In what is surely the craziest life decision I have ever made, I am elated to finally announce to the SilverStripe community that I will be moving to New Zealand to start a new job in the next few months. Having worked with SilverStripe almost to the exclusion of anything else over the last six years, it has always felt like a romantic and heroic destiny that I would end up on that far-flung island at the bottom of the world, working with the object of my affection at ground zero. To that end, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but acting on it, and materializing that fantasy is something I never thought would happen in any reality.
I’ll get into all the details further down, but lest I bury the lead, the company for which I’ll be working is Heyday, a SilverStripe-driven shop in Wellington, just blocks from the SilverStripe headquarters. Heyday has a stellar reputation as one of the best web agencies in New Zealand. Their team of more than 30 employees is loaded with talent and enthusiasm for taking the web to new places and serving clients with cutting-edge websites and web applications that solve problems. Further, they’re really cool guys. Each time I spoke with them, I felt more and more part of the team. I can’t wait to get my feet on the ground over there and join forces with this company.
An adventurous (and surprisingly practical) move
Living in another country has been something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. If you’re not from America, you probably don’t realize this, but being an American can actually be quite suffocating. American culture is everywhere. It’s all over the news. It’s in every country you visit. American films and music are projected all over the globe. English has become the de-facto global language that everyone speaks in every first world country. The American dollar is valued in all corners of the earth. It’s really hard to feel like a foreigner. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and be a humbled guest in another land. So it follows that after living here for a while, one might want to get away, and experience life somewhere else.
Even though I had the best of intentions to “someday” live in another country, eventually, life happened. Before I knew it, I was a homeowner, a husband, and a dad. I was “tied down” as the euphemism goes, and had lost almost all hope that I would ever get a chance to give myself a foreign adventure.
In the background, my wife was feeling tied down in her own way. She dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom to our son, and although her job afforded her half-time hours, it was nonetheless a huge concession for her to be away from him half the week.
Over the last year, we’ve had many conversations that furnished many different ideas about what each of us wanted for our future. Then, one day, I said, “We should just move to New Zealand.”
I could already hear her response in my head. “What? Are you crazy? We’re tied down! We have a baby and a house!” But instead, it was much more succinct and whimsical. “OK,” she said, “I’m in.”
And that was that. I started working my connections in New Zealand, mostly through Twitter (apologies to any of you who were on the receiving end of my spam), and it wasn’t long before I was put in touch with Heyday. Two weeks ago, I accepted a job offer from them. By this Friday, our house will likely be as good as sold. So much for being tied down.
The next few months promise to be turbulent, busy, and full of anxiety and excitement. We need to get rid of a lot of our stuff, and cram what’s left into a shipping container that will float across two oceans over the course of 50-90 days. We’ll say goodbye to friends and family, and jump blindly into a place we never even dreamed of visiting, let alone living. We’ll be about as far from home as we can possibly be. I can’t wait.
For me, the excitement is about being out of my comfort zone. I can’t wait to screw up the metric system. I can’t wait to poke along at 20 miles per — I mean, 32 kilometers — per hour in my kiwi car, terrified that I’m on the wrong side of the road. I can’t wait to meet new people, and see new things. I want to learn the customs, norms, and social rituals that define a foreign culture.
New Zealand presents tremendous life opportunities for our family, as well. Our son is at the perfect age to move. He’s old enough to travel pretty well by air, but young enough that he doesn’t have friends or any reasons to miss home. He’ll have plenty of things to do every day, and If we’re lucky, he’ll learn how to speak in a kiwi accent, right?
I’m not so naive to believe that there is any place is perfect. There will be a lot that we’ll miss in New Zealand that we take for granted in the US, but based on all the research we’ve done over the past few months, I can’t help but see this as a net positive move for my family. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine turning down the opportunity. When we first told friends and family, a lot of them were understandably shocked. They’d say, “What? You’re really doing it? You’re moving to New Zealand?”
To that I would simply reply, “I’m not?”
Calling all Kiwis
If you have any suggestions on where to live, eat, hike, bike, or drink in Wellington, please get in touch. I’ll shout you a beer when I get there.