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Thread: 4.5 Months in...

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

    Default 4.5 Months in...

    As we've not been active on the forums lately, allow me to give a bit of background. We're Ana and Steve and we're from a suburb of San Diego, CA in the States. We've wanted to move to NZ since our first trip in 2006, but every year there was some reason it wasn't feasible. Finally, in August 2011, we had a serious talk about everything. Steve was unhappy at his work, our mortgage was upside down by 150K (yes we got caught in the housing nightmare), and our future prospects weren't satisfactory to us. We decided to short sale the house and move to NZ. We don't have enough points to do the EoI with out a job offer (I went back to school for 3 years to up our points; my specialty was pulled from the LTSSL 2 days after graduating) so we decided it was worth the risk to take our savings and move and try to find employment when we arrived.

    Long Story Short:
    We arrived in NZ on the 21st of Feb and stayed with friends we had initially met through the forum, then stayed at Kenepuru Lodge in Porirua (recommended). Our container was due to arrive and we were stressed to find a rental. We wanted Tawa or Porirua but our budget was too low so we moved to Taita in Lower Hutt. We stayed there for all of a month, and it was obvious from the 2nd day we had chosen unwisely! Break-ins and gang activity in the neighborhood were just the beginning; when a guy beat another bloody (while a third guy watched) on our front walk outside our bedroom, we knew we had to move. We upped our rent budget to $400 a week and found a beautiful rental in Tawa. The transition was quite smooth as our Taita landlords found a new renter right away. Our container (which was origionally due 2 weeks after we got here) arrived 2 days later.

    Some Specifics:
    Jobs- The job hunt has been even harder than we had feared; We had hoped to break in within 3 months but we've now had to renew our Visitor's visa for 3 more months and we may have to renew again. Steve is in IT, Support Team Lead was his last position in the States but he's also looking at 2nd-3rd level tech support, change mgmt, and other support type roles. The feedback on his CV and skills has been very positive; feedback on visa status abysmal. We are working hard to land a job offer and we hope to get a break soon. It's the one thing that keeps everything in stasis for us.

    Prices- Cost of living seems to even out in the end for us. There were a lot of things that initially seemed more expensive until we learned were to buy it. Meat is almost always more expensive but sales, coupons and rainchecks help cut it down. Most things end up costing the same once we learned the best place and time to buy and I've bartered a bit to save a few bucks. Things that are noticeably cheaper are car-and-contents insurance and in-season fruit and veg. Finding a farmers market makes fruit and veg even cheaper, plus I can haggle a bit.) Things that are noticeably more expensive are petrol and US name brand items like food and clothing. (Best Foods mayo $20 for a standard jar!)

    The Container- We decided to get a 40ft container and bring lots of stuff. We did sell off and get rid of a lot of things, but we had a largish home and we're both borderline pack rats. In retrospect,we wouldn't have brought so much if we had known how inexpensively we could have replaced it once we learned about auctions. Central market auction in Lower Hutt gets amazing items in their auctions and many of the items (except dryers and lawnmowers) go for pennies on the dollar. So anyway, we got our 40 ft container through UPAKWESHIP and in the end it cost us about $7000, once the nickel and dimeing was done. Our experience loading on the US side was very different from the NZ side. We were given 2 hours to load the entire thing and we had to rent our own ramp to do it. (The container stayed on the truck and the drive did not assist) We managed it thanks to staging and amazing friends. Once the container finally arrived in NZ, (after a dockworker's strike delayed it for 5 weeks) we asked for help from friends again, since our place is on a hill with 42 steps up and we assumed be on our own with a time limit again. Not so! Two blokes showed up with the strength of 10 men and were surprised that we helped unload,as they expected to do it all themselves. I bought them beer as thanks.

    Car- We bought a car 2 days after arrival at Turner's Auction in Lower Hutt. we payed $2500 for a Honda Odyssey that seats 8, or 2 with a lot of crap and a desire to road trip. It's a great car and we're happy with the experience, though if you don't know a lot about cars, take someone who does. There were some real lemons with hasty lipstick jobs in the sale.

    Our House- We're a minute from the train in the peaceful town of Tawa. It's a huge 3 bed 1 bath upstairs and a studio/bath downstairs (which is now Steve's brewing room). We also have a 2 car garage and a lot of yard, though the whole property is a terraced hill. I'm looking forward to some gardening in a few months! Our landlords are very quick to address problems and are themselves immigrants. The house does get cold (no insulation and thin drafty windows), but we have an awesome woodburner and we try to bake dinner on especially cold nights.

    Life in general has been surprisingly normal. There are some differences here and there, but on the whole, we've acclimated quickly. Though we're still struggling with the job thing, we are happy with everything else. We're so happy to be here and we love how much there is to do on any budget. Here's to succeeding in making New Zealand our home!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,824

    Default

    Great to hear from you again!

    Thanks for the update, congratulations on everything you've done so far, and VERY BEST wishes for a job soon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Blenheim
    Posts
    1,544

    Default

    Interesting to hear the whole story- all fingers and toes crossed that you can land the job which will give you the right to stay!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Shanghai
    Posts
    258

    Default

    Fingers crossed!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    The Beautiful South
    Posts
    236

    Default

    Congratulations Ana and Steve. I am elated to read that you've both taken a leap of faith to NZ.

    Your words have inspired me since my very 1st trip in 2008. It's been 4 years since and I'm still nowhere closer to the blue stickers.

    Wishing you the very best

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

    Default

    Thanks everyone for the well wishes!
    I have just changed my location; I can't believe I forgot to do that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    161

    Default

    Ana and Steve, Wishing you for your dreams come true and you would find a good job soon.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Las Vegas----> Western BOP, NZ
    Posts
    112

    Default

    Good luck with the job search. You said a 40 foot container... was it completely full? If it wasn't, did you share it with someone else? What are some of the food items you wish you would have packed? This is very important. hahaha... or any other items from the states.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    San Francisco to Auckland
    Posts
    626

    Default

    I am so glad you things are coming together for you. I do hope the jobs come through for you soon!!!! Crossing my fingers for you. One more question, where did you rent your ramp? We are using a freight forwarding company too, and need to get a ramp. thanks.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Wellington, NZ from US
    Posts
    1,927

    Default

    LVKris- Yes, our 40 was full of just our stuff We were very lucky to land a large rental. We brought everything including outdoor furniture (metal), ladders, hand trucks, industrial shelving, etc. Re:food- I brought two boxes of food that included canned tomatoes pasta sauce, and mayo...not because it can't be found here but because I already had it, there was room for it, and they are favorite brands. It's silly, but I think I would have brought more sugar free Jello pudding as I've not found anything similar.
    We also brought our electronics. For TV and computers we bought new cables with NZ plugs and for everything else we bought step down transformers. There are online stores in the States we purchased from for cheap.
    There is one thing I wish I had brought; curtain panels! Target and Walmart have finished panels for under $20 each and though I brought all of mine, we have more and larger windows here.
    One thing we are so glad we bought was a Magic Jack! We don't have to worry about calling to the States just because. Also good for all those little snags like bills and banking. We skype as well but the quality is sometimes poor and we have a data cap on our broadband.

    kiwihusker- I had to call several equipment rental companies before I found a ramp; I think one of the other companies recommended them. As I recall, it was $60 a day and it was 12ft.

    Steve says the most important things to bring are a positive attitude and a willingness to adapt!

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