Finally an update

Old Jul 16th 2012, 5:21 am
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Default Finally an update

Well I am sitting here in jetlag hell (5am in the UK) and my 3 year old has been up since 12.30am - sigh, but at least I have time to do an update!

We have just returned from a reverse reccie to NZ. Husband is British, I was born and bred in Dunedin. We wanted to make a visit to see if Dunedin is where we are going to settle. We have two young children. We have been putting off the visit due to various things such as recession in UK in 2007/2008 really affecting my husband's job and we always felt the airfare costs could cover shipping so delayed for a long time...but in the end we both felt we needed a visit to see if it will work for us.

I have been in the UK for 10 years, had my first child in 2008 and have been steadily homesick for NZ since then. We currently live in London, husband works long hours, I am currently on maternity leave with baby number 2. We have a few family members in London but desperately miss close family support.

We have recently renovated our flat, put it on the market and it is under offer at the moment. Fingers crossed that will all go through in August sometime.

So we have just spent three weeks in Dunedin. Not a great time to be going as it was during late June, early July - the coldest part of the year. I figured though it was better we look at Dunedin at its worst.

We arrived in Dunedin after a long flight via LA. LA was not as bad as I anticipated, clean and functional, annoying though that you need to go through blimmin' immigration which we had to wait quite a while for. Missed our connecting flight from Auck to Dunedin but AirNZ put us on another flight ASAP (which unfortunately meant changing at ChCh) but excitement got us through. Kids were amazing on the flight. We took lots for the eldest to do. On the London to LA flight we were upgraded to a skycouch, so we took turns to have a sleep with one child. Skycouch not worth the money in my opinion but great when it's free!

The next week was jet lag hell, which included our three year old getting up at 11pm one evening and staying up all night. Thank god for sky TV, husband and I team tagged for about 3 nights. Exhausting but we soon got into local time. Eight month old baby was fine right from the off. Night flights defintiely helped.

First week of weather was atrocious. Windy, rainy, quite stormy at night but days mostly okay (jet lag fog). There were times when I thought the house was going to blow over or the roof would come off. I had forgotten how exposed to the elements you are in NZ.

We stayed at my brother's house. He is single and lives in a rental so doesn't invetst that much in heating. His house was so cold, heaters on full the whole time basically until we got the fire up and running. My husband really hated the cold, I didn't mind it but am used to it but it did make us think about heating a house.

We spent pretty much the entire time visiting people. The purpose of the "holiday" was to see as much of real life as we could so we went to several open homes, visited a school, had a couple of job interviews and just spoke to as many people as we could! It was exhausting and by no stretch of the imagination was it is a holiday by any means. We managed to squeeze in some fun activities around the "work".

Houses
Yes mostly cold and draughty. I would still love an old villa though. Apart from my brothers house, everywhere we visited was warm and toasty. We saw numerous versions of heat pumps, asked everyone about their heating and the economies of heating. People were very aware of insulation, double glazing etc. We were not cold in anyone's home and in fact a few times I was too hot with log burners on!

It was great to see some houses. We now have a good idea of where we might want to live. Good houses are quite hard to come by, you have to find the house you want, in the area you want, with plenty of sun etc. The visit definitely reminded me that sun is so important, we saw an amazing house but it was on the wrong side of the street so a definite no goer. There were always a few houses around that suited us though. I definitely looked at areas I would not have previous to living in the UK.

Highlights of the trip
  • Parks and playgrounds are really in abundance. Feels like on every other street there is an amazing play ground. Definitely more child friendly.
  • Weather was great. Last two weeks was sunshine in the day, the light is just amazing in NZ. The cold hits you though when the sun goes away. Our three year old spent most of her time without a coat, just having fun playing in the bright sunshine.
  • Strong sun - must get good sunglasses!
  • Food - was nice to have familiar food. Meat definitely tastes better - we tended to buy from farmer's market or butcher. Out of season food expensive as expected.
  • So great catching up with friends and family.
  • Husband got an amazing job offer whilst we were there. Too good to turn down really. He had two informal interviews, offered the job, accepted (on condition that we are able to wrap everything up in the UK) had drinks with colleagues before we left.
  • Ease of life there is amazing. So easy doing everything from shopping, parking, organising things. People helpful with things like car seat hire. Lots of different things for kids to do as it was school holidays.
  • My eight month old still has a few bottles during the day and in the UK I dread going out and trying to heat it up. Invariably I am told by cafe workers they can't heat bottle up in microwave due to health and safety, so give me a cup of scalding boiling water to put bottle in. No such problems in Dunedin. Everywhere heated the bottle up with no issues. Small thing but one of my niggles in the UK. Sometimes people try to make things harder for you.
  • We had a lovely meal at the Riverstone Cafe in Oamaru, which has won a couple of cuisine awards (I think). Great set up, was very busy and most people seemed to be local rather than tourists which I really liked.
  • Went to visit a school, good experience and feel fine about the education system although not sure why they are moving over to National Standards. Most people I know don't want it but Govt seems intent on introducing it. Talked to a teacher friend, there is some English education minister (or something) pushing it - not sure about the logic given that British standards are actually below NZ. Why fix something that ain't broke?
    • Beaches, beaches, beaches....loved, loved, loved the freedom of just being able to drive, park and enjoy. Our 3 year old would live on the beach if she could so she was happy indeed. Didn't get to see as many as we wanted.

Downsides[LIST][LIST][*]It's blimmin' cold, but on the up there are bright sunny days.
  • Draughty houses - nothing new there.
  • I still believe the class system is less obvious in NZ. The class structure is a lot closer so posh (not sure there are any in NZ), middle class and lower class mix much more readily. I felt a bit snobby at times but there are some proper munters around. But I see that in London too. And yes I saw several people in shorts and jandals and barefeet.
  • Old cars on the road, not sure how some of them are staying together!
  • Road conditions such as frost are a bugger, especially in Dunedin with the hills but as it might only affect you 2-3 times per year (if that) it's no biggie.
  • Husband was quite overwhelmed at how different it is. He has been there before but we had to look at it with different eyes this time as parents. Very glad we did the trip because I think it has started the shift in his head mentally and now won't be so much of a shock but we are prepared for the culture shock (for both of us).
  • It is so bloody far away, the flight I mean. I can handle the isolation, but the thought of long haul travel forevermore with two kids makes me very ill indeed.
    • My husbands firm went into liquidation whilst we were away. We think he intentionally did it whilst he was away, so has no job! Has kind of forced our hand a bit but in some ways made the decision easier. Could have done with the extra five months work but he will work for himself for a few months before we go.
    • TV is crap, even Sky!
So the ultimate decision is that we will go in January, all going well with the flat sale. Now that husband has no job it feels a bit like it's meant to be.
We both feel that it offers us the best of lifestyle and a good job opportunity for my husband. Not plenty but a few jobs for me to apply for when the kids are settled. We desperately want to be near family and be able to rebuild our social lives. In London we are pretty much parents and that is it as working hours mean sports clubs and such are pretty much out of the question for us (apart from going to the gym just down the road).

Daunted and excited at the same time. Plan is to spend some time with hubby's family for a few months then do the move in January after a final Christmas in the UK. Not looking forward to leaving family here but excited at the new opportunities and lifestyle that Dunedin can offer us as a young family.

Now just to work out the logistics of the move!

See you all on the other side soon!
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Old Jul 16th 2012, 5:53 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

congrats Danni.

Too bad your hand was forced but it sounds like it was 'meant to be'. Good luck for your future. Both the OH and I really liked Dunedin when we visited it.

I'm having my long awaited visit to NZ in August for a month, it'll be interesting to see what I think of it - 5 years since last visit.
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Old Jul 16th 2012, 6:34 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Excellent update, thank you so much for taking the time
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Old Jul 17th 2012, 12:51 am
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Default Re: Finally an update

Ah me Dannigirl. I wondered that I hadn't seen you around the place.

So, you are finally going home & I think that's lovely for you all. It can be so wearying to be a place that doesn't really 'fit' but isn't that bad either.

Not long now then & you all start the next phase of your lives.

All the best to you. I am positive you will be very happy and settled as you will be back where you belong.


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Old Jul 20th 2012, 3:48 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Thanks BEVS

I think I feel more connected to the UK more than ever (probably because my kids were born here) and I am slowly building up some very British habits, but my heart and soul belong in NZ

I can't wait to be home.
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Old Jul 22nd 2012, 11:26 am
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Default Re: Finally an update

Really enjoyed reading your update; will watch for more...
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Old Jul 23rd 2012, 8:05 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Good luck with the move...I Love NZ<3!
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Old Jul 25th 2012, 12:48 am
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Default Re: Finally an update

Superb update, well written and totally unbiased, really good to see people not moaning about the housing or the cold, January wont be long
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Old Sep 7th 2012, 11:59 am
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Default Re: Finally an update

Glad to see you are going home Danni, hope it all works out for you.
I am still stuck in London unfortunately.

Last edited by westie1234; Sep 7th 2012 at 12:09 pm.
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Old Sep 7th 2012, 9:32 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Entire worldly belongings in storage ready to ship. Flat sold, money in the bank, it's all getting closer eeeek

Last edited by dannigirl; Sep 7th 2012 at 9:35 pm.
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Old Sep 9th 2012, 8:33 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

I only just found this thread!

I concur with all your findings- I've always said I regretted not bringing the kids out here when they were pre-school (one was, but not for long) because it's so much *easier* to do everything with young kids in NZ than in the UK, and I love kindy and playcentre. I was cold in the rentals but this winter has been a breeze in our own place with insulation and heating- both heat pump and log fire.

Don't get me started on the National Standards crap

Good luck for the coming weeks; sounds like we might end up crossing in the sky
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 9:35 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Thanks BB, yes we might pass in the sky....I'll be the one drowning in gin trying to ignore my children!
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Old Sep 14th 2012, 6:15 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

So pleased for you Dannigirl as you've said it does seem as though fate is on your side!! though not such good news about your husbands job but I know how you'll feel once you get 'home' and believe me it will all be worth it!!

Sorry, I've only just discovered your update......balanced & brilliant

Best wishes & hugs
B
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Old Sep 14th 2012, 8:02 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Thanks MnB! Long time coming.
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Old Nov 10th 2012, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: Finally an update

Container has now left UK......counting down the weeks...busy time now though which is great!
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