Once we got our sparkling blue stickers in the mail, we sold the car, quit our jobs, packed our bags and moved to New Zealand, arriving at Wellington airport with just a backpack, suitcase and bicycle each. It was a bold move but we didn't really give much thought to it. We just knew that we should at least give it a shot. Like the old saying, never try never know. Besides, if things don't work out, we'll just come home.
It was not all spontaneous though as we still did arrive with a plan of some sort. Our focus from the get go was always about settling our accommodation and securing a job.
Having friends in Wellington was a good start. We were fortunate to have known some friends who were already based in Wellington and they gladly offered to take us in when we first arrived. For the first two weeks, we bunked in their living room while slowly finding our feet on New Zealand soil.
Prior to leaving Singapore, we had contacted two hosts from Helpx. Helpx, also known as Help Exchange, is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms,
farm stays, home stays, ranches, lodges, Bed & Breakfasts, backpackers hostels who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them
short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. On average, 3-4 hours work is expected and exact working hours are flexible depending on hosts. For instance, we could work in the morning on some days or afternoon on others. This arrangement was ideal for us as it allowed us to schedule interviews during our job hunt, while working for food and accommodation. We planned two weeks each with Moana Lodge, a backpacker hostel, and a home stay with wonderful hosts, now good friends and dim sum buddies, Niels and Janette.
In our opinion, Helpx is a really good way to start for anyone new to the country. It's a great and effective way to know more people, especially locals, build relationships and gain valuable experience about living in New Zealand. We have made so many friends, many of which we still keep close contact with and learned so much from our stays. By working for your food and accommodation, it is also a good way to manage your checkbooks. How we started, we had secured six weeks of accommodation without taking too much out from our kitty.
With so much uncertainty, we were living in the moment, day by day, one step at a time. Faith played an important role for us as well. I remember visiting church often and keeping our faith with constant prayers. Keeping a positive mindset was also extremely important.
Any plans made were short term and things were always changing. I remember how close we were twice to committing to rent, only for better options to arise at both times. The first was when Moana Lodge offered us to stay on for another 6 weeks to help run the place while the owner had to go away for a knee operation. The other time was when Janette recommended us to her neighbors who were going away to Europe for four months, to help them look after their property while they were away. One thing led to another and we ended up house sitting for Robin and Russell in their lovely home for four months. They even left us both their cars to use. Up to this day, we count our blessings and are still amazed by how things have worked out. Surely there was divine intervention.
In a nutshell, adopting an open and positive mindset is certainly crucial when you first arrive in a new country. Things may not always go according to plan and you must always be ready to make changes. Staying with friends, volunteering with Helpx and house sitting arrangements are great ways to secure accommodation. We're not saying that it will definitely work for you, but it did for us and who knows, it might for you too.
For Chapter 3: The Job Hunt , click here
For more Singaporean Guide on Moving to NZ (SG2NZ), click here