Rosie Sargisson and Jeffrey Fong couldn’t wait to find a job that would allow them to move to Taranaki, so they created their own.

While Rosie had spent a university summer working in New Plymouth, Jeff grew up there, and after three years working in Singapore with Fonterra, the 30-year old couple were feeling the pull of New Zealand’s landscape.

“We’re both avid trail runners,” says Rosie, “so we have a really strong sense of connection with the outdoors. While Singapore offered really vibrant city living, it was time for us to reconnect with nature.”

“We lived in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and it was absolutely full of exciting food to eat, bustling markets, cheap eats, Michelin star restaurants from all cuisines, it was full of discovery, but we felt it was time for a change.”

They spent a year travelling through Europe, ticking off many of the great trail running routes along the way, before landing in Taranaki.

“Coming back to Taranaki we were immediately reminded that it’s really a unique rural region in New Zealand, with both a thriving dairy industry as well as international oil and gas companies, both of which we’d worked in before,” Jeff says.

“We completely changed our lives moving here. We’ve gone from a huge city to a smaller city with a really strong community spirit, and traded working for large companies for running two new businesses. This community spirit has been a huge help as we get our businesses up and running. People are incredibly friendly here, and willing to give people a chance.”

“Because it has both these industries there seems to be a high expat population, which was a very exciting prospect for us given we make a product well-known in the European market.”

The couple have started a sourdough micro-bakery called Billow, and an online local food platform called HokoLoko.

“We both used to work in big teams in a large corporate, and a commute to get to the office. Now it’s just the two of us, trying to work as nimbly and quickly as we can on projects we’re passionate about, and we’re working from home, Rosie says.

“We now live our jobs rather than turn off when we get home. There’s no time to even get bored. That’s probably the biggest lifestyle change that moving to Taranaki has allowed us to make!” adds Jeff.

“Coming from one of the most organized cities in the world, we found we had to get out and do things ourselves in Taranaki, finding out the information mostly online. Deliveries, entertainment, information on how to build/grow/change things.”

“We were expecting this, but it was a bit of a wake-up call. Taranaki can be a great place for adventure but it needs to be self-driven.”

In addition to Billow and HokoLoko, Rosie has been able to apply years of yoga practice and teacher training to teaching classes at another recent New Plymouth start-up, the Wellness Project, and they’re also somehow finding the time to make the most of their new location.

“It’s great to have the ocean 5 minutes away in summer, and the bush trails so close. We love heading up to the huts on Mount Taranaki for the night and disconnecting. We couldn’t do that before,” Jeff says.

“The parks and outdoor spaces here are fantastic. New Zealand in general is globally remote – the variety of food from different cultures is limited in contrast to Singapore, and travel to different countries and cultures take longer, but the landscape and ease of accessing it more balances this out.”

“Taranaki can’t be beaten in hot sunny weather, with such beautiful outdoors, but people tend to stay inside in winter. We find this a bit lonely so we’d love to see more public events, concert venues, and attractions to get people out of the house when it’s cold and wet.”

Given that within a few months of arriving in New Plymouth the couple have set up a thriving bakery, an online business, teach yoga and still find the time to fit in trail runs on their days off, it seems quite likely that they’ll have some ideas to help plug that gap too!