My next thought was “now that would be a good business idea” but of course there aren’t the customers and everyone brings their chilly bin (coolbox) to the beach, with their own lunch or barbecue and are certainly not looking for shops that sell buckets and spades.
These are the types of things that struck us at first. As for our daughter, who could not pass a gift shop or candyfloss stall in England, without pleading with us to buy something, she suffered ‘withdrawal symptoms’ at first. Now a trip to the beach is uncomplicated and cheap.
Hiking (tramping) is very popular, with many wonderful walking tracks set in magnificent scenery, particularly in the South Island. Camping facilities, Backpacker and Youth Hostels ensure that everyone can afford access to some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Provided you aren’t too fussy about the accommodation you could stay in some fabulous locations, really cheaply, and explore mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, hot pools, and lush green bush.
During the winter months skiing is very popular. Many ardent skiers belong to clubs that are only an hour or so drive away and they can sleep in cabins for the weekends.
There is no “National Health” system to cover items such as spectacles and dentures and these have to be paid for in full. To enable you to make comparisons, a pair of glasses, with plastic lenses, including eye test would cost $250 - $300. A full set of dentures would set you back $550.00.
An appointment with the doctor will cost you in the region of $25.00 and you pay for prescriptions. Whilst private medical insurance is not essential, you will wait a long time for non urgent operations in the public hospitals. Visits to the doctor are now free for the under fives. This is long overdue, as many childhood complaints, such as glue ear, often go unchecked, resulting in a disproportionate amount of adult deafness. Children over the age of five, and adults, all have to pay.
There is a community services card available to lower paid workers. By producing this card at the doctors, or when collecting prescriptions, the bearer is entitled to a discount.
Orthodontic treatment has to be paid for and ‘braces’ are the exception rather than the norm. It is difficult to say how much it would cost as treatment varies from patient to patient, but a reasonable estimate is in the region of $3,500.
Dental treatment has to be paid for from age eighteen, even if you are still in full time education. A check up with x-rays will cost you from $70 to $110 and you will pay from $80 to $150 for a white filling. New Zealanders have a love of sweet, sugar filled foods and bad teeth are noticeable.
There is no ‘family allowance’ although there is entitlement to family support income for the lowest paid workers and a Domestic Purposes Benefit for solo parents. As a rough guide (at the time of writing) a solo parent on very low income with two children would be entitled to $256.00 a week. Remember all amounts quoted are in NZ dollars.
$50,000 - $60,000 p.a. is considered a good wage for middle management and an unskilled man might expect a salary in the region of $22,000 - $26,000
You can take advantage of a lovely quality of life, with plenty of free outdoor activities but to survive well, in New Zealand on a modest salary, you need to get into the Kiwi way of life. With apologies to any New Zealanders who may be reading this, I will attempt to define the New Zealand way of doing things.
It must be understood that my impressions are generalisations. But from my observations, comparing the lifestyles of those in the middle income bracket (skilled tradesmen, teachers and the like) to those in the UK, I have noticed some marked differences, at least things that have struck me enough, for me to comment upon them.
The first thing I would say is that New Zealanders do not appear to spend money unnecessarily. Money is not that easy to come by, and they do not waste it. They are encouraged to work and save from an early age and will go to great lengths to save a dollar.