Welcome to our Migrant Tales series – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale was recently published on a British expat forum and is proof that there is life after New Zealand. And it is good. The biggest difference found so far is “the cost of almost everything, everything is just so cheap.”
The author used to live in Dunedin and managed to see something of real first world countries on his way home…
“We left Dunedin on the 29th October, the day after we had left our house for the last time, it took us only 10 days to sell the house but we agreed with the buyer for us to stay in there until we left the country. Because we have a baby boy we decided to break the journey up and have a bit of a holiday, we did 10 days on Australia’s Sunshine Coast and then 4 nights in Central Hong Kong.
We’d never been able to afford a holiday to Australia before so this was our first visit and we were totally blown away with the place, it didn’t take long to realise why so many Kiwi’s head over there. The weather, access to busy places, the much lower costs of things and from what I could gather people made a lot more money. I don’t have one bad thing to say about the place, we looked in the Estate Agents windows and property around the very nice area (Mooloolaba) we were staying looked pretty reasonable. So before leaving Australia I think we both realised getting our NZ citizenship earlier this year was probably a good decision, we’d only really put in for citizenship as when our boy was born he was granted citizenship so it made sense for us all to have it. We then had 4 nights in Hong Kong, after 5 years living at the end of the earth in Dunedin where nothing ever really happens Hong Kong was the shock to the system we needed, our baby boy loved it, it was an assault on our senses and he just loved getting in his front pack attached to my front and going off walking around the busy city streets. We even managed to take him to HK Disneyland.
So we eventually arrived back in Manchester on the 12th November, when we finally touched down we felt a huge sense of being ‘home’, when we took off from Dunedin we felt nothing, not one emotion, it was pretty tough leaving our house that we had put so much effort into but leaving the country didn’t ignite even one bit of emotion which surprised us both.
We’re now back living at my mums house, she’s moved out to her sisters and we have the house to ourselves. I can’t begin to tell you the difference we feel living in a warm insulated double glazed modern house, it’s been lovely. She’s got big solar panels so we get free electricity during the day, she has a fancy hot electric water system and a powerful combi boiler for the heating all run via wifi. She gets her electricity, gas, mobile, broadband, telephone for much less than I was just paying for electricity in NZ, it just doesn’t make sense. Being back in the UK is still taking some getting used to though, everywhere is just so much busier than we remembered, you find yourself being a bit more cautious around people but other than that nothing much has changed. Seeing so many fancy cars was weird though, I think I became used to so many 20+ year old battered 4×4 ‘trucks’ everywhere.
The biggest difference we’ve found so far as expected is the cost of almost everything, everything is just so cheap. We both went to Aldi the other week and we just couldn’t believe it. We’d shopped at Aldi in Australia and things were about half the price of NZ but Aldi in the UK is even cheaper. We took a trolley round and bought loads of groceries, before going through the checkout we both guessed the stuff in the trolley would have come to around NZ$160 in Countdown. The checkout girl scanned everything through within about 4 seconds (honestly, the checkout people are like machines) and it came to £34, at first I thought she must have missed some items off. Money became a huge problem for us in NZ and out of all our problems we had especially having a baby without any family support around us money was always the issue that caused the most problems between the wife and I. I hated arguing over it so much and I still hate how much of an issue it became, we had enough issues to deal with when we became parents but sadly money was the biggest problem we had.
We have no jobs lined up, we just packed up and left. I’d been applying for loads of jobs all over the UK and I’d had a couple of nibbles but nothing solid. On our third day back I got on the train to Sheffield and went to meet a recruitment agency, he promised to find me something but I quickly realised it’s not what I wanted, I should go for my Plan B. I’ll explain what my Plan B is, in the last few weeks before leaving our house in Dunedin a valuer came out to look at the place, funnily enough he was a bloke called Mike Barnsley. We got chatting about one thing and another and he commented on the tiling in the kitchen, toilet and bathroom. I explained I’d done it myself as the tiling quotes I had got were staggering, he was that impressed with my handy work he said I should take it up full time explaining how there was a massive shortage of tilers in NZ and Aus. After a bit of research I found out it was the same in the UK, so I booked myself onto a tiling course for when we arrived back in the UK. And that’s where I’ve been for the last 2 weeks, learning how to run a successful and very profitable tiling operation. I can’t bare the thought of working for anymore crap bosses, no more working with angry, useless colleagues, I’ve had as much as I can take. Two of my 4 jobs in NZ have been for companies with serious financial problems, I’ve worked with some total prats and I’ve worked for managers and owners that must struggle to wipe their owns arses. So that’s that, I’m going to be my own boss from now on, I’ve not even got any business cards ready, no website, I’ve done zero marketing and without even trying I’m already getting work coming in, I’ve got a grands worth of work to do next week and when I’m fully operational the work is going to be flooding in. I start my first job on Tuesday doing a hall and kitchen floor.
I don’t think we’ll be back in the UK forever but for now it’s the right place for us to be, our boy need to get to know his family and I’m in a position where I can change careers which puts us in a much stronger position when we head off again. We don’t regret anything about our move to NZ, it’s taught us so many valuable lessons and we’ve had plenty of ups and downs, there will always be a place in my heart for NZ.”
So pleased that you’re settling back in quickly. Good on you for acquiring a new skill and starting a business from it. I wish you every success with it. I’ve been to Aussie a couple of times now and it’s a great country. OH lived in Sydney from 18 months old for 5 years. Sadly his parents never thought to apply for citizenship. I think of Australia as a grown-up country in comparison to NZ. Enjoy your little boy’s first ‘proper’ Christmas
Welcome back! Your update sums up pretty much our experiences and feelings. We’ve been back 6 months now. It has been hard going especially on the job front for DH but I am very happy to be back in the UK. We too are in Manchester but finding it way too busy so will be moving to quieter British pastures next month. Good luck