Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Kiwi Immigrants Blog

Dina Cotter | Chicago Snow to Tauranga Sunshine
18 May 2016
Dina Cotter | Chicago Snow to Tauranga Sunshine


You should be careful what books you read. As Dina Cotter will tell you, they just might change your life. 

Dina was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. After 40 years of Chicago winters, she and her family decided that less snow and more sunshine might be a better way to go. They had thought about visiting New Zealand but had never quite made it.

What they did do, however, was read a book called 'Slipping into Paradise | Why I Live in New Zealand' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

"That was enough," says Dina.  The family of three packed up their lives, said goodbye to their friends and family and moved to their new South Pacific home without having once laid eyes on it.

They ended up in Tauranga, well, kind of by accident.

They liked big city life and assumed that they would settle in Auckland. But things got off to a rocky start in the 'City of Sails'. "When we arrived in 2006 we had had a tough time trying to find a suitable rental to live in while we waited for our shipping container to arrive, " says Dina.

Tired, disappointed and needing  a break, they drove to Tauranga to meet a friend who had a bag of winter clothes for them which he had brought from Chicago. "We met on The Strand on a sunny July day," says Dina. "People were drinking wine and soaking up the sun. We never left!  Tauranga was home from that moment."


What has surprised you most about your new life in New Zealand?

I am most amazed how much more simple life can be by changing environments. Houses are easier to maintain without the extreme temperatures. In Chicago, we had to have a furnace running all day and night to keep the house warm in the winter. Likewise, the air conditioner had to run all summer. You could hear them both kick on and off throughout the night, which always seemed to disrupt a good night's sleep. It was either too hot or too cold.

Here, we crack the window open a bit and sleep like a baby. There is an eerie absence of blaring police and ambulance sirens, of commuter trains racing by, of animals rummaging through your rubbish at night, and let’s not forget gunshots.  It was all so noisy and congested. The night is so quiet and safe and peaceful here.

Where do you live?

We live in Maungatapu where we enjoy half an acre land with water views. It was such a find. The estuary fills and empties completely twice a day. The lights twinkle over Welcome Bay in the evening as the moon shines on the water. Simply breath-taking. 

We tore up the carpet when we first moved in and bam! Matai floors in mint condition. We love the house. Although, being American, we had to super-size the kitchen. 

What are you doing career wise here in Tauranga? 

I have always been in sales. I had a few sales positions and now work as a security consultant with Watchdog Security Group. It was a bit difficult a few years ago finding a position and realizing that there would never be the number of opportunities as there were in Chicago.  Still, no regrets.

Do you miss Chicago? 

Sometimes I really miss the culture of Chicago. It is a world class city. The culture includes incredible food and amazing restaurants, great music, live theatre, amusement parks, outdoor concerts, unbelievable museums, art galleries, festivals and sports. There is always something open for whatever you want to do. We go back about every two years.

What do you enjoy about the Tauranga lifestyle? 

I love the year round mild temps. I love being able to take our dog for a walk on the beach even in winter! The sun, the slow pace and the quiet evenings all make for a very relaxed lifestyle. We love to hike, fish and play golf and go to the movies.


What has moving to Tauranga meant for your family? 

We have all enjoyed the slower pace and safety of our relocation. We grow things in the garden we never knew existed. We hang washing outside to dry. The air is so clean and fresh nothing seems to get dirty. People are so friendly and easy going.

What has moving to Tauranga meant for your sense of well-being?

I think we extended our life expectancy by about 10 years just moving here thanks to the local produce, the lack of processed bulk food, the ability to go for walks year round and the ease of movement. Even the  Tauranga 'traffic' will never compare to what we knew as traffic.



Gets You Thinking Doesn't It?

No-one can tell you when you're ready for a change of lifestyle...but when you are, we'd love to have you in Tauranga!

1. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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