reader report

My OE was key to my success

00:35, Nov 12 2013
BIG CITY: Me at the office, overlooking Tower Bridge and the Thames.

I left New Zealand and moved to London at the age of 26. After university I had spent six years working for an insurance company, and I had grown bored and restless. Rather than change jobs or move cities, I decided to move to London so I could earn GBPs and travel around Europe.

I knew absolutely no one in London but I figured that since so many other Kiwi's had done it, what was there to worry about? I had the notion that Londoners were a very welcoming bunch and that I would be taken welcomed with open arms. Plus, I could always just come home if I didn't like it. I didn't end up coming home for seven years.

It was a flat of Aussies in Hammersmith who welcomed me into the fold and I spent my first year in London hanging out with other Kiwi's and Aussies in notorious antipodean establishments such as the recently closed down Walkabout and Redback pubs. I didn't end up doing nearly as much travelling as I had thought - London is a pricey city to live in.

I easily scored a job within HR at a global investment bank. It was 2006, pre Global Financial Crash and investment banking was an incredibly exciting industry, nothing like my dusty old insurance job! A year flew by and before I knew it I had used up my working holiday visa, but I was certainly not ready to go back to New Zealand.

My job had become a career, I had made some amazing friends and I still hadn't done all the travelling I wanted to do. I shot back home, got a new visa and was back in London with a new, better job at an even bigger investment bank and a new flat in an even more exciting part of London.

For the next five years I worked hard and played hard, travelled all over Europe, made amazing friends and met the man I would marry.


But last year my love affair with London began to dwindle. Catching the tube went from being a revolutionary way to travel to a nightmare of being crushed up against sweaty arm pits in rammed carriages. The hustle and bustle of London started to make me feel claustrophobic and frustrated, I felt like I could never escape the vast numbers of people.

I realised that there was nowhere in London where you could see the horizon, there were always buildings in the way. I missed beaches, I missed the sun, and I missed being part of family life. I got engaged and we started thinking about buying a house and having children, neither of these things seemed like a good idea to do in London.

We moved home in early 2013 and are very happy with our decision. We both scored fantastic jobs, earning more than we did in London. We have bought a house in Mangere Bridge with views over the harbour and I am loving being with family.

I look back at when I first arrived in London and can't believe how naïve I was. But I succeeded in creating a fantastic life for myself, as well as making decisions that would have a tremendous impact on my future success.

My time in London gave me life skills and a level of confidence in myself that I don't believe I would have if I hadn't left for my OE all those years ago.