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.