Developer programmer moves to New Zealand

“A perfect work/life balance." There can’t be many people who move countries because of a typeface, but that’s one of the reasons Scottish developer Stuart Whitehead ended up in New Zealand.

Type nerd Stuart had long been a fan of Klim, a Wellington-based company that sells its typefaces through its own website.
When Stuart discovered Klim’s site was created by independent digital agency Springload, also in Wellington, he thought it sounded like a cool place to work.

“Springload gave off a really nice vibe about its work culture. My fiancée and I had an appetite for adventure and wanted to see the world, so we decided it was time to leave Aberdeen and move to Wellington,” says Stuart.
Stuart and his fiancée, Teri Milton, arrived in New Zealand in August 2016.

Doing good work

Stuart, who was named Scotland’s Young Software Engineer of the Year in 2016, is one of Springload’s technical leads.

"New Zealand workplaces have embraced flexible working."

Klim is now one of his clients, and he works with many other prominent New Zealand brands on projects that often have a global impact.

He’s also proud of the work he has done to improve the lives of Kiwis. One of Springload's clients is the Accident Compensation Corporation, a New Zealand Crown entity responsible for administering the country's universal no-fault accidental injury scheme.

Stuart and the team are working on a self-service app that allows clients to see details of their accident claims and to request support from ACC.

Fitting in at work wasn’t a problem: many of his fellow developers are from overseas. “Working with people from all corners of the world makes me feel right at home.”

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Time to be creative

Stuart says he enjoys the Kiwi attitude that it’s important to balance working hard with taking the time to enjoy life outside of work.

“Springload is open to me working from home, taking care of my family and doing whatever I need to do to stay well and healthy,” he says.

“One of the things I like most about working here is that they encourage me to take time for myself and be creative. They understand that we all need time for our mind and soul.”

New Zealand workplaces have embraced flexible working: employers are legally required to consider any requests from employees to changes the hours they work, the days they work or where they work from.

Big city feel

One of the first things Stuart noticed about New Zealand’s capital city is its accessibility.

“Wellington is amazing. It’s a small city, but it has so many amenities that it feels like a big city,” says Stuart.

“At lunchtime, I can go to the waterfront, which is only 10 minutes away, and after work, I can go for a bike ride up Mount Victoria.

“It has let me achieve a perfect work/life balance.”

While New Zealand is a long way from Aberdeen, Stuart has found video calling an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. His father and aunt came over for Stuart and Teri’s first Kiwi Christmas.

Cafe culture

Stuart and Teri are both keen mountain bikers, and they often go riding in nearby Makara Peak, a purpose-built mountain bike park with over 40km of tracks set among the stunning native forest.

When they’re not mountain biking, Stuart and Teri enjoy visiting other parts of New Zealand – they say it’s an easy country to explore. Stuart’s also been on Springload’s annual ski retreat to Mt Ruapehu, in the central North Island.

In the weekends they hang out with friends, often over brunch. Wellington’s said to have more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York City.

“We hadn’t realised when we came here how dedicated Wellingtonians are to food, craft beer and coffee. It’s up there in the world in terms of quality,” Stuart says.

“Wellington is very social and it has a fun, feel-good vibe. You’re made to feel very welcome here.”

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