I just got done reading yournew book. It is a worth sequel to your first book and I’ll likely post a review of it on my blog soon.
I live on the South Island in Christchurch. I’d like to offer some input on your book in relation to New Zealand. Feel free to post these comments, but please leave off my name for now.
As a background, I left the United States last December and relocated to New Zealand. The reasons are many and complex as you likely can relate. However I just didn’t like the overall direction of the United States and actually think the political situation is becoming less stable each year. My girlfriend is a Kiwi and I had been to the country and always liked it so I figured I’d give it a go.
Crime – Gangs are really not the issue that people think. Realize that crime in NZ is dramatically lower than most places in the U.S. for instance. The police here don’t even carry guns as a course of duty. So really most crime tends to get a lot of press because serious violent crime is just not common. With that said, there are some gangs usually involved with drugs, etc. If you are not involved with the drug trade chances of you running into gang problems are virtually nil, just like in the U.S. Random violent crime is not common but could happen from time to time if you are in the wrong place. You do have some problems with drunk teens in some places, but no worse than anywhere else on the planet. Overall, there are very few places in NZ that I’d be afraid to walk in at night. It’s a very safe country.
Culture – The culture of the South Island is very solid. After the big earthquake in 2011 in Christchurch for instance there was basically no looting, pillaging, etc. as some survivalists think would happen. The community came together and helped out. Buildings that were condemned after the quakes still had intact windows with shelves of inventory on them that nobody broke in to steal even a year after the fact. There were only some very small isolated issues and they were dealt with quickly and competently by the police.
I think what a lot of survivalists don’t recognize is that no man is an island. Living in a cabin in the woods does not mean you are safe, it may just mean you are easy to target. What you really want is to live in a community where everyone doesn’t turn into rabid predators at the first sign of trouble. In Christchurch we have that. In many American cities, you do not. The US culture in some places is very bad and this makes it a toxic mix in the event of serious trouble. I do not have that fear living in New Zealand. The culture here is not corrupt and very community minded.
Attitudes – Kiwis are very independent and don’t like hearing people whine. They have a saying here if you are whining: “Harden up!” This basically means stop complaining and get on with your job. Being somewhat isolated down here, they tend to be more self-reliant and not dependent on everyone else to keep things going. It’s a good attitude.
Electricity, Water and Food – Most electricity in NZ is renewable sources like hydro, wind, geothermal, etc. Water is plentiful. Agriculture is the major industry here so food is not a problem and it is all extremely high quality and tends to be organically produced. NZ exports a lot of food to China, Australia, US, and Europe. There is some oil production so in an emergency I believe there would be enough petrol supplies to keep critical industries running.
Immigration – NZ has tough immigration laws, but at the same time they don’t import a lot of poverty and crime like the U.S. which compounds the social problems. Immigration law violations are dealt with with deportation and banning of re-entry. Being surrounded by water makes it hard for troublemakers to enter the country and become a burden.
Healthcare – Like you said, it’s a mix of public and private insurance. The public side is pretty good, but if you want fast elective procedures you can get private insurance. It’s all very modern and competent service as you’d find in the U.S. Frankly, I think it’s better from what I’ve seen in terms of doctors and treatment.
Lawsuits – You can’t easily sue anyone in New Zealand. There is a national no fault insurance scheme and this makes the legal environment here much friendlier compared to the U.S., especially for starting and running a business. You don’t have to worry about petty lawsuits in the country as you do in America.
Firearms – Your section on firearms was pretty much spot on. Honestly, NZ probably has more lax firearms laws than some states in the US now. Hunting and sport shooting are very popular and many people own firearms. You can buy military style semi-autos with an A class license as long as they do not have a pistol grip and flash suppressor. Magazines would be limited to 7 rounds in that case. If you get the E class license you can basically buy any military style semi auto you want along with magazine. Suppressors here are also common and you can buy them over the counter. Lots of people hunt with suppressors for safety reasons. You can own pistols if you belong to a pistol club, but you must shoot a certain number of times a year to keep it current. Three gun competitions, IPSC, etc. are all done down here.
The basic gist of the gun laws are: 1) They want to make sure you aren’t a nut. 2) They want to make sure you aren’t a criminal. 3) They want to make sure you keep the firearms locked up against unauthorized access. Pretty much that’s it and I don’t have any real problems with their goals.
Hunting – Big game animals in NZ are all introduced species and considered pests. You can hunt here year round with no seasons and no limits in most cases. You can use firearms, bows, knives, bare hands, whatever. This is for deer, wapiti (elk), pigs, ducks, chamois, tahr, rabbits, possums, etc. World class hunting in many aspects.
South Island Cities – Nelson is a nice smaller city, but somewhat isolated up north. Christchurch did have an earthquake, but is rebuilding and is by far much bigger and closer to jobs, hospitals, universities, etc. if you need them. Dunedin is a nice smaller university town further south. Invercargill is a very small town at the southern tip of NZ and is also a nice small town if you want colder weather. Queenstown is a recreational area with world class skiing and summer activities. Many Australians come to Queenstown to ski.
North Island Cities – Auckland is a nice mid-size city. It has everything you’d expect to find in any city around the world along with world class sailing. I’ve not been to Wellington, but it is supposed to have a San Francisco vibe with the hills and winds. Some North Island cities tend to have higher rates of crime with larger Maori populations. But again, nothing like in the U.S.
Drugs – Meth (called P down here) tends to be the bad drug of choice in NZ and causes problems just as it does anywhere else. Underage drinking can be a problem, but again nothing worse than anywhere else.
Overall, I like NZ and feel the government isn’t at the extreme paranoia level of the U.S. Plus, being a small government, they don’t have the resources to go around causing trouble everywhere. And if they tried causing trouble, nobody would take them seriously because they don’t take themselves too seriously either. It’s a nice place to be.
Thanks again for the book, it was a great read.
Thank you so much for your kind words and for the information about New Zealand.
When I was about to publish my second book, “Bugging Out and Relocating”, I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to the standards set by my first one “The Modern Survival Manual:Surviving the Economic Collapse”. My first book was a big success and people clearly liked it a lot, and I wondered how people would receive my second one, being a topic that requires more analytic thinking, more about making hard decisions rather than day to day urban survival like the first book. A friend asked me if that was a concern I had, and it was, but at the same time “Bugging Out and Relocating” is a book I had to write because its what I ultimately did to overcome the economic collapse of Argentina. Its information others can put to good use in a worst case scenario and it complimented the first book well. “The Modern Survival Manual” was about living after an economic collapse, dealing with high levels of street crime, inflation, corruption and failing infrastructure. “Bugging Out and Relocating” is about getting the hell out of the when you just can’t stay any more.
New Zealand is clearly a great place to live. It does have those limitations I mentioned in my opinion, mostly earthquakes and being geographically far from USA and Europe (although that could be an advantage as well), but other than that there’s really not a lot to complain about New Zealand. The gang crime, and the bullying and discrimination in some schools, those I mention not because I believe them to be deal breaking problem, but so as to keep them in mind when narrowing down exactly where to live and which schools to send your children to. Of course, the type of family and lifestyle will be different as well. A couple with no kids wont have the same concerns as one with a teenage son that will probably go out more and hang out with friends.
Its good to hear that New Zealand is working so well for you. Once you research the country in detail you can see why so many people like it so much. One of my best friends has been living in Auckland for a few years now, had a son not that long ago and he’s not going anywhere.
Regarding immigration, NZ would be a very good example of things done right. NZ needs immigrants, and what they do is make sure they get the right kind. They have schemes for young people that want to travel on holidays and work there for a year. Young, honest, hardworking people make for fantastic immigrants. They work, pay their fees and don’t get sick often like older people do. If someone, like my friend, has a good experience working in New Zealand, finds a job and choses to stay there, they can do that too. Its not about banning immigration, but having immigration laws that make it harder or impossible for the least desired immigrants, but makes it easier for the ones you want. Criminals would of course be banned from entry, older people will have to bring with them a significant amount of investment money after a certain age, or have highly desirable skills, while young workers without children have it a bit easier for the reasons mentioned before (they contribute, but don’t demand that much financially).
New Zealand has great climate, excellent gun laws, and most of all, its very safe and has very little corruption. The issue of corruption is important in my opinion. I lived surrounded by corruption most of my life and know for a fact it contaminates and ruins everything.
Thanks for your email. As you read already I think New Zealand is a top choice for relocating. Some relocating “experts” will say its too expensive… I’m not rich yet I know that as the saying goes, you pay for what you get. Its never as truthful as it is regarding the place you live. If anything, New Zealand is a great bargain in my opinion. You have arguably one of the best qualities of life in the entire world yet the cost of living, while not cheap, is very reasonable.
As time goes by, after living there for another year or two, you will probably find some things you don’t like that much, or maybe the ones you already knew of will bug you a bit more. That’s normal, the “honeymoon” period during the first year is pretty normal, but beyond that no place is perfect. New Zealand has a lot going for it.
Take care and good luck!