It can be hard adjusting to a new country when you move away from home: simple things like finding the post office, buying your groceries and opening a bank account are all suddenly painstaking challenges. You may also need to apply for a visa, figure out what suburb to live in and suddenly discover that the cost of living is far higher than you expected.
Beyond practical aspects involved in becoming a new resident, there’s also an emotional journey to go through. No one knows these challenges as a migrant to Wellington better than UK born, Josie, now a resident of New Zealand.
Josie has a unique insight into the trials and triumph of a young woman’s experience of moving from the United Kingdom to Wellingtno. She is the author of popular travel blog ‘Lost in Silver Fern’ where she helpfully documents how to move to New Zealand based on her own experience. Her blog is practical and valued by the ever growing expat community who are settling in Wellington. She also covers living in Wellington, travel, sustainability and more.
Josie’s been featured as one of the top 20 blogs on savepedia.co.nz, Best New Zealand Expat Blogs by InternationalMoneyTransfers.org and is a featured blog on Expats Blog Com. She also writes for the Wellington City Council blog, ‘Word on the Street’.
Josie and I became acquainted when she attended a workshop with me during Wellington on a Plate in 2017 and since then we’ve become friends. Josie has an intelligent perspective on the intricacies of Wellington life, and the advantage of having a foot in both camps - both as a local and as a someone hailing from ‘the Motherland’ of our small colonial islands. She doesn’t take life for granted and is always organising plans to go and discover our small city, whether by finding the most interesting sustainable local companies or hiking in the coastal areas with her boyfriend Lucas.
Josie was born in London in Wandsworth Hospital, West London in 1988. Creativity runs strong in the family and both her parents have had interesting careers. “My Dad was an Architect and Mum was a Solicitor; however, she gave that up when I was born. For the last 12 years she’s had a shop where she sold in ethical fashion in York. My whole family live there,” Josie explains.
York was where Josie made her first memories before the family relocated to the Lake District. Growing up in the rambling woods and farms that inspired Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’ books was idyllic in many ways, she explains. “The whole area is amazing. We had a picturesque childhood, going to a country school and all that kind of thing! Our house was an old rectory and was even featured in a magazine!” she says. Later, the family returned to York. Josie considers it her UK home, although she still has a strong connection to the Lake District.
Josie went on to study Art History at Manchester University. She then gained a Masters degree in Arts Administration and cultural policy at Goldsmith’s in London. “I did lots of internships and I worked at the Barbican centre for two years in London.” While she enjoyed aspects of the experience, Josie found that the practical reality of working in the art world wasn’t for her. “There was a lot of passing time just standing around because I was a person who was low in the food chain and minding the gallery or assisting. It’s very competitive to be in the world of art administration and doesn’t pay great. I just found I would prefer to visit a gallery and have it as my hobby.”
In between her undergraduate and Masters degree, Josie moved to Melbourne for a year in 2013 where she met Lucas “We met on a night out!” she laughs. She returned to London and the pair stayed in touch. Lucas ended up travelling to Europe and he and Josie eventually got together. They decided to move to a new country and chose New Zealand for the fact it wasn’t either of their home countries. “We came here and we had to pick the city we would live in blind. People told us that Wellington was the best place to live. It had lots of arts and culture, the most going on and was really amazing!”
However, her first experience of Wellington wasn’t her ideal start. “The heating in houses here is the worst I’ve ever experienced. We arrived in winter and it was so so cold” she says. Apart from that Josie is a Wellington superfan. “I love the size of it, the people, the nightlife, the way people walk around easily, beaches, mountains and amazing vista’s everywhere. I feel like it really suits my personality.”
Josie started blogging on ‘Lost in Silver Fern’ for fun when she arrived in Wellington mainly to help other in her position. “I was applying for my partnership work visa and I was struggling to find a way to present it. I ended up finding a blog called ‘The Londoner in Sydney’ and the girl who wrote it laid out how she did her visa, step by step. That was what inspired me. ‘Hardly anyone is doing it here’ I thought. I figured I might actually be able to get some readers!”
And she has, with Josie’s blog posts being widely searched on Google, some attracting up to 3000 views. “People email me and tell me how my blog has really helped them. I have a blog post called ‘Wellington Areas; which one is for you?” Is it Newtown? Mount Victoria? My experience of moving around the world lots meant I knew that it would be a helpful source for people” she says. “I thought there was a lot to share with people who, like me, we're moving to Wellington. My blogging came first and the love of writing followed.”
Josie’s favourite moment with her blog was when a woman emailed saying her daughter would ask to visit her Instagram to see ‘The pretty pictures of New Zealand’. “I was so touched that people enjoyed what I wrote and created so much that even their kids were into it!” she says.
On moving, she decided to swap up her career and move into non-arts jobs in New Zealand. “My change in direction has gone really well” Josie says. “I love working for a government Ministry and feel like I’m learning all the time.”
Josies biggest struggle is finding time to work on her blog, and rushing things out sometimes. “I don’t have an editor, and sometimes I feel like my writing suffers.” She’d love to have more time on perfecting her own work. “It’s hard to make something how you want it to be.”
For fun, on the weekends, she and Lucas travel around New Zealand to make the most of their lives here. Josie also sews on the side from time to time and enjoys exploring all aspects of what Wellington has to offer, going to gigs at places like Meow and brunching at Prefab. Now she and Lucas are low-key house hunting.
“The biggest challenge of living in New Zealand for a Brit is being so far away from family” she admits. “It’s such a long flight and it’s so expensive. But I really do love living here and I go back reasonably often, or last year I met my Mum half-way in Borneo.”
So what’s next for Josie? More writing, more exploring and continuing her blooming career in Government. “I really feel at home in Wellington” says Josie. “I feel like this is the place Lucas and I have set our heart on and will be for a long time to come.”