A real handy-manLOUISE BERWICK
From Southland to the bustling heart of the United Kingdom, Andrew Wilson has had an interesting journey to England.
Q: Where are you?
A: London, England.
Q: What are you doing there?
A: After stints working in Australia and Ireland I decided to do a European van tour in 2009 with a friend. We visited 17 European countries in four months and after that I was well and truly bitten by the travel bug. A year later I embarked on an overland tour through eastern Africa where I met a girl who would eventually become my wife. She was English, which inevitably meant I would spend some time living in England.
Q: How long have your been living there?
A: In 2011, after renting my house out in Southland and selling all of my worldly possessions, I made the big move to London. My girlfriend and I spent the first year here living with her parents in a small town called Leatherhead just outside London until we could afford our own place. We managed to get on the property ladder and buy a nice little two-bedroom house in August last year, just in time for my daughter to be born in November.
Q: Was it hard to get a job?
A: As exciting as it was, it was also incredibly daunting moving from a quiet, rural upbringing to a city of 8 million people. After doing a vast range of jobs in New Zealand, from driving trucks to shearing, I didn't have the slightest idea what work I would do once in London. I applied for lots of different positions from building to being a travel agent. Frustration grew after never once getting feedback from any of the companies so I began doing odd jobs for friends and family. The jobs started to roll in once every one caught wind of the ''know how, can do'' Kiwi attitude. Before long it had become a fulltime job. For the first year a substantial amount of my income went towards buying tools and getting set up. Two years on and I have a fulltime worker with me, doing all types of property maintenance from gardening to decorating.
Q: When will you move back to Southland? Will you ever?
A: If and once I get UK citizenship and can come and go as I please, the three of us aim to move back to New Zealand for a few years, probably to Central Otago.
Q: What is your favourite thing about the place you are living in?
A: The travel opportunities. Within an hour's flight I can be in multiple different countries and for a very low cost. I still find it fascinating that many people will work in one country and live in another as the commutes can be so small.
Q: What is the weirdest, or coolest thing, you have seen while you have been there?
A: The history in the UK and Europe is amazing. Coming from New Zealand anything older the 150 years seems old but in the UK there are things thousands of years old and a lot of the houses could be 300 to 400 years old with people still living in them.
Q: What do you miss about Southland?
A: The quiet roads. Open spaces, friendliness of people and hunting, I can't do any hunting of any type here. And, of course, my family.
Q: What don't you miss about Southland?
A: The bad storms, and lack of opportunities to travel.
Q: What was the hardest thing to get used to over there?
A: The lack of space is by far the hardest thing to get used to. Everything is confined because there are so many people. Everything from the roads to the houses are smaller than New Zealand and can make you feel very claustrophobic after a while.
Q: Do you have an accent?
A: I have a Kiwi accent while I'm here.
Q: What advice do you have for other Southlanders?
A: Pack your bags and do some travelling. Whether it be Australia, Africa or Europe it's always worth getting out and exploring another part of the world. There is so much to see and do, it will really open your eyes up to this diverse planet we live on.
Q: How does the cost of living compare to New Zealand in your opinion?
A: Cost of living in the UK is actually cheaper than New Zealand when it comes to food, power telecommunications etc. The only thing I have found more expensive is petrol.
Q: Have you travelled anywhere else? If so, where was your favourite place and why?
A: I've been to a few counties now and it's very hard to name a favourite as they are all unique in their own way, like Italy for its great food, Switzerland for its cleanliness, Holland for the fact drugs are legal, and Spain for its bizarre festivals like running with the bulls and the tomato fight, but when it comes to naming a favourite it would still have to be New Zealand.
Q: What would be your top recommendations for places to visit?
A: All of them. Every country on earth has something to offer and you take out of it what you put in. For example, Scotland can cater for someone that is wanting to go visit some castles or someone that wants to experience the nightlife of Edinburgh, or some people may like Ibiza for its relaxing beaches whereas others may like to drink their body weight in booze in some of its many bars. Either way, if you leave with a good experience or a bad one, it's still been an experience.
*Southlanders are a globe-trotting bunch, so we have started a new series called Southlanders' Tales. We're looking for Southlanders overseas doing interesting things or living in interesting places. We'd also look at former Southlanders achieving real success elsewhere in New Zealand. If you know of anyone, please get in touch with us: Email: email@example.com or facebook post on: facebook.com/TheEyePaper