Moving to New Zealand

25 Mar

Moving to New Zealand

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.

What’s ahead

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.


25 Responses to “Moving to New Zealand”

  1. Dave Montgomery 25. Mar, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Great news. We are really excited to have you!

    My eating suggestion:
    One of my favorite cafes is in Newtown (25min walk from work). It`s called cafe Baobab. It`s perfection sitting in the garden area on a sunny Sunday morning eating a big breakfast and drinking a flat white. Enjoy!

    • unclecheese 25. Mar, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

      Love it! Thank you!!

    • Tim Snadden 26. Mar, 2013 at 2:32 am #

      You could also mention that you will be one of Uncle Cheese’s colleagues Dave!

  2. Simon 25. Mar, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Simple answer is always “Why not”, but yeah. Awesomely bold move mister Cheese!
    Don’t let the community down!

  3. Hamish 25. Mar, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Hey, that’s great news! I’ll look you up next time I’m in Wellington. I think you’ll love it, and there are too many great places to eat/drink/walk to list here. Who knew SilverStripe would lead you 1/2 way round the world.

  4. Jeremy Shipman 25. Mar, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Wow, very risk taking and exciting :D

    The Kapiti Coast, 40min north of Wellington has a great coast line to visit on a weekend. Rock pools, beaches, rivers, cafes, ice cream, island trip.

    Plus, I live there :)

  5. Gordon Anderson 25. Mar, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    I used to live in Roseneath in Wellington, it’s 15 min cycle from there to the SilverStripe office and around a 35 min walk with awesome views.

    These were taken from my garden (Grafton Road)

    And have a look at the cloud inversions here

  6. Gordon Anderson 25. Mar, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    There is plenty of mountain biking on offer, it is the best city I’ve lived in / visited for that. Part of the culture and actively encouraged. From the city centre it is possible to cycle 400m up the way then head south over some hilly open land to the landrover track at Red Rocks. It’s an orsome ride

  7. Jono 25. Mar, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    That is so awesome! You’ll love it there.

  8. Shoaib Ali 26. Mar, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Welcome :)

  9. will 26. Mar, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    Great move. New Zealand is ace and wellington is bang in the middle! perfect. I lived in hawks bay for a year. I recommend you take up hiking, skiing and surfing immediately. Also, wine.

  10. Tim Snadden 26. Mar, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Congratulations Uncle Cheese. You’ll be a great addition to the Wellington web dev community!

    Live: Central (Mt Vic) or South Wellington (Newtown, Island Bay, Lyall Bay, Melrose).

    Bike: Everywhere! Depends what type of riding you are into. There’s something for everybody. Wellington is hilly so there are lots of good MTB tracks and they are very central. For road riding I would start by just riding to the the water and then follow the coastline all the way around.

  11. Paweł P. 26. Mar, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    I envy :)

  12. Paweł P. 26. Mar, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    I envy ;)

  13. MattSS 26. Mar, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Very cool, congratulations on the job and the lifestyle change!

    Let me know when you’re in town and I’d be happy to catch up.

    Live: Anywhere in/near the central city. If you look at a map, Wellington is pretty small, so you don’t have to go far to find a decent flat or apartment. You can’t go wrong with Mt. Vic or Brooklyn (assuming you don’t mind hills), or Newtown/Island Bay/Lyall Bay (assuming you don’t mind a longer walk/bike to work).

    Enjoy the new experiences!

  14. francisco arenas 26. Mar, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    It was really hard to maintain the secret for that much time :D

    I’m really happy for you and your family, I hope we can continue working together and the crazy difference of hours between us won’t interfere in our plans to conquer the world…

    if that happens, just get me a free space near your dog house and i will handle the rest.

  15. Tomáš Bílek 27. Mar, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    Thumbs up unclecheese. This article is big inspiration for me especially about to be tied down :-).

    Take care!


  16. Rico Schenker 27. Mar, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    This is a great move and it’s always good to take some risk. I’ll bet you will make a lot of great experiences down there.

    So good luck!


  17. Rob Mac Neil 28. Mar, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Congratulations and best of luck Aaron, to The Shire!

  18. John Slipper 30. Apr, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m a web developer from the UK. I moved to Wellington around a year ago, best decision of my life :D I work at a local company called Capiche Design ( Inevitably I ran into SilverStripe in my day to day work, brilliant framework! The question that I just have to ask is will we ever see the SilverSmith UI released?


  19. Lee Sylvester 08. May, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Hey Uncle Cheese,

    You’re not the only Brit to move to NZ. I did it last year. Lovely place. Started off on Banks Penninsula, but now currently in Auckland. I think I’ll end up in Nelson, though.

    Welcome to the land of the Kiwi’s :-)


    • Lee Sylvester 08. May, 2013 at 4:11 am #

      Oh, you’re American… For some reason, I thought you were from Northern England. Must be another familiar SS dev :-D

  20. Daniel Lewis 12. May, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Hey there,

    good on you mate, i have moved between nz, sweden and england 6 times in the last decade and know how it seems like it will be hard but then turns out to be amazingly easy. Haha!

    I would also like to welcome you to wellington! We are better off for your arrival.

    My recommendations are:

    Monsoon Poon, by courtney place: beef rendang

    Pandan Asian Cuisine, Tawa, Wellington: another beef rendang!

    Satay Kingdom off cuba: meegoreng

    Han river, lower Hutt: Korean – eat anything its yum.

    Logan Brown on cuba: go on sunday for 2/3 dishes from set menu for i think $30 + its the only day its BYO bottle of wine.

    Chocolate fish cafe in scorching bay: coffee on the beach and very kid friendly.

    La Bella Italia, petone: kind of deli meets ittalian bistro/pizzaria.

    Ontrays, Petone: South African deli/wholesale.

    Moore Wilson, tori st: high end wholesale foods.

    Sunday market indoor and out by Te Papa!

    And last but not least the Phoenecian next to the embassy cinema: lamb shish on a plate with bread on side – or falafel if your veg:)

    ps get over to eastbourne and walk to the lighthouse, get to makara wind turbine farm and go to the somes island on the ferry :)

  21. James Pluck 22. May, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    Welcome to the Antipodes, Aaron! I am confident you’ll love New Zealand. I live in Hamilton myself – about an hour and a bit out of Auckland and about 6-7 hours north of Wellington. If you want to get out and see the North Island a bit Hamilton is a great central spot to work from. For starters we have some excellent gardens and the Mighty Waikato river to enjoy, and outside of that Hamilton is close to most of the major attractions in the central North Island: Taupo, Rotorua (geothermal, Maori culture), Waitomo Caves, Raglan Beach, Skiing and snowboarding on Mounts Ruapehu and Tongariro, “Middle Earth” at Matamata. Heaps to see and do here.

    I’m down in Wellington regularly to see family and I’d love to meet you for a beer or a coffee! I’ve been using your Silverstripe tools and techniques for so long you almost feel like family!

    James (PapaBearNZ)

  22. jadeed 29. Oct, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    I’m sure new zeal and will be amazing, I have been there twice and i highly recommend it. amazing place.