What made you initially decide to look to move down under?
We came for a ‘once in a lifetime’ touring holiday in March 2010, and just fell totally in love with New Zealand, in particular the South Island, something just clicked for us.
What appealed to you about New Zealand?
It’s not something we can quite put our fingers on, there were a lot of things we liked, the friendliness and openness of the people we met, the lack of crowds / traffic, and of course the stunning landscapes.
We felt it offered a better, more balanced lifestyle for ourselves and especially our young son, with better weather so more time outside enjoying the things we already enjoyed doing, like tramping, camping and exploring, but also lots of opportunities to discover things we hadn’t tried before, like surfing and water sports.
There seemed to be less pressure to ‘fit the mold’ and more focus on achieving the ‘work life balance’ that we were struggling to find in the UK.
What steps did you initially take to start the process?
Its taken us a long time to finally make the move - Initially we started looking into the move when we got back, in 2011 we went to the NZ Expo in Manchester, and had some initial discussions about how we fit the requirements, how many points we would be likely to meet etc, but then we had to put the move on hold due to family commitments.
A change in circumstances in 2015 allowed us the opportunity to return to New Zealand and we decided that we would use the visit to confirm our long held wish to move, and focus the visit on exploring the Christchurch and the top of the South Island.
While planning the visit we completed the online assessment with Migration Associates, and started discussing what we would need to do next, they put us in touch with Skills in Demand, who recommended that Peter complete the EWRB Certificate through GB Construction Training before seeking work and the Visa.
While in Christchurch we met up with Glenn from Skills in Demand for a coffee, and it was great to have that chat, he reassured Peter that he would be welcomed, and have no problem on the work front so we decided that we were going to go for it.
We were also fortunate being able to attend one of the Seminars in Manchester and were able to meet Rachael and various partners, so gathered a lot of information and contacts from that, such as banking and currency transfers. I also logged onto a couple of the online sessions, again getting great information and contacts.
How did Peter find completing the NZ Electrical qualification?
It’s a long time since Peter qualified in the UK and it is daunting to go back to study after such a break, the coursework is incredibly demanding especially when juggling it with working full time and family life. The course in London was very intense, they cram a lot into a very short time. Peter felt that the tutor really understood the NZ regulations and the standard required to pass the EWRB course and ensured that everyone on the course had that knowledge.
Having his licence has made the transition so easy, Peter had a job offer immediately which made getting the Work Visa straight forward, and he has been able to go into work as soon as we arrived doing work at a similar level of challenge and interest as he did in the UK.
Was there anything unexpected, or complicated? How did Migration Associates help?
We have been really lucky – the visa was straight forward and Rachael and the team were brilliant in guiding us with the documents needed when and how to get them.
So far the biggest challenges have been getting things sorted such as shipping our belongs in the container and the urgent delivery of Peter's tools so he could start work, again we used one of Migration Associates recommended partners – PSS Removals, who guided us through the process, I think the most challenging thing was doing the customs paperwork for the tools whilst battling the fog of jet lag and stopping in a lodge on the campsite.
We’re now onto our Residency Visa, again Borey and the team here in Christchurch have made it so easy, a minor issue with a missing x-ray as Lewis had had a birthday was sorted in a couple of hours.
What’s life like now in New Zealand – as you expected? What’s very different to the UK?
From day one of moving here we have felt so at home, it’s hard to explain, to us it feels very familiar or as we say 'same but different’... Different names for things, or different options in the supermarket but not total new....
At the moment (6 months in...) it still feels like we are living the dream, life for us is much easier than in the UK.
We found a great house to rent, near to a good school and easy to get around from. Lewis is enjoying a his new school and has settled in well, he can walk there and back so enjoys that extra freedom. We’ve both found work at a similar level to what we were doing in the UK, and we spend much less time in the car and more time at home - commuting to work is down to 15 mins each way (over an hour each way in the UK).
We do so much more as a family on a weekend, we’re at the beach or exploring one of Christchurch’s many reserves, visiting Orana, riding the Trams, or the Gondola – sometimes all in one day, everything is so close and easy to get to. We’ve even managed to see New Zealand play in the Rugby League World cup.
The hardest thing is missing friends and family, especially over Christmas – although cooking a Turkey in 30 degree heat was a novelty for us, its that we cant just drop in for a drink or a chat, and the time difference can make calling the UK a challenge, but there are so many ways to keep in touch – Skype and Facetime are great, and that are lots of tools now to help.
What’s the work like over in New Zealand for electricians?
I think having the licence ensured Peter would have work that suited his experience, he has a lot of experience in industrial electrical work and has been able to utilise those skills here. The EWRB regulations are different to the UK and having gained that knowledge has helped, on a practical level the experience from the course was also good preparation for understanding the different accessories, and materials he would be using on site, not to mention the Kiwi names for things.