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
10 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Back in the UK for 3 weeks now”
On topic: “the cost of almost everything, everything is just so cheap.”
I DO look locally, when considering a purchase, but usually pick myself up off of the floor and then order online. Two  recent examples; clothing, 1 [specific] item costs aprox. 80-100NZ$ shopping in NZ, online, same item, less than 20US$. So, for what it would cost me to purchase 1 item in NZ, I could get 3 [including shipping]. Another higher $ item, $650NZ. Online $189US. EXACTLY SAME THING.
My wife and I sold up in Auckland and returned to Yorkshire in February last year. We’d lived happily in NZ for 15 years. I’ve read a lot of the stories and comments on this site and in all honestly most of the negative tales are totally true. I can relate to virtually all of them with a personal example. I know NZ does over promise and under delivery in a massive way, but it has huge benefits too. We’d just out grown the place and wanted more sophistication, easier travel options and genuinely friendly people back in the UK. Living in NZ is like being married to a supermodel. She’s beautiful to look and all your friends envy you. Its great for the first decade or so, but as you grow and mature you realise she’s shallow, lacks depth and personality. She’s fickle, has low left esteem, is very needy and has a huge inferiority complex. She needs constant positive reinforcement. You crave maturity, substance and culture. NZ has great views, but thats it really. We’ve been back nearly a year now, and although its been difficult at times, when I walk through an old village, or fly off to a European city within 2 hours, visit an old pub, or cycle down one of England’s many paths and tracks my heart sings and I feel home again. I have a fondness for the simplicity of NZ, but thats it. It’s a very expensive rock, far far away, populated by outwardly polite people, but certainly not friendly and usually defaulting to hostile, plus a mono culture of Rugby and average Beer which still manages to languish in 1975. Don’t get me started on their driving !!
I enjoyed your post about the super model. I earn a lot more money in NZ than I ever did in the UK but yet seem to be permanently struggling. We seldom go out or do much for holidays, don’t smoke, don’t drink a lot and it can seem like an existence that revolves around paying bills. I have a Kiwi wife who has an “NZ is the only safe place left in the World” belief so we will not be shifting. The NZ media bombards with negative news stories from around the World. A friend came over here for a holiday and his young children started to get anxiety issues such was the in the face, hyped up international bad news stories coming at them from every angle.
Without doubt, the NZ media are a serious propaganda machine. They drag out every possible negative story about the rest of the world, yet are quick to bury any news story that’s negative about NZ. I always found it very strange. When looking into coming back to the UK I looked up some statistics just for interests sake. You are more than 3 times likely (per capita) to be in a fatal road accident in NZ than the UK. Burglary rates in NZ are marginally higher, so is rape and murder. As for terrorism, well I’m sure the risks of that are much lower in NZ, but you’re more likely to die from a bee sting. When we told all our friends, expats and kiwis we were leaving they were all so blinded by jingoism and misplaced patriotism, they weren’t capable of a genuinely pragmatic and reasoned appreciation of why we wanted to leave. It grossly undermined their reasons to stay. The UK has changed, and has NZ over the last 15 years. Some for the better, some for the worst. I don’t regret one moment of my life in NZ, we had a great time; we grew as people and enjoyed travelling in Australia every year. I’m a very positive person overall and love life, but NZ was taking too much, and not giving back. When that happens, thats it. Time to make some changes.
Yes, I have done the same sort of research. I have also read the NZ suicide rate per capita is double that of the UK and there has been speculation that only 1 in 3 NZ suicides get recorded as such. NZ recently came top of an international study as the country with the best quality of life. It doesn’t stack up.
Articles like the one below speak volumes.
They drag out every possible negative story about the rest of the world, yet are quick to bury any news story that’s negative about NZ.
Bias is very thick in NZ media. I don’t watch/listen NZ news. I heard about Key stepping down via TXT from a friend.
And what was coming out during the US election [as I heard from others asking me questions or making statements] was extremely one sided [pro liberal-anti conservative]. Anyone that takes NZ news seriously needs to get out more. The information available on the internet has left the MSM in its’ wake.
What is NZ known for? Co-sponsoring the latest anti-Israel UN resolution.
My friend, NZ is a small country, it is remote and under populated. We all know this. It is a bad place for young people, I would more call it a good home for people over 50 years of age.
Because of its under population and small society, the place is boring and not much happens there. You cannot in any way compare NZ to Gold Coast or any other Australian city.
I went to Dunedin in 2001 for only one year to do a polytech study, in that time I became sick in the winter to a point where I had lost my voice, I had people threaten me in the streets, I had a maori kick my car door in and I had a white guy pull a knife on me in a flat and wrote on my flat door, go back to iraq you iraqii…lol…and didnt even know where Iraq was or the fact that Middle east is such a vast land that Persians and Arabs speak totally different languages and are of a different race. I believe that if it was not because the university there, the place would be more of a dump that what it is now.
My wife is of Asian decent and she lived in UK ten years ago, she loved it and always talks about its vibrant environment. You did the write thing to get of Dunedin, like most small towns in NZ, they are dumps that survive on binge drinking and the benefit.
I heard that Northerners are very friendly, and this tone came out in your writing.
I would love to visit your homeland sometime.
I feel a tad envious as NZ is so expensive. I know what it like to go back to the UK for a holiday, buy groceries, brace yourself for £200 and get told £34.50 please. When I go back to the UK, I am always surprised how nice the weather is back in my home town. I constantly hear in NZ how shit the weather is in England. I have made several trips off peak in recent years in April/September/October, braced myself for cold and wet and it has been a couple of weeks of sunshine on every trip.
Congratulations on your new business and getting out of this hell-hole. Hopefully 2017 will be a better year for everybody.
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