‘No worries’ for Swiss family in New Zealand

Eva Hefti at Smugglers Bay, which is only reachable on foot. zVg

Even though she’d never been there before, Eva Hefti took the chance and moved with her family to New Zealand. 

swissinfo.ch (interview conducted by email)

Her husband had found a job there which, due to the shorter working hours, allows him to spend more time with his family. It’s the pleasant climate, the 39-year-old from Bern loves most about New Zealand.

swissinfo.ch: When and why did you leave Switzerland?

Eva Hefti: In June 2017, my husband Tom, our three boys and I flew with a one-way ticket to New Zealand, a country where we had never been before. Tom had wanted to go abroad for a while to broaden his professional horizon, and as our twins were no longer babies, I could also imagine leaving Switzerland for a while. 

It was a coincidence that we ended up in New Zealand. I had read a blog post about a family who had moved there, and I felt inspired. When I started looking into options, I found out that my husband’s profession was very much sought after over here. He started his job search in Switzerland and it only took him three months to get a work contract. Six months later, we were on our way to New Zealand. 

swissinfo.ch: Was it a trip of no return, or are you planning to go back to Switzerland in the future?

E.H.: We are planning to stay here for about two years and then go back to Switzerland.

The family lives in Whangarei. zVg

swissinfo.ch: What’s your job? How is it going?

E.H.: I don’t have a paid job, I spend most of my time with our children. However, together with some of my friends, I am still working on our online family magazine Kleinstadt.ch which helps me find a good balance. As opposed to my initial worry that working in a team would be difficult across 12 time zones, it’s absolutely doable. 

swissinfo.ch: Where are you living and what’s life like there?

E.H.: We live on the North Island in the small town of Whangarei, the capital of Northland. It’s about 2 ½ hours north of Auckland. We can get everything we need here, but compared to Bern, the cultural scene (museums, exhibitions, etc.) as well as the selection of high quality products is much smaller. Our everyday life is not that different from Switzerland, apart from the fact that my husband’s working hours are much shorter. This enables us to spend more time together and go to the beach or venture out into nature.

Waiting for high tide at Waipu Cove Beach. zVg

swissinfo.ch: What do you prefer in New Zealand over Switzerland?

E.H.: We really like the vastness and the empty beautiful beaches as well as the pleasant climate. The mentality of the people is generally more relaxed than in Switzerland. ‘No worries’ is a typical Kiwi saying. The low population density, the lack of public transport and the remoteness are probably the biggest differences to Switzerland.

High tide: In Rangiputa on the Karikari peninsula. zVg

swissinfo.ch: How do you view Switzerland from afar?

E.H.: I have realized that due to our high level of wealth, our lives are very privileged. By the same token, I also think the Swiss are often too perfectionist and that some things could also be done with less effort. 

swissinfo.ch: Do you sometimes feel like a stranger, or are you well integrated?

E.H.: Although I speak English fluently, I have noticed that especially deep and meaningful conversations are not as easy for me as in my mother tongue, which I find sometimes inhibiting.

And even though we have made friends, it’s somewhat different to spend time with people who have only known you for a short period of time.

Often children in this part of New Zealand don't wear shoes when they go to school. zVg

swissinfo.ch: What do you like most about your everyday life abroad?

E.H.: The fact that I don’t need winter clothes; that the sun shines most of the time; that we can go to the sea whenever we feel like it; and that our children are able to learn a new culture and another language.

Driving on the beach is allowed in many parts of the country, like here in Shipwreck Bay. zVg

swissinfo.ch: Do you take part in Swiss elections and popular votes?

E.H.: Yes, I participate in most elections and votes via E-voting. 

swissinfo.ch: What do you miss most about Switzerland?

E.H.: The well-developed public transport system, good bread and of course our family and friends.

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