Tag: Auckland

21 Important Life Lessons I Learnt At 21 (As A Recent Graduate)

Looking out over Auckland from Rangitoto Island, New Zealand

At 21, I was a bright eyed and bushy tailed recent graduate who was ready to take on real life and a full time job in the ‘adult world’. But as it turned out, the ‘adult world’ was equally ready to squash me and my naïve soul flat into the ground.

Here are 21 things no adult ever tells you about breaking into ‘their’ world:

 

1. Getting qualifications doesn’t equal a good job

I don’t know why this always comes as a shock to us recent graduates, but studying for years and finally getting your qualifications does not guarantee you a great full time job afterwards. Somehow we expect employers to be fighting over us as soon as we cross the graduation line but that is usually not the case. If anything, we are fighting to get just one call back, or get noticed at all.

2. You may be unemployed for quite a while

Congratulations, you have graduated! If you’re part of the majority of people who don’t have a company taking them on prior to graduation, trying to find a full-time job is now your new full-time job. And it’s not going to be easy. Prepare to spend a lot of time sending out C.Vs and E-mails and a lot of time of waiting for one reply.

3. Connections are more important than you think

Everyone says that the best way to get a job is through connections and they’re probably right. Employers are much more likely to hire you if they know about you already from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. So sift through your contacts and ask around if anyone knows someone that’s hiring.

4. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is

When a job description sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Exercise caution when job hunting!

5. Minimum wage is still your pay

I know you studied all of those years so you don’t have to earn minimum wage anymore, but the truth is that most employers will still only pay you minimum wage at the start. You have to show your ‘worthiness’ to the company to finally get a pay raise and even then, you may have to fight for it.

6. People will use your age against you

In two completely different job interviews for completely different positions, I was basically told that I was too young for it. I mean, what was I supposed to with that? Was I supposed to go away and gulp down an ageing potion like the Weasley twins?

Sure, they probably wanted people with more ‘experience’, but there could definitely be older people who lacked the right experience that they were looking for too. No need to blame age for it.

7. All they want is experience

One of the most frustrating things about job hunting was that everyone wanted ‘experience’ from you. How was any recent grad supposed to have one or two years work experience prior to the job? The best you can do is apply for and/or work internships whilst studying but sometimes that isn’t even enough ‘experience’ to satisfy them.

8. A lot of bosses are not good leaders

I think this image pretty much sums it up:

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9. Given the chance, people will take advantage of you

Since you’re the young rookie at work, people will dump extra jobs on you that you will take on because you don’t know any better. They will also keep you in the dark as long as possible about the higher wage that you should actually be getting paid but are not – because you don’t know any better.

10. The work force can be full of sad, angry adults

One thing you have to remember in life is that the way someone treats you is a reflection of their character, not yours. With my stint in full-time work, I came across a lot of sad and angry adults.

These adults were stuck in a job that they’d been too long at, stuck somewhere where they’d never envisaged themselves being. They hated the job and they hated themselves for not getting themselves out of it, which lead to this hate being released on other people – mainly the staff that worked under them, including me.

11. Sexism is very much alive and well

This comes as no surprise to most women, but sexism is still rampant in workplaces. The boss would shout at me from the other side of the office to make his tea and other drinks and personally deliver them to him, as if he couldn’t do it himself (what was this, the 1950s?!).

He would also go around the young women of the office and massage their shoulders every morning (yes, it was as gross and as creepy as it sounds). So let me state this: no man or woman anywhere should be touching any other person without consent and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is ANYONE allowed to touch you without your permission – especially not disgusting, misogynistic bosses older than your dad.

12. Workplace gossip can be ruthless

I thought I had left all of this petty gossip and backstabbing behind in high school but boy, was I wrong. The majority of the staff gossiped about the other members of staff like you would not believe. Especially if new staff members started, the more ‘experienced’ staff would relay all of the mistakes they had made, laugh about it and even rate who was best at the job so far.

13. No, you haven’t left high school behind – or kindergarten

I was also shocked to find that some of the people (high up in the hierarchy) sometimes acted like children in the workplace by shouting, throwing tantrums and picking favourites among the staff. They acted like children but they were so much worse because kids don’t know any better, but these fully grown adults most definitely did.

14. Not being able to trust your workmates is bad…really bad

Since there was so much gossiping and backstabbing going on, I had trust issues with the other staff. I couldn’t sincerely trust any of them because I never knew if they were relaying things I did or said to the other staff. This was a problem because I started to get paranoid and read too much into what they were saying – or not saying.

15. Some people will not treat you like a real person

Some people that are older than you and higher up the food chain will cease to treat you like a real person. One manager I had would use shame tactics when she told off new members of staff. Instead of taking me aside and telling me one-on-one what mistake I had made, she shamed me in front of all of the staff members and humiliated me. There is a vital difference between constructive criticism and point blank insulting.

16. Hypocrisy and double standards are everywhere

This was the last straw for me in my last job. I always try and stand for equality and fairness in all situations, but I didn’t find that in this workplace, at all. There would be a lot of things that managers told us never to do, and then we’d turn around and they would be the ones doing it – with no punishment, of course.

There was also shocking double standards where I would do something that I’d get told off for, and then another more favoured staff member would do exactly the same thing and not one word would be said.

17. No one wants to be the scapegoat

At one of my jobs there were a lot of situations I was deeply unhappy with. No one spoke up about any of it and no one tried to change it. Everyone avoided confrontation because no one wanted to be the scapegoat. Was this the way adults acted in ‘professional’ environments? Were we supposed to just put up with this all day, everyday? In the end I couldn’t take it anymore and I was so sick of staying silent…so I confronted (and quit the next day).

18. Make sure you know all of your rights as an employee

This one is really important. Before you even begin a new job, make sure you know all of your rights as an employee. Make sure you know your employee rights according to what country you’re in and make sure you read through your new job’s Employment Contract properly before you sign. You should be allowed to take it home and look over it without any pressure to sign it right away. And make sure you GET an Employment Contract too! (I worked at a law firm and I was’t even given one – this is against the law, ironically enough. I used this fact against them in the bitter end).

19. You are allowed to say NO

I know you’re at your new job and you want to be setting a good impression to everyone, but just remember that you are always allowed to say NO. You are not Jim Carrey in Yes Man – if you’re already swamped out with too much work, you can refuse to take on more work an older colleague is trying to dump on you.

You can also say no to jobs in interviews – there is no job that you have to take, no matter how much the employer is trying to pressure you into it. You’ve always got the power (cue ‘I’ve got the power’ scene from Bruce Almighty).

20. Never ever ignore your gut instinct

After the first training day at one of my jobs, I already knew deep in my gut that I didn’t want to take the job, but I did anyway. I still wish I could go back and undo that decision. Your gut always knows best, so don’t ignore it.

21. Your own happiness and health is much more important than a ‘great’ job

If the worst comes to worst and your job is badly affecting your health and state of mind (like mine was) – QUIT IT NOW. It was the best decision I ever made. Although it may not seem like it, there are a lot of other jobs out there and no job is worth trading your health or happiness for. This is precious time in your life that you’re never getting back – make sure it’s worth it.

 

To all recent graduates:

To all recent graduates, or anyone for that matter, I just want you to remember that you all have a choice. You always have a choice. Do not let other people or what you are ‘expected’ to do ever get in your way.

When you’re choosing a job, take your time and be careful. Ask questions, always. Challenge ideas that you think are wrong, no matter who’s ideas they are. Don’t stay silent and let it crush you, like it crushed me.

I wish I’d never had to experience these awful jobs, but I know that I learned a lot of important lessons from them. People write about relationships and heartbreak all the time, but no one ever talks about how a job can break you.

We’re all taught the tired old mantra of superheroes saving the day since we’re little and we believe it, to an extent. But in real life, sometimes there’s no one there to realise you’re in trouble. You can be in too deep for anyone to hear your cries for help.

Sometimes, you have to be your own hero.

Finally free!

Has anyone else been through/going through this at the moment?

Do you have any other things to add to the list?


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Amy’s Art: The Day 100 Show 2014

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On October 25th last year, I attended the opening night of The Day 100 Show, and what a night it was!

The final exhibition of The 100 Days Project was held at four venues last year including Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne and IJsselstein in the Netherlands. Over 2,000 people from 17 different countries participated in the project and although I was at the biggest 100 Day Show which was in Auckland, the works exhibited there represented less than ten percent of all projects.

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Emma Rogan doing her opening speech

“The Project goes on for too long to be just fun. It really does become work.” – Emma Rogan, creator of The 100 Days Project

The Auckland show was held at the Thievery Studios on K’ Road and although it wasn’t such a big venue, 100 Day artwork covered every available wall space, nook and cranny. The opening night was PACKED with people – and I mean the I-can’t-even-move-or-breathe-because-there’s-so-many-people-in-here sort of packed.

There was free pizza, soft drinks and wine handed out by Emma’s team and it really was the perfect way to celebrate the end of 100 days of everyone’s art, creativity and pure determination. There were so many amazing and thoughtful works made out of all sorts of materials by people from all walks of life – just to look through them all was inspiring.

Here are some of my favourite projects from The 100 Day Show:

(I apologise for not knowing the artists’ names to credit their work!)

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One of my favourite projects to follow throughout the 100 Days was the one above, which was made by design graduates who showed their frustration at not being able to find full-time work. As I was also a recent grad last year, I could completely relate to their trails and tribulations.

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My favourite quote from their project

 

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I wasn’t able to complete my 100 drawings, but I got my project shown on the projector screen at the exhibition.

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The 100 Day Show poster

What I really love about the idea of The 100 Days Project is that anyone can participate. You don’t have to be a professional, you don’t even have to know much about art, all you have to do is create.


So, did you like the show? Will you also be giving The 100 Days Project a go this year?


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Amy’s Art: The 100 Days Project 2014

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I participated in The 100 Days Project from July to October last year and to be quite honest, it was a bit of a creative breakthrough for me.

The 100 Days Project was created by Emma Rogan (from New Zealand, yay!) and it is a project that anyone, anywhere, any age, can participate in. There are only two rules:

1. You will repeat a simple creative task every day for the duration.
2. You will record each days effort.

The project is wonderfully simple, yet deceptively challenging.

Some people took a photo every day for 100 days, some people wrote a poem, some people did yoga poses; each project was as different as each individual taking part. I decided to do what I love best – draw.

I’d read about people who had done the project the previous year and the advice everyone gave was the same: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (K.I.S.S!). With this in mind, I decided I would keep my theme wide open, and draw whatever inspired me at the time. I drew and painted my pictures on size A5 paper and at the start it was going really well…until it wasn’t anymore.

I had an awful full-time job at the time which had ridiculously long hours and I was hardly ever home, let alone with enough time to draw. But I knew that would be the case when I started the project – I’d already accepted that. What I hadn’t accepted was that an A5 drawing/painting a day for 100 days was actually too much, it wasn’t simple at all!

In the end, even though I wasn’t able to reach Day 100, I did get to exhibit my work at the final 100 Day Show. Despite juggling my job and my art, I was so proud of myself for just trying to make my art a priority, for once. That and seeing my work at the final exhibition, on show for everyone to see – now  that was an awesome feeling of achievement.

Here are my top favourites from my 100 Days Project 2014:

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Day 1 – Cool Dog

 

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Day 5 – Hair Bow

 

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Day 8 – Fear & Loathing

 

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Day 9 – Wings

 

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Day 11 – Three Toed Sloth

 

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Day 16 – Salmon Cat

 

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Day 19 – Pegasus

 

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Day 48 – Salt & Pepper

 

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Day 49 – Taco Puppy

 

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Day 54 – Edo

 

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Day 55 – Rose Rabbit

 

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I felt so relieved once the project was over. It was so much harder than you’d think it would be.

But don’t worry, this won’t be the last you’ll see of me. I am coming back with a vengeance for this year’s 100 Days Project – I am determined to finish it once and for all!

On a side note, if you need inspiration for gifts, I made Christmas presents for my family by getting some of my drawings printed onto t-shirts and they loved them! (I got one for myself too, naturally).

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Cool Dog T-shirt

If you want to know more about the project and its inception, here is Emma Rogan (the creator of The 100 Days Project) talking about it at a TEDx conference in Auckland. It’s a really good watch!


So, which was your favourite out of my drawings? Will you be participating in this year’s 100 Days Project too?


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Auckland: My Favourite Places

Living in Auckland for a year allowed me to explore the city and find cosy little niches that I came to call my own – so here are just a few of my favourite places!

Hector’s Dolphin mural, Wynyard Quarter

Chawlas Indian Restaurant 

My Schnucki and I love eating Indian cuisine (especially Butter Chicken with Cheese Naan!) and we traveled far and wide to dine at various Indian restaurants around Auckland, but Chawlas on Wellesley Street West was the only one we kept going back to. Their $12 NZD lunch combo which included a curry, rice, naan and drink was the best deal you could ever hope to come across, and it tasted damn good too. You know you go to a place often when the staff recognises you and asks if you’d like ‘the usual’!

Wynyard Quarter

Wynyard Quarter is a new area out by the waterfront filled with trendy bars, cafes and restaurants and it was a favourite place of mine to go on lazy Sundays and warm summer evenings. I loved the atmosphere overlooking the harbour and the modern designs of the shops and buildings. It is the perfect spot to just wander around and soak up the salt air and good vibes. Wynyard Quarter was also where I discovered the best pizza I have eaten in Auckland at The Conservatory – yes, it was even better than the famous Sal’s Pizza!

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Margarita Pizza, The Conservatory

Parnell

My favourite suburb in Auckland by far was the quirky but quaint Parnell. Just a few minutes bus ride from the city and you can get away from the cold concrete jungle to Parnell Road which was bursting with colours and character. I adored it’s cobblestone back alleys and all of the art galleries – oh, the art galleries! Every third shop was a gallery featuring local or international artwork and they were all chock full of inspiration and awesomeness.

KiwiYo

Until I came to Auckland, I was not aware of the phenomenon that was self serve frozen yoghurt, but now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. KiwiYo was the first frozen yoghurt I tried and I have never looked back since. What, in life, could be better than serving your own frozen yoghurt flavours and toppings to your heart’s content? NOTHING. This is as good as life gets!

KiwiYo Self Serve Frozen Yoghurt

The Shelf

If any of my friends or relatives were in town, The Shelf on High Street was my ‘go to’ cafe to take them to – it would just never disappoint! The brunch menu was amazing (try the Eggs Benedict!) but what I loved most was the drinks; especially The Shelf Iced Chocolate which came with milk, chocolate sauce and ice separately so you could mix up the drink yourself. Their range of specialty summer drinks in mason jars were super good too. I am so thirsty for The Shelf right now.

Moustache

If The Shelf was my favourite cafe, Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar on Wellesley Street West came at a close second. I loved places that dared to be a little bit different and Moustache was definitely that. It was the tiniest shop you could imagine but the cookies that were made there were to die for. It was the perfect place for an afternoon sweet treat and my favourites were the cookie and ice cream sandwich (yes, that exists) and the cookies and cream milkshake. Yum!

Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar

Mentatz Ramen

If you have not tried Japanese ramen before, man, you are missing out! Any ramen lover knows that it is vital to have a local ramen joint where you can get your noodle fix, and for us that was Mentatz on Lorne Street. Specialising in Tonkotsu Ramen, this was the closest you could get to the flavour of Japan whilst still being in Auckland. Other special mentions of favourite Japanese restaurants goes to Tanto and Renkon who both did ama-zing katsu chicken on rice. Seriously, just go there already.

Devonport

When we wanted to get away from the big city life, Devonport was the place to go. Just a 12 minute ferry ride from the city and we could be transported worlds away to this quiet and beautiful seaside village. Everything went at a slower pace there and it was the perfect place for a summer stroll or a movie at The Vic. A Devonport must-do is to climb (or drive) up Mt Victoria during the day or night to get a picture perfect 360 degree view of Auckland, Rangitoto Island and the Gulf. This was probably my favourite view point in all of Auckland!

Looking out over Rangitoto Island from Mt Victoria, Devonport

The Mexican Cafe

Whenever we would crave Mexican food, The Mexican Cafe on Victoria Street West was where we would go. Their $10 NZD lunch menu was as delicious as the price they sold them at. If you ever go there, go with the burrito – SO GOOD. Did I also mention that every meal comes with free corn chips and salsa? They can do no wrong.

The Cloud

The Cloud on Queen’s Wharf is a temporary event centre shaped like, you guessed it, a cloud! It was my absolute favourite place to unwind and relax within the city with a Valentino’s gelato in my hand. The best spot to sit was at the front of The Cloud under the colourful umbrellas overlooking the harbour, where I could watch people fishing and quietly contemplate about life. When that got tiresome, we would go into The Cloud where they had all sorts of games set up like a big chess board, table tennis, badminton and big jenga. Hours of fun!

The Cloud, Queen’s Wharf

Auckland Art Gallery

I judge a city based on how good their art gallery is, and the Auckland Art Gallery does not disappoint! The modern entrance of the building is spectacular and I just adore the art collections they have inside; the historical New Zealand art in particular. My favourite room would have to be the chamber filled with international historical art, which are all mounted in ornate golden frames on walls of the prettiest raspberry-smoothie sort of colour. This place is a must-see for all art lovers – it is just simply divine!

Museum

Last but not least, I loved going to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the surrounding Auckland Domain. The museum is on a hill surrounded by huge playing fields, gardens and bush and it has lovely walking tracks and a great view. The museum building itself is beautiful and the contents are IMMENSE. Prepare to spend most of your afternoon there because there are so many amazing sections and things to look at! I would definitely recommend going here if you have limited time in Auckland but want to see something good. (Plus, New Zealanders get in for free!)

Auckland War Memorial Museum

 


Did you enjoy my favourite places in Auckland?

Are there any you’ve been to or want to go and see for yourself?


 

Auckland: Why You Should NOT Live In The Central City

We have been living in central Auckland (New Zealand’s biggest city) for the past year now and looking back in hindsight, I don’t think I would do it again – here’s why.

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Auckland City from the Fuller’s ferry

Expensive Living

I already knew that Auckland was among the world’s most expensive cities, but I guess I didn’t realise the full extent of that statement until I was actually living here myself.

My Schnucki and I have been living in a one bedroom apartment (it is literally just one bedroom with a toilet and balcony attached) right in the city centre and it costs us $300 NZD per week to live here (try converting that into your own currency!). That price doesn’t even cover internet, electricity or water bills which we have to pay separately per month. I really want to cry at how much money has gone out of the window at renting this apartment the past year.

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I really feel ya, Dean.

And don’t even get me started on grocery shopping. I’m a New Zealander and yet the price of basic products at the supermarket never fail to astound me. I go in there to buy about one or two days worth of food and I always come out having spent at least $60 NZD, or more. I just don’t understand how milk, cheese and butter can be so expensive when we are the main producers of this stuff. Why, New Zealand, why?

Noisy Neighbourhood

Obviously any city centre has a lot of people and you can expect a lot of noise, but it really is noisy all the time here.

Sometimes it’s not even worth keeping the window open on a hot Summer’s night because the street noise from below will just keep me awake anyway. And it doesn’t help that we live next to the Worst Neighbours In The World. Seriously, we have a psychopath living next door. We had to call the police on him once and we’ve been more than  tempted to again many times since.

More Opportunities?

I moved up to Auckland from Christchurch with the naïve thought that ‘a bigger city = bigger opportunities’ and we would both be able to get jobs quickly and easily. It turns out that this was not the case for us. My Schnucki struggled to land a job for months with his working holiday visa and I had to provide for both of us during that time at the worst job I have ever worked at. It was not a fun time.

A big city means a lot of jobs…but also a lot of competition. I definitely found out the reality of this fact the hard way.

Air conditioners, anyone?

I don’t know what it is about Auckland, but it seems like air conditioners never made it here. We don’t have any sort of heating (or cooling) facility in our apartment, which makes it chilly in winter and stifling hot in summer. It’s not just us though – my friend living in the North Shore told me her HOUSE doesn’t have any air conditioner or heater either and that is just too weird. Step up your A.C act, Auckland!

Auckland Lantern Festival, Albert Park

Of course, living in Auckland central is not all boo and hoo – it definitely has had its perks too. (Now I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!)


Walking Distance

The biggest perk of living in the centre of everything, is that everything is close to you.

Everywhere is in walking distance and when big events are on in the city, you can be there in the front row without ever having to worry about where to park or enduring any over crowded public transport to get there (SO good!). Work was in walking distance too, though I would opt for the 4 minute bus ride instead, because yes, I am that lazy and I would rather pay 90 cents to bus each way than walking 20 minutes.

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Winter is coming…or not

When the rest of the country was suffering through the mid-Winter blizzards, we were bracing ourselves for the blast too…which never came. Okay, well, there was one week where it really felt like Winter (the week my family came up to visit haha) but after that, nothing.

It was just one really long-and-balmy-sort-of-Autumn-like time and  then it was all over. I never had to put on more than two layers…which was GREAT! When Aucklanders would complain about how cold it was, I would scoff, “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”

No Bug Heaven

This one may be a small perk to some people, but it’s a big one to me. The whole time I’ve been in Auckland, I have not seen one spider, anywhere. Not just spiders, but no moths, flies, ants or any other sort of creepy crawly has ever set one foot or wing into our apartment, as far as I know.

We can leave the balcony door open all night, with the light on, and no unwelcome visitors will come in. This is a stark contrast with my house in Christchurch where we get all of the above even with the lights out and all of the doors and windows shut tight.

Good Transport

I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with the Auckland transport, thus far. Buses and trains are frequent and come on time (pick up your act, Christchurch buses!), and the Airport Bus which runs 24/7 is particularly handy for those flights at godforsaken hours. When you sign up for the free transport card called the HOP Card, it allows you to travel on any Auckland transport (even ferries) at discounted prices.

The really nice thing about the city is that if you take a 12 minute ferry ride to Devonport, or a 10-15 minute bus ride to Mission Bay, St. Helier’s Bay or the North Shore, you can feel worlds away from the fast-paced and noisy city centre. It’s a great escape for when you’ve had enough of living in the central city, like me.

Mission Bay looking out towards Rangitoto Island

All in all, living in Auckland central has been an interesting experience and if you are planning to live here, I strongly recommend living in the suburbs outside the CBD, rather than the CBD itself. Places like Mt. Eden, Mt. Roskill, Parnell and the North Shore are all good recommendations. Also, avoid Queen Street at night (or in general) if you know what’s good for you!


Is anyone planning to live in Auckland/already is? Let me know how it’s going for you!