1. When did you move to New Zealand?
2. What is it like living in New Zealand?
Before embarking on the 39hr trip from Glasgow to Wellington, I had heard mysterious rumours of the friendliness of the kiwi people. But being born and raised in the UK and being used to people working in the service industry etc. generally having a sour attitude in the big cities, nothing can prepare you for just how friendly people are in New Zealand. From the shopkeepers to the bartenders to the average person walking down the street, if there is one thing you can always count on in New Zealand, it’s just how friendly everyone is. I had arrived and was nearly through working my 1st full week, when I was offered someone’s house to move into while they were on holiday, and another’s Ute (truck) to use! Bearing in mind, I hadn’t known either for a full week yet!!
3. Is it what you had been expecting? If not, What hadn’t you expected?
The costs associated with the immigration process. If I’m honest, I would recommend for anyone with any aspirations to come to New Zealand to look into this and carry-out themselves. Little return for the large expenditure associated with this whole process. The Candidate has to set-up all the bookings,
appointments etc., pay all fees for the Medicals, X-Rays, Police checks etc. and once the forms have been completed by the candidate and specialist, send them off to the immigration adviser. All of the forms are a standard template, seems that the immigration company merely posts all completed documents as one document for the large fee they command.
Recently underwent the full process again to upgrade my partner’s visa from ‘Working Holiday’ status to ‘Work Visa’ status as per my own. It was simple enough for us to make appointments, collate and send off her application and subsequently gaining approval. I was not impressed however with the whole ‘immigration company’ process and would have avoided it all together if I knew what I know
4. How easy was it to find accommodation?
My employer organised and covered the costs of us living within the Central Business District for 1 month until we found our own place.
There is a healthy rental market, we found a 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom detached villa, double garage with large garden and decking areas with no problems at all .
5. How does the cost of living compare to the UK?
Companies here don’t generally offer a car allowance in lieu of a company vehicle. If you do opt for a company vehicle, the ‘norm’ here is for the company to deduct the equivalent from your salary as a salary sacrifice. Commuting by train from further up the coast will cost approx. $300 per month.
There is a misconception that the work-life balance in New Zealand is better than in the UK. I have found that the Kiwi work-lifestyle is for long hours, currently I work 50 hours per week (about a day extra per week in comparison to back home in Scotland). The holidays you get are less than in Scotland with more of your holidays being determined by the Company e.g. you will take 2 weeks at Christmas here whereas it was only 4 days leave at Christmas when I was at home. That only leaves 2 weeks leave for the rest of the year which isn’t that much.
The cost of living here in Wellington seems to be very high in comparison to Scotland. The quality of housing here is poor with a lot of houses not having double glazing or any sort of heating. They also severely lack in insulation which causes dampness in the properties.
Fuel is only around 10% cheaper here than in Scotland. Second hand cars are a lot more expensive as the majority are imports from the Asian market.
Food and alcohol is a lot more expensive than in Scotland. A 15 pack of beer will cost around $35 compared to around $20 in the UK. Food prices are very dependent on what’s in season. Tomatoes can go to as high as $12/kg, Peppers (capsicums) are normally around $3 each. Whereas in Scotland you can pick up a 3 pack in Tesco for $4.
6. Did you relocate alone or with family?
With my Girlfriend.
7. Either way, how has this affected your experience?
Other than the councils laid back approach to approving NZ Teaching Council Registration, it hasn’t been too tough. She does miss home and spending time with family at their cottage in Canada.
8. What has been the most positive experience to date?
Lifestyle: Expenditure on our last great expense being my girlfriend’s visa upgrade.
Work-wise: Gaining my own projects, increased pay grade and bonuses.
9. How long did the full process take of relocating?
4.5 months from lodging application with immigration company to visa approval.
10. What does your role involve?
Senior Quantity Surveyor on the project. Originally my role was to assist the current quantity surveyor by managing the services contracts, however this has since developed into taking the lead with the full supply chain and undertaking the monthly financial reporting of the projects position. Also included under my role is to manage the junior members of the commercial team and assist in the notification/valuation of variations both up and down-line. Company has since been awarded my next project which is a “prestigious” department store development which is to be open by Christmas, upon completion of this my next project will be to procure and commercially manage the seismic upgrade and extension of an Apartment block in the downtown Central Business District area of Wellington.
11. How long did it take you to get up to speed?
1 week to review the Specifications and Contract documentation, 1 month to learn the financial reporting systems and 3 months to highlight and evaluate the risks and implement the processes needed to streamline the commercial functions on the project.
12. What is the Construction market like in New Zealand?
As with the rest of the world, the construction industry is highly cyclical. New Zealand is no exception with the industry here also just coming out of a global downturn. However, the rebuild of Christchurch following the earthquakes, has prompted for a vast number of buildings all around New Zealand being
condemned-requiring rebuild, or seismic upgrade works in order to meet compliance and avoid another Christchurch situation. This supported by a gradual economic recovery and a ‘catchup’ in new home building especially in Auckland seems to have fired the industry up again. My current employer has an order book in excess of $110m of committed projects for the forthcoming financial year, so I’ve arrived
at what looks to be the start of a sustained upturn.
13. Is there much of a difference in the role you are doing in New Zealand, compared to the UK?
Other than the currency and understanding the seismic tolerance requirements for buildings in an
earthquake situation, the role is similar to UK. It is acknowledged here that the supply chain members require updating in terms of contract performances and obligations under the contracts.
14. How is accommodation on site?
Accommodation is a bit dated with old styled site cabins on the current project. However, this was
purely down to the previous quantity surveyor cutting costs and purchasing the cheapest. Would
definitely opt for a more superior / comfortably- furnished product in the future for a project with similar contract duration.
15. How long does it take to get to site ?
45minute train journey and 5 minute walk. Traffic is nowhere near as congested as at home in Scotland, but enjoy only having to drive at the weekends when needed.
16. Is there anything to do while you aren’t working? (Evenings) ?
Coffee and Craft Beer cultures are massive here so socialising in the Central Business District areas is common. Outdoor activities include Sea Kayaking, Hiking, going to the volcanic pools, Fishing and Mountain Biking. The beach is only a 5 minute walk from our front door, so plenty of opportunity for the outdoor lifestyle.
17. Do you have your own room or do you need to share?
Site Accommodation is of the open plan concept, so the full team are all within the same area to encourage more collaboration throughout all members of the team.