Huddart Family Wanted Down Under Revisited


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Huddart Family

Back in 2015 Sofia Huddart's career was taking its toll on family life. She felt a move to New Zealand could be the answer, but did she convince husband Nik?


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Back in 2015, Sofia Huddart's demanding career

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was taking its toll on family life.

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I feel I'm missing out a lot on the kids growing up.

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We have gone times where it's been almost two weeks

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before Sofia's actually seen the kids.

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She felt a new start in New Zealand could be the answer.

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Most of what people say about New Zealand

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seems to be very positive.

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When a week dipping their toes into Kiwi life

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showed just how much was on offer...

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I've certainly fallen in love with it. I mean, it's idyllic!

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..was it enough to convince husband Nik

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to leave his beloved London behind?

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I was up late last night and my brain was whizzing,

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thinking of things. We could quite happily stay in London.

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But where are the Huddart family now -

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in the UK or New Zealand?

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Around 1,000 miles long and 300 miles across at its widest,

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New Zealand's a nation roughly the same size as the UK.

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But with only a 14th of the population of Britain,

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there's plenty of room to roam.

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Boasting stunning, varied landscapes,

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the country's been a magnet for British emigrants since the 1800s,

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and latest figures show 7,000 UK citizens

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start a new life there every year.

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Hard-working mum Sofia believed New Zealand would offer her

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the family time she desperately needed.

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But while dad Nik agreed things needed to change,

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he worried that abandoning what they'd achieved in the UK

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could be too big a risk.

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And so we sent the Huddarts to New Zealand for a trial week

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to see if that risk was worth taking.

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It was the Huddarts' first ever visit to New Zealand,

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and they travelled for over 24 hours

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from London to Auckland via Singapore.

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Eventually touching down,

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the family were exhausted after a day's travelling,

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and Nik had certainly had an eventful flight.

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Both flights were long, but it wasn't too bad,

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apart from Aliza throwing up on me just before landing in Singapore,

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so I got off at Singapore smelling of sick.

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And all three of them finally slept for the last hour of the flight.

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-I had a big nap, didn't I, Daddy?

-You did have a big nap, yeah.

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Sofia had already worked out her priorities for the coming week...

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The most important thing for me to find out is basically can I work here?

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If I can't work, then everything else just kind of falls apart, really.

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..while Nik knew this could be his family's only shot

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at determining if the country could become their new home.

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The most important thing this week is to find out if we can live here.

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Because it's such a long way,

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we can't really come and do it again.

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Sofia was raring to go.

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This will be exciting!

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The trial week would show if New Zealand could give her

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the family time she so deeply desired.

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Back in 2015, the Huddart family were from London.

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They were dad Nik, mum Sofia, five-year-old Aliza,

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Izzie, who was nearly two, and Idris, who was three.

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Having lived in London for over ten years,

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Nik thrived on life in the city.

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The thing about London is, you know, you can do anything you want.

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You meet so many different people from all walks of life

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and all sort of different countries that it's just...

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I find it a great place to live.

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-He absolutely adores London.

-It was Dr Johnson who said,

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"When a man is tired of London, he's tired of life."

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After a career in IT,

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Nik had spent the last two years as a stay-at-home dad,

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which gave him more time to enjoy the city

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and polish his domestic skills.

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It is almost a complete sort of traditional role reversal.

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You know, Sofia's dinner will be ready by the time she gets back.

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I'll have done the washing and everything else, and the house is tidy.

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You know, I even make cupcakes. It's ridiculous.

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You know, I'm swapping recipes with children's mums outside,

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baking cakes for school sales.

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Nik's transformation into a househusband

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has also allowed Sofia to concentrate on her medical career.

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I specialise in anaesthetics,

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so my job involves putting patients to sleep for operations.

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That's the long and the short of it.

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-And then waking them up again.

-Well, yes.

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That's kind of the other important bit of it!

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She was passionate about her job, but the shifts were demanding.

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My average working week is a 48-hour week.

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We don't really get away much less than that.

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It's a long week. Some weeks, it's just, you know, she's home,

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you know, for tea-time, or just after tea-time.

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There's other weeks where she's, you know, back incredibly late

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and then working the weekend.

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And the long hours were putting a strain on family life.

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We have gone times where it's been almost two weeks

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before Sofia's actually seen the kids.

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I feel I'm missing out a lot on the kids growing up,

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but certainly with Izzie,

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I went back to work when he was nine months old,

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and I still come back some days and say,

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"Oh, no, he's doing that now." And Nik'll say, "Oh, no, he's been doing it for weeks."

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"OK, fine." So, I've missed that, as well.

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It's not... It's not brilliant.

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After initially looking at Canada, America and Singapore,

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the couple had set their sights on moving to New Zealand.

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Most of what people say about New Zealand

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seems to be very positive from lots of perspectives.

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Neither she nor Nik had ever visited the country,

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but Sofia believed it could be the key to her spending more time

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with Aliza, Izzie and Idris.

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I'd love to see them grow up a little bit more.

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I'd love to spend time with them a little bit more.

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-Go, go, go, go! More, more, more!

-CHEERING

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But while Nik could see some of the appeal,

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he was also more cautious about moving his family to a country

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that they'd never seen.

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I'd love for, you know, the boys to play rugby.

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It'd be great if they could learn to sail, as well.

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I think, by all accounts, the schools are better.

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Having managed to get his foot on the London property ladder,

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he had practical concerns about leaving the city he loved.

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House prices seem to be going up. Is it 13% a year?

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If a move didn't work out and the family returned to the UK,

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Nik knew the door could be firmly closed

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on owning a property in the capital again.

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The way the house prices are going here,

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it's difficult to move back.

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Even for two years, the gulf would be too much.

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If we sold the house, it's almost irreversible.

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Their upcoming trial week would decide once and for all

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if New Zealand was where the family should call home.

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It's a very important week for the both of us

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because it's a one-shot deal. It's, you know...

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Is it 12,000, 14,000 miles away?

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It's a long way. It's a 24-hour flight.

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It's five of us going out there. We're not going to do it again.

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This is not, "Oh, let's just see if we like it this time.

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"We'll go again next year."

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I just want to get it over and done with so I can put it to rest

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and then we can just move on, one way or another.

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And Sofia's job could be the deciding factor.

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I'm hoping that New Zealand will prove to be more,

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yes, I can do my work while I'm at work,

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but then I can come home and I can be with the kids.

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It all hangs off Sofia's job and Sofia's happiness in that job.

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The Huddarts spent their trial week

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in New Zealand largest city, Auckland.

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Their home was a four-bedroom house in Stanmore Bay

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on the Hibiscus Coast,

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just over half an hour north of the city centre.

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After the long journey, their temporary base

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was a sight for sore eyes.

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This is nice! Come on, kiddies! Come on in, kiddies!

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Aliza, Izzie and Idris were soon making themselves at home.

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-Whose room is this, then?

-Ah, that'd be your room.

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Aliza! I think that might be your bed up there.

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I love the bunk bed!

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And Sofia was delighted with one kitchen feature.

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-Telescope.

-Oh, look, the kitchen has an island! Look!

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-I really do like this.

-You've got your island.

-I've got my island.

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I'm quite excited by having an island.

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Upstairs, the view of the Hauraki Gulf impressed everyone.

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-It's beautiful.

-It's beautiful, isn't it?

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-I can see our car.

-You can see our car.

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But more importantly, you can see the ocean.

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Can you see the ocean?

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Let's pull the mattress up and we'll just lay out here!

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-Nice.

-That'd be perfect.

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Keen to explore their new surroundings,

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the family headed to the beach.

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So busy! Idris, come on.

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It's just beautiful.

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And Nik spotted one difference from home straightaway.

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I'm struggling to find any litter. That's what's getting me.

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There's no litter at all round here.

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It's absolutely immaculate. It's beautiful.

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I'm not going to say it. I'm almost sold just on this.

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And the house and its environment had won both Sofia and Nik over.

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I can't, in some ways, believe that we're here,

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except for the fact that I can't get that view outside in the UK.

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This is just perfect. It's just beautiful.

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I could quite happily live here.

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You know, I need to find out if we could afford a house like this.

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As they settled in, Sofia had time to focus on the week ahead.

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There is going to be a change in our family,

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and I don't know in what direction it's really going to take us.

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But she was all too aware that their scenic surroundings

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would only be a feature of their future

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if she could secure the right job.

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So, this week, the most important thing is to find out

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whether or not I can get a job.

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And if I get a job, whether I like said job - hopefully...

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And then it's just a case of,

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"Well, can we get the lifestyle that we want,

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"and can I get the time with family that I want,

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"which I currently don't get in the UK?"

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The next few days would prove once and for all

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if New Zealand could deliver the life the Huddarts desired.

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Home for the Huddarts in the UK was this five-bedroom house

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in East London. The couple bought it in 2011,

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and it still needed some finishing touches.

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We've spent time and money trying to make it ours.

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It's still a little bit of a work in progress, but we like it.

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Living in a terraced house had had some limitations

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for a large, active family.

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The only thing I miss is a sideway where we can take the dirty bikes,

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dirty kids and, you know...

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-Dirty dog.

-Yeah, exactly. This fabled dog I'd like to get.

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This fabled dog that might turn up.

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This meant the couple hoped for something bigger in New Zealand,

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with their £600,000 budget.

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There's no point moving if we're going to end up

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-with a terraced house.

-We'd like a detached house.

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-Detached.

-Five bedrooms.

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A lot of outdoor space for the kids to run around and play football.

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I'd love a swimming pool.

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We need a house with a little bit of a wow factor,

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where you go, "Whoa, this is great."

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And in the kitchen, Sofia?

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Sofia would like an island in the kitchen.

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With an island. It has to have an island!

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To find out what kind of house they could actually have in New Zealand,

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we showed the family three properties -

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two on budget, and a third,

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which could have been their dream home.

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Only after they saw each one did they find out its value.

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For their first viewing, the family headed four miles north

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from Stanmore Bay to the Silverdale area.

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This recently built home was near to numerous beaches,

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and with good schools nearby,

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the area would have been perfect for the Huddarts.

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This is the house, kids!

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Wow! This is the lounge.

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With two of the five bedrooms downstairs,

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there was some speculation over the floor plan.

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Another downstairs bedroom.

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-Aliza, is this house upside down, do you think?

-Yes.

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I think it might be, yeah.

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It's a bathroom. A downstairs bathroom.

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Nik found it all a bit confusing.

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-What's next?

-This is... I don't know what this is.

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Oh, it's like a breakfast room, isn't it?

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Yeah, but where's the kitchen?

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But on further inspection, the light dawned.

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There might be a kitchen... There is sort of a kitchen in here.

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-Ah, this is why hence the granny annexe bit.

-Or maybe not.

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-I am confused now.

-Oh, no, this is a utility room. That's what this is.

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No, no, don't mention the word granny flat!

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While the children played, Nik spotted an area

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which should have pleased Sofia.

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You might like this kitchen.

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That's nice!

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Islands are my thing. Only because it just then means

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that you've got a kitchen big enough to sit one in!

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That explained it.

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Nik eventually found the main bedroom.

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This has to be the last room. Wow!

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-Now, this is more master bedroom-like.

-This is lovely.

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Ah, this is the walk-in wardrobe!

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Right, by a process of elimination, that has to be a bathroom.

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An en-suite.

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-Ah-ha! It is a bathroom.

-It is the bathroom.

-Nice.

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This one doesn't have a tub in it, but, hey.

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With direct access onto a deck,

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it could have been the perfect place to relax.

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-Nice.

-See, you've got the river over there.

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-Yeah.

-And then the sea.

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The couple seemed right at home.

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SHE SIGHS

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I could do this!

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-It's nice.

-No, it is lovely. It is lovely.

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But back inside, the layout still caused concern.

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I'm still not sure about this upside-downness, though.

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-What would you...? I don't understand.

-What?

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What would you use that and this for?

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So, you kind of... I guess you use that as a sort of telly,

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-messy-up area.

-What's this, then?

-And then this is your formal room.

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This house both pleased and perplexed,

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but could the Huddarts afford it with their £600,000 budget?

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-So, what did you say?

-I said 560.

-I said 580.

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-Ooh!

-613,000.

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Well, that was £13,000 over budget.

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That's a lot more than we thought.

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Workable. Maybe.

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Well, it's not too much over-budget. It's workable.

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-It's workable.

-It's just a funny, upside-down layout.

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Oh, well, it's house number one.

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Let's see what else they've got for us.

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The family headed off to view property two.

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It was in the Schnapper Rock area of Albany,

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an easy 20-minute commute into Auckland city centre.

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With a large shopping mall and sports facilities nearby,

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it might have suited the family to a T.

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-Wow!

-Wow, it's a big lounge.

-What do you think?

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-And a telly.

-And a telly.

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-This is much more homely than the last one.

-It is.

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People actually live here, rather than just a show house.

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It feels like someone lives here. It's nice.

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Taking a break, the children were looked after

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by a childminder while Nik and Sofia explored further.

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And, yes, Sofia...

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-More kitchens with islands!

-A kitchen with an island.

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There's two lounges in this one.

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That's what I said - it's more a sort of day room.

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And a cat. Are you OK? Flowers are nice.

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But, though it had an island, the kitchen wasn't sizing up.

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Got a big range, a big range cooker.

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I need a lot more kitchen.

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The main bedroom got a better reception, though.

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And this is the master bedroom.

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-SHE CHUCKLES

-Right, this is a really nice size.

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Until, that was, Nik's attention was drawn

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to a very special lavatory.

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-His and hers sinks.

-It's got a very bizarre toilet!

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-What's wrong with it?!

-No, it's a Japanese, clean-your-bum toilet.

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But it was outside that received Nik's most cutting critique,

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calling time on the garden furniture.

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They have four table and chairs. Is it a pub?

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Finding a perfect home for the Huddarts could be a challenge,

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but was this a property they could have afforded

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with their £600,000 budget?

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-Will we go for it?

-OK.

-All right, 650.

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Ooh! 566.

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-So, it's cheaper than the other house.

-Yes.

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-And it's a nicer area.

-I'm surprised at that.

-OK.

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So, the question is, then,

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if we went slightly up on that budget...

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-What could you get around here?

-..what could you get in Albany? OK.

0:16:200:16:24

For the final property of the day,

0:16:240:16:26

we found what we felt could have been the Huddarts' dream home

0:16:260:16:29

just a 20-minute drive to the east in Rothesay Bay.

0:16:290:16:32

Minutes from the beach, with schools and cafes only a stone's throw away,

0:16:320:16:36

was this the one that would convince Nik leaving London was worthwhile?

0:16:360:16:40

-Can we get down there?

-Yeah.

0:16:400:16:42

The incline of the driveway didn't get the viewing off

0:16:420:16:44

to the best start.

0:16:440:16:46

-Ah!

-Stop.

-I'm never going to get out!

0:16:460:16:51

Inside, Nik kept a tally of the rooms.

0:16:510:16:54

-Lounge number one.

-We're not counting lounges any more.

0:16:540:16:58

-There might only be the one this time.

-OK.

0:16:580:17:01

The bedrooms won approval for their size...

0:17:010:17:04

-Bedroom number one.

-It seems bigger than the others.

0:17:040:17:07

..but it was the main bedroom that got them really excited.

0:17:070:17:10

Wow! OK.

0:17:120:17:14

-Hey, this is a nice room.

-It's a beautiful room.

0:17:140:17:17

This is a proper walk-in wardrobe, but it's quite functional.

0:17:170:17:20

It's not very attractive with all the metal, but it's perfect.

0:17:200:17:23

-It is.

-Ensuite with his and hers sinks.

0:17:230:17:24

His and hers sinks. Yes, I like that.

0:17:240:17:26

Sofia's mood continued to soar when she came face-to-face

0:17:270:17:31

with the kitchen of her dreams.

0:17:310:17:34

-Now, this kitchen has got work space!

-This is a huge kitchen!

0:17:340:17:37

-OK.

-This is beautiful.

0:17:370:17:39

And white rather than black, sort of for the shiny effect.

0:17:390:17:43

-SHE GAPS

-A walk-in pantry!

-No!

0:17:430:17:46

-And the light comes on when you open it.

-Oh, my dad would love this.

0:17:460:17:49

And outside lay the luxury item Nik had been hoping for.

0:17:490:17:53

-HE LAUGHS

-I knew it! It's got a pool.

0:17:530:17:57

That's really special.

0:17:570:17:59

It's not that bad. I'd go in.

0:18:010:18:02

Both Nik and Sofia had fallen for this house,

0:18:040:18:08

but was it within reach of their £600,000 budget?

0:18:080:18:11

Oh, God, I can't even begin to take a guess at this house.

0:18:110:18:14

It's nice, it's got a pool, near the beach.

0:18:140:18:16

-680. I'm throwing out random numbers here.

-OK.

0:18:180:18:22

Go on, then. Tell me.

0:18:240:18:25

708,000.

0:18:270:18:29

1.5 million.

0:18:290:18:32

Yeah, that's still quite a lot out of our budget.

0:18:320:18:35

It is out of our budget. It's not a million miles away from our budget.

0:18:350:18:38

It had been a day of mixed fortune hunting

0:18:390:18:41

for property in the Auckland region.

0:18:410:18:43

Property one's layout was far too confusing.

0:18:430:18:47

House number two failed to cut the mustard

0:18:470:18:50

with a pub-style garden and a technological toilet.

0:18:500:18:53

But with its resort-style swimming pool,

0:18:550:18:57

property three really was the dream home, if over budget.

0:18:570:19:02

So, when it came to the vote,

0:19:020:19:03

did the couple choose property at home or away?

0:19:030:19:06

My vote goes to...

0:19:090:19:10

-BOTH:

-New Zealand!

0:19:120:19:14

You kind of guessed that, didn't you?

0:19:160:19:17

-I kind of guessed that.

-Why?

-Why not?

0:19:170:19:19

Well, you liked the houses. It's amazing.

0:19:190:19:21

Well, especially that last house. But with this on your doorstep...

0:19:210:19:24

-I know, yeah.

-With the level of housing we've seen,

0:19:240:19:27

I'd quite easily forget London.

0:19:270:19:28

Despite the initial properties being uninspiring,

0:19:340:19:38

a vote for New Zealand from Nik meant his concerns

0:19:380:19:40

could have been crumbling.

0:19:400:19:42

But it was Sofia's job that had led the family to consider emigrating,

0:19:420:19:46

so securing the right role would be key

0:19:460:19:48

if they were going to make the move.

0:19:480:19:50

Back in the UK, Sofia was the family's sole breadwinner.

0:19:530:19:57

At the time, she was working as an anaesthetist

0:19:570:19:59

whilst training to become a consultant.

0:19:590:20:02

I love my job. Anaesthetists find themselves

0:20:020:20:05

in quite a lot of hairy situations, and for me that's quite nice.

0:20:050:20:08

So, for the most part, everything is calm and going,

0:20:080:20:10

and then you occasionally have sort of little adrenaline rushes where it's all, "Go, go, go!"

0:20:100:20:14

Working around 50 hours a week

0:20:140:20:16

meant she could go days without seeing her children.

0:20:160:20:19

The job is, like, the linchpin.

0:20:190:20:20

If I don't work and I don't have the work-life balance that I want,

0:20:200:20:23

then nothing else is going to work.

0:20:230:20:25

Good luck. Don't forget your bag.

0:20:260:20:28

With the family's future resting on what she would discover,

0:20:300:20:33

Sofia headed out to investigate her work possibilities.

0:20:330:20:36

At Auckland's Southern Cross Hospital,

0:20:360:20:38

she met David Findlow, an expat anaesthetist

0:20:380:20:41

who had been living in New Zealand for 15 years.

0:20:410:20:44

Shall we start with, can I find a job here?

0:20:440:20:45

Well, I've had a good look over your CV.

0:20:450:20:48

If you were hell-bent on Auckland, then the job market is tight.

0:20:480:20:54

And you would probably have to enter the Auckland system

0:20:540:20:57

as a senior trainee, or what we call a fellow.

0:20:570:21:01

And that has implications in terms of lower salaries,

0:21:010:21:05

yet another year of training before you get a consultant job.

0:21:050:21:09

A move to Auckland could have meant a delay for Sofia

0:21:090:21:12

in becoming a fully-fledged consultant.

0:21:120:21:15

But not too fazed, she was keen to find out

0:21:150:21:18

about her potential earnings.

0:21:180:21:20

Salary difference-wise, sort of between the UK and here,

0:21:200:21:23

consultant and fellow?

0:21:230:21:25

The fellows are usually employed

0:21:250:21:27

-on what's called a Medical Officer Scale.

-Yeah.

0:21:270:21:30

Now, the start of a Medical Officer Scale,

0:21:300:21:32

for a basic working week, is 114,000.

0:21:320:21:37

But that can then be bumped up by either on-call

0:21:370:21:41

-or weekend work allowances of about 25,000 more.

-OK.

0:21:410:21:45

-So, that pushes you around 140.

-Yeah.

0:21:450:21:48

And then, on top of that, you have an allowance

0:21:480:21:51

for what's called CME - continuing medical education.

0:21:510:21:55

The total package could have reached £67,000 -

0:21:550:21:58

not far off the £70,000 she currently earned at home.

0:21:580:22:02

Meanwhile, as Nik planned to continue in his role

0:22:030:22:06

as a househusband in New Zealand,

0:22:060:22:08

he took the opportunity to find out about Kiwi education.

0:22:080:22:12

At Stanmore Bay School, he met with principal Carol Abley.

0:22:120:22:16

So, this is our library.

0:22:160:22:18

So, the children come in here for library lessons.

0:22:180:22:21

-I like storybooks.

-Do you?

-You like storybooks?

0:22:210:22:23

Carol explained that the school taught much more

0:22:230:22:26

than just core subjects.

0:22:260:22:28

So, we've got a composting bin, we've got a wind farm,

0:22:280:22:31

we grow our own vegetables, and we've got an orchard.

0:22:310:22:34

Nik was impressed with what he saw.

0:22:360:22:39

The way that school was put together,

0:22:390:22:41

the way the children behaved, all the outdoor stuff -

0:22:410:22:44

it's far better than I thought.

0:22:440:22:46

Back at the hospital, Sofia was getting down to the crunch.

0:22:460:22:49

Would working in New Zealand mean more time at home?

0:22:490:22:52

-What's an average working week?

-The days can be reasonably long.

0:22:520:22:57

So, a typical in-theatre session would start at 7.30am,

0:22:570:23:02

and then a full day's list is scheduled to finish at 4.30pm,

0:23:020:23:06

-but as you well know, the unpredictability is such...

-Yes, the unpredictability.

0:23:060:23:10

Long days were exactly what Sofia was trying to escape.

0:23:100:23:13

She asked David how he found the difference in work-life balance

0:23:130:23:17

since moving to New Zealand.

0:23:170:23:19

Certainly, in medicine, I don't see any great difference.

0:23:200:23:25

What you do with the life element of your work-life balance, of course,

0:23:260:23:30

is very different. The main positive difference between,

0:23:300:23:34

for me, between New Zealand and Britain when I first came over here,

0:23:340:23:38

it would be in a single word and that would be positivity.

0:23:380:23:41

The attitude of local medical people, on the whole,

0:23:410:23:48

is positive and can-do.

0:23:480:23:50

Back at base, it was time for Sofia to vote.

0:23:520:23:56

Based on the job that I've seen, my vote goes to...

0:23:560:23:59

..New Zealand.

0:24:040:24:06

Based on what I've seen and what I've heard about jobs

0:24:060:24:09

and working life and conditions in New Zealand,

0:24:090:24:12

it seems to be that New Zealand is where I should be.

0:24:120:24:15

Enjoying a rare day out,

0:24:190:24:21

the family took to the water with a sailing lesson on Lake Pupuke.

0:24:210:24:24

The afternoon had confirmed Sofia's thoughts on New Zealand.

0:24:410:24:45

The kids loved being out there on the lake.

0:24:450:24:47

Aliza loved the steering and pulling the boat rests.

0:24:470:24:50

She was really excited. She enjoyed it so much.

0:24:500:24:52

And more than anything else, I think I'm more convinced

0:24:520:24:56

that this is the right thing for us to do.

0:24:560:24:58

When we were on the boat, it was quite funny.

0:24:580:25:03

And I forgot to go down when we turned.

0:25:030:25:07

Nik also seemed to have been won over.

0:25:080:25:11

It's the outdoor lifestyle. It's the Kiwi lifestyle.

0:25:110:25:13

I think, for them, as kids,

0:25:130:25:15

I think it's very important that we make this move.

0:25:150:25:18

And the hold London had on him seemed to be slowly weakening.

0:25:180:25:21

And the one thing that has surprised me this week

0:25:210:25:23

is how much I like Auckland. It's beautiful.

0:25:230:25:26

It had been a fun day out for the whole family,

0:25:260:25:29

and it was time to discover, when it came to lifestyle,

0:25:290:25:32

if everyone was sold on what New Zealand had to offer.

0:25:320:25:35

We've had a great day out in New Zealand, so our vote goes to...

0:25:350:25:39

Turn the card! Keep turning!

0:25:390:25:40

-Undecided.

-New Zealand!

-New Zealand!

0:25:460:25:50

-Outnumbered.

-I was outnumbered. Didn't expect that one, did you?

0:25:500:25:54

-Go on, then.

-For the family,

0:25:540:25:56

for seeing the joy on the kids' faces and you on the boat,

0:25:560:26:00

-it has to be New Zealand.

-Yeah. But?

-For me, it's slightly undecided.

0:26:000:26:03

I really loved it. The kids had such a good time,

0:26:030:26:06

other than the slight rain that came in and out.

0:26:060:26:08

-SLIGHT rain?

-But it came and it went, unlike London,

0:26:080:26:11

where it would just be there for the whole day

0:26:110:26:13

and we'd be stuck inside the house.

0:26:130:26:14

A day out together had shown the couple

0:26:230:26:25

New Zealand could be the ideal place to raise their children.

0:26:250:26:28

They just needed to see if they could afford

0:26:280:26:30

the lifestyle they'd fallen for.

0:26:300:26:33

Sofia and Nik sat down to compare the cost of living

0:26:330:26:35

in New Zealand with the UK.

0:26:350:26:37

Their calculations were based on the first property they saw.

0:26:370:26:42

-The difference in the mortgage bill?

-£599 more expensive.

0:26:420:26:45

-Did we really need a calculator for that?

-Yeah.

0:26:450:26:48

Transport costs. UK is 300. Here is 150.

0:26:480:26:52

-So, that's 150 less.

-Really?

-Yeah.

-OK.

-That's surprising.

0:26:520:26:56

-586.

-586 more expensive.

-Yeah, actually, that makes sense.

0:26:570:27:02

In total, the couple would be spending around £7,000 a year more

0:27:020:27:06

in New Zealand.

0:27:060:27:08

Which is, to be fair, mostly mortgage.

0:27:080:27:11

When Sofia's potential salary was taken into account,

0:27:110:27:14

the picture improved, but not by much.

0:27:140:27:17

-287.

-Yeah.

0:27:180:27:21

The family would be around £3,500 out of pocket each year

0:27:210:27:26

should they choose to move to New Zealand,

0:27:260:27:28

but they both felt it was a shortfall they could overcome.

0:27:280:27:31

-It's all the mortgage. OK.

-Yeah, it's mostly the mortgage.

0:27:330:27:36

-OK?

-Which is not impossible.

0:27:360:27:38

-It's not impossible.

-Even though I needed a spreadsheet!

0:27:380:27:42

The overall financial picture didn't seem to have caused much concern,

0:27:420:27:46

so would that mean another clean sweep

0:27:460:27:48

as they prepared to vote on finances in New Zealand versus the UK?

0:27:480:27:52

Based on the finances that we've seen today,

0:27:520:27:55

our vote goes to...

0:27:550:27:57

-New Zealand.

-Undecided.

-Really? Why?

-I don't know.

0:28:030:28:08

I just couldn't quite decide

0:28:080:28:10

whether we'd be better off or worse off here.

0:28:100:28:13

There was nothing in there that was unworkable.

0:28:130:28:14

-I kind of have to mull it over a little bit longer.

-OK.

0:28:140:28:17

While Nik had been the one to voice practical concerns about the move,

0:28:210:28:25

the financial realities seem to have given Sofia a moment to waver.

0:28:250:28:29

The emotional cost also needed to be considered.

0:28:290:28:32

After first discussing it with the children,

0:28:320:28:35

they all sat down to watch messages from friends and family together.

0:28:350:28:39

Hi, Sofia, Nik and kids!

0:28:400:28:45

Hi, Nik and Sofia!

0:28:450:28:46

-Papa!

-Papa.

0:28:460:28:48

Hi, Nik. Hi, Sofia. Hi, kids.

0:28:480:28:50

As a family unit - very, very close.

0:28:500:28:53

Sofia is very capable. A very good mother.

0:28:530:28:57

She's got a one-track mind - she gets to where she wants to get.

0:28:570:29:02

Nik is probably one of the kindest and nicest boys.

0:29:020:29:05

-"Boys." I'm still a boy!

-You're still a boy.

0:29:050:29:07

She works really, really hard. She's a fantastic mother.

0:29:070:29:12

Nik is a wonderful father.

0:29:120:29:15

He looks after the children very well.

0:29:150:29:17

-The children love him.

-Hello!

0:29:170:29:20

They're really good fun, actually. Similar to Nik and Sofia,

0:29:200:29:24

they're quite outgoing and loud and noisy, but just lovely.

0:29:240:29:27

Very full of cuddles and fun and good to be around.

0:29:270:29:31

Obviously, we'll be very sorry to see them go,

0:29:330:29:37

particularly to see them growing up.

0:29:370:29:40

Now, we make about

0:29:400:29:42

12 hours' journey to the UK.

0:29:420:29:44

From here to New Zealand,

0:29:440:29:46

it's probably about nine hours.

0:29:460:29:48

So, I guess we could see them more!

0:29:480:29:52

I'll miss seeing the children grow up,

0:29:520:29:55

and I'll miss Nik calling.

0:29:550:29:57

It's up to you. It's your decision.

0:29:570:29:59

If you do decide to go

0:29:590:30:02

to New Zealand,

0:30:020:30:03

I think you'll be quite happy with that.

0:30:030:30:06

No, we wish you the best of luck

0:30:060:30:09

in whatever you do, and God bless.

0:30:090:30:13

It's a great opportunity, so...

0:30:130:30:15

We really miss you, but we'll save up

0:30:150:30:19

and we'll be coming out to see you guys.

0:30:190:30:21

Yeah. Do the right thing for you, and if you do move,

0:30:210:30:24

get another hot tub, put it in the back garden,

0:30:240:30:26

-and we'll see you there.

-You can have mine, Matty!

0:30:260:30:29

I will miss you. I'll miss you loads and loads.

0:30:290:30:31

You know that.

0:30:310:30:33

But I'm sure you'll make it for the best decision,

0:30:330:30:36

you know, for yourselves. So, have fun,

0:30:360:30:39

and maybe we can come and visit if you do decide to stay!

0:30:390:30:45

You know that I will totally miss you,

0:30:450:30:47

but I think that our family bonds and our love for each other

0:30:470:30:52

will transcend distance and time zones.

0:30:520:30:56

So, have a great time there.

0:30:560:30:58

As I thought, mostly positive and supportive of whatever...

0:31:000:31:03

There was no-one saying you shouldn't do it. It was all...

0:31:030:31:05

They're all trying to get rid of us, I think!

0:31:050:31:08

I think Matty wants the hot tub.

0:31:080:31:10

See, if we sell the house to Matty...

0:31:100:31:11

-He can have the hot tub.

-Yeah!

-I'm not shipping the hot tub out!

0:31:110:31:14

If we can rent it out to Matty and then we'll eventually

0:31:140:31:17

-sell it to them, we'll be all right!

-That's not a bad idea.

0:31:170:31:19

I thought there'd be more weeping in there.

0:31:190:31:21

I thought there'd be more sadness. "Please don't go."

0:31:210:31:23

-Wailing and gnashing of teeth.

-Really?!

-Yeah, I thought...

0:31:230:31:26

I think we deserved a bit more than that!

0:31:260:31:28

Setting foot in New Zealand for the first time,

0:31:370:31:39

Sofia had been hoping it would provide the answer

0:31:390:31:42

to issues at home, and the country had certainly worked its charms.

0:31:420:31:46

I've certainly fallen in love with it. I mean, it's idyllic!

0:31:480:31:51

Nik, too, had fallen under its spell.

0:31:530:31:56

This week has gone far better than I thought.

0:31:560:31:58

It's just been lovely. We've got a beach like this

0:31:580:32:00

100ft from our doorstep, and it's clean and it's beautiful

0:32:000:32:04

and families are playing happily. It's just wonderful.

0:32:040:32:07

One of Sofia's main worries had been that

0:32:070:32:09

her husband's love of London would stifle the dream.

0:32:090:32:12

I've been giving, you know, my love of London

0:32:120:32:15

and my thinking of moving a lot of thought this week.

0:32:150:32:18

I was up a little late last night and my brain was whizzing,

0:32:180:32:21

thinking of things. We could quite happily stay in London.

0:32:210:32:24

Sofia felt she had made real progress on persuading him.

0:32:260:32:29

I think I've gotten him over that barrier.

0:32:290:32:32

I think there is more for us that we could do as a family

0:32:320:32:34

outside of London.

0:32:340:32:36

But it had not all been plain sailing.

0:32:370:32:40

Learning her working hours wouldn't get any better in New Zealand

0:32:400:32:43

came as a disappointment.

0:32:430:32:44

But the week had shown Sofia the move could reap other rewards

0:32:440:32:48

for the whole family.

0:32:480:32:50

The reasons that I think I'd like to come here have changed slightly.

0:32:500:32:54

Cos, initially, it was more for me and work and things like that,

0:32:540:32:58

but, actually, now it's become more about the kids.

0:32:580:33:00

It was time to take their final vote

0:33:010:33:03

and decide on life in New Zealand or the UK.

0:33:030:33:07

We've had a great week here in New Zealand

0:33:080:33:10

finding out lots of things, discovering more about New Zealand.

0:33:100:33:12

So, our final vote goes to... Go!

0:33:120:33:15

-ALL:

-New Zealand!

-New Zealand!

0:33:210:33:24

THEY LAUGH EXCITEDLY

0:33:240:33:28

That is definitely a New Zealand flag!

0:33:280:33:30

Why do you want to live in New Zealand, Idris?

0:33:300:33:32

-Because I like the sea.

-You like the sea?

0:33:320:33:35

And why did you vote New Zealand, Aliza?

0:33:350:33:37

Because it's so tidy and neat

0:33:370:33:39

and people put their rubbish in the bin!

0:33:390:33:41

-They put their rubbish in the bin!

-That feels really good.

0:33:410:33:45

I've finally weaned him off London enough that he would move away.

0:33:450:33:50

It's a difficult lifestyle not to love.

0:33:500:33:52

And I think it forces you to be outdoors,

0:33:520:33:54

it forces you to enjoy the outdoors.

0:33:540:33:56

It's all the stuff, you know, that I think we'd like doing.

0:33:560:33:58

Although Sofia would be required to still put the working hours in,

0:34:030:34:07

both her and Nik agreed the improved lifestyle

0:34:070:34:10

New Zealand could offer their family was more than enough to compensate.

0:34:100:34:15

But in the end, did the Huddarts decide to risk everything

0:34:150:34:19

by making the move down under?

0:34:190:34:21

It's 2017, and the Huddarts are in

0:34:220:34:25

Auckland, New Zealand, and they've barely touched down.

0:34:250:34:29

We've been here six months now.

0:34:290:34:32

We have been here six months. We came at the end of November.

0:34:320:34:35

When we got back to the UK after being here last time,

0:34:350:34:37

all we could do was wait,

0:34:370:34:39

because Sofia had to finish her registrar training

0:34:390:34:42

as an anaesthetist before she could apply for a job out here.

0:34:420:34:47

And then we had to wait for either a consultant job to be posted,

0:34:470:34:53

or your current fellowship job to be posted,

0:34:530:34:56

which wasn't advertised until March 2016.

0:34:560:34:59

Yeah. So, we had to kind of wait for that.

0:34:590:35:01

We were just telling people, "Yes, we're planning on going,

0:35:010:35:04

"but I have to finish and get a job and all the rest of it."

0:35:040:35:07

And then once the job came through, which was about...May time,

0:35:070:35:12

May, June time, suddenly, it was all systems go -

0:35:120:35:15

house being sold, packing up.

0:35:150:35:17

As soon as Sofia got the job, we divided the labour.

0:35:170:35:22

Sofia dealt with the visas and the job.

0:35:220:35:25

I dealt with houses, schools and the moving company,

0:35:250:35:28

and then selling the house, which we sold in a day...

0:35:280:35:32

..before Brexit.

0:35:330:35:34

And then they pulled out two and a half months later.

0:35:340:35:37

Then we sold again in a day. Then that couple split up.

0:35:370:35:40

We had an offer, yeah.

0:35:400:35:42

And then the third buyer offered us a lot less, but cash,

0:35:420:35:47

so we accepted them.

0:35:470:35:49

And then the day before I flew out from the UK with the kids,

0:35:490:35:54

cos Sofia stayed on for a bit, they dropped the price,

0:35:540:35:57

and so we sold it for less than we wanted to, but it's sold.

0:35:570:36:00

But selling the house was only half the challenge.

0:36:000:36:03

The Huddarts now had to look for a home in New Zealand -

0:36:030:36:05

not straightforward when you're 10,000 miles away.

0:36:050:36:09

Getting a property over here was never easy.

0:36:090:36:12

Cos everything's advertised online,

0:36:120:36:14

you've got a 13-hour time difference,

0:36:140:36:18

so trying to ring them is difficult.

0:36:180:36:19

And you'd see a property which looked nice,

0:36:190:36:22

but then I'd e-mail the estate agent saying,

0:36:220:36:24

"We're interested in this property," and I'd get one e-mail back saying,

0:36:240:36:28

"You must see the property first."

0:36:280:36:30

So, we found one property - this one -

0:36:300:36:33

and I wrote the e-mail to the lady and she said, "Give me a ring."

0:36:330:36:36

Her main question was, "What if you don't like it?"

0:36:360:36:40

I said, "Well, that's my bad."

0:36:400:36:41

So, she sent me other pictures, and it looked really nice.

0:36:410:36:44

We knew the area.

0:36:440:36:45

So, then what we had to do was write a letter

0:36:450:36:48

to say why they should give it to us,

0:36:480:36:50

why we were a nice family, and referees.

0:36:500:36:54

-We haven't rented a house for ten years.

-I know.

0:36:540:36:56

Luckily, my old landlady is a friend of mine,

0:36:560:36:59

so she wrote a reference.

0:36:590:37:00

We gave the estate agent as a reference.

0:37:000:37:02

-And your work was a reference.

-Yeah, my work was a reference.

0:37:020:37:05

11 people saw this house. Ten people wanted it.

0:37:050:37:08

So, then we had the send over 5,000 Kiwi dollars to get the house.

0:37:080:37:13

-Not having seen the house!

-Not seen the house.

0:37:130:37:16

So, we arrived here on Tuesday. We stayed at a hotel down the road.

0:37:160:37:20

Came here Wednesday to pick up the keys

0:37:200:37:22

for the house that we'd given 5,000 for.

0:37:220:37:25

And, luckily, we liked it. So, it was a bit of a gamble,

0:37:250:37:28

but what that meant was that we already knew

0:37:280:37:31

which school they were going to go to.

0:37:310:37:33

So, as soon as we had the tenancy agreement,

0:37:330:37:35

two days after flying in, we went to the school.

0:37:350:37:39

We arrived on the Tuesday.

0:37:390:37:41

We went to the school on the Thursday.

0:37:410:37:43

And the kids were in the next day.

0:37:430:37:45

Got uniforms. Spent 500 on uniforms on the Friday.

0:37:450:37:48

And then they started school on Monday.

0:37:480:37:49

They had two weeks before Christmas, which was great,

0:37:490:37:52

and it got them back into the swing of things.

0:37:520:37:54

And just how are the children settling in?

0:37:540:37:56

I think the kids are loving things here.

0:37:560:38:00

Izzie wants to be a Kiwi kid cos he doesn't wear shoes.

0:38:000:38:04

-You can tell...

-He's like, "I'm a Kiwi kid today."

0:38:040:38:06

You can tell the Kiwi kids cos they don't wear shoes.

0:38:060:38:09

They don't wear shoes at school.

0:38:090:38:10

Idris is out playing tennis. They're both doing swimming.

0:38:100:38:14

Idris wants to play all the sports that are available.

0:38:140:38:17

Yeah, they do hockey and other sort of variety of sports on a Tuesday.

0:38:170:38:22

Wednesday, they've got swimming.

0:38:220:38:23

-Thursday, they're allowed the day off.

-Yeah.

0:38:230:38:25

Friday, he's got tennis.

0:38:250:38:27

And then if you've got a spare five minutes,

0:38:270:38:29

you can go to the beach or go to the playground.

0:38:290:38:31

-It's just great.

-Mm.

0:38:310:38:33

So, a few months in, how are Nik and Sofia adapting

0:38:330:38:36

to the Kiwi way of life?

0:38:360:38:38

We've got a camper van. That's part of the dream.

0:38:380:38:41

We went away to a little place called Miranda,

0:38:410:38:44

which has hot springs. So, we stayed at a campsite.

0:38:440:38:46

They had a hot pool on the campsite.

0:38:460:38:49

Had a trampoline, had loads of stuff for the kids.

0:38:490:38:52

The kids were cycling around the campsite, which was great. Everyone was really friendly.

0:38:520:38:56

Just a really nice place to be.

0:38:560:38:58

And then we packed up, came back the scenic route along the coast,

0:38:580:39:02

got back home, unpacked the camper van,

0:39:020:39:05

and it's about four o'clock on a Sunday.

0:39:050:39:08

And then we thought, "Hang on, let's go to the beach,"

0:39:080:39:10

which, in London, or wherever in the UK,

0:39:100:39:12

is a massive undertaking.

0:39:120:39:14

We just, "Let's go to the beach." So, we got there about five o'clock.

0:39:140:39:17

We go away on weekends. Even if I'm working,

0:39:170:39:20

because there's a couple of weekends when I've been working,

0:39:200:39:22

and Nik will just take the camper van out

0:39:220:39:24

to one of the local regional parks and park the camper van up

0:39:240:39:27

and I'll just drive up when I'm finished at work.

0:39:270:39:29

And how is the crucial work-life balance for Sofia?

0:39:290:39:34

My situation now is that I'm a fellow,

0:39:340:39:37

which is basically what they call a senior medical officer,

0:39:370:39:40

down at North Shore Hospital, which is literally, what,

0:39:400:39:43

five minutes down the road in the car?

0:39:430:39:45

Which is brilliant. Most days, I actually come back

0:39:450:39:49

and I can have dinner with the kids, I can help Nik with bed and bath,

0:39:490:39:52

which was difficult and probably...

0:39:520:39:55

What, two, three nights out of four, I wouldn't be there for that?

0:39:550:39:58

And there would be full weeks

0:39:580:40:00

where I would sort of leave for work so early,

0:40:000:40:02

then I'd come back so late, that I would barely see the kids

0:40:020:40:05

unless they came in. And that's not so much of an issue now

0:40:050:40:08

because I do see them before bed,

0:40:080:40:09

and I can sit and help them with homework and stuff,

0:40:090:40:12

which is really lovely.

0:40:120:40:13

Unfortunately, it's not been all smooth sailing with Sofia's work.

0:40:130:40:17

At the moment, the job that I have is for one year

0:40:170:40:20

and it will finish in December and I'm on a job hunt at the moment.

0:40:200:40:24

Been for a job interview today for a permanent post

0:40:240:40:26

over at the Auckland City Hospital.

0:40:260:40:28

So, I'll hear about that in a week, so fingers crossed.

0:40:280:40:32

You know, well, Sofia needs to get a job so we're here permanently,

0:40:320:40:36

cos the visa is hanging off her job at the moment,

0:40:360:40:39

in the hope of staying here.

0:40:390:40:41

If it doesn't work out here,

0:40:410:40:43

I would definitely consider other parts of New Zealand, as well.

0:40:430:40:47

The kids are pretty settled here,

0:40:470:40:49

so, ideally, it would be nice not to have to move them.

0:40:490:40:52

But, on the other hand, as we said, it's an adventure,

0:40:520:40:54

so I don't mind moving wherever things take us.

0:40:540:40:58

I know Nik is very keen on it being...

0:40:580:41:00

But it would need to be another permanent move.

0:41:000:41:02

I don't want to keep moving them round the country.

0:41:020:41:05

I know Nik really wants to know

0:41:050:41:07

where we're going to spend this Christmas.

0:41:070:41:09

At the moment, without being too melodramatic,

0:41:090:41:11

-if our visa status doesn't change on our passports...

-Yeah.

0:41:110:41:14

..and Sofia doesn't get a permanent job,

0:41:140:41:17

we're on a plane home in January.

0:41:170:41:20

So, all this furniture has to go back,

0:41:200:41:23

that camper van has to be sold,

0:41:230:41:25

which could be a real stupid purchase if we have to go home.

0:41:250:41:28

-Ah, well.

-The kids will be uprooted. We don't know where we're going.

0:41:280:41:31

We should just gypsy ourselves round the world to nice places.

0:41:310:41:34

It'd be fantastic, but Nik really doesn't like this idea.

0:41:340:41:37

We've put a lot of...

0:41:370:41:38

Invested a lot of time and a lot of effort,

0:41:380:41:41

a huge amount of emotion, into New Zealand,

0:41:410:41:43

and research into New Zealand.

0:41:430:41:45

And it suits us. We like living here.

0:41:450:41:48

-We like the people.

-We do.

-We like the climate.

0:41:480:41:50

Parts of the Caribbean are nice.

0:41:500:41:52

But despite this concern,

0:41:570:41:59

there doesn't seem to be any regrets about the move.

0:41:590:42:02

It's definitely the right move.

0:42:020:42:04

There's been no question from any of us that this was, you know,

0:42:040:42:07

a wrong move. It's definitely the right move to make.

0:42:070:42:10

As I say, the concern is making that move permanent.

0:42:100:42:14

Generally, I think we're all a bit happier.

0:42:140:42:17

Well, are we happier? We're more relaxed about it,

0:42:170:42:20

and just able to spend some time.

0:42:200:42:21

And I have to say, even though I was a bit opposed to the idea,

0:42:210:42:24

I actually really enjoy the camper van!

0:42:240:42:26

SHE LAUGHS

0:42:260:42:29

I just didn't see the point of spending shedloads of money

0:42:290:42:31

on this camper van.

0:42:310:42:33

But it has been really nice.

0:42:330:42:36

The best thing about being here?

0:42:360:42:38

It's not one thing. I think it's everything.

0:42:390:42:42

I think, if I put it down - and I keep saying this -

0:42:420:42:45

it's that people are more smiley.

0:42:450:42:47

There's 4 million people here, compared to 62 million in the UK

0:42:470:42:51

and everyone's got a little bit more time,

0:42:510:42:53

it's a little bit more friendly. It just all adds to it.

0:42:530:42:56

You know, sometimes, the weather is absolutely awful.

0:42:560:42:58

You know, it can rain for days,

0:42:580:43:00

and it can rain more rain than I thought was possible.

0:43:000:43:02

It can be more windy than I thought was possible.

0:43:020:43:05

But then a day like, you know, we had yesterday,

0:43:050:43:08

where the sun was out and it's the middle of winter,

0:43:080:43:10

it's just stunning.

0:43:100:43:11

The Huddarts' dream is well and truly underway,

0:43:140:43:17

and whilst there's still some uncertainty

0:43:170:43:20

about how things will turn out,

0:43:200:43:22

the one thing they are sure of is that New Zealand is home.

0:43:220:43:26

We wish the entire family the very best for the future.

0:43:260:43:30

Hard-working medic Sofia Huddart believed New Zealand would offer her the family time she so desperately needed. Nik agreed things had to change, but he worried that abandoning what they'd achieved in the UK could be too big a risk. We sent the Huddarts to New Zealand for a trial week to see if that risk was worth taking.

Back in 2015 the Huddart family were living in London. Dad Nik, mum Sofia, then five-year-old Aliza, Izzie, who was nearly two, and Idris, who was then three. After a career in IT Nik had spent the last two years as a stay-at-home dad, which gave him plenty of time to enjoy his beloved London and spend time with the children. Sofia had concentrated on her medical career, but the shifts for an anaesthetist were demanding and hours were long. The family life was under strain.

After thinking of Canada, America and Singapore the couple had started to think about New Zealand as a destination that would give them a better quality of life. Sofia had got very keen on the idea, but Nik was much more cautious. If a move didn't work out, moving back to London would be impossible as house prices would rocket, making it impossible for the family to get back on the property ladder. He thought it too much of a gamble.

Their trial week was meant to decide once and for all where they should call home. Could Sofia get the job she would need to fund a move, and would Nik fall in love with the New Zealand lifestyle enough to leave London?