David Menéndez Arán

Portrait of David Menéndez Arán leaning against a wall in the wellington harbour.

Civil engineer David Menéndez Arán moved his family from Argentina to New Zealand in search of a better work-life balance. He found it in Wellington.

Uprooting your family and moving across the world is no easy feat, let alone leaving behind the rich cultural scene and famed nightlife Buenos Aires is known for. Why Wellington? “In Argentina, I was living for work. I was always on call, in my job now it’s very rare for me to work overtime or to stay late — when it’s time to go I turn off my computer and get to spend time with my family.”

Four cyclists are riding on the path in Queen Elizabeth Regional Park, located in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.

David is a civil engineer with Wellington-based dam specialist company Damwatch, where he splits his time between office work and site visits to dams around New Zealand. Originally, the father of two had been looking to relocate to Australia or the United States, where his partner is from. Talks with Damwatch online prompted him to focus on New Zealand as a place to live instead.

“At that point it seemed like a good place to come to, a good place for children to be outside rather than the crazy environment we were living in.”

After online interviews with Damwatch, David flew into Wellington from Argentina for a face-to-face interview. He wasn’t disappointed. “I was here for four days and in those four days I got a good feel for Wellington and decided to give it a try. We were used to a town of 14 million people in Buenos Aires, a crazy, hectic environment and we were looking for a smaller, quieter city like this.”

David made the move in November 2019, settling into his new job and finding a home in Upper Hutt (a satellite city 20 miles north of Wellington). He found the transition surprisingly easy. “Moving with a family and two cats is a little harder than moving on your own. But in the area we chose to live in, finding a home to rent wasn’t difficult. The schools have been very accommodating, and my workplace was very supportive.”

Looking towards Oriental bay with people walking along the waterfront and the fountain going in the water.

Oriental Bay Beach on Wellington’s waterfront.

The children settled into their schools quickly and David and his wife marvel at the short walk to school from their house. Similarly, the commute into Wellington city to work is not far. Once they’re in the office most things are walkable, including the beautiful waterfront adjacent to the CBD.

“Wellington city itself is so lovely, right next to the water. It’s compact and easy to get around. But what we love most about living here is that our children are in a nice, safe environment, and can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.”

David and his family are loving the quality of life that living in Wellington offers. “In Buenos Aires whenever we wanted to escape the city it took an hour-and-a-half before you saw something green. Here you can be at a beautiful beach in 15 minutes.” Coming from a hectic, densely populated city, long commutes, and long hours, Wellington’s quality of life was the clincher for David. “We are thankful to be here.”