Tania Davidson, New Zealand

Who are you?

My name is Tania Davidson.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I’m a licensed /registered Clinical Psychologist from Ventura California, and I moved to New Zealand March 29, 2021. New Zealand, like California, has everything I love: beautiful open spaces, sailing, backpacking, mountains, and a temperate climate, but less of the things I abhor: greed, selfishness, overpopulation, and runaway overdevelopment.

Healthcare is better, mental health is better funded, and the culture is kinder. These are things I came for. Things had become so ugly in the US and in my beloved California that it was time, and given my age, it was my last opportunity to do so, if I was ever going to go and work abroad. New Zealand has an age limit, and I was right on that line.

What challenges did you face during the move?

I faced many challenges; the first was getting past the Registration Board to have them accept my California credentials. Interestingly, my credentials weren’t questioned. It was details like how my passport was notarised that I was asked to repeat in various ways that became maddening. Next was beating the time barrier. There is an age limit in New Zealand, and I was right next to it!

A recruiter, who had taken me on the previous year, had unceremoniously dumped me with a vague email (“after much consideration…”) – I am sure this was because of my age. I managed to get my immigration papers processing within five days of the birthday that would close the door forever to working/living in New Zealand (over 55). Not over yet!

Then, Covid-19 made getting a spot in managed isolation extremely difficult. Even as an essential healthcare worker, I needed to get the government agency who hired me to write an extra appeal letter to MIQ to get me a spot.

Just every day challenges were getting my dog here (still in process!) and my stuff shipped (ditto), banking, and cultural differences. I am a woman who is solo, and that presents its own challenges anywhere.

How did you find somewhere to live?

I had to hire a relocation coordination service (I was strongly advised to do so) to help with finding a place to live, and it’s good I did. Housing (renting) is at a premium, and when I showed up to look at places to rent, there was a small crowd. But I showed up with my coordinator, who talked me up. It helped a lot, because I had no history here to give landlords.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There are some other expats I work with, but from other countries. I know some US expats that are reasonably close, within driving distance, and professional colleagues.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

I think I have a great relationship so far with my community, Titahi Bay and Porirua. I just love it!!

What do you like about life where you are?

What I like is that I am right next to the ocean again, like I was. The people talk to each other, are a tight little community, and are, for the most part, accepting. It is beautiful. I can hike gorgeous trails by the beach or through forests.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Right now, I dislike isolation. I am very, very alone and lonely.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest cultural difference is the difficulty the kiwis have with frank talk. They are averse to anything that seems like conflict, even if it isn’t.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Be sure you can afford it. It’s very expensive, and you can’t get many of the medications you had in your home country here. You need to be able to do your own hunting for things.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to stay here, if I am allowed, and eventually do private practice, own my own home, get a sailboat again, sail, and hopefully meet a partner and have a life!