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Thread: The emotional roller coaster of moving to New Zealand

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Wellington, NZ
    Posts
    68

    Default The emotional roller coaster of moving to New Zealand

    I've been in New Zealand for well over a year now and I wanted to share some thoughts on our experience and reality of leaving your home country and moving half way around the world to settle into a new country and culture.

    In March 2015, I suggested to my wife that we should look at moving abroad for a while. It'd always been a dream that we'd talked about but deep down we probably both knew we'd never get around to it. She'd been having an awful time as a teacher so when she said 'get me a plane ticket and I'll go', I knew this time it was different. So I started the long process that many people on this forum have gone through (or are still going though) and started researching how to move my family across to New Zealand. We chose New Zealand mainly because my qualification as a medical professional was valid there, they spoke English and drove on the same side of the road. We'd never visited before but we had seen all three The Lord of the Rings films (so that's basically the same thing right?)

    I submitted the EOI with 130 points with a job offer that I'd got through a recruitment agency in Hamilton and we were selected. Then followed NZQA, medicals, police checks and the gathering of all of the evidence - a process I enjoyed immensely! We applied for Residency under the Skilled Migrant Category expecting a 12 month wait. 15 days later we'd been approved and the visas were in our passport. Incredible.

    I'd had leaving drinks at work and people told me how envious they were, how brave I was and how there was nothing in my home country to stay for and I was better off going to NZ. The time came and I boarded the plane to go to Hamilton, New Zealand (on my own as my wife had to stay until the end of the school year which also coincided with my son finished 6th form college).

    I arrived to a glorious 30 degree summer and a sense of excitement mixed with terror. What was I doing? I didn't know anybody here, I was alone in a strange country. I'd left a job where I was very well respected and people knew my abilities and actively sought me out to help solve problems. Now I was starting from the ground up. Day one. No reputation and no one had any idea of my capability so I was no longer the 'go to' guy. That was hard and it hit me like a brick wall. It was the difference between fantasising about my new life and the cold hard reality of having to start again in a new country. I moved from a motel to a beautiful two bedroomed apartment which really helped. What didn't help was the Skype calls back home which often ended with tears (from both sides). I felt I'd made a huge mistake and wanted to head back home. My wife and son assured me it was natural and it'd be better when they arrived in 6 months time. I bought an X-Box and a car and settled into the life of a singleton for the first time in 20 years. Luckily the Kiwis are a friendly lot.

    My wife came across 6 months later and we moved to Wellington. Correction - we moved to a cold damp house in Wellington. In winter! It was miserable but I'm glad we experienced it and I wouldn't change it. We moved out soon after into an insulated, comfortable three bedroomed house in the suburbs. Luxury! I started another new job in Wellington but this time it was easier. Yes I was at the bottom of the pile again, but this time I recognised the stages and feelings I'd go through - first helplessness and despair, then adjustment and reconciliation with the situation and finally stability and growing confidence. At the same time my wife got an amazing job. As an aside, her background is in primary school teaching and she worked her way up to leading the year group. She was worn out in our home country with the constant targets, late nights marking and planning (sometimes until 03.00am) and the interminable politics of the job. She was determined that she would not teach in New Zealand so when she arrived she made many appointments with many recruitment agencies - all of whom made positive noises but there seemed to be no follow through. She's a determined person though and always chased up leads and checked in with them on a regular basis. Things weren't looking good and she had an application form to stack shelves at New World when the call came for her to attend an interview that day. Actually in 90 minutes time! She panicked, got ready and gave the interview of her life and landed the job. She's now working in the management side of education and loving it. We bought a second car.

    My son was 17 when we announced we were going to move to New Zealand and at first he thought it was just a pipe dream. We'd talked about it before but it always come to nothing but then he realised we were serious this time and pushed back - he DEFINITELY wasn't coming with us. However, when he realised that his friends would all soon be leaving for University later in the year he said he'd come and give it a try and if he didn't like it, he'd head back home to live with grandparents while he figured out his next move. Six months later he's at University in New Zealand studying to become a Paramedic - his dream job.

    When Christmas came, homesickness came from left-field and knocked me for six. It just wasn't right having a warm Christmas when the songs on the radio were talking of snow. Facebook showed my friends and family getting on with their lives in the UK and enjoying a traditional Christmas. My family was now here and we were determined to make our new life work so we did the most Kiwi thing possible - we headed to the beach and had a barbecue! The homesickness passed. Things are working out for us but it's been emotionally harder than I ever could have imagined. My son often says we were very naive to come without visiting first and he's right. However, if we'd visited first it may have changed our thinking to 'we've done New Zealand now - no need to live there!' We're hurtling towards our Permanent Residence applications and then, one day, Citizenship but one step at a time. If this experience has taught us anything that we could share, it's this: don't take anything for granted as expectation and reality are often not the same thing and you'll have ups and downs but enjoy the experience.

    Thank you all so much for the advice and support from this forum and JandM in particular. You helped turn a dream into a reality.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,958

    Default

    Thank you so much for sharing how you felt, which is going to be reassuring to many people following the same path.

    All my very best wishes for you and the family.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Blenheim
    Posts
    1,545

    Default

    Thank you for sharing- and I am glad it all has worked out well so far!
    Best of luck for the years to come, with your attitude I am sure it'll be good ones.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    NZ (Auckland; via Canada)
    Posts
    1,321

    Default

    Great entry--thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    195

    Default

    Great story. I think we all get so caught up in the minutiae of the job search, then immigration and visa process that we can forget the emotional side of actually living so far away from the known.

    Best of luck for your futures in New Zealand!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    59

    Default

    Thnx for sharing yes its a big thing!!!! for us it happend so fast , from holiday in nz to immigration in 7mths time .... wasn t planned at all so huge shock to everybody we left behind . we just took the chance when had one and enjoy our life to fullest as proud residents of our homecountry new zealand ;-)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Thank you for sharing this. My SMC application is still in process and i am very anxious and excited about the thought of moving to NZ. However, your post really helps putting things into perspective and what i really need to look forward to

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Thank you for sharing! I often wonder how would we feel starting from the bottom again. We did that 12 years ago when we immigrated to the USA and this time I hope would be a little better but who knows. Wish you all the best!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    815

    Default

    Thank you for sharing all this. You and your family have shown a lot of resilience! Wow :-) Every once in awhile, when my rational brain turns off (like going to sleep or waking up) the reality of leaving everyone hits like the floor dropping out from under you. But it's just one of many emotions involved! Mostly I'm excited that we have at least made the decision, 100%. Being on the fence is the worst, hehe...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    UK->CA->NZ
    Posts
    87

    Default

    Thanks for sharing this! Moving to a new country is never easy, I moved from UK to Canada and now to New Zealand. Sometimes when I can't seem to find a good sushi restaurant in Auckland, I will remind myself that I have only arrived a few months ago, it will take time for me to find my new favourite sushi restaurant. Sometimes I miss tall douglas fir trees in pacific northwest, then when I see the rolling green field (plus sheeps) in Auckland, I realized that when I move, I will lose some but I will also gain some. Never look back is my motto!

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