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Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Old Dec 10th 2018, 2:11 pm
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Default Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Hello all,
This is my first post on the forum, though I have been browsing for some time. I am looking for feedback on potential locations and things to consider for my move to NZ.

With that in mind, a little about me and mine:

We are a family of 4 - married with 2 kids (8yo and 3mo).
I was born in Australia and hold both UK and Australian passports. (wife and children all born in the UK)
I work in a fairly niche area of construction/engineering (for "niche", read "demand outweighs supply")
My wife is a headteacher (primary education) currently on maternity leave.
We own a home in a semi-rural setting in the north west of England.
We are a family that love to travel and love the outdoors. All quite sporty.

We have decided to embark on a bit of a life changing adventure and, for a number of reasons, have decided to give New Zealand a go! We are lucky in that I have a number of prospective job offers and a number of locations to choose from. My wife will seek work once we have made the move - we have been assured that she shouldn't have much of an issue finding a job with her experience.

I really hope none of the above information comes across as bragging or egotistical. It really isn't meant to - I'm just trying to give as much background information to help with my question (which I am coming to!!)

So, it looks like we will be able to choose from Auckland, Wellington (and surrounding region), Turangi or Christchurch.

From those of you that are already there (or have spent a considerable period of time in NZ), could you maybe advise on the pros/cons of each?
Specifically we would like to consider:
- General cost of living, quality of housing (our combined income once my wife is working will be approx. $250k per year)
- Proximity to surrounding areas for our free time (national parks, mountains, beaches etc.)
- Quality of schools
- Weather

We know that the weather will probably not be significantly better than the UK, however it would be good to have some improvement :-)

We are likely emigrating in July 2019, and we are going with the intention of a minimum of 2 years, see how things pan out, and reassess. All our moving costs will be paid for, as well as flights etc, so we have reduced financial implications to consider. The move is simply to try something new, give our children a life experience to take with them for their futures, hopefully give us as a family some more memories to share together, and honestly just to try something new! Obtaining visas won't/shouldn't be an issue given my Australian passport, and so really we are 99% set on our way. We're not sure whether we will sell our house in the UK prior to moving, or whether to keep hold of it for the first 2 years and just rent long term in NZ until we know for sure whether we will stay for the foreseeable.

All comments (positive and negative) are greatly welcomed. Currently, based on research and conversations with my prospective employers, our favoured option is the Wellington region (living on the Kapiti coast, working in and around the south of the North Island) - this is based on weather (on the Kapiti coast that is - I've heard all about "Windy Welly"!), central location (access to south island), good reports of Wellington, less potential commuting time than Auckland, lesser cost of housing (compared to Auckland) etc.

None of us have been to NZ before, though I have family who have lived there years ago. Both sides of our family have at some point lived in Australia, and indeed I spent the first 6 years of my life in Oz, however for some reason Australia at this point just doesn't appeal to either of us. It may be that we try Australia at some point, but for now our hearts are set on NZ, rightly or wrongly.

Thanks for reading a rather epic first post!!!
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Old Dec 10th 2018, 8:34 pm
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Hello and welcome,

Auckland, Wellington, Turangi, Christchurch - they all have advantages and disadvantages. Auckland is great for sailing, but for me, I would avoid it due to population, congestion and the time it takes to travel. If I wanted to live in a bigger city, Auckland would not be it. I don't have any experience of Turangi, Wellington is a lovely city and would be on my shortlist, great culture, arts and cafe scene in Welly. However, Christchurch is my hometown. Fantastic for outdoors (skiing is 1 hour from city to the top of the mountain), walks and hiking, mountain biking, motorbiking, hunting, fishing, rivers, beaches .... all within very easy reach.

NZ weather is better than than the UK. Certainly the winters are not as bad. When I lived in Kent, in the middle of winter it was dark by 3.30pm. In NZ winter sunset is around 5.30pm.

Housing in NZ, best to try and find something built in the last 10 years. The old housing stock can be poorly insulated and damp during the winter. Cost of Housing in NZ is quite high, will vary with area of course, best to start your research at https://www.trademe.co.nz/property With regards to keeping the house in the UK for the short term, in my opinion its a good idea to hold on to it as it will keep you in the UK Property market and make it easier should you decide to return. I have often seen expats sell in the UK, move all assets to NZ, have the UK property market go up (and currency move against them), then really struggle to buy a property again. Yes the property market could go down..... IMO there are just too many financial risks in selling the house until you are certain of your future. You should seek tax advice on all financial matters including rental properties held overseas so that you know your obligations and the tax advantages that you will have when first arriving in NZ (ie 4 years NZ tax free on all overseas income including rental properties).

I'm sure you will receive lots of good comments here. I wish you well and many future happy memories!
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 2:43 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Hi AdinoHignecino,

Where about in the North West of England are you ? Born and bred Wigan myself and lets be honest, any place in NZ would be better weather than West of the Pennines!

Lived in Wellington for 2.5 years and although I enjoyed my time there it wasn't a place for us to settle long term. The beaches weren't as good as we expected and neither was the wind so we moved 500KM North to Tauranga for a more sub-tropical climate and much better beaches. Wellington can also feel a little isolated as you need to fly or ferry to the South Island which aint cheap or you're in the car for a few hours to get anywhere decent going North.
I wouldn't live anywhere near Auckland for a gold clock! Don't mind going there every now and then to see friends or a trip to the airport etc but I'm always glad to escape the craziness of it. Just too much traffic and too busy there for me.
Turangi by comparison to all the others is the opposite end of the spectrum. A tiny town/village with just a few shops and a cafe or two, and close to the shores of Lake Taupo. A nice part of the world but nothing much going on around there unless your life completely revolves around the outdoors. It's one of those places you stop off at for refreshments/food or to go the toilet when on the way somewhere else. Stopped there many times on my travels. Would provide a seemingly endless opportunity of outdoors stuff to do but other than that very little.
My choice would be Christchurch out of them all. Has a really nice English feel to it and a place we would live if we made the decision to move again (which is unlikely, but you never know).

Good luck with the migration plans.
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:18 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Thank you both very much for your replies.

chc4me - I appreciate the comment regards seeking tax advice for letting our house out. Until recently we were letting out another property here in the UK and trying to figure out the tax implications whilst being in the same country was bad enough!! We're in the process of selling that one however what you said about fluctuations in the housing market is bang on and I think you're right. I'll heed your advice and seek expert help with this.

escapedtonz - raised in Warrington but now living literally next to Worthington reservoir! Small world! Agreed on comparisons with Wigan, although it's actually quite beautiful where we are luckily. You're not wrong about the weather though!
It sounds like Turangi would leave us feeling pretty isolated which is definitely not what we want and I doubt is conducive to reducing potential homesickness. We're certainly not looking for city life as we value space and countryside too much so Auckland is looking less favourable, although if we did head there I would look at places to live in the suburbs or within an hour's commute to the CBD. I currently work up in the Lake District and commute for minimum 3hrs per day, so I'm not put off by looking further afield although it would be nice to reduce that to maximum an hour.

The more I hear about Christchurch the more it sounds like a great choice. I've read conflicting reports about the weather - one will say it's good, another will say they get 6 months of constant drizzle! However, the access to the mountains is a huge draw for me as I'm definitely a mountain man at heart. I've worked with plenty of people who have spent time working on the Christchurch rebuild and the only thing that concerns me slightly is what my wife might think if we turn up and it looks like a warzone due to the ongoing reconstruction. It's not something that bothers me at all, but I know it could be a shock for her and could prompt early doubts in her mind before we've even settled. Can anyone advise of what the reality of it currently is? Is progress being made? Does the centre of town still have large areas of abandoned buildings? Does it feel like the end is in sight for the reconstruction? And are they doing a good and positive job of the rebuild? Also, are the beaches good for surfing? And just how cold is the sea there?? My daughter, having tried out surfing on a recent holiday, would absolutely love to be able to take it up regularly :-)

Thanks again for the replies so far!

Last edited by AdinoHignecino; Dec 11th 2018 at 7:21 am.
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:28 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

I lived in Auckland for 2 years, had a lovely house and stepped off my lawn onto the beach. Despite that I couldn't wait to leave the place. Its a self obsessed soul less city.
Haven't spent much time in welly apart from occasional long weekends and a couple of family visits but I do feel the kapiti coast is over hyped. Its not that nice.
Christchurch is a place I seem to like more and more each time I go. It seems to have something for everyone. City centre living, new suburban sub divisions, small semi rural communities and coastal towns, all within fairly easy reach of outdoor activities, mountains, skiing etc. The city centre is still being rebuilt and redeveloped but its starting to take shape.
Turangi, I have stopped there twice and it seems there is very little there. Its a nothing kind of place at the side of SH1 with few endearing features
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:33 am
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What about New Plymouth plenty of schools beaches, mountain, sking, surfing, parks and bush walking?

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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:33 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Justcol - thanks for your reply. Another tick in the box for Christchurch. Do you find access in/out of the city from other parts of the South Island is easy enough? Decent roads?
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:36 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by valleygurl View Post
What about New Plymputh plenty of schools beaches, mountain, and bush walking?
Sounds wonderful! However I think if we lived there it would mean I would have to stay away Mon-Fri due to the distance from work - something I've had to do a lot over the past 10 years and something I'm hoping to not have to do in the future. At least, not on an ongoing basis.
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 7:39 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by AdinoHignecino View Post
Sounds wonderful! However I think if we lived there it would mean I would have to stay away Mon-Fri due to the distance from work - something I've had to do a lot over the past 10 years and something I'm hoping to not have to do in the future. At least, not on an ongoing basis.
lots of construction going on around taranaki within the next 5 years
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 8:08 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by AdinoHignecino View Post
escapedtonz - raised in Warrington but now living literally next to Worthington reservoir! Small world! Agreed on comparisons with Wigan, although it's actually quite beautiful where we are luckily.
Yeah it sure is a small world! OMG I've spent a lot of time around the Worthy lakes area in my youth, girls, walking, fishing, on the canal, Crawford Arms and Wigan Golf Club down Arley Lane. Jeez brings back a lot of memories. Sounds like you may live on the old Bleachworks which turned in to a housing estate. Used to fish in their cooling pond years ago & was a regular at Kilheys late teens in to my mid 20's.
My Mrs was born at Warrington hospital. She's from Lowton originally although says she's from Leigh.....tayters/tarters :-)

I agree you'd probably feel very isolated in Turangi. It really is a tiny place with little there.
I've been to Christchurch a few times and it is developing slowly. It is a huge project, a huge undertaking but it is taking shape, however it will take many years yet till it's all done. It isn't like a war zone and unlikely you'd go in to the CBD much anyways unless for work. You wouldnt live in the CBD or any of the affected areas or red zoned areas. Many of the affected properties have been demolished and areas tidied up now so I beleive. Defo a place where we'd like to live if the opportunity ever arose and we have a few friends there who we actually need to visit very soon.....good excuse to check the place out again.

Take it easy.

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Old Dec 11th 2018, 8:29 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by escapedtonz View Post
Yeah it sure is a small world! OMG I've spent a lot of time around the Worthy lakes area in my youth, girls, walking, fishing, on the canal, Crawford Arms and Wigan Golf Club down Arley Lane. Jeez brings back a lot of memories. Sounds like you may live on the old Bleachworks which turned in to a housing estate. Used to fish in their cooling pond years ago & was a regular at Kilheys late teens in to my mid 20's.
My Mrs was born at Warrington hospital. She's from Lowton originally although says she's from Leigh.....tayters/tarters :-)

I agree you'd probably feel very isolated in Turangi. It really is a tiny place with little there.
I've been to Christchurch a few times and it is developing slowly. It is a huge project, a huge undertaking but it is taking shape, however it will take many years yet till it's all done. It isn't like a war zone and unlikely you'd go in to the CBD much anyways unless for work. You wouldnt live in the CBD or any of the affected areas or red zoned areas. Many of the affected properties have been demolished and areas tidied up now so I beleive. Defo a place where we'd like to live if the opportunity ever arose and we have a few friends there who we actually need to visit very soon.....good excuse to check the place out again.

Take it easy.

Yep that's my neck of the woods. We're on the other side of the pond in one of the old cottages. We love it round here don't get me wrong - idyllic for the kids due to no traffic and endless countryside behind. But the time is right to try a new adventure. Crawford Arms has unfortunately been empty for years after a disastrous attempt at gastro-pub dining! Sometimes I hear someone working in there but it's been going on forever and unlikely it'll change any time soon which is such a shame, especially now The Crown has closed down. Lots of housebuilding going on Rectory Lane (the old closed down golf course) - it'd be quite different since you last saw it! Standish is just about hanging on to it's village feel, though for how long I'm not so sure. Another prompt for us to try something different!

Thanks for the info - it's good to hear such positive feedback for Christchurch and it is rapidly becoming more appealing for us as a family, not to mention it would provide me with plenty of ongoing work by the sounds of it. Do you know anything about the schools there? Do your friends have children of school age? It would be good to know where the good schools are so that I can start looking at potential neighbourhoods for our base. Also, what is the flight time to Wellington? I'd need to go there regularly for work and I believe it's very common at that company anyway but just trying to get some reality of the logistics.

Tuaranga is hugely appealing for us also, though it's not currently been mentioned by any of my prospective employers although I know at least one of them has a project nearby - is there much going on there in the way of construction? Specifically roads and/or rail?
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 10:11 am
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by AdinoHignecino View Post
Justcol - thanks for your reply. Another tick in the box for Christchurch. Do you find access in/out of the city from other parts of the South Island is easy enough? Decent roads?
I went through Chch a couple of weeks ago, heading north from my home in Otago. I sailed straight through on SH1 without any issues
There are only about 3 or 4 roads out of Chch. SH1 north or south, SH73 through Arthurs pass west and another out to the peninsular.
I've never had any issues with traffic on any of them. Once you leave the city itself the traffic thins and you're driving on nz equivalent of A and B roads.
Journeys here take longer as there are so few motorways, however you drive through stunning scenery and there's no rush to be anywhere
The roads and conditions dictate your speed but we have 100kmh limit and for most roads thats about right.
As a rule of thumb, whatever google maps gives as a driving time between any two places is about right
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 10:17 pm
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Moved to Christchurch 12 years a go and still here even after all the earthquakes and rebuilding.
The city is slowly coming back together and starting to get that good feel again.
I am also from up north, used to live in Westhoughton, Bolton before the move here.
What is it that you do in Construction?
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 10:33 pm
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by AdinoHignecino View Post
Yep that's my neck of the woods. We're on the other side of the pond in one of the old cottages. We love it round here don't get me wrong - idyllic for the kids due to no traffic and endless countryside behind. But the time is right to try a new adventure. Crawford Arms has unfortunately been empty for years after a disastrous attempt at gastro-pub dining! Sometimes I hear someone working in there but it's been going on forever and unlikely it'll change any time soon which is such a shame, especially now The Crown has closed down. Lots of housebuilding going on Rectory Lane (the old closed down golf course) - it'd be quite different since you last saw it! Standish is just about hanging on to it's village feel, though for how long I'm not so sure. Another prompt for us to try something different!

Thanks for the info - it's good to hear such positive feedback for Christchurch and it is rapidly becoming more appealing for us as a family, not to mention it would provide me with plenty of ongoing work by the sounds of it. Do you know anything about the schools there? Do your friends have children of school age? It would be good to know where the good schools are so that I can start looking at potential neighbourhoods for our base. Also, what is the flight time to Wellington? I'd need to go there regularly for work and I believe it's very common at that company anyway but just trying to get some reality of the logistics.

Tuaranga is hugely appealing for us also, though it's not currently been mentioned by any of my prospective employers although I know at least one of them has a project nearby - is there much going on there in the way of construction? Specifically roads and/or rail?
Ah I had an auntie lived in one of those cottages
It is a really nice area of Wigan to live. I get what you mean with the feel of endless rolling countryside. I didn't live far away and why I spent so much time around there. It's a shame Standish has grown like it has. It was a great little village before all the development but I suppose lots of places like Standish are growing as the population increases and there's demand for housing. It's the same here but on a much much smaller scale. My Dad lives on Whitley Cres and my sister across on the old Whitley High School estate. Dad was over here in April visiting. I recall he mentioned Standish GC had closed and it was going to be residential.

Don't really know much about the schools in Christchurch sorry. A move could have been on the cards for us this year but it didn't pan out so we didn't get that far in the research. Yes friends have children of school age. I could ask their opinion but they'll only have experience of the few schools where they live and there's so many more than that. If you live in a nice area with a high decile score school you won't go far wrong really. The decile score doesn't reflect how good the school or teachers perform but it does give an impression of the affluence of the surrounding areas, families who attend etc. Our friends there with kids are UK ex. pats and currently live in Amberley which is North of Christchurch and over the river (Waimakariri) in the Hurunui District. We also have friends South in Rolleston but no kids.
Flight time to Wellington is 1 hour. Just enough time to get a complementary small cup of water, a mini cookie and a coffee or tea with a flick through the in-flight mag before its landing time. Yes domestic air travel is very common for a lot of companies in NZ. There's no flights much longer than 1.5 / 2hrs and in a car a lot of those journey's would take 8 / 10 hours.

Tauranga is awesome. We love it here. It is way nicer than Wellington.......in our opinion anyways. Climate and weather much more appealing. The beaches are stunning. There's just that extra bit of brightness and happiness to it. Wellington always had a lot of hype but never really delivered on any of it. It is a great little city with loads of restaurants, good shopping and bars but very rare we ever got to sample that with young kids and the weather wasn't great. It isn't called Windy Wellington for nothing. It really was a huge factor for us.
Yes loads of construction in Tauranga, especially roading and shopping precincts. It is claimed to be the fastest growing city in NZ. There's a few major roading projects planned for the near future which will take a few years to construct. Also sure the airport will be expanding in the future as the passenger numbers grow. Mt. Maunganui right next door is the best beach resort in NZ. Stunning place. very touristy and only 15 / 20 mins drive for us. Has 1 really safe beach on the harbour side (Pilot Bay) which is usually very calm. Perfect for SUP's etc then the opposite side of the Mount Peninsula - Mt. Maunganui main beach is crashing waves and awesome for surfing. That beach goes for miles all the way down to Papamoa East. Regularly people surfing and kite surfing etc. There's a few schools always set up shop on the promenade offering lessons etc.
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Old Dec 11th 2018, 11:43 pm
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Default Re: Tricky decisions on location - advice please!

Originally Posted by AdinoHignecino View Post
Do you know anything about the schools there? Do your friends have children of school age? It would be good to know where the good schools are so that I can start looking at potential neighbourhoods for our base. Also, what is the flight time to Wellington? I'd need to go there regularly for work and I believe it's very common at that company anyway but just trying to get some reality of the logistics.
Christchurch has a good number of primary schools for children up to age 12. In general, schools in the 'well off' areas are considered of good quality, while the lower social areas are less likely to appeal. You mentioned that you are currently semi rural - will you want similar again? If so West Melton might be something to look at, or north of the river such as Rangiora or Ohoka gives a country aspect but still close to airports, city etc. (both about 25 minutes to the airport.) The flight time to Wellington is 45 minutes to an hour, while Auckland is just 1 hr 20m. Earliest flight to welling is 6am and departures hourly with Air NZ or Jetstar. Christchurch also has International links from the airport, not as many as Auckland, but direct to Singapore and on to Europe.

The Christchurch City centre is alive and well with renewed energy. Yes, there is still work to be done such as the Farmers market due to open in the next 6 months, Conference centre in 18 months, etc and a number of inner city living options are coming to the market currently.

Surfing, my cousin heads over to Taylors Mistake. I think a wetsuit is necessary, but plenty of surfers around Christchurch or Kaikoura is popular (about an 2 hours north).

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