One of the best things about being a Kiwi living in Australia is the food. But, not the carrots. Not the milk either, or the lamb. And if we’re being brutally honest, not the cheese, not the apples, and not the spuds. Really, the best thing is the restaurant food. Actually, it’s not so much the restaurant food, as the choice of restaurant. In fact, the best thing about being a Kiwi living in Australia is not so much the choice of places to eat, rather than the ability to choose.
And that ability to choose directly comes down to the cold hard fact that you probably received $2000AUD wages in your hot little hand this week rather than $800NZ. That your power bill for one month was $80AUD rather than $250NZ. That your $400AUD rent was 25% of your weekly wage rather than 50%.
A fellow kiwi expat and I were talking about this issue the other day. This is part of the conversation:
Roger: “My missus and I never used to go out when we lived in Enzed – ever.”
Me: “No, we didn’t either.”
Roger: “We go out a lot, now.”
Me: “It’s so great ay?”
Roger: “Yeah and now we even choose which restaurant. No stink smorgasbords for us.”
Me: “It feels like we’re sort of part of society ay?”
Roger: “Pity the seafood is crap.”
In 2011, Roger and I both dragged our families across the ditch from our beloved New Zealand for employment – and a better wage for our labour. We’d never travelled on an OE, so this was also an adventure.
Some will argue that we could have made sacrifices to remain in NZ. For example, by not being made redundant; by showing our ‘stuff’ and beating the other 1500 applicants to be offered our dream job; by saving money and enjoying ‘free’ entertainment e.g.. scrabble at home rather than the cinema; by walking 83km to the beach rather than taking the car; by eliminating luxuries (meat).
Most NZ families have forgotten they have the right to participate in modern life by expecting a decent weekly wage. A holiday. A movie. A trip to the beach. A meal out. They forget until they move somewhere like Australia – like we did.
Then they find out the best thing about being a Kiwi living and working in Australia is not just the ability to choose which restaurant you take your family to once a week; the best thing is simply being a part of life.
Still, Roger’s holding out hope that a job opens up in NZ with comparable wages, and that the crays and carrots are still waiting when he returns home. Me too.