Moving from England to New Zealand was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I hadn’t even been outside of Europe before, but somehow I found myself making the decision to move permanently to the opposite side of the world.
I had always liked the idea of living somewhere with a warmer climate and better scenery, but it wasn’t until one fateful day in Manchester that the idea started to change from a dream to reality. After eating a delicious, hangover-curing fried breakfast with extra black pudding, my friend and I were walking in the glorious sunshine discussing how much better life was when it was sunny.
We knew that days this beautiful were rare in England, so we talked about where we’d live if we could go anywhere. Moving to an English-speaking country was a must and it had to be somewhere sunny, scenic and by the sea. We thought Australia was the place that made the most sense, Canada was an option too (not sure why, I hear it’s cold?!) and emigrating continued to be the main topic of conversation for the next few days.
Then a couple of weeks later, I heard on the radio about an overseas jobs exhibition, which featured talks on how to migrate to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. I told my friend and we signed up to attend. I genuinely think at this point we were still in the “that would be awesome, but it’s not really going to happen” frame-of-mind, although I had a feeling in my gut that I needed to keep pushing forward.
The event itself was a mixture of talks and stands with people advising you on all kinds of things like visas, getting a job and moving your pension (this was probably the last thing on my mind at this point). I can’t even remember listening to a talk on Australia, but there was a time-slot where there wasn’t much else on, so we went to see a presentation on moving to New Zealand.
The talk was given by Paul Goddard of Migration Planners, and quite honestly it was a very impressive presentation that blew me away. I was sold on the quality of life, the sunshine, the beauty, the opportunities and the thought of a relaxed and balanced lifestyle that I badly craved. I had no idea what to do next or if I was even eligible, so I signed up there and then for a consultation with Paul’s company to get a better idea.
I filled in a form which contained questions about my personal details, qualifications, experience and intentions. My results came back in a report that said I was eligible to move, and a Skype chat with Paul gave me clarity on the emigration process. The big news to come out of the report was that I wouldn’t be eligible to get a working holiday visa once I reached 30. As a 28-year-old at the time, this certainly made me realise it was getting close to being now or never.
Now I knew that it was possible and I was eligible, I decided with 100% certainty that I was going to emigrate. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen yet, nor had I really considered everything that it would take to move or what I would be giving up by going… I just knew that I had to find a way to make it happen.
I talked with Migration Planners about them helping me make the move, but after considering what they offered – I came to the conclusion that I could probably find out what I needed to know through Google and take charge of the process myself. I’m pretty happy getting stuck into heavy research and I saved myself a lot of money by not using a migration adviser. It was a bonus that I ended up with a lot of knowledge about the whole process, so I know I made the right decision for me.
At this point I wasn’t even close to being ready to move to New Zealand. I was far from being emotionally prepared, let alone financially. My friend had dropped out too, mostly due to not wanting to live so far away from his family, which is what I assume is the number one reason a lot more people don’t move to a new country.
The great thing about the working holiday visa is that once approved, you have a whole year to make the move and your visa only activates once you first land in New Zealand. I applied online, was approved and forgot about it for the time being. I knew that if I was going to move, I had to do so by a certain date and this would force my future self to take action closer to the time. I think it’s too easy to put off decisions until tomorrow, then wake up one day and realise you no longer have the opportunity to do what you always wanted. So putting a deadline on this move was really key to the whole process for me. If I didn’t have an expiry date for when I needed to use my visa by, I would probably still be living in England now, telling myself I’ll move “one day”.
Several months passed and I still had a lot to do in order to make this dream a reality. If I was going to move I now only had a short amount of time to get ready. I fully committed to the process and made some tough decisions, which included closing down my digital marketing business and moving in with my mum for a few months to save money. The next step was to buy myself a one-way ticket, then everything became real.
I booked a week in a hostel for when I arrived in New Zealand, sold my car and any personal items that wouldn’t fit into a suitcase, finished the remaining projects I was working on and closed down my business. I had a huge leaving party which was one of the best nights of my life, being surrounded by all the people who I loved and loved me – it was amazing.
I can’t describe how it feels to say goodbye to so many people. Although you say goodbye and know you may not see them again for years, if ever…. it doesn’t feel that way. I couldn’t comprehend at the time what was going to happen.
When I was at the airport and had said goodbye to the last person I knew, it finally hit me… I was truly on my own now. From that moment until I got on the plane was probably the loneliest I have ever felt in my life. Then I made a friend on the plane, realised that I wasn’t alone, and there were plenty of exciting opportunities for meeting new people in front of me.
I had an amazing first few months of making friends, discovering New Zealand and discovering myself. I realise now that I didn’t really know myself until I moved away from everything and everyone I knew, to start again.
Looking back it’s kind of crazy to think that one conversation and a chance advertisement on the radio sparked a chain of events which led to completely changing my life. It’s a little surreal as I feel like many of my choices were subconsciously made and I was just following my gut, rather than making rational, informed decisions. But for me, this is what life is all about, taking chances and following your instincts. There were so many opportunities in my story to back out, make an excuse and take the easy option to stay where I was, but I wasn’t happy and needed a change. Now I love where I live and am extremely happy to call New Zealand home.
What I have learned from this process is that anything is possible. If there is one part of your life you are not happy with, you have the power to change it. If you set a goal, a time to achieve it by and fully commit to it…. you can achieve anything.