Short summary: Followed my parents to America in late 2012, as I finally decided I wanted a big OE. Kinda wasn't a big National fan either. No offense to those who voted that way though, as I've always been more pro-welfare state, and kind of felt Labour-Greens-NZ First was nicer to those in need. Though living in America this long the political disputes between the left and right in NZ seem way smaller by comparison.
For those who ask, what it is like, and how I compare the two countries. I think a lot of it is down to the population and scale. When I first moved I was in awe of the size of the country, being a teenager that pretty much spent my life in windy Wellington. I miss Cuba street though...the food here does not compare. Mostly why I say population and scale is that there is a lot more things to do and see, as a lot more people condensed in one place.
So this can mean some things are cheaper i.e. more people so more shared costs, though as my parents and I have discovered, there are lots of hidden costs.
Living in NZ, I didn't think about taxes, health care or guns and police. Though I do here.
America has way higher taxes as you have federal tax, state tax, payroll tax, and sales tax. Best way to describe payroll tax is yourself and your employer being taxed in addition to income tax.
I also ended up having surgery here, which ended awfully as I was forced to wait until my problem got worse. Then I discovered the evils of US health insurance deductibles i.e. they set an amount in the thousands you have to pay before the policy kicks in.
I am basically studying here, and building up IT qualifications. So I have to decide where I want to be when that is over. I do pay my NZ student loan, unlike some who don't bother and risk issues when they try and return. Though must admit, I miss the $1000, even if it isn't terribly hard to pay it given exchange rates.
Pretty much had a big adventure in the US though. I was extremely shy in NZ, had no direction in what I wanted to study, and felt left out as a LGBT teen. I also had a scary moment when a homophobic group with baseball bats were prowling the neigborhood, which shook me out of feeling safe in Wellington. So I basically came out in the states and explored that side of me here.
Would be much more accepting in Wellington these days though I bet. Though through High School, I got bullied, and I went through depression and dark psychological issues right up to when I left to the US.
For me I really just had a real need to explore, and get somewhere else, as I was getting bottled up, lonely, and sad with how things were in my life in NZ.
A lot happier now though, and found a boyfriend down here. But future wise with how things are going, my parents plan to go back and retire in NZ, and I miss Godzone too.
If I one day start a family with my bf I'd choose NZ over America in a heart beat...as the US is pretty unsafe for kids with school shootings, and is overly expensive health care and schooling.
Hope this wasn't too much in one post.