Moving Overseas Online Business Passive Income Australia/NZ

New Zealand Bloggers – Can You Make Passive Income Here?

Some of you seemed to like my photos in the Move to New Zealand – Australia compared so this post is decorated with some photos from Island Bay, Wellington – near where I am currently living.  Todd over at Todd’s Tips has been inspriring me with his Iraq photos – so here is my best effort!

Dingies, Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand
Dingies, Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand

My attention was caught by the local Sunday paper featuring this story on a New Zealand DIY site making a claimed $20,0000/month from Adsense. Now that’s presumably New Zealand dollars – so that’s about US$14k – but still its a lot of money being claimed from a fairly small, 1100 indexed page, site. I was initially skeptical of the claimed figures  but I do know my mate Allyn over at sold a website for $30,000 and that it was a DIY type site as well, though knowing Allyn I doubt that AdSense was his preferred magnetization (he hasn’t said yet – it looks like the vblog series is going to extend well into 2010 while he keeps his audience waiting for the good stuff!

According to the newspaper report the owner of the site – retired builder Les Kenny – was talking to the media because:

give a little back to Google and spread the word about AdSense (sic), and he thinks it could be particularly relevant to older New Zealanders who have so much experience to share.

Maori carving, Island Bay, Wellington
Maori carving, Island Bay, Wellington

Mr Kenny probably genuinely doesn’t know why his site is a success – or realise just how difficult it would be for someone else to replicate his success – Kiwi or not.If you look at the other sites mentioned in the article and on his main site you will see that none of these seem to rank for anything much.

The site no doubt ranks for thousands and thousands of long-tail keywords associated with the “how to build …” niche. He ranks #2 for the “how to build”  phrase which has over  18000 searches a month and would give him huge authority on any new plan or project he added to the site. The single most important thing the site has is of course age (2002) – with that longevity and relevance its going to be hard to for anyone to put up a competitor site against hi m in the niche.

Island Bay Beach
Island Bay Beach

Other stuff I found interesting on the site was:

  • the top image banner is an Adsense ad – but is not labelled as such – is that OK if you are just advertising your own sites – and why would you do that ?
  • use of image next to the main Adsense ad block near the top of most interior pages – most of us thought that was highly discouraged by Google;
  • he also has affiliate offers for building plans so its possible some largish percentage of his income are from these;
  • the backlink profile appears to be mainly from link exchanges – current wisdom is that link exchanges are dead – particularly form link pages – but they seem to be alive a kicking on this site;
  • the inclusion of a Spanish language site – directly from the original site’s page links – the Adsense ad’s appear in Spanish for me – but are not advertising anything relevant – mainly language classes – probably because the lack of Spanish language advertisers in New Zealand!
  • if you ever do have yourself in the risky position of making a large amount of money from one website and being dependent on a good  Google ranking its a very smart plan to have local media coverage – just in case …
Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand
Wooden houses and steep hills -that's Wellington!

If you are a New Zealand blogger – you may want to keep an eye on the infamous Whale Oil blog. This blogger is currently in court over breaching name suppression orders over the last few months. In New Zealand, even if you are found guilty of a crime the court can order permanent name suppression – its getting beyond a joke when the suppression is not to protect the victim (and is sometimes against their wishes) – but is apparently becoming the “right” of any slightly  famous “New Zealand entertainer” or “New Zealand politician”. I’m watching this case with curiosity because apparently while I was away New Zealand has turned into a country happy to suppress almost any criminal’s name – if they  have a “reputation” to protect that is. If Michael Jackson had been a “New Zealand entertainer” his name would never have been associated with child abuse – even if he had been convicted (which he wasn’t).

Empire Cinema, Island Bay
Art Deco, Empire Cinema, Island Bay

Do you like the photos? I can’t be arsed doing a wholesale photo blog – my photos aren’t that good – but I thought I would just throw a few up from time to time – after all most of the stuff I talk about here about passive income is really not photogenic – but New Zealand is – so I might combine the too – might bring some interesting search traffic …

Moving Overseas Passive Income Australia/NZ

Move to New Zealand – Australia Compared

Well as always its always quite amusing going home after being overseas a while. Leaving Australia after nearly three years – I am back in New Zealand.  Moving back to New Zealand after not setting foot in the country for 18 months has been interesting. Here is my entirely non-scientific first impressions of  living in New Zealand compared to living in Australia – well actually its about moving from Perth to Wellington –  as always the devil’s in the details -your mileage will vary depending on where in Australia you are familiar with and where in New Zealand you are moving to!

Wellington on a Good Day
Wellington on a Good Day

New Zealand Weather Compared to Australia’s

Eastbourne, Wellington
Eastbourne, Wellington

Crap – totally un-redemmed crap – well its probably better than the UK or Ireland – but  only the Poms would believe that New Zealand has a decent climate.  It should be a hint when the TV weather calls an expected maximum of 25C – as  “warm”!

On the plus side – there is a lot more daylight than in Australia – in Perth, thanks to not having daylight saving – it was light before 5am and dark at 7pm – in New Zealand its light before 6am and dark at about 9pm –  New Zealand has daylight saving – and I was really, really missing it in Western Australia

Wellington has stunning beautiful beaches and coastline – but unless you are insane ie. have never swum elsewhere – 14C water temperature is unacceptable. When we left Perth the water temperature was a pleasent 20C odd. More to the point unless temperature hits 30C ( global warming where are you?) – who wants to go swimming anyways?

Standard of Living in New Zealand Compared to Australia

Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington
Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington

Impossible to call IMHO – there is no one size that fits all – it depends on what is important to you and what is not. My partner is earning more money here than he was in Australia for the same job. – but if you are unskilled then the wages are definitly higher in Australia. If you are preapred to work in the remote mining areas and you have the relevant trade skills – the money is a lot better in Australia.

Food and all things electrical appear a lot cheaper here. In the last couple of days we have bought items such as a microwave, electric frypan and restocked a kitchen – prices for food are the same in NZ in $ as they are in Australia – with the curent exchange rate that makes them 25% cheaper.

Eating out in Perth is outrageously expensive – you will often pay $10 for a beer in a pub – in New Zealand a beer is NZ$6.50 in a restaraunt. We bought Western Australian wine in New Zealand supermarket for the same $ price as it is in WA – again 25% cheaper – there must be a lot higher sales tax on it in Australia. Oh yes you can buy beer and wine in the supermarket in New Zealand – and the supermarkets are open seven days usually to at least 10pm – sometimes 24 hours. In Perth there is one (!) late night shopping night a week – no big shops open on a Sunday – its a crazy system which favours some retailers and almost certainly keeps the prices high.  Why electronics are cheaper in NZ is beyond me – they have further to come (from China)- and its a smaller market –  34litre microwave cost me NZ$140 – enough said.

Anyway back to the eating out: Indian sit down meal -very nice two mains, rice, bread, 2 beers – NZ$48 – it would have been at least A$60 in Perth. I believe you can also get fish and chips for two at around N Z$10 (A$20 in Australia) – haven’t tried that yet – too much Christmas eating.

In Perth we were paying $320/week for a 2 bedroom flat 15 minutes walk from the beach and 10km from town.  In Wellington we are paying $225/week for a 1 bedroom flat 5km from town but further from the beach and poorer quality property. In Wellington I own a very nice home 5km from the CBD in one of the best suburbs – its valued at around NZ$600k – the same price (say around A$480k) in Perth would get me a new home 3 bed/2 bathroom 25km from the CBD. To buy the equivalent home in Perth – we would have to pay at  least A$800k – say around NZ$1 million.  That said a basic home in Perth is  brick, well insulated and has air-con. In New Zealand you don’t need the air-con but you definitly need heating and as the typical home is wooden and built at least 30 years ago you will probably need to bring the heaters with you. The old wooden houses make for quaint streetscapes – but they cost a fortune to maintain and are definitly not so comfortable to live in.

Telecommunication Connections in New Zealand

Wellington Waterfront
Wellington Waterfront

Local hint – if you are talking to  teleco provider in NZ and they ask if your modem has a telepermit sticker on it – the correct answer is YES! You will need a different modem connection cable to fit the hole in the wall – and you will need to change some obscure settings – but my Australian adsl2+ modem is working just fine in inner suburban Wellington (like Australia, New Zealand rural areas don’t do broadband )  – about the same cost – and although the claimed speeds was slower – I am not noticing any difference. Still have the bullshite about needing a phone line to have the broadband – but I went with the existing provider to our current rental place – haven’t phoned around yet.

Also my existing cell phone -charged up and remembered who it was after 2 years in a box – retained the number and even the credit – amazing – in Australia you lose the number if the phone is not used for 6 months.

I believe you can retain your cell phone number between provders now and even your home phone – but too late for me – I use  a SkypeIN number now which is portable anywhere in the world.

Driving in New Zealand

Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington
Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington

The left hand turn rule is different – the standard urban limit is 50km/hr not 60km/hr. The open road is a maximum limit of 100km/hr  – not 110km/hr. All of these  lower limits make a lot of sense when you realise just how narrow Wellington’s roads, and how little shoulder there is – you can hardly ever pulloff the road entirely even on the motorway (that’s what we call freeways).

The drink driving limit is still a reasonable 0.08 – unlike the revenue gathering one of 0.05 in most (all?) Australian states. You don’t lose your licence for a first offence on a holiday weekend either! The driving is pretty much the same level of competance as in Perth i.e. not very. The cars are smaller – but  you’d struggle to get Holden Commodore around quite a few corners in Wellington suburbs – that’s because Wellington has hills – Perth doesn’t have very many – and they rarely build homes on the top of them. BTW if you are booking for the 2012 World Cup – check the number of steps from road to front door – I’m not kidding.

The price of petrol is about the same $1.65 in New Zealand – it was A$1.21 when we left Perth. Cars are a fraction of the cost – that’s because we don’t support a domestic car industry –  the 1996 Commodore we sold in Perth for $1800 – wouldn’t have been worth NZ$500 here – if you could give it away.

New Zealanders v. Australians

Pretty much the same – the odd term is more American in Australia. Perth was a very white city – most of the immigrants are Poms and (white) South Africans and New Zealanders. Wellington has a substantial minority of Pacific Islanders and Maoris – and a useful range of minorities who can cook (Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian to name a few).  Seriously the differences between the two countries are pretty darn trivial. On balance if I was gay or black/brown I would probably feel more accepted in  Wellington than Perth e.g.  – there was no gay dance scene in Perth -there’s a big one in Wellington.

New Zeland Economy v. Australia

At the moment I can get a better deposit rate with a bank than the mortgage rate I pay in New Zealand –  a situation I can’t recall happening- ever really. The  Australian economy took a breather last year -but is set to take off again – welll at least in Western Australia and to a lesser extent South Australia and Queensland.  Unfortunately most New Zelanders move to Sydney – don’t would be my advice – well not if you want a job anyways.

The New Zeland economy seems to be muddling along as it generally does –  its primarily service and agriculture based and that hasn’t changed – probably never will. NZ will never be the big player that Australia is set to become over the next 10 years or so – frankly it doesn’t really matter so long as New Zealanders have the right to live and work in Australia (and vivce versa) – the free flow of people between the two countries will even it all out.

Making Passive Income Online – Which is Best Australia or New Zealand?

The NZ$ is always weaker against the US$ than A$ – so my US$ (which almost all my earnings are in) – in effect I have had a 33% payrise for just moving country… Yes the NZ tax rates are slightly higher than the Australian rates (if you earn less than around $100k) – but the tax system is a dream of symplicity – I am almost looking forward to dealing with it. The sales tax issue (GST) here is simpler than in Australia too. As I still run paypal accounts in US$ the banking system here is irrelevant – but they are very comparable (in fact most of the banks are the same). I am booked in for  some major dental work which will cost me 1/2 what I was quoated in Australia 18 months ago.

The downside is that medical insurance is not transportable – invariably if  you move countries a lot you will lose your medical insurance – I  refused to pay A$400/month in Australia (because we hadn’t been insured since we  were 30 in Australia) – the NZ insurance you could only put on hold fora year.

Moving Overseas Online Business Passive Income Australia/NZ

Passive Income – Leaving Australia – the Practicalities

OK I have confession – although I love travelling I bloody hate packing – and leaving a country is like the worst packing in the world because everything has to go or be shipped. We have only been here two years – why we have so much crap is beyond me! Oh and its Christmas so we are into the usual social round of Christmas – Australia style. i.e. lots of drinking and eating really. Oh and the weather has suddenly come good so I would rather be swimming to be honest!

Rottnest Island, Perth, WA
Rottnest Island, Perth, WA

Does this have anything to earning passive income – well it seems that working from home is a bit like being the stay-at-home mum/wife – you get to do all the running around. Partner went to work today I spent 3 hours selling the car – successfully but still. And then I came home and cancelled the insurance and arranged the rental car – which I will pick up tomorrow.  Over the last few weeks I have found us a sub-let for the first two months home – our house is still rented to tenants – arranged for the New Zealand car to go to the garage, though it did apparently get started after two years of sitting – impressive! Cancelled the power, cancelled the phone/Internet and generally run around.

So if you think you have this online business sorted out and want to get out to see the world, with your new independence I seriously suggest the follow strategy:

  • sell everything;
  • if you think you can’t bare to part with it see point above;
  • if you need it rent it: car, house, whatever.

If you are planning on travelling with your business: don’t plan on getting any work done a week both sides of the move – if you do it will be a nice bonus. The month before you move plan on losing at least a few days with the annoying admin details I’ve mentioned above.

Must Haves for Moving Country Easily and Keeping Your Business Going

  • Think about where your Paypal account is linked to. You can’t move a paypal account to another country-  you have to close it and re-open it.  There is however nothing stopping you retaining an Australian bank account with an overseas address – so this is a loophole – which at least means that you take your time moving the account.
  • Have a location independent email address – NEVER get caught up with using your ISP’s email address – use your own domain or a free yahoo or gmail account.
  • I’ve now done the same thing with my  phone number – I have a SkypeIn number which looks like a local New Zealand number, costs around Euro40/year and I can answer anywhere in the world, without  the caller realising I am not in the country!
  • Have your important files backed up – just in case the laptop doesn’t survive the airline!
  • Think about leaving a bank account behind – its the easy way to receive refunds for bonds and car insurance after you have gone – you can always electronically transfer the balance out after you leave. If you are using this bank account for payments from affiliates such as Adsense – remember to change them BEFORE you close the account be aware you will have to do this several months in advance.
  • Let your online contacts know that you are heading  off and might fall of the great Interweb for a  little while – that’s from around the 20 Dec for about 10 days if I get unlucky re connections being promised just before Xmas in New Zealand.

Leaving Australia Count Down

  • Give notice to the phone company and power company. In Perth the power company , Synergy, will send you final bill overseas, the Phone company has always billed us electronically so the email stays the same.
  • Cancel any subscriptions you might have picked up along the way.
  • Start advertising what may be saleable, decide where you are going to give it to if you don’t sell: we took cents in the dollar for a lot of books rather than spend time selling them individually – we took the lot to the second hand shop. We will do
  • The rental agent is some sort of clean demon – I have never cleaned the tops of doors I own never mind those of a rental – apparently it has to be done, ditto the carpet cleaning – I’m hiring someone to do both – too hard for me!
  • Selling a car varies dramatically state by state – in Western Australia – its buyer beware there is no requirement for a mechanical check before sale – the paperwork is available online and you then just mail the sellers portion back with the buyers details included.  Gumtree is the local equivalent of Craig’s List and worked for the car!
  • The airlines have got tough on overweight luggage – instead we will ship our overweight bags via air freight a day or two before we fly and even with $80 worth of fixed charges the $3.50/kg is a lot more attractive that $10/kg Qantas charges! You do need to collect the stuff from the receiving airport.

Some link love – must be Christmas or something:

Todd has restyled his blog to being all about Home Business Tips – nice new look Todd and solid advice about not changing domains every 5 minutes – you can get ANY url to rank for a term with enough backlinks – this blog being a case in point.

My Prague friend  – Hospitalera – is after one of the most obscure anchored links I’ve ever come across Oes tsetnoc – I thought it was some weird Czeck term – even I know enough it wasn’t German – but I was wrong, check her link to find out what its all about.


Digital Nomads, Passive Income Online – the Reality

I was a gypsy before I discovered what a digital nomad was – I like the name – it was easier to spell… The idea of being able to packup up the laptop and move your life at whim – how alluring is that to so many people? Ben wants to use his success at making money online with SEO and travel the world – he’s clearly been to some places already judging by his stunning travel photos – so he possibly knows what he’s getting himself into – or may be not.

Back in 2006 I had a brain wave – I was earning a good hourly rate in a job I hated and despised. I woke up sad on Sunday because I had to go to work on Monday. I buried three friends that year – two of them were younger than my partner and less than ten years older than me – it makes you think.  It makes you think that life is for living and life is too short to waste it doing something you hate – I’d known that for a while but I managed to persuade my partner to.  My partner asked for leave of absence from the Bank he’d worked for nearly 10 years and for which he always got raving performance review. They turned him down of course, he resigned.

In early 2007 we rented out the house, put all our worldly possessions in storage. We bought one-way tickets to Australia. We arrived in Brisbane, bought a 1985 Landcruiser, some camping gear (neither of us had ever camped in our lives). We hit the road, and 6 months and 36,000 km (22,000 miles) later we got as far as Perth (bottom left if you are geographically-challenged). (BTW I laughably thought that this would be the perfect time to launch my online business! In a word – don’t!). Tired of the long open  road not yet ready to drive across the Nullarbor, we settled down in Perth for a while. Two years later we are on the move again, back to New Zealand.

Swan River, Perth, WA
Swan River, Perth, WA

Which brings me to my point – how in hell can two people who arrived with a Landcruiser full of gear end up with so much crap to sell! Why does the world make it so hard to be location independent? I have fantastic broadband here in Australia  – can I transfer my plan to New Zealand – of course not- same company but you can’t transfer. Can I transfer my phone number? You’re joking aren’t you – well this is the last time I am ever being taken that con again – I am getting a location independent IP phone as soon as I work out the details – I know Skype will do it but there might be other options. At least I don’t have any emails attached to local ISPs anymore (you don’t do you?)

We are lucky, we have 2 month’s notice that my partner’s contract won’t be renewed – double the time they had to give us. So now we just have to get rid of all the stuff, close down the power, the phone, the Internet. Cancel the car’s insurance – oh and sell the car as well. Cancel the subscriptions. Get the notes from the various medical practioners we’ve been supporting over here. Say goodbye, find a flight just before Xmas – and find somewhere to live before we can legally evict the tenants in Feburary. And then we – well lets be blunt here  – I – get to do the whole thing in reverse. At Christmas, while mourning the loss of summer (trust me moving from Perth to Wellington in December will be the end of summer).

Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand

I don’t think I am that excited about going “home” – but then I never am really. It is time we sold some real estate there and probably a whole lot of other junk that seemed important at the time. The weather is probably worse than I remember it, but at least we can do some skiing next year – that will be nice.

At least my business is really not affected – thank goodness I have been using a NZ PO Box as my official business address from day one – so that part just keeps on working. The broadband speeds appear slow and the price sky high -and that’s with the best network in the country – which now limits the suburbs we can move to  to those that they cover.   The tax laws are a great deal simpler but I probably will pay slightly more tax – but apart from that nothing much has changed.  The New Zealand dollar is well over-priced against the US dollar – but far more likely to drop once they cut the mortgage rates – which will probably be better for our overall bottom line.

There will be some advantages too: daylight saving and Sunday shopping are the obvious ones. As is being able to eat out without worrying about the bill, seeing friends and my partner’s family again. Being able to afford a dentist will be nice. But after about two weeks, in my experience, the novelty wears off. And the reality is that my closest family is in Europe anyways – for those of us who have wandering in the blood its highly unlikely that one place really will ever contain all the people that matter to us ever again.

The trouble is is that the little things are really difficult if you keep moving. We have both lost medical insurance – you can only be covered for the first year out of the country – no country recognises your insurance record overseas – so effectively you start again each time you move. Our car insurance will probably go up as well as we haven’t had insurance on the car we haven’t driven for over two-years.  My partner needs to ensure that he spends enough time in New Zealand to qualify for superannuation over the next few years – the fact that he was born there and worked his entire life there is irrelevant – he needs to spend 5 years between 55- and 65 in New Zealand – oh and then when he retires he needs to spend at least six months a year in the country- that could become quite inconvenient long-term.

And remember this is the easy direction: we have a credit record, credit card, mobiles, driver’s licenses, car – all waiting for us in storage. We don’t have to start all those things up again from scratch in an unfamiliar system.   Useful hint – never cancel everything when you leave a country – we will be keeping a bank account here – it was too darn hard to get one setup to shut it down now!

The point of this post? I’m not sure that I have one but it some ways I think I look at the other side of living the Nomad’s Lifestyle and wonder if people realise that sometimes it has its own disadvantages – I for one don’t see too many Western countries making it a whole lot easier any time soon. And relatives who don’t understand travel – about 90%  them don’t who ever you are related to – will never understand your inability to “settle down”. So yes we are going home – but I have a feeling it won’t be for ever.

Some Resources for Digital Nomads

Living in Bali

Working Nomad Forum is very useful – the first forum I ever found online actually.