Moving to Invercargill, New Zealand

What were your reasons for emigrating?

To give a better lifestyle to our children who are now aged 8, 6, 4 and 2. Particularly our eldest child who suffered from epilepsy and was very behind at school. We got fed up of the NHS, waiting to see people for months on end and the UK School never did get started on the plans to help him. We also outgrew out tiny house in our UK village and could not bare the thought of living in the middle of town with the ever increasing crime rate. We wanted a better education and future for our children and didn’t want to see them struggling to pay for the expensive houses in the UK. We also wanted less working hours so we could spend time with the children in a place where family persuits are mostly cheap or sometimes free.

Name: The Hart Family
Age: 33
Occupation: Homemaker
Number Emigrating: 6
Emigrated from: Baydon, Wiltshire, UK
Moved to: Markarewa, Invercargill
Daily Commute Time: 10 minutes
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

We looked at USA (too crime ridden!), we looked at Canada (too cold), we looked at Australia (too many bugs, snakes and the Ozzies didn’t seem to like the Brits much). Every Kiwi we spoke to over the phone was so friendly. The Government website was so welcoming once we passed on the points. We were accepted within two weeks. We had a job offer over the phone (in Auckland, but we didn’t end up there). Same language, similar government structure, fantastic land-owning opportunities, great schooling, better medical service.

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

Our NZ town is much friendlier. We made lots of friends in the UK, but it took a lot longer than here. We made as many friends in 3 months here than in 2 years in the UK. None or definitely less class distinction here, there doesn’t seem to be that “keeping up with the Joneses” type attitude like we found in our village in the UK. It is safer here, less security at school, but because it is probably not needed. Slower drivers on the roads. Much more areas for children to play outdoors here. More open space, bigger gardens etc. People like to help and when they hear our accents, are interested in our story.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

The people and the lifestyle. The people definitely live up to their name as being the most friendly people in the world. The lifestyle is laid back and another great thing I like is the fun attitude to kids and learning, the UK seems to be losing that with the expensive kid pursuits, the schools are strict with things like gotta change for PE, gotta sit for assembly EVERY morning, gotta do the nativity play every year or sit in uniform at the Easter Service, much less of that here. The schools here have massive amounts of play equipment in their playgrounds, the UK did not. Also, the hunting, fishing, beaches, wildlife, beautiful unspoilt countryside, cleaner air… the list goes on!

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

The food is still a bit expensive in the supermarkets. We have opted for the keeping our own animals and home-kill thing which saves a fortune with four children to feed! I also shop at the small veggie places you see on the rural roads – it is cheaper than the shops. So, now I do that, it actually is not expensive now and my family all eat much healthier. No more sandwich, choc bar and crisps in the lunch boxes, now it’s a sandwich, 3 pieces of fruit and a homemade piece of cake!

The other thing is that sometimes Kiwis seem too laid back and getting things done can take a while! However, we are slowing down to meet their pace and actually getting to like it!

I suppose one other thing could be the isolation that others talk about. It hasn’t bothered us yet, and may not, but I can see their point of view on it – perhaps it will become an issue later on with the children when they want to travel? Which leads to one other thing, it will take us a while to save and go back to the UK for a visit, with six of us to pay for. Flights out of NZ are expensive.

What do you miss from your home country?

My family and close friends. I sometimes feel guilty that my children don’t get to regularly see their grandparents. One set of parents came out last year and have just gone back home this year, they visited a month at a time. The other set arrive in 2 weeks for a month.

Oh…and central heating!!!!

The other thing is a ‘history’ with people. We’ve made tonnes of friends here, but over a cuppa we can never talk about the good old days! We don’t understand or remember past significant events here to chat about with our new friends, so I guess it is history that we knew about that we miss from the UK.

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

My husband had a job offer over the phone. Arrived in Auckland, didn’t like Auckland to live in (although MUCH quieter than London by far!!!!!). Nice place to visit, mind. So, we travelled down the whole North Island for a few weeks, stopping off for interviews. Job offers trailed behind us as we travelled and finally we settled in Te Horo, above Wellington for a year. Then the travel bug caught us and he got job offers (easily again) all over the South Island, finally deciding on Invercargill. Been head hunted ever since, but currently working up the ladder very quickly in current job.

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

Much more relaxed pace, but still busy. No probs if my husband has to come home for a school show, family emergency, whatever, family definitely seems to come first here. My husband has worked overtime here and there without pay and sometimes on the odd weekend, but they are flexible and it is a two way thing, they’ve let him have time off at quieter periods/not taken away pay for sick leave etc.

Much more training/courses, letting my husband travel to the North Island for them, all paid for. Managers are much more friendly, more friends than anything.

In the UK, my husbands work wouldn’t even let him have time off for the kids nativity play, they moaned and told him to stay when he was asked to come to the hospital when our son broke his leg, he did loads of overtime without pay or thanks and when he was sick, they rang him constantly!

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

Much better. 5 acres, cool house (that does need work, but we’ll get there!). We had a postage stamp garden in the UK and paid a fortune for it to keep from living in a town. Our cost of living is much less with a lower mortgage and yes, the wages are less here, but we have much more disposable income at the end of every month.

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

We are healthier, my husband is less stressed and his illnesses related to that have disappeared. The children are happier. They have quad bikes, all sorts of pets and room to run and play. In the UK they were starting to hang about on their bikes in the cul-de-sac with older kids, probably heading for trouble one day as we could not afford clubs for them and there was not much open space or parks for them to play in. They are members of numerous clubs here and we are much more of a sporty/healthy family. We have more time together doing things of mutual interest.

Do you have any other personal experiences or observations that would be useful for people considering immigrating to New Zealand?

Particularly when we were in the North Island, people thought our family was big with having four children and we received quite a lot of comments about it (mostly nice enough, but a couple nasty).

If you want to move to NZ, don’t expect to be rich. Although we have no debts here like we did in the UK, we are not wealthy with loads of money in the bank. BUT, we are wealthier in our lifestyle. If you are moving here for the lifestyle, you’ll love it.

Read more UK to NZ Reviews

Hawke’s Bay – Ruth
North Shore, Auckland – Alison
Franklin District, Auckland – Alison and Matt
Christchurch – James
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 personal experiences.

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