What sparked the initial desire to emigrate?
To be honest, both of us had long been fascinated by New Zealand. Colin had relatives living there, but both of us wanted to go and look at it - it was the 'holiday of a lifetime' destination which we always said we'd get round to, eventually. Then things started to get a bit 'dodgy' in the UK, and we decided that we'd better go on that 'holiday of a lifetime' - and if what we saw was as good as we hoped it would be... It was. New Zealand is a wonderful place, and although we only had three weeks, we did our best to scour the place from Auckland to Christchurch, and decided there and then that it was the place for us!
What about New Zealand appealed to you?
New Zealand has everything. You want mountains? Check. Glaciers, fjords, alpine lakes? Beaches, rolling hills, plains, rivers, friendly metropolitan little cities? All present and correct. It also doesn't have the things that you don't want. Venomous critters? None. Overcrowded? NZ has the population of half of London, in a country bigger than the UK. Smog, pollution, bellicose nearby nations? Nope. Well, there are the Aussies, I guess... 😉 Diane has some family in Canada, and we both have friends in the United States, but it was no contest - why settle for less, when you can have the best?
What initial steps did you take to investigate your move?
We looked online, visited forums and so on - but the best way to know a place is to go to a place and be in it. This is an expensive option for somewhere on the other side of the world, but it was worth it. As for settling permanently, a lot of web-based searching informed us that there was an age cap on achieving Residency. This was a problem for Colin, who was already up against that cap in 2017, but luckily Diane was a couple of years younger - and importantly, her skills as a top-notch .Net Software Developer were in way more demand than those of a career civil servant. So we started off concentrating on getting a job offer for Diane, knowing that Colin would be included as her partner.
Did you attend any of our This is New Zealand Webinars/Seminars and if so, how were they helpful?
We discovered that there was a Seminar coming up in London, hosted by Borey of Migration Associates, and that several other companies would be there to answer our questions about emigration to NZ. We arranged to attend in November 2017, and greatly enjoyed the show. We were able to confirm lots we had found out already from searching the internet; but of course it is always wisest and best to hear it from someone first hand, who knows the truth - and Borey had so much practical info on hand that we had to take copious notes! The other companies who were present ended up being very useful to us - MoneyCorp for sending our money overseas when we sold up; and PSS to arrange storage and then shipment of our goods. PSS also handled moving our car - a lot cheaper than buying a new or second-hand one, for sure... MoneyCorp saved us a lot on transfer fees and gave an excellent conversion rate compared to banks - selling your home and having nowhere else to go is a pretty nerve-wracking experience...
What next steps did you take?
Although we tried to get Diane a job offer from London, it proved too difficult. We did secure one or two Skype interviews, and lots of interest from employers and agencies, but in the end we decided that it wasn't working, so we took the plunge. We sold up, had our goods and car stored in a forty-foot container by PSS, and flew to Christchurch on our UK passports as visitors. PSS arranged a free airfreight parcel which was useful, as it allowed Diane to bring her PC with us - although that did lead to an interesting conversation with NZ Customs as to why we needed a PC when we were just visiting... Pretty much everybody in the UK and on various forums advised against our course of action - it was too much of a gamble, they said. Borey was clearly impressed by our determination though, and his advice helped make up our minds - cheers again, Borey!
How did you find the job search?
So once landed in New Zealand, and helped out for the first week of jet-lag by Colin's friendly relatives, we set out to find a place and more importantly, a job for Diane. Tick-tock, six month's of validity for the Visitor's visa from the UK was on our minds as we moved around; an Airbnb for a couple of weeks, then a short-term let for four months in a nice little central Christchurch apartment. Whilst it was true that we picked up more interest from employers now we were actually in NZ, and she got down to a '50:50' selection in one of her interviews, there was still no job by the end of March. So we did what anybody would do in such a squeeky-bum situation, and bought tickets for the entirety of the Second Cricket Test Match at the Hagley Oval! Gripping game for a draw - well played the Black Caps - and a proper tan for Colin, but come the middle of April came our reward for perseverance and gambling - an A1 job offer for Diane!
How are you finding life now you’re in New Zealand?
Borey and the Migration Associates team were sterling in their efforts to help us out when we needed it - hustling the Work Visas through; getting our passports back from INZ to help with our IRD number applications; checking carefully that all the paperwork was correct - Colin's background in the civil service was useful to us, but Borey still spotted and fixed a couple of shortcomings there! So we've made it - we recently raced through to SMC visa and Residency, with months and months to spare before hitting the age cap. It took us just about eight months in the end, to go from that far-off London Seminar, to popping the champagne corks in our new home as Residents of New Zealand. We can lean back in our new home and enjoy it - we have the rest of our lives to explore this fascinating place, make more great new friends, and stare up at the amazing southern night sky...