Advice Please! Moving to Auckland NZ with Toddler

(12 Posts)
britbirdusa Wed 20-May-15 15:39:50

Hi, firsttime MN poster here. My husband and I are moving to Auckland from London in September with our son, who will be 2.5. I have a few qs relating to neighbourhoods, childcare, playgroups etc.
Are there drop-in playgroups and the like there? We will be in corporate housing for 2 months (dont know where yet but within 20 min commute of CBD) while we look for a proper rental, so I dont want to sign him up for classes if we end up moving neighbourhoods. Im just looking for somewhere where he can interact with other kids and I can meet other mums. Havent had much luck browsing online.
How long are nursery wait lists typically? I would like him to go to nursery/similar at least a day or so a week but in my bit of London its an 18-month plus wait list, is it as bad there?
What neighbourhoods are popular with young families that dont have crushing commutes? We would like a modern house with a garden rather than an apartment.
Many thanks! smile

IggyStrop Wed 20-May-15 16:29:51

I don't know Auckland well but for your childcare questions look up Plunket, they will be able to answer those questions. There are branches dotted around Auckland.

Weta Wed 20-May-15 19:37:57

I don't know about the rest but for the playgroup look up Playcentre, which is a place for young children to go and play (with the mums helping out). I'm from NZ and once when I went back for a couple of months I was able to take my 3-year-old along to the local one a few times a week.

kiwi5 Fri 22-May-15 11:07:35

Mission bay, kohimarama, st heliers all lovely and next to a beach. Quite pricey tho. If youvgo inland a bit, prices drop heaps. We lived in GI for five years ( on the border with st heliers). Loved it. Great rail links into cbd and good bus service too. Lovely coffee shop -Nosh. Easy to get into city, but also handy for motorway. We still have our house in GI, but current tenants look set to stay for a while.
Good luck and enjoy it! We loved Auckland.

LastTangoInBognor Fri 22-May-15 12:10:45

Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Devonport (my preference), Parnell, Mt Eden all lovely and all central enough to make CBD easily accessible. Devonport is a 15 min ferry ride from the CBD, the others you would probably drive, though Mt Eden has a train so you could use that if you wanted to.

Within 20 min from CBD (if you're talking actual time rather than googlemaps time, which, don't use that as a guide) most places are nice. Commuting in auckland is HELL so be a bit careful and if you get a say in where you live at first to try to make sure you're fairly central. It's not like London in terms of schools and playgroups, at least wasn't when I was there, you should be able to find something fairly easily.

Second vote on Plunket, they'll have all the info you need, or at least links to it.

britbirdusa Sat 23-May-15 19:59:29

Thank you very much! This is really useful stuff. Kiwi5 what does GI stand for?
Also, a lot of people say NZ is really expensive in terms of kids stuff, is there anything in particular you would recommend we stock up on at home to bring over? Thanks again!

WhatSheSaid Sat 23-May-15 20:38:33

GI is a suburb called Glen Innes.

I agree, most of the suburbs within 20 mins of the CBD are good for families. The ring of suburbs immediately outside the city centre are the most expensive in which to rent/buy and the further out you go the less pricey it gets. Auckland housing has become very expensive in the last few years, there are constant news stories about house values going up $1000 a week in certain suburbs etc.
So it will depend on your budget to an extent.
Personally I like Mt Eden, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Westmere, Pt Chevalier. The inner suburbs to the east (Parnell, Remuera) are also seen as good areas, I don't know them as well. St Heliers, Mission Bay, Kohimarama are 15 mins ish (off peak) to the CBD and have nice beaches.

You could stock up on kids clothes if you wanted, I brought about 3 years worth back after one UK visit. But various UK stores deliver (M+S, Next, Debenhams etc) so you can always order stuff too. There are some decent kids clothes here but more pricey. The cheap stuff is fairly crap quality.
Books are expensive too but just use The Book Depository, UK prices and free delivery.

There should be drop-in playgroups etc and while some daycaresmat may have a waiting list it won't be anything like 18 months! At age 3 all children are eligible for 20 hours free childcare (technically "free" but many centres add a small top up fee - it's usually very small, I pay 50 cents (25p) an hour so $10 (£5) a week.)

vvviola Sat 23-May-15 20:42:56

Definitely look up the Plunket where you are staying and when you move - they will have details of playgroups etc.

The libraries are pretty good for rhythm and rhyme/singalong groups. Our local one had them on 3 days a week.

Don't rule out the North Shore for living. Most kiwis would look at you in horror if you said you were commuting from there, but we found it quite doable (especially if you have any flexibility in work hours - DH worked in IT and I studied at Auckland Uni).

vvviola Sat 23-May-15 20:46:11

Oh gosh, yes, kids clothes. Definitely better quality in the UK. Also, if you are bringing a shipment over, consider some flat pack Ikea stuff. We brought quite a few bits and in a couple of cases (expedit bookshelves we had bought in a sale) we actually sold them second had for more than we had paid for them - and that was after 3 years of use.

And my standard non-child related advice to people moving to NZ... if you like good strong tea, bring teabags. I'm Irish and my parents used to send them out to me by the box load. NZ tea is like dishwater.

WilliamShatnersPants Mon 25-May-15 10:04:56

I'm in Auckland. In terms of choosing a suburb, I'd really recommend staying as central as you can. Any of the city fringe suburbs are fantastic, but can be pretty pricey. Lots of Brits end up over on the north shore, either Takapuna or devonport. Great to have beaches right there, but the bridge is a nightmare for commuting unless you travel off peak hours.

Public transport is pretty dismal, so you really will need a car - one each unless you end up in Ponsonby or something.

It's uncommon to find a furnished rental, so if you can ship out basic furniture that would be ideal. Have a look at www.freedomfurniture.co.nz to get an idea of local mid range prices.

www.trademe.co.nz is our version of eBay so look on there for rentals as well. I know a few people who have moved over and have lived in apartment complexes to start with. The Beaumont is pretty popular - unfurnished, but whitewater included. Complex has a pool and gym, fab supermarket and park adjacent. Also only 10 mins walk to the waterfront and loads of cafes / restaurants.

Re childcare, it's easy to get a place. Have look on www.ero.co.nz - that's our version of ofsted, and you can read reports from all schools and daycares. No such thing as 18 month waiting lists - well I've never heard of any!

Plunket will definite be able to point you in the right direction. Play center is good, but I think they expect a lot of parental contribution. Still, good way to make some friends I'm sure!

Best of luck with your planning. Feel free to ask me any questions and I'll do my best to answer.

britbirdusa Tue 26-May-15 14:55:53

I'm humbled by the amount of suggestions and massively appreciative! I'm always up for an adventure but it's a different kettle of fish when kids are involved. We are going to ship our furniture over and so stocking up on IKEA is a good shout. I don't think our stuff will arrive til a good couple of months after us. We will only have a couple of suitcases with us so have to be smart about packing, typically what's the climate like in sept til November?

Also, does anyone have any experience with babysitting/nanny services that they can recommend or we should stay away from? I'd love to ship our babysitter over but think her family would object! We would like to do house viewings and can obviously see more without a toddler in tow. Do childminders exist over there?

I'm a massive builders tea drinker vvviola so will definitely stock up! smile

WhatSheSaid Tue 26-May-15 22:47:37

Yes, there are childminders, they mostly work through organisations like Porse www.porse.co.nz and Jemma's www.jemmas.co.nz

Sept-Nov is spring and one of the rainiest times of the year imo. Lots of layers - some days will be rainy and coldish and others will be pleasant and warm. Extremely changeable weather at that time of the year. Gets properly warm from about late Dec-April.

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