Migrant Stories – What They Wished They’d Known

The question asked on one site was “Name one thing you wish you’d known about BEFORE you moved to NZ“. Most responses covered the familiar issues of poor quality/damp houses, how expensive some things are, how cold it is, foodstuffs, dogs and access to the countryside, plus a number relating to a serious issue that we are hearing more and more about from migrants in NZ- poor mental heath. The responses included:

  • “How expensive it is and number 8 wire attitude.”
  • “Hard to narrow down to one thing…so its a tie between the poorly built houses (at any price range) with little or no heat and the realization that the “100% Pure motto is a huge marketing scheme…”
  • “I wish i would have known how expensive dentists are here!!”
  • “I wish I’d known how HUGE an impact emmigrating can have emotionally/mentally.I might have been more prepared. I might also have realised that its OK to feel depressed & sad even though from the outside it looks like you have nothing to be miserable about because most of your circumstances have changed for the better.”
  • “Yes, the impact on your mental health, as above.”
  • “I’d have to agree with (the above) on the mental health stuff and no amount of research can prepare you for that.”
  • “Again,I agree-I wish I knew what an impact it would have on you psychologically.I now know it can be quite normal to feel totally shell shocked,depression and desperate………..”
  • “I wish I’d known which fruits and vegetables were in season and when so we didn’t have to spend the first few months wondering whether the prices we were paying were reasonable or not by watching for the fluctuations each week.”
  • “That employee attitudes tend to revolve around “what’s in it for me?” rather than “what can I do to help the company be successful?”.
  • “Without sounding like an alcoholic – how expensive spirits are here – ah I crave a Friday late afternoon G&T.”
  • “I wish I had some concept of just how cold a ‘winterless’ 10 degrees was when you have no heating.”
  • “This is pretty minor, but the first thing I thought of: I wish we had known how expensive razor blades are so that we could have stockpiled them before coming!”
  • “I wish we had known that we couldnt get decent bacon and sausages that dont have such thick skins on them we would have weaned ourselves off them before we arrived or stuffed our faces lol”
  • “Mine’s another financial one – I wish I’d realised that I would need double the money that I had anticipated as a start off (just for the things that I forgot I’d need to buy – all those household items that you only use a little bit of and always have in the cupboard); I’d have sent over more than I did initially. (but then again, if we’d had more in the bank, then we’d probably have spent more without thinking about it – all those gorgeous coffees that we’ve had to deny ourselves would have added up!)”
  • “I wish we’d known that in NZ pit bulls are legal, are immensely popular and dog controls are poor. Two pit bulls moved into an unfenced property on our street around a year ago and, sure enough, a pedestrian and his dog were attacked by one of them a few months later. We have had so many encounters with pit bulls that have been off the leash in parks, on beaches etc that the few places I can really relax with my family are in dog-free areas.”
  • “I think my “wish I had known” would probably have to be “that there are no Public Footpaths or Bridleways in NZ so you can’t really go for a walk across the countryside!” I used to take my dogs across farmland to the pub, into the pub while I had lunch then back across the farmland to home!”
  • “Mine would definitely be the poor construction of housing in terms of little or no insulation/double glazing/heating.”
  • “I am convinced that our kids have been sick purely because of the massive ranges in temperature from room to room (due to the fact there’s usually a single heat source in the living area and nothing anywhere else) and the associated damp/mould issues. Oh, and the very high cost of living relative to the poor wages. Sorry, that’s 2.”
  • “I wish I’d known beforehand how expensive it was going to be to ship our two European cars, have them inspected, (for a small fortune) and keep them in parts etc (yet another small fortune). After hubby got his job offer on our recce trip, we had but a few months to move from the UK, and were reluctant to sell our two cars at a loss. In hindsight, we should have just bit the bullet and got rid. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it!!! Needless to say, I would urge potential migrants to research the benefits of shipping and maintaining their cars here.”
  • “I wish I would have known the “pub culture” does not exist as much here (or my experience of it), where we would have met up with friends and family etc all the time -drinks are far too expensive!, plus people have better things to do with their time when the weather is good! But the weird thing is I don’t miss it. Now I am thinking about buying bikes to go cycling and camping gear for a holiday!! I never would have done that before!”
  • “I wish I’d known how cold wellington is – I’m a warm climate person and I’m cold 9 months out of the year. I realize it’s not like we get two feet of snow in the winter (I grew up in the midwestern United States so remember what that’s like) but it’s much colder and damper than I expected. Or maybe this year has just been hard; it’s definitely the worst of the three years I’ve been here it seems like autumn ended quickly, winter was wet and spring hasn’t impressed me either (nice southerly yesterday! Brr!)”
  • “I wish we had known being on the SKILL Shortage list – doesnt mean there are lots of jobs for you to choose from – infact for us it ment JOB shortage !! Did arrive in the recession – they have now taken some jobs off the skill shortage list – but still not lots of jobs here – be careful – Having No job for OH was EXTREMLEY stressful!! However if we had known that maybe we wouldnt have been brave enough to give up 2 good jobs in the UK and just come – SO worth it.”

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