A New Adventure

I’d like to apologize to my readers for my recent absence. I have been in the midst of a rather large move. As soon as we’re settled, I’ll continue the series on plugins.

Many of you know (from my hockey fandom) that I have been writing from the Dallas, Texas area. However this post is being written from my new home: Auckland, New Zealand!

How I came to live here

It all started over six years ago. The epic movie Avatar had just been released. It was one of the first major motion pictures that my wife and I had seen in 3D.

While I thought the movie was amazing, both from storytelling and plot as well as special effects standpoints, it was one special effect which caught my attention: the computer displays rendered graphics in true 3D. That is to say that as the viewer panned around the monitor, the view angle of the content shifted appropriately for the viewer, even when viewed from behind the display plane. The effect resulted in a feeling that the monitor was merely a window into virtual content. (Later, when watching the movie on my home TV, I realized that this effect is more pronounced when viewing the film in 3D.)

For several days after seeing the movie in the theater, I thought of how such an effect could be achieved with a real monitor (as opposed to film post-production special effects). I realized that if the monitor were constructed using multiple LCD layers with special optics between them to increase the apparent depth, each LCD could render a slice of a 3D object, effectively reconstructing the object with pixels in space.

I began to research multi-layer LCD displays and found that one company, based in New Zealand, held just about every patent conceivable related to these displays. So I contacted them. They liked my idea enough to sign me up for a four-month consulting contract, culminating in me being flown to Auckland for a week to finalize my research.

Sadly, the idea didn’t pan out. There were several issues with the approach which I won’t go into here. But I did get to stay in Auckland for a week, and I flew on the Boeing 777 (one from the bucket list)!

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A 777 in front of a 747.

A dream is born

Upon my return home, I declared to my wife that we needed to move. We immediately began to research the cost of moving. Unfortunately, we found that we were not financially ready for such a large change. But at least we had an idea of what we needed to do.

Over the next five years we would hold on to the dream of leaving North Texas. In that time, my wife quit her paying job to become a full-time mom, and I would move out of a job in research and development of aerospace manufacturing technologies and processes into software development. All the while remembering the goal.

I can’t say that we were fully committed to realizing the move. We didn’t eliminate costs or use Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball to position ourselves properly. We just continued our lives.

You might think that if we had seriously focused on making this dream come true that we might have been able to move sooner, but I can’t escape the evidence pointing to God’s perfect timing for moving when we did.

The breakthrough

The realization of the dream started last October when we received the first of three (relatively) large deposits, the other two to come early the following year. I did some quick math and realized that the other two expected checks would total just slightly more than the cost we had estimated all those years ago.

A thought (that may not have been my own) entered my head: if you’re going to move to New Zealand, now is the time. I walked downstairs and proposed the idea of moving to my wife. After some discussion and coming to terms with the idea that this may actually happen, the decision was made.

Now what?

I knew from my previous research that there were a few things we needed to take care of before we could move.

Visit the family

About a month before all of this happened, my extended family started planning a family reunion for the Fourth of July weekend in 2016. We absolutely had to attend this, which meant that the move would need to be after the reunion.

Timing for the move: late July or early August.

Hire an agent

I realized that this effort was too important for me to try this on my own. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have done it. Rather my concern was that I’d forget something or completely miss that I needed to fill out a certain form. I wanted someone to manage the residence application process and advise me on all of our options.

After some research, we settled on a company to help us.

When I explained our schedule, our agent said that we were in perfect position to keep it.

Get a job

I immediately posted my CV on all of the New Zealand job sites I could find. I even applied for about 30 jobs. Whenever I received interest, I would have to explain that I’m just starting this journey and what our timing was.

Most of the responses were the generic, “Thanks for your CV. We’ll keep it on file.”

Sometime in early April, I was advised to start trying to secure a job, so I went back to the job sites and started applying again. I hadn’t applied for more than three applications when I received an email from one of the companies to which I had applied back in the fall!

They had asked if my plans and schedule were still in place and that they’d like to start the interview/hire process.

Three Skype interviews later, I had an employment contract in hand! Perfectly timed for the work visa application!

I received the work visa mid-June and bought tickets for my family and I to fly out.

Manage our stuff

When moving in America, most of us take all of the crap that we’ve accumulated over the years. If you have a stuffed garage here, it’s likely you’ll have a stuffed garage there.

But moving overseas presents a different challenge. Moving big stuff like furniture means shipping it. We had to eliminate the vast majority of what we were taking. And there’s still more than you’d immediately think of. Everything must be considered: clothes, bedding, furniture, kitchen stuff, photos, kids’ schoolwork, old paperwork, electronics, nostalgia, collectibles, children…

For everything in the house, we asked the following questions:

  • Do we really need this?
  • Will it work there?
  • Can we buy it there?
  • Would it be more expensive to ship the one we have than to just buy a new one?

For a good two thirds of the contents of our house, the answer to the first question was an emphatic, “No.” Those items would either be sold or thrown/given away.

The second question had the same answer for just about all of our electrically powered items. We kept a few things that we could simply buy a new power supply for (like our game consoles and mobile devices).

In the end, we brought our beds, a couple dressers, our clothes, kitchen stuff (pots hold water pretty much anywhere on the planet), some photos, and a few personal items and family heirlooms.

We were able to take most of our clothes on the plane with us. The rest would have to ship and meet us there later.

I can’t describe to you how much work this was.

The last big things to sell were our cars and the house.

Time to move

It was time. We had the one-way plane tickets, I had finished my final couple weeks with GameStop, and we were finally finished packing everything we were taking with us.

A friend drove us (and our 16 pieces of luggage) to the airport. We said our final goodbyes and walked through the gate. Then we ate dinner in the terminal and waited for our plane to arrive.

It was an Airbus A380. I had seen one at the Auckland airport when I had visited before, but now I was going to fly one! Scratch another one off the bucket list!

0128111724-00

An A380 (back) dwarfs a 757 (I think) (front).

One 17-hour flight later, we found ourselves in Sydney.

Murphy strikes again

I had been told by our immigration agent that while the work visa would cover me, my wife and kids would be able to enter the country on visitor visas while we apply for residence. What she failed to mention was that they would need an exit strategy from New Zealand in order to get the visas.

Apparently there was a visitor visa requirement that stated that they needed to have return tickets purchased (or the means to buy them). Because we weren’t in the financial position to simply buy tickets, we missed our connecting flight from Sydney to Auckland.

After a couple panic- and stress-filled hours, I had managed to secure three plane tickets out of Auckland for my wife and kids that would later be cancelled. This would serve the purpose of getting the visitor visas.

Our 90-minute layover turned into eight hours.

We found a nice, quiet corner of the airport, though, and the kids took naps.

We finally got on the rescheduled plane and flew to Auckland. We were home.

That was Thursday.

The current state of things

Honestly, we expected the house to sell and close before we left. We still have some financial obligations for which we need the proceeds from the house to fulfill. We’re working on closing an offer now. We’ve addressed all of the documents we need to physically sign, and everything else can be e-signed.

We have a friend and a sister in America that were kind enough to take on power of attorney responsibilities for us to finalize the remaining tasks.

We have enjoyed the sudden shift from the Texas summer heat to the coolness of the Auckland winter. It’s rainy and averaging 13-18°C (55-65°F for you non-metric folk). (Yeah, I have to learn metric.) I think we’ve acclimated to the new time zone, but the shorter days are throwing us off a bit.

I start my new job tomorrow…

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