This is an area to discuss things I've done with my husband over the years to strengthen our relationship as well as observations I've witnessed that might serve to help others.
After our rocky approach, we've been settling in to our new home. I wasn't super impressed with our rental, but after seeing the options that exist in Auckland, I understand the lack of options. Just a quick rant: the rental market in Auckland is absolutely atrocious. Rental owners are not obliged to take any kind of care of their property whatsoever and renters are just expected to bend over and take it. When we moved in to our rental, the owner had left the doors and windows open to "let it breathe" for goodness only knows how many days. It was freezing in the house, the heat pump didn't have power, and we spent the first few hours in the house making a game out of how many spiders and webs we could kill/clean up. I only kept it together for about 24 hours before freaking out. I am much better now, however: we bought some appliances, we figured out how to heat and ventilate the home (I am SO not used to humidity), and I got some small furniture items to make us feel less like animals until our actual furniture gets here. I love my new dining room table--when it's cleaned off, I'll take some pics to add.
I was a little wigged out by our surrounding neighborhood--and I will completely put that down to complete white-girl typical American ignorance for other cultures. The street we are next to is a busy commercial street with tiny little shops on top of one another, most of which are in Chinese. I thought we'd get mugged. However, as you walk back through our block of houses, you see nicely taken care of homes, parks, and cycle-ways. And we discovered a coffee shop, Big Beats Coffee right across the street next to a Stumpy's Wood Fired Pizza. We spent almost every meal at one or the other location until our fridge was delivered. I now feel pretty damn lucky to have landed the location we did. And I've gotten amazing suggestions for shopping and hiking from the owner at Big Beats. Best part about the shop, aside from the amazing food and brews--he loves the blues and plays it all the time. He has several posters for Johnny Cash in the shop. It's awesome.
We also dove in and got ourselves a right-hand drive car. To drive on the left side of the road. We've been doing so successfully for about a week now :) Shock #1 when purchasing a car here--the licensing and registration for the car is included in the purchase of the vehicle as well as basic liability coverage for the car. If you have a loan, you have to get comprehensive coverage. However, our coverage has a $300 deductible for damages. America: we're doing something wrong.
We've also gotten our cable set up to get hooked up when our TV's arrive and we just got broadband coverage yesterday. We got our cell phones hooked up as well--we purchased them prior to arriving (because they are EXPENSIVE here) and because they have to be internationally capable to be used outside of the US. Which most phones purchased in the US are NOT.
All in all, we're starting to feel a little more normal--Keith just got through with a head cold and I'm starting in on it now (woo hoo!), so we are figuring out where to buy cold medicine and what the Chinese herbalist around the corner suggests to use :)