THEY may have been living in Warrnambool for only a few months, but Nick and Crystal van Wyngaarden have already fallen in love with the city and the wider south-west region.
Since arriving in July, the van Wyngaardens have adapted to life by the sea with ease, so much so they are now keen to buy a home and settle in the area.
Greater work opportunities lured the couple to Australia from New Zealand in 2010, first moving to Mildura, then Melbourne.
Mrs van Wyngaarden, an oral hygiene therapist at a practice in Camperdown, said after spending a couple of months in Mildura, they knew it wasn’t the place for them.
“We just felt so isolated up there,” she said.
“It just felt so far away from everywhere, If you wanted to go to the city, it was a six-hour drive, or you flew down. But the flights from Mildura to Melbourne were so expensive, often it was cheaper to fly from Melbourne to New Zealand.”
She said after spending a few months in Mildura, they moved to Melbourne, before jumping at a chance to move to Warrnambool.
“We mainly moved here for my work,” she said.
“The practice I worked for in Melbourne have a sister practice in Camperdown and a position became available there. And luckily Nick found work at Emmanuel College.”
Mr van Wyngaarden, a science and maths teacher, said the thing they first noticed in Warrnambool, was friendly locals.
“Even when we were coming down to look for somewhere to live, all the real estate agents were so helpful driving us around and calling us to let us know if something else had become available,” he said.
“It’s such an outdoors lifestyle down here. The beach is pretty much on your doorstep, which we love.
“In Melbourne it took us an hour to get to a beach, so it was more of an indoors lifestyle down there because there just wasn’t the space.
“And if we go out for a drink, people will actually talk to us.
“I think we have met more Australians here than we did in Melbourne. We just seemed to meet a lot of other Kiwis.”
The couple said they were excited about their job prospects.
Mr van Wyngaarden said it was an exciting time to be at Emmanuel College, with redevelopment plans under way.
The college has completed construction of its third campus, with plans for further expansion and redevelopment over the coming years.
“It’s nice to be at a school that has a clear plan for the future,” he said.
Mrs van Wyngaarden said while they missed their families, there was little difference with living in New Zealand.
“We lived in Auckland, so for us to see Nick’s parents or my parents it was a long drive,” she said.