Quality of life lures Argentinian family

David Menéndez Arán has uprooted his family and left the busyness of Buenos Aires behind for the quality of life that Wellington offers

David Menendez Aran

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

And he’s found it in Wellington.

“In Argentina, I was living for work, I was always on call, I was always doing tasks, but 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, I think about my private life and get to spend more time with my family.”

David is a civil engineer with Wellington-based dam specialist Damwatch, where he spends both time in the office and out in the field visiting various dams nationwide.

upper hutt city dusk

Originally, the father of two, aged 14 and six, had been looking to relocate to Australia or the United States, where his wife is from.

But 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 and wasn’t disappointed.

“I remember it was amazing weather, it was super warm and no wind whatsoever – I thought ‘oh my God, it’s September and this is amazing!

“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 15 million people in Buenos Aires, a crazy, hectic environment and we were looking for a small, quiet city like this.”

David made the move in November 2019, settling into his new job and finding a home in Upper Hutt for his family before they joined him just before Lockdown.

He found the transition easy.

“Moving with a family – and two cats - is a little harder than moving on your own, but in the area we’ve chosen to live in finding a home to rent hasn’t been difficult, schools have been very accommodating, and my workplace has been very supportive.

“We love living in Silverstream, our children have settled into their schools well - they are within walking distance from our house - we like the area so much we are looking to buy a house there now we have our residents’ visa.

“It’s also easy for me to get to work by train, and it’s an easy walk from home to the train station and from the train station in the city to work.”

Working in the middle of the CBD means David can take advantage of nearby Wellington waterfront too, enjoying a lunchtime stroll and fresh air when he’s able.

“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.”

And David and his family are making the most of what the Wellington region has to offer.

Our children are in a nice, safe environment and can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle

David Menéndez Arán

“We’ve been doing our best to explore – we’ve been to the local beaches, Eastbourne, Days Bay, the Porirua and the Kapiti beaches, we’ve been to the cable car and museum many times, and we’re going for walks.

“Our son is doing some conservation volunteer work in a swamp area near Porirua on weekends, weeding and planting natives, so we’ve explored a lot around that area.”

Outside of Wellington the family has travelled over to the Wairarapa and ventured further afield to Taupo and to the South Island a few times.

They are loving the quality of life that living in Wellington offers.

“In Argentina whenever we wanted to escape the city it took an hour-and-a-half, maybe more, to see something green, whereas here in 15 minutes you can be at a beautiful beach and have a good time.

“New Zealand is a beautiful country in general, but we love how close nature and beautiful places are to our house, and we are always talking about that at home,” says David.

“My daughter said it walking to school just the other day, about how light and beautiful it is with all the pine trees and green spaces.

“Coming from a hectic city with people everywhere and living in an apartment that’s blocked in, and a job that demanded huge hours, the quality of life is definitely way better and we are thankful to be here.”

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