The Pros and Cons to Working life in Wellington vs London
People often ask me, Whats it like working in NZ compared to London? And, this is quite difficult to answer in a simple way. However, there are some real similarities and also some distinct differences (including but not limited to the New Zealander’s unfaltering dedication to doing the daily quiz!)
This post will be a little breakdown of the comparisons between my work life in Wellington vs London and hopefully give some personal insight for those making the move and wondering what the work environment is like here in New Zealand.
I have been in the office workplace for the past 3 years since graduating my MA, so I will be talking mainly about this kind of work culture.
OK, lets have a little look at the main things I have noticed about working life since I relocated to the opposite side of the planet:
Working in Wellington + Working in London – A Comparison
Getting the job
Getting a job in anywhere in the world is of course really subjective and kind of about both your skill set and a bit of luck. BUT, in my humble experience, getting the job in Wellington has been easier than getting the job in London.
Having the government here in Wellington helped as it brings a huge range of different types of jobs that come up regularly and fitted with my skills and experience. Interesting to note that although the UK government is of course in London, it doesn’t seem to provide the ease of opportunity that it does in Wellington.
Another factor for ease of getting the job may be that many people move away from NZ, whereas a lot of people move to London, and I think this means that the competition is much less and therefore your likelihood of nailing the job in NZ could be higher.
Non of this is scientific of course but I think there is merit in this. My partner works in construction and there is nowhere near enough people here in Wellington to fill those jobs, so the likelihood of getting the job in that field is much greater than other cities.
If you are here because you are hoping to score a job in Wellington before you have a visa, I am afraid I am not the greatest port of call for this, however I hope to interview expats soon who have been through this process so do subscribe over in the sidebar for updates on that.
It goes without saying that London has a great deal of different types of industries that are world class and doing huge and incredible things. If you want a high flying career and to be the best of the best then, of course, London has much more opportunity for this.
But that is not to say Wellington doesn’t have job opportunities. You can still excel here, and perhaps be able to get into a field you would not be able to back in your home country due to the amount of competition. So perhaps Wellington is a good place to get on that ladder you always wanted to be on.
In London, I found that the hours were very rigid in the office environment. You arrived on time and left on time everyday, or you were judged. In Wellington, its is different, they have a flexible working hours system. This means that as long as you are working your 40 hour week, you can choose roughly which times you start and finish. You are also able to take longer lunch breaks, work from home and be a bit more flexible with your time.
The actual working week is similar, but I felt in London, like I was working a lot more somehow. I think the rigidity of it made it feel a little more strained.
This doesn’t even bode comparing really. I currently walk to work in Wellington and it takes 20 minutes. This is an absolute dream and my ideal situation. Many people take the bus, and the longest bus within Wellington ride to work would be about 30 minutes and most have it shorter than this.
In London, if you are taking the train/tube, you can look at commuting for up to an hour depending on where you live and work. Even cycling can take nearly 45 minutes and it is through heavy traffic, so more dangerous.
Of course, some people probably have a lovely easy commute in London but they are lucky! A typical Wellington commute can include mountainous views, the harbor, the sunset and much more. Admittedly, sometimes you are battling with extreme rain and weather conditions but at least you can get out in the fresh air. I’d rather that than be sitting on the tube any day of the week.
Also worth noting, many people drive to work in Wellington, if they life further a field, and this can work well but the traffic can be hectic if you are doing this. It is much better to get the train and the trains run pretty regularly during peak hours from Wellington to the greater Wellington area.
This is hard to compare. If I were comparing London with Melbourne, I would say, without a doubt, that you get paid more in Australia. In Wellington it is slightly different, because if you are on a minimum wage job in both cities, you will not be earning a lot, similar to London.
In London, the minimum wage is 7.50, and the living wage is 9.15. In Wellington the minimum wage is $15.50. So either way, this is not a lot (In Australia, you earn a lot more in minimum wage jobs)
However, for me personally, I earn more in Wellington than I did in London. This maybe as I am further ahead in terms of my career, but I think generally, you can earn more in Wellington than in London. I am able to save here, which is one great bonus.
Work Life Balance
This very much relates back to the hours section above and for me, this is a no brainier: the work life balance in Wellington is far better than in London. The hours are shorter, the commute is shorter and the atmosphere is generally more relaxed. People value their leisure time as well as others leisure time quite heavily. I think there is more of an importance for people to be outdoors and to have time off.
Whether this is just because I work for the government and its important for them to be kind to their workers I can’t be sure. I would love to hear others experience of this too?
The Office Culture
This is a difficult one, because office culture is totally variable from office to office too, but there are a few general things that I have noticed that I can share.
In New Zealand everyone loves this thing they call morning 0r afternoon tea . Now calling it ‘tea’ to me, means biscuits and tea with my Grandma, but here in NZ its a lavish affair. There is a huge spread with cheese and bread and cake and sausage rolls and sweets and anything else you can imagine. And this doesn’t happen once a month, it happens almost every day for some event or other. It is a lovely affair, but not so good for the waistline!
Another thing is that everyone in NZ is obsessed with, is quizzes! The Dominion Post 10 min quiz has been a daily activity in every office I have been in, so far in New Zealand. So, why is this relevant, I think these activities in the NZ workplace represent that there is a real lightheartedness about the work day.
Despite this, back in London, I definitely went to the pub after work more. Maybe thats because I was single, or because I had more friends, maybe because there are more pubs or becaue people in London are so stressed out they need alcohol at the end of a long day! Its hard to say, but the pub was definitely more of a thing.
My conclusion is that if you want to be a high flying success in a specific field and you are really dedicated to this, then London is the place for you. You wont get the same kinds of opportunities in Wellington. But, if you are after a quieter and more relaxed lifestyle and perhaps try some jobs and opportunities that you might not have in your home country, then Wellington can offer this.
There are of course many factors that effect and change everything related to working, depending on the person in question, but hopefully this gives you a little idea about my experience of working in NZ.
As always, it would be interesting to hear the experience of others, Whats it like working in NZ for you? Please comment below with your comparison.
I am hoping to connect with more and more migrants too, in order to share the experiences of others too, so far you can check out the following find out what work life in NZ has been like for other new locals in NZ:
Thanks for reading and come back soon!