Living in Auckland’s North Shore

Auckland Harbour Bridge
Lake Pupuke, Milford, North Shore
Name: Alison
Age: 38
Occupation: Call centre customer service
Number Emigrating: 4
Emigrated from: Edinburgh, UK
Moved to: Milford, North Shore, Auckland
When did you arrive in NZ: October 2007
My Story Written: June 2012
Daily Commute Time: 20 minutes
What were your reasons for emigrating?

In short, I left Linlithgow, Scotland for a better quality of life and a more relaxed pace of life. I wanted a change and suddenly you reach the age where it is now or never. There was nothing terribly wrong with my life in Scotland but as a family we had a bit of an adventure spirit. As we were in our mid-thirties we did not have enough points for Australia but had enough to apply to New Zealand.

What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

I liked the idea of New Zealand because it was a beautiful country and was not crowded. As a family we wanted to experience living elsewhere that was not too different from our home country. We also wanted somewhere that would be a good place to bring up our children. We had thought about Canada for a while but decided that we wouldn’t like the cold winters.

What differences have you noticed between your NZ town and your home town?

I used my car a lot more to get around in Scotland. I know the driving give way rules have changed back again but I am quite a nervous driver and I found driving a bit scary at first. I wasn’t used to city driving however the roads were only very busy at rush hour. I bought a good quality map and that helped heaps.

I found parents at school to be more friendly and chatty and my daughter had no difficulties making new friends. I found the other mums very easy to talk to and was soon being invited round for morning teas with my toddler.

I came from quite a small town in Scotland so I found the North Shore quite busy and a bit confusing. There are lots of bays with separate communities and it took me a while to get used to that.

The climate was a huge difference. The sun is really powerful in Auckland and I could get sunburnt just taking my daughter to school. I had not felt that kind of heat before and at first it made me a bit uncomfortable.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

Beach Road, Milford

Lots and lots of things.

The beaches in the North Shore are fantastic. We go to Milford beach a lot and the children love it. The play parks are of good quality too so it makes for an easy fun cheap day out.

The climate is so much better. You know that you are going to get a summer. I find now that I get cold in the winter and have the heating on when in Scotland I would just have put a cardy on.

The schools are very good and I am happy with my daughter’s education. My daughter is very happy at school. The teachers take an individual interest in your child and plan extension work if appropriate. I know that she is being taught rather than being constantly tested.

People are very friendly and welcoming. I was able to make friends easily.

We have an automatic car which is fab. I didn’t really know that they existed till I moved here. Makes driving about around all the hilly bays so much easier.

The fruit and veg shops are great. The displays are lovely and make you want to buy the food and there are usually some great ‘specials’ of in season fruit and veg. I had not really tried tangelos, avocados, asparagus before but they are priced so cheaply in season that you give them a go and I love them now.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

I have to be careful in the sun and I am prone to insect bites so I have to put a duel (sun screen and insect repellent) cream on every day. However in saying this I was terribly prone to midges in Scotland.

The distance back to Scotland means two long haul flights and although it doesn’t seem to bother some people I find it quite stressful and tiring – as well as expensive.

Living in Auckland was the first time I saw cockroaches. They don’t come into the house very often but they are huge and disgusting.

At first we had a top loader washing machine as they were cheap and it seemed the ‘kiwi way’. But it was a nightmare and kept cutting out in the spin cycle due to uneven loading and it chewed the clothes.

What do you miss from your home country?

Well I have to confess that it is ready made meals. There is not the same choice or quality in New Zealand.

You can’t just pop in to see your family. It’s not the same talking on the phone.

I miss the Scottish country side when driving around.

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

I found part time work in a call centre in Takapuna quite easily. My children were that bit older and I was offered the first job I applied for.

How does your working life in New Zealand compare with your previous work experiences?

I love my work and have settled in very well. The part time hours suit me as my son does not like to be in child care all day long. I find the people very friendly and it is the best job I have had. In Scotland I worked in Edinburgh for an insurance company and I enjoyed that too.

How much do you earn in New Zealand:

I earn $23,000 a year but that is a part-time wage for 25 hours a week.

My husband is a secondary school teacher and earns $74,000.

How much did you pay for your house:

We are currently paying $525 a week for a 3 bedroomed house in Milford. I feel it is a good deal compared to what others are paying. We have rented the house out for over three years and the rent has not gone up much in that time. We were very lucky to get this rental and it is all down to getting a privately advertised rental, not through a rental agency. It’s certainly worth getting the papers early/searching the internet for good deals. There are cheaper areas than Milford to rent on the North Shore, but we love it here and don’t want to move.

The house is in a lovely quiet street. There is a good sized lounge / dining room with the kitchen off to the side and one bathroom. The section (garden) is small and mainly concrete. I have a sand pit and swing for the children.

The windows are very large in the lounge and it does feel a bit like you are living in a goldfish bowl at times. But we have net curtain up and have no houses looking straight in on us.

There is no way we could afford to buy this house but we can afford to rent it. I think this is quite a common feature of the more expensive parts of Auckland.

How does your standard of living in New Zealand compare with your previous country?

It’s difficult to say because we were at a different point in our lives – and it all seems so long ago!!

I would say they are about the same. My main worry is about affording a house as they are so dear but that would have been the same in Scotland anyway. I enjoy living in Milford but cannot afford to buy a house here.

We are thinking about buying a rental property to let out in a cheaper area- that is a popular option in New Zealand.

Although we are earning good incomes in New Zealand, because of the high rent we don’t have money for any luxuries. We manage with one car. I plan to start working full-time soon when my youngest starts primary school and then our financial situation will be much easier.

How does your quality of life now compare with your previous country?

It’s much better. The climate can be a bit hot and sticky but overall it is great to have so much sunshine and warm days.

We both enjoy our work and are happy in Milford. Life is busy but we feel we are very lucky.

There is not that horrid cold to the bone feeling waiting for a train to Edinburgh or that grimy/dirty feeling I would get arriving at Waverley station.

Read more UK to NZ Reviews

Hawkes Bay – Ruth
Franklin District, Auckland – Alison and Matt
Christchurch – James
Invercargill – The Hart Family
Invercargill – Kat and Bob
Tauranga – Kymberley
Tauranga – Dianne and Paul
Wellington – Richard and Olivia
Wellington – Stephen

Would you like to share your own experiences of living in New Zealand? You can do this at My Story. Or you can read more more that people have written about life in NZ.

One thought on “Living in Auckland’s North Shore”

  1. Thank you Alison for taking the time to post your story. My family and I are also from Edinburgh and looking to move to Auckland, so it was great to hear someone’s opinions about the same move locations. My husband and I have been to nz for an extended period before (per kids) and we look back fondly on our time there. However it is not the same as up rooting your family, and making a fresh start. The obvious questions are how much did it cost to immigrate? Was starting over with kids hard? Does it become easier to be away from extended family? If you are able to answer any of these I would be very grateful.
    Your Karin

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