A Geography Lesson

October 3, 2012

So as I alluded to several weeks ago, I am actively job hunting. I’ve applied to probably 20 jobs so far, and I’ve had one successful (but not successful enough) interview. One of the most common questions that people ask us though, is where are you moving? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, we have no idea. Yet.

There is actually a bit of a strict criteria for our ideal city. It has to be a city with a hospital (ie: no itty bitty rural towns), I want to be near the water, we both want decent nightlife, and above all, it has to have phenomenal mountain biking. We can’t move to a country famous for it’s outdoor recreation, and then end up in a spot that doesn’t have it. Anyways, currently I am focusing my job applications on two places: Nelson and Wellington. For those of you unfamiliar, here’s a closer look at New Zealand:

I’m an artist, am I not? New Zealand is comprised of two islands which cover about the same amount of land mass as Italy. Italy, however, has a population of over 15 million people, while NZ has barely 4 million. The population is increasing, but it’s largely in part to people like us, so we wont dwell on that.

New Zealand is tucked down on the south east side of Australia, but contrary to popular belief, it’s actually quite far from the continent- about 1,400 miles. Or from California to Kansas. People frequently compare Kiwis to Aussies as well, but don’t get the two confused. New Zealand’s southern most tip is also the closest land mass to Antarctica. Moving on…

And a quicker look at our two choices:

Nelson is one of the main cities on the northern point of the South Island. The population of the city of Nelson is around 41,500 people. The surrounding area is called the Nelson/Tasman district, and the total population is not even 46,000 people (including Nelson). This gives you a picture of how not populated our future country is, I love it. And here’s the best part… The Abel Tasman National Park is mere minutes from Nelson. A snapshot:

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The climate is known for being one of the sunniest in NZ, with more average days of sunshine than anywhere else. (This doesn’t mean it is warmer, the northern part of the north island is far warmer – remember, southern hemisphere. Everything is backward!) The temperature averages from 50 degrees average in the winter, to 74 degrees average in the summer. There is a large hospital, whose HR department has at least 8 of my resumes in their inbox. The city is – obviously – close to the ocean. Lastly, the area is considered to be the heart of mountain biking in New Zealand. An areal view of Nelson:

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The nightlife in Nelson is described as decent (via internet). The median age of the area is 39.something, so it’s no retirement community. With a city of only 40,000ish people though, its no surprise that it’s not the most exciting cocktail venue in the country. The upside to a smaller city though: pretty much everything will be within walking/bike riding distance.

Wellington is on the southern point of the north island. The city’s tourism website calls itself “The Capital of Cool”. More globally, it is known as “The Greatest Little Capital in the World”. Both of these don’t sound too shabby to me. It is the capital city of New Zealand (nope! It’s not Auckland. Shocked me too…) Here’s the comparable stats:

Wellington City has 180,000 people. The greater region’s population is almost half a million. Wellingon’s nickname is Windy Wellingon, and I’ve been told the climate is quite comparable to San Francisco. While this obviously doesn’t sound quite as exciting as the warmer weather in Nelson, I honestly can’t express enough how sick and tired I am of the many, many 100+ degree days we’ve had this summer in Chico. So frankly, a few cooler days is fine by me. And is it windier than a summer day in my hometown of Benicia, CA? I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Beautiful as well, isn’t it. Wellington also has a promising job market, with one very large teaching hospital, as well as another community hospital and a private surgical hospital. Could we commute as easily? No. Is there some traffic? (cringe) Yes. But there are several adorable neighborhoods that do appear close enough to the hospitals for bicycle commuting.

Here’s where things are a tad different than Nelson. The average population age is a young 33 years old. The city is known for its culture, food, art, and nightlife. It ranks above pretty much everywhere else in the country, at the top with Auckland and Christchurch, which makes sense being that it’s the capital. But in my research on the internet, it is also incredibly desirable. People love this place.

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 And the mountain biking? Also supposed to be fantastic. Although I haven’t heard it referred to as the “heart of mountain biking”, that may be because Wellington has already claimed the “heart of” title for so many other things…

So the choice will be made not so much by us, but by the job I get- which I will get. I’m thinking the universe just hasn’t sent it my way yet because I haven’t put in the time packing yet. You have to give a little to get a little, right?

Which spot appeals to you all?

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