Month 1: alone, hubby in UK completing the house sale etc. I was forced to come over alone. I stayed with a friend of a friends mum. Small cold house, but lovely woman. No Internet, so I spent most evenings at the library.
Work was not at all like I expected. In fact, they changed the job totally, from when I left the UK on the plane, to when I walked through the door on my first day. I am a special needs teacher, but the only thing that was the same was the word teacher in the job title. I seriously wondered if I had made the right decision. There were a few times when I actually told hubby to halt the house sale and book me a flight home.
Month 2: spent most trying to find a rental. That was hard with no car (and no way of affording one, till the house was sold in the UK). Threw myself into absolutely every social opportunity at work and outside work. I found as many sports clubs to join as I could. Tried my hardest to always be busy, to help with the fact that I was alone and missing OH. It’s hard actually, trying to set up home alone in a foreign country. Who is it that you call to connect the electric? What bills do you have to pay? Who is the best phone provider? What data cap do you choose? What type of house is best? What is cheap, what is expensive? I had to go the whole 9 yards and look at everything including the hell holes, so I knew what I was dealing with. It’s hard work, alone, when you don’t know the city. I am running out of money. My new work friends lend me an entire house full of furniture so I can move into my own rental. (Just till my container arrives). Amazing. Perhaps here is OK after all?
Month 3: OH arrives. yay! The longest we have been apart since we met! He found a job within a week, which was great. But he wasn’t so keen on it. A jobs a job, though. One week after he arrived, mum was diagnosed with cancer. She told me via Skype. My world fell apart. When I left the UK I promised her I would always have a credit card, and would come straight back if she needed me. I was told to hold off, it was ok, she had plenty of time left. Not true. By the time we realised the gravity of the situation, it was almost too late. I booked the very next flight home. (It cost me a bomb, one way). She died before I landed in London. Work were truly brilliant at this difficult time. I asked dad did he want me to return. He said no. The stories I had told him about how brilliantly supportive my new friends and colleagues were told him that I had made the right decision and I needed to stay in NZ. He promised he would visit some time soon.
Meanwhile, in NZ hubby gets injured at work and can’t work. He gets paid nothing. We are down to one wage, my wage. Luckily, work agreed to give me 1 month bereavement leave, full pay. In NZ a company called ACC take over and supposedly pay your sick pay, doctors charges etc. To date we haven’t received a single cent.
It’s at this time that the people of Southland come into their own. They rally round, I get incredible support, physical and otherwise. They are the single reason I am not leaving NZ right now.
Month 4 Was spent in the UK dealing with mums funeral, and helping dad sort out the estate. Tough time. Meanwhile, in NZ OH is still not working. When I return, our container arrives. Even though its a rental, it starts to feel like our house.
Month 5 The banks announce that they are no longer going to lend 95% mortgages soon. We panic. I just used our house deposit to get to mums funeral. They refuse to help. OH still not working, ACC still not paying. We are struggling. The friends I have made locally are still truly brilliant. That is what is keeping me sane. We eventually scrape the deposit together JUST in time (by only 24 hours!) We have a house! We don’t move in till November but that gives us time to save the remaining $3000 of fees. OH has a job interview. We are waiting to hear, he has a job offer – subject to references. A job he much prefers.
It’s been a really tough tough time. I expected it to be hard but not this hard. However, still believe we did the right thing.
Positives of being here?
We have way more land than we could ever have afforded in the UK, with a mortgage half the size, if you workit out on % of wages rather than exchange rate equivalents. The house purchase was done just on my wage, NEVER possible in the UK.
The people are utterly brilliant. I have found it easy to make friends, and they have really helped me in difficult times.
We can be on a beach or a ski slope all in the same day, where in the UK could we do that, or even afford to do that!?
Beautiful beautiful country. Yes, it’s millions of miles from everywhere, but its quiet, peaceful, way way slower way of life.
Even in Southland, (the cold end!) the winter is several degrees warmer than the UK.
Have I regretted it?
A million times! But remember, there was a reason that I left the UK, and that reason is still there, and hasn’t changed. It’s easy to think the grass is greener.
Will I stay?
Yes, I think so. Will I stay in Southland, very possibly. But one thing I do know is that 5 months is no where new long enough for a balanced judgement, ask me again in another year!