Great idea to start this thread Bev - it'll be interesting to hear everyone's experiences. We seriously thought about moving to New Zealand 12 years ago but in the end decided to stay in the good old UK. Would love to visit New Zealand it seems such a lovely Country.
When we first told friends and family about looking into moving, I think that they thought that we had no chance of making it but we thought what the hell, we've got to give it a go.
We had to put things on hold for about 6 months as my husband was taken ill and he had to go through a whole load of tests to confirm that he was fit enough to continue and have a specialist's written statement confirming this. Luckily for us and him, he was covered by his private health scheme from work, otherwise we could have been waiting longer.
You have to go into a 'pool' with your application and we were selected at the the 1st opportunity. We then have 6 months to get all the supporting documentation in to them and then it's taken from there. You can use agencies to do this but they cost a fortune so we did everything ourselves. You don't realise how important some documentation is until you need it!
My hubby hadn't got his school exam results on an official certificate and we had to somehow get a copy of that and the governing body that oversaw those examinations no longer existed! We managed to find some extremely helpful people and managed to track down an official body that was able to provide us with a copy. All our qualification certificates had to be posted to New Zealand for verification and graded against their standards so that we could complete that part of our application and confirm how many immigration points we would be awarded for that section.
We had to get police checks. We (all the family) also had to have medicals and x-rays, and this is all at our own cost. It was cheaper for us to travel by train to Birmingham to have this carried out than it was to go to Sheffield, which was just down the road for us. Crazy! Fortunately, we didn't have to have an English language test
At every stage in the process, we thought that we would be knocked back but wasn't. The final part of the application was an interview, and this could be conducted via phone or in person but for us, it was a phone interview with my husband, as he was the main applicant. At the end of the interview, my husband was told that we had been successful in our application for immigration to New Zealand and should have our passports with the visa's in a few weeks. It took about 4 wks in the end and I was worried that my hubby had heard him wrong but he hadn't. The process from when we first went in the 'pool' to be being granted a resident visa was about 6 months. 5 months after that we were out here. We'd sold the house (twice, long story!) and flew out from Heathrow airport on 7th March and we've (hubby and I) haven't been back since. Kids have been back though.
It is hard leaving friends and family behind and am glad that a couple of our good friends (they were our neighbours) flew out to visit for our 1st Christmas here. I do think that the pros outweigh the cons most days. I also think that as the kids are growing up, they realise that they have been given additional choices and should they wish to settle back in the UK or Europe, then they can but it's a big world out there and New Zealand and Australia is also an option for them.
We know of some people that moved out here only to stay 3 or 6 months and because they hadn't sold their house in the UK, were able to move back quickly and relatively easy. We always said that if we didn't like it, we'd sick it for at least 2 years as after that time, we'd be given indefinite returning resident visa's, so that give us the freedom to move from the UK to New Zealand at any time. As we've been here for more than 5 years, we can now apply for citizenship, and that's the one that gives us the chance to live and work in Australia.