Our home here is probably technically in the suburbs of Auckland (in Westmere), but it’s an area of quick transitions between residential and commercial, not an ongoing sprawl of houses. We can walk to a good cafe in two minutes and several areas of concentrated small shops and restaurants (including good Indian food!) in ten to twenty. There are plenty of nearby parks, playgrounds, and other green spaces.
It’s definitely less bustling than our neighborhood in Buenos Aires. When we were first exploring, Theo looked at the empty sidewalk in front of us and sadly declared that there aren’t any people here. While people do make some use of the sidewalks, most are in cars (making them not exactly people to Theo, I guess.) We manage without a car using buses, the occasional taxi, and our feet – though we sometimes wish there weren’t quite so many hills.
The food is excellent and fresh, and no one looks confused when I ask about vegetarian options. Then again, I rarely need to ask, because those options are generally clearly marked on the menus.
Overall, people are very friendly. Everyone stops to chat when Theo asks to pet a dog. Theo borrowed a kite at the park yesterday, and the family left it with us.
The house we’re renting is beautiful – somehow simultaneously posh and kid-friendly. It has a plethora of appliances, including a clothes drier, which we only rarely had in Europe. The beds are almost sinfully comfortable and the Internet is deliciously fast. We have a backyard with a porch, treehouse, and trampoline.
When I turn on the hot water, it never runs brown. We don’t have cockroaches, bed bugs, or invasions of ants.
It’s very easy to live here.
And yet. We haven’t been serenaded on public transportation here, like we frequently were on the subway cars of Buenos Aires. There isn’t a marching band passing our home nightly like in Istanbul. We don’t have monkeys or lizards visiting us on the porch like in Costa Rica. We don’t have the opportunity to creatively pantomime to try to overcome language barriers (through I’ve occasionally had to repeat myself to overcome an accent-barrier.) As Theo noticed, the streets and sidewalks in our neighborhood don’t bustle with life.
It’s easy, lovely, and livable here. I’m glad to be staying for the month. But I’m also glad that most of the trip pushes us farther outside of what we find easy.