As mid-winter Christmas was such a surreal experience, it’s time for a slice of reality - over to Jane for a while...
After an absolutely jam-packed few months of travelling, we have suddenly found ourselves on the cusp of winter. At this point, it doesn’t really make sense to continue on the road. We are experiencing a lot more rain than when we first arrived, and seeing as the sun now sets at 5pm, and the temperature drops from 17/18° in the day to maybe 5° at night, being cooped up in the van all day is not a particularly pleasant experience. With this in mind, and a dwindling bank account, it's about time to look for some work. Having inadvertently missed the picking season for most fruits, we're faced with a choice of whether to go for a packing/picking job (possibly in some wild and wet location), or whether to look for something a little bit more “inside”, in a town or city (A.K.A an office job).
Lets weigh up the pros and cons: Picking v Office
1. Immediate start and quick cash - When they say immediate start, they mean IMMEDIATE. We’ve already sent a couple of emails just asking for a little more information about the jobs. The responses are of the ilk, “when can you start?”, “are you in the area now?”, “shut up and take my money!”
2. Staple Kiwi experience - Though it will almost certainly be absolutely knackering we don’t want to miss out on this classic backpacker adventure.
3. Work outside and get super ripped - This will reap obvious benefits as we continue our tour (we have plans for climbing many more mountains, surfing and whatever other extreme sport comes our way!)
1. Can only work in good weather - It rains a lot here in the winter, and it’s torrential. We're fairly sure the phrase "it never rains but it pours" was invented in Auckland. As picking can only be done in good weather this could severely handicap our earning potential.
2. Paid by the bucket - A lot of picking pay is based on how much you can pick, rather than pay by hour, giving an unfair advantage to the experienced picker/bigger/stronger person (not really our build...)
3. We’ll have to live outside - To cut costs on accommodation, and because we’ll have to move to where the work is, we’ll have to live in the van. As previously mentioned, this won't be enjoyable in the winter months.
1. Work (and live) inside - Work isn’t limited by bad weather and, if we find a job in the Auckland area, we can continue our residence in Waiuku with Stephen, Lynda and the family (and our favourite pooches!).
2. Sick pay - Depending on the kind of contract, we’re likely to get sick pay when inevitably the flu gets us, meaning our earning potential will be stable.
3. Experience real working life - We will get a good idea of the jobs market and working life in New Zealand, and depending on the kind of work, this could actually be useful for our careers when we officially come out of retirement.
1. Potentially boring work - We’re most likely to be able to get generic admin roles, which are unlikely to be the most exciting part of the trip.
2. Applying for jobs takes longer- Even roles that are advertised as “immediate start” still require an investment of time and resource in terms of producing a relevant CV, preparing for and travelling to interviews, and company processing time before the actual start date. It could take a number of weeks and this could severely limit our income, as we only have a few months before we are due to get back on the road.
3. Higher upfront costs - Living in a van doesn’t exactly lend it self to carrying out around potentially unnecessary items, i.e. office-wear. We are unlikely to land a job wearing our current backpacker-chic attire. We also need to take into account the cost of commuting from our rural home into the city.
After some debate, we were still (unsurprisingly) undecided. So we're hedging our bets, and give ourselves a couple of weeks to apply for jobs in the city. If this fails, we’ll pack up and go to the nearest picking site and start work immediately. Simple, right?