One of our doctors was has recently moved to New Zealand and has begun to document his journey. His first blog is about preparing to move abroad:
There is something both exhilarating and unnerving in seeing your entire life whittled down to 4 suitcases, 3 pieces of carry-on luggage, a booster seat and a push chair. This is exactly how we found ourselves on the 6th December 2016, waiting to check in at Heathrow Terminal 2, still trying to figure out whether the flight that we were about to board for New Zealand was the best thing that we have ever done or the biggest mistake ever (the hurricane like winds that I can hear rattling the windows of our rental home draw us closer to the latter but that will probably change by the morning…probably)
A year ago, we were both struggling with that elusive ‘work life balance’ and convinced that this is something that the UK and in particular General practice would not be able to provide. Working from 8am -8.30pm whilst on call is bad enough, but add to that, two under 5s that need constant love and attention and ice cream, and it was clear that my wife and I would struggle. So, we began to look for new pastures – a country that would offer us English as a first language, patients who understand our limits as practicing clinicians, and a decent standard of leaving. For us that meant either Canada, Australia or New Zealand. My older sister had started to work in Christchurch as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and she seemed to be enjoying it, so we thought why not?
Once my heart was set on this I joined an agency, Head Medical, and spoke to Debbie, a recruitment agent, who arranged an interview at Strandon Health in place called New Plymouth on the North Island. After two Skype interviews, I found out that I had got the job! That was, in hindsight the easy bit, hence the reason why I have started this blog. Here are a few ‘rate limiting steps’ that you have to think about
Medical council of New Zealand
Once you have a job offer you have to apply to the Medical Council of New Zealand. This is pretty straight forward, but takes about one month to process once the MCNZ has received it. This process has to be completed once you arrive in New Zealand and can be done in a number of different offices across both the North and the South Island.
Once this has been done then you apply for a visa, of which there are three types depending on how long you think you will be staying and how sure you are about staying permanently. I chose the quickest route, the Essential work visa, which again took a month. The other types of visa can take longer so bear this in mind. For the visa you need a medical, which can only be done by a few specialised places within London and across the country. You’ll need to have a full medical with bloods tests and a chest x-ray.
Renting or selling
We also had to decide whether to rent or sell our property. Selling would offer us a completely clean break. However, it would make it very difficult to buy again in London. Renting also has its pros and cons. We decided to rent as despite the problems that may arise, it may act as another source of income whilst we get settled. If you are currently renting then this is probably not going to be an issue for you.
There are a number of shipping companies to choose from if needed. We went with Pickfords who were super efficient in packing our things. There are a couple of options on how to send items. Because we did not have too many things to send we decided to go via groupage, which is where your items are sent in a container with other people’s goods. However it takes up to 10-16 weeks for the items to be shipped and you must have your visa first before it can be sent.
Accommodation upon arrival
We opted to choose to live in hotels whilst looking a for a rental property. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to house sit in New Zealand for a couple who were going on an extended 6 week vacation. This is a concept that we were unfamiliar with in the UK, but is great for saving on the cost of living in a hotel or a Bach (essentially a holiday home which is slightly less expensive than a hotel.) In addition they had a cat called ‘Manky’ which provided free entertainment for the kids!
Fortunately we have managed to settle pretty well in New Plymouth, and I have finally started to do that thing that I came here to do…..No, not learn how to surf, but to work as a GP. It’s only been a week but already there are a few positives and negatives that any GP from the UK who are considering making the move should know about. So, stay tuned and we shall hopefully get into it.