Emigrating to New Zealand
New Zealand•s stunning scenery exhausts all superlatives, but Andrew Collier discovers that the country has easy charms to offer migrants
Amazing, phenomenal, spectacular; when describing the landscape of New Zealand, these adjectives are thrown around with wild abandon. And why not The country has a famed beauty that has captivated many migrants from day one. But when British migrants describe their new life in NZ, the most commonly used word is 'easy'. For all the majestic peaks, deep blue lakes and lush, green forests, perhaps the greatest of New Zealand's many qualities is this: the living is easy.
"When we arrived in New Zealand, we quickly realised what a great country it is," explains Brit migrant Mark Powell. "Compared to the UK, the main thing about New Zealand is that it's such an easy place to live." So easy, in fact, that the Powells' new house was bought in a week • nearly two months less than it took them to sell their UK home • and they are among the lucky ones.
The easy-going nature of Kiwis, plus the relaxed way of life, make for inviting welcomes for British migrants. New Zealanders are well-known for their friendliness and helpfulness, and it is often the case that while the scenery draws Brits to NZ, it's the people that keep them there. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', goes the saying. It might come as a pleasant surprise, then, that in many positive ways, NZ is reminiscent of the UK. For every migrant who wants to escape to a completely different country with no traces of their former home, there is one who would like certain familiar aspects.
"We wanted to move to New Zealand because it was most like the UK in terms of language, education, healthcare, driving and size," says Mark Gilbert, who emigrated to Palmerston North in January 2007. The Gilberts also wanted to live in an area with a strong community that would echo their hometown of Newhaven, where Mark worked in immigration. "We decided on a small farming town called Fielding, about 20 minutes outside of Palmerston North." 'Friendly Fielding', as it is known, certainly fitted the bill and has won the title of New Zealand's 'Top Town' a whopping 13 times.
Mark is retraining as a furniture designer by attending a college course run by the University College of Learning (UCOL), which has meant he can learn his new trade whilst meeting new people. "Going to college is a great way make new friends," Mark says. "UCOL has also said that they will help me find work after I graduate."
Safety is also high on a migrant's lists of priorities, especially when there are children involved. Kelly Skidmore was one such prospective migrant searching for a safer home for his family. "We want to live in a safe, secure environment where our kids can be kids without worrying about the growing gang culture and knife crime we are experiencing in the UK."
The Skidmore family seek the open space and community spirit that New Zealand offers in abundance, as Kelly explains: "We love the outdoors, we love to socialise, it would be important, too, that the kids get the chance to get out and meet people their own age."
Practically speaking, New Zealand is also a cheaper option for British migrants weighed down by the recession. In some cases, house prices in New Zealand are still cheaper than in the UK, especially in the more rural areas of the South Island • where bargains can still be snapped up. Big cities, in particular Auckland, are becoming more xpensive,
however, as demand pushes up the price.
As the highest UK unemployment rates for the last decade are announced, knife crime continues to affect young and old, and celebrity's publicity stunts are discussed in parliament instead of the state of the country • surely New Zealand, more than ever, is the easy choice.