While Sarah Lee’s the motivation for coming to New Zealand was a little unorthodox, her move to Taranaki was firmly driven by lifestyle.
“I was watching the movie Titanic, and the bit where Kate Winslet is on the front of the ship with her arms out talking about a whole new world – that was me. I knew I had to go and live in another country, so I did, though not by boat, obviously.”
So in 1999 Sarah came to New Zealand from London to visit a friend living in Auckland, and rushed home to pack up everything and make a more permanent move. In 2013 she made the move to Taranaki, with her 11-year-old daughter.
“When my friend was researching the move to New Zealand from the UK she spent a lot of time at my place looking at it online. I gained a really good insight into the country in the process!”
“I was working in IT and that was ahead of the whole Y2K boom, so I found it easy to get a good job. It wasn’t until after I’d arrived that I stopped to think about Visas and the likes. Fortunately, the demand for IT skills was high, so it was easy.”
Since then Sarah’s brother and his family, and her parents have also made the move to New Zealand.
“I love New Zealand. It’s just so easy to live here,”
Now, Sarah has followed her heart to Eltham, finding the lifestyle even easier, and the biggest challenge has been learning to live with a bloke.
Sarah is working in New Plymouth, in what may seem like a long commute by Taranaki standards, she has found it’s a lot quicker than Auckland.
“I drive 55km to New Plymouth, but my friend in Auckland drives 25km from Botany Downs to the CBD, and it takes her half an hour longer. There’s just no traffic here.”
Finding a job in Taranaki was easy.
“I applied for three, and was offered two of them, starting as soon as I could get there.”
Sarah, a Recruitment Consultant for Programmed Integrated Workforce, which been able to share her enthusiasm for the region and how easy it is to do business here – she has even been known to hold recruitment meetings in the local pub, such is the strength of the community in Eltham.
“Everyone here is approachable and open to referrals,” Sarah says, “There’s just a great community network here.”
Sarah has found it easy to meet people and become part of the community, and her daughter has found her British accent an excellent icebreaker in the playground. Taranaki is also coming up trumps when it comes to schooling.
“Good private schooling is very expensive in Auckland. Here we’ve found a very good school just up the road that offers similar benefits, but at a fraction of the cost.
Education isn’t the only thing that’s cheaper – Sarah has even noticed her grocery bill is lower than in Auckland.
Having found the weather isn’t as good as Auckland – colder and wetter – Sarah does concede that she’s so far only experienced Taranaki over the winter months and is looking forward to a summer which the locals assure here will be better.
Sarah and her family are now spending weekends exploring the region – getting deliberately lost in order to find Taranaki’s hidden gems.
When it comes to advice for anyone else looking to make the move, Sarah advises just doing it. And keeping an eye on cheap Grab A Seat fares, as the road between Auckland and Taranaki could do with some smoothing out.