Emigration to Invercargill, NZ

What were your reasons for emigrating?

We originally were emigrating with all our 3 teenage kids, to give them a better future, but it ended with the eldest (20) staying behind with her new baby and partner and the eldest son (18) returning to the UK after 5 months in NZ. The UK is getting too much of a rat race, and we wanted more open spaces. We wanted to give our youngest a better chance at obtaining a better standard of living in a place where he could experience more outdoor pursuits and not be on his PC for most of the day (eventually!).

Name: Kat and Bob
Age: 41 and 42
Occupation: Administration and sheet metal worker
Number Emigrating: 4
Emigrated from: Immingham, N E Lincolnshire, UK
Moved to: Greenhills, Invercargill
Daily Commute Time: 20 minutes
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

Austrailia is too hot and has dangerous bugs etc, we had seen Billy Conolly’s tour of NZ and we were hooked. Couldn’t get my head around learning Spanish or French! As to us – we wanted to experience a new country and NZ had a lot to offer us all.

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

To be honest, in a broad aspect of it they are very similar – we lived on the Nth Est Coast of England, in a Port town, flat Arable farming land on one side and Industry and docks on the banks of the River Humber, the beach was 20 minutes away (Cleethorpes), the Wolds were a few hours away.

We now live on the outskirts of Invercargill – the beach is down the street (Bluff Estuary) and across the road is Omaui Beach and the hills and mountains are a few hours away… but saying that, in respect of the actual town the differences are:

We used to live in a town, there was one Secondary school and 4 Junior schools, there were oil refineries on our doorstep, chemical companies, etc., along with engineering and food industries.

Houses were all brick with tile roofed, semi detached/detached, the occasional bungalow and of course terraced houses. (OK I will confess – there were also 3 tin houses! When we left there was one left and one had been painstakingly taken apart and was to be rebuilt near the museum as a reminder of the tin temporary housing built in our hometown for the dock managers – that lasted over 100 years. So when we got to Invercargill, I was surprised, but pleased to see a lot of brick and roughcast houses, even 2-storey, some have tile roofs, along with the more expected timber villa houses with tin roofs.

The roads are less hectic in Invercargill, even in the town centre, there is no rush hour traffic I don’t sit in traffic jams on the way home or on the way to work. There are no dual-carriageways, no motorways, there is only one road from where we live to town, and until you get to Tiwai there is no major junctions.

In the UK we owned a detached houses circa 1970, fully double glazed with central heating mains drains and all mod cons, in a cul-de-sac with a postage stamp garden, with views of other houses in the street.

Mustering the stock

Mustering the stock, rural land near Invercargill – Image by Kat and Bob

We now own a brick and roughcast house with tin roof and 8+ acres/barns – 2 horses, chickens, a duck and a turkey and 60 sheep, we live off the Bluff Highway on a gravel road, views of Bluff Harbour, & Hill, Omaui Hills. We have no mains drains, we have a septic tank, but we have a choice of water supply – there is a tank as well as the water supply from town to Bluff. There is no central heating – a major thing that is sorely missed. We have a multi-fuel burner, and I have looked into heating options – all expensive and you need council permission and permits!

There are loads of schools, but my son goes to SIT. Although it says zero fees, you have to pay for some things such as books and student registration ($1500). He has only just started. He stayed in the UK to finish his schooling and arrived with his brother in September. He has not had much interaction with NZ spending much of his time living UK time on MSN chatting with his mates in the UK, but hopefully he will make friends now that the new semester has started and start to integrate into NZ life.

The neighbours keep to themselves – a lot like they did at home, but I am too busy at work and the animals at night that I haven’t had time to notice that they don’t chat much.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

That the language is similar, that the days are longer. (I need the extra hours of light as I work full time and have horses to see to as well.) That there is such an abundance of countryside to explore, and endless possibilities for us to explore in both jobs and lifestyle. I like all the parks that are lovingly taken care of, and also all the natural reserves, the beaches, and that you don’t have to pay for a TV licence. I can see mountains out my front window, I can see the sea from my paddocks and front yard.

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

No central heating or insulation in the houses, rubbish broadband at an exorbitant price, that Telecom can give a two tier service to NZ customers – but still charge them the same! That there is no bus service from Bluff – My son has to wait 6 months till he can do his restricted licence – so he is dependent on me for lifts (but hey I wanted to live outside of town) and Invercargill has a free bus service on the main route. Poor rates of pay compared to cost of living – house prices are going up at an alarming rate – even in Bluff.

What do you miss from your home country?

That all my children are not here and my family are far away – when we rented in town it wasn’t too bad – we could video that on broadband, but now we are on Woosh and it’s too slow to cope with video and chat. Certain foods – bacon doesn’t taste the same. Central heating. Double glazing.

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

Very easy – My OH had 4 job offers in Christchurch – but it was too big and hectic, and too expensive compared to the wages – we couldn’t afford to rent there, let alone buy. So we travelled down looking at the towns along the way, until we reached Invercargill, we drove into town on a Tuesday night and my husband had a job by the Friday. I found a job in 2 weeks – I applied for 3, got interviews for 2 and was offered both.

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

Mine is a lower position, but it’s just the same, Admin isn’t that much different around the world. But there are some quirky differences – I tend to make people laugh at my pronunciations of names. My OH has found that things are different in some ways – some good some not so good, but his skills are in such demand that he can easily find another job if he doesn’t like the one he’s got. The impression that Kiwis dont work weekends and spend all the time at their baches is a bit false – My OH’s employer would have them working 12hrs+ 7 days a week as they have loads of work and not enough workers – they even have a sign outside the workshop trying to recruit more staff.

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

We have to budget here, our savings went into the house so we are trying to be careful and save – but it’s hard when food costs so much. But petrol is cheaper, electrical things are slightly cheaper than the UK but not when you work it against the NZ dollar/wages. Our food bill is nearly my weeks wages!

But there again – I couldn’t afford to buy a house with land in the UK so I couldn’t afford to own a horse, so my standard of living is better in one way, its just a shame I have to work full-time to pay for it. The only major factory around here is Tiwai, so the air is cleaner, the water is cleaner and the views are much more appealing, but this is because we moved to somewhere where we could make what savings we had go further, we live where the houses are cheaper, so that our standard of living is as good as we can afford it to be. And we have realised that it may be along time before we can afford to fly back to see our kids and family as the flights are so expensive from NZ compared to the UK.

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

It’s about the same – we don’t eat as much healthy food, but I try to buy what’s on special, rather in the UK I didn’t think about it. We have more healthy activities on our doorstep, some are free, such as the many walks etc. around Invercargill. We are slowly saving for things such as better heating and insulation, I am enjoying the animals, but both mine and my OH’s work life are worse than in the UK for hours and low pay, but we hope to change that in the future – we have only been here 8 months.

We are colder in our house than outside sometimes – so sorting out some sort of heating for the rest of the house is a must, as well as sorting out the farm buildings for the coming winter.

Any other observations?
  • Factor in a reccy if you can afford it, Although if we had done one we may not have come, the thing is that although there are things that we like about living here – there are an equal amount of things that we don’t like, and if we had realised how expensive it is to live on NZ wages we probably would have stayed in the UK and either moved to another part of the country. That the house prices are ridiculous – most are way beyond the average Kiwi and UK migrant that didnt live in the South/London! That most people you meet in the shops are very friendly and helpful – but don’t expect your neighbours to be like that (or maybe its just Greenhills!) We did a good deal of haggling when we were setting up – paying cash we got a big discount on both furniture and whiteware. We shopped in Southland owned shops – and still do – to help our areas economy. That without ENZ and the other forum members this whole migrating experience would have been a lot more harder and lonely than it has been. We would have found it a lot harder without the experience and answers to questions regarding the application side of things – and when we were finally here they helped by making us feel welcome if we were in their area at the time. And I now try to do my bit and help as well.
  • That if you let them the employers will try and pay you less – because you have no NZ experience – but you have skills they need – so don’t settle for less – negotiate.
  • OH spent 8 months giving his all to his first employer, but pay increases and other promises never appeared and after a while he decided to look at getting another – he was snapped up straight away – with much better pay/work conditions.
  • That no matter how much you think you want this – you will still miss your family and friends back where you came from, and that its hard making new ones, and the longer you leave it the harder it gets.
  • But over all – I am glad (and my OH is too) that we took the chance and came here. Invercargill is slated by most of the country but we have found it to be ideal, the weather is changeable but not half as bad as it was made out to be – Christchurch was much colder.
  • We have only just arrived, and I would be interested to see if my views change in the future – time will tell.

Read more UK to NZ Reviews

Hawke’s Bay – Ruth
North Shore, Auckland – Alison
Franklin District, Auckland – Alison and Matt
Christchurch – James
Invercargill – The Hart Family
Tauranga – Kymberley
Tauranga – Dianne and Paul
Wellington – Richard and Olivia
Wellington – Stephen

Your own experiences of living in New Zealand? Share them at My Story. Or you can read more personal experiences.

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