Kiwi life: From North Carolina, USA to Auckland, New Zealand

Kim and her husband Berno on top of The Mount.

Kim Kleinhans of Raleigh, North Carolina in the US finds NZ beautiful but expensive.

What inspired your move, and how long have you been here?

We had been talking about the move for years, just to have a new adventure. My husband had the opportunity to work remotely wherever he wanted and got a contract position with a company in Auckland to live in Papamoa.

What do you do here?

I am a stay-at-home mum. I have been a work-from-home mum and a student for the past nine years. Going to start looking for a job more seriously in the near future.

* Kiwi life: An American in Wellington
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Rainbow at rugby.

What surprised you most when you first arrived?

The difficulty in finding a rental property. The leasing agents really do not work for you the same way they do in the States. The cost and availability of decent housing is completely insane to me. And I really can’t wrap my mind around how anyone affords to buy a house.

What are the greatest advantages to living here?

On the drive from Wellington to Tauranga.

Not paying 25 per cent of my income to health insurance (after tax). Slower pace of life, beauty at every turn.


Lack of variety and less options. Far away from basically everywhere. Slower speed limits. Expensive.

Papamoa Hills.

How expensive do you find it compared to back home?

Housing is over double the price of my mortgage at home. Fuel is about triple. Food is maybe 20 per cent more. Going out as a family, even for an inexpensive meal is overpriced in my opinion, although I am cheap about taking a five, seven and nine-year-old out since they don’t eat. The gym is crazy expensive. I pay $10 a month for a great gym with weights and spin classes and a pool. Certain things are actually cheaper here… random things like toilet paper, bread and apples. Kids’ activities like gymnastics are about half the price they are in the States.

What do you do in your spare time?

Papamoa Beach.

Run and walk on the beach, climb pap hills, climb The Mount [Mount Maunganui], read.

What are your favourite NZ foods?

Does wine count as a food? Coffee?

Winter sunset.

How do you get around?

Car, walk and bike.

How do you find the shopping?

Pricier, but Kmart is awesome here compared to the Kmart in the States!

Favourite after-dark activity?

I’m a mum, do I have those? I have met some other mums to have a drink with occasionally.

What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?

See as much as possible! We have only been here three months so I love the views from the top of The Mount. When we came six years ago to visit, I loved the Coromandel (Hot Water Beach) and the South Island (Queenstown and Hokitika) was beautiful.

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?

Amazon. I am so used to ordering things online and getting them in two days. It’s actually been like going through withdrawal to have to go into stores to find what I need.

How easy is it for you to go home?

Expensive and a long trip, but do-able. Hoping to do a trip back next July or October school break.

If you could change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be?

To make it off the east coast of the USA.

Do you know an expat who has made New Zealand their home, email with Kiwi Life in the subject line.

– Stuff

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