Is New Zealand all hype?

March 9, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

First of all, thanks for all the well-wishes for my speedy recovery. I’m feeling much better today, no doubt due to this exotic root that my ladies have been giving me. I haven’t asked what it is yet, but rest assured I will be traveling with it from now on.

Since I’m still a bit groggy from my illness, though, I thought today would be the perfect time to introduce you to a colleague of mine who has kindly offered to pen a few words in my stead.

To give you a bit of background, Mark is a friend and sometimes business partner who has been traveling the world in search of a new home.  He’s traveled extensively in Latin America and Asia, and has been living in New Zealand for about 5-months to get a feel for the place.

Below are some of his recent insights from that country:

When Simon approached me to write a piece on New Zealand I was a bit surprised.

I’m just a regular guy… sort of.  Like Simon, I’m a serial entrepreneur.   I’ve pretty much always worked for myself.  I don’t have a family, but I am married.  Unlike Simon, there are no topless Peruvian sunbathers in my life…  My ‘work’, if you can call it that, allows me to travel wherever a cell phone and laptop can find a signal.

Nowadays that’s pretty much anywhere and everywhere, so New Zealand seemed a reasonably ‘safe’ bet for me.  Plus I had wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.  It’s a safe, clean, green and under-populated country where one can reconnect with nature and man’s inner spirit… and I think it lives up to its marketing hype.

So what makes New Zealand a place worth considering for an American or European expat?

Let’s start by looking at what was important to me, since my values are probably not that much different than most people, and see how New Zealand stacks up.  I’ll list my Top 10 ‘criteria’, in no particular order:

1.    Geo-politically and physically ‘Remote’
2.    Abundant and reasonably priced lifestyle type properties
3.    Plenty of water.  Ocean, lakes, rivers…
4.    Reasonable annual sunshine hours
5.    Clean environment
6.    Educated, English speaking population
7.    Safe, clean and readily available organic food
8.    Physical safety and the rule of law
9.    Fair taxation
10.    Accessible, high-quality health care

I can tell you that New Zealand checks all the boxes, with the exception of fair taxation; New Zealand is NOT a tax haven.  I believe the only ‘fair’ taxation is no taxation, but you won’t find that here, or anywhere.  Like most first world countries, taxation in New Zealand can get complicated.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not… but if it’s wide open spaces, beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, mirror perfect lakes, roaring rivers, quaint towns, empty roads, great food, cheap property (if you know where to look) and an educated, English speaking population that you seek… look no further.

I’ve been traveling the world, in a modest way, for the better part of the last few years.  I’m an American, so of course I started off in Canada, worked my way down to Panama (where I met Simon and continue to do business), Ecuador, Peru (an organic banana business gone wrong), Uruguay (where I enjoy residency), Argentina, over to Viet Nam (where I was involved with the first Vietnamese company to list its shares publicly in the US), and now New Zealand.

I’ve been here for almost 5 months, and it’s been phenomenal. While it doesn’t tick all the boxes, I’m sure that I’ll continue to live here on a part time basis unless/until I reach the point of becoming an ‘involuntary tax resident.’

Simon again. If you’re interested in hearing more from Mark about New Zealand, let me know by dropping a comment, and I will ask him to write something more customized based on your requests.