UK to NZ with three young children.

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New Zealand Expat Forum for Expats Living in New Zealand Have you moved to New Zealand from another country? Or are you thinking about making New Zealand your new home? Want to meet others like you and discuss Real Estate, sport, socialising, food, cars, insurance, laws, taxes and anything related to New Zealand?

UK to NZ with three young children.


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Old 23rd September 2013, 12:01 PM
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Hello

I have been following this forum on and off over the last three years or so, as we have considered different emigration options. This is my first post so please excuse my noobness!! We are the closest we have been to this move as we are in the process of submitted our EOI - just waiting passports for the kids before we can submit the EOI - only think left is to fill in the passport numbers and submit it! Have 145 points - fingers crossed they agree!

I just wanted to really find out how those with young families found life in NZ? In the Northern half of the North Island. I have been feeling very positive about this, until I read a website with an extremely negative view of NZ -to be honest it's so negative that it's not balanced, and so I probably shouldn't let it worry me, but it speaks of poverty, poor housing, poor education, racism, gangs, crime etc - basically painting a picture of it being everywhere you turn! This has given me a wobble!!!

We currently live in the UK - My husband works in a specific field of engineering, and would be seeking a job in that field. I am an I.T. graduate (over 10 years ago) but now work as a childminder although also do some I.T. contracting work remotely. We have three children who are all having birthdays in the next couple months, so will be 3, 5 and 7.

If anyone could help me out with some areas I need info on I would be very greatful!

Housing - I know that the cheaper houses may be poorly insulated etc, and so we need to aim for the best we can afford. We would rent initially, but would then look to buy. Are there areas where better housing tends to be located? What options for heating systems are there in NZ? Does central heating exist at all in NZ?

Education - I want to ensure my children are in a school where they feel positive about them selves and their abilities, and are encouraged. I also want to ensure that bullying is dealt with and not ignored - effective systems in place. What are your experiences on bullying and on how happy children generally are in primary schooling? My 7 year old, has some speech and language support, has he has a mild speech delay - not statemented, but has some support. I dislike the way that schools here constantly test children at such a young age. What is that like in NZ schools?

How do NZ schools handle bad behaviour? how do they discipline ? i would consider either a christian (myself and my children attend church) or secular school - how do behaviour management techniques work in these two settings?

Racism - how prevalent is this in NZ? especially towards immigrants?

Work - How easy is it to start up as the equivalent of a childminder? I would do afterschool childcare, but do most schools have clubs for this? is there any demand - and if so do I need to be registered/qualified etc if they are over 5?

In terms of building a network, I work as a volunteer with a charity which also has lots of opportunities in NZ and this will be a great way to meet people. My oldest is in Beavers (youngest division of scouts) over here and loves it and we would definitly want to continue that in NZ. Here waiting lists for scouts are shockingly long - is it fairly easy to get a place in scouts in NZ?

Health food stores - what's it like for veggies? can I get soya milk, tofus etc easily enough at health food stores?

I know I am asking about NZ here without being too specific - I dont need to work straight away so there's no rush with me, with my husband it depends where he will be working. One possible location Cambridge, and another would be less specific, within 30 minute drive of Auckland. So I am focusing on these areas.

Asthma - NZ in general does seem to have high asthma rates from mixed reports i've read online. My nearly 5 year old has mild asthma, that gets worse when he has a cold etc. Why are asthma rates high in NZ? Is it down to housing, dampness etc or are some areas more polluted? I dont want to make anything worse for him, (am I letting that negative site play on my mind again here!!)

What is life like for a family with children aged between 3-7 ?

I basically want to live in a relaxed, friendly and welcoming place, and I think NZ will bring us this. Any thoughts, info etc?

Thanks, and it's nice to post after reading this forum for so long!

ragdolly

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Old 24th September 2013, 04:55 AM
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Hi there - and well done on your first post.

And oh dear - you've found one of those completely negatively biased websites. No sense of balance at all on them! I could quite happily throttle the saddos that manage and contribute to them. They are doing nobody any favours.

What you need is a forum that allows the good and the bad to be discussed - and I do so hope we do that here. We recognise that nowhere is perfect - and New Zealand is no exception. We live and work here, and people have just the same kinds of issues that happen all over the world.

But New Zealand also has some very good points too. We love it here! And so do most of our friends. In fact, it's generally the New Zealanders we know who are most negative about it. We are tucked away down here, and I think they think they're missing something! But it's that very 'away from it all' that I like!

All I can say is carry on browsing through previous posts - you'll find most of your questions answered somewhere in there. And I bet that some of our current contributors can help too.

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Old 24th September 2013, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ragdolly216 View Post
Hello

I have been following this forum on and off over the last three years or so, as we have considered different emigration options. This is my first post so please excuse my noobness!! We are the closest we have been to this move as we are in the process of submitted our EOI - just waiting passports for the kids before we can submit the EOI - only think left is to fill in the passport numbers and submit it! Have 145 points - fingers crossed they agree!

I just wanted to really find out how those with young families found life in NZ? In the Northern half of the North Island. I have been feeling very positive about this, until I read a website with an extremely negative view of NZ -to be honest it's so negative that it's not balanced, and so I probably shouldn't let it worry me, but it speaks of poverty, poor housing, poor education, racism, gangs, crime etc - basically painting a picture of it being everywhere you turn! This has given me a wobble!!!

We currently live in the UK - My husband works in a specific field of engineering, and would be seeking a job in that field. I am an I.T. graduate (over 10 years ago) but now work as a childminder although also do some I.T. contracting work remotely. We have three children who are all having birthdays in the next couple months, so will be 3, 5 and 7.

If anyone could help me out with some areas I need info on I would be very greatful!

Housing - I know that the cheaper houses may be poorly insulated etc, and so we need to aim for the best we can afford. We would rent initially, but would then look to buy. Are there areas where better housing tends to be located? What options for heating systems are there in NZ? Does central heating exist at all in NZ?

Education - I want to ensure my children are in a school where they feel positive about them selves and their abilities, and are encouraged. I also want to ensure that bullying is dealt with and not ignored - effective systems in place. What are your experiences on bullying and on how happy children generally are in primary schooling? My 7 year old, has some speech and language support, has he has a mild speech delay - not statemented, but has some support. I dislike the way that schools here constantly test children at such a young age. What is that like in NZ schools?

How do NZ schools handle bad behaviour? how do they discipline ? i would consider either a christian (myself and my children attend church) or secular school - how do behaviour management techniques work in these two settings?

Racism - how prevalent is this in NZ? especially towards immigrants?

Work - How easy is it to start up as the equivalent of a childminder? I would do afterschool childcare, but do most schools have clubs for this? is there any demand - and if so do I need to be registered/qualified etc if they are over 5?

In terms of building a network, I work as a volunteer with a charity which also has lots of opportunities in NZ and this will be a great way to meet people. My oldest is in Beavers (youngest division of scouts) over here and loves it and we would definitly want to continue that in NZ. Here waiting lists for scouts are shockingly long - is it fairly easy to get a place in scouts in NZ?

Health food stores - what's it like for veggies? can I get soya milk, tofus etc easily enough at health food stores?

I know I am asking about NZ here without being too specific - I dont need to work straight away so there's no rush with me, with my husband it depends where he will be working. One possible location Cambridge, and another would be less specific, within 30 minute drive of Auckland. So I am focusing on these areas.

Asthma - NZ in general does seem to have high asthma rates from mixed reports i've read online. My nearly 5 year old has mild asthma, that gets worse when he has a cold etc. Why are asthma rates high in NZ? Is it down to housing, dampness etc or are some areas more polluted? I dont want to make anything worse for him, (am I letting that negative site play on my mind again here!!)

What is life like for a family with children aged between 3-7 ?

I basically want to live in a relaxed, friendly and welcoming place, and I think NZ will bring us this. Any thoughts, info etc?

Thanks, and it's nice to post after reading this forum for so long!

ragdolly
Hi, it won;t be easy to post a quick reply to your query. Cambridge is a pretty area with lots of stud farms just past Hamilton. Not everyone likes it but it is beautiful and probably a nice community feel. I live on the north shore of Auckland, a popular immigrant area (I am ex South African). There are excellent schools here and if you are focused on academic then houses for rent or sale are advertised as zoned for certain schools but you will easily learn this as your kids get older. There are private schools and state schools. Education is a big area of discussion and you will need to get used to a very child-centric approach. It doesn;t place huge demands on kids so academic kids tend to cruise but it is very positive for less academic kids. It drove me a bit nuts as I was used to a pass/fail approach where you knew how well your kids were doing but my kids are all out of school now - 2 have uni degrees and 2 don't. I judge education by how well the science streams cope overseas and our doctors are well received I believe, as are our engineers and accountants. I have 2 grandkids now and the 4 year old will start school next year. She is confident, well socialised and very happy. Lots of extra activities like ballet, swimming, gym etc. Bullying isn;t rife and I doubt you will have any major issues with your young kids as violence is totally unacceptable here.

Some people claim racism exists and yes maybe in the sense of laughing at certain characteristics (South Africans are forthright and direct) but real racism is not tolerated and NZ's are very PC and there is a huge Maori slant that really gives them and Pacific Islanders a lot of benefits like Uni scholarships and special Uni lectures etc so kiwis are exceptionally PC and if racism rears it won't be done openly. Most work places are very over represented by non kiwis anyway so one is always sensitive.

Apparently NZ has a high incidence of asthma. My youngest son's chest was wheezy and he used a pump occasionally but has totally grown out of it and personally I never see kids with pumps so it doesn;t strike me as being more than anywhere else. The air can be damp though in mid winter but we installed an HRV (fan that pumps air in or out from the roof) and all our moisture has gone now inside the house.

I keep reading about the poor standard of housing and think the UK and US must have deluxe houses because coming from solid brick houses in SA these "cardboard" houses sure seem okay to me. I live in a 70's built house and it is chilly in mid winter (better since installing the HRV) but we put a heater on just like we did in the freezing Cape Town winters and we get warm. My sister in law has a lovely fireplace and it warms the whole house. I guess better roof insulation and double glazed windows would be nice but we are not dying of frostbite anytime soon. I know a developer off plan who is incredibly honest and he builds the most amazing homes and a lot for foreigners so the new houses are excellently built. I haven't lived in the UK or US so can;t comment but I think it is becoming a bit of a lazy cliche now. I have seen real dumps but not in the areas I lived in and I'm guessing every big city has run down housing stock so it is unfair to make it such a big issue in my opinion.

Work is a tough one. Things were great until the GFC and now the job market has tightened but I would imagine that engineering work should be available as infrastructure is still a priority.

Sorry I have rambled a bit. All I can say is that when I watch my 1 year and 4 year old grandkids they have such a blessed life here enjoying the parks, beaches and lots of kiddy activities. If you can make the finances work it is a great place to raise a family.


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Old 25th September 2013, 11:22 PM
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Hi, it won;t be easy to post a quick reply to your query. Cambridge is a pretty area with lots of stud farms just past Hamilton. Not everyone likes it but it is beautiful and probably a nice community feel. I live on the north shore of Auckland, a popular immigrant area (I am ex South African). There are excellent schools here and if you are focused on academic then houses for rent or sale are advertised as zoned for certain schools but you will easily learn this as your kids get older. There are private schools and state schools. Education is a big area of discussion and you will need to get used to a very child-centric approach. It doesn;t place huge demands on kids so academic kids tend to cruise but it is very positive for less academic kids. It drove me a bit nuts as I was used to a pass/fail approach where you knew how well your kids were doing but my kids are all out of school now - 2 have uni degrees and 2 don't. I judge education by how well the science streams cope overseas and our doctors are well received I believe, as are our engineers and accountants. I have 2 grandkids now and the 4 year old will start school next year. She is confident, well socialised and very happy. Lots of extra activities like ballet, swimming, gym etc. Bullying isn;t rife and I doubt you will have any major issues with your young kids as violence is totally unacceptable here.

Some people claim racism exists and yes maybe in the sense of laughing at certain characteristics (South Africans are forthright and direct) but real racism is not tolerated and NZ's are very PC and there is a huge Maori slant that really gives them and Pacific Islanders a lot of benefits like Uni scholarships and special Uni lectures etc so kiwis are exceptionally PC and if racism rears it won't be done openly. Most work places are very over represented by non kiwis anyway so one is always sensitive.

Apparently NZ has a high incidence of asthma. My youngest son's chest was wheezy and he used a pump occasionally but has totally grown out of it and personally I never see kids with pumps so it doesn;t strike me as being more than anywhere else. The air can be damp though in mid winter but we installed an HRV (fan that pumps air in or out from the roof) and all our moisture has gone now inside the house.

I keep reading about the poor standard of housing and think the UK and US must have deluxe houses because coming from solid brick houses in SA these "cardboard" houses sure seem okay to me. I live in a 70's built house and it is chilly in mid winter (better since installing the HRV) but we put a heater on just like we did in the freezing Cape Town winters and we get warm. My sister in law has a lovely fireplace and it warms the whole house. I guess better roof insulation and double glazed windows would be nice but we are not dying of frostbite anytime soon. I know a developer off plan who is incredibly honest and he builds the most amazing homes and a lot for foreigners so the new houses are excellently built. I haven't lived in the UK or US so can;t comment but I think it is becoming a bit of a lazy cliche now. I have seen real dumps but not in the areas I lived in and I'm guessing every big city has run down housing stock so it is unfair to make it such a big issue in my opinion.

Work is a tough one. Things were great until the GFC and now the job market has tightened but I would imagine that engineering work should be available as infrastructure is still a priority.

Sorry I have rambled a bit. All I can say is that when I watch my 1 year and 4 year old grandkids they have such a blessed life here enjoying the parks, beaches and lots of kiddy activities. If you can make the finances work it is a great place to raise a family.
Thank you for your replies, I do feel much happier after reading this - I will make sure I am looking at balanced forums so I don't get spooked again too! I am going to have a good browse around this forum and read up. I am awaiting my younger sons replacement birth certificate before I can get his passport and then submit the EOI, there is a backlog at the issuing office, so they are held up. Annoying as we are likely to miss a selection date now, but its better not to rush I suppose, its probably the most major life change we have ever and will ever do!

We are looking at whether we can come over to NZ, perhaps in the Christmas break here - we have just over two weeks off school and work so not as long as we'd like but a good chance to get over anyway - just the thought of the journey with the kids! Eek!

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Old 26th September 2013, 04:48 AM
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but it speaks of poverty
It depends on your definition of poverty. Are there people that find it difficult to pay their bills? Yes, there are some, some would say a lot. Are there people who's kids don't have breakfast before they go to school? Yes, there are some. Are there homeless on the streets? Yes there are a few, but not many. NZ has social welfare, so anyone unable to meet their expenses can apply for grants etc, if they choose to. Are there beggars? A few, but not many, as with any other country (no beggars in Cambridge) and those that are, have no need to be because of the welfare system. Are there people that die of malnutrition with distended stomachs through lack of money? No.

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poor housing,
It's different housing, not necessarily poor, in my opinion. A lot of houses of 30 years or more in age, are made from weatherboard, which served our family pretty well, as I grew up. A lot were, and still are, uninsulated. Houses after that are generally similar to houses in other developed countries with codes of practice into the quality of them and how they are built.

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poor education
NZ rates very well in regards education on international surveys. Again, it's different.


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Originally Posted by ragdolly216 View Post
gangs
You will probably find once you are here for a couple of years that you haven't seen a single gang member. There are a few gangs, but the biggest news here in regards to gangs of recent times was when an Australian gang tried to set up a chapter here and were trying to recruit people.

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crime etc -
There is crime, of course. No better or worse than most other developed countries, I suggest. There were about 40 murders in the whole of the country last year. The police don't wear guns.

Good luck for your trip. Cambridge is a great town, if you decide to go there.

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Old 26th September 2013, 01:14 PM
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Housing - I know that the cheaper houses may be poorly insulated etc, and so we need to aim for the best we can afford. We would rent initially, but would then look to buy. Are there areas where better housing tends to be located? What options for heating systems are there in NZ? Does central heating exist at all in NZ?
The price of a house is not directly related to insulation. New houses are insulated as that is now law. Older houses may or may not be - this is something you can check for the specific houses you look at.

For heating, gas and electricity are predominant. In the North Island piped natural gas is widely available. Electric heat pumps are common. Central heating (both gas and electric powered) is available but is the most expensive heating option so people tend to only install it in homes they intend to live in for many years. Solar heating is used but is expensive. Some houses have underfloor heating, most do not.


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Originally Posted by ragdolly216 View Post
Health food stores - what's it like for veggies? can I get soya milk, tofus etc easily enough at health food stores?
Soy milk and tofu is available at supermarkets as well as at health food stores.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ragdolly216 View Post
Asthma - NZ in general does seem to have high asthma rates from mixed reports i've read online. My nearly 5 year old has mild asthma, that gets worse when he has a cold etc. Why are asthma rates high in NZ? Is it down to housing, dampness etc or are some areas more polluted? I dont want to make anything worse for him, (am I letting that negative site play on my mind again here!!)
New Zealanders have had generations of living in uninsulated houses with a habit of heating the living room and not bothering about the rest of the house. It's only been in recent years that people have started realising that children should not be sleeping tucked up warm in bed in a room that can get very cold in winter nights. In many parts of the country it gets quite humid. Combine humidity with single-digit temperatures through winter months, and no heating overnight, and its a recipe for childhood asthma.

A few years ago the government implemented a scheme to retrofit insulation and heating into the homes of low-income people in an effort to improve asthma rates and general health. There is now a much greater awareness of the need for insulation and heating. There are still houses with very little (if any) insulation but they are becoming rarer. Just ask about this when you go looking at houses.

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Old 26th September 2013, 09:54 PM
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This is all very helpful, thankyou for taking the time to reply. :-)

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