Life After New Zealand – A Return to Bonnie Scotland

Welcome to our Migrant Tales series, sub-chapter Life after New Zealand.

Today’s tale was first published on an emigration forum, in it the author tells of his return to Scotland from New Zealand, and all of the pleasures it held for him.

It puts New Zealand into perspective when its compared to other locations from a distance and with the benefit of hindsight, and reading this could help you see your own country in a fresh light.

You may not need to travel to the other side of the world when what you’re looking for may be on your own doorstep, if only you’ll look for it.

Here’s his tale

I wanted to give an update on my feelings of NZ vs UK and general observations I had.

1) It wasn’t as cold

as I thought it would be, bare in mind I was  going back to the middle of Scotland and actually it was relatively mild. I am certain however than it can be freezing there (and it has been from memory). My warm jumpers and hat helped too.

2) I couldn’t believe how beautiful the UK seemed.

A combination of natural landscape and some of the incredible architecture built by previous generations. It made me feel that NZ visually isn’t as unique as many make out (even though it is an incredibly beautiful country), I guess what I’m saying here is that you don’t need to go to the other side of the world to live somewhere beautiful. I also feel there is a big hole here in terms of buildings, the solidity of houses and the solid stone-built houses I saw in Scotland (for such little money) were staggering.
I travelled the west coast of Scotland and went to Inveraray and around some of the smaller coastal towns and villages – staggering. Also, I was  really impressed with Perth in Scotland, incredible buildings and surrounded by some stunning landscape.

3) The sheer amount of choice and variety.

My Dad lives in the middle of nowhere, a place of 6 people. There isn’t a shop, bus or phone  signal for 11 miles. To some that is hell, to some that is paradise. However, within an hour’s drive you can be in the beautiful town of Stirling. I was staggered by the vast majority of shops, how cheap things seemed and how “quiet” it seemed. Also, the amount of events, shows, festivals etc going on – quite incredible.

I have to say though, I spent a bit of time in and around  London Heathrow and I hated it. Too much traffic, too many people and stress. It made me instantly want to come back to NZ. To counter that, going elsewhere in the UK made me realise how incredibly busy and stressful Auckland is.

Going into Morrisons in Stirling was like entering a palace. The sheer choice of quality foods at low prices was quite staggering. I bought some amazing Gammon Steaks at 2 quid for 2.  Lunch box and sandwich type food was a lot cheaper and again the sheer range of choice I couldn’t believe. I would argue though that NZ definitely has better quality “fresh food” at better prices than the UK.

4) Quality of Life

After going back and talking with people as well as meeting up with 1 or  2 friends, I realised how less stressed they seemed, how much additional time off they get over me and in a way how “easy” everything is – so long as you’re prepared to pay to park! Have to admit, that really was a tad annoying, having to pay to park anywhere and everywhere. They were taking different types of holidays, taking up all sorts of activities and in general work seemed to give them a reasonable
social life when they wanted it.

I love NZ and I like the freedoms I have here. But coming back, I do feel that I work a lot more and that I am very cut off from the world. I guess this was probably what I wanted a few years ago, but now and with everything that has happened, its made me realise that I want to be somewhere rural, friendly and pretty, but not be 30 hours away on a plane.

5) I really missed the rugby channel. Yes – really.

6) The Driving and Roads

Drivers were incredibly patient, always obeyed the 2 or 4 second rule (keeping distance), people generally always gave way and apart from in supermarket car parks, didn’t on the whole drive like maniacs.

Roads were great, generally very empty, hardly any potholes and it wasn’t stressful in the slightest – as opposed to driving in Auckland or Christchurch.

7) Price of Cars

I had to help my Dad get a new car, as sadly his 4×4 got written off a few weeks before his wife passed away (double whammy). We ended up getting a 2008 (58 plate) Suzuki Grand Vitara Diesel with low mileage in excellent condition for 6,500 GBP. Couldn’t believe it. I also looked at 2009 model Astra’s and I could get a beauty for around 3,500K. GBP. Thats the current value of our 2004 Holden Barina 1.4.

8) Mortgages, House Prices and Eligibility

I went into Santander, told them my current savings with my partner, as well as what we would be entitled to if she had got a nursing job at home and I a job in the UK with approximate salaries. With a joint income of around 55-60K GBP, they would have little (if any) trouble in lending us 200-250K to buy a house with. The complete opposite to here in NZ.

I went and looked at a few estate agent windows, I loved the simplicity of talking to them and how very little (if any) properties are done at auctions.

I saw some amazing 3-bed houses in the region of 140-160K GBP. In addition, they had built some new 2-bed stone based properties in and
around Stirling starting at 85-90K GBP. Wake up John Key!

9) Glad to be back to Summer in NZ – weather’s great, back with the Mrs, hopefully a fantastic summer ahead with a likely change ahead next year.

10) Price of Flights

I booked a 1-way ticket back to the UK and then went and got a return ticket whilst in the UK. For 900 quid, I’ve got a flight with Emirates that includes the option to change my return flight upto 3 times (that option cost an additional 69 quid). So for around $1650 dollars, I got a return flight!

My flight is currently booked for July 8th 2014.