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Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Old Aug 13th 2012, 6:19 am
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Default Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

This is my very first post.. I have stumbled accidentally across this forum and am reading the posts about leaving NZ to move back to the UK with interest. I thought I would share our story…. I apologise in advance as it’s very long…

Basically we are an English family (2 boys – now 10 and 17) who moved to NZ in 2006. We made a pact that we would give it 5 years and if either one of us was unsettled, we would move back. In the UK, we overcame some pretty bad marital problems and came out to NZ for a fresh new start. My hubby has always been a fireman and he had to jump through hoops to get into the NZ fire service. They basically didn’t recognize any of the skills or experience he had built up in the UK fire service spanning 15 years – he had to start from scratch and apply as a new recruit. At aged 35 and up against super fit albeit spotty 18 year olds - which was a pretty hard thing to do but miraculously out of the hundreds of applicants he got in. For several years, he was regarded as a trainee and put on a trainee salary of not even reaching $40k a year. I think we only survived because of the extra income coming in from the extra shifts of overtime he was doing. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he passed the new recruit stage and now loves the NZ fire service with a passion. He loves the people he works with, loves the social aspect of it (fishing, camping trips, soccer tournaments, rugby etc etc) A few homesick hiccups when elderly members of his family have passed away, but apart from that, he has settled in really well. He is very much into his sports, loves competing in events, loves triathlons and the outdoors.


I came to NZ for an experience; a “better life” for the kids…a change of scenery, fresh start and I love beaches. After 6 years I have come to the conclusion that the picture I had in my head of how life will be here, has been a disappointment. I am not suited to the kiwi way of life at all. I am not an outdoor girl, not into camping and fishing and tramping. My ideal holiday is NOT on a deserted beach with no amenities, playing cricket. I cannot make do and mend.. I have tried to fit in, and failed….

I landed myself a really good job working for a large agricultural company. I came from a banking background – lively mortgage division of RBS but being in Napier, the job opportunities in that line of work was very limited. So I work in a customer centre and am the envy of the people I know from the fantastic employee benefits and working conditions here. The girls I work with are friendly enough but I just don’t feel I fit in. Friends have come and gone so quickly – it’s exhausting maintaining friendships as I feel I am making most of the effort. And it never really develops into anything more than us women getting together for a quick coffee or the odd barbecue here and there.
We moved from house to house (instigated by me) just wanting to settle but I couldn’t really put my finger on what exactly the problem was. My very small family couldn’t come out and see us for three years and when they did, I spent 6 months looking forward to their trip. The other thing was during their stay, I was dreading the goodbyes and getting all upset about it. When we told people we were moving to NZ, we promised them we would be out to visit every year. Holidays? Oh we will probably go to Australia for a holiday abroad. What a joke!

We cannot afford to go back for a visit full stop, despite both of us having decent jobs I have a Brit friend who takes out a 5 year loan to pay for a visit back to the UK every now and again, which I refuse to do as I already got my fingers burned of getting myself into a complete mess with having a credit card over here.

I have had my family out twice now and my hubby’s family comes out every year generally. After the goodbyes at the airport, I spend about a month in a kind of depression. The guilt at seeing my parents upset at saying goodbye to us and the kids just rips my heart out. My eldest son seems happy enough but he has asked me on several occasions “why did you move us all here?” He used to be really close to my parents and says that he misses having family around. Last year he even decided to move back himself and contacted my Dad without us knowing, asking if they would be able to provide a place to live. My ten year old doesn’t really remember life in the UK as he was four when we moved. But he feels like he is missing out on having that close relationship with his grandparents. He is wildly jealous when he hears about his mates going to their grandma’s for dinner every Tuesday night. And don’t get me started on how it feels when its grandparents day at school and he has to borrow someone else’s Nanna.

So in June, having finally released a large portion of my pension, I went back for a visit. The minute the plane landed I just felt like I was “home”. Hearing accents, seeing my family, not being a stranger in a foreign country was just bliss. Walking down a street and having a million memories.. that’s where I went to school… that’s the park I used to go to when I was pushing a pram… etc etc.

I only had enough funds to make the trip on my own so my hubby held the fort in NZ. I got onto skype and told my hubby that I didn’t want to come back. I genuinely felt that way.. I felt sick at the thought of coming back to NZ.. couldn’t face carrying on with the mini battle in my head.. and I seriously could not stomach another Xmas being in NZ. But back to NZ I went and we did some serious soul searching.

So back to England we go. My hubby and I have sat down and tried to plan the move back as best we can. Based on the fact that my ten year old has one year left in a UK primary school before secondary school (i.e he is light years behind where he needs to be) I am going back with him at the end of this month, so he can start in September. Everyone my hubby has spoken to in the UK has told us we must be mad. Things are grim.. especially in the fire service.. stay in NZ!! The UK fire service has a recruitment freeze on for three years which they are 18 months into. There are a few small movements going on in the background at the moment here and there and whispers that a transfer opportunity may arise in the new year but that’s about it. My hubby has been granted leave from the NZ fire service from December to April. Whilst he is in the UK during that time, he will be trying to find a way in the UK fire service. We have bitten the bullet and have planned the entire immigration based on him getting somewhere during that time. What will happen beyond that is a mystery. Our house is for sale and the auction is next week. My hubby and eldest son will have to find a small rental in the meantime… my eldest son is coming out with my hubby in December for good.

I can’t tell you how much of a stressful time this all is… full of what if’s?? and I feel sick at being apart from my hubby for so many months. The uncertainty of everything.. it’s awful. My hubby can’t sleep and is getting up in the night and going into the lounge watching movies in the middle of the night because he is so worried. I just hope everything turns out okay.

Sorry this post is so long.. anyone else in a similar boat? Wish us luck as we are going to need every bit of it!
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Old Aug 13th 2012, 9:31 am
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Hi there I didnt want to read and run, it sounds as if you have thought it all through and are doing what is best for you.

the pros and cons list sounds as if it must have been a close call. even when I was planning my journey home to Australia, I still worried and was anxious about all the unknowns.

Hope it all works out for you.
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Old Aug 13th 2012, 1:00 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

I think anyone who has expatriated/repatriated can recognise elements of their own experience in your story. My feeling is you gave it the 5 years you all agreed to originally, then you reckoned up how everyone in the family feels and made the decision. There will never be a perfect time to go back home--some elements will always argue for staying put and there will always be the nerve-wracking "what-ifs?".

You won't be the same people who left, any of you, so it may be best to see this as a fresh adventure more than a "return", and no doubt there will be bouts of homesickness for NZ taking all of you by surprise (maybe especially for your husband). It's never easy with a family, juggling everyone's needs & hopes. Good luck!!!

Last edited by WEBlue; Aug 13th 2012 at 1:02 pm.
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Old Aug 13th 2012, 1:05 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Hi there, Wanted to reply and let you know that although we are in Canada I feel just like you do. My husband is in the police and they also have a recruitment freeze on. He loves it here and would not even be interested in visiting the UK if it was up to him.....me on the otherhand would be back like a shot given half a chance. I have had a great time here, made lots of nice friends and have learnt lots about life in another country. I just feel like its "time" to go home. I feel completely done here. I have 2 young children and a huge family back in the UK who would love to see more of them.
My husband will not even contemplate going back without a job to go to and so I have no idea if/when that might actually happen which leaves me sort of in limbo. I live here but am planning a life somewhere else which may or may not ever happen. He has however said that he will try his very best to get me home and I cant ask for more than that.
Just wanted to let you know you are not alone, its very stressful. I wish you the very best and hope you get to all be together where you want to be very soon.
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Old Aug 13th 2012, 7:53 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

I am also in NZ wishing to go home, we came out in 2008 to Wellington good job etc not sure why we came to be honest I think I saw it as an adventure we hated Wellington and moved back to the UK after 7 months I was then unemployed for the next 7 and our savings were being drained so we decided to try again this time in Auckland we have been her 2 years and its been a struggle, we would love to return to Cornwall but thats not an option, I am trying to secure a role in Southern England but its tough.

What money we did have we have sunk into a house and more here but we will be lucky to even get what we have paid for it which is heartbreaking once we pay off debts we will manage the flights and moving costs and thats it, So after 20+ years of owning our own home we will have to rent, but we can not stay somewhere we are not happy and fell so isolated. If we rent our house out here it will still not pay the mortgage just feel so trapped!
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Old Aug 13th 2012, 8:22 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

I wanted to wish you all the best with your plans. I know how tough it is too. The depression after saying the airport goodbyes is definitely my black cloud. The worst is when my Mum comes for a visit and we have to have a strategy how we are going to say our goodbyes at the end of the trip even though it's still only the first day.

I hope you all can jump through the hoops and climb over the hurdles, one at a time, and that the conclusion is the happiest one. Take care.
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Old Aug 14th 2012, 2:48 am
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Got a virus on our laptop but didn't want to read and run so replying on my mobile...how do teenagers send thousands of texts without getting finger cramp is anyone's guess!!

I found your post very interesting. A lot of your story sounded a lot like me. We came here in January and have always said that we'll give it 2 years but if we can't settle we'll return. I discovered very quickly that I am not of the make do and mend community, I am way more materialistic than I thought and that good friends are very hard to make when you reach a certain age. There's so much that I miss about 'home' and it's not just family and friends.

I have started to enjoy my time here recently - but only because I've told myself that we're going home in a year!

Up until last week I was planning having a big batch of stuff sent over for our new baby but given our opinions now I don't think we'll bother.

I wish you well with your move. Thanks for posting and keep us updated on how you get on. There's a lot of us in nz in a similar situation so always here if you want to chat in the same timezone! Oh and as for the comments from people thinking you're crazy for returning - ignore them. I bet they are people that have never taken the steps that you did to get to nz...better to have tried than always wonder 'what if'.
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Old Aug 15th 2012, 9:35 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Thanks to everyone for your replies and well wishes.

We are trying to take one day at a time. At the moment though in our house, it feels quite sad.. its just the unknown too... job wise for my hubby.

One thing I will say.. I dont regret coming here one bit. I will be going back a better person than I was when I came here.. and I will never take spending time with the family for granted and will have an appreciation of my home country that I would never have had if I had never made the move.
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Old Aug 15th 2012, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Good luck with the move back pommychic. I hope it all falls into place.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 12:00 am
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Originally Posted by pommychic View Post
One thing I will say.. I dont regret coming here one bit. I will be going back a better person than I was when I came here.. and I will never take spending time with the family for granted and will have an appreciation of my home country that I would never have had if I had never made the move.
Same here... great attitude
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 12:08 am
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Same here. Moved for the experience nit "getting away" from anything.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 12:44 am
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

My fingers and toes are crossed for you all. I so hope your husband gets back into the UK fire service somehow .
I wish you all the best of luck in the world & that everything falls into place for you all.

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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:34 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Just wanted you wish you luck with your move home, fingers crossed on the job front for you husband
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 9:25 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

We are in similar situation, been in NZ 7 years and going back to UK in October. Still very unsure if we are doing the right thing but have to try as we feel the time is right. Missing family etc and having a young daughter who is missing out on family support. Very nervous though as we do love nz. At the end of the day though you only live once and I don't want regrets. (can always come back )
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 10:33 pm
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Default Re: Moving from NZ to UK after 6 years....

Hi yes we can definatly empathize with your feelings, we have decided to move back too, after 7 years. It felt like the right decision as we basically have no real friends left and it is really hard making new ones, I find kiwis very surface friendly but they never ask me any deeper questions and it does feel like its always me making the effort. So feeling quite lonely, depressed at times and FAR AWAY from everyone I want to be with. But.... now we have made the decision I am constantly worrying about not being able to settle in UK again. We did leave for a reason! Also really appreciating the things we have here, sun, space, freedom, no traffic etc.
We have booked our flights so we ARE going back, I will let you know how we get on!
Good luck with your move too!!
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