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Tell me everything I need to know about emigrating to New Zealand.

(81 Posts)
PrincessAnnaOfArundale Wed 30-Sep-15 06:39:34

Hi, sorry if this is long and rambling but I have a lot to ask.

Basically DH and I have been talking about emigrating from uk to New Zealand for about 10 years, it's never happened although we talk about it endlessly and go round in circles!

DH has been offered a job in Auckland for $110,000. Realistically is this a decent enough wage to survive out there?

Also we have two sons, the oldest has just turned 8, youngest is soon to be 4. Is Auckland suited to family lifestyle? Is it safe? I keep researching and literally keep seeing terrible things unfolding in my head!! Are we likely to get volcano eruptions and tsunamis? (Only partly kidding with this question!)

Also our youngest Ds has hypermobility syndrome, which essentially means he's fine but has double jointed ankles and wrists. He needs insoles for his shoes and had support boots provided by NHS and has physiotherapy here. Would this sort of thing be covered in New Zealand or would we have to go private?

Are the schools good? (Broad question open to interpretation I know) but after a brief overview of your experiences please.

It really is now or never. Don't want to disrupt the boys as they get older.

We need to sell out house and it has currently just been put on market... This could be the deal breaker anyway as houses are not shifting but we've put it at a low price to get a sale.

Are we making a huge mistake considering this? Should add our families here in uk would be OK as DH has very little family and all very self contained, my family is very splintered and not close here.

I will miss my dad but manage with Skype hopefully as we don't see him often anyway so the boys wouldn't really be taken away from a great support network (we don't rely on anyone for childcare or offers to take the boys weekends at grandmas etc so none of that to worry about).

Could anyone recommend good areas to live as a family in Auckland? Need good schools in walking distance.

Sorry I'm rambling! Thank you for reading. All in out greatly appreciated!

PrincessAnnaOfArundale Wed 30-Sep-15 07:03:07

Ohh and something else that bothers me despite sounding really petty, neither of our boys are particularly sporty! I keep hearing how New Zealanders are obsessed with rugby and I'm worried our boys might not 'fit in'. I'm sure it's a bit of a stereotype and not every boy is mad on sports. Incidentally the youngest can't play contact sports with his hypermobility anyway, is this an issue?

JellyTipisthebest Wed 30-Sep-15 07:39:21

We have been here about 2 1/2 but not in Auckland. My dh says thats a good wage but it depends on what kind of house you want area ect. We have only just sold our uk house we rented it out to give us more time and flexibility on time for moving out here. We went for PR before we came I suggest you do the same on the off change your dd2 joints mean you have to appeal easier to get it sorted from the uk with his drs writing letters from a system you know. One we got the visas we came out on the next available cheapest possible flight. ( about 12 weeks later) We shipped all our stuff and stayed in a bach (holiday accommodation) while we got ourselves sorted found somewhere to rent ect. Houses are pricey in Auckland look on www.trademe.co.nz to get an idea. If we had hated it we would of not shipped stuff back to the uk.

You don't seam to get physo for long term conditions here but you do get physo (subsidised) if you fall over or have a accident. You can pay and have physo

School here are less based on passing test and the kids seamed to get to do more stuff that gives them different experiences and develops them as people.

With a unused visa the airlines will often double you allowance. Our kids love the outside life here they are now 10 and 14. I think we could of come out any later. our oldest was about to go to secondary in the uk

JellyTipisthebest Wed 30-Sep-15 07:59:56

lots of kids are not sporty, I would come over and give it a go for 2 years and not sell your uk home until you are sure. Or sell your uk house bring money over but dont buy anything until you are sure. Wise not to buy property until you have PR anyway

HearTheThunderRoar Wed 30-Sep-15 09:03:32

Physio may be subsidised by ACC, it is pretty pricy if your not. DD (16) who has severe shin splints (+ other under lying problems) was quoted about $80 per 20 minute physio session but now reduced to $16 after ACC. Probably not what you want to hear OP. You may or may not be covered, depends on circumstances etc.

110k should be suffice to live on even Auckland, Auckland is very expensive compared to the rest of the country though. Due to foreign investment house prices have hit the roof up there (similar to London) and I think the average house price for a decent sized house in a nice suburb is about $900k.

Schools are generally good here in NZ, you may struggle to find schools in walking distance though, schools are much more spread out here (though don't quote me on this as I am in Auckland but here in Dunedin they are) primary schools are lot more relaxed compared to the UK with less testing and grades etc. We have intermediates here where you go to in year 7&8 before starting secondary in year 9. Our High School qualifications is NCEA that run from year 11-13.

Can't recommend much on suburbs but generally Manukau (south Auckland) is bit of a dump.

HearTheThunderRoar Wed 30-Sep-15 09:08:45

*not in Auckland that should say

Oh and TV is total shit here compared to the UK.

ToastedOrFresh Wed 30-Sep-15 09:29:29

$110 is an excellent salary in NZ. Especially for an initial offer. Can I ask what industry your husband works in please ?

However, Auckland will gobble that up in no time.

Auckland is mostly overpriced on it's property. The build quality of most those houses is dire. There's much crowing in the media when yet another Auckland suburb has got million dollar properties for sale. Well, if you think about it, that's only GBP410,000 at today's exchange rate. Brings it into perspective doesn't it ?

For some reason, the whole of NZ has to know about and talk about Auckland property prices. That level of media obsession has to be seen to be believed ! It would never dawn on an Aucklander to move to somewhere better value for money.

Kiwi's are just a little bit obsessed with buying/owning land, because land means money. It's what's called, 'the quarter acre dream'. Although, the present thinking is that's not available to the current generation due to property prices and needing 20% deposit to buy a house.

We live in a small town on the Lower North Island, been here since 2011. It took my husband a couple of years to even draw level with his old UK salary.

You will pay less income tax here and there's no National Insurance requirement.

There's not the emphasis on sport here that people think there is. Sure, it's popular but not compulsory ! I don't believe that NZ is polarised towards sport. Everyone lives their own lives here, just like Britain.

My husband and I have a 15 year old nephew who lives in Auckland and has not bothered to play rugby for his school team for a couple of years as he prefers his X-box.

I'm not saying op's children only play computer games either.

ToastedOrFresh Wed 30-Sep-15 09:42:15

Corrected to read: NZD110,000 p.a. is an excellent salary for Auckland, especially as an initial offer.

seemslikeonlyyesterday Wed 30-Sep-15 10:42:32

What has made you decide to come to NZ? Have you been before? Do you have any family/friends here?

I live in Auckland, my experience in response to your questions is:

Education: my experience of state schools not as good as the UK, no additional support in the classroom - so teacher with 30+ kids. Lack of focus on producing much work and writing. Intermediate system is used in most places ie. the children move to a new school for years 7 and 8 and then on to high school/college. I've heard intermediate referred to as 'a holding pen' on many occasions and would concur with this. Schools are graded decile 1 to 10, this is based on affluence of the area, so 10 being most affluent and therefore perceived as 'better'. Many schools in Auckland are zoned and some of the zones are quite small so beware when renting/buying. You are asked to pay a contribution to your childs school each year. This varies but the decile 10 school we were at it was about $550 per child, you then pay for trips and stationery (including things like boxes of tissues).

I would worry about additional support for your son. One of my children had an autistic boy in his class who was supposed to have 24/7 support which just didn't happen. Result was frequent clearing of the classroom of children whilst this child threw computers around, caused general mayhem. My perception is that support for SEN isn't a patch on the UK.

Sport: is big here, no doubt. My children are very sporty however not everyone is but do bear in mind that it's the All Black, the All Blacks and the All Blacks - ALL the time.

Health: ACC means that if you have accident your care is covered, up to a limit for things like physio. GP appointments for Under 13's are now free but adults have to pay for a doctors appointment (about $60). My experience of private healthcare (through Southern Cross) has been awful, nothing like what I had with Bupa in the UK, and very $$$. Additionally it's very small here so there are only a few specialists.

Food: expensive, and seasonal e.g. a cucumber in winter is $5. Little choice of organic produce. Standard of supermarkets is poor compared to the UK.

General goods: expensive, little choice.

Houses: the qualify of housing here is very poor. Poorly built, poorly insulated. We're talking colder inside than out and damp on the walls. It's bad enough in Auckland in winter, I really don't know how people live in freezing cold south island with no proper central heating.

Personally I would never recommend that anyone sell up to come here, it's very expensive to get here and to live here. If it doens't work it's even more expensive to get back. If you want to give it a go come here for 2 years and see how it goes.

I know this sounds negative but I have met some many people that it hasn't worked out for. The people who seem to do ok and like it generally have family here or in Australia.

PrincessAnnaOfArundale Wed 30-Sep-15 11:50:19

Thank you, brilliant responses. Just what I'm looking for both positive and negative.

Answer a fe questions DH is in production and metallurgy. He's a trained metallurgist but is currently a production manager for a steel company.

Why New Zealand? Well we've looked at both New Zealand and Australia for years. I think we are quite adventurous and like the idea of starting again which I know sounds hopelessly idealistic. However our life here is good in the uk. Comfortable wage, good schools. Lovely home. Many reasons to doubt why we are doing this. Having said that it's always there in the back of my head... We'll emigrate one day. I think both me and DH are naturally quite restless. I'm not assuming to go to New Zealand and everything will be perfect.

I would like a happier place for our children to grow up. More laid back, more outdoorsy, whilst we are not sports mad we are very active, love hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking.

Main reason is that the job opportunities over in New Zealand and Australia we far better in dh's line of work.

I do worry about ds2 with his joints although he doesn't require any special assistance at school and has currently been discharged from physio but it's still something we have to have regular appointments at the hospital for to have his insoles fit and ankles checked.

TheDowagerCuntess Wed 30-Sep-15 18:44:05

The school decile system isn't performance-based or a proxy for quality. It's a funding system - decile 1 schools get the most government funding; 10, the least.

Research such as PISA often shows NZ schools out-performing UK schools, so don't be fooled by the lack of home-work, hot-housing, etc, especially in primary schools. And bigger picture - graduates from the NZ education system do pretty well all over the world.

NZ houses are often freezing, but if you own you can just put central heating in, if you want to. You don't have to live without it. We did.

Also IME, NZ homes are, on average, more spacious with bigger sections than UK homes, to address that imbalance.

I have to admit that while that salary is good, it won't go far in Auckland. You would need another salary to supplement it, to have in any way a decent standard of living.

HearTheThunderRoar Thu 01-Oct-15 06:19:04

There are lots of walking and hiking tracks here in NZ especially around Fiordland and Southland and there are endless places you can fish around New Zealand. Ditto lakes for kayaking.

Houses aren't that bad here IMO especially houses built in the last 20 years. Lol at needing central heating, just as long as you have insulation (pink bats etc) you should be fine. I spent 15 years in Queenstown with a fire and a couple of crappy heaters in a uninsulated house, I or DD did not once get pneumonia and have only very recently put a heat pump in our Dunedin house. Just remember there is higher humidity in Auckland so more moisture.

Surely even in Auckland you could sustain a decent lifestyle on 110k?! (so long as your not living in Ponsonby)

ToastedOrFresh Thu 01-Oct-15 06:47:58

Here's the opinion regarding salaries in NZ of someone who emigrated from Britain to NZ about four years ago. Started in Auckland then bailed out of Auckland citing high property prices. He got a job offer in Dunedin, him and his wife purchased a house there which is where they live. Anyway, here it is:

Scrape by: $80,000
No frills: $100,000
Comfortable: $120,000
Good life: $140,000

He has also remarked that he's currently on the best salary he's ever had in NZ. However, that's still only as much as he was earning in the UK ten years ago.

anotherbusymum14 Thu 01-Oct-15 07:00:19

It is a nice place to live. Beaches and walks all around. As Brits you will notice how quiet it is and less people there are, but in saying that Auckland is expanding and growing. House prices are ridiculous and don't seem to be slowing down. People are moving further and further out and commuting to get into town. (Personally I'd look to settle north of Auckland and commute back in - Orewa or Gulf Harbour even). Anyway you will find other Brits there and you will find ways to make a comfortable and delightful living for you all. The kiwi dream now is far different to what it was like 15-20 years ago, but for what it's worth it's still pretty good and more spacious compared to say London. Hope it all goes well. Oh and I agree with earlier poster, see if you can rent your house out and give it a go first. Your husbands income is pretty good to do that. All the best.

anotherbusymum14 Thu 01-Oct-15 07:03:28

Oh and yes NZ houses are terribly insulated and cold as. Do get 1-2 quality heat pumps put in your home (rental or bought), personally I think that is the only way to be properly warm smile

TheDowagerCuntess Thu 01-Oct-15 07:37:12

The problem is, once you have lived with central heating - something most Brits take for granted - it is very hard to then live in an unheated (or just one room heated) house.

I grew up with just the living room being heated by an open fire, and the rest of the house freezing in winter (and this was in one of the warmest regions of the country). I remember running upstairs and down cold hallways to turn electric blankets on in the evening. We'd get out of the shower in the morning and shiver in our towels, drying off as quickly as possible so as to get dressed in warm clothes. We didn't think anything of it.

Cue moving to the UK and becoming completely used to walking from one comfortably warm room to another all through winter, and you realise that what we grew up with was unbearably cold for many, many, people! Certainly for people who are not used to it.

We're renowned for our cold homes, but more and more people are deciding they don't like to live like that.

You can live with just insulation, or a couple of crappy heaters, but unless poverty was a factor, why would you want to?

Heat pumps are fine, but they're fugly and they only heat one room.

Bottom line - if you're going to come out and constantly compare it unfavourably to home, then you're bound to be disappointed. It's a different country. Things are done differently, which any one taking on an expat life should expect. Some things are worse, for sure, but some things are undoubtedly better!

ToastedOrFresh Thu 01-Oct-15 07:59:33

Princess Anna I have sent you a couple of PM's.

ToastedOrFresh Thu 01-Oct-15 08:47:06

Revised estimate to include a guess at how much more it would cost with kids.

Scrape by: $100,000
No frills: $120,000
Comfortable: $140,000
Good life: $160,000

Add $15,000 for Auckland

All of the above figures are before tax, I assume

HearTheThunderRoar Thu 01-Oct-15 09:12:41

Your probably right Dowager, I was just pointing out that having central heating is not a necessity to survive. We haven't lived in Q'town for years, so before heat pumps, insulation etc were common. My heat pump heats the whole house (3 bed) but my mum needed two heat pumps to heat her 5 bed. I only got mine as my mum paid for it otherwise it would be unaffordable. I grew up in Invercargill in the 60s/70s and surprisingly we actually had an okay house, my parents must have struck lucky grin

I don't believe those figures Toasted, am a single parent with a teen DD living in Dunedin and I earn $52k pa + 4k from Government in tax credits for being a LP. I would be in the no frills category. Am mortgage free though.

seemslikeonlyyesterday Thu 01-Oct-15 10:49:07

Hi again Princess, I just wanted to add that we were like you before we emigrated. We had a beautiful house, great schools, lovely friends, family nearby etc etc. We had always wanted to give it a 'try' and it was NZ, Aus or Canada for us - all pretty safe bets! For us it fell in our laps - DH was offered a job and the company paid for our move so we didn't have the expense of moving here.

The stress and cost of emigrating is huge and I don't think anyone undertakes it lightly nor do they arrive looking for issues or thinking it won't work. We certainly didn't land and start comparing it to the UK. We threw ourselves into kiwi life. However unfortunately we haven't found living here easy and it has ground us down, we will be returning to the UK within the next 6-8 months.

I expected everyday things to be easy and generally on a par. Finding a decent house to rent proved very difficult. Many of the houses are literally sheds - I don't want to spend my days wiping condensation from the windows, cleaning mould off the walls, having to throw things away because they have been ruined. Neither do I want to invest in expensive heat pumps in a dump of a rental. I don't expect things to be the same as the UK, that would be boring but neither do I want them to be a lot worse - crap customer service, overpriced and poor quality goods, lack of choice of goods. Don't get me wrong I love the beach but not all the time and there isn't much else to do here. There are positives to living here however for us the list of negatives is just too long. Many kiwis who have moved overseas move back to give their kids the childhood they experienced. I would concur with that but the other way round.

seemslikeonlyyesterday Thu 01-Oct-15 10:56:07

Incidentally just for info, the first house we rented (the damp, mouldy one) was $800 a week. Our current house, a small 3 bed with a handkerchief sized garden but very central, is $900 a week. Have a look on trademe for rentals.

If you and your DH are looking to work centrally I wouldn't recommend moving too far out. The traffic is bad and getting worse, the infrastructure here just can't cope and isn't being upgraded to cope with the massive influx of immigrants.

Glasspumpkin Thu 01-Oct-15 11:48:36

By all means move to Australia but not New Zealand and do not sell your house over here for at least a couple of years. Rent it out instead in case you decide to come back.

I agree with seemlikeonlyyesterday comments

Glasspumpkin Thu 01-Oct-15 11:50:39

You will be bored out of your mind and absolutely freezing during winter.

TheDowagerCuntess Thu 01-Oct-15 17:50:48

To be fair, when we moved back we went to Auckland (plan B), and hated it. I honestly do not get why it's the most populous, immigrant-heavy city. We lasted a year before fleeing and reverting to plan A. Much happier here.

LillianGish Thu 01-Oct-15 19:14:42

Have you actually ever been to New Zealand? If not I would strongly urge you not to burn your bridges in the UK (it sell up) before you leave. Friends of ours moved there (Christchurch admittedly) the earthquake has made their house unsellable and they are basically stuck. I'm happy to move around (and do with DH's job) but I think you never know what it's going to be like in a country until you actually get there. Just because they speak English doesn't mean it's like home. You say you have a great life in the UK, you have son a with a medical problem so if I were you I'd leave the door open for a couple of years in case you want to come back.

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