Well, with a name like ‘Moon Travel Guides,’ how could I say no? Read the interview here.
Olives and Moonlight: A profile of Jared Gulian
Jared Gulian is a self-described “expat American city boy” who now grows olives in rural New Zealand. He blogs about olives, chickens, and the expat life on his award-winning blog, “Moon over Martinborough” at moonovermartinborough.com.
What brought you to New Zealand?
We were living in Japan, and we met a lot of really nice New Zealanders there. We also knew a handful of Americans who had traveled to New Zealand and loved it. so we decided to check it out. When we visited New Zealand, we thought, “We could live here.”
We never planned to live in a rural area. It just sort of happened. We’d been living in Wellington for a couple of years when my partner, CJ, stumbled across an amazing rural property. He came home and said, “Let’s move to the country!” I thought he’d lost his mind.
I agreed to visit the property, however, and I immediately fell in love with the place. Now I don’t know if I could ever leave. I love the vineyards nearby, the light and snow on the mountain ranges in the morning, and the fact that we’ve got an olive grove with nearly 500 trees just out our front door. We sell our olive oil commercially under our own “Moon over Martinborough” label.
What do you like about the rural lifestyle?
One of the things I love most about our rural lifestyle is our neighbors. They’re pure gold to us. Living in the country, everyone relies on each other in a way that I had never experienced in the city, anywhere.
Do you commute into the city for work? What is the commute like?
We both commute into Wellington for our “day jobs.” It’s a 10-minute drive to the bus, then a 20-minute bus ride to the town of Featherston, and then a 55-minute train ride into the city.
We used to live in Chicago. People there commute for an hour and a half and still find themselves in the middle of urban sprawl. Here the same time commute lands you in the middle of paradise. It’s fantastic, and entirely worth the trip.
Do you miss anything about city life?
I miss museums, live theatre, dance performances and good, cheap Mexican food. But every once in a while we stay with friends in Wellington and see a play, or we go on a small holiday “across the ditch” to Australia and visit Sydney for a big-city fix.
Can you find everything you need in your local area?
There’s a small grocery store in our village. For weekly groceries we drive a half an hour to a nearby town just up the valley a bit. Pretty much everything we need isn’t too far. Besides, with the Internet, nothing is ever too far away. I order gluten-free beer online and it shows up on our front deck.
How much extra work goes into owning a large, rural property rather than an urban or suburban home?
Way more than we ever expected! We were pretty clueless about how much work would be involved. There’s always something that needs to be done, whether it’s fixing fences, cleaning up downed trees, tending to the garden, or looking after the olive grove and other fruit trees around the property.
Do you have any advice for other Americans looking into buying a farm or rural property in New Zealand?
Don’t be rash. Look around. Do your homework. Get a strong sense of the place before you buy. We actually stayed in accommodation nearby for a couple nights midweek and did the commute into Wellington, just to experience it before we committed to buying.
Anything else you’d like to share with those considering a move to New Zealand?
Don’t expect it to be just like home. It’s not. That’s the point. One of the great things about living overseas is that there are always things that surprise you and remind you that the culture you’re in is not your own. The food is different, the accents are different, the attitudes are different. That constant sense of the unfamiliar is what makes an overseas experience so rich and rewarding.
Always stay open to opportunity. There are open doors popping up left and right, all the time. It’s up to us to have the courage to walk through them.
Living Abroad in New Zealand
For more info on the book, check out the Moon Travel Guide website or read about it on Amazon. The book has a lot of useful information. We never had a guide like this when we moved here, but it would have come in very handy.