The Senior Electrical and Instrumentation Engineer shifted from Centurion, Gauteng, in the Republic of South Africa to New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand in early 2008. Employment was the driving force behind choosing New Plymouth, but the short drive from the airport to his job interview was all it took for Johan to all in love with New Plymouth.
“The countryside was beautiful, and it was clear there was enough rain – not something I was too familiar with.”
“It was instantly obvious that there is a lot more respect here – for others, property and life in general,” says Johan, “but our cultures don’t differ that much, so it was really easy to become part of the community.”
Johan’s wife Ina is employed as a nurse in Stratford, less than a half hour commute away, his eldest daughter recently completed school and is studying to become a social worker, and his youngest daughter is in her last year at school.
“My one son and his wife have since joined us in New Plymouth. I just wish that the other two sons and their families would do the same. The one downside is the distance between New Plymouth and South Africa. I miss my family, children and grand children, who are still in RSA.”
The moving process was lengthy but reasonably easy. The Strydoms brought in the services of immigration agents Protea Pacific to help with the paperwork.
“It was all pretty straightforward once we decided we wanted to make the move. The hardest part was making the decision to go.”
The move took around two years from having the idea to getting a job and settling in New Plymouth. And it wasn’t cheap.
“It cost us around $100,000 all up,” Johan says “though ahead of the move we got rid of a lot of our belongings, which turned out to have been a bad move. We missed a number of those things, and it has been quite expensive to replace them.”
“But when weighing up the lifestyle benefits, I would ask anyone thinking of moving ‘how can you afford not to move here?’”
“The most stressful part of the whole experience was leaving what we were familiar with and arriving at an airport in another country with no idea what next. I had no employment offer at that point.”
The family now owns a modern 5-bedroom house in the New Plymouth suburb of Frankleigh Park, that has views over the surrounding area and is “far enough from the town to be quiet.”
”The location is fantastic. There is a dairy and take away within easy reach, and a sports ground with play park down the street.”
While the weather is constantly changing it has a “good amount of rain” – a welcome change from South Africa.
The greater feeling of safety and security of his new home also comes through. ”I feel safe when driving. There’s just no risk of being hi-lacked. I feel safe sleeping in a house without burglar bars.”
Would Johan have done anything differently?
“I would have done it earlier in my life. This is great!”