Swapping sides from Exeter, Devon to New Plymouth, New Zealand, took around seven months and put a £4,500 dent in their savings, but has been absolutely worth it for the 30-year olds.
“We came to New Zealand as backpackers after finishing university in 2002, and after a few months touring around we didn’t really want to go home. We absolutely loved it,” says Jo.
Making the move was easier than expected, with the couple doing all the work themselves, and the whole process taking around seven months.
“After looking closely at the emigration process we decided a few years work experience in the UK behind us would really help us make the move. Seven years later here we are!”
The couple found their new home to be both incredibly welcoming and supportive and easy to live in – both necessary conditions of a fantastic lifestyle.
“We’ve got a beautiful 3-bedroom villa New Plymouth with great views across the city and an easy walk into town,” says Jo. “We’re surrounded by really lovely people who are always happy to have a chat.
“My new manager and our landlord and neighbors were incredibly supportive when we first arrived. We got lent everything from a toaster to a sofa until our belongings arrived - about 3 months after we did!”
Career wise, Jo has been able to pick up where she left off in the UK, finding a job in human resources, while Chris has changed direction slightly, moving from being a technical officer in environmental health to a dispatch operator.
Chris found a great job within two months of arriving in New Zealand, with local company Powerco, and is still there. Jo is working at Fonterra in Hawera – one of the largest dairy production sites in the world.
“I do have an hour commute, which is rare in Taranaki, but the traffic is always moving and the views of Mount Taranaki are always changing!”
New Plymouth’s outdoors and events focus has made just as big an impact as its vibrant café culture.
“In summer there’s free concerts almost every night at the Festival of Lights in the central city Park. It’s fantastic!” says Jo.
“And at weekends, we’re either heading out for lunch at one of the many cafes, exploring the region or heading to Auckland or Taupo – New Plymouth is really well positioned in the North Island.”
“We’re a lot happier now, and spend much more time outside doing things.”
And the downsides?
“Leaving our family and friends was hard. While we loved our life in Exeter and it’s a lovely part of the UK, we knew we were going to something better, and that made things easier,” Jo says.
“But we’ve made some great friends here - both Kiwis and expats - and have a better social life and do more things here than we did back in the UK.”
The couple is now looking to buy a house in New Plymouth and put down some more permanent roots.