Migrant Story #1 | Jen Thousand Words | SA-UK-NZ

Jen Morris You Tuber Interview Emigration to New Zealand

Welcome to my first migrant stories interview! It is so exciting to hear from a fellow NEW New Zealander! I have been blogging for about 3.5 months now and it is all very well sharing my personal story and tips for moving to New Zealand, but I am well aware there is more than one side to every story. For moving to New Zealand there are thousands of stories, so its time to tap into some more emigrating to New Zealand experience.

My very first migrant interview is with the lovely Jen Morris. Jen is originally from South Africa, but lived in the UK for 9 years, before moving to beautiful Taranaki with her family and things around 6 years ago.

I have been in touch with Jen since we connected through our common pursuit in migrant blogging. Jen runs an amazing and super popular You Tube Channel: A Thousand Words , in which she shares snippets of her life as well as advice and tips for moving to NZ and life in Taranaki.

Being lucky enough to be invited to stay in her gorgeous garden guest house, I got a little taster of what life is like in the Central North Island for Jen, her husband Grant and their two teenage sons. Lets just say, it is delightful, and I took this opportunity to find out what its like making the move to New Zealand with family and cargo in tow:

Morris Family at Mount Taranaki

Lost in Silver Fern Migrant Stories Interview with Jen Thousand Words

How long have you been in NZ?

We’ve been here for just over six years.

What do you do for work?

We have a little guest house on our property that we let out through Airbnb and Bookabach and I manage that, plus I have a YouTube channel – I upload videos four times a week.

What inspired/prompted your move?

We are originally from South Africa but had moved to England to escape the crime and corruption. The whole time we lived in England (11 years) we knew it wasn’t what we wanted as a permanent home. We didn’t like some of the cultural aspects plus the crowding and weather. So we began looking elsewhere and New Zealand seemed like a good fit for us.

Why did you choose to live in Taranaki?

Partly because of the inexpensive housing, and partly because it ticked everything on our wishlist of what we wanted for our life: close to beaches, a tiny village in the countryside but near to a town for shopping and amenities, within an hour of an airport, lots of natural beauty, and a low population.

Ohawe Beach Taranaki Jen Morris Moving to New Zealand Experience

What is your visa story?

We currently have permanent residency and tomorrow I’ll be lodging our application for citizenship, but we entered the country on a residency visa.

Was this an easy or difficult process?

It was a long process, which was difficult at times, but that’s mainly because of the job application process. My husband was applying to enter the police force right after they stopped international recruiting, and dealing with is case officer was difficult – she was not particularly efficient or motivated. It took two years to get the job offer and our residency visas. Once we had the job offer in hand the actual visa process was straightforward and only took a couple of months.

Jen Morris You Tuber Gardening in Taranaki

Did you bring belongings?

We brought a 20 foot container jam packed with all of our furniture and belongings. We used PSS and it cost £4,000 in 2011.

What are the greatest advantages of living in NZ for you?

Safety, low population, temperate climate, boundless unspoilt natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, friendly people who are honest and generous, and being able to give our children a carefree childhood. It’s everything we ever wanted and we couldn’t be happier here!

And the biggest disadvantages?

Being so far away from family, and how expensive it is here.

How expensive do you find it compared to home?

Much more expensive than England. I can’t really compare to South Africa as we left there 17 years ago.

What are your favorite things to do when you have time?

Garden, read, take and edit photographs, film and edit videos, go to the beach or forest, any kind of crafting, home improvement, watch YouTube videos, bake. I’m always busy doing something.

How do your kids like it here?

They love it!

How easy is it for you to go home?

Not easy at all. We haven’t left NZ since arriving here in 2011 as we haven’t had the funds. Any spare cash we have goes straight into home improvement or traveling locally.

You Tuber Jen and Grant Morris on beach in Taranaki

What do you miss, apart from family and friends?

IKEA, decent double glazing, shopping. I used to have central heating on the list but we invested in central heating in our home – best thing ever!

If you could give those moving to NZ one tip, what would it be?

Oh gosh, just one?! I’d say give it at least two years to settle. Try to come over with full commitment if you are moving over here to stay (as opposed to a working holiday, for example) – don’t come over with an attitude of “we can just go back home if it doesn’t work out” because at times it will be so hard that it will be tempting to pack it in and go back to where you came from. But your reasons for leaving will still be there. Just give it time to feel settled, it can take a while.

What are your favorite shops/brands/products that are made in New Zealand?

I like Briscoes for homeware and Countdown for online grocery shopping and Kmart for clothing and homeware and pretty much anything.

What are the top 3 things you love about Taranaki?

The beaches, the mountain, and the low population.

Your You Tube Channel is amazing. Can you describe it in a few sentences for those who may not have checked it out yet?

Thank you! I upload vlogs – showing our daily life – as well as videos covering a range of topics like things I’m currently enjoying, books, recipes, photography, gardening, tutorials on how to make things, and videos about moving to New Zealand.

Jen Morris You Tuber Migration Experience Interview

Thank you for sharing your emigrating to New Zealand experience Jen!…

It is so good to hear from someone who has done the move in a different way from myself and has really made a success of life here.

I need to give a shout out to Jen’s DIY skills. She built and cladded her entire guest house interior into what is now the guest house, by herself, from scratch and its perfect. I have never been more impressed. Head to Jen’s channel HERE to have a look at these kind of groovy tricks she has for home improvement as well as her amazing immigration experiences.

And special mention for the Frightful Grant Videos….check them out for yourself to see what I am talking about…so funny.

Anddddd, Jen also interviewed me for her channel which was a first for me and I had to getover my fear of the camera pretty quick! Here’s our chat for anyone interested:

For more experiences of moving to New Zealand, feel free check out the following posts:

Cost of Living in New Zealand – The Truth

Moving to New Zealand FAQs.


Thank you so much for reading and come back soon!

You can follow me for updates on Instagram @lostinsilverfern.nz Twitter @lostsilverfern and Facebook @lostinsilverfern and be sure to subscribe to the blog using the form below.

Josie x