It’s a fundamental part of our decision, but somehow I’ve managed to overlook articulating it, even to myself. As I’ve said many times before, the thought of the impending move regularly weaves itself into my consciousness. From putting away laundry (“will I need all these tank tops?”), to losing myself down the mental pit of attempts at organizational strategy for the kids’ room (“If we just moved that over there, and got storage bins for these… Uggh, what’s the point? We’ll be gone in a year.”), I seem always to be thinking about it in one form or another. And I regularly have snippets of imaginary conversations with people, in particular, family members who I imagine will react strongly to learning about our impending move, justifying our decision. And there’s a point that I hadn’t yet made to myself or others, even though it was part of the very early stages of my husband’s and my discussion about leaving. Because we’ve been talking about this, dreaming about it for so long, and because it was only relatively recently (relative to when these plans were forming years ago, as early as our courting years) that we decided on New Zealand as the destination, I’ve failed to recall something so basic in our conversation. And it’s as simple as this:
New Zealand (and Australia) makes it easy for already practicing doctors, and particularly ones who have passed their board exams, to acquire the necessary licences to practice there.
We didn’t set out to move to New Zealand. As I’ve written before, we have a desire to travel the world, to leave behind us the disturbing political and societal trends we see growing here in the States, to seek out a progressive, liberal, even socialized country where we can have a good quality of life, where my husband will not have to work obscene hours that keep him from his family.
New Zealand was not really even on our radar until the last few years. If countries in Europe made it easy for U.S. doctors to relocate there, we could easily be headed to Spain. It has enviable weather for most of the year, many of our respective favorite European cities are there or are close by, it is not too terribly far from family, work hours are generally lower than here in the states, they know how to embrace the body’s need for a nap, we’d be able to travel around to the great cities in Europe and Africa pretty easily, we both have a basic use of Spanish, etc. There are a lot of reasons why we might’ve come to see Spain as our next home.
But Europe indeed does make it difficult for expat doctors, just as the U.S. makes it difficult for doctors to come from abroad. It’s probable that if we moved anywhere in Europe or the U.K., my husband would have to redo his residency. And that is a stage of our life that we’re very happy is behind us.
So then we kept looking, widening the scope, and that’s when we thought of Australia. However, the cost of living there is still fairly high. And while they make it easier for U.S. doctors than Europe and the U.K., there are still quite a few hoops to jump through, exams to take, etc. New Zealand makes it easy. They want skilled migrants. They want physicians, likely because kiwi doctors might be lured away to places like the U.S., where doctors who work in private practices can make obscenely large salaries. Why are we moving away from the opportunity to make a lot of money, to a place where doctors’ salaries are scaled based on years out of residency? (I think this is how it works.) Well, because my husband doesn’t want to work in a private practice, never has wanted that. The hours are long and he would have to work part of the time in the role of a small business owner, worrying about paying employees, billing patients, collecting from insurance companies, etc. So in fact, my husband isn’t taking that much of a pay cut, and in return he’s going to be getting hours a day of his life back, to spend doing the things he loves, like playing with his family, or going on runs.
So to answer a question, “Why New Zealand?” That’s why.