Last week I was going through the last of my boxes looking for my favourite things to write about for Emma, Kelly, Frankie and Rebecca’s travel link-up when I stumbled across my old diaries. Cringing moments aside (like how much I LOVED my boyfriend at the time, BLEURGH!!!), it occurred to me that I stopped writing those favourite diaries of mine nine years ago when I finished up a massive backpacking stint from the UK to New Zealand – I was back in Wellington having officially returned from my OE thanks to my UK visa expiring and quite frankly just wasn’t ready to be back here. Little did I know I wouldn’t return to Wellington for seven years after I left 18 months later.
I thought that I would feel like that this time, clawing away at any opportunity to return that would pay me enough to support the family living in London, but I’m going to be honest – this has been an exceptionally good move for us so far. Yes, there are times that I miss London, after nearly a decade living there of course I was going to miss parts of it – London was my world. I especially miss my friends and the way the city embraces you and finds a corner that you will fit and leaves you to make the most of that world you have built there. I miss the walks – my god to I miss walking around London – you look up, sideways, left, right and behind and you’ll see history and occasionally the future. I am so glad it is one of the best places in the world to visit over and over again.
The strange thing that has shocked me is that I don’t miss living there. I keep finding myself waiting to miss it – is that moment going to happen any time soon?
Wellington works for us. Not being from here I was a bit nervous about the city (I’ve lived here for two very short stints but nothing long enough to create any roots) but it’s a fantastic little capital with great culture, a brilliant food scene, fresh air and the magnificent outdoors in all its forms. Yes it is tough to make friends at this age but it is awesome having family close by and I love being able to see the sea from my desk.
KEA New Zealand’s LinkedIn group has a thread about how people have found getting jobs when they return and not all of it is positive that’s for sure. That was by far my biggest concern – that I wouldn’t fit in with the working environment and that the opportunities I want for my career wouldn’t exist in Wellington, but boy-oh-boy have I been proven wrong. I’ve found an amazing and challenging job with fantastic colleagues in a stimulating environment that has allowed my skills to shine. The majority of people I work with are either from overseas or have lived away for years so understand the occasional bout of reverse culture shock and a many of them have kids so totally get it when I turn up to work with massive bags under my eyes and already on my third long black for the day. Mr Man the Brit found it somewhat more difficult to get a job in his field due to various bureaucratic processes involved then the “but you don’t have any New Zealand experience” line but thankfully he has a good job now and is quite happy.
The houses here are COLD. I’m not going to lie here, that has been the biggest irritant about moving back, but thankfully we don’t live in the stone age and have heaters that go a long way even if they do send our power bills through the roof. But that’s probably been the worst part. New Zealand isn’t cheap either, but I earn a lot more here than I did in the UK and Mr Man hasn’t had to take the massive salary cut he initially thought he might have to.
We are happy. We live in a cute three bedroom cottage 15 minutes by train or bus into town. We wake up to tuis singing in our vegetable garden and every weekend we’re always enjoying the outdoors. You can’t compare these cities – they are simply too different – which is probably why the transition has been fine. This life is different to London, and it will never replace that amazing city, but it is good for us right now. You never know what lies around the corner and we have given ourselves two years before we completely agree to commit to Wellington but for now this works and life is good. The 20-something who wrote those diaries (what “my favourite things” post was originally meant to be about before my rant there!) would probably be horrified by how domestic she’s become, but I think she’d be proud that her favourite city in the entire world gave her another go before winding things down and sending her back to the other side of the world in order to write the next chapter of her life. It has started out well thus far.