Monday, December 24, 2007

Emigrating to New Zealand

I emigrated to New Zealand from England 11 years ago. Over the years I have seen families come and go, and recently have met a lot of people who have come to work at the new corrections facility that has opened just down the road from Dunedin. So here are a few words of advice resulting from my own personal experience as well as that of friends and colleagues.

Do your homework
The first big piece of advice your home work before you commit yourself to anything!!

Make sure you know about the region you are going to - is it rural or urban? What facilities and resources does it have? What is the population size? Is a geographically isolated area? There are a lot of geographically isolated rural communities in New Zealand which can come as quite a shock if you are usually a city dweller.

What is the weather like? For some reasons people think New Zealand has a tropical climate - that is not so. The weather varies from region to region and if you live in the Dunedin area, you need to be prepared for weather that is very similar to Scotland. This is all well and good but the houses here do not have the same level of insulation or heating that they do in the UK or Europe. We are hardy folk here - if we're cold, we just put another jumper on!

What is the social make up of the local population? Be mindful that some areas have 'troubled' communities which is why it is difficult to recruit people to work there. We do have problems with gangs in some areas as well as high domestic violence and youth suicide, so think about that when you are looking to settle. However, working in the less privileged areas of New Zealand provides wonderful opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Do not burn your bridges
My other big piece of advice is not to burn all your bridges before you come ie if you have a house in your mother country, do not sell it until you have lived here a while and are confident that you want to settle here. It is very easy and acceptable to rent here, so try renting for a while until you are sure what you want to do in the long run.

Cost of living
Do not automatically assume that the cost of living is a lot cheaper than it is in Europe and the UK. Whilst housing is cheaper, I would say that the cost of living is on par when you take earnings into consideration. Depending on where you live, the cost of food, gas and electricity is climbing as is petrol. Cars are cheap to buy and people make do with extremely old dilapidated cars that would not be deemed to be road worthy in other countries. This is particularly good news for teenage boys buying their first car.

Do not expect to get a job that is on par with what you had in your mother country. This rings particularly true for men who come over on their wives' points/qualifications. It can be hard for men to get jobs and that in itself can cause huge pressures for families, especially if the wife does have a job. I have known a number of families who have returned to the UK because the man has not been able to get a 'decent' job. Chaps, you have to be prepared to be flexible and versatile, and may have to take a drop in employment status whilst you look for a job that really suits you.

If you are made a job offer, be extremely clear about the expectations and have it in writing. Again, I have known a number of people who have found that their jobs have not lived up to expectation which has caused undue stress and conflict.

Different culture
Be mindful that we have a different culture here in New Zealand. Whilst we are predominantly 'white', speak English and even drive on the 'proper' side of the road, we think and do things differently from Europeans. I won't go into the differences too much here but I would suggest the main thing to be aware of is that some things are not done to quite the same level as they are in the UK. By that, I mean that the prevailing attitude can be 'it will be alright, mate' but in some cases, they aren't 'alright'. This is especially true with buying a house - there is no where near the same level of checking carried out on a potential purchase that is carried out in the UK. On one hand that makes buying a house a lot easier, but on the other hand it can mean that it is easier to end up with a bad buy.

At the end of the world
Remember that New Zealand is a long way from anywhere (apart from Australia) and it is time consuming and expensive to travel. Whilst it may only take 24 hours to fly to the UK or Europe, it can be difficult and expensive to return especially if you have to make the trip, say, because of a family emergency. Family and friends say they will come out and visit, but often are unable to do so because of the expense. The same goes for return trips back home. So although getting away from the family can be a great appeal for emigration, in the long run it can be very stressful. This is especially true if you have sick, elderly family members at home, or you are bringing a young family here to grow up away from their grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.

Advice for Poms
My last piece of major advice is for those of you who are English. Us Poms are generally not well liked here. When it comes to rugby, cricket or any kind of sport, or anything at all, there's nothing a Kiwi loves more than the Poms being taken down. New Zealanders will even support Australia over us! Now this can be very hurtful but the way to tackle it is to remind Kiwis who got further in the last World Rugby Cup - England or New Zealand!?! This is bound to make you a friend for life.......NOT!

Now this all sounds extremely negative and I know that Kiwis may be thinking that I would be better off back in the UK, but there are some wonderful things about living in New Zealand which I will talk about in my next post.

If you are interested in moving to Australia, have a look at Bill Hampton's web site.


Ken said...

I think the point about not selling a UK house before moving to NZ is absolutely spot on. If you do sell up, it'll be very hard to get back into the UK property market, if you decide to return to the UK.

I think the point about pom-bashing needs to be put in perspective. Do kiwis think of it as being hostile or as just a bit of good natured ribbing? I can see how it would feel hurtful if you're feeling vulnerable and a bit lonely as a result of the move, but I think in some sectors of NZ society anyway, trading low level insults is a way of breaking the ice and sort of counts as playful banter. Pom-bashing is just one of the formulaic ways of doing this.

Another aspect of NZ culture which is different is that in spite of its jokey casualness and lack of attention to detail when it comes to procedures and rules and things, it is in other ways extremely 'right on' and morally serious about things. For example, when it went nuclear-free in 1984 and suffered US trade sanctions for it, people just decided right was right and damn the consequences. It's banned smoking and smacking children, and completely rejigged the education system (effectively getting rid of grades). In the 80's the government forced through a host of brutal thatcherite reforms and sold off a bunch of state assets. These are all cases where an ideological decision was made and implemented in its pure form. You would not see this in Australia or th UK or Usa where these kinds of policy decisions are always moderated and subjected to a series of compromises.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for your comments, Ken. I would certainly agree that New Zealand is to be highly congratulated on leading the world with some of the social policies that it has brought into being, some of which you have already mentioned. I have particularly noticed how effective the ban on smoking has been in the last couple of years - I have traveled around a lot and have really noticed how horrible it is to go into pubs etc where people smoke.

One of the things I would really like to see addressed is attitudes to drinking. I would like to see alcohol advertising banned and a much mores serious approach to recognizing that drinking is a harmful behavior especially in young people and not an essential part of the masculine scene, especially part of sport.

Ken said...

I wasn't very clear in the comment, but what I meant was that there's a certain 'hard core' streak in the New Zealand character that doesn't do half measures. This can be good and bad depending on your perspective. New Zealand will probably take whatever steps it has to to meet its kyoto commitments, for instance, even though doing so may be detrimental to its economic interests and won't make much difference to the world's fate given other countries' CO2 outputs. The point I'm making is that NZ is idealistic in a way the rest of the English speaking world isn't. It puts some store in doing the right thing, once its decided what that is, and it doesn't matter what the consequences are. This is only possible because NZ is a small pretty much egalitarian country without deep seated vested interests. It makes it possible to push change through quickly, but there's also something in the kiwi character the values the principles of the thing.

I personally have felt alternately proud of and exasperated by my country depending on which way it has gone on the issues I care about.

Sarah Stewart said...

I am sure we all feel the same pride and exasperation with the countries we associate with. I love England with a passion but cannot live there anymore. I am proud to be a Kiwi but also still identify with England. So I can make claim to the best of both countries.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that as a pom you have to get your WASP middle-class opinions in about South Auckland.
Worked as a MW in South Auckland have you??
You totally miss the point (and that's why you will NEVER be a New Zealander) - we are a South Pacific nation. The diaspora of Polynesians and our tangatawhenua are what gives South Auckland it's vibrancy and excitement, and contributes so much to the culture of our nation - a Pacific nation not a place for those who just don't get it.
That sort of bullshit just put's MW's off South Auckland, when those women are the very women we should seek to serve.

Sarah Stewart said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you very much for your comment which caused me to reflect on my post and I apologize if I caused offense - that was certainly not my intent.

You are right about a number of points and I have gone back to the original post and made some changes.

I have never worked in South Auckland and I appreciate what you say about the beauties of the people who live there. I never intended to put midwives off from working there - there is a great need there, and from what I understand working there provides a great challenge but also wonderful professional growth and development opportunities for midwives.

I certainly did not mean to associate the problems with gangs etc with South Auckland - those problems are seen nation wide. So I have deleted my reference to South Auckland.

However, I do stand by my comments about immigrants needing to do their homework before they move to a place. If we are wanting to attract midwives to places, especially places of need, we need to make sure we support them in every way and that means making sure they are fully informed about every aspect of their move here.

Diane M said...

Dear Sarah,
I just came across your post which is very helpful - especially the climate part.
We are currently in the U.K however my husband has been struggling to find a job for a while here (he is an I.T specialist) and as we are just about to lose our house he has been offered a job in New Zealand.
We are seriously considering the move with our 2 young children.
New Zealand really seems appealing as we hate the materialism here and as the UK is rapidly closing in on us we like the idea of more space and less people.
I am scared to make this decision as until we are there we really won't know how we will feel. If our situation gets better financially (and a miracle occurs) then I will definately take your advice about keeping the house here - even if for a month or two.

If we end up making the move it would be really nice to keep in touch.
Diane :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Diane, I appreciate your feelings - it is a very scary thing moving to the other side of the world. And of course, there's always an element of not knowing how things are going to turn out until you give them a try.

Just remember that moving here can be very expensive, and we don't have a particularly high standard of living here, so don't expect to come here and make your fortune.

Having said that, despite all our trials and tribulations here, I am really glad we brought up our children here. They may not have the same opportunities here as they would have in the UK, they have had a much less materialistic life here, which I think has been hugely beneficial. Have a look at a post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago that explains how I feel about living here now:

susie said...

Hi Sarah,
Your talk of gangs is a bit worrying... What areas/towns is that specific to?

We are hoping to move from UK to NZ soon. My hub is in the TV/film world - there are SO many emigration companies available to find jobs/ease the emigration process etc - would you be happy to recommend a one or two companies that might be appropriate for us?

Many thanks

Susie x

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Susie

Like with any country or any place, there are the areas that are better to be avoided, and I think you are best to talk to local people to get that sort of information. Gangs pretty much have infiltrated themselves into every city. The key is to keep well clear of them.

All I would say to emigrants is not to believe all the hype that is sold to you by emigration companies- just remember the old adage about grass and the colour green.

In the meantime, if you are looking for work in film/TV, you're best looking at Wellington or Auckland.

I have no idea about emigration companies. We did it without one because it was cheaper, but that was 13 years ago. So, sorry, I cannot help you with that question.

snapa said...

Suprised about the comment on kiwis not liking poms ! I've been here just over a year, lived in the far north & wellington, travelled around a lot too in the South Island on business and never really had this problem at all. Some kiwis can be a bit kurt, bu that about it.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Snapa, I guess I must emphasize that this post is a reflection of my experience and other English people that we have met here. Thank you for your comment.

Sarah Stewart said...

Whoops, accidentally deleted your comment, Snapa:

No problem, nice blog, just starting out on my own one as you have probably noticed. Is it easy to set the link up that you have done?


Yes, the link is easy. If you email me, I'll reply with the html you need. Otherwise, hunt around on the 'help' section here for info on how to do it :)

snapa said...

Hi, yeah thanks got that sorted now. Happy New Year by the Way!


Sarah Stewart said...

Happy new year to you, too. Hope you have fun blogging :)

Alan said...

Hi Sarah

Firstly I'd just like to comment on your blog overall. It's fantastic! I'm going to bookmark for future visits.

I'm from London, England and have now emigrated to Hamilton, New Zealand with my Kiwi wife and toddler daughter. It'll be a week this Friday that we arrived.

First impressions are what a wonderful country it is! Clearly I'm in a different position to most migrents in that I already had a connection to New Zealand, however it took me a while to make the decision to give it a go and come.

I'm looking forward to exploring all over both the North and South Islands. I have a cousin for instance in Dunedin. However, my first priority after I gain my partner visa is to get a job.

Thanks to my in-laws, we're able to stay at their place until we're more established.

I love the roads over here, and I have to admit I do chuckle when my father-in-law suggests there's a traffic jam, when in actual fact there's just 12 cars in front!

I'll keep checking back for your posts. Also, I decided to document my own adventure and would love for you to visit my own blog if you get a chance.

Kind regards


Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Alan, thanks for dropping by. I don't know how interesting you're find my blog because on the whole I talk about education and midwifery...the emigration posts only pop up now and again. But it's always good to hear from people with different perspectives on things.

Good luck with the move here. You're in a a good place because you have family here already...hopefully that will be a good advantage for you. Good luck with everything :)

Alan said...

Hi Sarah.

Thank you for your comments :)

I find many things interesting lol. Also, my cousin back in Boston, Lincs has just started a midwifery course so I'll get her to check out your blog too. I also have another cousin in Dunedin and we'll take a trip down South at some point. You'll be welcome to meet my brood for a coffee while we're down.

Hopefully your right with your point in that I may find it easier seeing as I already have an intimate connection with a Kiwi. I'll let you know :)

Thanks again for your comments and good luck with trying to get on a reality game show! I'm sure you'd make for a very interesting contestant!

Cheers Sarah!


Sarah Stewart said...

Any time you're down my way, give me a shout...would love to meet up for a coffee, Alan :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,

Good points. I am currently applying to be a migrant (asian) in NZ. I have been in NZ for 7 months now trying to see if NZ is really for us. It is a good thing though that we didn't burn any bridges back home because NZ so far has been awful to us. Yes the place is quite beautiful.

We are educated, highly skilled people who can offer a lot in NZ. Very fluent in english. But the mere fact that some Kiwis have a problem taking advices from a migrant, an asian migrant specifically, is quite a huge problem. Maybe that's one of the reasons why they are so backward. They are rude and they will take you down in the workplace. If they have to.

Everything is expensive here, even the products made by their own. Housing is worse. And pretty much nothing to do.

Now we are already deciding to go back home. It's no wonder migrants here are also leaving and some of their locals as well who are educated and open minded are deciding to move to Australia.

My verdict: It's not worth living here permanently. If you are not rich enough, don't bother.

Sarah Stewart said...

I am sorry you've had such a bad experience, Anonymous....don't be put off because there are lots of fabulous kiwis who I know will make you welcome :)

Anonymous said...

Sarah pleased that nz has worked out for you. Frankly I am very happy to have left it behind. It's over rated and I would never recommend it to anyone. Personally I have been appalled by the abuse of children that is routinely swept under the carpet (just like the problems with drugs, drinking and gangs), the treatment of Asians which is terrible and the poor quality of housing and standard of living that many endure. This is not paradise by any stretch of the imagination. NZ has robbed me of lots of $ over the years and my peace of mind. My qualifications and work experience in the UK counted for little and for years I endured drunken noisy neighbors endless parties and fighting in the street.......oh yes..and that other NZ classic - hoons doing wheel spins outside my house at 2am in the morning. I'd say to anyone thinking about coming to NZ - do yourself a favor and try Australia instead - thankfully I have moved on to Australia and its just fandabbydozie!!

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Anonymous, funny you talk about Australia. I am about to be made redundant, and it looks like we might have to move to Australia for me to get work.

Andy said...

My sister emigrated to NZ (Auckland) a few years back and I'm seriously considering the same! She often talks about the 'quality of life' factor compared to the UK, despite the comparative income being generally lower. I'm actually a webdesigner and am putting together a little site where I hope to document any info I find!

Caroline said...

Hi Sarah
I found your blog because a friend is moving to NZ and I wanted to get her some easy-to-pack gift that she might not have thought she would like in her new environment - if you have any tips I'd appreciate - but the reason I am posting a comment is to just say I really enjoyed reading this up to when I got to your most recent post about having to move on - very sorry to hear, hope things work out for you with Aus, but in case not don't forget that here in SA there is a huge skills shortage and lots of useful & intersting work to be done!

Sarah Stewart said...

Andy: there are a few websites and blogs around of people who have made the move. Whatever you your homework first before you move here. Life isn't as rosy here economically as it was when I first wrote this post, and there's lots of thing happening that are disquietening, such as our PM selling off national assets. But the moment...I don;t think anywhere is the "perfect" place to live.

Caroline: be honest, I cannot think of anything. I am a visual person, so a lovely photo to remind me of home, would be what I would like.

Rose said...

Hi Ms.Sarah. Im Rose a registered midwife from Philippines,27 yrs old,bread winner of my family and a single mother with my 4 years old son and a registered midwife.i have 2 years experience in hospital as a nursing assistant in ob ward,pedia ward, medical ward,neonatal intensive care unit and as a admtting officer.but for now im looking for a job whos fit for me and im so excited work in new zealand.i have my complete hoping that you can help me with the help of our lord.thank you for your time and God Bless.

Sarah Stewart said...

Sorry, Rose, that it has taken me so long to reply to you. I am afraid I no longer live in New Zealand so cannot help you. My best advice is to contact the New Zealand College of Midwives who will be able to give you information about how to get work in NZ:

moman said...

Can anyone tell me the cost of education in public and private schools, because I have 3 children ages 3,5,and 8 and I am seriously thinking of living there, most importantly for my children. I want them to get a strong foundation of New Zealand, cause honestly without english, it will be impossible to get a good job anywhere.

Sarah Stewart said...

Back in the day...fees for public education were a couple of hundred per year plus expenses, and private fees were a few thousand. I have no idea what they are now...might be worth contacting a few private schools...

Anonymous said...

Hi – I am really very unhappy and I thought I will share my concern with all the forum members so that you do not repeat the same things when you apply for New Zealand Immigration. I am currently running a business & hence, my personal and official email ID is the same. I get 100’s mails in a day and many of them are marketing mails. I had given the same email ID when I applied for New Zealand Immigration. Since, I receive many mails and there are many that are marketing and spam mails, I had deleted the mail from the New Zealand Immigration, by hindsight. In the meantime, I also moved into our new house, purchased recently and did not update the same on the EOI. Now I realize what a muff up it was. Not only did I lose out on the mail which conveyed that I have received the Invitation to apply for New Zealand but I was also not able to submit the documents for Visa purposes as I had lost out on 4 precious months, when I got a doubt about what has happened to my application. By then, I had lost out on precious time and did not have the time to apply for New Zealand Immigration. And the High Commission asked me to re-submit the EOI in order to get a fresh Invitation. I lost out on lot of time and money and I really regret this now.
So, guys – If you plan to apply for New Zealand or for that matter, any immigration, please create a new email ID. I do understand that many of you might be having a number of email ID’s and it could get difficult for you to remember the same. Hence, I request you to create an email ID which has your full name followed by .nz or .aus, depending on the Country you are applying for so that you will remember the email ID and will not lose out on receiving important information from the High Commission

Ivlia Blackburn said...

Am hoping to move back to NZ (grew up there when parents emigrated for work back in 1967) to join my father but have struck a problem. I run my own business but enquiries by my father have found that it is nearly impossible to buy the raw materials I need (I weave fleeces) in spite of all the sheep. I'm also informed that I can only import a very small amount of fleece annually so I'm left with a delemma. Do I move back and potentially have to give up my 'job' because the raw materials are unavailable and can't be imported or do I move and hope that my father will be able to support me (I'm disabled and unable to do a regular job) for the rest of my life. Any thoughts would be welcomed and if anyone has any practical ideas to help could they contact me on I really need to return as my father is in his eighties but I'm dammed if I want to live in poverty because I can't obtain wool.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Ivilia, I have absolutely no idea how to address your problem. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I'm a pom with a kiwi wife, been here 7 years. Moved first to Nelson then to a small town an hour north of Auckland. I've found many of the kiwis to be extremely cliquey, narrow minded & ignorant. The longer their families have been here the worse they are, first generation kiwi's are not to bad but far to many of the rest aint worth the bother.I've been a volunteer fire fighter but left after 3 years due to their small minded attitudes. The quality of pretty much everything is second rate but the prices are always high. Houses are little more than sheds with furniture, the roads (and driving) are a joke, and there is nothing to do that doesn't involve chasing a ball. If you're a night owl forget it the country shuts at 8pm. Don't have a car crash as most here have no insurance (it's optional). If you get ill die or get better quickly as long term injury or illness will bankrupt you. If something goes wrong don't expect anyone to front up, the kiwi's are great at running away from their mistakes. Great place for a holiday but DO NOT MOVE HERE !

The-Bride-Of-The-Atom! said...

Hi Sarah, Firstly can I say how helpful you're blog is? I'm currently Studying to do Midwifery at uni in the UK. My plan, once I'm qualified, is to emigrate to New Zealand as every nurse/teacher/everyone is telling me there is no jobs in the UK and that I want a better standard of living. I currently live in "the worst/ugliest town" in Scotland, so really anywhere is better than that. My question is what are the employment oppertunities for midwives over there?

Anonymous said...

Well Bride-of-the Atom I hope you make fewer than the six spelling or grammatical errors in your job applications than you have in your post.

More generally,at the end of the day life always turns out to be pretty much the same wherever you chose to live. Going somewhere with the idea that you can put less in and get more out is usually certain to lead to disappointment.
So many of our friends have found that after crossing the world to give their children a better life, those same children can't escape fast enough, now they are older, to get to London where they feel it's all happening

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I have enjoyed your comments very interesting hope things have worked out for you? Have you moved to Aid? We are talking about making the move to NZ

Anonymous said...

hi sarah im thinking of coming to new zealand this year .im a skilled building worker im in touch with a visa emigrating person in the uk .and its abit of a money layout before i even try and come there .does it cost alot to sort out paperwork / visa .etc thank you

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi builder anonymous, I am afraid I have no idea these days how much it costs to sort out visa etc. But what ever you, as I always advise, do your home work well, including finding out what state the building industry is like in NZ, and how easy it is to find a job.

Sarah Stewart said...

Bride: I am afraid I have moved to Australia, so have no idea what the job situation is like now for midwives./ However, I'd advise you contact the NZ College of Midwives:

Anonymous said...

I don't blame you for moving on. We did too - and so did a lot of other people.

shoaib said...

I agree with your comments, but there is a new development in immigration procedures.
Getting the New Zealand immigration was never so easy until the government introduced this brilliant policy. Set a small business in New Zealand and you will get your PR in no time. Read more about it:

Anonymous said...

I emigrated to NZ and enjoyed every minute of life there. After 8 years I felt like a change and emigrated back to the UK and enjoy it here too. When I feel like a change again I will go back to NZ. No big deal. It might keep you poor - coming and going - but, at least you'll be where you want to be. The truth is that NZ and the UK are both great places.