The Big Move from Manila to Wellington: One Year After

One year in Wellington, New Zealand. Officially last 14 December 2016.

It’s been an easy and smooth transition… Thanks to my sister who helped me settle and also to new friends and community I’ve met along the way. And of course to God for the grace He has given me. I couldn’t have done this without Him.

It’s been hard as well… Being out of my comfort zone, away from my family and closest friends. Learning and adapting to the Kiwi culture. Starting all over again.

One year in Wellington, New Zealand. But I’m starting to dislike it.

  • The city can be too small. With a population of *only* 496,000 in the Wellington region, that’s even less than the population of Las Pinas City (the sub-urb where I lived in Metro Manila), which has 588,894 according to the 2015 concensus. I get to bump into the same people, I always see familiar faces, same network / business contacts in the industry, very few “large” companies but more small companies instead – what could be classified as “micro-enterprises” in Europe / US.
  • The city can become too quiet. Stores and shopping areas close early (like 5:30pm on a weekday) except for restaurants and pubs. During the Christmas – New Year holidays, most shops are also closed. That’s why as much as possible, we’d like to be out of the city during the holidays. Not all the huge brands are available as well. So if you’re into shopping in malls, don’t expect a lot.
  • The city has a high-cost of living. Petrol most especially in Wellington! (though I don’t drive a car, but still!). Imported goods, groceries, toiletries, food, and travel are expensive. Since NZ is far from everywhere, travel to other countries is quite steep, maybe except to Australia and the Pacific Islands. Services are also pricey that’s why I hardly treat myself to these things–clothing alterations, salon treatments, spa services and such.
  • The city can be shaken by earthquakes. With the recent numerous shakes, a lot of buildings in the CBD have been cordoned off due to fears that they could collapse. Others have begun demolition. This makes me fearful of strong earthquakes happening in on a busy week daytime. Praying that this scenario won’t ever happen.
  • The city is too windy for me. As in bites-to-the-bones wind chill. Up to now, I haven’t accepted this reality. I still complain about it. What should I do?!
  • It has lower quality of houses.  Though rentals are regulated by the government, older houses are poorly insulated, amongst other faults. It’s rare to find centralised heating or double glazed windows in houses.
  • Slow development. Wellington has admitted it cannot build new homes fast enough to solve its current housing shortage. Not just houses actually. Not much developments on shopping centres, high-rise buildings, and new communities.
  • Few historical buildings. If you come to look for beautiful, historical structures, you’d hardly see any of it compared to, let’s say, Europe. Since NZ is a young country, Europeans only started settling here in the nineteenth century (before that, the Maori people had built wooden buildings).
  • Public transport around the country can be difficult. If you want to explore NZ, it might be necessary to drive your own car or rent a car. Yes, there are trains, but no nationwide rail network. There are buses but varied in reliability. (I have yet to try it).
  • Other reasons I’ll just keep to myself. 😉

One year in Wellington, New Zealand. Yet I’m still here.

As I’m listing these things down, I got convicted that I should stop complaining! How could I not be grateful and content that I live in such a beautiful city and country?! I should find things that I should be thankful for instead.

  • The population may be small (in Wellington) but it’s uncrowded. I don’t really need to worry about traffic and pollution. No one’s elbowing each other out of the way in malls, streets, or public transport. And since it’s small, I can easily go from one place to another–sometimes just by walking. I can leisurely walk around the CBD to visit my clients instead of taking the bus or Uber. The beach is near (Oriental Bay is walking distance from my office), the hills / mountains are also near (you can hike up Mt. Vic after work).  For such small city (and country), it has amazing landscapes! And because of these, I get to do the things I love to do: hike, travel, and take photos (without the touristy crowd). You’d have to agree with me that the scenery is beautiful, right? 🙂
  • The city may become too quiet but at least it’s generally peaceful. I feel secure and safe around the neighbourhood (obviously there is still crime but in most places you’ll be okay!).  It also means that we have a relaxed lifestyle. People don’t expect too much, so there is definitely work-life balance. NZ society seems to be egalitarian as well. There is little or no talk of ‘class’, no need for fancy clothes and cars to impress or have a say in life; people here aren’t so obsessed with appearances and that’s very refreshing.
  • High taxes and cost of living? Well at least I know and FEEL where my taxes are going. The highways, national parks, healthcare system, etc. are well-managed and maintained. It’s very environment-friendly and forward-thinking. New Zealand was ranked fourth on the 2015 Corruptions Perceptions Index (of course, you can never get zero corruption but overall it’s low). And okay, even if it can be expensive, it has world-class food: lamb, beef, wines, cheeses, seafood. The city’s café culture is great too!
  • It is multi-cultural. Most people have European and Maori descent, but there’s also a lot of Asian and Pacific Island immigrants and many cultures are quite evident. It doesn’t seem to be as racist as other countries. My friends here are not only Filipinos or Kiwis but also from other nationalities. I have a good church community and support group coming from different backgrounds as well. I love that I’m learning a lot from them.
  • I’m finally doing something that I love to do in my current job in Wellington, something that I see myself doing in the future. I’m getting a lot of new ideas and learnings in my field.

I have been placed in Wellington in this season.

So what am I ranting about? Why am I restless here? Should I move? God has placed me in Wellington in this season. There’s a lot to be thankful for. I just have to continue to learn to trust in Him.

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11–12)

So wherever place or city or circumstance God has placed me, the secret is summed up in this phrase: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5). 🙂


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