Andrew Stephens, Sunday the 16th of February, 2014 in Travel and Places

Guess what? I moved to Boston, Massachusetts, USA This post was automatically imported from my old blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format.. Actually, technically Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA although even that is nominal. What NZers would call the city of Boston is actually made up of a bunch of smaller cities, like Auckland used to be but on a much larger scale. Each city has its own school system, police force and ideas about utilities and roading. It gets a little confusing.

I moved as an internal transfer within the company that employs me. It was a bit of a wrench uprooting myself from my comfortable existence in Auckland, but it is exciting living in a new country. In Auckland I had a house and garden, but I decided that if you are going to make a change you might as well change everything, so I am now in a very nice (and brand new) apartment. Map of Boston and Auckland superimposed This is a map of Boston overlaid with Auckland at the same scale, so you can compare the distances involved. My commute is from Cambridge to Waltham, but the motorways are very convenient and it only takes me 15 to 20 minutes.

The downside of immigrating is you encounter a lifetime's bureaucracy in a few weeks as you race around setting up bank accounts and suchlike. The U.S. is a strange mixture of hyper-efficiency and weirdly old fashioned paperwork. A lot of things in the US rely on you having a Social Security number, which takes weeks to get and cannot be applied for in advance. Mine should turn up in the next few days which will make certain things like getting a driver's license possible.

Speaking of driving, I am not finding driving on the other side of the road difficult. What is strange is the crazy road layouts. Boston is a very old city by US standards, and I imagine that most of the roads follow routes that are hundreds of years old. But that doesn't explain why intersections seldom meet at right angles, the intersections half-way up on-ramps, or the terrifyingly short allowances for merging on the motorways. Nor does it explain while my brand-new apartment building was allowed to build it's only right-of-way connected straight onto a busy motorway.

Having said that, the standard of driving is very high. Speed-limits are pretty much ignored but drivers are very courteous and safety conscious. Rental Car covered in Snow I was very apprehensive about the weather. Although I missed the famous polar vortex (which mainly missed Massachusetts anyway), there have been some fairly big dumps of snow, big enough that I chickened out of driving to work twice. The locals tell me that this is an unusually cold and stormy winter but the city seems to cope pretty well, with a small army of plough drivers clearing the roads around the clock. Apart from the snow, I haven't found the cold to be unbearable at all. The hard part is seeing the sun set at 5pm, but that will change soon enough.