Thursday, May 27, 2010

Easy living...

I've been thinking more about the cities on the liveable list.  When you look at the criteria I think what they're talking about is ease. And for me the older I get the more I want that easy life.

I'm not really an expat... how can you be when you live so close to home in a country about as similar to home as it gets?

So is Auckland liveable?? 

Yes, absolutely. We live in a lovely street in a lovely area with great cafes, shops and people. The schooling is excellent and free and if we wanted to pay for good schooling we would have had no trouble getting our son in. Work is down the road, the gym is round the corner. The health care is good. It's is easier than Sydney or Melbourne or London.

Kiwis seem more reserved than Australians - more like the English -  and are a little harder to get to know but they are really nice. People in banks bend the rules. I like that.

The climate's mild but if rain, damp and humidity were taken into account it would be in the bottom ten. It's really wet. Apart from this summer, thank goodness.

Transport too is useless. but we've mostly avoided that by living our life locally - the motorway is as bad as those in cities five times the size.

The shopping is okay but the Great Outdoors is truly Great.  And my kids love it.

How about Melbourne?

Melbourne is easy.  It's a real city but not too big. Good transport too.

It's not stunningly beautiful but it has nice pockets with their own distinct flavour and tribes. You find your own little space there and feel like you're the first to find it. You have great conversations about art, music, food and sport if that's what floats your boat. (I liked the food, the sport I ignored!)

People wear a fair bit of black and they are hip and cool.  Melbourne can be a bit up itself. In Melbourne they talk a bit too much about how good it is. My husband disagrees with me on this but he talks it up too.

It can be way too hot in summer and cold and drizzly in winter but overall I like it a lot. I didn't want to leave and I want to live there again.

So, Sydney?

A lot is written about how brash it is. That didn't worry me, I didn't notice it.  People don't wear a lot of clothes which can be a bit disturbing at first - eventually you too will wear thongs everywhere.

It's a bit rundown and despite the staggering wealth some of the street fronts and shops need a good scrub and a coat of paint - even in the wealthiest areas.  It's expensive.  The house prices make you want to gouge your eye out with a spoon and so does the constant discussion about it. 

They don't really have a cafe culture or great shopping strips but they don't seem to need it. Sydney has the beach. Coogee, Bronte, Bondi, Avalon, Manly and Palm Beach and even Balmoral. All stunning. Really stunning. And with the climate to match.

I like Sydney even more now that I don't live there.


London is fabulous but not easy. It's exhilarating but exhausting. I love a crowd and I loved feeling that I lived in the centre of everything.  I loved the work there and the Sunday papers. I liked the politics and the popular culture. A lot of great thinkers and writers and then people like Katie Price aka Jordan. Don't ask me why but I loved that. 

But when I think about the day to day of shopping, driving to work, dealing with bank tellers or anyone in the service industry, long winters and sick children, I think it probably deserves its place low on the list for expats.

It's still pretty close to the top on MY list.  I just want it to be a little closer to the grandparents.

(By the way, all complaints about gross generalisations will be published!)


  1. I'm also trying to figure out which city to live in. I'm only looking at NZ though. Your's sound much more interesting. We'd also like to be closer to family and are after a big town with the ability to live simply in a small community.

  2. I agree with all your 'generalisations' :)
    The only city I haven't been to on your list is Auckland. But I totally understand everything you've described. I think you should be a Lonely Planet writer Ann!
    And even though I'm a Sydney girl born and breed I am getting a bit sick of Sydney, more because of the absolutely stupid housing prices (there we go I had to mention it) and it's just busy to get anywhere.

    I want to go visit Auckland one day soon and see what you're new hometown is like :)

  3. Good post. Might stir up some interstate rivalry. I'm a country girl. I love that it takes me 3 mins to drive to work. I park my car in front of the same house everyday and it takes 7 mins to walk to my kids school (alone, 17 when the kids are with me.) I love escaping to Melbourne for some retail therapy, but you are right. Everyone wears black in the city.

  4. Love, love, love Sydney to live but love Auckland as I'm from there and love Melbourne for all the things it has that Sydney doesn't. But primarily Sydney's got the best weather!!

  5. Oh the DAMP in Auckland - it drove me insane when I lived there. I swear it drizzled for 3 months straight my first year there. And the transport was terrible too. For me, the best thing about Auckland was all the other places you could go from there - so many lovely places within 2 or 3 hours drive and 4.5 hrs to ski fields.

  6. Very interesting post. I lived for a long time in Sydney and hated it. It's a hard city when you're very poor! Melbourne was kinder to me. It's hard to put into words the difference, but Melbourne just has a little more 'depth'. And the state of Victoria has so many stunning spots..If I could, I would live in Gippsland forever! I've learnt so much about Auckland from you, it sounds like a wonderful city..Rachaelxx

  7. I loved this post. So beautifully written. And it reminded me of how lovely (and how terrifyingly expensive) some of these cities are! I've lived in 38 places in the last 25 years, including London, Paris, Denmark, Sydney, Brisbane, Noosa and my home town of Melbourne. London was wonderful (but it was the 1990s, before the city became the place is it today), and Sydney was fabulous for a year. But I think, deep down, I'm one of those die-hard Melburnians who thinks there's no place quite like home... Where else do people obsess about fashion like they do here? And coffee? And sport? And a few horses for a week in November? Melbourne is quiet, but it's gracious. Elegant. Understated. What's that old saying? Sydney is the mistress you leave Melbourne for? I think I'd rather be here, happily married, than chasing the glamour and sex in the Harbour City!! Janelle McCulloch


Thanks for taking the time to write, Ann x


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