Case Study: The Timmins Family
Who: The Timmins family are Keith (44), Claire (42), Stella (9) and Billy (7)
Keith was a Charge Hand Scaffolder in the UK. Claire has been a housewife since 2009 but she is now searching for a job in New Zealand.
Moved From: Birmingham, West Midlands
Moved To: Burnside, Christchurch
Keith and Claire Timmins first became aware of the work opportunities in New Zealand after hearing a radio broadcast for the Down Under Live show in Birmingham in late 2013. Keith and Claire decided to go to the show and find out more. Keith had always had his heart set on Australia, but once at the expo he saw the opportunities in New Zealand for scaffolders and thought “wow”. Both Keith and Claire really liked what they had heard from people that they spoke to at the show. They could see that the lifestyle for them and their young children in NZ would be the complete opposite from what they had in the UK. The biggest dilemma was moving so far away from their family and friends. But with a ‘you only live once’ attitude they soon realised it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Claire did a lot of research on the internet, as they didn’t know anyone who had done this before so it was their only way of finding things out. That’s when they stumbled upon New Zealand Skills in Demand, and their website linked up to many other relevant sites and companies which they found really interesting and useful. Keith and Claire attended the ‘This is New Zealand Seminar’ in September 2015. But by this point Mark Morrison from New Zealand Skills in Demand had already lined up Keith with a Skype interview with their NZ client and two weeks later had received a job offer. Says Keith: “Mark advised us to come along so we could meet him in person, find out about the work and lifestyle and ask any questions. It helped us a lot meeting these people face to face and having a chat to Mark. It was a really nice personal seminar, and focused to you as an individual.”
The motivation for the Timmins to go to New Zealand was to get out of the ‘rat race’ in the UK and to stop working such long hours with little reward! They wanted their two young kids to grow up in a country that looked so amazing, to go to the beach, ride their bikes and have quality family time. The Skype interview process was really daunting for Keith as he hadn’t had an interview for over 20 years. In the past he had always got a job through word of mouth, so he was so nervous. Mark e-mailed Keith an interview preparation sheet, which helped a lot. Keith also researched the company that he was being interviewed by, just to give him a bit of background information. Keith needn’t have been so worried though as the interviewer in NZ was brilliant. She put him right at ease straight away and he really relaxed and felt good about the whole thing. Keith actually felt quite confident and positive!
Within two weeks Keith had a job offer as a Part 2 Scaffolder in Christchurch. His wife Claire fortunately had already put a lot of things in place. She had got removal quotes, flight quotes, and they had already engaged with Migration Associates to take care of their visa. They both then had to get their police checks done, medicals booked and provide proof of their relationship. There was a huge amount of paperwork involved, and they also had put their house up for sale. Says Claire: “There was so much going on all at once, but it’s all achievable with good organisation and communication!”
The Timmins did think about doing the visa application themselves, but the amount of paperwork involved was unbelievable, says Claire, and it was all very confusing. “Migration Associates were amazing. They guided us through the whole process and they were there with lots of advice and help. It made it all a lot easier and less stressful.” The most difficult part of the whole process was telling their family and friends. They also had an elderly dog who would not survive the trip, so they had to make the agonising decision to re-home her, which was the most emotional thing that they had to do. The family were all so excited, and it helped that the kids were “sold” on the whole New Zealand thing, says Claire. The family house sold quickly so they lived in a local B&B for two weeks, so the kids could continue going to school and then they moved in with the in-laws for the last few days before they left.
On the family’s arrival in December 2015 Keith’s new employer sent a car to collect them from Christchurch Airport, but they had so much luggage they had to get a second car! Claire had booked the family into a motel for five nights, which was only 10 minutes from the airport, but also convenient for getting into central Christchurch. Claire recalls that the family instantly felt that they had arrived home. “We knew we had done the right thing. The sun was shining, the people were friendly and we loved it. The kids were jumping up and down and running around, despite just getting off a 30 hour flight. Seeing their faces and reactions said it all.”
Claire and Keith needed to find a temporary furnished property for a few weeks, as their furniture was on its way over. They couldn’t enrol the kids in a school as they didn’t know where they would end up (also the kids in NZ were breaking up for Christmas in a couple of weeks). Their first week was taken up with house hunting, opening a bank account and car shopping. Says Claire: “We were lucky finding our permanent rental and it was in a lovely area with a great school nearby. Keith’s work has been going great and he has made some good friends already.”
Claire and Keith think that the cost of living in Christchurch is pretty expensive. Says Claire: “It takes some getting used to. Renting a property is a good idea as the landlord pays your council tax, so that’s one less thing to worry about. There is also no TV licence to pay for either. Food is pricey too, but friends have told us about the best places to go shopping.”
When asked what they miss about the UK, Claire says that their dog is the biggest thing and it weighs heavy on their hearts. As for family and friends, of course they miss them loads but Skype and Facebook makes it easier. “Life in NZ is far more relaxed and there are so many more outdoor things to do,” says Claire. “There are play parks around every other corner, and we have done more as a family here than we ever did in the UK. The weather is glorious and beaches are never far away.”
The family’s only regret is that they did not come out a lot sooner. Claire and Keith’s advice for anyone thinking about migrating to NZ is to be organized, communicate with each other, take advice off people, do your research, try and involve the kids as much as possible, and to just do it. Life is too short to have regrets!