Where to make it as an expat

Shandelle Battersby
Where to make it as an expat

The classic Kiwi rite-of-passage where you moved to London to flat with 25 other expats and exist on baked beans and lager is no longer the most likely way a New Zealander will experience living and working overseas.

The tech explosion coupled with globalisation, cheap airfares, and generally a greater awareness of the world means that there are endless opportunities for upping sticks to a new country whenever you fancy (visas permitting, of course).

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Career management specialist and transition coach Kaye Avery says working overseas on assignments or in international roles invariably exposes people to opportunities that they would not find in New Zealand.

“These are work roles that have a far greater level of complexity and scope requiring a broader perspective and level of capability.

“Returning to New Zealand from these roles was previously difficult because there was less scope here, however corporate New Zealand is now so much more connected globally that this capability and experience is often welcome.”

Career coach Allison Fisher agrees that working and living somewhere different provides new perspectives and broadens work experience.

“Employers see this type of experience as very positive and understand that as New Zealanders we like to have adventures and have new challenges.
“When staff take breaks to work elsewhere, many employers are keen to keep in contact so they can to bring experienced staff back into the fold when they return. Training personnel is costly and someone who knows the company and has an expertise in their field is invaluable,” she says.

So as a New Zealander with, theoretically, the world at your fingertips, where are some of the more interesting places to become a local? Here are a few options.



The Southeast Asian city-state has just topped HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer survey as best expatriate destination for the second year in a row, only just beating out New Zealand. More than 62 per cent of those surveyed say it was a good place to advance their careers.

Graphic designer Bessy Kim wanted to gain career experience in Asia, and chose Singapore because it is a hub for a lot of agencies and has great lifestyle and living standards.

“Being a metropolitan city, it has a great expat community and it’s easy to make new friends.

Workwise, she’s been able to work on multiple projects for businesses, government organisations and in the travel and retail sectors. “Singapore is a small country and the creative community is well connected so if you put in the work you can climb the career ladder quickly.”

Singapore-based respondents to the HSBC survey, which questioned 27,000 expats from 190 different countries and territories, said they were healthier living on the island; felt safe politically, economically and personally; the quality of education is high; and that their overall quality of life had improved.

Changi Airport is, of course, one of the major global hubs and the good news is that you’ll have plenty of money to spend on travelling the world, with the average wage sitting at $191,105 a year on average.

Plus, thanks to its many hawker centres, Singapore has some of the best — and cheapest — eating you’ll find anywhere in the world.



Sure there’s the easy access to the outdoors — which is beautiful all over this massive country — but the main reason that Canada’s largest city, Toronto, attracts so many immigrants is its reputation for tolerance.

One of the most diverse cities in the world, Toronto has aced the difficult task of somehow ensuring its multicultural population all gets along.

With 2.8 million people, Toronto is the fourth largest in North America by population and one of the most important financial centres in the world as well as being a primary centre of industry and technology.

Kiwi Kate Nichol moved to Toronto in May with no job lined up, but has found a rewarding customer support role in a company that provides professional training in design thinking and change management. She says she’s been encouraged to keep learning and taking on new projects on top of her day-to-day duties, and feels her work is more valued and recognised than in New Zealand.

Nichol says she looked at other Canadian cities but chose Toronto because it was more affordable and the weather is better than, say, Vancouver or Ottawa.

“It’s also well placed to travel in North America and the Caribbean, and flights are cheaper from Toronto than other Canadian cities,” she says.

“I also wanted something I couldn’t get at home, and Toronto offers a big city vibe without being overwhelming. I also love living in a multicultural city where each neighbourhood has a distinct personality.”
She has been surprised at how open and friendly the people are, and says it’s not uncommon to strike up a conversation with strangers on the train.

Workwise, Nichol has met a lot of people working in the tech industry, in web development and in the likes of digital marketing.

“I’ve noticed a big push in advertising for studying in the tech industry here, it’s a huge market. There’s also a lot of people working in the film industry.”

As well as furthering her career, Nichol has lots of travel on the agenda.

“I’ve planned trips to Chicago and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico later this year. I’m hoping to travel large parts of North America, specifically the south of the States, the northeast, the west coast, central America and the Caribbean. Cuba and Mexico are two bucket list places I’m excited to explore!”

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