Corina Wilson a Kiwi in Northern Ireland
We spoke to Corina about her experiences living in Northern Ireland
I left New Zealand 10 years ago with a one way ticket to Dublin, €600, backpack and hiking boots. I knew no one and had no job. In the past decade, amongst other things, I've washed dishes in a hotel off the Connemara coast, worked as a supervisor in a 4-star hotel, spent a winter in Lapland working logistics for Santa, managed a YHA hostel in Wales then agreed to a marriage after a first date.
Today I'm a stay-at-home Mum with two wee ones back in hubby's home country of Northern Ireland. It's been a learning curve for us both as he'd been away working in England for 20 years but we've decided that Northern Ireland was a better choice for raising a family.
Deciding to move to Northern Ireland
After our first child was born we decided to move as we wanted to be close to one set of grandparents so they could enjoy their grandkids. We left England for the kids but moved to Northern Ireland for the grandparents.
We felt we could have a better work life balance in Northern Ireland and we were able to get more for our money in regards to a bigger house with more outside space for the kids.
Living in Northern Ireland
The huge difference between New Zealand and Northern Ireland is the definitely the weather, here you do have to plan your day around it!
The people in Northern Ireland are lovely, you can make eye contact and hold a conversation with a random stranger while waiting in a queue, you couldn’t do that in England.
We love getting out and about, exploring, going for going for walks and having picnics while on day-trips around the country. We also have an annual membership at the Belfast Zoo which the wee ones enjoy.
In the time my husband has been away the country has seen a lot of changes, so we are all enjoying the discoveries made on regular road trips throughout Northern Ireland.
I am doing a project as part of Kiwis in Northern Ireland #KiwiTributeTuesday where I am visiting the graves of all the Kiwi servicemen who are buried here. There are about 38 of them dotted everywhere from Enniskillen to Limavady and Newry so we try and tie day trips with the family around the project.
The benefits of living in Northern Ireland
I love travelling but living in New Zealand the closet countries are Australia which is a 2.5 hour flight or Fiji which is 3 hours away, here you can do a weekend break in a Europe. The closeness of so many destinations for a weekend or week away is a real benefit, as an outsider coming in I think people here don’t appreciate how lucky they are.
If you are moving to the UK and want a good lifestyle definitely consider Northern Ireland, it’s the cheapest place to live (compared to my other experiences in Ireland, Wales and England), housing prices and cost of living are much more affordable. Commuting is a lot better with my husband’s commute now a third of what is was in England which is definitely a big benefit and contributes to the work/life balance we were looking for.
Kiwis in Northern Ireland
When you move to any new home, you have to create your own social network and this was how Kiwis in Northern Ireland @Kiwis_NI came about. Last January I was at home with a toddler and small baby, the weather was awful, I felt isolated and so decided to reach out and see who was out there, a year later there are about 70 Kiwi’s in the group
With Northern Ireland being so small, once people find out you are a Kiwi they immediately mention any other Kiwis they or their family know so the network is always growing.
Our first event was a coffee morning last summer at the home of the New Zealand Honorary Consul Professor Sinclair Stockman with over 40 people attending from all over Northern Ireland including Portrush and Enniskillen. For our next event we are holding a casual Sunday lunch in April in the restaurant of one of the Kiwi Members.
If you are a Kiwi living in Northern Ireland or are thinking of moving here, you can get in touch on twitter @Kiwis_NI or Kiwis in Northern Ireland on Facebook or Instagram.