Moving To Auckland’s North Shore

What were your reasons for leaving your home country:

Looking for a better lifestyle for my young family in which to grow up. I wanted to get away from the ‘Big Smoke’ and the fast pace of life. Having recently become parents we re-evaluated what we wanted out of life and this centred around our new twin daughters as well as our own aspirations for later life. Having lived in NZ before and a visit after we were married, we were able to objectively assess its attributes. We liked it!

Name: Karl Smith
Emigrated from: Birmingham, UK
Moved to: North Shore, Auckland
When did you arrive in NZ: March 2004
My Story Written: August 2004
What were your reasons for choosing New Zealand:

I lived in NZ as a single guy back in 1987-1991 and returned to the UK to finish some MSc research. I then met my wife, a PhD researcher, in the University. My original plan was to return to NZ as soon as my MSc was ‘in the bag’ and my NZ employer gave me a one year sabbatical (almost unheard of!) to do this. Love is a powerful emotion and you can’t fight it (ah!) so I stayed in Blighty, got engaged, got married and eventually started a family! Before you know it over a decade had gone by….then you have your kids and you think…OK…now what???? We certainly wanted them to have a different and more fulfilling life and by migrating we will have given them the opportunity to have greater choices in life.

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

A lot more space with a lot less people… even though we live in Auckland, the East Coast Bays are spacious and have plenty of top schools and amenities. Less traffic, believe it or not! If you have experienced the M5 and M6 in the West Midlands during the rush hour you will know where I am coming from! The Auckland traffic, for all its bad press, doesn’t really compare… although I do recommend living and working on the same side of the bridge! Auckland is cleaner, greener, less polluted, less graffiti and vandalism, the Kiwi kids I have met are friendly, respectful and polite. The buses are clean and run on time… generally! I walk out late at night and don’t feel threatened! The climate is better although you do have to be prepared for occasional extremes that come without warning. Auckland can get a bit too tropical at times!

Milford, Northshore

What do you like best about New Zealand?

The lifestyle and culture, the ‘awesome’ beauty of the place. The fact that you have such a variety of natural phenomenon in a single country is I think almost without equal. e.g. climates range from sub-tropical, to temperate to Antarctic conditions. Great mountains and glaciers for climbing, walking, skiing; great diving locations; lush green native bush to explore; volcanoes, geysers, mud pools, thermal springs and fumerols; lakes and rivers that are crystal clear; Great fishing and surfing beaches. The pace of life is slower and people have more time for you and are very friendly. It’s just so easy to go and do things at short notice without any drama. Cars are very cheap! Kiwi’s are great innovators!

What don’t you like about New Zealand?

The standard of driving is poor! Good clothes and shoes are expensive. Choices for certain items are limited. NZ houses are poorly insulated and do not ‘breathe’, they therefore suffer badly from being cold and damp and have condensation problems. Double glazing and central heating is just catching on but the DG is not to the same standard as the UK. Kiwi TV is….Hmmmmm…..I let you make your own mind up…but I can’t stand Paul Holmes!!!! Just make sure you get SKY OK? The house buying process sucks! I could write an essay on this subject! In fact I have…it’s on the old ENZ forum!

What do you miss from your home country?

The rellies! Particularly our Mothers (Fathers both deceased) whose grand daughters are now 12000 miles away! Familiar varieties of food although alternatives generally suffice. The clothes shops, which have such a great variety at reasonable cost. British Beer although you can get heaps (loads) of British beers here… but at a price!

How easily did you find work in New Zealand?

My wife was offered a job after a 2 hour telephone interview to the UK. This was a God send as we were caught up in the changes to the NZ immigration process that at the time we applied for permanent residence required us to have a job offer in place. It took 3 months of trying to get to this stage, mainly by firing off speculative applications to potential employers. If you want to work, there are plenty of jobs although you do have to be prepared to take a drop in salary and accept that you will get less holiday (3 weeks standard until 2007 when 4 weeks become compulsory).

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

Very similar to the UK.

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

Higher in terms of housing and what we can get for our money but once the capital has been spent it is very similar. In some areas it is more expensive than in the UK. A lot of things in the UK are taken for granted. e.g. medical and dental costs. You win on cheaper fuel prices, lower insurance premiums and then lose on tax because every ‘penny’ (cent) you earn is taxed. Then you win again with things like childcare that is less than half the price of the UK and you can claim your tax back on these costs, which makes it even cheaper! You don’t get any ‘child benefit’ (tax credit) allowances unless you are on very low income. [Update: higher income families are now eligible for family assistance payments]. The education system is very good and there are also a good supply of private schools whose fees are a fraction of the UK.

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

Too early to say but things so far are looking very positive and we expect to have a much better standard of living on a reduced income. With any migration process it takes time to find your feet and adapt and such comparisons can only really be made after one has truly settled in and the family unit is established.

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

Visit first! If your budget allows, take a long ‘holiday’ here.

Migrating is an expensive business and not to be taken lightly. NZ is not for everybody it is not a pacific paradise…. although it can seem to be from the confines of a three bed semi in the middle of a UK winter! Be prepared for change and remember you are the immigrant! Draw comparisons by all means but don’t become a ‘whinging pome’. Don’t be seduced by the ‘picture postcard’ beauty of the place and remember that you still have to work hard for a living! The safety net of a welfare state does not exist as we know it in the UK so plan for the unexpected!

Read more recent UK to NZ Reviews

Hawkes Bay – Ruth
North Shore, Auckland – Alison
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

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