I just got an e-mail from a Frenchman who is considering moving to New Zealand to work as a software developer, to see if I would mind answering some questions of his. I'm happy to do this ... if anybody reading this is considering moving to New Zealand or wants to know more about the culture / jobs down here, leave a comment on this post and I'll try and make a FAQ out of it.
The questions have started coming in, so here we go! My answers will be based on living in Christchurch, because that's all I have experience with. I'll attempt to give nationwide info when I can find it, though.
Dwight Shih asks: What's the broadband availability in NZ?
You can get what we call broadband in most places in NZ. You might be disappointed compared to what you can get elsewhere, though. At home I have a 128K DSL connection, capped at 10 Gb/month, and it costs me NZ$60 per month through paradise.net and NZ Telecom. NZ$60 is about US$35. This isn't available everywhere.
A tempting alternative is Woosh Wireless's 250K Everyday Unlimited plan. The website doesn't tell you how many gigabytes you can download before they cut you off, but I'm guessing maybe 3-5 Gb/month would be considered "reasonable".
TelstraClear has various high speed cable plans, but these are only available in certain places in Christchurch and Wellington. I'm in Christchurch, but there's no cable in my street.
You can get faster (> 1 Mbit) connections, but they get pretty expensive. TelstraClear's $150.90/month 10Mbit / 10 Gb plan seems quite reasonable. Telecom's JetStream equivalent costs > $500 for this, I think.
A reader asks: I heard immigration is next to impossible in NZ... is that true?
I don't know how hard it is in other countries, so I'm afraid that I can't make a fair comparison. There are a whole bunch of immigrants in my division at work (several from England and Scotland, one from Korea, and one from India) and it seems like they needed to jump through a few hoops to get in here, but they did get in in the end :-)
Here are some details on working in New Zealand from the NZIS. It looks like software developers would be best to apply to "work to residence" under the Priority Occupations List Work Policy. There are a bunch of software-related jobs in the Occupational Shortages List. Pretty much all software skills are officially in demand, so as long as you are under 55 years old, have a Batchelor's degree in CS or engineering and have at least three years of experience, you have a chance.
To get your residence, you need to find a job in one of the Priority Occupations that lasts at least 2 years and pays at least NZ$45,000 per year. Once you get that, you can apply for your work permit. I assume that getting the permit and subsequently getting residence (after you've been here for a couple of years) is pretty easy from then on, as long as you don't mind yelling at immigration officials every now and then.
Robert Barksdale asks: What types of public transportation are available? Do you need personal transportation to get around?
I'd say that you definitely need personal transportation. Christchurch has a bus system, but pretty much everyone who can afford it has a car. Everyone at my work [everyone without any vision impairment, that is] drives. Some cycle as well, on fine days. When I was a student, there were lots of people who used buses for everything, though. You'll meet the occasional person who cycles exclusively.
I get the impression that it's more important to have a car in Christchurch and Auckland than Wellington or Dunedin.
- Auckland has a bus system.
- Wellington has buses and trains.
- Christchurch has buses.
I think other cities have bus systems, but can't find any info online.