has a car on a track — it’s nothing crazy, but my daughters love it. Sometimes I’ll walk through pretending to need something so the girls can play. The guy will be like ‘Are you waiting for prescription?’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh, um, I’m just looking for something. Hazel, five more minutes!”

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On bungee jumping: New Zealand is where bungee jumping began. It’s a huge part of the tourism industry and a rite of passage for a lot of travelers. I’ve never done it but I love watching people jump — and so does three-year-old Hazel! About once a year, we go to Queenstown on the South Island, and stop by the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, where A.J. Hackett started organized commercial bungee jumping. There’s a viewing platform — surrounded by gorgeous snowcapped mountains — where you can stand with the people who are trying to get the courage up, people who are supporting those jumping and then people like us who are just watching. Hazel loved it, saying ‘Oh my gosh!’ and shrieking when people jumped. We would tease her and say if you want to, you can go next, and she’d yell, ‘No, I’m not big enough!’

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On Christmas in the summer: Christmas lands in the middle of summer here, so our friends will often host Christmas parties or BBQs at the beach. We will see Santas dressed up not in Santa suits, but board shorts and flip flops! The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, and Māori culture is woven into everyday life here — so many Christmas songs, like ‘Silent Night,’ will be sung in Māori. Often people will do a Māori roast, which is meat cooked with heated rocks in a pit underground. The traditional Christmas dessert is pavlova cake with fruit.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On pregnancy: Both Hazel and Maggie were born Auckland. I saw a midwife through the entire pregnancy up until six weeks postpartum. (You typically only visit an ob-gyn if you have a high-risk pregnancy or complications.) My midwife Breda was an extremely maternal Irish woman, who grew up in a family with 13 children. She came to see me every week of my pregnancy, delivered my baby, and then visited me once a week for for six weeks after. It felt like such a luxury to have her come to me in my home. I’ll always remember her weighing Hazel for the first time. She said, ‘I do things kind of old school,’ and got out a homemade sack and put Hazel in it and held the scale up to see what she weighed. She was so great, I was thrilled when she agreed to deliver my second child, too. When I was pushing Maggie out, she started laughing, and instead of saying ‘It’s a girl,’ she said ‘It’s another Hazel!’ She now feels like part of our family.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand width=

On breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is a really big deal here. There’s a huge governmental initiative to encourage mothers to nurse their babies for at least a year. It is pushed pretty hard with posters like these around the city. Breastfeeding in public is not a big deal; I always felt comfortable nursing wherever I was. Today more than 8 out of 10 newborns in New Zealand today are breastfed, compared with just over half in 2000. If you want to give your newborn formula in the hospital, you have to sign something that says you’re acknowledging what you’re doing. I already knew breastfeeding was something I wanted to do and was fortunate that my body cooperated, but if you had different plans I think it would be a tough road. I always felt for those mothers.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On toy vans: New Zealand also has an amazing non-profit organization called Plunket that supports families all over New Zealand. They run a free hotline, available 24 hours a day, and you can call anytime to talk to a nurse about your baby. They’ll install your carseat, they organize fun playdates, or you can stop by a center to breastfeed in one of their comfy chairs. They also have toy vans that drive around and set up at parks. We’ll look on the schedule, see where the toy van is that day, and go!

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On working out with kids: The Kiwi women I’ve met here are strong and capable — I’d say most Kiwi women are killing their own spiders, if you know what I mean! Last year I started doing Crossfit with a group called FitMum, which provides childcare. Their motto is ‘role models not super models.’ I remember when Maggie was having a clingy week, and I ended up doing the bike with her on my shoulders. Another time, the coach modified the workout for Maggie to be my actual weight so I could hold her. The kids love to play on the equipment after class; I always have to drag Hazel and Maggie out of there. It’s one more example of how kid friendly New Zealand is and how children can be included in as many aspects of life as you want them to be.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On rugby: On date nights, we’ve gone to rugby games — it’s huge here and considered the country’s national sport. The New Zealand team is called the All Blacks. Before every game, the whole team does the Māori war dance called the Haka. If you’ve never seen it before, Google it now. It is really amazing. Hazel actually did a mini one with her classmates during the Matariki New Year celebration at her school.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On exploring the country: Since we moved here, we’ve traveled all over the North and South Islands. Both Hazel and Maggie took their first trips when they were three months old. Usually we’ll rent a cabin, or a ‘bach,’ and the owner will leave out ‘gumboots’ for everyone, even little ones for the girls. At one bach, the owner had built a cedar hot tub in the middle of the bush. In order to get there, he left a note saying, ‘Take two rights, then the third trail on the left.’ The whole experience felt very magical and unique to New Zealand.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On being in the middle of nowhere: When we took a family trip to Martinborough, Adam’s colleague suggested we check out Cape Palliser. He gave us the same type of directions — ‘Take a left and a right and follow the dirt road’ type thing. We ended up hiking up to a lighthouse, surrounded by seals so close you could have touched them. It was the most spectacular day, and there was not another soul in sight the whole time we were there. When we’re traveling, I always feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere. New Zealand actually has more sheep than people!

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On rainbows: The temperature is moderate in Auckland — it gets down to 50 in the winter and up to 75 in the summer — but the weather changes so quickly that I’ve stopped looking at the weather report. I’ll look outside and it will be sunny, so I’ll wrap the kids up and grab the dog. During those 10 minutes, it will start pouring rain. But if you wait a few minutes, the sun will be back out again. Because of the rapidly changing weather, there are so many rainbows — and double rainbows! I’ve already seen five this week. Half the sky will be bright blue and the other half will be dark, and there’ll be a rainbow across them both. It’s so beautiful.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On food: One of our favorite things is to get fish and chips for dinner and sit by the beach. Every little town has their own shop with fish wrapped in newspaper. On a Friday night, we’ll see tons of families at the beach with their fish and chips and adult beverages for the parents. The coffee here is also truly amazing. My girls and I walk to the cafe every morning. The most common drink is a flat white, which is somewhere between a latte and a cappuccino. For little kids, they have a ‘fluffy’ that is steamed milk in an espresso cup served with a marshmallow on the side. Hazel can’t get enough of them.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

On loving New Zealand: Recently I was talking to the head chef at a restaurant and he said, ‘I’ve just been been here six months and I’m never effing leaving.’ I hear that sentiment echoed a lot — people come and never leave because they fall in love with New Zealand. It’s paradise here. Adam and I both pinch ourselves all the time that we get to live somewhere so beautiful. It’s a love that I will always have, even though we’re not going to settle here permanently as we don’t want to be so far from our families forever. It’s going to be very bittersweet to leave. The physical beauty and lack of people make for a phenomenal quality of life.

Motherhood Around the World: New Zealand

Thank you so much, Katie!

P.S. Our full Motherhood Around the World series, including Japan, Abu Dhabi and Norway.

(Photos courtesy of Katie. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. Alix says...

    I’ve spend one year in NZ (between 2013-2014) and i’m really “homesick”… NZ is just the best place to live, people are amazing, landscapes are breathtaking, you will never get bored there. I wish i could stay and spend my life in NZ !

  2. Jen says...

    I absolutely adore this series, and would venture to say it is the top reason I have Cup of Jo in my Feedly account. Thank you for these glimpses of life around the world!

  3. Sam says...

    This is such a lovely post and point of view. What a cool little family getting out and exploring and getting involved in the culture. I am from New Zealand and often see it portrayed from a much more touristy point of view, I love seeing the world through a child’s eyes and that is why we moved home from overseas when we had our little one. So glad you enjoy it here too : )

  4. Nice to finally see my beautiful country on Cup of Jo!

  5. “Role models, not super models”, I love that! That needs to be said more! Such a wonderful post! I love this series, I’m so glad you keep doing it every year Joanna!

  6. I loved reading this and now want to move to NZ! I was particularly touched by the moment that Katie took to acknowledge that for some women who can’t breastfeed in NZ, it can be a tough road. I myself, an American living in Virginia, felt lots of pressure to breastfeed and when I couldn’t, dealt with overwhelming grief. After searching a while (about 4 years ago), I found this community, https://www.facebook.com/supportive.community.breastfeeding.loss/ lead by New Zealander Karen Holmes. It is a community/support group that she created to support those moms who struggle with negative feelings when they can’t/don’t breastfeed (for any reason). We have had many conversations on that balance of supporting breastfeeding, while not villifying bottle feeding.
    Love this series, always helps me to put parenting decisions, judgement and expectations into perspective!

  7. Kerry says...

    I am also a Kiwi, living in Auckland, and I was so pleased to see NZ feature in your Motherhood series! I have loved reading about the differences in raising children in other cultures, it’s so fascinating to compare and contrast and challenge what we accept as normal.
    Katie, I’m so happy that you are enjoying your time in NZ and that you love living in Auckland. It really is a very special place. I too have recently had a baby and have found the same as you – lots of support and encouragement. As I have lived here all my life, things like Plunket and toy vans are familiar to me. But what I have found to be a lovely surprise is the response I get from strangers when out and about with my bub. She is smiled at and waved to, I get told she is adorable and people will go out of their way to help me with bags, lift the pram down stairs, open doors or wait patiently behind me in a queue (because everything takes longer with a baby!). I feel like I am toting around a celebrity!
    Katie, have you tried out Wriggle and Rhyme at the public libraries? It’s a fun, free thing to do with a wee bub.
    http://www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/en/events/events/pages/wriggleandrhyme.aspx

  8. Oh, I SO loved reading this! Three years ago I was studying abroad in New Zealand (in Auckland) and was fortunate enough to go backpacking solo through the South Island for two weeks at the end of my 6 month stay. From the friendly people to the sheep to the jaw dropping scenery, I miss everything. It’s truly a magical place.

  9. Claire says...

    makes me homesick to come home

  10. Sally says...

    I’m a New Zealander living in London and my sons are English in almost every way… except for their aversion to shoes. They’re always desperate to go everywhere barefoot, which is how I know they’re my rough tough little Kiwi kids deep down.

  11. Tony Palmer says...

    Great article , and thanks for including a link to my video of the tui that I filmed in my garden . To see more of this little piece of paradise check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzTEwl4RVOk . And I’m pretty sure that everyone in the video has bare feet :)

  12. Karoline says...

    Love reading this series!!!

    Definitely opens my eyes to what it is like in other places in the world and how I want to show these types of places to my kids one day.

    Thanks for sharing your story! New Zealand just jumped to #1 for places I need to go!!!

  13. Kathy says...

    This is an interesting article and I took a few things away from it. 1. Nothing is free and all these wonderful things such as maternity care and free toy vans must be supported by someone. What is the tax situation in NZ? 2. Bare feet in the grocery store or restaurants…..I’m sorry but that just strikes me as dirty. 3. I’m surprised women haven’t told the government to stay out of their decision whether or not to breast feed. That is such a highly personal decision I’d think women would resent the intrusion into their lives.

    Otherwise, it looks like a lovely country that would probably be wonderful to visit.

    • Sarah says...

      Hi there,

      The top tax bracket for personal income is 33%, there are various other taxes such as GST (goods and services tax 15%) fuel taxes etc, nothing unusual there.
      We have a free public Heath service and free education.

      This no shoes thing is a bit OTT, I have never gone barefoot in a shop or restaurant that isn’t immediately adjacent to the beach, honestly I don’t know anyone who does.

      The breastfeeding situation is interesting, the health service absolutely encourage breastfeeding, however, bottle feeding is supported also.
      A study was undertaken quite some time ago about why some women choose not to breastfeed, and the overwhelming majority said they quit breastfeeding or didn’t breastfeed at all because they felt unsupported. In return the government made some changes.
      We are paid 18 weeks parental leave, and our jobs are kept open for a year of maternity leave.

  14. Liz says...

    New Zealand is a truly special place, and the scenery is indeed amazing!! I loved both my trips there and am so jealous of people who get to live there full-time!! It feels so away from it all (which it is…) and a peaceful safe haven in what has become a very scary world sometimes… Lovely article!

  15. synapse says...

    I’m not a mother but i always find these so interesting :) Also, I don’t know if it’s within the scope of this series, but new zealand made be think of constança cabral – a portuguese thirty-something who lived in england (countryside) where her first boy was born and now lives in, you guessed it right, new zealand (where her second boy was born, right in their front yard). she’s a maker and a crafter and i thing it might be a cute story to tell – or to know about. oh well, these are my two cents ;) you can find her here (and no, she doesn’t know me) https://constancacabral.com/blog/

  16. jules says...

    I love this series – loved it pre-kid and now even more post-kid. Please consider one set the rural or small town US.

    Every time I read these comments about how kids can’t walk to school in the US, etc., it strikes me that the non-urban/ non-suburban United States **IS** a foreign country to most of your U.S. readers.

    I grew up in a small town and the my friends’ kids have grown up much like we did. Play alone in the park, ride bikes around, walk to school, outside all the time, etc.

    In fact, it’s beyond that. My friend’s 8 year old daughter hunts deer with a crossbow. She rides snowmobiles and ATVs. She also loves dolls and and stuffed animals and gymnastics and “girl” stuff.

    Please consider it!!

    • Gabriella says...

      I LOVE that idea! Would definitely be interested in a series like that, too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      What a great idea! Thank you!

  17. Lucy says...

    Being an Aucklander myself this is so heart warming to read! It has given me a new appreciation for my homeland! Everyone come and visit, now!

  18. Natalie says...

    I’m pretty sure I’ve sent my husband at least 4 or 5 motherhood around the world posts like, “Let’s move here!” but this one really takes the cake. New Zealand looks and sounds so lovely.

  19. this makes me laugh. i’ve lived in NZ all my life and its interesting to read about the surprising things about our country. It is beautiful and a safe place to live. What cracked me up most was the barefeet – Auckland/Northland is about the only places where people waltz around in bare feet – most of us here do own shoes :) great read.

    • Sophie says...

      I was thinking this too! It’s not like nobody ever wears shoes here – but if you’re just going to the dairy or the supo it’s no big deal. It would be a pretty casual restaurant that would let you in with no shoes on though! I guess I don’t see it as much either because Christchurch is a bit cold for it at the moment, although there’s always the winter jandals crew haha

    • emily says...

      I am American, and I studied abroad in Australia. The no shoes thing also surprised me, and I think it’s more noticeable to us, because most businesses here have “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policies.

      So even though we know you all own shoes and you aren’t all running around barefoot, we would never imagine running into the grocery store or cafe near the beach barefoot (in fact, we may be ‘kicked out’), so when we see that – it’s startling. But, I’m pretty sure towards the end of my study, I was walking to class in my barefeet.

  20. Love these posts! Why aren’t we all living in New Zealand?

  21. Roxana says...

    LOVE IT. I visited New Zealand about 14 years ago for almost a month. I so long to go back. It is truly a stunning country and the people are SO NICE.

    My husband makes fun of me because I’m still always saying “New Zealand this. . . New Zealand that. . . ” As if I lived there :). It is truly paradise. If you’ve ever read Chronicles of Narnia it’s the real-life version of Narnia (ya know, minus the mystical creatures :). I want to move there!

    Thank you for sharing! Love this series!

  22. Heather says...

    When I lived in New Zealand a big thing that I also noticed was the “heartiness” of the kids there. During the winter months, I’d be walking to class in a jacket and toque and the kids at the daycare would be playing outside in their t-shirts! My Kiwi friends were always asking me why I was so cold when I grew up in the freezing Canadian climate!? But it’s a very different type of cold due to the proximity of the ocean (at least where I lived in Dunedin). It would get into your bones. There’s a whole underlying culture of “getting by with what you have”. No heating in your house? Just wear a jacket inside! No worries!

    • Cousa says...

      Exactly! I moved to New Zealand and it has been almost 3 years since. Before that I lived in Turkey and we had -20C during the winter, lots of snow too. I never felt too cold as long as I had boots and a coat. But here, the cold gets into my bones! I wear layers and layers, our house has a good heating but still! The condensation on the windows still surprises me :) Despite the shivering cold most people are just happy with t-shirts and shorts :)

    • Rebecca says...

      Heartiness – I love this! So true. Memories from my time living in Auckland involved heating pads to warm up a cool damp flat (no heat!) and being dumfounded that my kiwi friends owned just a couple pairs of jeans. The priority was always for shared (and typically outdoor) experiences, rather than things. I loved every minute of it.

  23. Such a beautiful country, it is also ranked one in order of least corrupt countries in the world.

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  24. Jennifer says...

    Just booked a 26 day trip there for December! So excited! Thanks for sharing – and I’m afraid I won’t want to leave either!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      incredible, jennifer!!!! you’re going to have the best time!

    • Jen says...

      Jennifer, you’ll never leave, trust me! I came as a 28yr old from England for a year’s stay and almost five years later I’m still here! If you’re only here for 26 days spend most of that in South Island. Adventure is around every corner, when you least expect it.

      I thought I was fully settled in Wellington, an incredibly vibrant city, but am now being lured to the South Island by my very own Kiwi chap…see what I mean about adventure!

  25. Kukla says...

    Wow, this has been the first ‘Surprising Things About Parenting In’ post that I’ve felt like I needed to visit. XXXX

  26. Polly says...

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! It makes me wish I’d had the opportunity to be a mom in New Zealand. At the very least it makes me excited to visit!

  27. GH says...

    Loved this post! I went to NZ for the first time this past June and can’t wait to go back. No kids yet, but my husband and I are really interested in making the move over there.

  28. Tiia says...

    I think I need to move my family there immediately.

  29. Maddie says...

    I just have to say, this is the only place on the internet where I read the comments. Everyone is always so thoughtful and supportive – so refreshing! Thank you for making such a lovely space to share genuine thoughts!

  30. KB says...

    Sitting in Scotland reading this and wondering why I haven’t moved home to NZ yet!! Then I scroll down and she’s got photos of my lighthouse!! My parents live in Ngawi at Cape Palliser and also have a house in Martinborough. Hardly anyone knows where it is so I’m so proud that my little part of NZ has made it on your blog!! It truly is an amazing place to live, currently flooded with homesickness! Just have to convince my Scottish man to up sticks!!

  31. Hannah says...

    Lovely post, so interesting to read as an Australian. Very similar, but also quite different. Australia also has the child friendly feel with toy baskets, play areas, free fruit in wollies etc.

    As an aside, not sure you should be promoting unsafe babywearing like in the photo above. Just a thought as I know a lot of people will see this post 😊

    • Lisa says...

      What photo shows unsafe babywearing?

    • Braden says...

      Yes! I thought the same thing about the baby wearing photo, but didn’t want to seem judgy. But eek, that baby is so low!!

  32. This is all so familiar, I live in Auckland! Katie, I love that tree in the Domain that you posted a photo of :)
    I’m originally from England, my husband’s from Argentina and we’ve just found out that I’m expecting our first child so I loved reading this! I hadn’t heard of the toy vans. I’m actually looking for a midwife right now, I’m hoping to give birth at Birthcare Parnell so if you have any tips I’d love to hear!
    The barefoot thing is more common in the South. I used to work as a receptionist at a multi-national accountancy firm in Queenstown. One day one of our clients came in, a weather-worn Kiwi bloke in his late 50’s wearing boardshorts and… a nipple ring! That’s all. Only in NZ. That has been my most extreme run-in with the laid-back Kiwi style so far :)

  33. Carrie says...

    What a great story! I love this series – do keep it going.
    Feeling very blessed to have been raised and be raising my three babies here in Auckland, NZ ❤️

  34. I’m not a parent, but I am a Canadian living in Wellington, New Zealand and I have to agree–living in NZ is fun, easy, and the surroundings are magical. Yes the coffee is AMAZING and all the food is local by nature–the eggs, meat, beer and wine I buy at the markets or the grocery store are all sourced from farms or suppliers within hour(s) of where I live. Unreal.

  35. Brenna Wong says...

    Love this post! I am a New Zealander and live here with my husband and 3 children, we are very proud kiwis!
    Such a thoughtful post and I agreed with everything she said! Also interesting to note how right she is with the huge push to breastfeed. I could not and it was stressful trying to tell midwives, etc that it wasn’t working. Although it was much worse 5 years ago with my first child, think they are a bit more relaxed/realistic about it now.

  36. A says...

    I moved to NZ when my kids were 4 from the US, we still live here and they are now 13. One huge difference the author hasn’t experienced yet is how life is here for slightly older kids. Kids here aren’t quite so supervised as they are in America. My kids walked themselves to school alone when they were in elementary school. They walk/take the bus by themselves across the town to their high school now at age 13 each morning and afternoon. I’m not “fussed” (as they say here) about them being out on their own. There is more freedom to be a kid and still feel safe in NZ then there is in America.

    PS. When I moved the best resource for me was the forum at http://www.enz.org/ it was an amazing source of information and support!

  37. Maxi says...

    I am a New Zealander and agree with many aspects of the article. I had a fairly idyllic childhood growing up in New Zealand; however, as other New Zealanders have stated, New Zealand is far from perfect. Wages remain low but living costs are high (especially food, petrol and housing). New Zealand society is becoming increasing unequal. An article published in the Guardian Newspaper (UK) online today shows the reality for people in more straitened circumstances in Auckland, New Zealand https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/16/new-zealands-most-shameful-secret-we-have-normalised-child-poverty.

    • Georgia says...

      Sadly, I wasn’t surprised in the least to click on this link and see a photograph of a Maori family pictured. No place on earth is Eden for everyone, especially not for indigenous cultures that have been colonized. Though I’m not a parent I do enjoy this series, but in reading through this one I couldn’t help but think that a part of the experience is really missing; granted, it is not this author’s experience, but thank you for adding another parenting perspective from your country.

  38. Rykiel says...

    Oh this post makes me miss NZ so much! and spot on with the bare feet! I was really shocked at first but that just goes to how how laid back Kiwis really are :P

    • Rykiel says...

      *show, sorry!

  39. Hang says...

    I’m not a mother but i read this series often to see how life in different places vary. And today’s post minus the childcare part basically sums up my experience in NZ too! Love it! Hi from NZ!

  40. Anna says...

    I was born and grew up in New Zealand (though I now live overseas). I loved seeing this on your blog and thought this description was so accurate: stunning nature, bare feet and first class public infrastructure (e.g., an amazing public health care system, banking technology, social welfare and public transport services).

    Women really do breastfeed everywhere and anywhere and there are many options for natural birth. I would say there is a definite lean towards earthiness, practicality and DIY. Primary school (grade school) is very relaxed and incorporates many practical elements (sewing, cooking, knitting, gardening, metalwork and woodwork) which I am thankful for every day of my adult life, even though I work in the corporate world. As a woman I feel especially empowered to have these skills and different perspectives.

    But, that said, there are always two sides. New Zealand has social challenges like everywhere else. There is still crime, unemployment, poor housing, and poverty. Wages are generally low compared to the high cost of living. Winters can be harsh for those who can’t afford high quality housing and the high cost of heating.

    And, although I incorporate kiwi culture into the way I raise my son and we visit New Zealand often, there are parts of it that I don’t, and reasons we’ve chosen not to return and bring him up there: Life there can be very slow (comfortable but not necessarily challenging), it can be difficult to find well-paying meaningful work, the high context culture can make communication and relationships challenging, and the “tall poppy syndrome” ingrained in the culture can make it very difficult to grow, dream and strive. Not saying that this is the experience of everyone, but sadly for us.

    Just wanted to share both sides. :-)

    • Lisa says...

      I think its really nice to hear both sides. As someone who lives in the United States rat race, reading these blog posts makes me incredibly jealous and wanting to live elsewhere. But its nice to be reminded that the grass isnt always greener.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is nice to hear — thank you, anna!

  41. Jen Miller says...

    I’m not a mother but this is my favorite series and I look forward to it each week! I would love to see a post about parenting in Italy!

    • Ditto! I’m also not a mom, but this is probably one of my favorite blog series ever. I look forward to it every summer and always recommend it to others.

  42. I agree with everyone–I love these posts! What a beautiful place to live.

    I think the most beautiful point about these posts is to love where you live. We all may not have ocean views and toy vans, but I bet we have other things.

    xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  43. What a great read. New Zealand sounds truly amazing! Especially about the family oriented part. But no shoes?? What’s with that!

  44. Emily says...

    Sitting in Atlanta right now and feeling very jealous!!

    Where is the sweet soft looking sweater from in the last photo?

    • Katie says...

      Hi Emily, It’s Angel Dear from a few years ago.

  45. Beautiful article! Absolutely LOVE all the pictures! Me and my husband went there shortly after we got married! We took an Australia/New Zealand trip. It was so beautiful! My favorite thing was rafting to Fox glacier and getting to walk on it. And also going to Waitomo and tubing through the caves there to see the glow worms. As far as wildlife, we had heard that there was a huge variety of birds in New Zealand and we did see lots of birds. We didn’t get to do any of the adventure stuff because I had just found out that I was pregnant with my first daughter when we landed in Sydney, Australia. I thought I had the flu but I couldn’t shake it and ended up getting a pregnancy test – lo and behold – indeed I was pregnant! We named her Sydney. We had planned to scuba dive the great barrier reef and do a bunch of adventure sports in New Zealand but we had to change to safer activities, but it was still an amazing trip and so worth it!

    Denise
    -www.realtyhousewife.com

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I just love that you named her Sydney! So special!

  46. Anna says...

    thanks, a lovely reminder to park my grumbling about my home town and remember what is great about Auckland, and NZ. We are very fortunate here, and my 2 little girls (I also have a Maggie!) are enjoying an idyllic childhood. Also a great note-to-self to get out more and see some of the places Katie and her family have been. Jo- you must come!

  47. AJ Douglas says...

    Adding New Zealand to bucket list!

  48. Hannah says...

    As an avid Cup of Jo reader I am so excited to see NZ featured. We are so lucky here. As Katie mentioned, Plunket is the most amazing organisation at our fingertips and such an iconic part of NZ life. All children get a ‘Plunket book’ in which the nurse you visit records all milestones until your child is five. I was recently devastated when I thought I had misplaced my boys books. Also, most companies in NZ are so supportive of mums returning to work and if you have been in your job for over a year, you can have a years maternity leave (with 16 weeks of payments from the govt) and are guaranteed your job (or like job) to go back to.

  49. Serenity says...

    This series really makes me wish the US would catch up with the rest of the world!

    • YESSS! Agreed!

  50. Summer says...

    Oh, I love this. NZ has a special place in my heart – it’s where I got engaged! So funny, bc we’d drive for hours not seeing anyone, but as he was on bended knee, a truck drove by and started honking and cheering. :D All the people we met were amazing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is adorable, summer!

  51. lily says...

    Fluffies! We made them up here in Canada at the cafe I worked at – my boss had trained in NZ, because if you’re serious about the coffee industry, that’s the best place in the world to go for training hands down.

  52. We found out I’m pregnant with our first child a few weeks ago. (!!!)
    Immediately after reading this I tried casually asking my husband if he’s interested in moving to Auckland, and when he expressed that he’d rather not spontaneously move across the world and away from our families with a baby on the way, I gave him a few dirty glares. Oh hormones! Lol! 😂
    Seriously though, if he’d been in, I think I’d become a Kiwi in a heartbeat! NZ seems like a dreamy place to start a family!
    PS- I’ve been finding such comfort in old COJ posts on pregnancy! What a strange and beautiful time. Thank you! <3

    • Alice says...

      This is an excellent point. Through both pregnancies I’ve scoured these motherhood archives and they’ve given such comfort. I imagine many other expecting mothers have done/are doing the same.

      Just thought I’d beam the love and appreciation of such a wonderful resource your way, Jo!

    • I’m doing the same!
      Started reading CoJ back in my single days and watched Jo get married and have her kids, and now I search back through the annals for that knowledge as I’m embarking on my own first pregnancy. So fun!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so sweet!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this is so sweet :) congratulations!! xoxo

  53. Lia says...

    I love this series! Keep it coming :)

  54. Nadia says...

    Happiness is New Zealand currency exchange:)
    Many thanks to Katie and Cup of Jo for creating this story, so warm and inspiring
    Would like to call this place a Cup of Joy

    • Sarah says...

      Until you realise everything is 2-3x more expensive!

  55. Love this, of course! It’s my country, my home town. And I know it’s from the viewpoint of an American living in a different culture but I have to say, the barefoot thing is not the norm. Especially if my mother is in the vicinity! x

    • Rhonda says...

      Jane, you are so right!! Gosh my Mum would smack my bum if she saw me at the Supermarket without any shoes on!

    • KylieO says...

      I was thinking the same thing! I’m not in NZ, but here in Brisbane Qld, I cringe when I see people not wearing shoes in places like the supermarket. It’s only ok at the beach lol!

    • Sam says...

      I think these comments are funny and show where people spend most of their time. I have lived all over the world and all over New Zealand and every time I come home to NZ I am suprised to see kids and adults even in the middle of winter with bare feet! Sure this is probably not common in the three main cities but NZ is made up of thousands of small towns where this is acceptable – the same in Australian coastal towns but they are much warmer! The ground is pretty clean and it is great to connect to the earth so I dont think we need to be ashamed of it.

  56. Fiona says...

    I so enjoyed reading about my lovely city and country here on Cup of Jo! I am sitting at home in Auckland enjoying the first signs of Spring while awaiting the arrival of my first baby, due next week. Often I read these motherhood around the world posts and feel a little envious of the exotic locations in which people are raising their children and I think what an exciting experience that must be. But reading this lovely article highlights for me all that there is to be grateful for about my life here in quiet, small NZ. We are so fortunate in this country to have fantastic midwifery-focussed maternity care that allows a woman such autonomy over the experience of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, while also having the best of obstetric care available under our public health system – for FREE! Having said all that, it’s true that generally the cost of living is very high here and we have poverty and disadvantage just as much as any other developed country which is distressing. But I like to believe that in NZ the prevailing attitude is to aspire to equality for society as a whole. Thanks for this lovely perspective on my special home.

  57. Kim says...

    Errr….how can I get a job in NZ and live there? It looks absolutely magical!

  58. jen says...

    Thanks for sharing this, Katie. What a treat to get a glimpse of your family life in a beautiful looking country. Love the last photo of you and your daughter! The way your hand is placed and her hoodie makes everything look so cuddly :-)

  59. Maia says...

    NZ is so gorgeous. I’ve just come back from a week’s visit in Auckland and Wellington (my former home for a year on working holiday). I was approved for another work visa and this trip was to decide if I want to move back permanently. I’m from Seattle and now live in SF. Either way — go, visit, live. The beauty there is all around.

  60. I love that people go barefoot in public places! My midwife (in Canada) weighed my babies in a fabric sling and the scale wasn’t even digital.

  61. RS says...

    I’ll be honest. The first time I saw a video of a Haka, I was like, “What the heck is going on here?” Once I understood the concept, it was pretty cool to watch. New Zealand looks so gorgeous. I would love to go there someday! That said, the barefoot culture grosses me out. I am very adamant about always wearing shoes outdoors and about not wearing shoes indoors. The thought of walking through a grocery store or doctor’s office barefoot and then walking directly into my house makes me shudder!

    • Rhonda says...

      Totally RS!! But not to worry, people wear shoes here too :)

  62. New Zealand looks incredible place for a family. It has always been in my bucket list of places to visit, but this article makes me want to go now!
    I have been loving this series, and this one is equally as great.

    -Danni
    http://activehabitat.blogspot.com/

  63. Libbynan says...

    Thirty odd years ago my husband and I met a couple from New Zealand on a tour bus in Boston. My husband was in the LP gas business and the guy from NZ was an LP gas installations inspector so they had plenty to talk about and we spent the day together. We learned so much about NZ and have always wanted to go there. I love this story and it just reinforces my desire to visit someday. What a gorgeous place!

  64. Elly says...

    This made me want to move to New Zealand.

    • Aya says...

      Me too! A few sections in I was thinking, “ok…how do we make this happen.”

  65. Emma says...

    Ohhh this is making me homesick! I love this series

  66. Sarah says...

    My husband & I spent our honeymoon driving around the North Island in a rented camper van and it was glorious. I ended up being four months pregnant and wasn’t sure how I was going to like our plan, but the campgrounds were all so well maintained that we were super comfortable. We often talk about jumping at any opportunity to get back there.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds incredible!

  67. New Zealand is on the top of my travel list! Everything there looks so beautiful! I can’t wait to be able to visit one day!

    http://www.thebeautydojo.com

  68. cathy says...

    As a Kiwi, living in New Zealand’s capital Wellington and a follower of your blog since day dot, I was thrilled to see our incredible country finally make it onto this post. Come and visit. Yes it’s a long way but worth it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg i would LOVE to!

  69. Susie C says...

    I am not at a point in my life yet where I am even considering children, but all of the posts in this series give me serious thoughts about moving out of the country to raise my eventual family!

  70. Rebecca says...

    I love this series and this one was especially amazing. I have a lot of respect for places that embrace children. That picture with the free fruit! Can you imagine????

    • Inga says...

      This is common practice here in Portland to. Just go to New Seasons or even Fred Meyer’s😊

    • Nicole says...

      Our local Whole Foods does this as well (in NC)- it’s certainly a highlight for my son!

    • Inga says...

      This is common practice here in Portland, OR too. Just go to New Seasons or even Fred Meyer’s😊

    • Shirley says...

      Our Trader Joe’s also has free fruit for kids (suburbs of DC) but everything else, literally, everything else in this post made me so jealous of the super-kid friendly, less populous, beautiful, natural, and laid-back atmosphere of NZ!

    • Amy says...

      I’m in BC, Canada – and the lady at the deli counter at my chain grocery store has handed my kids a piece of ham the last three times we’ve stopped by! Never had this happen before, but my kids love it. Another store does cut up fruit (not whole), and another does cookies and then of course there’s Costco.

    • Rachel says...

      Our Smiths (Utah’s version of Fred Meyer) just started offering a basket of fruit. It’s great. I bet if you talked to the manager of your local grocery, you might find them amenable to the idea!

  71. Michelle says...

    Wow, it’s wonderful to hear in this series countries that are so friendly towards children, families and mothers. I have always had a draw to go to New Zealand. I think I need to start making that fantasy a reality soon.

  72. Ash says...

    I actually started tearing up reading the part where she talks about how her midwife is part of her family. This and the general acceptance, nay embracing, of family in public life is such a stark difference from the U.S.! It breaks my heart in many ways to be a mother here considering the many other countries who treat motherhood with honor.

  73. Katy says...

    I was hoping to hear about the cost of living aspect. I hear it’s incredibly expensive. But it sounds like paradise, I wouldn’t mind living there!

    • Betsy says...

      The cost of living is very high. Because it’s an island things are not cheap, there is a huge resale environment and much less waste which is nice! The salaries do not match the cost of living unfortunately and the average home price is $1 million in Auckland.

    • Rhonda says...

      Hi Katy – I live in Auckland and yes, the cost of living here is very high. Our average house prices are expected to exceed 1 million soon. However, that is the same in most large cities around the world. Other parts of New Zealand are more affordable. Having said that, compared to America, clothing, toys, shoes etc are more expensive.

    • Kendra says...

      I too was hoping to hear about the cost of living aspect. I’m from San Francisco – a city that is known for having one of the highest costs of living in the USA! When I went to visit Auckland for 3 weeks I was shocked at how expensive it was there. Food, beverages, clothes and electronics are much higher than SF. I could tell that Auckland is very family friendly and would be an incredible place to raise children. But am curious how families make the cost of living work. I see the draw to buy resale for clothes and electronics, but I was still in sticker shock every time I went to an Auckland grocery store or ordered lunch at a (simple) restaurant or cafe.

    • Not just clothing, toys etc … food and the essentials are also really expensive. So yeah, the high COL and low wages are an ouch.

  74. I’m a New Zealander and just want to say that was a very true depiction of life here. New Zealand’s not perfect, but almost. It is a fabulous place to live and raise a family. Thanks Katie for a very realistic look at life in New Zealand.

  75. Thank you! I’m a kiwi living in New Zealand and I’ve followed Cup Of Jo for over seven years. I loved this post, it was beautiful and so true! Come and visit!!

  76. Kate says...

    It seriously sounds so magical! What an incredible place to be a child, I am sure their memories as adults will seem like a storybook.

  77. Thank you! I’m a proud Kiwi and I live in New Zealand and have followed Cup of Jo for over seven years. This post is beautiful and it’s so true! Thank you!!

  78. I’m moving to New Zealand next month with my husband. We hope to start our family there! So, so excited after reading this post!

  79. I’m in Wellington, NZ. One of my sons is living in LA and the other one saving to go to Europe ‘for a few years’. Heh!

  80. Betsy says...

    It’s a nice summary of the wonderful things about Nz. Having lived there 5years and spent apt of time visiting as well I am familiar. It’s a wonderful place however nowhere is perfect so there are drawbacks. The expense to get home if a loved one gets sick or suddenly dies is huge and the pull to family (if you are close to them) is huge one. The best thing about NZ to me was the wonderful support they gave me when my two children were born. It is tough to acclimate and make new friends as it can be hard to break into groups. People are not as open and friendly as a generalization. Once you get to know them they are gorgeous but it can be lonely before you make friends, as in any place with about a million people (in Auckland). Also the weather…. Summer is lovely but the wet winter season is long and misty/windy. Houses don’t have heat so it’s definitely wet/cold. You are expected to “rug up”. The cost of living is huge and salaries do not match this. Go with a huge chunk of change. The average house price in Auckland is now $1 million NZD! It’s such a lovely place but everywhere has drawbacks! Thanks for the post!

  81. wow, so gorgeous. I always wanted to travel to the Australia and NZ but then got old and decided I hate flying across country so this was WAY too far but now I’m changing my mind. We saw Pete’s Dragon this weekend – filmed and New Zealand and wow…so gorgeous! I love how her daughter’s eyes are just like their dad’s. so pretty! I love the toy van. and that all the places are kid friendly. Our grocery store – Smith’s here in Utah run by Kroger – has fruit for kids like that too. they also give out cookies…you just walk behind the bakery counter and grab one. not just anyone they have a bin with the cookies for kids to take.

    • Rae says...

      Do come! You can fly direst from most major US cities in one go (only 11 hours from SF). And if you can, spend the dollars to fly via Air New Zealand (no conflict of interest, they are just the actual best). It’s our national carrier and they have the best customer service. If you hate flying, they will take great care of you. Stay with locals on AirBnB. Kiwis are typically so welcoming. The lingo can be strange (‘yeah nah’ means no & ‘nah yeah’ means yes), but we’re a good bunch. Come in late Jan to early Feb. School holidays are over and the summer weather is much more settled. Then on your way home, stop by Melbourne or Sydney. You could even do a mid-holiday jaunt to Fiji – all only 3 hour flights from Auckland on a big comfy plane.

  82. Lindsay Marie says...

    I want to move there now!

  83. Trisha says...

    Ugh this place looks so amazing. I am sitting here wishing I could move there now! I love this series! As a new mom, I always look forward to reading these! Thanks!

  84. Sally says...

    Where is that bach with the hot tub in the bush? I want to book that.

    • Katie says...

      Hi Sally, it really was great. I’d highly recommend –

      http://www.bushhut.co.nz/

  85. Claire says...

    I love this series so much! Has anyone on the COJ team heard from the family that was living in Istanbul, Turkey? Do we know if they are safe after the failed coup and subsequent repercussions of the government?

  86. Klara says...

    Wow, I’m super impressed by this country!

  87. Dawn says...

    New Zealand sounds like a dream! I’ve never seen the Haka performed in person, but it is fascinating to me. There was this video floating around awhile back of a Haka performed by a wedding party for a bride. I thought it was touching and quite beautiful!

    http://www.techinsider.io/maori-wedding-haka-dance-video-2016-1

    • At my primary school we learnt the Haka and did it every morning! I still remember it 30 years later. Maybe I’ll start the ritual again…

  88. I think it’s time to start looking for a job in New Zealand :)

  89. Lena Corwin says...

    the husband looks like Matthew Rhys :)

  90. Lisa says...

    Whoa. I had a colleague from NZ who moved back at the completion of training. It’s very, very easy to see why. I think I may have found our first long haul vacation for when the kids are a bit older!

  91. Emily R says...

    I visited NZ and was initially shocked by the barefoot nature – especially seeing kiwis in winter parkas, shorts and no shoes! And while I do really appreciate it MOST of the time – I don’t really want to see your feet when I’m in a restaurant. It is a fantastically laid back place with more beauty than I’ve ever seen.

  92. Looks like a wonderful place to take a kid on vacation (except for the long flight)!

  93. mosey says...

    I’m packing my bags!

  94. Karen says...

    I really enjoyed reading this. I spent a year year abroad there in college and it was amazing, one of the best years of my life!

  95. Lovely interview. I am a kiwi living in Boston and it made me miss home so much! The coffee and the fish n chips are unbeatable (also I never appreciated the scenery until I left and came back).

    Cheers!

  96. Love so! How does one get to live there?

    Joanna, could you do a post about these families that move out of their native country-how did they deal with the exit process: internally (am I being selfish?), socially and with family, and overall saying goodbye to a perfectly fine place that isn’t right for you?

    A big hurdle for me, I’m still in planning stages, but the anticipation of and actual handling of telling your mother that you love her but can’t live near her, and want to explore the world? Telling my family has been the hardest part, and I really want the experience of living abroad.

    Out of duty, I feel obligated to stay in America: for my aging parents, siblings all with young ones, and sister having twins in February who will need extra help. They say planes do go other places, but *some* are always shocked and wounded at that truth bomb.

    • Anna says...

      I moved away from home in 2006, when I was 23, to Australia. Literally the other side of the world! The main reason for my move was the need for independence, and Australia has really come through in that sense. I’ve built a life here that I couldn’t have had if I stayed home.

      I don’t think you should stay out of a sense of obligation. If you stay for other people, you’ll regret it and maybe resent them eventually. If this is something you really want, you can make it work! There is Skype, FaceTime, email, phones, and flights back and forth. In many ways your moving away opens the world up for them too.

      One thing you will need to think about is whether you would like to return or not. My husband and I are both transplants (he’s Italian; neither of us have any family here) and we each moved to Australia knowing we would never come home (at least to live) again. Because I came to Australia essentially on a one-way ticket I made sure I tied up loose ends and really planned for the future. You might not have a sense of what you want to do in the very long-term, but at least thinking of how long you want to be away for and what you want to achieve in your time away will help you frame your relationships and plan how you want to make your exit.

      If your worry is aging parents and small nephews and nieces, move now. Your parents will only ever get older, so it will get harder and harder to leave. Your nieces and nephews won’t remember you being away when they’re little, and seriously technology makes such a difference! My 3yo talks to her grandparents and godparents several times a week. I understand wanting to help your sister out, but don’t give up on your dream to do that! My best friends are scattered all over the world, which sucks most of the time but the upside is I always have someone to talk to, no matter the time of day. I have a newborn and it helps so much to be able to pick up the phone and call my US-based besties at 3am!!! Support doesn’t have to mean being there physically — I can pay for childcare, a cleaner, food delivery, etc but having my friends on call does wonders for my sanity.

      Good luck!!!

    • Maia says...

      How old are you Hannah, if you don’t mind me asking. There are working visa schemes for under ’30s that are very easy to get. While initially for one year, you can figure it out after that!

    • Rebecca says...

      Hi Hannah, coming off of almost 10 years abroad, my (unsolicited, of course) advice is if you feel like it’s the right decision for you, just take the plunge. During my time abroad my paternal grandparents, both my parents, and my maternal grandmother passed away. All except for my grandmother were sudden and with no warning at all. And of course, all would have still happened if I had been in the US or not. I’m so thankful that I made the right decision for me 10 years ago and sold my house, car, and all but three suitcases of my belongings and hit the road. It’s not for everyone, but if you feel like it’s what you need to do, make a solid plan and don’t look back. Head high and onward!

    • Caz says...

      Hi Hannah (if you see this)
      I moved to the other side of the world 4 years ago (from Australia to Scotland, then to Spain) and I would encourage anyone to give it a shot!

      It can be hard being away from family and friends (missed milestones, holidays, birthdays, childhood years of nieces and nephews) but ultimately you have to do what feels right for you personally and trust that your family and friends will love and support you, even if they’d prefer to have you closer to home. If they can’t support you making the best decisions for you, then that’s really their issue to work on.

      Technology and cheap flights mean it’s not as big of a disconnect as you may think. And hey, if you get there and don’t like it, you can always move back! I definitely think the expression “it’s better to regret the things you did, than the things you didn’t do” is very apt for this type of thing.

      Good luck! x

    • Rae says...

      Hi Hannah, the exit process all depends on where you live, and where you want to go. Some countries are easier to get into than others. It also depends a lot on what you will be dong to support yourself. For NZ and Britain, you can stay longer as a ‘skilled migrant’ which changes depending on the skill shortage.
      Also, the younger you are (I.e. The sooner you move) the easier it is. I understand wanting to stay for your parents and siblings, but you can’t put your life on hold forever. What would you say to your sister if she wanted to move? It’s not forever, and you can always fly home for a visit. I suggest biting the bullet and moving. If you hate it, you can always move back. But at least you won’t ever think ‘what if.’

    • Allison says...

      I took the plunge ten years ago as a single woman and only recently moved back to the US with a husband and two kids. My mother took it very hard when I left – I still remember her crying at the airport – but I do not regret it. Living in another country (I ended up living in Asia and Europe) is so incredibly eye opening and wonderful. It makes you appreciate different things in your life and you truly are able to gain some perspective on what matters (at least, it did for me) as you have to deal with different issues in an environment that can be really foreign. If you have the desire and the will (cause it won’t always be easy – visa applications, US taxes- argh), you should do it. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity and know with all my heart that my life is fuller for having done it. And, although the adjustment back has been tough – I am still very close to my family and they were able to get a few trips out of the deal too :)

    • Alice says...

      I have lived abroad, in Asia, for 11.5 years.

      I have two sisters, one in the U.K., (where I’m from) and the other has been in Australia for the last 17 years, and though my parents were sad to see me/another child go, they understood. My U.K. sister took it the hardest but even she came round to saying that if I didn’t go out and do the exploring I needed to, I wouldn’t be happy. And she was right. But she didn’t say this until two or three years after my departure: so I’d say allow time for people to adjust, to the idea and the reality. Let them know in advance and let them be sad and voice it when you call after you’ve left. And honestly: yes Facetime and Skype are great but they are not the same as shared physical experiences. Though long holidays helped build and sustain relationships, I will never get those early years I missed with my nephews.

      I’m heading back to the U.K. in October with 2 small children, a husband, and an incredible stash of adventure under my belt and actually it feels like a whole new country I’m moving to. I’m a different person than I was when I left, and I have/require a different lifestyle. I’m sad to leave Asia, but excited to try out being a parent in Edinburgh, which is a new city for me.

      There are many stages of life, I reckon, and you really need to follow your own heart during each stage, and put yourself where you need to be, to be happy. And one day that might be on the other side of the world, and sometime later that might be living near your sister. Or vice-versa. Who knows?!

      Wherever your journey takes you – may be it be amazing. I’m excited for you!

    • Louise says...

      Hi Hannah,

      This is my first CoJ comment despite being a reader for many years. I am from Australia, about to turn 31 and have lived in Vienna, Samoa, London and currently in Rwanda. I would definitely agree that you should take the plunge and do what’s right for you. I certainly miss friends and family and home, especially when someone is going through a tough time, but skype/facetime and whatsapp mean I am in contact with the people close to me as much as I would be at home. And with online shopping you can send gifts, flowers, cards, cheese hampers etc so you can let people know you’re thinking of them. What’s really special is that you’ll make new amazing friends wherever you move, and you’ll end up with friends all over the world – I never stay at hotels/airbnbs anymore because I have friends everywhere. You’ll also have friends and family come and visit – it’s so wonderful sharing your new life with them, and the amount of quality time you’ll have with them on a single 10 day trip is about a years’ worth of random meals and catch-ups at home I always think! It is especially hard being away from my mum, she herself moved away from her family (UK and Canada) to marry my dad, but she also loves travelling and understands. I have had so many incredible adventures and made so many amazing friends in the 5 odd years I’ve been away that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Good luck!

    • Thank you for the comments and advice! It’s really let me have some peace on the idea! (I’m 31 so just missed the visa schemes, it sounds like!)
      I love the comments on CupofJo-it’s such a great virtual community-I so appreciate it.

      XOXO,
      H

  97. Sarah says...

    Wow. I am just so jealous. This looks like my paradise! Thanks, Jo.

  98. Charlotte says...

    As a New Zealander living in Canada this post made me so homesick!

  99. Amy says...

    I’m moving. Loved this one!

  100. Sonia says...

    I love these posts! It’s so interesting to see what the norms are on other countries. I wish the US was as breastfeesing friendly as New Zealand.

  101. Naomi says...

    wow- so special! really makes me want to visit NZ. and makes me a bit discouraged that the US is not always as family friendly.
    great blog post as always!
    naomi :) xo-