*Guest Post* Following Your Dreams and Changing Your Life

As we are drawing closer to our two-year year mark in New Zealand I often find myself reflecting on those mixed bag of emotions I felt before we made the move here.

Two years ago this blog was just a idea on paper, I researched all the practicalitys of how to move to NZ and drafted what I learnt into the blog to help others. I never actually wrote about the feelings and thoughts of such a big move and change in our lives – I certainly wish I did.

I have been following Suzy from In the Lyons Den for some time now, Suzy has decided along with her beauitful family to “up sticks” and move to Queenstown, New Zelaand from Sydney, Australia. I asked her for her input on change, making the decision to come to NZ and all those emotions you feel before you make the big move here. Something I didn’t get the chance to blog about two years ago.

Suzy’s story and outlook on the up and coming change in her life is certainly inspirational and thought-provoking, don’t you think?!

Change.

It is something in our life that is often met with a rollercoaster of emotions. Change is mixed with feelings of excitement and exhilaration for fresh starts blended with fear, trepidation, and worry. Have you ever thought about following your dreams and changing your life?

Up until recently our vision of moving to New Zealand has been a dream. Like a 6 year plus long dream. My husband and I have talked about it, pretended and wondered what it would be like if we did move to a country that we have traveled to many times and love every inch of the place and the people. We have a great life where we live in Sydney, Australia but have always thought about doing something different. It has remained a dream for this time because we run a business and have a family so it means changing everything. And with change comes the fear of the unknown, an element of risk and it is easy to just quash your dreams and keep going with the sure thing of what you know and what you currently have.

The problem with doing this is that nothing is a sure thing. So we kept saying to ourselves did we want to spend our life looking back wondering what if? Or did we want to jump on the rollercoaster and give it a red hot try? So we started doing our research. If we wanted to turn our dreams into a reality we actually had to do something about it. We have traveled all over New Zealand but as most people find, Queenstown has something really special about it and we are always drawn back. Like most places I have travelled to in New Zealand, Queenstown has so much to offer apart from being such a popular tourist destination. It has a vibe, an energy and this has to do with the amazing position and landscape but also the people who make the community within the town.

Queenstown Going NZ

Making the right decision for the family.

We have a family – 2 kids and a dog. In following our dreams and changing our life we are changing theirs too. Any decision we make affects them too. This has been a huge thing for us in making sure that we are doing the right thing for our family. In saying that we know that New Zealand has so much to offer as far as raising a family that really, I don’t think we can go too wrong. It is even voted as one of the best places to raise a family. But it is easy for fear to creep in. We could play it safe and stay where we are or we could take a chance and open ourselves and our kids up to different experiences and new opportunities.

It is a huge step to pack up the life that you have known, put it all in a container and move it across the sea. Although I don’t believe that your home is made up of material objects, there is a comfort in the suburbs you have dwelled in. There is the familiar drive to the shops, the familiar faces of the shopkeepers who know exactly what you are having this week for dinner. Your friends and family are there and always there when you need them and you know exactly what you will get paid this week. All this you leave behind to take on new adventures with new friends and new faces and hopefully a pay packet!!!

Working through all the what ifs.

We are lucky that our journey has allowed time for us to think it through and work through all the emotions we are feeling. We are building a house so our journey has progressed in the last year from looking out the hotel window in Queenstown and wondering what that lovely little block of land across the way actually was, to it a few months later becoming our little slice of New Zealand and now building commencing in a few short weeks. This has allowed us to work through most of those feelings of fear and look more towards the excitement. It has also allowed us to be excited within the fear. We don’t know if leaving the business and moving our family is the right thing to do or will be a huge mistake but the journey could be really amazing and the best learning experience of our lives. Isn’t that the beauty of life?

In The Lyons Den Going NZ

The big city versus the small town.

We will be moving to a much smaller community to where we are now which I think will be quite beneficial. Part of our reason to move is although Sydney has so much to offer, it is hard to get ahead and you can feel like you are constantly treading water. There is so much opportunity here but we want our kids to have a bit more balance between slaving their guts out in a career and also hopefully enjoying life and all it has to offer. I feel that New Zealand offers a little more of this balance and within that we can build strong ties to the community to get out what we feel we can put in.

I have spoken to many people who have moved out of a city like Sydney. There are some people who say be careful because once you move out it is very hard to get back in. But on the other hand, the vast majority of people I know who have moved out of the big city have said that it is the best thing they have ever done and would never move back. I believe that because, Queenstown and New Zealand in general, has so much to offer, we won’t feel like we are missing out on anything. Queenstown has an array of amazing activities with many being outdoors and nature based. Our children will grow up appreciating the beauty around them and get involved with the environment. We can become part of an amazing community underneath the tourism that love their town and all it has to offer.

We are steadily moving towards the home straight now with the house being built and over the course of the 10-month build will be a fluster of finalizing our business, sorting out our existing house in Sydney, packing up our lives and taking the plunge. It has already been filled with so many emotions and I know this year and the year that follows will be filled with an even bigger assortment of feelings!

Some days I am completely filled with fear and other days I am motivated by the adventure that awaits. There will certainly be hard times, lonely times and times when we will question our decision. There will also be times of pure happiness and excitement as we all undertake this journey together that will change our lives forever.

Change Going NZ

We never know where the bend in the road will take us. You must be willing to go where you haven’t been,

You never know, you may just discover something amazing is waiting for you.

The funny thing about change and following your dreams is how things can just fall into place as you go. We can spend so much time worrying about the what ifs and the things that could go wrong that sometimes when you look back you realize that perhaps it is all falling into place the way it was meant to.

May we not look back on our lives and wonder what could have been but leap forward, embrace the fear, take the plunge and live! The fear and the excitement is what will make it an adventure.

About Suzy:

Suzy is currently living in Sydney, Australia with her 2 x beautiful kids and 1 x all round top husband who’s been rocking it with her since the 90’s. In between running a business and studying, Suzy enjoys writing over at In the Lyons Den which she started writing to document the journey of changing their lives and moving to New Zealand, as well as the juggle of being an imperfect Mum and whinging parenting and life in general! You can also catch her and her family on Facebook and Instagram!

What is the definition of a Nomad? The advantages & disadvantages.

Without even realising it some how are living as Nomads.

For four months now (since June) we have had our belongings in a storage unit, and quite frankly these possessions that are locked away in there, I really don’t miss…too much.

Okay… I am not going to lie I miss a few of the items, I miss my comfy sofa, my frying pan, my knife set, my books and photos but in reality I know they aren’t going anyway.

The thought of even getting them out of the storage unit enhances my grey hairs –  I simply can’t be bothered!

This stage in my lives has lead me through a period of reflection

I found myself asking what does it really mean to become a nomad? What are the disadvantages and advantages of leading this lifestyle? I read so many posts on the internet about how being a nomad can effect your life. So much so that I came up with two different definitions/ meanings one reflecting on the negatives and one reflecting on the positives.

How you look at it is down to you. We have decided to approach it with a Positive Mental Attitude.  Which one would you pick?

nomadic-lifestyle-Going NZ

*Note: This is by no mean’s a true definition of what a a Nomad really is, these two statements are truthfully created by my period reflection into our current living situation!

Why we are leaving Auckland

For us this has been is a difficult post to write. After over 18 months in Auckland and a lot of soul searching we have decided we are leaving Auckland. A combination of reasons has lead us to this decision!

Support Network:

When we first arrived in Auckland we stayed with Isaac’s grandmother for approximately three months. That time was great we travelled, enjoyed the summer and took the time to find a job and a flat! Our flat was just around the corner from a good friend of mine – a friend from home that I have known pretty much all of my life. For almost a year we had friends around the corner and a support network with Isaac’s family close by. Something we will be forever grateful for.

Then Isaac’s grandmother decided to move up north and my friend decided to move back to England. Within a space of a month we found ourselves feeling secluded in the largest city in NZ. Although we have made other friends through our jobs and Isaac still has some family around it just hasn’t been the same. Not enough to make us want to stay.

Our opportunities have widened:

I have recently become a freelancer – my own boss for the first time. A daunting, but exciting step for myself and one that has given me the freedom to live anywhere in NZ. Isaac already runs his own business and I have joined his club! With the power of the internet and working remotely as accessible as ever this means we can work from just about anywhere that has internet. We no longer have to be in a busy city.

House prices:

News flash – Auckland house prices are ridiculous! Talk about stating the obvious.

News flash – We are both hitting 30!

Something happens when you turn 30 you find yourself contemplating about the future. Sure, we have achieved a lot in our 20’s but purchasing our slice of this earth is not one of them. We know at some point we will need to place some roots down and one thing we do know is we want that place to be NZ but it just can’t be Auckland – we have to win the lottery first before that can happen! Without getting into a rant – this city really isn’t a place for first time buyers.

Our love for NZ:

Something we both agree on is our love for NZ. We love the people, the culture and the life style that NZ can offer us. And sadly Auckland just isn’t providing that for us at this point in our lives. You could argue Auckland isn’t a true representation of New Zealand – I don’t personally think this, but I do know if I wanted to live in a city then I could have just moved to…Bristol. It is all down to personal preference really, cities just aren’t our kind of places – we are Cornish after all!

So off we move to better pastures! House sitting is giving us the opportunity to live in other regions of NZ therefore we shall see where this takes us until we say “I want to live here” once more!

House Sitting in New Zealand – Why we love it!

Since we have returned from our visit to the UK we found ourselves homeless! Our flat got sold from under us (quite literally) so we decided to move out before we went away to save ourselves some money on rent!

Upon our return we needed a place to live FAST! We are house sitting in New Zealand and this is why we love it.

It’s easy to source:

We found two great and extremely useful websites. Kiwi House Sitter’s has a no hassle sign up process. The $65 membership a year gives you access to hundreds of house owners wanting sitters whilst they are away on business or on vacation. You simply have to make a good profile and upload some fab photos of yourself and your away.

With the membership you can of course apply for any house sit you like. We also make sure we send them a approachable friendly email to start the conversation along with our character references.

Top Tip: If you update your website on a regularly basis (even with just a one word change will do) you stay up the top of the profile list when you click on “Find a sitter” meaning you get approached by more house sitters. This tactic has worked with succession twice for us now. 

We have also signed up to House Sitters who take on a more professional approach. We had to provide two character references, clear a police check and pass a Skype interview with a house sitter representative to be accepted. Whilst this process does take more time (around two weeks) it does offer more peace of mind to both the sitter and the home owner.  Membership costs $49 for the year (within Auckland, free outside of Auckland) but the upside is that you are instantly more appealing to the house owner. However as yet we have not had a successful sit confirmed by this company.

house sitting goingnz

It’s cheap living:

We pay no rent, no utilities, and we have a vehicle at our disposal. What more could you ask for? The pet food supplied? That is as well. Some home owners do ask that you cover the costs of utility bills however they are only really bothered if you are staying there for a prolonged period of time. It’s fair to say that our bank account has been replenished nicely after our costly trip away to England last month!

house sitting for cats in new zealand
Hello Oscar!

It’s a win win:

It really is a win win for both parties involved, the home owners get the peace of mind knowing there pet’s and home are in good care whilst saving money on having to send their pets into kennels or a cattery and for us we save a heap’s of cash whilst exploring different parts of New Zealand. Plus as we don’t have any pets and it has been really lovely looking after them – so there is a sense of job satisfaction to the “job” in hand!

house sitting goingnz
Looking after Winnie was the easy part.

Why does this concept work in New Zealand?

I feel like it’s a no brainer. The Kiwis kind and trustworthy nature (which I swear is engraved into their culture and even there personality’s at birth) is what makes it a success! Plus Auckland does have a high burglary rate – we have known the results of this too well when we were away for one weekend and our balcony furniture got stolen! The peace of mind the home owners get is priceless. We also know within ourselves we are good trustworthy people so it really isn’t a difficult task we are undertaking!

Community:

Since joining the community we have noticed a pattern! There are professional house sitters all over the world. People get asked back to people’s houses year after year – we have already had this happened to us! We have also got a friend who is doing this full time – they have a deposit that needs saving as their aim is to buy their first home. They plan to do it for two years! We don’t think we will do it that long (I cry every time I see my lovely sofa in the storage unit) but it certainly is giving us food for thought on our time in NZ. We are already planning a little house sitting holiday over the Christmas holidays – a free holiday home? Yes please!

Has any one else tried house sitting? Let us know your feedback on your experience!

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How it feels returning to England: Expat Life

After over 18 months away from our home country we returned to England for four weeks to visit our family and friends. It was whirlwind trip of good times, lot of laughs and memories we will treasure forever. As any individual who has been living in another country for so long I am sure the following thoughts went through your mind….correct me if I am wrong!

Nothing has changed

Going home I realised the world goes on with out you, my home town is still the same, my friends are all still around, my Nan is still moaning about her eyes and my dear mother still does the shopping on a Friday! Everything looks the same and let’s not even mention the weather!

Everything has changed

But at the same time everything has changed There’s were some new bars in Falmouth and we didn’t quite feel like a local any more. There were new faces and new places. We didn’t know where our friends live anymore as they moved house and my parents have moved into a new home which just doesn’t quite feel like home! And randomly…the cheese tasted different.

expat going nz
Nothing has changed

There is not enough time

Everyone wants to see you, like everyone. The time away from work is after all a holiday but everyone wants to know what your doing and when and if your free they will snap up that only free time you have left! I felt I needed to schedule in a lie in or even some time to myself. There was never enough time. Time escaped us, but I think you would feel this way if you were home for two days or even two months.

The grass isn’t always greener

We were at dinner with a group of our friends on the last night and one of our close friends asked us a interesting question. He starts… “Living abroad…I have always wondered does it just become the norm, going to work coming home, cooking dinner, going to work again, is it just the same as here?” I paused and thought about for a moment and replied with a yes. The reality is the mundane tasks of daily life don’t escape you when you live abroad it really is the same day after day as your life was In England, but we try and not think like that as it can get you down! The long term goals here are different our opportunities here are wider than ever before and that is what we keep in mind, I have learnt the grass isn’t greener on the other side but with the right mind set it can be if you want it to be.

The big question. Who do I feel now I am back?

This was my scariest question to myself five weeks ago, but honestly I feel fine, I didn’t feel upset to leave the cultural aspects of England (and that’s a whole other blog!). It really does boil down to my family and friends if I could pick up all my family and friends and take them with me or someone could reduce the travelling hours to just a few hours long I would be a very happy person! Eventually we know that this could be the thing that effects us in the long term. And I think it does catch up with everybody in the end! And on a lighter note if New Zealand had Choak’s pasty’s, cheap mozzarella, crab and the best tasting Guinness around I would be a very happy lady.

Here are a few more snaps from our time at home, and yes I still refer it as home! 🙂

going nz expat
Friends 🙂
going nz expat
The Boys
going nz wedding
Oh and we finally tied the knot as well!

Going back to England to visit as a expat & the belief of fate!

It has been over a year and half since we left our lives in England and moved to NZ, we always said we would try and come back ever other year and even though it felt like my parents had just left us and Isaac’s family only visited in September it was all the other elements of going back to the place we still regularly call “home” that we were craving.

We were missing our grand parents, our extended family, our friends and lots of Cornish delights that we love. We couldn’t cope last June with photos from our friends via various means of social media of the great British summer (we definitely weren’t missing the weather though!) in all its glory.  Plus we had definitely under estimated the cold kiwi winter, we held onto those feeling this year and decided June was the right month to visit ole blighty. Plus we could do all the things we love, Glastonbury, Glastonbury, and did I mention Glastonbury! So we thought stuff the practicalities of it all you only live once lets start our tradition now.

When we were discussing our must dos, we wanted to go to main land Europe, we wanted to go to Glastonbury but we also wanted a enough time in Cornwall to explore all our old haunts and create good quality memories with our family. A two week trip was not enough so we decided to go away for the whole month of June.

glastonbury goingnz

Dilemma One: What to do about our rented apartment.

One thing we were sure on…we couldn’t afford to leave it empty. We had been doing Air BnB for a while now so we decided to rent our place out for the whole month. We got a request from a doctor from England who needed a place to stay whilst she settled in over here…it felt like the perfect solution everything was falling into place. Or so we thought…

Then the day we were going to accept her booking on Air BnB we get a message from our property manager: please call us. We felt concerned – we were unsure why she would need to get hold of us so urgently. We found out that afternoon our property was going to be put on the market. They were selling up.

Since that phone call a week and half ago we have been pondering over our options. We had no choice to decline the Air BnB booking as we just couldn’t have someone staying in the flat whilst opening homes were commencing and people were coming to view the property. It wasn’t the honest thing to do and would of been very inconvenient for our Air BnB renter.

It then forced us to analyse our life style in NZ essentially we are not happy with a few elements of our lives here…namely our apartment. We decided to let it go and move out and put our items in storage. A whole new added stress before we fly but hey we have moved all our items half way around the world once what is a move 30 minutes down the road to a storage unit?!

Storage Units:

They are cheap! The money alone from what we are saving on rent for the month of June make’s storage unit solution super cheap. We spent one Saturday finding out where was best for us, we settled on Crowns $185 NZD per month with a one off $10 signing up fee and one weeks notice to leave and a refund on what you don’t use. Luckily we had family to stay with when we moved here back in 2014 but this would be a good option for expats moving here and having no where to put your belongings whilst you settle.

Dilemma Two: Where to live upon our return.

We then had a second dilemma where to live when we come back. I got chatting to one of the girls at work and she mentioned house sitting, again something I had never thought of but it appears a to be a big thing over here! The kiwis kind, caring and generous nature combined with Auckland’s petty crime problem with household theft has developed a community of house sitters where you live in the home owners house/apartment rent free and even sometimes bill free whilst they are away on holiday looking after the house and also any pets they may have. Home owners can save a fortune by a avoiding putting there pets in a cattery/dog kennel whilst they go on holiday so it really is a win win situation for both. I read a article recently about young couples who doing this as a long term solution as a quick fire way of saving up money for a deposit for a mortgage…

A light bulb went on!

lightbulb going nz
TING!

I came across the kiwi house sitters, $65 NZD is for a years membership. We came across the most perfect add for a house just a few kilometers out of the city wanting house sitter’s for the month of July, it happened to be the exact date we return back from England. They have a old cat and three chickens that need looking after. Anyone who knows us knows that we love chickens (RIP old friends Buttons and Nugget) and Isaac loves cats. I contacted them on a whim and it turns out they were English too and doing the same thing as us (going home to visit family) it was perfect we now have somewhere to go when we get back!

house sitting going nz
Buttons and Nugget 🙂
Again I can’t stress enough what a good option this is for people moving here and don’t have family and friends to lean on.

I believe in fate our plans for our trip back to England has all fallen into place all at once. We do have a bit of stress in the next week or so but now we are going with the peace of mind we are saving heaps of money over the next few months! I personally am quite excited about being a nomad again even if it for a short while it is a life style I enjoy and for us is the start of some long term life goals for lifestyle we are after!

I may be a little quiet on the blog over the next month or so but I plan on  keeping myself busy by drafting up blog posts whilst we are away. I am intrigued to find out what feelings develop whilst we are away, about life as a nomad, about what we missed about Cornwall and about the changes we notice in us and our feelings as expats! I am sure these thoughts and feelings are completely natural and I am sure as expat it will be a interesting ride! Bring it on!

 

 

Sunsets in Auckland

We just love a good sunset! The majority of our weekends here in Auckland are pre planned, to ensure we are in a good location just as the sun is setting!

In our view is nothing is better than sitting some where together talking a load of nonsense as we watch the sun going down. We would like to share a few of our favourite sunset spots with you here in Auckland.

Go West:

When we really want to escape the city life we take a short day trip and head for the western beaches of either Piha or Bethall’s. Or we take the bikes and head to Woodhill Forest we stay all day just to witness moments like these!

piha
Piha
Bethalls beach sunset
Bethall’s Beach
sunrise woodhill
Woodhill Forest

Waiheke:

Waiheke Island is becoming a very special place to us. A short 35 minute ferry ride and we are back to nature, enjoying the great kiwi outdoors. This photo was taken at our Bach last October over the labour public holiday.

waiheke
Waiheke Island

At Evening Events:

This summer the weather has been at it’s best. February was the 2nd hottest summer on record for New Zealand! We definitely took advantage of the bright nights and the amazing sunset’s whilst out and about. Our favourite is watching the sunset at the numerous free outdoor cinema events Auckland council put on. Free movie, free chocolate surrounded by lots of people just out for a good time!

outdoor cinema auckland
Movies in the Park
silo park
Silo Park
Mt Smart Stadium, winter
Mt Smart Stadium at the Rugby!

In the Car!

Isaac is a bugger for stopping and snapping the skyline even if we are just in the car driving home! Auckland really does have the best sunsets!

Stuck in Traffic
Stuck in Traffic
auckland car
Just had to pull over!

And finally:

Mt Eden, is our favourite. It is just 2 minutes from our house and worth the climb every time. There is something about Mt Eden that is special, your are in the middle of the largest city in New Zealand yet you just don’t feel like you are. It’s become a peaceful spot for for us and one that get’s better each and every time.

mt eden sunset

The Cost of Living in New Zealand

The beginning of 2015 marked a year of living in New Zealand for us! Bring out the cake! We can now truly say we are now fully fledged NZ  residents! As we hit the landmark earlier last week, we thought it would be a good idea to go over our finances and publish a breakdown of our cost living in New Zealand vs living in the UK. As you can imagine, this was no small task – we’ve been putting it off… just a little!

There are so many debates these days about how much more expensive New Zealand really is compared to other places around the world. We are constantly hearing about how expensive it is to live in Auckland. And the truth is everyone’s comparison is different – depending on salary, lifestyle and other factors.

In this article we are discussing:

  • Where to compare costs in NZ to your current life;
  • Monthly costs of life in Auckland;
  • A supermarket cost comparison;

 

Life in Auckland
Life in Auckland, NZ

 

You have to do your research before you go:

If you want to do a broader search of the cost of things in New Zealand – as we may have missed a few things below then doing some research before you arrive into New Zealand would be a good idea. Aside from all the unexpected costs that can occur when making such a move, everyday living may come as a financial shock in a new country such as NZ.

A good place to start is to compare the cost of living in NZ with your current location, which can be browsed easily on sites such as Numbeo. This crowd-sourced website allows you to quickly discover the comparative costs of main points of interest, including rent, transport and a selection of groceries. Although not perfect (some of the data hasn’t been updated for 6 months of so) whether you’re coming from the UK, or elsewhere, this will give you a rough idea of how much your Sunday bacon will cost! ($9 bucks FYI!)

It is also worth noting that New Zealand has a GST rate of 15% on almost everything you purchase, with the exception of your income and financial transactions (renting a home or, say, bank charges). You are liable to pay all the GST and other taxes when you become part of the New Zealand’s society and economy.

While it’s useful to see these stats, it’s also important to factor in your new salary if you’ll be working in NZ. It’s no use looking at new costs, and how you will afford them, with your current earnings in mind! A good place to establish an approximate salary based on occupation guide can be found via the Trade Me website here.

cost of living NZ Going NZ

So now you know what your new salary and new living costs look like, but does this translate from your current financial situation and lifestyle?

To be able to comprehend how new living costs will affect you, you need to fully understand your current financial situation. This can be achieved by defining your current spend and disposable income, with a money planner. The website “Sorted” an independent money planner can help you with this! Check it out here!

By creating a tangible list, that takes into account all of your outgoings, you will also be able to recognise all of the infrequent necessities that require planning ahead, such as insurances, as well as the irregular demands that require additional money, such as car maintenance and everyday breakages!

With all of these demands in mind, you can wholly explore the transition of living costs from your current situation to that in NZ. This list of websites will help you calculate some of these core outgoings.

Household expenses (Bills):

Glimp and Power Switch can help you dertermine the cost of core households bills such as electricty and broadband.

Vehicle Costs:

New Zealand Transport Agency is where you go to register and license your car. More on this in our Driving in New Zealand article. And if you want to keep up to date on fuel prices here in NZ, the AA is the website to bookmark.

Insurance:

For all sorts of insurance quotes, health, life, mortgage, income protection Life Direct is a good place to start.

While it’s paramount to plan financially for all of your outgoings in NZ and your new home, don’t forget to think about your desired lifestyle. In calculating all of your costs, think about how you’d like to live in NZ and, hence, how you may intend to use your disposable income. Are you moving to the city where you’d like to enjoy the social scene? Will you have enough money to make that trip down south? It pays to think practically on all these matters.

Can we afford to live the kiwi dream?

So what are our cost’s after one year in New Zealand?

We wanted to know if we are better off living in the UK or New Zealand.

We dragged out all our old bills and comparing September 2014 with September 2015 costs (not summer in the UK and not quite winter in NZ, fair right?) and tried to generalize our monthly costs as much as possible! This comparison is calculated from our old lives in Falmouth, Cornwall to our lives in Auckland – NZ’s most expensive city might I add!

cost of living

Note: All prices are in GBP and converted at the current exchange at the time of writing this article. 

Please also note: Our lifestyle now compared to our lifestyle a year ago is fairly similar. In England we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, had a ‘reasonably priced car’ and we both had jobs that didn’t require a long commute each morning. In Auckland we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, have a ‘reasonably priced car’ and Isaac cycles to work (even in the rain!) and I cycle, take the bus and er walk (honestly!).

To summarize:

The figures really do speak for themselves. Auckland for us is around 300 GBP more expensive for us a month. After doing the maths, we came to the realization that perhaps the only difference is location – we now live in a small, but busy city in a fairly isolated country.

“You have to understand that for two people who come from a small coastal town in Cornwall, it’s a fairly different setting!”

Our flat here is on the main road whilst our flat in England overlooked the sea. The view at breakfast is just a little different! For the same views in Auckland city, we’d easily be looking at triple the rent. We live within our means.

So what about our supermarket shop? Is the price of food higher in New Zealand?

The above research lead me to think more and more about if NZ really does have high food prices, sure mozzarella is expensive ($11 FYI!) … but crisps are loads cheaper, do the costs even out over a grocery shop?

To settle the little argument in my head I thought it was about time I did a direct cost comparison of a grocery shop in the UK compared to a shop in NZ.

I enlisted my mother’s help in this (thanks, Mum!) however my original idea didn’t quite go to plan, I was hoping we could do a similar shop and compare the whole lot, it does seem we shop quite differently – she likes liver and onions (she really does!) for dinner, while I like grilled vegetables and halloumi! So, for the sake of this comparison, we’ve compared 9 essential everyday items like veg, milk, and fruit. Here are the results:

Brand in England if Applicable Brand in NZ if Applicable Volume in England Volume in New Zealand Price in England – GBP Price in New Zealand – GBP Winner?
Bananas N/A N/A 0.415kg 0.362kg 28p (58p a kg) 60p ENGLAND
Apples Gala Granny Smiths 0.517kg 1.55GBP 1.15 GBP NZ
Tomatoes N/A N/A 250g 1.55 GBP 3.91 GBP ENGLAND
Paracetamol Morrisons Basics Singature Range 16pp 20pp 30p 1.50 GBP ENGLAND
Facial Wipes  25pp 25pp 1.00 GBP 2.79 GBP ENGLAND
Tin Foil Homebrand Basics  30CM x 10M 30CM x 10M 2.74 GBP 1.12 GBP NZ
Milk  2L 2L 1.30 GBP 1.76 GBP ENGLAND
Snack Bars Special K Mother Earth  4pp 6pp 1.00 GBP 1.68 GBP ENGLAND
Ready Salted Crisps Walkers Singature Range  125g 150g 1.00 GBP 0.78 GBP NZ
*Exchange rate 0.56 pence to the dollar
TOTAL: 10.72 GBP 15.29 GBP
Percentage? 42.6% MORE

So which Country was cheapest?

“Our Results show New Zealand is on average 42.6% more expensive than the UK”

Hands down England was cheaper for a grocery shop! But I think we already knew that though didn’t we? What is interesting is the differences, some items differ a small amount and some differ hugely.

I can only hope that the almost double the cost of some of the veg items is down to the seasonal differences but what is with the high costs of products such as facial wipes and paracetamol?

I know my investigation is only a small representation of the price difference but I have a feeling if I did another comparison on some other products another time I would get the same result.

Going NZ cost of living
The small change matter’s to this little piggy.

To Conclude:

“I guess from the stats above you could say we are worse off, but we don’t like to think of it that way. As we now live in a country that excites us, we live in a country that has a better climate that offers us new opportunities.”

I think the lesson here for us is to stop analyzing it so much and think of New Zealand as a girlfriend. A high maintenance one at that! She is very good looking and has charm. To put up with the good lucks and charm of that sexy girlfriend we have to put our hands into our pockets and “Suck it up”. To live here in NZ the cost of living in New Zealand is something we have to start putting up with. This analogy this has really helped us clarify our thought process on the price issues.

As we roll into year two we are getting nearer to our lifestyle goals, something we felt wasn’t achievable back in the UK. We believe NZ is worth the extra expense and we hope you think so too!

Are you thinking of moving to New Zealand or arrived and finding things to be a bit more expensive than you’d hoped? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to get in touch!

GrabOne Review: You get what you pay for

 

 

 

 

Living in Auckland, we’re blessed with choice when it comes to eating out, experiences and pretty much anything really. We’ve always used review sites like Trip Advisor and Google results to guide us to reputable cafes and holidays.nz car service sticker

When we moved to New Zealand, we started using GrabOne (a Kiwi version of Groupon) to help us filter our options and at the same time save some money. Our experience with GrabOne has be excellent for restaurants, cafes and bars. Sadly, it has been terrible for services.

 

Recently we paid for an automotive package at a local garage via GrabOne. One of their newsletters came through recommending a local garage and it prompted us to book in for a WoF and service.

WOF NZ StickerIt took a few days of calling the garage to make an appointment, I guess GrabOne vouchers are keeping them busy! When we were able to make an appointment, we took the car up to the garage and returned a few hours later to collect it. The service went as expected, however the vehicle had failed the warrant of fitness. After speaking with the mechanic, he explained there was hydraulic fluid leaking from a pipe and rust on an engine mount which was going to cost in the region of $200-300+GST. We asked to be shown the issues so we could understand what was wrong. The mechanic was a little hesitant and vaguely pointed at a pipe, then got down on his knees and again pointed under the car, knowing full well that someone wearing a white t-shirt isn’t going to lie under the car and check.

vtnz logoWe didn’t trust the mechanic at all, so we took the vehicle away for a second opinion in the morning to VTNZ Kingsland. Other than driver licencing and getting our breakdown cover with VTNZ this is the first time we’ve used their garage services. We liked that the WoF was impartial (they don’t fix cars on-site).

We explained to the VTNZ mechanic that the vehicle had failed its WoF and asked if he could give us a second opinion (do the WoF again). Once he’d done the inspection, he said there were no issues and the car thankfully passed its WoF.

The garage had either made a mistake, or was intentionally creating work for themselves by quoting for work which didn’t need doing, not a great experience.

bad_mechanic_1348349165_200x300[1]Takeaways:

  • If something is ridiculously cheap, say a service and a WoF is $80, it is probably to good to be true. With services like vehicle servicing and warrants ask friends and family for recommendations, there are a lot of sharks out there.
  • Companies like GrabOne need to exercise better quality control, at the end of the day it’s their reputation on the line as much as the business they are suggesting we spend our money with.
  • Often these deals get over-subscribed which means customer service is often quite poor (we called 5 times in total to book in). We went for lunch in Kingsland recently and a popular Café had sold out of food and had an hour and a half wait for a table at midday due to a voucher they’d run with GrabOne, it was quite disappointing.

 

Have you had a similar experience with coupon websites or is it just us? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

When family & friends come to visit your expat lifestyle!

We have been getting a lot of questions lately about how we’ve have settled into our “expat lives” in New Zealand, the things we miss about home, the differences and the struggles we have faced. A year into the move we were fortunate enough to tell the readers of Expat Arrival’s about our story. And one thing we mentioned back in December was how much we missed our family and friends.

Being away for such a long time you tend to shut down those feelings as a coping mechanism, and that had been the way until the Christmas just gone! My parents are now here and arrived just before Christmas as did my sister who surprised me with her presence for the holidays! I am sure anyone who has lived away from their home country for long periods of time will agree – having family and friends from home visit you in your new life causes whole a mix bag of emotions!

But it isn’t just your emotions it’s their emotions too that need to be consider so I have asked for my sister’s help to clarify our thoughts of our time together – Give me a holla if you can relate to this!

Me and My Sis in NZ
Me and My Sis in NZ

Dawns Thoughts:

“Christmas 2015 was pretty epic not only was it our first official Christmas in NZ (finally settled!) on the 22nd December my Christmas changed when my sister turned up in my doorstep and surprised me for the holidays. I already had my parents staying for three months, (they have just retired and are taking a gap year!) and this simply was the icing on the cake.

Upon her arrival I was a mix bag of emotions, at first I felt shock (I thought I was dreaming, literally) and then I felt anger (ooo the secret had been kept from me for months) then I felt frustrated, (where is she to sleep, I don’t have a bed for her!) and then finally I felt excitement of the next two weeks of fun we were about to have.

Having someone surprise you like that makes you feel really special and that is a fantastic feeling.

I spent the first few days feeling that this must all be a dream and in a weird way you’re almost waiting for something to go wrong! Then one morning I snapped myself out of it and thought these are the type of days you are going to talk about forever (even when we are 80 in our rocking chairs) so I started to enjoy every moment with the family I hadn’t seen for a year and half.

And then two days later when you have to share a bathroom with five people and your sister borrows your hair straightener’s and doesn’t put them back and your house is turning into a slice of chaos you have flash backs of being fourteen again and in your new found teenage angst you get angry at the situation you are in and you lash out! Ring any bells? Thank fully for me that was only one day then it was back to enjoying this amazing time together!

I found myself wanting them to have the best time ever I felt like to them NZ was never on their ‘Bucket List’ and it never would of been if it wasn’t for me, I wanted them to fall in love with this beautiful country too I wanted them to understand why I now live here!

And because of that I wanted to get them out of the apartment as much as possible to ensure they get to see as much as New Zealand as humanly possible in the time that have! Then I found myself getting frustrated when I found them sat on the sofa too tired to go and watch a sunset!

But then I realised time unfortunately is not on any ones side and you just have to go with the flow and enjoy every moment you have with them. So that is what I did, life is about family, good times and creating memories I blocked those bag of emotions away and enjoyed every second! Until next time sis! “

NYE in Paihia
NYE in Paihia

Sally’s Thoughts:

“As I walked through the Auckland Airport arrival doors I was taken aback by the array of expecting faces staring back at me, all waiting for their loved ones to walk through the door next. This made me realise how far I had actually travelled and how important it is to visit family who have moved to another country. Panic started to set in as I scanned the faces with my tired eyes, ‘Where are my parents?!’ Luckily for me my parents were right at the front and waving frantically at me!

My parents were in on the ‘MI5 Top Secret Plan’ to surprise my sister Dawn with a surprise visit to Auckland for Christmas and New Year’s, we had kept it from her since August! We experienced some close shavings of exposing our plans but she never cottoned on…I actually think she never thought I would be able to come so far in the near future to visit her and if I ever did it would be a meet half way scenario in say…Bali.

So as we approached the apartment block where she lives, it felt surreal and had to ask my Mum to pinch me as what I had been planning and thinking about for months had finally arrived. I knew Dawn would be ecstatic that I came over to see her but I was also worried of her initial reaction.

Now I have NEVER seen my sister speechless before, and boy I was not expecting that initial reaction…then a more familiar reaction of excitement and jumping up and down played its self out.

So I was now here in Dawns territory and she and her partner were very accommodating to my unexpected arrival…luckily my parents thought sleeping arrangements through and brought me a blow up bed which they hid in their suitcases as we expected this would be Dawns first worry!

After a year or so of seeing my sister through my iPad screen as she was eating her breakfast and me eating my dinner, I felt like I had literally jumped into my iPad screen and was now in her apartment looking out of her balcony and in their time zone…although my body wasn’t!

Excitedly Dawn started reeling off the things we can do together, swimming with Dolphins in Bay Of Islands, cocktails in the city….but the reality is you have a schedule to keep and although we didn’t do them all we were still able to cram so many amazing sites and experiences in! Bethells Beach, the boat trip around Whangaroa Harbour were my highlights….but now I am back in the freezing UK (depressing) I soon realise that being able to see my sister settled in her new home, with a job she loves, with these beautiful places literally on her doorstep that that was the highlight of my trip. I can now relate to her in a way I couldn’t before, I sometimes could not understand why and how she could move so far away from the UK – But all I see now in her is drive, courage and a sense of adventure which I find is rubbing off on me….here’s to the next trip sis!”

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These memories last a life time!
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Family fun
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Banter!
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Loving Life!

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