British expats reveal struggles with living in New Zealand, including poor banter and local 'lack of interest' in others

A British expat living in Aotearoa has caused a stir on social media after sharing how difficult they find the cultural differences between New Zealanders and Brits, admitting they have struggled to form "fulfilling" friendships since arriving in the country four years ago.   

The expat, who is based in Wellington, shared their experience anonymously to the popular Facebook community 'Brits in New Zealand' on Saturday, with their post quickly attracting over a hundred comments from other expats - many of whom agreed with their thoughts.

In their post, the expat claimed they were struggling with New Zealanders' lack of "interest" in forming deeper connections, adding that they feel like they've become a "watered-down version" of who they were prior to living here.

"Gosh I miss the UK, the banter, the connections, the way people are," they vented.  

"[I'm] trying my best to meet new folk and enjoy what here has to offer, but I feel people aren't interested in you as a person, and of course lack the banter and [they] take themselves quite seriously.  

"I feel I'm a watered-down version of myself here."  

The expat, who admitted they had considered "giving up" on their life here and returning to the UK, revealed their partner has since agreed to relocate with them in the coming years. 

"I'm moving back in a few years with my partner and pets and can't wait - being away for four years and another country before that has just made me appreciate home, family, the people and the landscapes soooo much [more]. I am trying my best to enjoy being here and be positive, [I] just feel incredibly unfulfilled and lonely," they added.   

"I've considered giving it all up, but I don't think my partner or cats would be very happy."  

The user's experience prompted some to note that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, with several fellow expats explaining how they had grown accustomed to the differences in culture, character and personality.  

"I hope you find your happy place, wherever it may be. Some people suit living in other countries and some people don't, I am lucky that I have adapted well to living in NZ and I no longer get the urge to move back to the UK. Love visiting but love jumping on the plane to get back to North Island. Good luck with your move," one woman wrote in the comments.

A second added: "I went home for a long visit thinking all these amazing things about what I'd left behind in the UK. When I got there I realised it was all fantasy - I'd misremembered, overstated the good stuff in my brain."  

"I felt like that for a long time before I settled. Then, after 15 years, I had to move back to the UK. The UK, and the people here, have changed so much. It's not the same place... the banter can actually be quite nasty, the people I was still connected to have moved on... the NHS is on its knees, education is exclusive; communities no longer exist. I miss NZ so much, unfortunately we will never be able to afford to return. Please, please consider any move back very carefully," a third shared.  

However, many others agreed, with a number sharing their own similar experiences with struggling to form meaningful friendships after relocating from the UK or elsewhere to Aotearoa.   

"I know exactly what you mean. I've been here a couple of years, consider myself fairly sociable, have tried but just feel more and more alienated. Most Kiwis (not all) just don't think the way we do and it's hard work. I did live in Melbourne for a while and had no issues there, the Aussies just 'get it' - but not the Kiwis I'm afraid. It's like I'm on another planet. Life's too short to feel like this so I'm planning to return to Australia," one weighed in.   

"I know exactly how you feel. You do lose yourself here, no sense of humour or banter," said a second, with a third writing: "NZ has changed immensely. We moved back after 14 years of living in the UK and it's a huge transition. Not easy at all. It depends on what part of NZ you are in but Auckland lacks community, so I can totally understand why you feel the way you do."  

"Our humour is wasted here. My belly laughs are few and far between... We won't ever fit in! Do I really want to? No; not really. I am however in many ways blessed in a position to have my immediate family here too. That's when we laugh and usually at the Kiwis expense!" a fourth added.   

It's not the first time New Zealanders have been heavily critiqued on social media. In 2019, a Reddit thread titled, 'What's your unpopular New Zealand opinion?' attracted a number of criticisms about the country and its people, with one writing: "We're not relaxed, we're not tolerant, we're not innovative, we're not friendly. Most of us are massively xenophobic, uneducated, parochial, conservative (in the literal sense), nasty people."  

Last year, a "brutally honest" thread in the New Zealand forum asked Redditors to share the harsh truths that Kiwis refuse to accept, prompting some sobering responses.