My wife and I had always planned on living abroad and New Zealand was the frontrunner.
We’d lived our whole lives in Europe, so we were keen to try something new. We wanted an English-speaking environment and were drawn to New Zealand’s stunning nature, mild climate, safety, and the chance to live closer to the sea. Overall, it was about quality of life.
It took a few years to make the dream come true, but we made the move from Germany to Auckland in November 2019.
On the lookout
I’d always been keen to live here at some stage and I’d registered on LookSee New Zealand while I was completing my Master’s Degree. Within New Zealand, Auckland offers the vast majority of relevant jobs in my field, so it was the first choice. We also thought starting in a bigger city might make it easier.
As I couldn’t get enough points for a visa straight after leaving university, I worked for two years for a leading global tech supplier in Germany, then was offered a contract in the United States. I was keen to gain some international experience and was actually halfway through the US visa process when I received a job offer through a recruitment company in New Zealand. My wife and I jumped at the chance.
I’m now a Hardware Validation Engineer at Teknique, a tech company that provides software and hardware solutions for image processing.
Tech in Auckland – fast and flexible
Compared to Germany, the problem-solving process is much quicker and easier here. If a software tool can do the job better, we get it quickly. If a process isn’t working well, it gets updated to fit the requirements. I also do a lot more hands-on work, such as building prototypes for customers, and I’m involved in more than one project at the same time.
The work culture is definitely different. In Germany there’s a specific tool or specialist for every purpose, whereas in New Zealand more solutions are improvised, which means a lot of tasks are completed much more quickly. People are more relaxed in general and the hierarchies are less strict.
I was surprised at the smaller size of many companies in New Zealand. I worked in a company in Germany with around 400,000 employees – my last department was bigger than my entire current company. This helps New Zealand companies to be more flexible and react faster.
Surrounded by nature
We live in Campbells Bay, a seaside suburb on Auckland’s North Shore. It’s close to lovely beaches and parks, and to my work in Rosedale.
We love the proximity to nature all around Auckland. It’s great to get out of the city for hikes along the coastline or go to the beach after work. Our local beach is only a 10-minute walk from our flat and we also enjoy Muriwai on the west coast for surfing and Orewa for stand up paddle boarding. The beach life and all these outdoor activities are something we’d never be able to experience daily in Germany.
The food markets around the city are also great to explore, with all the choices of international cuisine, which we didn’t have to the same extent in Europe. It’s easier to enjoy fresh seasonal produce too, which is a nice change.
We’ve managed to visit lots of places in New Zealand, including Tauranga, Whangārei, Taupō and Rotorua in the North Island, all within a 3-4 hour drive from Auckland. Rotorua is our favorite so far, with its volcanic and cultural heritage and so many things to explore. We’re also planning a four-week round trip to the South Island.
Making the move
The visa process was a breeze for us; it only took two weeks to complete and we got updates at every step. It was very convenient compared to the visa process for the US. We also double-checked everything with a migration agent before handing in all the necessary documents. I was lucky to get the job offer before I left Germany, as it accelerated the visa process quite a bit. The biggest challenge was the long leave notice at my former company, as my New Zealand employer wanted me to start as soon as possible, but we made it happen.
Our move to Auckland was reasonably easy. We organised everything from Germany on the internet and we sold or left everything there – other than two suitcases. Shipping our things here would’ve been more expensive and it was an exciting experience to start all over again. We used Trade Me and other marketplace sites to furnish our apartment bit by bit.
When we first arrived, we had a nice homestay on the North Shore and then did housesitting in Ponsonby for three weeks, which gave us a great base to explore the inner city.
The unexpected arrival of COVID-19
The initial nationwide lockdown was quite challenging as we were still settling in and we feared our New Zealand adventure might be over. As it turned out, this was the best place to be. Many of my former colleagues have been working from home for many months and a lot of projects are postponed or cancelled.
We’re lucky to have the beach and a nice park right next door too, so we kept ourselves busy with lots of walks.
The last word
We do miss our family and friends and it does take time to learn how things work differently in New Zealand, such as getting a car registered or finding a flat, but most things can be easily done online in a few minutes.
My advice would be to check out all your visa options and get in contact with a recruitment company – New Zealand is way too interesting for just a short stay.
Fabian Winter moved to Auckland from the Stuttgart region in Germany in November 2019. He is a Hardware Validation Engineer at Teknique.
Like the rest of the world, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is adjusting to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our borders currently remain closed to anyone other than a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, those travelling from quarantine-free travel zones, or those granted a special exemption. Please visit our COVID-19 update for visitors and Aucklanders for the latest information.