What was it that initially made you consider migrating?
I had been feeling very low and disheartened about living in the UK for many years and so had my husband Kent. We both really felt the country was too overcrowded and there was no quality of life. It was just up in the morning, go to work, come home, go to bed and then repeat. The weather was so up and down you could never plan anything, and working such long days in the week never gave you the pleasure of enjoying it when the odd days were nice. We both loved going on holiday with the warm weather and being near the sea, it was such a downer going back home after to mainly grey skies and dark nights. The summer only seem to last 5 minutes and the winter lasted forever.
Was New Zealand your only choice or did you have other options? If so, what made you decide on New Zealand?
No we had actually the intention of going to Australia, I had a few friends that had lived there and Kent's sister had moved there in 2012 so we had an insight into what it would be like. The thought of warm weather, great beaches did seem very appealing. So, when we went to the first show in London we had every expectation of applying to go to OZ. However, the reps weren’t very helpful, they made it seem like a really difficult and a long-winded process, as we were a bit older than the “normal in the box” candidates for them and so we felt very disheartened about it. It was a very lucky coincidence that in-between some of the talks on Australia, there was one on NZ sandwiched in the middle, we had really good seats and couldn’t be bothered to move, so we sat and listened to it. It was a talk given by Borey that totally changed our lives– we fell instantly in love with NZ, the stunning scenery, the whole way of life that Kiwis enjoy- it blew us away! We didn’t wait for the talk on Australia, we got straight up after and went and talked to him and Joel and never looked back!
You attended the TINZ London event in 2013 – can you tell us what it was like, what you learnt, and how it helped you with your decision-making process?
The show was great, we lived in the Midlands but chose to go to the earlier one in London so that if we needed further information we could then go to the Birmingham one too. As mentioned above we thought we were going to Australia until Borey did the talk on NZ. It was incredibly informative, lots of stands with people to talk too about different things. The NZ one was far and above the better one and was very welcoming. Borey and Joel from NZ Skills In Demand sold us a dream and it felt totally real, we could instantly relate to them and trusted what they were saying was an achievable lifestyle to us. They were very knowledgeable and gave good examples about what life would be like etc. What I got the most out of was listening to the individual talks that each country had representatives from. I had written a list beforehand of all the questions that I had and all the things I needed more info on, that I couldn’t get answers from online. For me I like having that personal interaction with people as I think you get better answers that way and it helps relate to someone about any fears you may have.
They then invited us to a Seminar the following week back in London that was purely on NZ. The talks covered what it was like to live in that country, slide shows etc. and handouts too with various bits of info on. There were representatives there to help answer any questions you had on how to open a bank account, exchange rates, moving companies, tax help, renting properties etc This was the most helpful part as it was purely on the NZ way of life, the few differences there are compared to the UK. It also helped that the people you were speaking to were from New Zealand and so having someone there that you could relate too and ask individual questions was a great benefit. The support network that was available from everyone made it a very easy decision in the end.
Was your plan to emigrate permanently or just to work for a while?
Definitely permanent, going that far away for us was always going to be a permanent move – the UK - apart from family and friends had no appeal anymore for us.
As your husband is a Carpenter, did you know your skills were in demand, and how did this affect your visa options, and ultimate choice?
It was very easy for us as Kent was a Carpenter and had been in the trade since he left school – (a long time ago!) He had good qualifications and lots of experience so the skilled migrant visa was the right choice for us. It was strange as although we knew Christchurch had had a huge earthquake, it wasn’t very well publicised in the UK about how damaged the city was, so we didn’t really put 2 and 2 together that there was such a skill shortage over there, creating a huge demand which we slotted into very easily. I was working in an office as a supply chain and logistics account manager and so it wasn’t a relevant option for a visa for me, so we did it on Kents. We applied for residency straight away as we knew we wouldn’t be coming back.
How did you get your job offer? Can you talk through the process from finding it to having presumably a telephone/skype interview? Or did you manage to meet them at some point?
At the show there was already a mention of a possible job. This was something that Skills in Demand sorted out for Kent. He arranged a time to have a Skype interview with them one evening which was good, as he could then ask any questions he needed to make sure it was the right choice for us, and then luckily a job offer was offered straight away. They couriered the contract through to us in the UK, where we read through, signed and sent back and it was all signed and sealed – a very quick and easy process!
How long did the whole process take, from deciding to make the move, and then when you made the application to finding out?
I was shocked how quickly it all went. We went to the show in February 2013 and Kent was in NZ working on 26th September 2013, so 7 months from first going to a show, to then being there! I then followed the month after when I had sorted the house etc out as we also brought our dog with us too.
What else was there to consider – moving of house, family, pets, house in NZ, insurance, car etc? Anything unexpected or difficult or strangely easy?
Due to the time limit we had decided to rent our house out first to give us some breathing space, but looking back I wish we had just sold everything and started again. We did ship some of Kent's bigger tools over and some of our furniture but the time it took to come over and the insurance we paid on it, it would have been cheaper to just sell everything and start fresh. Paying for extra bags with the airline was a good and quicker way of getting the tools he needed straight away and some of our personal effects.
When Kent came out first he went into contract accommodation that had been arranged when he was still in the UK and stayed with a lady who we are really good friends with still, which was awesome. This gave him time to look for a rental property for when I came out and get a vehicle sorted for work too. I brought my dog over with us, which probably was the most stressful part of the whole process purely because they have to have so much done in the UK, and then you are on a ticking clock to leave. There was only 10 days in quarantine for her which was one of the many positive things about moving here.
Now you’re in New Zealand, how are you enjoying it? Does it meet or exceed your expectations? What is it in particular that you love?
We LOVE IT here, we can’t ever imagine being anywhere else. The lifestyle is exactly what we saw our lives being. We have bought a house now that we are renovating, which is close to the beach. We live in a little town that has parks and skate parks for kids, kayaking on the river, coffee shops close by – that stay open longer than the pubs - which is hilarious! At the end of our road there is the view of the mountains which I never tire of looking at, especially in the winter when there is snow on them.
There is never a dull moment here, always something to do. I am still amazed at the activities that are available to you at no cost. In the summer months they have small music festivals playing in Hagley park in the city which most of the time is just a gold coin donation. You can turn up with your chilly bin (cool box) and a couple of chairs and just spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun. It is safe for families as there are lots of space for the kids to run around and burn off steam! So, it absolutely exceeds our expectations - the only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!
What are the biggest changes to the UK?
In NZ life is much simpler, the weather is better which is a huge advantage. NZ has so much open space with the mountains, beaches and rivers and dirt tracks to go and explore on. The air is cleaner – there doesn’t seem to be a constant smog about, and the lack of people! I hope this country never gets overcrowded like the UK – there are way too many people there – everyone is miserable and stressed and fed up. They work long hours to afford big houses, big cars, fancy designer handbags and clothes and then don’t have the energy or time to enjoy them. Kids are growing up with no freedom and spending their lives with their noses on the newest phones or gadgets instead of being outside playing with their mates.
Before we bought our house and started renovating it, we would go out every weekend and just go to the beach or somewhere new and drive to a different place each time – take no sat nav, just keep going until we got as far as we wanted and then turn around and come back. There is so much space and so many beautiful breath-taking things to see. We never did this in the UK as weekends were spent recovering from working hard all week or a good night out down the pub, as that was all you had to look forward too. Don’t get me wrong people still work very hard here, but they also know how to do the work life balance and have the time with their families enjoying life and that is the massive difference!
Any advice you would give anyone else who is considering making the same move?
Just go for it – what is the worst thing that could happen? It may not work out – but that depends on your attitude. I see so many people give up after as little as 6 mths and go back. You have to give it at least 2 years – my husband and I made a promise that no matter how tough it got or how much we missed our friends and family – we wouldn’t make any final decisions before 2 years was up, we stuck to it, and boy we didn’t regret it.
You move anywhere, even from one town or part of the UK to another, you will still get teething issues and hard times – so you're very naïve if you think moving to the other side of the world won’t be tougher. Having a good network behind you of family and friends does help make the process easier.
If you are wanting to make the move then do lots of research and ask lots of questions, and don’t rely on forums as your only source of knowledge – whilst some are good – they can also be quite negative and misleading, remember everyone’s expectations are different and will settle in at a different pace too.
Finally, keep an open mind about everything and remember - You only get one chance at life – there are so many exciting things out there to experience, all it takes is to be brave and have that one leap of faith!