Tag Archives: Christchurch

The last day of 2013.

Oh, what a year it have been. 
Today it is the last day of 2013. It has been a very different year.
In January we where busy trying to clean our house and get rid of all the furniture and stuff that we couldn’t bring with us.
In February we took a vacation in Thailand, Bali and Sydney.
In March we finally arrived in New Zealand. Attending interviews with companies to get a job offer and we travelled around North Island.
In April we tried to get our new life in Christchurch settled. Start working.
In May the kids started school. In June we bought a house in Christchurch.

And from that month we have received our residency, some of our older kids have start working, my wife got a job. We have met a lot of new friends, and had old friends visiting us. We have been in the newspaper (New Zealand Herald. The kids have had a great time in their new school and have got some new friends. 
It has been a very exciting and in the same time a tough year. 
We enjoy our new life and looking forward to an exciting 2014. 

Happy New Year!

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How is it to live in Christchurch and in New Zealand?

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Christchurch is a vibrant city with a lot of different nationalities. Many people have moved here for a reason. The reasons differ, but everyone want’s to get a good life.

In the following blog posts I will try to explain how it is to live here and what differs from other places. If you are interested in a special topic please leave a message and I will try to explain my view.

Better work life balance. I have heard that from many people. Kiwis are in general not keen on working overtime. So for you that is used of working 60 hours/week. It is possible to have a change. But there are companies here that have the motto ”work hard play hard attitude”. So take care so that you don’t end up in the same situation again.

Weather: Since it is one of the most discussed topics in my home country (Sweden). I have to bring it up. We are in the middle of winter right now. The winter in Christchurch is most often cold nights (some nights we have frost), but in daytime we can have up to 17-18 degrees when there’s no cloud. Some days it is cold the hold day (between 0-10 degrees). Not to bad. We have had snow two times, but it didn’t last so long (a few hours). One thing I can mention is that the weather can change very fast. We have also had some rainfall with heavy wind. You don’t want to be outside then.
Even if the weather is quite mild I have never been freezing so much indoors as here. The houses are in general very bad isolated (even if our house is built year 2000).

Single glassing and very poor insulation are common.

The nature: The nature is fantastic, with very nice views and a lot of things to see. We have only seen a small part of NZ, but I like what I have seen. Fantastic. Plants that we are used to have indoor are growing outside here.
There is only one thing that disturbs us. Most of the country is farm and livestock land. There is not much left of the original fauna such as trees. The trees that exist are most often planted and don’t belong to the natural fauna.

To be continued….

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Buying a house in Christchurch.

Yes, finally we found our house. As I mentioned before searching for properties in Christchurch is not the easiest task. And when it comes to buying a house it was a little bit different than what we are used to. Negotiation with the bank is done through a mortgage broker, so you don’t have to hassle with them. The contract signing has to go through a solicitor. And the worst part (at least what we discovered) is to get insurance. In Canterbury they have much harder rules to get it. And you have to use the company that the house was insured before.  And if you don’t get insured there will be no bank loan.

We are living near the beach in Christchurch. It would be great in the summer, great for walking and enjoying water activities. And it is a big forest park nearby. We will definitely enjoy the area. And the garden is really nice.

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Can we start to love our new hometown, Christchurch?

 

One thing that came in to my mind when I was walking to the bus was that question. Can we learn to love this city? It is amazing how well people are dealing with the earthquake.

I have seen so many innovative and inspiring new projects around the city.  The museum of art was badly damaged by the earthquake, so instead of closing down they are displaying art everywhere in the city as part of the Outer space programme. And don’t forget all the small contributions to the innovative city. I will tell you more about this later on.

The rebuild takes a long time, but that could be a positive thing. Now they can remake the inner city a lot more than would be possible in other cities. And really try hard to turn the city to something great. And we really like the plan they have for the rebuild of Christchurch.

When we arrived I had some split feelings about the munted (destroyed) city. We where not prepared for what awaited for us. We have seen so many empty houses that are waiting for demolition and empty properties.  At least there are a lot of parking places.

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Looking at properties in Christchurch

We where very lucky to find a house to rent, and it is big enough for our family. And it is not to far away from the city centre. To rent a house in Christchurch is very expensive due to the lack of houses. The earthquakes and the on-going repair have created a huge demand of temporary housing.

We are thinking of buying a house but it seems to be even more to consider than to what was needed back home. In Christchurch they have done a tremendous job to investigate and categorize the areas to reduce the risk of injury to people and damage to homes in any future earthquakes. There are green and red zones where red zones mean that land repair would be prolonged and uneconomic. Land in the green zone is generally considered suitable for residential construction but some properties have experienced liquefaction and considerable settlement during the series of Canterbury earthquakes.

Map of the zones are found here: http://www.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz/content/land-zone-map

The technical categories describe how the land is expected to perform in future significant earthquakes and guide the selection of appropriate foundation solution (TC1-TC3).

Description of the Technical categories can be found here: http://cera.govt.nz/residential-green-zone-technical-categories/overview

The technical categories only apply if foundation repairs or rebuilding is required – there is no general requirement to upgrade house foundations. If in future you rebuild or substantially modify the house the technical categories would apply.

We have been looking at a property, which was categorized in TC3. An investigation of the property shows that the foundation has been damaged and should be rebuilt. If you choose to not rebuild the foundation then you wouldn’t get any insurance and hence no loan from the bank.

And you also have to consider if the schools are good in the area. In New Zealand you will belong to a school depending on where you are living. Schools with good reputation also lead to higher prices in certain areas.

Some areas are considered to be “good areas” and of course that will reflect on the price of the properties in that area.

Most properties are sold on auctions or by negotiation. Negotiation means that you can give an offer for the property, and real estate agencies are not allowed to tell the amount others have offered. In this case there wouldn’t be any bidding. Auction is probably to get around the rules and get bidding on the properties.

We will continue to look at properties and hopefully we will find what we are looking for.

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Travelling on the North Island

We have been travelling around on the North Island for a few weeks. This is our thought of the memorable places we have been to.

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Wellington was nice, feels like a real city in comparison with Christchurch. But that has a simple explanation called earthquake. The city centre is very nice, but the surrounding mountains make it very hard to find a reasonable priced apartment or house. Many people have to commute from lower or upper hut or nearby villages. We also went to Weta Caves where they do a lot of costumes and props for film industry, such as Lord of the Rings etc.

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Napier was also very nice, very cute and small town. It lies almost on the beach. We understand why Michelle stayed there.

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Gisborn witch is a small town further north of Napier, is also very cute and nice town that also lies near the beach. We where lucky with the weather and had a day of sun and 30 degrees.

After that we went to “Bay of Plenty”. The road from Gisborn to Opotiki where very interesting due to its step and curvy road. In general roads are good but when you are travelling over mountains you can imagine how they look like. In NZ they have road signs that tell you how fast you should go through the curves. Signs that say 35 or 25 are very common, so you can imagine how curves look like.

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We stayed that night in a small village called Ohope. The camping site was almost on the beach, and was very nice.

The day after we travelled to Tauranga which is the biggest city in Bay Of Plenty. I liked it a lot, very nice city-centre and near to the water and the beach.

Now we realized that we had step up the pace to be able to see the things we wanted before we had to leave the campervan. We travelled past Auckland to Whangarei, which is on the Northland. A very nice and small city with water and beaches in a short distance. The city-centre was really nice, with old buildings and small restaurants and shops.

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After that we went south to Matamata where Hobbiton is. It is small hobbit village where The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit pictures are recorded. It was fun and interesting to see how the village looks like in real life. It is amazing how detailed the village is. Well worth spending a half day.

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Next village we went to Rotorua where there is a lot of thermal activity. Special interesting was Wai-o-tapu where there are a lot thermal lakes with hot liquid and stunning colours.

And bathing in thermal baths is really nice.

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Taupo was our next target. Lake Taupo was really nice. The road where going beside the lake and as we where lucky with the weather the views where really amazing.

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Wanganui was also a nice town. It lies on the west coast but the town doesn’t have beach access. It seems that beach access is not that attractive in NZ.

Wellington and the ferry to Picton where done in a hurry. Nelson on the South Island followed.

Directly after we got off Picton we went to Nelson. I‘m really sure that I will go to Nelson more times. Nelson is a beautiful town in the northern part of South Island.

Now we only had a few days before we had to arrive in Christchurch, so we went to Hamner springs where they have thermal bath and slides for the children. We where lucky with the weather so we had sunshine and 25 degrees in the air.

We had a great time when we travelled around. And we are still friends even if we have been in a Campervan for three weeks (7 person in a Van). But the last days everyone wanted to go to Christchurch and settle down. We where lucky to find somewhere to stay when we where coming back. Unpacking and returning the Van was a big relief.

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Finally in New Zealand.

Finally we arrived at our main goal. Now we are in Christchurch on the Southern island of New Zealand. We where a little bit nervous that they wouldn’t let us in to the country. But it turned out to be without any big problem. In Sydney we had to buy a return ticket otherwise we where not allowed to check in to the flight. So far we have had some small obstacles on the way.

We have now been in NZ for almost a week. We are really surprised that all the people are so friendly. We have heard about it before but it is when you really meet people that you realize how friendly they are.

The weather is change very fast. Usually it is quite warm in the morning and some days it is really chilly in the afternoon.

We are really surprised by the impact of the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. A lot of buildings are not safe anymore and have to be torn down. From big buildings to small house, all are affected in some ways. There are a lot of open spaces where they have taken down buildings that were not safe anymore. And a lot of old buildings such as churches are affected in different ways. Some buildings only have the roof still intact. Others lack a wall or parts of the building. I tried to find information on the impact of the earthquakes but couldn’t get any valid information. Now we start to realize the impact, and it is really a big impact.

On the other hand they have a good opportunity to form the city that wouldn’t be possible in a normal case. I will cover this subject more later.

I have been to interviews this week and they have been going quite good. Again I am really surprised by the friendly people. Sometimes it is hard to understand their dialect, but I think I will learn that quite fast.

We have had help from our immigration adviser, Mike Bell (www.newzealandimmigration.org.nz). I can highly recommend Mike if you are planning to immigrate to NZ. It is so much better than using some of the England or Netherland companies, and cheaper. And when you arrive you have very good help from them. I can also recommend the community on www.move2nz.com.

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