Emigrating is not for the faint hearted. It is a costly business. I have met people who have emigrated to New Zealand, moved back to England and then returned to New Zealand again. It has cost them a lot of money. They often still seem unsettled, many after as much as thirty years. I call them the Ping Pong Poms.
In the days of the assisted passage, immigrants were committed to stay a minimum of two years or they were obliged to pay back the full fare, which was out of the reach of most in those days. There was a certain amount of merit in this idea, as people suffer from varying degrees of homesickness and I would calculate from conversations with different immigrants, that three years is not an unreasonable time to allow before you will feel completely settled and start to put down roots.
In the early days, when homesickness can be a real problem, I strongly advise you to avoid ‘ping pong poms’ like the plague. As they are not settled, they can unsettle you even further by pointing out all the ‘bad’ things about living in New Zealand.
A trip to New Zealand before you decide to emigrate would give you a good idea whether you want to live here. Come in June, the flights are much cheaper and you will see it mid winter, at its worst. Although it may seem expensive it is a very small amount compared to selling up in England, coming here and hating it and then going back, or even worse not being able to afford to go back.
If you come for a visit, make the most of the trip in case you decide not to come out to live permanently, as it is a beautiful place, but remember you are on holiday and that is a lot different from living in a country.
Spend a proportion of each day pretending that you live here, buy the newspaper every day and you will get an idea of the crime, employment opportunities and the direction that the country is going in.
Watch TV, make a point of watching the news and current affairs programmes, stand outside a few schools and see the children turn out, go into the supermarkets, clothes shops, sports centres, cinemas and chat to the locals. Don’t forget a visit to an estate agent.
If you decide, like we did just to come ‘on spec’ then I think you need to have a very positive attitude.
It is a natural reaction to miss all that is familiar to you and there will be days when nothing goes right for you. But remember what life was like before, keep a copy of the self analysis you did when you decided to come out and read it through when things get tough. After a couple of years, try to make a visit back to England for a holiday, it can be an important part of the settling process.
If you leave close family behind, then naturally England will always have a certain pull and again many people I have spoken to are quite happy here, but still need their trips back to spend time with loved ones. A terrible time for the waistline as they all tend to ‘kill the fattened calf’ when you visit.
Perhaps even more exciting, is when a family member visits you. A chance to show people round and see their obvious delight in the country, both reinforces your decision and gives them a better insight into the life you now live.