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Thread: Making Your Reccie Count

  1. #1
    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
    KiwiHopeful is offline God like figure
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    Default Making Your Reccie Count

    I've been kicking around this bit of writing for a couple of weeks now. I'm putting it up here with the hope of getting some feedback and further suggestions. I'm hoping that perhaps at some point down the road I might be able to publish it (either on its own or as part of a larger piece). If I do incorporate any of your suggestions, I will give credit as due! It is pretty rough now, but since it might be useful information for our community, I'm posting it now.


    One of the common questions asked of discontented migrants is, 'Didn't you visit before you came?'

    I don't know what percentage of migrants--successful or otherwise--make visits to New Zealand before they came. I readily admit that my wife and I did not visit New Zealand during our research. A lot of people thought we were crazy, and maybe we were, but having been on vacation to lots of places around the US, we felt that a visit was unlikely to reveal the realities of living in a new place. In fact, our experience was that we fell in love wherever we went on vacation. Seattle, Denver, Virginia, the mountains of western North Carolina ? all our visits were followed by thoughts of 'We've got to move there!'

    From what I've read of the experiences of the migrants on this and other forums, it usually takes about four to six months for the 'rose-colored glasses' to come off. So unless you can afford a six-month vacation, it's unlikely that a reccie is going to reveal anything do you, and will probably only strengthen your desire to come to NZ.

    That said, if a trip to NZ is in the budget and you want to get a real sense of what it is to live here rather than to vacation here, these are my suggestions:

    1. Don't try to see the entire country in two weeks. At some point, you are going to have to choose a place to live. Will it be one of the big cities on the North Island? Then visit one of them. Will it be a more rural area? Then visit one of them. Trying to take in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson ? and everything in between is not going to give you anything more than guidebook snapshots of each place. You'll leave with nothing more than very nice memories. So ..

    2. Acknowledge that your visit is work, and not a holiday. Commit yourself to spending 8 hours each weekday investigating the area in which you want to settle. After all, unless you are independently wealthy, you are not going to spend your days in New Zealand sipping drinks at a harbor-side caf?, swimming with the dolphins, bungee jumping, or tramping in Abel Tasman. So ?

    3. Rent a car if you plan to buy a car, or be prepared to ride the bus if you are going to ride the bus. Drive around the city. Drive the main streets and side streets. Pick up the local real estate guides listings. Find some houses in your intended price-range. Find them and look at the neighborhoods. Then drive around the city and look at other neighborhoods. What are the nice ones like and how much would it cost to live there? What are the average ones like? What are the bad ones like and how likely is it that you might have to live there? What are the new neighborhoods like? On Saturday and Sunday you are likely to see many, many open houses, so the weekends are an especially good time for this, because you'll be able to see the insides as well as the outsides.

    4. Visit a rental agent. Chances are, you'll be renting for at least a little while when you arrive. Ask a rental agent about available properties that meet your needs (weekly budget, bedrooms, pets, etc.). Ask to see some properties. Ask how quickly you'd have to act if you wanted a particular rental. Then visit another rental agent and do the same.

    5. Grocery shop. If you don't want to actually buy, bring a list and write down prices. Look for the things you can't live without as well as the occasional treats you buy. Do this at a couple of different stores. While there, note the prices not just of groceries but health and beauty items (such as soap, shampoo, and deodorant) as well as cleaning supplies and paper products.

    6. Clothes shop. Again, you don't have to buy, but visit the area retailers. Look for clothes, shoes, and other apparel items of the quality that you usually buy and write down the prices.

    7. Hobby shop. Are you into hiking? Visit the local sporting goods store to see how much it would cost you to replace those nice boots or backpack. Are you into books? Visit the bookstores. Again, write down prices.

    8. Buy a car. Okay, you don't really need to buy a car, but pretend you will. New or used, visit some car lots. Ask not only about the purchase price, but about the maintenance price as well. Find out how much will it cost for new tires or an oil change.

    9. Visit an insurance agency or brokerage. Get rates for the insurances you carry at home, but especially renters' or homeowners' insurance, car insurance, health insurance, and life insurance.

    10. If you have children, or plan to have children, and need daycare, call the daycare centers in the area and ask about rates and availability. Ask to visit. I'd recommend calling at least a dozen and visiting 3-4--when you do, you'll know why. Visit the Education Review Office's website and read the school reports for the schools you contacted.

    11. If you have school age children, call some local schools. Ask about registration policies and fees. Visit the Education Review Office's website and read the school reports for the schools you contacted. Visit the schools if possible.

    12. Shop some more. Whatever you are taking with you, you're also bound to be leaving some stuff behind. Make a list, and shop for the TV, appliances, law mower, or other items you left behind and will need to replace. If you're coming with nothing but suitcases, shop for everything you'll need to get yourself set up. Don't fool yourself, either, into thinking that you're really going to buy the cheapest one of everything you need. Be realistic based on your shopping habits back home.

    13. Walk. Driving will only let you see so much. Revisit some of the neighborhoods you visited earlier. Walk around. Look. Do the same thing in the center of the city or town you've chosen. Go back to both after dark for some more walking.

    Is all this necessary? I don't know. Many migrants successfully settle without doing this much homework. Some even manage without doing any at all. But this isn't about *them* ? this is about *you* and improving *your* odds of making the right decision for *you.*
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

  2. #2
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    Duke is offline Senior Member
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    Well...there are some future migrants out there(me) that like dissecting the immigration process to the last "OHSHIT, what have I done". We did visit for 2 weeks and did many of things you have stated, yes, I wish now it would have been a longer stay. We did spend more time in ChCh than any other place,, but we were attracted to many other areas that we didnt fit in our itinerary. Like Takaka, Bleinheim, Wanaka/Queenstown, Invercargill, and Otago Peninsula...we thought Nelson was going to be a hit, but it didnt strike us of being a place to settle. While in ChCh we did exactly what we do in everyday life back home....eat, argue, and sleep...my OH even let me experience the all night drunkness out on a Friday night... felt safe wandering around....even when I dropped crumbled up kiwi cash on the sidewalk.
    We did notice that in New Zealand eating out is expensive and most resturants are empty, but we did visit in fall. We cooked for ourselves most of the time and the selections in most all the big and little towns were respectable...Oh man do I miss the hokey pokey.
    And the people we ever so helpful and interested.
    For a family like many in here, moving seems so difficult to make a reality but many in here problably feel/felt the same way, so it is warming to read other experiences. It is hard to imagine starting from scratch in a foreign country, not having any family to fall back on.
    My biggest worries is not finding a job within 6 months of our arrival. Im not even sure I will be able to pass the EOI, I filled it out and scored 105...w/out a job offer. So I would think describing the process of getting a Kiwi to hire an immigrant (in NZ or out) would be very helpful. I think the rest will fall into place if I could be warmed up by the process of employment.
    And for the kids sake...how about a list of schools "good, bad and the uglies"
    Description of the moving process of your worldly goods...yes I understand the packing part...but there has to be more to the process? what kind of paper work is invovled? where does it go? Where do you pick it up? What happens if your box is lost at sea? What happens if you get a box full of Magic erasers and no kayak or bike? so many thoughts...I would be honored to be more Kiwi like...and say "no worries"..but Im American(fully complicated)
    Im sure I will come up with more complications...later

  3. #3
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    selchie is offline All Knowing Deity
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    Great piece, KH. We did a bit of the things you recommended when we were on holiday, and will do more when we go on our reccie trip in March.

    I'd also recommend job hunting, even if it is "pretend". Look in the papers. Drop in on potential employers and ask if they're willing to have an informational interview with you. You can find out about them, as well as they you. Ask about wages, bennies and retirement opportunities - with the company and your field in general. Think about what sort of wage you can live on, you may not be able to get that to which you're accustomed.

    Learn something about customs and laws regarding such things as employment, real estate and banking. There may be some aspects that are different from home.

    Read the papers. They will give you all kinds of information about the country and the people. This isn't necessarily a Level 1 need, but it can help you decide if you really want to live with these folks.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
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    Excellent suggestions and keep 'em coming!

    I am having trouble confronting the whole job hunting aspect of the piece. Quiet frankly, this is our second 'failed' attempt to relocate. About 15 years ago my wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Asheville, North Carolina doing the job hunt thing. My wife found a job working in a hospital admissions office, thanks to the fact that she was working while I was in grad school. I was just out of my first year of teaching and it looked like it was going to be Wal-Mart for me. Thankfully, I landed in my last job, where I spent many happy years. I am hopeful this chapter will have a similarly happy ending.

    Sorry ... back to the main point ... doing the 'cold calls' hasn't worked to well for me anywhere. I'd feel rather hypocritical giving advice in that arena--I've been more of a 'work the system you're in' kind of guy.
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
    EOI Selected: August 2, 2006
    ITA Received: October 12, 2006
    ITA Submitted: February 2, 2007
    Migrant Levy Paid & Visas Shipped: June 6, 2007
    Arrived in NZ: July 26th, 2007
    Leaving NZ: June 1st, 2008

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    Burgundy21 is offline Member
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    I have very much enjoyed reading your piece KH, especially as I come into the discontented ( almost) migrant category! I say 'almost' as our completed ITA with it's value of 145 points has been binned. I would like to add one thing to the great advice sometimes seen on this forum, and that is, be true to yourself. It takes a lot of courage and a fair bit of money to get out here, but in some ways it takes even more to quit and say " this is not for me".

    Our small family has been through three distinct phases in our Move to NZ. The first was research and info gathering and all those bits of paper....we were excited, exhilarated at the thought of a new life. We chased relentlessly for old certificates, chivvied up the authorities for police clearance, even gave up wine to rest our livers, and I spent a lot of time here reading stuff. The whole immigration process is spellbinding and frankly, addictive.

    The next phase was the arriving bit; long flight, new country, rental house...you know the scenario if you've done it. During this phase we both went quiet. It wasn't that we argued but sort of stopped communicating. It was easier to deal with buying a car and installing a phone than to actually stop and talk. I know that I kept thinking " is this it?" about many aspects of NZ. For me it was fine, OK, alright but not the clean, green, safe and stunning place I had read about. I actually wondered if it was me....am I a spoilt Eurocentric up my own arse person....had the guide books lied, had I missed something??

    Then we talked and it was good and OH said " what do you really think?" and we decided that it's not for us. We are very lucky as we had not announced "hey we're off to get a new life" to family and friends. Our child understood that we were 'travelling' and we have a home etc to return to. Financially we have lost big time but learning curves, wow, this has been a big one.

    There's a lot more to NZ than you think, and many people who come will return within two years. If like us you go back fast ( two months) please don't feel a) a failure or b) sticking it out longer will make a difference. Interestingly on this forum some of the peole who will head home in the future are not from the UK, so maybe there are cultural elements at play.

    As this forum is "Move to NZ" I'm not sure if this post is entirely appropriate, but if it helps anyone then so much the better.

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    kokopeli is offline God like figure
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    We didn't visit NZ before we moved here, but that was mainly because we knew we wanted to leave the UK and I was too tight to pay for two lots of tickets.

    If you do decide to make a research trip, try not to spend all of your time here in 'holiday mode' . KH has made some great suggestions that will help you get an idea about the realities and routines of everyday life in NZ.

    FWIW, NZ isn't a paradise. It isn't 100% Pure and while a lot of the people here are polite/happy-go-lucky/pleased-to-meet-you, a lot of them aren't. Taxes and interest rates are high and wages (if you can get a job) are low. It's impossible to buy good quality children's shoes and most of the houses need knocking down.

    The TV is rubbish and even though there's a shortage of teachers, two-thirds of graduate teachers can't get a job! Many graduates fail to get work - The Press - Get the latest local, national and world news from Christchurch's daily newspaper

    Having cheered myself up with that, I have to say that I like living here and am pleased we made the move.

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    Taffy's Avatar
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    Burgundy, your post is very relevant as people need to know the good, bad and the ugly. Perhaps creating a new thread and sharing your thoughts about why NZ wasnt for you would be good?
    Taffy

    The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

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    catt's Avatar
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    Default Findings on our visit to NZ

    It was interesting to read KH's post as it was exactly what we did. Although we are in a different position to most as we will be retiring in NZ (my hubby is a returning kiwi after spending most of his working life in the UK) as he wants to go home and me i am a Brit working in the NHS but after working for 38 years non stop (no kids no ties here) i just want to get out of the rat race and take some time to smell the roses.

    Anyway, we decided that we would do the month trip so Nov 2007 was it. Before going we decided on the areas we wanted to check out and spent a week in each one living in holiday houses with full facilities and living like the locals. We didnt "holiday" as such we went to the supermarkets, checked out prices for "white" goods and made lists and cooked for ourselves. We had already decided on North Island, Bay of Plenty (Whakatane & Tauranga), Coramandel (Thames) and Northland (East Coast)......we rented a car at the airport and we were off.

    We liked all the places but decided that Whakatane was for us. Tauranga was great but just to big and Thames was too dead along with Northland which was too far out out in the sticks although very beautiful and particularly the Bay of Plenty but neither of us could see us living there.. We feel that we did a good "try before you buy" thing and realised in the whole time we were there both our blood pressures went down, not one single bit of road rage, the people were friendly and i was even offered a job before we had even left the UK (even though i dont want one i would never say never).

    Anyway the whole experience was very worthwhile and the "cattle truck" flight took its toll on us but we got through it and next time as it will only be one way if we can afford it it will be Business Class or even First.........saving hard.

    We found that food prices, petrol and you get more house for your money than you do here. I contacted a few estate agents in each of the places we were thinking of moving too and everyone was very helpful. Although they knew from teh start that we were still only looking and had no intention of buying we were shown around various houses and even driven around the streets and to new developments as well as shown various sections although we had no reall plans or ideas on what we wanted to do when we got out there.

    Initially we will rent but we have decided that the houses we looked at unless they were only 2 or 3 years old we would not live in. Therefore we will be looking at buying a section and building a house that we want.

    Its been great to find this site as it has already provided us with lots of information and my lists of things that need to be done is getting longer every day. At the moment the main thing is to get residency status so the form is filled in and i am waiting for my copy birth certificate and my police statement. Next step is to book the medical.

    Thanks all and i am sure i will keep watching and hopefully contributing as well as asking lots of questions before we make the big move which we hope will be around July/August 2008 time.

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