Case Study: The Stone Family
Who: Roger (46), Lorna (43) and Daniel (14) Stone
Roger worked as a project manager in the UK. He works in the same role in New Zealand, working for City Care Limited in Christchurch.
Lorna worked as a self-employed hairdresser in the UK and works part time in this role in New Zealand
Moved from: Walsall, West Midlands
Moved to: Rolleston, Canterbury, New Zealand
We chose to live in New Zealand because we wanted a better lifestyle and a better work-life balance than what we had in the UK. We both had stressful jobs and worked long hours and Lorna worked weekends at her hairdressing salon. We had very little quality family time, so we decided to do something about it. In February 2011, we went to the Down Under Live Show at the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham to gather some information. After listening to a talk we decided to engage Borey Chum of Migration Associates as our migration agent. With Borey being from Christchurch, he was able to provide us with plenty of sound advice and information.
Afterwards, we went home and sat down with Daniel, our son, and discussed what we would all be leaving behind if we moved to New Zealand, especially family and close friends, but we also discussed the opportunities that would become available for us all if we moved there. Fortunately, Daniel was on board with us right from the start. Although we had never been to New Zealand, over 12 months we did our homework and researched as much information as we could. We also talked to friends on Skype who had already made the move.
After engaging our migration agent, I had my skills and qualifications accessed by the NZQA, which took 12 weeks, then in order to get a residence visa under the skilled migrant category I had to have a confirmed job offer, so I started looking for jobs. After applying for several jobs and not having any success, we went to the Down Under Live show again in February 2012 and came across New Zealand Skills in Demand (NZSID), a New Zealand based company, who were now also working from the UK in partnership with Migration Associates, our agent.
After a short meeting with Joel Gabites of NZSID, we forwarded him my CV. NZSID then matched my skills and qualifications to their clients demands in New Zealand. Within two weeks, in March, I was invited for an interview over Skype with City Care in Christchurch for a project manager’s role. The interview lasted two hours and by next morning I had a job offer. NZSID and Joel Gabites played a major part in our success story, as the challenges we faced previously meant that even though we were visa ready, employers were reluctant to interview me because I was living overseas, and the jobs had to be offered to New Zealand applicants first. Some companies said they would be interested in interviewing me if I was already in New Zealand. NZSID know where the demand is, and they have all the right connections to match people to roles in demand.
We found the residency application process fairly straight forward. Borey told us how the process worked, and he gave us realistic times on how long things would take, and guided us through the minefield of forms and questionnaires. The Expression of Interest (EOI) was lodged on 14 March 2012 and we received the Invitation to Apply (ITA) on 4 April 2012. After we had completed our medicals and police checks, Borey lodged our application for residency on 8 May 2012. Our resident visas were issued on 22 June 2012. We left the UK on 2 July 2012. From application to acceptance it took just over 14 weeks. Our move cost £13,000, which covered our visa costs, flights, shipping, skill assessment and medicals. We covered our move through savings. Also, my new employer agreed to pay towards the flights and shipping of our belongings up to a value of $10,000 (£5,000). They also provided temporary accommodation for us when we arrived.
We arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand on 5 July 2012 after a long journey from Heathrow via Hong Kong and Auckland. We were greeted by my new manager who took us to our temporary accommodation. I started work at City Care on 9 July 2012 and basically had to hit the ground running. This role involved managing some of the large projects to rebuild the city’s underground infrastructure, such as replacing water, sewer and storm water pipes and then rebuilding and repairing the roading and footpaths. The goal is to provide a more resilient infrastructure for future generations. Representatives from New Zealand Skills in Demand also met up with us and asked what they could do to help us settle, and recommended areas to live, with good schools, facilities and recreation sites.
During our first few weeks we found a furnished rental property to tie us over until our container arrived. When our container arrived we started looking for unfurnished rental properties in Rolleston, a small town south west of Christchurch, in Canterbury. We also enrolled Daniel into Lincoln High School. Once we moved to Rolleston we began to settle. Lorna got a parttime job which she enjoys and Daniel made new friends. We are now renting a four-bedroom detached home in Rolleston which costs NZ$500 (£250) per week. It is on a corner plot and has a large private sunny back garden.
We are in the process of buying a section of land and having a four-bedroom house built on it. It will have a double garage, two bathrooms and separate toilet, two lounges and a large kitchen and dining area, and will be situated in a lovely quiet part of Rolleston. It is a lot easier to buy land and homes in New Zealand compared to the UK. Our house and land will cost NZ$500,000 (£264,461). Rolleston is easily accessible by all means of transport and has a semi-rural feel to it. It is a very modern place and has its own shops, bars, dairy, supermarkets, doctors and restaurants.
We have everything we need on our doorstep. We are a short drive away from several shopping malls and retail parks and to the city itself. Rolleston has many parks and reserves around the area and also has its own community centre and skate park. There is an aquatic and sports centre being built at present which will be open soon. We are about 30 minutes drive from the beach and just over an hour from the ski mountains. It is a safe and friendly community. There are lots of British people here, as well as other nationalities. We have met some lovely people and have a nice circle of friends around us.
We really like the climate compared to the UK. We don’t have much rain in Canterbury as it is all deposited over the Southern Alps on the West Coast. Food is very similar to the UK and can be a little more expensive but we have learned to buy fresh produce that is in season. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, but most people tend to stay at home and have a barbeque with friends and family. There is plenty to do around Christchurch and lots of clubs to join, such as fitness and cycling clubs, fishing and car clubs and there is a vast array of watersports and campsites to take advantage of. Most weekends we either go to the beach or we go to one of the many malls for a coffee or two. We go to the farmers markets and more recently we go to the racetrack nearby to watch motorsport. We especially like the V8 supertourers and the V8 muscle car racing – we are all turning into petrol heads!
Looking back, it felt like the move to New Zealand was quite easy and quick, only because we engaged the right people to help us with the whole process. We would certainly advise getting assistance from a company like NZSID. All of our lives have been changed for the better as a result of our move. We have a great work life balance, enjoy more time together as a family, and have more outdoor time. It has given us a healthier lifestyle as we are able to do more outdoor activities, and we feel safer here than in the UK. There will be more opportunities here for Daniel compared to the UK and although he doesn’t quite realise it yet, it will be the best thing we have done for him. We wouldn’t change a thing if we had to do it again. We miss family and friends obviously but Skype is great for keeping in touch. We would say to any Brits people thinking of moving to New Zealand that the only risk is not taking the risk. If it’s your dream, then follow it, and don’t give up! There are plenty of people to support you along the way, so listen to them and take their advice. Things won’t be handed on a plate and at the end of the day you have to make it happen. It is hard work but it is well worth it!