Colin Espiner’s recent posting Ten Reasons Why We’re Better Than Australia, and some of the surrounding discussion, were very interesting, given the constant exodus of New Zealanders toward the Lucky Country. I really have no ability to judge anything in Australia, since I’ve only spent three days in Sydney once, and that was in 1997. But I liked a lot of what he said about why New Zealand was better, and I thought it might be interesting to go through his points one by one and look at how New Zealand compared to Texas. I could write vast swathes of material on this subject – probably even a separate blog – but Espiner’s ten reasons are as good a place as any to start. So here goes:
1. We’re more friendly. Everyone comments on this. It starts the moment you get off the plane, and continues every time you walk into a store, sit down for a coffee, or pass someone on the street. In Sydney, you don’t acknowledge anyone you might meet unless you already know them. Even smiling at a stranger is considered odd. Here, you’re practically smothered with affection.
Friendliness is a tough one to gauge. New Zealanders are a lot shier than Texans, so it may be about quality over quantity. But Texans are definitely more willing to engage you, give you a smile, talk to you, even if sometimes it’s a bit superficial. There’s definitely a politeness and a deference in Texas that is absent in New Zealand. I’m giving this one to Texas.
2. Small is beautiful. Australia is every bit as beautiful as New Zealand. It’s just a shame you have to travel thousands of kilometres between sights. Take it from someone who drove 23,000kms in four months – and that was only between Sydney and Perth. Here, you only have to pop round the corner for the scenery to change.
No contest, New Zealand wins this one. While Texas has some fine beaches, and the Hill Country can be spectacular in places, you can’t beat the Kiwi scenery. Can anyone?
3. Our houses are cheaper. OK, there are people in some Auckland suburbs who may disagree with this, but for the most part, it’s cheaper to buy a home here than it is in Australia. Sydney is unbelievably expensive. Anyone who isn’t a millionaire or a major CEO can’t afford to buy an actual house unless it’s some 80km west of the CBD. And forget about a garden unless you earn well into six figures.
Texas wins this one hands down. You can buy a perfectly decent home in most Texas cities for $150k. Prices in Auckland, by contrast, are insane. Who would dream of owning a house in Auckland?
4. Our food and drink is better. Yes, a big call I know. Australia markets itself very effectively as a gourmand’s paradise. But for my money, our produce is fresher, our meat tastier, our ice cream creamier and our fish, er, fishier. If you’re a beer connoisseur you’ll be sadly disappointed in Australia unless you’re a fan of freezing cold, mass-produced lager. Granted, they make a decent drop of red, but their white wine is rubbish. And we’ve got way better lollies.
I really need to drink some more Texas wine to judge, but I know the quality of the craft beer available here probably edges out the Kiwi stuff. Something about the body of the malt just makes it tastier, even if they go a bit nuts on the hops. Texas sausages and beef leave their NZ counterparts for dead. Yes, if you want fine dining restaurants with flea-sized portions, New Zealand is your place, but if you want a proper feed, it’s Texas all the way.
New Zealand has better fish, better chocolate, better Indian curries, and probably better wine, but for anything else you’ll want to be in Texas.
5. We love our indigenous culture. You’ve got to leave New Zealand to fully appreciate this, but our Maori heritage is an immense asset. I’m as white as the driven snow, but I treasure what Maoridom and Pacific Island culture has done for New Zealand. It makes us proud, strong, independent, and interesting. By contrast white Australia all but ignores its Aboriginal roots.
This one is tough to judge. In Texas, “indigenous culture” really is Hispanic culture, and especially here in South Texas it is more than celebrated – it’s the dominant majority culture. Tex-Mex cuisine especially makes Texas such a distinctive and wonderful place to live. I’ll call this one a draw.
6. We’re not so uptight. Big-city Australians are wound as tight as watch springs. Out in the bush it’s better, but Kiwis are world-beaters at laconic, she’ll be right laid-backness. And she normally is right. No point having a heart attack, is there?
I think it is easier to relax and be relaxed in New Zealand. Americans are always paranoid about one thing or another, and that’s something that Kiwis just don’t have. But I am not sure New Zealanders are less uptight than Texans. As I say, there is a politeness and a sereneness to Texans – it’s a cowboy thing. Nobody really wigs out and loses their rag in Texas in quite the same way that you will see a New Zealander do. Another win for Texas.
7. We’re more entrepreneurial. Australia may have a bigger economy, but we’re lighter on our feet. Because we have a small, educated, enthusiastic population of early adopters, New Zealand is a great place to start a business, further your career, or do something different from the herd. And because there’s only 4.5 million of us, it’s easier for our voice to be heard. Hardly surprising that we’ve invented so much more stuff than the Aussies ever have.
The equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand moved to Texas in the last ten years. Whatever opportunities New Zealand has, Texas has them tenfold. Texas wins.
8. There’s fewer things that can hurt or kill you. Don’t underestimate this. Australia is home to all ten species of the world’s most poisonous snakes. Then there’s spiders the size of your hand, sharks cruising the beaches, scorpions, sting-rays … oh yes, and the world’s most dangerous reptile, the crocodile. We’ve got, um, stinging nettle. And wekas can give you a nasty peck.
You might get a rattler out west, but not much that will harm you in Texas either, especially if you’re packing. Murders aside, the crime rate in Texas is half that of New Zealand, so unless you’re black and dealing drugs, Texas will be a lot safer for you. Another one for Texas.
9. Our TV’s better. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. We may all grumble about the box, but Aussie television is truly dire. Between The Block, The Project, Bondi Vet and Border Patrol, there’s Lara Bingle!, The Shire, and re-runs of Prisoner. It’s just a shame they export most of those shows over here. Next to this lot, Seven Sharp looks like hard-hitting current affairs. Plus, we’ve got John Campbell.
Yeah… John Campbell… that and 60 channels of basic cable says Texas rules and New Zealand drools. The only thing you can’t get on TV here is cricket, but you can’t have everything.
10. The weather. Australia’s either too hot, too cold, or too wet. Thanks to climate change, Sydney alternates between floods and bush fires. Queensland suffers increasingly volatile storms. The Outback and Western Australia simply fries. We enjoy a temperate climate with plenty of sunshine and rain.
Texas has 10 months of summer and almost no rain – what more could you want?
Seems to me that Texas is a much better place to live. Visiting New Zealand again recently, this was confirmed. New Zealand is pretty, and has very few fat people causing visual pollution, but it is, alas, an insanely expensive place. I never wanted to come to Texas, but now I have made it my home, I feel very fortunate.