As a place to work, live and play, the Shore is hard to beat - we'll be the first to vouch for that. But this year we'll be shifting our gaze away from our patch to check in with former locals who've relocated overseas.
Our first Shore People Offshore feature of 2018 focuses on Courtney, former writer for Channel and part of the Benefitz family, who has said hello to new adventures away from the Shore. We share how she's getting on...
Channel Magazine: When did you move overseas and where are you currently living?
Courtney Bennett: I moved overseas the week before Christmas 2016. I live in Sydney, Australia in a suburb called Surry Hills. I live with my partner Dave and our friend Cate in a terraced house, which is really common for the area. Surry Hills used to be home to garment factories years ago but is now an eclectic suburb that’s a 10 minute walk away from the CBD, very close to an array of pubs, restaurants and cafes along with the biggest train station in the city.
CM: What prompted the move?
CB: The short story is work and wanting to experience something different. I love New Zealand and the Shore, so previously I had never really felt an urge to go anywhere. I stayed in Auckland for the first part of my career while many of my friends went to the UK for their OEs. I had the opportunity to work with some awesome people in Auckland who had done stints working abroad in the UK, Asia and Australia and then returned home to NZ. It made me realise that I wanted to do the same. Also, Dave is a really keen traveller so was interested in moving somewhere else too. Originally we had our hearts set on Singapore, but I spotted a role in Sydney that sounded promising, applied and the rest is history!
CM: What's your job over there?
CB: I’m a communications manager (having previously worked at Spark in Auckland), I work for a professional services firm called EY in the Advisory area of the business. Even though I’m based in Sydney, my role is an Asia-Pacific area role so most of the people I work with are actually based in Asia. It’s a fantastic, large global company and I get the chance to work on projects across the world, on any given day I can have Skype meetings with teams in the US, Asia and Europe.
CM: Did you know anyone who already lived there?
CB: I would describe Sydney as a larger version of Auckland! I knew a few people who I had worked with previously and a close friend was already living there who I stayed with initially before Dave moved over. My best friend was about to move to Sydney from another part of Australia so that made the move very easy and comfortable. Lots of people say Sydney can be a tough place to move to but I’ve found it the complete opposite.
CM: Who is the most awesome person you’ve met there?
CB: Without a doubt my friend Emma Stevens, she’s a true blue Aussie from Cronulla (or the Shire as we call it here in Sydney) who I met during my first week of work - we work in different areas of the same firm. We are basically the same person from different countries, and she has quickly become one of my besties! She has helped me navigate work and settling in to a new city and I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met her! She is off to the UK in May to do her OE and I’ll miss her lots!
CM: What did you take with you initially?
CB: Nothing except a suitcase of clothes! We own a house on the Shore so we rented it out, stored important stuff and sold lots of the stuff we didn’t need - it was very freeing! Australia has places like IKEA, Fantastic Furniture and Daiso, so setting up a house was easy.
CM: What's the best food you’ve tried there?
CB: We have lots of options around Surry Hills. I love Paramount Coffee Project for breakfast and a Japanese placed called Cho Cho San in Potts Point for dinner. We used to go to Northcote Tavern every Sunday and I really missed that tradition, so now we go to a local pizza place called Dimitris each week. It's run by a young guy who loves food and I’d highly recommend it to North Shore people visiting Sydney if you love pizza! He also has a great selection of local craft beers and wines. There is also a huge amount of delicious Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greek and Italian places across Sydney, which we love trying out.
CM: Favourite app to use in your new country?
CB: My favourite is the universally-loved Instagram for keeping up to date with all the cool stuff my family and friends are doing. I listen to LOTS of podcasts over here too, the Mamamia Women’s Network run by Australian journalist Mia Freedman is great and has loads of podcasts like No Filter, Mamamia Out Loud and more.
CM: In what ways is your new home patch similar to the Shore?
CB: Sydney has loads of amazing beaches all within close proximity to the city. The climate and location make it an easy place to enjoy the beaches, just like the Shore. I love living so close to great cafes, pubs and restaurants too, just like in Takapuna.
There’s a fantastic place called The Grounds of Alexandria over here, which is a beautiful, Instagram-able location with cafes, a market and a few shops that locals and tourists flock to take photos of the amazing scenery. Kids can even pat the farm animals there, I always think a place like that would be perfect in Takapuna!
CM: If I could have one thing from the Shore here with me, it would be...
CB: My family, especially my Nana. Even though I’m lucky that my parents and sister come and visit often, and it’s easy and relatively cheap to travel back to Auckland, I really miss seeing them regularly; working out together with the best trainer ever, Selva, and Sunday night dinners. Keeping in touch is really easy with FaceTime, but nothing beats hanging out together and being able to go around to Mum and Dad’s when I’m at a loose end.
CM: To unwind, I…
CB: Most people read or exercise but I like to window shop. I walk along Oxford Street towards Paddington and Bondi Junction, have a coffee along the way and listen to my podcasts, or make a few calls to friends and family back home.