More Americans than Ever Moving to NZ
Forget Canada. In the wake of the election, the Associated Press reports, Americans are applying in droves for citizenship in New Zealand, a country as far away as physically possible from the United States, and one with a strong social safety net, writes Vanity Fair’s Maya Kosoff.
With US politics more chaotic and divisive than ever, the number of applications for citizenship has soared a whopping 70 per cent in the three months following the election, compared to the same period of time last year.
In the days after Donald Trump’s unexpected electoral victory, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs says the number of Americans visiting its website to learn about citizenship was 10 times greater than the month prior. More Americans are also visiting the country, and the number of Americans obtaining New Zealand work visas was up 18 per cent in January, compared to last year.
“It’s an extremely livable place and you can see and palpably feel the difference in how society is organised, and what people prioritise,” said Alanna Irving, a start-up entrepreneur who moved from San Francisco to New Zealand six years ago. “New Zealand is a place that cares about equality, I think more. It’s less individualistic, more community-minded.”
Gaining citizenship in New Zealand is a privilege typically reserved for those born in the country, who have New Zealand-born parents, or who have lived in New Zealand for the better part of the past five years. But Americans appear to be taking concrete steps to gain a foothold there regardless. According to the AP, the number of Americans with New Zealand-born parents applying for citizenship in New Zealand has increased 11 per cent since last year.
New Zealand can be a welcome culture shock to the average American: sheep outnumber its 4.8 million residents by a ratio of about six to one, farming is an important part of its economy, and the total country’s population hovers just above 4 million. The South Pacific island nation also happens to be a popular doomsday location for the 1 per cent, including German-born Trump adviser and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who became a citizen in 2011.
As Evan Osnos reported for the New Yorker earlier this year, New Zealand has become a popular choice for tech billionaires seeking a remote corner of the world to wait out the apocalypse, if and when it comes. “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more,” LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told Osnos. “Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’”
Original article by Maya Kosoff, Vanity Fair, March 14, 2017.