NZ

Just a little blog about my move to New Zealand and how I’m coping with life in the Southern Hemisphere.

All post will be kept in chronological order so just scroll on down for the latest update. (Highlighted with *** stars around the title***)

 

The Master Plan – 12/03/18

How the hell are we already 12 days into March? It only feels like a few weeks ago I’d just left Dubai and I was touching down in Auckland. I arrived on kiwi soil back on Feb 6th and now I’m five weeks into my visa. I decided I’d throw together this little blog to keep track of my time here and my thoughts as I slowly adjust to life in the Southern Hemisphere. I wont bore you with a day by day account of my breakfasts but I expect there will be some rambling. Coffee or hard liquor may be advised!

So I’ve been asked many a time on the run up to the move as to why I chose the move out here but I don’t really have an exact reason. To be honest I should have had it printed on a t-shirt or a readily available pamphlet. There are several reasons I chose NZ. I’ve listened to a radio show out here for nearly 6 years and that’s been a fairly big influence. Pretty much everyone is aware how beautiful this country is and I’m yet to meet someone who’s been that didn’t like it. And if that wasn’t enough I can even go snowboarding out here.

And for those who know me quite well you may also know that I’ve spent a number of my recent years climbing out of debt from a slight job faux pa post-uni. Whilst that is all well behind me it has been nice to take inventory of where I am right now and compare it back to the days where I thought I’d never get out.

The other thing people seemed keen to know is what was my plan once I’m out here and did I have work lined up. The short answer being yes I have a vague plan and no I do not have a job to go to. Sadly marketers with zero experience and chalet hosts aren’t on the shortage list so it was just the standard working holiday visa for me.

The basic premise is that during my 23 month visa I’m allowed to work for a total of 12 months. So I head to a job agency, sign myself up and I get myself a temp role. I then proceed to work hard, do my best and they hopefully if all goes well it may lead onto being offered a permanent position. That in turn allows me to convert my visa and keep myself in the country. And if you thought I was organised enough to work all that out ahead of the move then you don’t know me well enough. My friend and old housemate Helen actually managed to do all of this over the last few years. She’s kind of inadvertently been my NZ guinea pig so if I do manage to bag myself a permanent place I probably owe her a beer of two.

So that was the master plan but I’ve been here 5 weeks now, how’s that all going? Not the best if I’m honest but it’s easy to get a little pessimistic when you’re unemployed and in the early throes of cabin fever. I managed to arrive in Wellington during and accommodation crisis but luckily my AirBnb turned out to be a winner and now I’ve got somewhere to hang my hat until the work comes in. And speaking of work, or the lack of it. Things do not always move quickly out here which to be honest also includes me. I faffed and delayed for a little longer than I should have but I am now registered with a few agencies and due interviews over the next few weeks. Fingers crossed!

The ball is moving now but I’ll hold my hands up and say it’s totally my fault it hasn’t moved sooner. I’m both excited and nervous about the prospect of work. I can’t wait to start earning so I can relax and enjoy myself but equally so much rests on this all going well. I’ve been told I shouldn’t worry and it’ll all be fine but until that first offer comes in I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit terrified. Having banked everything I own on this venture I think the gravity of the situation is starting to set in.

I’ll be trying to keep this blog up to date when I hit all the milestones and such. Hopefully the next post might be right after my first interview. I do have a few other bits in progress and I might even treat you to a few pretty pictures next time.

 

 

Dollar Dollar Bills Y’all – 22/04/18

It’s been five or so weeks since my last post where I was getting a little bit negative and gloomy about the situation out here whilst looking for work. Well I’m glad to say that’s not the case anymore as I am now a functioning part of the New Zealand workforce. In fact within 48 hours of my last post I was sat across the table from a panel of three being interviewed for a position with the Inland Revenue. I’ve just finished the fourth week in my new role and now I’ve got myself a regular income things are starting to steady out.

Although I was a little slow on the hunt for work I was surprisingly lucky to start so soon after the interview. It had only been around 10 days from accepting the role to being sat at my new desk which I’ve been told for NZ standards is pretty fast. And the return to working life has been more than well received. I was starting to go a little crazy being cooped up in the house watching my savings decline faster than the popularity of Bill Cosby.

The event of employment and gaining an income has inevitably changed my mood for the better. And whilst I can relax and enjoy myself a little more now I do still have to keep myself on a pretty structured budget. Although I bagged a higher salary than back home I have less disposable income now due to the higher cost of living. I was warned before the move that New Zealand isn’t cheap but I don’t think I was prepped for just how expensive it would be. I do forget sometimes that I live in a capital city now and not in a little town but the adjustment has been rough. I came out here with around six grand of savings which turned out to be only just enough in the end. In hindsight I maybe should have saved up a little more than I did but the time felt right and I was definitely ready to make the move.

So after six weeks of rent, food, travel and work clothes (and beer) I was left with around £1500 split across my UK and NZ accounts. Had my employment situation not panned out how I did I probably had about four weeks left until I had to decide whether I invested every last penny into trying to find work or instead, travel the country for a month and come home with my tail between my legs. Luckily that was a bridge I never had to cross but it was definitely an eye opener for me.

As a side note, cash transactions aren’t the done thing over here. Before I set myself up with a bank account I was withdrawing a chunk of cash and getting by on notes. Cashiers actually give a surprised looked when you pull out money instead of a card. Everything seems to run off contactless payments or at least in Wellington anyways. I also haven’t adjusted to the conversion rates yet despite the fact the dollar value is pretty much just double its sterling counterpart. I think it’s the Yorkshire in me that keeps asking “how much?”.

So what makes New Zealand so expensive? Pretty much everything it seems. I was told to expect to pay more for fruit and veg but some of the differences are insane. I ate quite a lot of mushrooms at home and I’d pay 79p for a punnet at Tesco. The equivalent over here comes in at around £2.50. The majority of stuff in the super markets tends to be around 20%-40% more expensive than we’d pay at home. Cafés and food stalls are at the higher end of pricing (I think) but given that they would class as fine dining in the town I just moved from my opinion might be slightly skewed.

The one thing I am comfortable in gauging is the price of alcohol. Supermarkets aren’t too much more expensive than home and craft beer is big over here so the selection is pretty solid. Though like America if you want spirits you have to head to a designated bottle shop to pick up the strong stuff. Surprisingly I’ve not been down to one yet but I’m sure the calling of rum will lure me down at some point in the near future. What I can say is that drinking in bars is definitely not cheap when you’re looking at around $11-14 (£6 -£7) on average per pint. And I use the term pint loosely as most places seem to serve in glasses 500ml or slightly less. The only saving grace is that as mentioned craft beer is big here so you get some pretty decent drops for your dollar. Spirits are actually reasonably priced in comparison and I’m not sure on wine because that’s loopy juice for me and I’ll have nothing to do with it.

Housing is the next big hurdle I have to tackle but luckily I’ll be tackling that with a good friend from home. My mate Andy bagged himself a sweet job in Wellington so we’ve decided to find ourselves a pad out here once he arrives at the end of May. Scouting the market the prices seem to be pretty standard for a major city, on par with the likes of Manchester maybe but just a totally different style of housing. I’m sure it’ll come with all the usual stresses of house hunting in the UK but I’ll cover that more in depth another time. Until then I’m sitting tight in my AirBnB place which also happens to be incredibly convenient for work.

And though life in Welly is definitely straining the old cash flow I’m far from penniless. I budget my money quite tightly out of habit now which is great as it helps me plan my trips and holidays. The great thing about being in NZ is that places like Australia, Bali and Thailand are all way more accessible now. Work and financial restrictions aside I’m hoping I get to see a lot of new places as well as exploring NZ itself.

One financial concern I’m not used to having is maintaining a ‘flight fund’. And this is something I have to consider for a variety of situations. Due to the nature of the visa and my being here I have to prepare for the possibility that I may end up returning to the UK next year if things don’t pan out. Whilst everything looks on track at the moment the future is uncertain and I’m conscious of having a ‘Plan B’ to fall back on. This means making sure to put away a little each month for the long term whilst also making sure I’ve enough to see the sights and have fun for the rest of the time.

And in the meanwhile should I have to fly back home at any point it suddenly becomes a daunting task, especially in the first year with uncertain residency. Not only do my finances take a big hit but the time, distance and jet lag all make for an exhausting trip. I initially resigned myself to the fact that it’d be at least a few years until I made the trip back home but now I’m out here I’m realising it might not always be that simple.

And that’s where I’m going to leave this little update for now. I’ve got a few other bits to touch on and I’ve actually taken some pictures at last so hopefully I can share all of that with you soon.

 

 

City Living- 13/07/18

So I thought as I’m in this new and exciting city I should probably talk about the city itself. I chose to settle in Wellington off of my friend Helen’s recommendation. Unlike eager old me Helen actually came to visit NZ before making the move down here. After touring around both islands she decided that Wellington was the ideal place to be for both decent job opportunities and a cool place to live. Having only experienced Auckland briefly before heading straight down to Wellington I can’t really draw much of an opinion to the rest of the country. And whilst I’m experiencing a few highs and lows I can safely say that the day to day life in Welly is pretty cool.

Walking through the downtown area there are definitely parts of the city that feel like Leeds or Manchester. The streets are lively but nowhere near as packed as the likes London. You wouldn’t really think that you’re in a capital city but I forget just how crazy the difference in population is. To put it in perspective London has a population of around 8.5 million which is almost double the entire population of New Zealand at 4.5 million. Wellington holds around 500,000 which puts it in a similar bracket to somewhere like Liverpool or Bristol.

 (A few pics from around the city. Taken from inside a car hence the glare)

 

However you don’t need stray far from the centre before you realise you’re definitely in New Zealand. Wellington quickly changes from flat and grey to steep and green with most of the main suburbs being based up in the hills that surround the city. The first time I took the train to my accommodation the landscape looked like something from Jurassic Park to the point where I half expected a T-Rex to start roaming through the backdrop. You quickly get used to it though and it’s definitely a nice change to anything I’m used to in the UK.

 

 (Shots taken from the house I lived in and the neighbourhood)

 

And it’s crazy to think that just 30/45 minute walk from your front door you can be up in the hills overlooking the city. The house I live in to start with had access to a road that takes you all the way up to the top of one of Wellington’s surrounding hills. From there you can see Wellington and the bay to one side and then on a clear day you can even see across to the south island on the other.

 

(The views you get just trekking a little out of the suburb)

 

And whilst parts of the city remind me of Leeds and Manchester the main thing that sets Wellington apart for me is the city’s waterfront. It spans for a across a large section of the bay and is made up of the harbour, marinas, a museum, restaurants bars and even a little beach. I arrived during the summer months so I’ve probably seen it at the best time it’s what really makes Wellington city for me. I don’t think anything comes close to this in the UK, definitely not in our major towns or cities anyway.

 

(Some snaps from Welly’s waterfront)

 

I’m also lucky that my office sits quite close to the waterfront and being up on the 12th floor it gives us a great view of the bay. After spending the last four years working in a lab that had no windows to the outside word it’s nice to have a little something to look at. I’m sure it’s all good being up on the 12th floor at the moment but if we get hit by an earthquake during work hours I’m betting I might change my mind.

(The views from my office windows)

As for the rest of Wellington I’m slowly starting to get more accustomed with it. I’ve sussed out all of the key locations and I’m pretty confident navigating around the city now. I also seem to have found a regular drinking crowd so I’m slowly getting to sample the many bars Welly has to offer. It reminds me quite a bit of York with the amount of bars and restaurants crammed into a small space.
But the biggest comfort has been finding ourselves a great 2 bed apartment. Andy led the charge on flat hunting and we were lucky to snap up a place in central Welly. So central that neither of us have to walk more than 10 minutes to our workplaces which is unbelievably handy. Rent here definitely isn’t the cheapest though. I’d put it in a similar bracket to higher end Manchester at around  £280pw (for the flat) before bills. Everything is pretty much done weekly or 2 weekly out here. So whilst I’m having to fork out rent on a weekly basis I do get paid every other week which is nice.
And after the rocky couple of months at the beginning I’m glad to say things are starting to steady out a bit now. I’ve settled into work, got familiar with the city and most importantly my cash flow has steadied out. The last major cost of the flat is out of the way and now it’s time to start saving for the summer. I’m currently planning a 10 day trip to Australia and a road trip around the North Island of NZ with two friends from the UK. Plenty to look forward to over the coming months.
 
Six Month Spiel – 30/07/18 

A week from today, Monday the 6th August I have officially been in New Zealand for six months and as such I felt this was the appropriate time to chat about how I’m finding the whole experience. I’ve drafted several versions of this post over the last few months but the six month mark seems like a fitting occasion to upload. Other than the timely milestone the main reason I’ve decided to write this now is that I feel the initial teething problems of such a major move are out of the way. It didn’t seem appropriate to jot down my thoughts before I’d settled into work, explored the city and found myself a proper place to live. Well now I’ve been here for six months, working for over four and in our own apartment for one. Things have definitely steadied out for me now and I’m feeling much more settled so I thought I’d chat about how I feel about everything six months in.

 

Expectations

So coming to New Zealand became a weird obsession of mine. I’d never been before but for some reason everything seemed to point me towards it. I’m first to admit that my post-uni choices were pretty dire and I think spending the four years prior to the move living and working in the arse end of Nottinghamshire most likely fuelled my desire for a fresh start. Another part of me didn’t think I’d find work elsewhere in the UK on the same salary I had at the lab and I found myself thinking sod it, let’s go have crack at it all in New Zealand. I guess I figured if I was going to take a pay cut then why not it on the other side of the world. Looking back on it all now I’m not really sure how my thought process got me to the point that I’m at now.

Having never been to New Zealand before the move I set off somewhat blindly into my venture. Everything I knew about the country was straight from a podcast, Google or a handful of my friends. Everyone has their own circumstances and everyone approaches life in a different way so I knew I’d just have to do rock it out and tackle the move in my own style. That being said, it wasn’t all sugar-coated for me either. My friend Helen told me how she struggled in the first several months debating whether or not she had made the right decisions. And that seems to be similar for other ex-pats I’ve spoken to out here. I knew heading into this that the lows were to be expected with the highs but admittedly they’ve affected me in ways I didn’t always expect.

Not really having any clear expectations it’s hard to measure if New Zealand is living up to what I hoped for. But what I can say is that Wellington is lovely, the people are friendly and my quality of living has definitely improved. And whatever my future may hold down here I do not regret making the move. I wasn’t happy where I was in the UK and I was long overdue a change to my routine. Yes I may end up back on home soil as early as April next year but I’m glad I’ve taken the plunge and sampled life in the Southern Hem.

 

Work

Heading out to a new country with limited savings and no job was always going to pose a risk. My confidence and initial optimism of finding work quickly was maybe a little misplaced. As I watched my savings quickly dwindle I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start to panic. Following the advice from Helen I decided that employment agencies were the best route to me securing a position. Admittedly I was a little slow off the mark in getting the ball rolling and in the end it was actually a friend out here who put me in contact with the agency that placed me. So I have to say a massive thanks to Steve for helping me with that hurdle as were it not for him it may have all played out differently. With my period of unemployment, buying new work attire and waiting for the first pay check I actually came dangerously close to an empty bank account.

Having a background in hospitality, a degree in marketing and four years of experience in auditing I stepped into the New Zealand work market not really knowing where I’d be heading. Luckily it turns out that my experience in the lab actually put me in good stead for a range of admin roles. Now if anyone knows me you’ll know I didn’t enjoy my job at the lab all that much. It didn’t engage me, it got repetitive and I was living away from all of my friends. But despite all of that I can’t help but feel appreciative of the opportunity I had to work there. It helped dig me out of the hole I’d put myself in after uni and it taught me a great range of new skills that have seemingly proven to be useful.

And now I find myself adding a few more strings to my bow as a Project Coordinator for the Inland Revenue. What does that mean? I’m not completely sure yet myself but it’s interesting finding out. I’ve joined the team in a bit of a quiet patch so I haven’t had chance to fully experience what I was brought on to do yet. At the core of it our team is situated around HR and we deal with matters of internal change. And within that team I’m here to provide assistance to my colleagues and deal with a variety of tasks. And just like in the UK you get the same look of discontent on peoples’ faces when you tell them you work for the Inland Revenue. But luckily we’re not the ones trying to take your hard earned dollars so that’s something I guess.

The biggest change for me working here is the sheer scale of things and the variety of it all. I’ve moved from working in a windowless lab with five other people near Mansfield into an open-planned, 12 floored government branch headquarters in Wellington city. I enjoy the larger, busier work environment and the much more central location to everything. But most of all it’s been nice working with people of a similar age group again. Compared to working in the lab where I was the youngest at 30 years old it’s been a breath of fresh air to be working with a younger demographic.

But aside from all of that I’ve learnt a lot about myself and where I slot into the working world. It was interesting sitting down to talk with my recruiter prior to my employment. What I came to realise is that I have a tendency to sell myself short. My previous experience was a lot more valuable than I gave myself credit for and a lot of my skills are transferable in ways I hadn’t realised. I chose to use a recruitment agency out here as I thought it was the only viable option but it has proven to be a more than worthwhile move. Even if I return to the UK I think I’d chose to do the same again. Whilst I’m still looking for my career path in life I think the agencies are a great source of direction. It didn’t require such a massive move to utilise this service but it’s definitely something I’m glad I discovered.

 

Finances

Now I’ve discussed it before but damn New Zealand is expensive. Although I managed to land a pretty solid job I’ve found myself constantly battling with my finances. I’m not living pay check to pay check by any means but keeping to my budget is a daily struggle. It’s a fine balance to make sure I’m paying my bills, eating well, enjoying myself and saving for holidays. There’s no question that I’m in nicer surroundings than I have been in recent years but I’ve also got half as much disposable income to enjoy myself with. I know the contrast comes from spending the last few years paying cheap rent and living like a hermit but it’s been more than a shock to the system. And the problem is I’m not even spending it on anything overly luxurious. Not that it came as a surprise in the slightest but compared to downtown Hucknall the rent here is considerably higher. That’s all good and expected but then the outgoings start to rack up when my weekly shop costs me almost double compared to what it does in the UK. And if I decide to head out for a few bevvies on a Friday night I’m kissing goodbye to at least $100 which at times poses a dilemma on whether to be cash savvy or sociable. Other day to day stuff I can live with. We don’t even get Amazon out here so I’ve just accepted paying full price for things over the counter. I’ve always slagged off London for being an overpriced hell hole but after a few months here I can see how people just start to accept it. Suddenly paying $12 for a beer seems reasonable and as a Northerner at heart that makes me feel a little dead inside.

Whilst my future in New Zealand is still uncertain if the outcome to all of this is that I have to return home in April then I need to really enjoy what time I have here. But the flipside to that means that I also need to make sure that I have the savings for my return. And people have a tendency to say don’t worry about that yet and stop planning to fail but it seems a little financially irresponsible to not have a Plan B. And if I do decide that NZ is for me then I definitely need to find myself a position with a fatter salary. Even if my current employer was able to sponsor me, converting my visa and going through another medical comes in at around $3000. And when that kind of money is pretty much all I’m able to save in a year it becomes pretty clear why I need more dollars coming in.

Now what I will say is that there definitely seems to be some good money to be had here in Wellington. Earning the equivalent of £35/40k seems more than easily attainable. And after several years I don’t feel that a £50k job is out of the question. Financially I do think there are definitely more opportunities out here. Though I feel you really need that higher salary just to give yourself a solid standard of living. After the last four years I’m more than competent at managing my finances. I’m able to do the things I want to do on a budget but I have to be vigilant and a little restrictive in my spending. Higher pay is definitely a necessity over a preference to me staying here in New Zealand long term.

 

Friends & Social

Whilst work, visas and money will always prove to be the biggest complications I’ve found the hardest aspect of the move for me has to be leaving my friends behind. For some reason I don’t really recall this being a major consideration on the run up to the move but it’s been the biggest negative constant since being here. I’d describe myself as an averagely outgoing introvert but I’ll happily admit I’m a little awkward and a bit of a social spaz. I enjoy socialising, going out drinking and meeting new people but I’m not always great at doing it. It used to bother me but I’m ok with who I am now. But what I miss are all my friends from home who know I’m a bit socially inept. They’re the folks who know what my sense of humour is like, they’ve seen me at my best and worse and know what to expect from me. Most of my friends come from my uni crowd at Huddersfield but despite leaving five years ago and spreading out a bit we’ve all remained good friends. And whilst we may be slowing down, focussing on careers and buying houses we’ve still stuck together. It just feels counterproductive in some ways to move away from all of that. I know that general life stuff will mean that we see start seeing less and less of each other but starting afresh over here has certainly made me appreciate what I’ve left behind at home.

That being said I don’t feel like that’s entirely fair on the great people I’ve been fortunate to meet out here. As I’ve mentioned I’m thankfully working alongside a much younger and sociable team. And even better is that my colleagues seem to share the same appreciation for alcohol that I do. Not since the days of working for [the company that shall not be named] have I been able to mix work life with social life. It’s been great to regularly head out with my work mates as I’ve slowly been introduced to more of Wellington and met new faces along the way. It’s greatly appreciated to receive a text on the weekend for beers and being able head out and enjoy myself. Not only has it helped me feel a little more settled at work itself but it’s done me the world of good after spending the last three years as a social hermit who appeared every six weeks or so to binge drink my way into a two day hangover.

And socially I’m beginning to feel a whole lot more confident now. The plus side to being away from my regular group is that it forces me to interact with an entirely new crowd. My aforementioned social skills don’t always make that the easiest thing in the world but I’m enjoying the scene over here. The Kiwis’ are a great bunch to drink with and Wellington has plenty going on. I’ve found that certain priorities are starting to shift a little and I’m spending more time socialising. This is something I think I really needed for myself and despite the extortionate drinks prices out here I’m happy to spend some pennies enjoying myself.

 

Hobbies & Interests

Now if you know me or you’ve looked around my site at all you’ll realise that I’m also a hobbyist. And by hobbyist I mean a bit of a geek. I’ve always been into creative pursuits but having spent the last 17 years painting little plastic men it’s become a fairly big consumer of my spare time. I enjoy it, I’m quite good at it but I get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s cool. But aside from all of that it’s always been a great way of meeting new people. It helped me back in the UK to make new friends and it’s definitely helped me out here. Steve and Daimon are both top lads (and ex-pats) who run the scene in Welly for the game I play. I got chatting to them ahead of my move and they’ve made me feel welcome here from day one. In my first months here whilst looking for work and settling in it’s been great to meet the local gaming community, roll some dice and have a few beers. It’s been good to have another set of friends to mix with who also enjoy my slightly nerdier dabblings. And as mentioned before Steve is the chap who helped put me in touch with the recruiter so the hobby even managed to help me in that aspect.

And whilst on the subject of my hobby, it’s actually one of the areas I’ve noticed the bigger changes in. For the last three or four years whilst being based in Notts I’ve spent a lot of time doing it. I used to play all over the country and I spent hours painting and even competing. Between that and tinkering on my PC is how I tended to spend a lot of my evenings. I sank a lot of time, money and effort into my hobby and I expected to kind of do the same once I was over here. Although I do meet regularly with the local crowd I find I’m picking up my brushes less and less often. I go to the gym several times a week, (as above) I drink more weekends than not and I just find myself occupying my time in other ways. Whilst I don’t plan on giving up my hobby it’s made me realise that given the opportunity there’s plenty of other things I’d like to also do. It’s made me recognise that if I return home it’s important to base myself near friends and keep myself social. It’s nice to have a creative outlet but I need to make sure I’m doing the regular life stuff that I feel I’ve kind of missed out on over the last few years.

I think one of the bigger hopes for moving out here was a breaking my habits and changing up my routines. Relocating 11500 kind of forces that on you but I’m happily embracing the adjustment. Aside from my newly reinvigorated social life I’ve been trying to look after my health and fitness. Living with Andy has been a massive help in adjusting to life down here. It’s great having a familiar face around me and he’s been a huge motivation in getting me to the gym. Living roughly one minute away from the facilities definitely helps as well but losing some weight has never felt more achievable than it does at the moment. And once the summer comes around in November (which I still find weird) I’m looking forward to trying out a few more activities and taking advantage of living where we do.

 

Distance

I’ve found that being stuck out in little old New Zealand has presented its own challenges that I maybe hadn’t given thought to. I was under no illusion that I’d be situated an ungodly distance away from anything and the 30+ hour journey out here made that very clear. In my head I guess I kind of thought that I’d head home maybe every two to three years. I figured that family would see it as an excuse to come visit and I could provide a place for friends to come and crash. And heading out here I probably only saw it as an inconvenience on time but it presents many more problems than that.

The first time I realised that being out here presents such a big obstacle came from my Step-brother announcing his engagement a few months before my departure from the UK. The proposed (and surprisingly prompt) wedding is set for August 3rd, as in Friday. Understandably I’m pretty gutted to miss such a special occasion and a large family gathering. But neither time nor money would allow me to realistically make it back. The same goes for another good friend’s wedding later this year, both my parents’ 60th and a whole bunch of other events I’m missing or have missed whilst I’m down here. I get it, it’s one of the downsides to making this decision and I need to make the most of what I have around me now but it doesn’t always make it an easy one to swallow.

And with a return trip home being such an investment it means if I were to choose to stay in New Zealand I would constantly require a flight fund. That means keeping four, five or maybe six grand stashed away in case I need to return to the UK, whether it be for a future family occasion or in the event of an emergency. It’s a slightly unusual prospect having to always be thinking about a potential return. And this isn’t just a one sided dilemma. I’m equally as hard to reach down here and I realise that for friends and family to visit means using weeks of holiday and dropping a fair wad of cash in the process. I think settling down here means coming to terms with the fact you’ll seldom see your family and inevitably the majority of your friendships will fade away.

 

Mental Wellbeing

My mental state has had a few peaks and troffs over the last five or six years. After finishing on a high from uni I quickly dipped into my unquestionably lowest point in Manchester. My time in Notts was a little bittersweet as I realised I was stuck there for the coming years but knowing eventually I’d crawl my way back out of debt and get things on track. The first two years down in Nottingham I was genuinely unhappy. But once I took control of my finances and looked towards the future I managed to turn things around. I think that’s why coming to New Zealand was such a big deal for me. I just became weirdly fixated on doing it to the point where I became narrow-sighted in thinking that was the only way I was going to change my lifestyle.

If you read my first post then you’ll know I struggled during my first several weeks here as I looked for work. I knew from Helen’s experience that the move would take its toll and I’d have my doubts. She wasn’t wrong. As my savings gradually depleted and the job search moved slowly I got increasingly worried that I’d messed this up. Those worries were quickly quashed as my job offer came in and I was working full time after spending six weeks in Wellington. Over the following months however the move continued to take its toll. Joining my already established team I soon felt out of my depth surrounded with jargon and processes which made little sense to me. I struggled from the abrupt withdrawal of my friends made worse by the inconvenient time zones making it hard to chat in real time. Suddenly all your home comforts and customs you’re used to just aren’t there anymore. And all the while you’ve just got this constant thought in the back of your head making you doubt your decision. Should I have stayed in the UK? Why didn’t I just move to Leeds and be closer to all of my friends?

Well it evens out. All of the ex-pats I’ve spoken to tell me that it’s going to be six months to a year before you really feel at home and settled. I’m six months in and I’m starting to relax and enjoy my surroundings a lot more. I’ve experienced some very strange lows out here that’s for sure. Something as trivial as an unanswered message on Tinder to an off comment on Facebook just sets you off. From day to day my mood can easily change. On Monday I might get excited thinking about the possibilities of moving home and setting up around my friends. Then come Saturday the idea of laying my roots down in Wellington seems like the best idea. But I know its early days yet. I’ve only just got passed the first major hurdles and now is the time for me to really get into the lifestyle.

 

The Future

So that leaves me looking ahead to the rest of my time in this little country on the bottom of our planet. Despite all of the ups and downs mentioned above I am happy to be here and I do not regret my decisions that brought me here. Before I came out I intended to settle here with the possibility that I may have to return. Whereas now if I’m honest I’m more intent on returning with the possibility that I may end up settling. I ventured out here with a slight feeling of desperation and anxiety just hoping that I can make all of this permanent. And now that my thinking is the reverse of that I’ve kind of got a weird confident calm about the whole situation. It’s a little like going for an interview when you’ve already got another offer. If I do decide to stay here it’ll be on much more favourable terms. And if the right opportunity doesn’t present itself then I’m totally fine hopping on that plane and flying home.

But all of the doom, gloom, speculation and uncertainty aside I’ve got plenty of things booked in ready to enjoy over the coming months. With Australia on my doorstep now I figured it would be rude not to pop over. And as it turns out I have quite a few people to go and visit over there. So pending holiday approval from work I should be Aussie bound at some point in September. Plans are pretty vague right now but currently I’m looking at taking a 10 day trip to go see friends in Sydney and Canberra (or close to it). And then just a few months after that I get a chance to explore New Zealand itself with two good friends from back home. They’re flying out for a short but action packed 12 day tour of both the North and South islands. It’s a lot of driving with an estimated 1200 miles to cover in 11 of the 12 days but it should be pretty epic. And then just two weeks after I wave them off my good buddy Rik touches down and joins us as he starts his working holiday over here. It will be great having another familiar face over here and December is shaping up to be a fun month.

And then it’s Christmas which will be interesting. We’re still a little unsure on plans for the festive period but as I’m somewhat of a Grinch I’m not tied down to being stuck at home basting a turkey. Given this might be my only Christmas I’ll experience in New Zealand I’m more than game for making it a special one. And once Santa has been and gone the countdown is on for me. At that point I’ll have three working months remaining and I’m sure by then I’ll know what’s left that I want to do. Currently my 2019 is open for plans but given that another buddy Max is due in January I’m sure we’ll all get up to something.

And that’s me and all my thoughts for now. I write this for a mixture of reasons, it helps me process how I’m feeling about everything and I like to try and keep the family updated. And if you’re not a family member and you made it all the way to this point then kudos to you. I struggled to write 2000 word essays for uni but churning out 4500 for this was a breeze. This will probably be the biggest update for quite a while. I would assume 2019 will be the next lengthy update but I’m sure I’ll be posting up a few smaller bits in the meantime.

 

 

 

*** Business As Usual – 21/09/18 ***

It’s been a little while since my last update but in all honesty there’s not been a great deal going on. Winter has been pretty mild and as we’re now plodding along in spring I’m looking ahead to my summer adventures. I’ve still only seen the sights of Auckland and Wellington and bar a little trip up to Napier in a couple of weekends I’ve got a whole heap more that I need to see.

So what’s on the agenda. Well I mentioned in my last post that a trip Australia was due this month followed by my big road trip in NZ come November. Well due to a slight scheduling error the Aussie has been postponed and the November roady has become the main focus. And this has kind of been a blessing in disguise. The Aussie trip was starting to get expensive for what it was and involved too much moving about in a short period of time. What all of this did do is make me realise that I’d much rather spend my time and money exploring New Zealand, which is kind of the whole reason I’m here I guess.

So now I’m going all in on our November trip. My friends Danny and Soph depart from the UK and touch down in Wellington on the 6th November. Not even giving them time to take in the glorious sights of Welly we head off and make our way north on the start of a mad journey. Across 11 days we’ll be covering roughly 2150 miles by land, air and sea around both the north and south islands. Our northern leg features a lot of activities and all the touristy stuff before we fly down to the south and take the scenic way back up to Wellington. It’s going to be full on and no doubt exhausting but most likely a trip of a lifetime. I’ll definitely be covering all of that trip in its own post at some point.

So far November is the only holiday locked in but as we have to take mandatory leave around Christmas it looks like there’s an opportunity for a 11/12 day break over the festive period. With my buddy Rik arriving at the end of November we’re currently looking at a hiking/camping trip around the north island and spending Christmas doing something a little different. We’ve also been lucky enough to snag an invite for a New Years bash from a friend at work up in the north so the aim is to slowly make our way up for that. We also get the day after NYD as a public holiday here so it gives me plenty of time to recover and head back down.

Then into the new year as my annual leave dwindles I’m looking at a two weeks exploring the south island. The leave I’ve saved from cancelling my Aussie plans means I have a lot more time to spend trekking around NZ. And to be honest I feel much better doing it this way. I definitely want to make it to Aussie but it’s more likely to be a destination on my return journey rather than a separate holiday. I’d love to spend some time there and see some sights but time and money (though mainly money) just won’t permit it. I even considered getting myself a visa for Aussie if I depart New Zealand but it turns out just like NZ the cut off is at 30 so I’ve missed that opportunity.

And whilst I’m not super hyped about exploring Australia it would have been a great opportunity for a quick injection of sun and money. NZ continues to be a an uphill battle between enjoying myself and keeping the piggy bank topped up. The two camping trips I have planned should mean that I get to see much more of NZ whilst keeping to somewhat of a realistic budget. And a quick side rant. Peppers, like regular bell peppers are $6 at the moment which is three quid a pop. People were paying $10 a cauliflower a few months back and courgettes were $30 a kg. Literal madness. I don’t know how vegans manage to stay alive out here.

All veg gripes aside though it really has just been business as usual over the last month or so. I’ve taken it (a little) easier on the drinking recently and I’ve had a few hobby bits to keep me busy but my day to day has been nice and chilled. I had a great trip to Auckland for a tournament at the start of the month where I did surprisingly well (2nd out of 34) and the gaming community out here continue to be a great bunch to know. It’s been nice having that other group to spend a little time with outside my regular work and social life.

Whilst things have been fairly chilled recently time seems to be flying on by. And now as I enter the second half of my visa and the adventures are beginning I’m sure it’s going to feel like it’s all over in a split second. But all of the fun stuff is yet to come which is a bonus. And unless something major crops up between now and the road trip I expect that a post-roady  write-up (in mid to late November) may be my next big update.