Moving to Christchurch

What were your reasons for emigrating?

My job in the UK was going nowhere and being in Cornwall jobs are few and far between so decided to try a new life in New Zealand before I had set down too many roots in the UK.

Name: James
Age: 28
Occupation: IT
Number Emigrating: 2
Emigrated from: Cornwall, UK
Moved to: South Brighton, Christchurch
Daily Commute Time: 5 minutes
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand?

I had been to New Zealand on two occasions (both for 6 months) and liked the pace of life and the outdoors as well as the attitude towards the work/life balance.

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

Not a lot in the end. I think a lot of people choose to emigrate to New Zealand in the hope of changing their life to a slower pace and enjoy the outdoors more. Having grown up in London and then lived in Cornwall for 10 years I find I was able to do nearly everything there that I could in New Zealand (i.e. surf, walk, kayak, climb) and without getting devoured by sand flies and mosquitoes. I think New Zealand’s scenery is much more spectacular with all the mountain back drops, but I the beaches are the same (i.e. you can find a deserted one if you know where to look but as with New Zealand all the easy access ones are packed). I think in hindsight I wasn’t seeing what was in front of me when I lived in the UK.

What do you like best about New Zealand?

The pace of life and scenery. The lack of keeping up with the Jones’s that makes it enjoyable to concentrate on the more important things in life. The friendliness and helpfulness of most people we met. The lack of health and safety (they seem to trust your judgment which in most cases works). The lack of traffic – definitely the lack of traffic!!

Jellicoe St, Christchurch

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

Other than sand flies and mozzies; The quality of most houses are poor. Central heating, insulation and bricks are not things that NZ go in for. This unfortunately makes the wooden houses VERY cold in the winter unless you are able to huddle in a room with a log burner or heat pump. With houses in NZ you get quantity not quality. Holidays are shorter, most jobs in the UK i have had at least 25 days starting holiday, I was lucky to get 20 in NZ. I love the fact that in the UK you are able to fly to so many different countries and experience so man different cultures on a shoestring budget. In NZ you can of course see the mountains/sea all in one day but being a keen traveller I found it very claustrophobic as it costs so much to visit anywhere other than OZ.

What do you miss from your home country?

I am now back in the UK as I realised once I was doing the 9-5 job that nearly everything was the same as the UK for me but in the UK I had family and friends who you cannot replace. I came over to NZ thinking that in the long term the grass would be greener, but my standard of life didn’t change for the better. I enjoyed it in NZ and there were many plus points, but overall there was nothing that made it worth staying there permanently. I learnt a useful lesson to appreciate what I had and that most changes I want to make in my life I can do without moving to the other side of the world. I doubt there are many countries where you couldn’t find an area of the country like NZ, you just have to look!!

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

Very difficult in the recession. Even with many qualifications and 8 years work experience we both found we were at the back of the queue for jobs. The emotions were torn between feeling that it was fair enough that New Zealanders should get first go at the jobs and feeling that surely it should be the best person for the job, and without sounding too arrogant or bitter I feel it hard to believe that I wasn’t good enough to even get an interview for some of the lower jobs I was going for. It was so much easier when I came over in 2003 and 2006 to find work. I guess I just chose the wrong time to up sticks on the off chance of work (despite my area of work being on the skills shortage list).

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

Very similar. In the UK I lived by the beach, had a short commute to work, had a very active outside lifestyle and being outside of London I found I could get a good property for the money I was on. In New Zealand lived by the beach, had a short commute to work, had a very active outside lifestyle and would have been able to afford a good house for the money I was on.

How much money did you bring with you:


How much do you earn in New Zealand:

Around $100,000 between us.

How much did you pay for your house:


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

My standard of living in the UK was better. Christchurch gets very bad pollution in the winter and the smog is very thick, where I lived in the UK the air was a lot fresher. But I think that problem is unique with Christchurch so other areas of NZ are fine. In the UK I had more choice of what to do with my free time (NZ has beautiful outdoors but lacks culture and history – even my coffee table doubles the age of the oldest house there).

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

I think it is generally more expensive in New Zealand (other than petrol which in the uk you need a second mortgage for). I think the problem is lack of choice, in the UK you have so much choice as to where to get everything from groceries to electronics that if you’re willing to look you can find bargains. For example, i needed a new laptop, in NZ presuming you buy new, you have a handful of electronic shops which all charge about the same or you pay high postage costs and import one in which costs about the same. In the UK, with so many online businesses and cheap importing from Europe etc you can get things very cheap. Having said all that, if you are not a bargain hunter and just go to the usual high street shops and pay what they say then I guess you won’t notice the difference all that much!

Read more UK to NZ Reviews

Hawkes Bay – Ruth
North Shore, Auckland – Alison
Franklin District, Auckland – Alison and Matt
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 write-ups about people’s experiences.

One thought on “Moving to Christchurch”

  1. Hi James,

    I found your review very insightful and I really appreciated your honesty as your review is probably the most factual, rather than being based on the emotional value of arriving there.

    I’m also an English guy (also called James) of the same age and also in I.T. I found the information about holidays, air pollution and job offers and succession rate most useful.
    Would you recommend other places in NZ for Software jobs, other than Auckland? Auckland sounds just too busy and expensive and (as you said), wouldn’t feel that much different from working full-time in the UK.

    I’ve lived in many other countries before so I’m no novice to being an expat but I’m now on the decision of either trying NZ or returning to the UK.

    Can you tell me more about your startup costs, time and consumed and the processes you had to go through?

    One chicken-egg situation I don’t understand is 99% of recruiters and employers seemingly want you to already have “advanced your residence visa” but it’s not possible to get the Specialised Skilled Migrant visa without having an offer in the first place!

    Is there any other information you could provide for someone in a very similar situation as you, albeit having never visited NZ before?


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