Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 31

Thread: One Year. One Family. One Part of a Very Long Post.....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    York to Torbay, North Shore
    Posts
    423

    Default One Year. One Family. One Part of a Very Long Post.....

    Reading all the posts about the uncertainties of the moving process, cleaning bikes, where to live... it all seems like a lifetime ago, but it's exactly one year ago that we stepped onto New Zealand soil and became residents. If anyone is interested a year and a bit is condensed here.

    Back Story
    We were a family of four living in the UK. Hubby had a safe, interesting, well-paid job for a good employer. We loved our house and our home town of York. So why even think about it? Through an accident of chance we ended up at a movetoNZ expo. The example case study they used in a seminar for applying as a skilled migrant was a perfect description of my husbands work experience and our attention was caught. From this point the seed was sown and we read up, researched, visited and started the paperwork whilst we thought about it.

    Our motivation was primarily driven by the perception of the lifestyle and that it would suit us as a family. The attraction of fewer people, meaning less traffic, meaning less hassle, was very high as well.

    Why We Came
    Since we arrived, countless people asked us why we came. With hindsight the truth is really quite simple. The further down the process we got, the harder it was to stop. The more we had invested time, money and emotional energy into the process, the bigger the reasons needed to be to stop.

    It came down to logic and balance. We are born researchers and would consider ourselves fairly risk-averse but we spent hours on this project and eventually got ourselves to the position where we felt we had minimised the risks with careful planning, particularly financial. We told ourselves things like "We can always come back" and "We're only 24 hours away" etc. We know now that they were mental comfort blankets. It quite simply became: if we'd abandoned our plans we would always have wondered "what if..."

    A word on how we did it
    We were lucky enough to have a background and circumstances which gave us enough points to be automatically selected on the Skilled Migrants Permanent Resident scheme. The plan was to come over as a family all together on a PR visa and get a job on arrival, living off savings in the mean time. We timed our departure to coincide with the end of a huge project at Hubby’s work and to allow plenty of time after the birth of number two to make sure she was fit and healthy.

    Choosing this timing was very hard because of the work commitments. That year was a very hard year for my husband (and by extension for the rest of the family as well) and I had to do the brunt of the paperwork and organising, as well as coping with a new baby and a three yr old. This was an incredibly stressful year.

    The months leading up to our departure were a full on, exhausting project managed hell. We had to fit in DIY to prep the house for rental and a future-proof it in case we wanted to sell from NZ. We also cleaned a lot of stuff from our garage for MAFF. But more importantly we had to fulfilled a painful obligation to say goodbye to everyone possible by travelling around the country weekend after weekend. We also organised a leaving party, and so the list went on! During this time I picked up some freelancing work and Hubby was working on average 12 hour days and there were a couple of occasions where he didn't see the kids awake for periods of 72 hours...


    But then, all of a sudden he'd finished work; we'd finished the UK tour; and, our vast list of jobs, come calendar, come gant chart on the sitting room wall was telling us that we had just days left.

    The packing was conducted excellently. Pickfords earned every penny of their money and we highly recommend them. Watching almost all your possessions be driven down the road on a container lorry is an odd feeling, more so walking back into your house to find just a few suitcases left.

    By now we'd started a blog as an attempt to help those we were leaving behind to understand our journey and be a little closer to us. This has turned out to be probably the most important tool for cushioning the blow to those back in the UK for us. It has also helped us to reflect on our achievements and the whole settling in process.

    The next 7 days of our life we really took comfort from the level of planning we'd done. Apart from some late departures from our house due to more cleaning than we anticipated, everything went entirely to plan. We had just two good friends help us to the airport - essentially to marshal our 14 pieces of luggage from two cars to check-in at Heathrow.
    There was a brief incident at the check-in desk where we were told that the two car seats we were taking were part of our luggage allowance rather than exempt as we'd confirmed THREE times on three separate occasions on the phone with AirNZ. This was the point when I was about to snap under the strain of it all! In addition our cases were over their weight limits by a kilo or two per case. After a very firm but polite discussion all our luggage was loaded without excess charge and my heart rate returned to safe limits.

    I could write an entire post on the flight: the hellish children in front of us; the genius invention of the CARES harness we bought for our one year old; the ridiculous security controls at LAX; the benefits of playing the young child trump card to skip the queues; the lovely Auckland airport helpers who aided our passage from luggage reclaim to the shuttle bus as our weary children struggled to keep awake.

    Why Auckland?
    We chose Auckland to live in for two main reasons. We wanted to give ourselves the greatest chance of finding work in the IT sector and we liked the look of the Auckland climate, particularly the opportunities it would give us to take up sailing again once the children were older. Although we didn’t really want to think about it, we did accept that if, after a few months, Auckland wasn’t coming-up-rumps on the job-front, then we would have to consider moving.

    To help us focus on finding a job, we chose to rent an apartment in a block just on the edge of the CBD where we got a good rate as they were newly opened. It was ok and did the job for nine weeks in the end.

    Where was the rush?
    Our feeling on arrival was a bit weird. We kept thinking - am I supposed to feel some big rush of excitement? Neither of us did. It all just felt, kind of, normal. Every so often we'd look up from what we were doing and have a "We're in New Zealand" moment. The overwhelming urge was to continue with the quest. It would have made sense to sit back, relax, chill and take our time. Impossible. Our minds were so focussed on achieving goals we were compelled to start cracking through our checklist. Get a car. Find an area to live. Find a house to rent. Make friends. All whilst looking for a job.

    The car was easy enough. Set yourself a budget then spend a few days looking at all the used car yards. Once you've done this for three days you'll be so hacked off with it you'll just buy something that suits and move on.

    So we soon had a car. Then started the trawl around Auckland to find an area we liked. This is a problem if you have no starting point. It's a big place and there are such differing areas and price ranges. We started by estimating our salary potential and ruling out areas where the average house price was significantly higher than we could afford. Then it was a case of driving. Lots of driving; lots of estate agents or real estate agents; lots of offices; lots of grumpy kids. Here's our general, personal experience: Barfoot and Thompson have almost without fail been helpful and friendly and their agents have understood what we were looking for. In our experience, Ray Whites are almost the exact opposite. There are other agencies who varied from office to office.

    To be continued.......

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    York to Torbay, North Shore
    Posts
    423

    Default And There's More........

    In choosing our area, the best piece of advice was “choose your lifestyle first”. In the end, we chose the north shore because it was close to safe swimming beaches, and several areas were still affordable. We considered West Auckland and have friends in Titirangi, but it just didn't feel right. East Auckland also just didn't feel right and the traffic issues for commuting to CBD were apparently horrific. Choosing an area is really difficult. You've got to have a hunch that you could live there because you will start to put down roots, make friends, join clubs etc. and to tear all those up again if you need/want to move is a hard prospect to face.

    Once we'd chosen an area it was a lot easier to start looking at rentals (3/4bed houses) although they were scarce of decent quality. It was universally true that anything vacant was not worth having. We had to wait for a place to become vacant once the tenants had given notice. We got our house by an agent understanding our requirements and recommending a place that had come on the market that morning and hadn't even been advertised. We secured it before it was made available to the public. That seems to be the way things work here. Things are done through people and recommendation and contacts.

    Once in the house you realise how much you don't know. How does the doctor system work? Which power company should I use? Which one will actually answer the phone so I can pay someone for electricity... Do I really need a 'Robocan' in my house? How the hell do I set up a direct debit? What do I do with my kids? What's a kindy? What's free? How do you choose one, what's good and what's bad? What's Plunket? Where should I buy vegetables? Furniture? Which DIY store is cheapest? How much are stamps? How do you call for an ambulance? This was the point where the enormity of what we'd done really hit us. Here we are, in this foreign land where the only things constant are the four people in our family. We no longer instinctively recognise brands, nor can perform the very basic tasks of running our lives without a huge amount of effort. Everything was taking five times longer than it should as we learned about the new world we lived in.

    Finding the Job
    All the while this was going on Hubby had been diligently looking for a job. This was not as easy as we'd hoped - there was not a lot around. Although we had anticipated this (he was looking for a team leader/management type role which are obviously far fewer than say software developers) it was extremely hard living on rapidly dwindling savings. Quite soon after we arrived he did have an interview with a big company for a contract position but it was only two months and that would have dropped us right into Christmas 'dead-zone' where the corporate world pretty much shuts down. Not a good time to be unemployed. Well it is because it's sunny and lovely but not a good time to find a job!

    In the end after 7 weeks, during which he had an agent screening, phone interview, technical test, first face to face interview, psychometric and ability testing, second face to face interview, tour of the office and a meet the team session he was made an offer. He accepted! He first talked to an agent about the role at the end of July and started work at the end of September.

    By the time he went off to work, we had moved into our house and got the eldest into kindy and started making friends. So you'd think we'd feel settled? Not me. I'd lost my mummy network and didn't have anyone to call on when I was having a tough time with the kids or anyone to share trips out with. It was generally quite lonely. The only cure to this was to gradually build up a new network of friends. This happened slowly through the kids activities. Anytime I recognised a face I'd strike up a conversation and some of them just turned into good conversations, then a meet up, then a house play date, and so on.

    Getting there
    By November things had really started settling down. We had a trip down to Taupo with some new friends to visit their relatives. It was during that trip that we took our new Kayak down the Waikato River and did a river float in the crystal clear meltwater from the mountains (wetsuit required... flippin freezing). This defined what we had hoped for out of our new lifestyle and it had become a reality.

    The lead up to Christmas was a difficult time. It was like we had retreated into our own worlds for a while. We are a very close couple with a similar outlook and a mutually supportive way of coping. But the huge challenges of moving to the other side of the world had resulted in very different coping mechanisms. We had basically stopped talking openly to each other about what we were feeling. I was struggling with planning what to do for Christmas but Hubby was getting on with making sure he was settling in well at work, neither of us really felt Christmassy because of the heat and we were both missing friends and family. This is all obvious looking back, but was absolutely NOT obvious as the cause at the time. The critical thing for us was to start talking about how we felt again. Once we could do this we worked through issues.
    The Up’s
    It's important to try and explain that the strains of settling were all very much a background landscape to individual moments of happiness, excitement and discovery that temporarily blotted out the anxieties we felt. Using the beach every day, finding new places, developing friendships etc. were all fantastic and we were having a great time. Sounds like a contradiction I know, but that's the best way I can describe it.

    Christmas actually turned out really nice. We spent most of it with friends, went to the beach, had barbecues... tried to really immerse ourselves in the kiwi way of doing things. We were brave and accepted people’s invitations. We just got stuck in!

    And by the time January came round we were really looking forward to our first visitor. The last person we'd seen in the UK and our first visitor, our best man. He was coming out on his own as he had recently separated and we were looking forward to giving him a hug and helping him in any way we could. Thankfully he likes outdoor stuff and surfing so we were fairly confident he would have a great time.

    This was when our first major setback occurred. The owners of our rental house wanted to move back in. In five weeks. We were informed by letter that our contract would not be renewed and the house needed to be vacant on Feb28th. This was devastating. Utterly devastating. If you can imagine transplanting a flower from one location to another then ripping it out of the ground just as it has started to flower, this was how we felt.

    We allowed ourselves one day of self-pity. It was our guest I felt worst for. He'd spent a chunk of cash to visit us and on his second day on the ground we are thrown into turmoil and all the weekends away we had planned were thrown in the air. Plus our eldest was set to start school in the first week of March with all the friends she had just made at kindy.

    To be continued.......

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    York to Torbay, North Shore
    Posts
    423

    Default Last One, I Promise

    The next day we picked ourselves up and remembered back to that cold analytical determination that got us here in the first place. We had a big decision to make. Look for another rental and know with fair certainty we'd have to move again for some reason or other within another year or bite the big one and buy somewhere.

    We opted to buy. In the UK it wouldn't even be an option. In the first 10 days we saw, between us, nearly forty properties. This was a combination of open homes and estate agent visits. We discounted probably four times that many on paper because they didn't look right. Trying to work out what was a good purchase and what wasn't is incredibly difficult and because of our tight timescale we had to look right up the North Shore Bays from Milford to Browns Bay, knowing that it was very unlikely we would be staying in the area where we had been renting and therefore walking away from so many familiar faces and places.

    The number one question we had in our heads was basically "is it a leaky home?" This is where an amazing piece of good fortune was on our side. One of our new friends is a surveyor working for a leaky building specialist. The whole thing is terrifying. Basically he said just don't touch anything built during the period affected (pretty much the whole of the nineties and into the early noughties). He's seen houses where the structural timbers have rotted to mulch in the walls and it's just the skin of the house holding it all together. Very very scary stuff. Other general rules, don't buy anything rendered and make sure the eaves are really big.

    With these rules in mind and remembering that North facing gardens are good we ploughed on with the search. I called my hubby after one visit to a fantastic place in our price range, on a big plot, 10 minutes walk from a lovely beach. The only snag it was up in Torbay far further north than we were thinking. The area is lovely and quiet and safe with excellent schools. The issue is the commuting time. Hubby thought it through and decided he could live with the one hour commute if the benefits were big enough. We were potentially getting so much more for our money than we could further south we decided to go for it.

    This was where things really took off. About two weeks into our eviction notice period now and we made an offer conditional on getting a number of things sorted. They accepted the offer and had five days to address all the issues. After five days the offer went unconditional and we'd bought a house. By amazing coincidence and good fortune the occupants needed to move out asap and could meet our target move date so we could move straight from our rental. We'd done it. In just three weeks. Leaving two weeks to pack.

    It was actually quite easy to move again... although we don't want to see another pickfords box for a while. Choosing to host a kids birthday party the weekend after moving in probably wasn't such a wise move but you can't let your little girl down can you? That was four months ago now...

    The last four months have been almost routine. The job is going well. Eldest has started school and is loving it. She is flourishing and we're delighted, even if she has started saying "tin" instead of "ten". We've gradually got closer to our new friends and now have a number of families we are starting to be able to rely on as a proper support network.

    One of the biggest changes we've experienced is in our outlook. Suddenly we want to do stuff that we didn’t want to previously because it somehow just seems natural and easy here. I've been running since we arrived and have built up from slow 3km runs to coming in as high as fourth female in the Run Auckland 5km series runs. I’ll be doing a half-marathon tomorrow (on our one year anniversary) and will do the full Auckland Marathon in October. Hubby got into swimming so that he could feel confident looking after the girls in the water at the beach. For focus he aimed to enter one of the Ocean Swim Series races and managed to do the 750m "King of the Bays" Ocean Swim in February and regularly does 2km sessions in the pool as training. He would never have done something like that in the UK. It's the participation in the open water events that drives him and he's already signed up to swim in the next Ocean Swim series. The first race is the Auckland Harbour crossing. 2.8km from Bayswater on the shore to Viaduct marina.

    There is so much more we could say. I've left a lot of stuff out some deliberately some by accident. If you really wanted to know more then feel free to have a look back through some of the archived posts on our blog. But we feel we have made this work through sheer determination and very careful planning. Yes we have had a couple of very fortuitous events (particularly the speedy house purchase)but they might have passed us by had we not been so focussed on making this move work. We had this golden opportunity to live life differently – not just a new hobby, but how we worked, what we owned, even what we ate – it was a chance to deconstruct our lives and reassess what was truly important. A chance to discover what really mattered to us? And I think we have grasped this chance with both hands.

    Let's end with some numbers:
    Days in NZ: 365
    Very close Friends: around 8 or 9 families
    Friends/Contacts and colleagues: 100+
    House moves: 3 (York to apartment to rental to own house)
    International Visitors: 1
    Kayaks purchased: 1
    Desire to Return to UK : 0

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    at the bottom of the top bit
    Posts
    3,405

    Default


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Poole, UK to Chch, NZ
    Posts
    2,064

    Default

    Love it

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Wellington, NZ from US
    Posts
    1,927

    Default

    Wow! I loved your update Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Wellington
    Posts
    894

    Default

    Great post and may your luck and happiness continue

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wellington
    Posts
    1,870

    Default

    You guys rule! I am so privileged to have met you not once, but twice! Hard to believe that I knew you before #2 was born, that seems so long ago now. You've achieved so much in so little time, you've really worked hard at it and have had the needed attitude to succeed. Well done!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Cambridge, Waikato
    Posts
    2,586

    Default

    Such a great post, thanks for taking the time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,980

    Default

    What they all said. Here's wishing you all the best for continuing happy times.

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •