Sean and I married in October 2001, and if someone had said to me then that we'd be living anywhere but Bedford, I would've laughed out loud. But life can take strange and unexpected turns…
I arrived to start our new life in Auckland on 28th June 2008. The fur family arrived 3 days later and my lovely husband two days after that.
Looking back I still can't believe that we did it - but I'm so glad that we did.
For anyone seriously thinking of moving to NZ, my advice is simple: ask lots of questions, do tons of research, speak to people who've been there /done that and – if you can – come here for a holiday first. Take a tramp around this beautiful country. Enjoy the views. Walk on the beaches. Go extreme in Queenstown. Immerse yourself in Rotorua's culture. Drink a beer at the Green Dragon in Hobbiton (yes, really!) Then, make an honest PROS and CONS list. Be brutal. Be pedantic. Write down everything and anything – and seek out the answers.
I'd recommend that you engage the services of a professional immigration adviser. The NZ Association for Migration & Investment (NZAMI) is a non-profit organisation with a strong code of ethics and a "commitment to playing a major role in building the professionalism of the immigration industry in New Zealand." They have members in the UK, US and Canada as well as NZ, so I'd say they'd be a good place to start.
I can almost guarantee that, without even trying, you'll meet, work or socialise with a fair number of Brits once you get here. Here are just a few of the fellow ex-pats I know who've been through the UK-NZ migration process and who could be of help to you before, during and just after your move:
Terry Baucher (lived in Norfolk for many years), Baucher Consulting
Personal and Business Insurance
Howard Finn (originally from Pembroke, mid-Wales), HF Consulting Ltd
UK pension transfers
Tony Chamberlain (originally from Harlow, Essex), GBPensions
Real estate agent
Mark Garratt (originally from Leics, then Bristol), Barfoot & Thompson
Andrew Harris (originally from Liverpool) and Jacqui Matthews-Harris (originally from West Bromwich), BlackCat Consulting
Three final tips to help you adjust to life in NZ:
Embrace technology. Obviously we miss our friends and family, but Facebook, Skype and Facetime really help to shrink the distance. Ramp up your privacy and confidentiality settings, of course, but stay connected with loved ones across the miles.
Read your local magazines. About a week after we arrived, the East Coast Bays Community newsletter appeared in our mailbox. Newsletters like this, and publications like The Millwater Magazine and The Westerly are a great way of finding out what's going on in your neighbourhood, and for getting involved in local events.
Go out for brunch. NZ has a great coffee shop culture. Get to know your local cafés, and treat yourself to Eggs Benedict (aka Iggs Binny) whenever you can. Oh, and don't panic if you're a tea drinker. Café tea has definitely improved, and Yorkshire Tea is available in most supermarkets these days!
This blog was written by Lizzie Brandon in her personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed within this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of GBPensions. GBPensions or the author does not access any information provided by each of the named parties and takes no responsibility for any advice or services provided by those parties.