Case Study: The Giltinan Family
Who: Steven (45), Clare (41), and Robyn Giltinan (17)
Steven – Self-employed carpenter in the UK; now an employed carpenter in New Zealand, through Tradestaff
Clare – Prosecution Service victim liaison officer in the UK; now an interior designer and sales rep through Tradestaff in New Zealand.
Robyn – Student in media studies in the UK; make-up design student and parttime restaurant staff in New Zealand.
Moved from: Kilmarnock, Scotland, in the UK
Moved to: North New Brighton, Christchurch, New Zealand
Like many families in the UK, we felt that Britain did not hold a promising future for us; the media and everyday conversations appeared to be about “Broken Britain” and they felt it was time for a new challenge. We wanted to move to a different country and drew up a shortlist of English speaking countries (we both knew we were rubbish at learning new languages)!
America had too many guns, Canada got too cold in the winter, and Australia was too hot in the summer. So we started to research that “small island off the coast of Australia” (I admit we were extremely ignorant of the other side of the world).
Then we went to New Zealand for a vacation in February last year. It was more of a reconnaissance mission, but New Zealand just blew us away! It ticked all the boxes including boxes we didn’t have! We loved the country, the lifestyle, the climate, and the people. More than that, we loved the “can-do” attitude of the Kiwis, the work ethic seemed high and people seemed to be genuinely nice and genuinely interested in you. When we visited on vacation, we decided not to go to Christchurch, because it was obvious they were still reeling from the recent earthquakes. It felt wrong and voyeuristic, so we never actually visited the place we decided to move across the world for. Later in the year, we attended a Down Under Live Expo, which further cemented New Zealand in our minds. Joel from New Zealand Skills in Demand chatted with us about what New Zealand had to offer and put us in touch with Tradestaff, who later interviewed Steve via Skype. Steve was then advised to gain a paper qualification to back up his 30 years of carpentry experience to help with the immigration process.
We ended up finding a company that offered a short course 300 miles from home, so we made a weekend out of it and came home with the necessary qualification. Soon after, Tradestaff extended me an offer for full-time employment, which helped greatly when we put together our paperwork for a Residency Visa. Applying for permanent residency process wasn’t as stressful as we thought it might be because we used a migration agency, and made sure that Steve had the offer of full-time work in Christchurch with Tradestaff before making any decisions. Although the New Zealand Immigration points system was easy to calculate, it was worth the cost to have people in the know on the other end of the phone. All in all, the process took about a year from first application to residency acceptance and then everyone’s arrival in New Zealand. When we look back at the costs involved in the migration process, we often wonder how we managed to save the money it took to complete the move. We were never big savers, but we had little debt when we started the process.
We first dropped the 3 or 4 holidays we would usually take during our year. We also cut down on meals out and didn’t buy anything new. Finally, we sold our furniture and vehicles. We knew this would mean we would be starting again, but we knew it would be worth it! Our move cost us about 26,000 New Zealand dollars (about 12,000 pounds). Luckily, these costs were spread out over the year so we didn’t have a huge bill to pay at once, but it was still costly.
The most stressful part of migrating North New Brighton Beach, Christchurch was our family being separated for 2 months. Steven had to grasp his job opportunity from Tradestaff with both hands, so when his New Zealand Work Visa was awarded on 18 March 2013, he left for New Zealand to start working and setting up our new rental home. Clare and Robyn remained in the UK and awaited the Residency Visa. It also meant that Robyn could finish her college course.
Those 2 months were stressful because we had decided to sell all of our furniture on a mixture of Ebay and GumTree. There were people coming in and out of the house buying pieces of furniture while Clare was still working full-time and keeping an eye on what things needed shipping. We were all rewarded with full residence status on 24 June 2013. Clare and Robyn made a special trip to the New Zealand Embassy in London on the 24 June to obtain our full residence status and left the UK that evening to go to New Zealand. After deciding to make New Zealand our new home, we did a lot of research. We read many books about the history of this young country and also read about other migrants’ experiences when moving to New Zealand.
Clare also read a book about first–hand experiences of the Christchurch earthquake to try to get a better understanding of how it affected the community and the area. Steve’s skills as a carpenter made the Christchurch rebuild the natural choice to get a “foot in the door”, but since we’ve arrived here, we’ve found Christchurch is such a beautiful place that we can’t see us leaving the area. Everyone here has been very welcoming. Whilst Steven has been working, people have come up to him to thank him for coming out to help re-build their city.
We now live in the North New Brighton area of Christchurch, which is only a few minutes from the beach. The beach always seems to be full of activity even in the winter…full of joggers, surfers and dog walkers. There is so much to do here and everybody else seems to have the same idea which definitely rubs off. We go running on the beach, walking in the hills, skiing on local slopes, and that’s just in the first few months! It’s definitely a sellers and landlord’s market at the moment in Christchurch. There appears to be a shortage of houses and lots of people are looking for temporary rental property whilst their own houses are being repaired or re-built due to the earthquake damage. It does mean that there is a definite housing boom and lots of new builds which in turn means lots of jobs. Perfect scenario for us due to Steven being in the building trade! Eventually we will build our own dream home. The plots of land here are in beautiful locations and building your own home is very common. Other than that, we have no definite plans. We are just going to see how things progress!