One of the main reasons (that I hear) people offering up for moving to New Zealand is that they’re looking for a simpler lifestyle with a better work-life balance. New Zealand does a great job at providing employees with vacation time and encouraging them to take it (I believe that employees here are entitled to 4-5 weeks leave, and that employers can get in a spot of trouble if they deny their employees this time off – people who are more knowledgeable about this, correct me if I’m wrong).
It can be pretty appealing to hear about that when you’re working away in the States or in the UK – a country as beautiful as New Zealand, a simpler way of life, with guaranteed vacation days. Who wouldn’t want that?
We certainly love it. I have spoken often about how my current employer compares to my previous (US) employer. I loved the last hospital that I worked in the States. More specifically, I loved the people that I worked with: great manager, great fellow RNs and medics and CNAs and clerks, and great doctors. However, my NZ employer has them beat hands-down in the way that they support employees to maintain a healthy balance between working and family/vacation.
I’ve also written about Chris’ employer, just a tiny bit. I feel like they do a great job of encouraging family involvement by giving Chris the freedom to do things like meet us in the park for a picnic, providing adequate funding and research opportunities, and much more. I know that Chris appreciates it, too. Both of our employers were encouraging with taking parental leave once Joe was born. I remember feeling anxious about informing my manager about my pregnancy. I worried that she would see it as nothing more than, “Oh great – another employee is going to have to go on mat-leave and I’ll have to fill in her slot”. That wasn’t the case at all, and as a result, I felt a lot more loyalty and desire to work at that hospital.
We have had great experiences with our work-life balance in New Zealand. However, not everyone is so lucky. You can still find jobs and employers that expect you to devote 99% of your life to your work, or bosses who are less than encouraging about taking parental leave. Some friends arrive to their offices at 7am and aren’t able to leave till 9pm. Friends who feel that they can’t officially take a vacation, so they squeeze in quick weekend holidays. Friends who work 6 days a week, then continue to work once they get home.
So, yes, you can have a good work-life balance here, but be sure to be clear with your employer what their expectations are for your work commitment. It would stink to move here thinking you’ll have more free time, only to discover that it’s basically the same, just in a new country!