What travel REALLY taught me & why it took us almost five years too move to New Zealand.

It’s crazy when you actually stop to think about how much time has been wasted on you ponding what could or might have been. For us that time tallied up to almost five years. From the moment we returned to England in April 2010 we had this longing desire to move back to NZ and really try and give living in New Zealand a chance.

This article is the second part of a two-part series, so if you haven’t already check out our other article here.

Why did it take us so long? I realise it now but essentially it came down to two fundamental things that we all suffer from; excuses and fear.

Excuses & Fear:

We spent a lot of those years finding excuses not to take the scary leap of moving to another country. The excuses, (although not the exact words that came out of our mouths) sounded a little something like this; do they sound familiar to you?!

Money ‘We need to save more first’

Job ‘I want to advance my career’

Age “We’re getting older we need to get a mortgage and think about our future’

Family ‘Leaving them and missing them will just be too hard’

Guilt ‘If we move away then it’s a very selfish act to leave our friends and family’

And so these excuses turned into modes on a washing machine, each one coming around in cycles, every couple of months. It was a cycle that we felt like would never end. Our excuses were fueling our fear…

“Excuses are just obstructions that you have to overcome.”

 

It wasn’t an overnight thing, in fact, it took years but I soon come to realise that our excuses were down to fear of the unknown, but then I had started worrying about the what ifs.

What if … we couldn’t find jobs;

What if … we don’t like it;

What if…  we lose touch with our friends:

What if… we never make any friends;

What if… we can’t afford to support ourselves;

Can you see the pattern here? The ‘What if’s’ were becoming another set of excuses all fueled by fear, this damn washing machine cycle was never ending!

“Fear is nothing more than a state of mind”

 

The pattern for us had to stop. The mindset had changed, it had been almost 4 years of this cycle and we were sick of it. And if we are truly honest with our selves that is why it took us almost 5 years to pluck up the courage and move to New Zealand. It wasn’t an easy decision but we had decided we couldn’t live with our regrets of ‘What Ifs’ – that would have had a more negative impact on our lives. A chance we were willing not to take!

fear goingnz
This is the day we had just packed up our house and was leaving England, can you see the fear in my smile?

What travel REALLY taught me:

Yes, I could be all cliche here and say travelling really taught me new languages, new cultures, about history but if I was being 100% honest with myself it taught me not to be fearful of the unknown.

You see it was around the same time of the ‘What If’ cycle coming to an end that I had realised the travelling experience I had all those years ago had taught me a lot about taking chances. Life is too bloody short after all!

“Living with What If’s, fears and excuses just is not sustainable, and certainly not healthy for your mental state”

We go on about how life is too short to worry about these things and very few people actually do anything to stop the What Ifs, the fear, and the excuses.  Humans unbeknown to them get stuck in a pattern of suppressing their dreams and desires and letting their fears and excuses win. Travel taught me that I was not going to let this happen to me.

I realised that the ‘small-town bubble’ I was living before and after my travels fueled my excuses and fears. And on that day in April 2014, 4 years after returning home from our first trip abroad I hit the submit button and booked those flights to NZ for the second time. This mindset of not letting excuses and fear win changed our lives, we now live in New Zealand and call this beautiful little country home!

Not everyone has an opportunity to travel, we are the fortunate ones and I try and remember that every time I scan the internet to book my next holiday!

Excuses and fear should never be a reason for not doing anything you want to do in life. Or at the very least folks please please please don’t be like us and let those excuses last for five years!

Why travelling is the best form of education – The story of our first trip to New Zealand.

This is the story of our first trip to New Zealand in 2009 and how without us even realizing it at the time, it would change our life’s path as well as change our outlook on life! This article will be about why we went, when we went and where we went. Little did we know that back then our 6-month backpacking trip would open a world of opportunity for us, let alone it meant us moving successfully to another country almost 5 years later!  

Let’s start with the when;

It was common knowledge throughout my younger years that I had always wanted to go traveling, but I guess one vivid memory I have during my teenage years is that of my two of my friends leaving to go to Australia on a backpacking trip. I remember being very jealous of their trip at the time and slightly frustrated that I didn’t have that opportunity to go, basically I opted for the ‘stay at home and continue the education path’. I remember right there and then making a silent vow to myself to make sure I went traveling after my university studies were complete.

That silent vow was made in 2005 and then 2 years later university had ended and you guessed it I was skint! So I did what any other 21-year-old would do after university I moved to the ‘big smoke’ (for us Cornwall folk that’s Plymouth, far I know!) and worked full time for a year and a half and during this time Isaac was completing his final year at university.

Our younger selves, living and working in Plymouth

What about that Why:

The ‘Why’ all came down to meeting Isaac. Before this chance meeting, I had visions of going to Australia and backpacking through the country with nothing but a bit of money and a heavy backpack that I could never carry. I met Isaac at the end of 2006 and at the time I remember quite early on him telling me that his mum was from NZ and that he went as a child but always wanted to go back.

For those few years during and after university the conversation would always come up with us wanting to travel and complete a gap year of sorts. Isaac during this time obtained his NZ citizenship through descent and NZ became an almost weekly conversation! It made sense that this was a destination we would head too!

In the midst of all this, there was another underlining reason of why we wanted to go traveling. After university, I had taken a job in travel. On daily basis, I would persistently tell people to go traveling and to live for the moment.


I was a hypocrite if I didn’t start listening to my own advice, right? I had to simply find out what all the fuss was about, after all it would be rude not too!

And before we knew it, it was the summer of 2009 and we had saved up enough money to go traveling, Isaacs university course was finished, and the flights were booked. It was now or never!

We packed up our belongings, both quit our jobs and left in October 2009.

Isaac Graduation
Isaacs Graduation day, we left a month later.

Looking back now I can see now that I had no clue how this trip was going to change me as a person, my path in life and educate me in such a way that 3 years in university never did. And the true effects of this trip only changed me after we had returned home…more on that later.

Where we went:

We starting with numerous weeks sunning ourselves in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, a week in Sydney (for my birthday of course) and then decided to spend the majority of our time in NZ. We landed into NZ on the 10th December 2009.

Isaacs grandma kindly put us up upon our arrival and it quickly became our second home. Our intentions were to buy a beat-up campervan to travel around in, but as kiwi families have it they had a spare car to lend us for the whole duration of our trip!

nz camping
This was our lives whilst we traveled every inch of NZ.

We spent Christmas and New Year in the Northland (Whangaroa Harbour) meeting all of Isaacs extended family which was just incredibly eye-opening. I am from a big family and I thought our family was big until I met his family. It was a great first Christmas away from home for the very first time, his family were all very welcoming, accepting and liked to tease us on our softness (Apparently, us Brits are soft?!).

After the holiday season (which we have come to learn is a big holiday season here) and in January we headed off on our NZ road trip with every intention to return and fly to the South Island at a later stage, but lucky for us we were able to keep the car until the very day we left NZ, this is the route we took. Warning it’s a bit of a puzzle!

 

With the South Island, we spent 3 glorious weeks there. We certainly underestimated how much there was to do on the South Island, I remember reaching Queenstown on St Patrick’s Day (best party ever!) and not ever wanting to leave. It was the first time on our trip that we were forced to travel quickly and swiftly and we still regret this to this day as you can see by our travel map the South Island destinations that we have visited are limited.

Returning Home:

We returned to England on the 25th April 2010, almost exactly six months to the day we left the country. We didn’t tell either of our family members that we were returning until we rang them up from Heathrow Airport demanding a roast dinner in time for our arrival that same day!

I remember that night lying back in my childhood bedroom and thinking had this 6 months of pure bliss of independence, freedom and no worries lifestyle all been real? Will I wake up tomorrow and find out it had all been a dream?

But before I knew it I had shrugged that thought off, unable to analyse it as I was so tired I fell asleep for what felt like a century… all mainly due to the jetlag of course!

 

Can anybody else relate to this? And when you wake up the next day you still don’t analyse it, reality hits you the higher archy of needs set in as you need a job, you need somewhere to live, you need money and you find yourself not ponding on what the life experience you just had really taught you.

At least that was the case for me. I look back at that time and realized I should have taken a step back and really thought about what that time traveling taught me. And that leads me onto why it took us almost five years to return to NZ, more on that in part two, coming soon.

Stay tuned…

In the meantime check out some unseen photographs from our this trip in 2009. Including some of South East Asia & Australia. Click on them to enlarge them!

New Zealand | Frequently Asked Questions

We wanted to create a great FAQ section on our blog covering all the Frequently Asked Questions you may be asking yourself for your move or visit to New Zealand. It covers all your New Zealand questions from the tiny things to the big things!

We plan on adding to this every couple of months with a hope it will be a resource you –  our readers will be able to keep rethings!ferring back to every step of your expat move or whilst you are travelling to NZ. It certainly will answer a lot of your questions about New Zealand and will also cover some interesting facts about New Zealand that are great conversation starters when you are here!

This FAQ section includes:

New Zealand Trivia & Facts;

The Nitty Gritty Details;

Everything to do with money;

Tips before you go;

Travel advise in New Zealand;

 

 

New Zealand Trivia & Facts:

Wellington Beehive

What is the capital of New Zealand?

Wellington! The city of Wellington is physically in the middle of the country, which makes it easier for everyone to travel to. Our parliament building is called The Beehive, (apparently it looks like one but I can’t see it!) you should definitely visit it!

How long does it take to get to NZ?

If you’re coming to New Zealand, you’re definitely in for an adventure! In the future, when you’re friends are trying to impress each other by comparing travel times, you can beat them all by telling them your trip to New Zealand took a whole day! Sometimes it can take more than 24 hours though, depending on how much layover time you want.

Why are New Zealanders are called Kiwi’s?

Kiwis are our national bird! Also, our flag is very similar to Australia’s, so during the second world war, our soldiers included the Kiwi bird as part of their uniform to help distinguish them from the Aussies. The name stuck!

Who is NZ prime minister?

After a recent 2017 election, it is now Jacinda Ardern of the Labour party.

How did NZ get its name?

New Zealand actually has two names – New Zealand and Aotearoa. ‘New Zealand’ comes from a Dutch Navigator called Abel Tasman, who discovered New Zealand in 1642, but unfortunately never actually set foot here. If you’re wondering where Old Zealand is, there isn’t one – Abel Tasman named dubbed our islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

As for Aotearoa, it is a Māori word and is generally interpreted as ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. The word can be broken up as: ao = cloud, dawn, daytime or world, tea = white, clear or bright and roa = long. In Māori legends, this long white cloud is what Māori explorers first saw of New Zealand, so they used Aotearoa to refer to it. Another possible reason for the name Aotearoa is because Aotea was the name of one of the Māori migration waka (canoes), so they named the land Aotea (Cloud), but when they discovered that New Zealand was much larger, instead of Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea).

When was NZ discovered?

If you are thinking in terms of European explorers, Abel Tasman discovered NZ on December 13 1642, although he didn’t make it to the land – which is why English Navigator James Cook, who only came to New Zealand in 1769, is often cited as the ‘discoverer’ or New Zealand.

What is NZ famous for?

For quite a few things that you might not realised! For instance, there are quite a few actors in Hollywood that are Kiwis, like Karl Urban of Star Trek fame, Russell Crowe and Cliff Curtis. We also gave the world Lorde and Flight Of The Conchords – you’re welcome. There’s the Lord Of The Rings and its director Peter Jackson also, not to mention The Hobbit films too.

As for New Zealand itself, well, we’re generally known for having too many sheep (which is accurate, apparently there’s about seven sheep for every one person in New Zealand, but we don’t ride them to work or anything), being good at rugby and our amazing scenery –  seriously, you’ll have to see it to believe it!

Where’s NZ located in the world?

New Zealand is one of the most southern countries in the world (we even have flights to Antarctica). We’re about a 3-hour flight South from Australia – but we’re definitely not part of Australia.

What is the population of NZ?

New Zealand is one of the smallest first world countries, with a population of just 4 million. To put that into perspective, Sydney a city in Australia has a population of 4 million and NZ is certainly bigger than Sydney!

^ Go to top

The Nitty Gritty:

What plug adaptor do you use for NZ?

New Zealand and Australia both use the same plug/socket type, type I. Type I plugs and sockets are characterised by their 3 prongs, 2 slanted and one straight at the bottom. If you buy something in New Zealand that has a power cable, you will not need your adapter to use it, it will already be type I.

What is New Zealand’s voltage?

The standard New Zealand electricity voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

What is the international dialing code for NZ?

+64, then the area code. Like usual, drop the first digit when calling to NZ from overseas. For example, an International caller might dial an Auckland landline as +64 9 1234567, because the area code for Auckland is 09. Calling mobiles is similar, for example, +64 21 1234567, because mobile phone numbers in New Zealand often start with (021) or (027).

What is the exchange rate in NZ?

As exchange rates do, this often changes. At the time of writing this, 1 New Zealand Dollar equals 0.69 US Dollars, but it may change by the time you’re reading this. Make sure to check yourself for more accurate information.

What is the time difference & what time zone is NZ in?

Here’s the thing – and this will blow your mind – New Zealand is so tiny, it doesn’t actually have different time zones, it just has one: NZST (New Zealand Standard Time). NZST is GMT+13 in Summer, starting in September (Daylight Savings time) and GMT+12 in Winter, starting in April.

New Zealand tends to be around 18 hours ahead of the USA (though this depends on what part of the USA you are in) and 12-13 hours ahead of the UK, depending on whether its Daylight Savings time or not.

What are the NZ interest rates?

For banking and saving rates check out this article on our website for more information.

Can I bring my medication into NZ?

If you have prescription medicine and you declare it, you will most likely be able to bring it into the country. Even if your medicine is not prescription, still declare it – otherwise you could be fined. Please note that if your medicine is plant-based or has organic matter, it may not be allowed into the country due to biosecurity restrictions.

Are vaccinations required to visit NZ?

No, they are not required. It is always recommended to get routine vaccinations from your doctor before travelling, but no vaccines are required before visiting New Zealand.

What is the emergency services number for NZ?

If you need emergency services like fire stations, ambulances or police, please dial 111. Please refrain from dialing 111 if you’re not in an emergency, so our emergency services staff can focus on people who need help.

What is the diver’s emergency service number?

0800 4 DES 111. Please go to the New Zealand Underwater Association for more diving emergency help.

How much is fuel in NZ?

The price of fuel changes quite a lot here, most recently it has been $1.92/litre of petrol and $1.22/litre of diesel. Check out our money saving tips on fuel prices on our blog post by clicking around about…here!

What is the driving speed in NZ?

On most suburban roads, it’s 50km/h (which is about 30mph), on rural roads it tends to be around 80km/h (around 50mph) and on open roads and motorways, the speed limit is 100km/h (around 60mph). 100km/h is the highest speed limit in New Zealand.

What is the New Zealand weather and climate like?

Honestly, it depends on what city you’re in. All the major cities have nicknames or phrases related to the weather, for instance, it’s common for people in Auckland to talk about “four seasons in one day” and for people to talk about “Windy Wellington”, whereas Christchurch is known as the “Garden City”. However, compared to other places around the world, the climate is pretty mild. It doesn’t snow in New Zealand except on the mountain tops (great for skiing) and since we are so far South, the summer is quite pleasant instead of too hot.

Can you tip for service in NZ?

You can, but it’s uncommon. It’s not expected of you, but sometimes it’s nice to leave a waiter that you really like a tip for some extra petrol money. It’s considered a nice gesture, but New Zealand minimum wage is a living wage, so it’s not required or culturally frowned upon if you don’t tip – most people don’t.

^ Go to top

Everything Money:

money NZ

How much does it cost to go to NZ?

That depends on where you’re coming from, but you should put aside $3,000 NZD for flights.

How much money do I need to go to NZ?

It’s recommended to have around $150 NZD put aside for each day you’re there, so no matter how long your trip is, you will have enough money to travel (not including any domestic flights you want to take, those will be more expensive) and do all the activities you planned for – and some that you didn’t – while you’re here.

Is NZ expensive?

That really depends on what you define as ‘expensive’, but generally, because we have to get a lot of things imported, the cost of living in New Zealand is slightly more expensive, yes. For a more accurate answer on this matter do check out our highly popular article here on the Cost of Living in New Zealand.

What is GST?

GST is the Goods and services tax (GST) is a 15% tax added to the price of most goods and services in New Zealand. In America, this is generally the difference between the price on the label and the price you actually pay when you get up to the counter. That cost is included in the label price, so you know what you have to pay from the start. In England, we call GST, VAT – same thing!

What are New Zealand working tax rates?

This depends on how much you earn. Please consult the Inland Revenue Department’s (IRD) Income Tax chart for specific information. The IRD is a part of the New Zealand government and functions much the same as the IRS in the United States.

What is the KiwiSaver Scheme?

The KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings initiative in New Zealand that helps residents to set up nicely for retirement. There are lots of different schemes you can join and it’s a hassle-free solution to encourage long-term saving. Basically, your employer puts aside 3% of your wages into your KiwiSaver and you do too. To find out about how all this works, check out our article here!

What does NZ money look like?

Crisp, shiny and colourful, as New Zealand’s money was recently redesigned! We have a mixture of notes and coins – the notes are easy to tell apart because of the different colours: five dollar notes are orange, ten dollars notes are blue, twenty dollars is green, fifty dollars is purple and one hundred dollars is pink. You may find the coins a little harder to tell apart because they are all so light, but you’ll get used to it.

What is NZ minimum wage?

As of April 2017, the minimum wage for a working adult is $15.75 NZD.

Can I bring cash into NZ?

Yes. There’s no restriction on how much foreign currency you can bring into New Zealand. However, if you arrive at an airport carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash you’ll need to complete a Border Cash Report.

^ Go to top

Before you Go:

map-of-new-zealand
Bye Bye England

Do I legally need travel insurance for NZ?

While travel insurance is not legally required, it is highly recommended as the cost of not having travel insurance when coming to New Zealand could be much higher than just getting it in the first place. Read our travel insurance tips for expats here and here for visitors!

Do I need a visa for New Zealand? Will also link to an article

If you are a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you do not need a New Zealand visa to visit New Zealand. If you are not one of these, you will need a visa. Visitor visas are generally issued upon arrival, working visas need to be applied for before you arrive. Click here for a rundown of all the visas.

Is NZ a visa-free country?

Yes, although this only applies to citizens of certain countries. Read the full list of New Zealand’s visa waiver countries.

What is a Working Holiday Visa?

Working Vias allows citizens of certain countries to travel to New Zealand for around a year. We have a lot of different working visas, so it’s best to do your homework and find the one that’s right for you.

Is it easy to work and travel in NZ?

Yes! We have many different work and travel options here, so no matter what your budget, you can get to where you want to go.

How do I bring all my belongings to NZ?

There are many international moving firms you can use to bring your items over to NZ. It pays to do your homework before you arrive. Check out our guide on removal firms for more information and detailed information on what to bring and what not to bring.

Do I need health insurance in NZ?

Like travel insurance, health insurance is not a requirement in New Zealand, however, it is highly recommended. If you decide against getting health insurance and you get injured or need medical attention, treatment could cost you much more than the insurance you forewent.

What is the ACC?

The ACC is New Zealand’s national Accident Compensation Corporation, a part of our government that is responsible for administering universal accidental or injury care. If you get injured while you are in New Zealand and need to go to the Doctor or Hospital, the ACC will be in touch. This is explained further in our article – here!

Is it safe to drive in New Zealand?

It is safe to drive in New Zealand, however, we do drive on the left side of the road, so if you’re not comfortable driving like that, there are alternatives. We have public transport like trains, planes, and buses, or you could take a taxi or Uber – whatever you prefer.

Can I legally drive in New Zealand?

If you have a valid driver’s license in English, or an additional accurate English translation, you are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand. However, this is only valid for twelve months and there are other conditions, so it’s best that you refer to the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) for more information. A guide to who can drive in New Zealand can be found on this link

Will my mobile phone work in New Zealand?

Yes. You will need to visit a New Zealand phone carrier like Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees or Skinny Mobile to be able to connect to New Zealand phone networks, but it will work once you have done so.

Can I find the same foods at home in NZ?

New Zealand generally has Western dishes, as well as our own signature dishes. We also have a very multi-cultural society, so you will find dishes from all over the world here too. Don’t be afraid to try new foods here, you may be surprised at how good they are!

What foods can’t I bring into NZ?

As our nation is made up of islands, we rely very heavily on our environment to live and therefore we have tough biosecurity laws to protect our environment. Don’t be surprised if New Zealand Immigration confiscates anything that is not processed, as it may be a risk. Any food is considered a ‘risk good’ by New Zealand immigration – so if you have any of the following foods, including food for cooking, you will need to declare it when you enter New Zealand, or you could face a fine:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Dried mushrooms and fungi
  • Honey and honey products
  • Seeds for human consumption and for processing into food
  • Nuts, spices, herbs, and un-popped popcorn
  • Sried, cooked, or preserved fruit and vegetables

Does New Zealand have a tourist tax?

No, although at the beginning of 2016 a border clearance levy of $16 NZD for arriving passengers and $6 NZD for departing passengers was introduced, which applies to both international and domestic travellers going overseas. A tourist tax is currently under consideration by the New Zealand government, but nothing has been decided yet.

How do I find a job in NZ?

There are a few ways to find a job in New Zealand, mostly using online tools. If you’re a student or have graduated in the last year, there is 6Student Job Search (sjs.co.nz) for jobs specifically for students and entry-level staff. If you are not a student or recent graduate, there is Seek (seek.co.nz) or Trade Me Jobs. Those are only a few popular ones, we also have put together a handy resource!

When are the New Zealand school holidays?

The exact dates change every year, but you will notice that our holidays/vacations are very different to those in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in terms of timing. We have our biggest holidays at the end of the year, some organisations ending in December or even November, then starting again in January, or sometimes even February or March depending on whether you are studying or not. The New Zealand government has an official list of all 2018 New Zealand public holidays on their website.

What documents do I need to bring with me to NZ?

Please bring with you a valid passport or travel document and your visa papers. If you are moving to New Zealand permanently, you will need the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Your academic qualifications
  • References from previous employers
  • Your CV (Curriculum Vitae/Resume)
  • Credit references
  • An international driver’s license or permit

^ Go to top

Travel in New Zealand:

But first…a few epic photos for a bit of inspiration!

What are the most popular destinations and attractions in NZ?

The most popular attractions are tied – it’s a toss-up between our stunning scenery and anything to do with the Lord Of The Rings filming. Queenstown is quite popular due to its range of activities (sight-seeing, jet boating, bungy jumping, white water rafting and sky diving, you name it they have it!).

When is New Zealand ski season?

Mid-June to Mid-October, in the middle of Winter.

What is the New Zealand Great Walks?

There are a lot of fantastic walking tracks here in New Zealand. The Great Walks are 10 walking tracks that New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) have selected as New Zealand’s best walks. If you’re wanting to hike while you’re in New Zealand, the Great Walks are the best place to start.

When is the best time to go hiking in NZ?

Summer can get pretty hot in New Zealand, especially around hiking spots and it can get boggy in Winter – so the best times to go on a hiking trip would be either in Autumn (March-April-May) or Spring (September-October-November). However, if you’re going on an extended trip or going up a particularly high or difficult mountain, please pay attention to all safety precautions asked of you before you begin your hike. The last thing you want to be when you’re exploring New Zealand terrain is under-prepared. If you’re not sure what precautions you should take, please ask a guide before you set off.

Do I need to pre-book accommodation?

Yes, you will need to pre-book accommodation, particularly in more popular spots around holiday seasons. New Zealand is a very popular vacation spot and you may find yourself sleeping under the stars if you don’t prebook your accommodation.

What is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to go to New Zealand in our opinion is in the warmer months. Anywhere from December to March would be ideal as most activities here involve being outdoors and those months have the best weather. We also think this is the best season to visit New Zealand – who doesn’t love the sunshine?!

Does each town have tourist information centres?

Yes, each major town will have it’s own Information Centre. If you can’t find it, don’t be scared to ask a local. We’ll help you out!

^ Go to top

Got a question? Or have we missed anything? Comment below!

Meet Me Half Way

This year Isaac and I decided to step out of our comfort zone and get back to some traveling. Most British expats we know have an annual holiday back to the UK, in fact most expats we know do this. This year is different, however, we’re going to meet roughly halfway!

When the conversation comes up about your vacation plans for the year ahead people just expect you to say you are going back to England.

The issue creates a difficult debate in your head, you want to see your family and friends but you don’t want to have to year after year use all your vacation time just going back to England, there is a world out there to see after all!

So we decided to visit South East Asia once more. But this time we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to meet some friends and family half way. The only one who took the bait was my amazing but ditsy sister Sally!

vietnam goingnz
A silly hat competition in Vietnam

We enjoyed meeting half way so much that we’ll likely do the same again next year. Here are 5 reasons why we think you should consider this an option instead of just booking flights back to your home country.

1. Affordability:

Let’s face it, flying back to England breaks the bank and money talks! If you took a took two-week vacation then 4 of those days (2 either side, especially more so as we have to reach Cornwall) would be spent traveling and 10 would only be spent actually on vacation. For the price of the flight you only get 10 days of holiday time, your credit card is maxed out, you spent 10 days running around loads of different people’s houses (because god forbid they come to visit you) and by the time you return you don’t feel like you had a holiday at all.

By meeting at a mutually agreed halfway point you save money on flights and save time traveling, if you pick somewhere that is a more affordable destination (like Asia!) then you save heaps of money and all of sudden your two-week vacation is half the cost of what you expected.

 

2. You both get a vacation – It’s a win-win:

Organising a vacation at a halfway mutually agreed point allows for each person to have a vacation. You both get to each have a vacation rather than one being in work mode and other not being in work mode. When this is the case it can be hard to balance time together. With a vacation it is different you are both on more relaxed, in new surroundings and you embrace your time together so much more!

vietnam goingnz
We were both in holiday mode 🙂

 

3. You get to reconnect:

It was awesome catching up with my sister in another country, it had been over a year since we had seen each other. To just have that connection with a family member who knew all the latest gossip of Cornish life and the family gives you that warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. We got to spend some quality time together and reconnect and reminisce about the old times!

 

4. Join a tour:

Group tours take the hassle out of traveling and allow you to make some new friends at the same time. We’d at first dismissed this idea as we wanted to spend as much time together as possible for the short time we have. The group tour gave us plenty of time together and was actually a blessing as otherwise, Sally may have felt like a third leg? We booked an Intro Travel group tour to Vietnam and would highly recommend checking it out.

Our  group tour had 20 people in the group in total and to our surprise 17 of them were Brit’s.

Once we met everyone in our group we nearly felt like we were back in England (but with amazing prices and hot weather). We realised we hadn’t bantered and joked around like this in quite a while, there is nothing like meeting a fellow Brit and just clicking. As much as we like to think we’re all different, essentially our humour is all the same and to be surrounded by that each and every day on vacation was a something we didn’t realise we had missed – it was refreshing!

vietnam goingnz
Fun times with our new English buddies!

5. Familiarity:

It’s a strange thing meeting Brit’s in another country, you manage to get all the latest happenings within your country from them and you feel instantly connected with your home country, the cultures and the people. Without even setting foot on the soil, it is a pretty awesome feeling!

vietnam goingnz
Being surrounded by fellow Englishmen really did give us a sense of familiarity.

So, what is the take away from this trip? Consider meeting friends and family half way – somewhere you’re both interested in seeing. Consider a group tour and enjoy every moment!

We also made a short little video of our time away which is on our Youtube page. Press play below and check it out!

 

Moving to New Zealand? 6 Things you MUST research before you arrive.

New Zealand has always been one of the most popular destinations to travel and to settle, especially for Europeans. With a massive 3.2 million people arriving into the country in 2016 alone! A figure that is up by 10.4% from the previous year and only set to grow for this coming season.

With New Zealand’s agreeable climate, spectacular green and diverse landscapes, a strong economy and long consistent summers, it is not hard to understand why! Disclaimer: We are a little bias, as we live in New Zealand!

The decision to move here, however, isn’t always easy! Research takes time, it took us 5 years to finally make the move. A lot of that time was spent pondering over the decision and doing research on what life might be like in New Zealand. You can find out more about how we ended up in New Zealand here.

Now we are in our third year in NZ and we haven’t looked back and we can’t express enough that research is key to not having any nasty surprises when you get here. The more you research the more comfortable you will be in your new surroundings. This is exactly why we created this blog to ease your research process, as we sure did find the research process a struggle!

Top Tip: If this process has taught us anything over the years it is that we have learned not to compare everything to our old lives in England. A small example is that we spent the first year and a half on our currency apps comparing the exchange rate and the cost of things here to the point it got us quite down and it wasn’t a healthy habit!

 

Here are our top 6 things we suggest you research before moving to New Zealand:

1) Visas – Can you stay?

The legality of moving to New Zealand should be high on the list of your priorities. If you are under 30 you can come on a Working Holiday Visa if you have a job to come out to you are golden and if you have a partner who is a Kiwi you will be sorted.

My first port of call at the time was ringing the Immigration Department and telling them my life story (the poor woman on the phone!) a lot of people visit the website and get confused about what visa they are eligible for – do yourself a favour and save yourself some time and pick up the phone!

money NZ

2) Compare your financial position before moving to New Zealand.

I know we just mentioned comparing the cost of things in your home country shouldn’t be done, but it is important to advise to compare your financial position once you are here. This is the one thing you should compare! The cost of living in NZ has been documented to be significantly higher, however it is swings and round about situation.

Visit Seek (a great job seeking website) to gauge what your income will be in the industry you work in, explore TradeMe (like Ebay but with houses) to find out the cost of houses and rental prices in the town you want to live in and check out Glimp to find out the cost of power, broadband and compare it to your current costs. Once you are fully informed you can decide on whether this move is right for you.

auckland-vs-wellington

3) Where to live?

This one might be a no-brainer if you have family in NZ, it really helps to have that support network when you first move here. Your decision may be based on your job or your financial situation. Auckland can be expensive to buy and rent and Wellington is more affordable check out Trade me for rental or purchasing costs in the region you are thinking, just know what you can afford be prepared to compromise and you should be sweet.

4) Healthcare – Are you covered?

The short answer is yes. Travel Insurance would be advised initially and after this NZ really does have a good free health care system. NZ healthcare does treat everybody who has an injury as a result of “accident” (Not just car accidents), even if you are a tourist visiting for a day! This is subsided by the Accident Compensation Corporation, (ACC) you will find that if you work a small amount of your wages are taken out to cover this system. Other treatments would be free however NZ does seem to have a bad reputation with waiting times so must people take out private health insurance for this reason.

5) What shall I do with all my belonging?

You may just be bringing a suitcase and that is fine! But if you have a whole house filled with household items your best bet is to ship them over here. You will be surprised how much house hold appliances and furniture cost here. Moving Pros are a great contact to compare the cost of international removal company’s, our experience was a positive one but there are a lot of suppliers out there that seem to just get this wrong so it does pay to spend a bit of time doing your research on this one!

nz expats share their stories

6) Be Real : Is the grass always greener?

Sometimes a dream or an idea of the perfect life over here can capture you so much you forget about reality. The reality of still having to work, paying for unexpected things upon arrival, the struggle to find a place to live whilst missing your family and friends.

We suggest speaking to other people who have made the move to see what their coping mechanisms are. We are a big fan of the Brits of New Zealand Facebook page, a friendly bunch of people that keep it real. We recently launched a successful interview series where we interviewed 15 expats who have been in NZ on a long-term basis. Their coping mechanisms and views on how their lives have changed was really inspirational and we learnt a lot from them!

If this article has really helped you and you are serious in your venture our Moving to New Zealand Checklist can be downloaded for free we guarantee this will be really helpful to you!