What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
There is very little in the USA that is not available in New Zealand now (mid-2002). One could say that you miss certain ethnic food from the USA...but then bring along a good cookbook and make it yourself from scratch.
DO NOT, repeat DO NOT bring USA- electrical appliances.
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Go into town (Warkworth) and just walk the streets. There are 5 or 6 major real estate offices there, and they have hndreds of postings for the entire region.
Go to the "Information Centre" (every town has one) and get a good local map. Just drive around and find an area that suits you.
If you see a property that is posted by an agent, you can call that number. However, if you aren't afraid to do so, just go up to the door and ask the owners if they are willing to sell directly to you. Then bargain...politely. Everyone saves on that kind of deal...well except the agent doesn't get a fee!
Watch out for the direction of and exposure to the wind. And that is true anywhere in New Zealand! The storms off the ocean can be really severe and can last for days.
An easy way to see what the wind is doing, is to look at the trees and vegetation in exposed areas or along ridge lines. If everything is leaning over, you can be assured you will be too come May or June!
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We now own a home in Snells Beach. It is a wood-frame house and has four bedrooms. Our house is typical of almost all the house in our community.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
We chose to rent a furnished house in a beach-side community (aren't most of them anyway?). We drove around New Zealand for seven weeks and found a spot we liked. We bought a local newspaper and looked at about 10 houses from the rental ads and chose one in Snells Beach. That is 10 kms from Warkworth, which in turn is about one hour north of Auckland.
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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
The housing costs are hard to guage against what we were use to in the USA...or elswhere. Kiwi houses are not as well insulated, nor heated as in the USA. Construction standards/techniques are different but the more modern house (less than 15 years old) are as good as anywhere in the world.
We live in an exceptionally beautiful area and there is no way we could ever afford to buy a similar house in say California at 5 times the price.
An average, well constructed, 3-4 bedroom house in our community costs about US$125,00