How To Wait Aggressively



That right there is a work permit, folks…

It came this past Wednesday, less than one week before Courtney was due to start her new job.  (She started today, actually… we like to play it close)

As it turns out, this means we’ve literally proven that you can sell all of your possessions, move to the other side of the world, and somehow find a job from scratch within 3-months.  Granted this process was made a lot harder by traveling with our daughter, who disqualifies us from obtaining the simple Working-Holiday visas in various countries.

For those of you that are in the same boat, I present you with…

Baker’s fail-proof, 25-step plan to obtaining a New Zealand work permit:

  1. Have a baby.
  2. Decide you are going to sell all of your possessions and move across the world.
  3. Plan for a year to obtain Working Holiday visa and live/work in Cairns, Australia.
  4. Realize 3 months before you leave that you aren’t eligible for Working Holiday visas.
  5. Start applying to have teaching credentials assessed by Australia for sponsored visas.
  6. Worry for 3 months and then leave anyway, too late now.
  7. Arrive in your new home of Cairns, Australia.
  8. Leave your new home 3 days later for a new, new home (Townsville).
  9. Try to find a school to sponsor your visas.
  10. After two weeks realize that getting sponsored in Australia is going to be a long shot.
  11. Research sponsored teaching visas in other countries.
  12. Fly to the cheapest/closest of viable options (Auckland, New Zealand).
  13. Start applying to have teaching credentials assessed by New Zealand.
  14. Apply to 40+ teaching jobs.
  15. Get rejected by 75%, score a couple interviews.
  16. Almost leave New Zealand for a teaching job in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  17. Travel by bus 1.5 hours to job interview, miss connection, arrive 20 minutes late.
  18. Get offered job on the spot based on your interview, despite being late (Kudos to Courtney).
  19. Finish getting “assessed” by New Zealand.
  20. Obtain official job offer from school.
  21. Submit Assessment + Job Offer in order to get “registered”.
  22. Obtain registration with the Teaching Board of New Zealand.
  23. Submit Assessment + Job Offer + Registration + Application to Immigration to get work visa.
  24. Obtain work permit less than 1 week before the job is set to start.
  25. Write a blog post.

Alright, so maybe it’s not fail-proof…  But it’s had a 100% success rate for anyone that’s followed it step-by-step so far.  🙂

Aggressively Waiting…

That pretty much sums up what has happened since my last travel update.  Not really has happened physically, but the gears have been active behind the scenes.  For the last month, we’ve been staying with our original CouchSurfing hosts.  We’ve decided to work out a deal to pay a small amount of weekly rent to help with the utilities and provide them a little bit of extra cash for an impending trip that they were undertaking.  While it’s been difficult to enter roommate-mentality at this point in our life with Milligan, it seems to have worked out well for both parties.

Back at the beginning of August, Courtney was offered a job at a Decile 10 (the highest rating) school here in Auckland.  The only problem was that the opportunity started in approximately 1 month.  At that point in time, we still had the following steps to complete:

  1. Have Courtney’s credentials “assessed” by the NZQA – Est. time 2-4 weeks
  2. Register w/ NZ Teaching Board (need job offer + Step 1) – Est. time 4-6 weeks
  3. Apply for Work Permit w/ Immigration (need Step 1 + 2) – Est. time 30-60 BUSINESS days

As you can see, the math on the estimated time didn’t really add up.  (Did I mention there is a fee for each different step with each different organization, ugh?)

So how did we do it?  Simple…

  • We contacted someone, through some medium…  every day. Literally, everyday.  Most days we’d call, other times we’d e-mail or show up in person.  It didn’t take long for multiple people to personally know our situation.  We were able to make connections with key people early on in both the first two steps.
  • We were very humble, open, and honest. We mercifully thanked everyone we talked to.  We recounted our personal story a couple dozen times.  We played the sympathy card if we could.  We apologized for having to ask for extra effort.  Eventually we had several people that were willing to go above and beyond to help us.

That’s all we did.  It’s simple in concept, but it’s a ton of work.  We both relied heavily on, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you for a favor…  but what would you do if you were in my shoes?” You’d be shocked at the number of doors that opened with this phrase.

During the first step, I was able to establish personal contact with the office manager at NZQA.  After a series of e-mail and personal phone calls, he helped us take their processing time from 2-4 weeks to only 6 days.  He also overnighted Courtney’s federal background check to us at one point, so that she could mail her application into Step 2 a couple days early.  He then personally forwarded the finalized assessment to Step 2, saving even more time.  Even with all this help, our chances still looked bleak.

Courtney was the one who made the connections at the office of the second step in the process.  The school had given her a deadline for getting through Step 2 (registered), otherwise they would have to offer the job to someone else.  On the day of the deadline, an employee stayed an extra hour (til 6 p.m. on a Friday) in order to finalize the registration and send a digital copy to Courtney, so that she could forward it onto the school.  They were able to shorten the 4-6 week period into 5 business days of processing.

Lastly came Immigration.  While it should have been the most simple, it worried us more than the others.  The office was much bigger, applied much more red tape, and was dealing with many more individual cases.  Somehow, we were going to have to talk them into to taking a 30-60 BUSINESS day quote into just under 8 regular days.  We’d tried calling, e-mailing, and showing up in person.  Nothing was working. Our application was “in the system.”  We couldn’t get the name of a manager, an e-mail, or even a specific status request.

This past Monday, one week before she was due to report to work, Courtney informed her principal that we weren’t having the same success making the internal contacts we had at the previous two steps.  Actually, he wasn’t available so she just left a message with the secretary at the school.  For the next, two days we trying calling a couple more times.  Each time getting a new voice and each time not getting anywhere.  Our focus moved to hoping the school would give Courtney more time to get it worked out.

Then it just appeared! The mailman brought a simple envelope which had Courtney’s passport along with a copy of the work permit.  It was totally unexpected.  Later, we came to find out that the principal had called on Monday after receiving the message and pulled some strings.  They ended up fast-tracking it that very day.

I tell you all this for two reasons.  First, some of you are interested in our complex little journey.  We’ve had a ton of questions about it and I’ve even received e-mail from people planning their own move to New Zealand.  But more importantly, I want to reinforce the old adage that it’s not what you know…  but who you know.

If you really want something, don’t let red tape or “standard” guidelines intimidate you. Do your own research.  If you call, e-mail, or show up in person more than once, you are ahead of 90% of the people.  Learning how to show persistence without “nagging” is an invaluable skill we’ve been able to hone over the past 3 months.  Even when you are forced to wait, find ways to wait aggressively.

What’s the future hold?

Well, Courtney’s initial offer runs only through December.  This is to act sort of like a trial period where she can adjust to the difference in curriculum, culture, etc…  Starting in November, she’ll have more details on extending it for the next 1 or 2 years (school year runs from Jan – Dec).  At this point, all we know for sure is that we’ll be here through December.

As far as accommodation is concerned, our host-roommates have left on an overseas trip of their own.  Since it is much cheaper for them to have us house-sit than to board their cat, we’ll be staying rent-free for the next three weeks.  After that, we’ll be apartment hunting for a cheap downtown apartment.  We’ve never lived in the heart of a major city, so we are looking forward to seeing how we like it.  At the end of the December we’ll either make a bigger commitment to New Zealand or choose to blaze a different path in another country.  We’ll see!

It’s been a wild ride for us over the last couple of months, but it looks as if we were able to accomplish our initial goal of selling everything and relocating overseas.  Of course, it didn’t go anything like we expected or planned, but that’s all part of the journey.  Most importantly, we’ve proved that it CAN be done.  There were many more hurdles than we thought, but we found a way to jump each and every one of them.

Courtney and I are both looking forward to opening up a little bit now.  Joining some local activities, trying to meet some new friends, and really examining what “normal” day-to-day life could look like here in Auckland.  Obviously, the travel updates on the blog will be more rare as we enter into more of a working life here.  However, if you like following our journey be sure to connect with me on Twitter (@ManVsDebt), where I provide smaller updates more frequently.

I’d be honored if you join in on the discussion below.  Have you ever had a time you were forced to wait, but got great results from staying pro-active?  Let me know below!

48 thoughts on “How To Wait Aggressively”

  1. “But it’s had a 100% success rate for anyone that’s followed it step-by-step so far. :-)”

    Haha! Well done to both of you! 🙂

    Definitely a lesson in the power of:
    a) networking, and
    b) “asking for the order” (in this case, a favor).

    1. Haha, thanks Mike! I tried to keep thinking to myself, “The answer is always no, if you don’t ask.”

      We didn’t enjoy having to ask for favors, but in the end it was needed if things were going to come together!

  2. Congrats Baker Family! You did it! I don’t even know you, yet feel ‘proud’ that you persevered and accomplished your goal. Many would have simply said ‘to heck with it’ and continued to travel around Australia (on credit), getting further into debt.

    Anyway, I too have had similar experiences getting through red tape. The squeaky (and polite) wheel gets the grease, so to speak. And, I also wanted to point out that you can’t always assume people know what they are doing either. When applying for my husband’s US green card, he had to get a police report from Scotland because he lived there for 2 years. They had recently changed the rules of how to do this, from having to go through Scotland Yard to now going through the local police station of where he had lived.

    Well, the US immigration office kept insisting they had to go through Scotland Yard, which would take far too long for what we needed. So, I had to get the documentation with the current rules and fax it to the woman I had been speaking with at US Immigration. I included a cover letter, clearly outlining it all and who she could call in Scotland, etc. Once she understood that I was right, she contacted the correct police station in Scotland and got the documentation very quickly.

    So, it pays to understand the process you are going through yourself and don’t leave it all to someone, thinking they know what they are doing.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      This happens COUNTLESS times to us. Who could call the same number three times in a row, ask the same question, and get a different answer from three different people. It was definitely a war of attrition. Sounds like other parts of the world are no different ;-).

      Thanks for being a long-time supporter of our journey and of this community! I still draw inspiration from your own story. 🙂

  3. What a journey man! This is a great example for all those people that are afraid of taking risks and making the leap. I’m positive that confidence and thinking out of the box can make anything we truly want happen, and you and your family are living proof. Congratulations Adam!
    .-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..Great Teaching Works =-.

    1. We had many doubts along the way, but decided just to jump in head first. Our journey is far from over and we certainly aren’t experts, but it does feel good to accomplish at least what we set out to do.

      If Argentina is in our near future, I’m going to trick you into playing tour guide! 😉

  4. Very happy for your guys!

    As the co-founder of Viralogy, I had to go 2 years without making any serious income. I’d make $100 here and $500 there, but nothing to pay the bills with. When my families member were laid off, I had to go search for a job to become the main supporter for the family. I searched day in and day out for a job, but couldn’t find anything good. 3 weeks into my job search and applying to a bunch of job position, I was contacted by the CEO of SEOP who offered me the position for The offer seemed too good to be true, and I jumped at the chance to build a startup and get paid to do it.

    It sucks to hear “No’s” and to apply to an endless stream of job positions. However, if you’re persistent and work hard, you’re bound to find a job. I know there are a lot of people in the US who can’t seem to find a job, but sometimes I feel that they just haven’t tried everything possible.

    One of my friends applied to 200 positions before he got a job offer that he really loved. My other friend applied to 100 positions before he decided to finally tap into his network and get referred to a job.

    There’s always a way. Never give up!

    – Jun Loayza
    .-= Jun Loayza´s last blog ..Startup Advice: Entrepreneur vs Business Owner =-.

    1. I feel the exact same way, Jun. I think often people stop just short of short of success, because the get discouraged. I can’t imagine what it would be like to submit to 100 or 200 positions, but if you have a clear vision of what you want… it’s well worth it.

      I know you’re work well and I’m positive that the decision to hire you at that start-up will be the best they ever made!

  5. Congrats, I can imagine the stress of trying to complete those last few steps with registering and finally getting the important piece of paper. I also imagine it could be a fine line to tread between the daily emails/calls to bureaucrats and jeopardizing your case (b/c of possibly annoying them?). In general, though, I think that taking daily action is the important ingredient… not just waiting doing nothing and accepting the cards you’ve been “dealt”, but actively trying to get another “deal.”

    So…. next post: how your budget’s holding up!:) What you *have* spent $ on over the past 3 months…. to see how cheaply this sort of thing can be done (aside from the free couchsurfing accomodation:), of course.).
    .-= MoneyEnergy´s last blog ..Top UK Dividend Stocks For International Income =-.

    1. There is most certainly a fine line, however it helped that we had our backs against the wall. We approached things from a very positive standpoint, but in the worst case scenario, we’d be leaving either way!

      I’ll definitely do a future post recounting what we spent money on and where we saved. I can tell you that at least 70% of the money we spent was on plane tickets. Our lodging costs were so low it’s actually scary. We had a couple two-night stays that were intentional “get-aways” (even those being super-discounted), but aside from those this has a been a huge triumph for us.

      We actually good have spent a little more on the journey, but we weren’t sure how long we needed our funds to stretch. Now, though, we still have a nice little emergency fund in both USD and NZD, so that’s a great benefit.

      More later!

    1. It probably could have been a British comedy even though we were successful. I lot of interesting crap happened. Speaking of British comedy, have you seen Black Books? Exposed to that here in New Zealand.

  6. Great job Baker. That is strong perseverance. I get the sweats when clients are a few days late and bills are stacking up so at this point, I couldn’t imagine sitting in another country, on someone’s couch waiting for a VISA.

    My question to you and it seems like an obvious one, but…is it all worth it? I am by o means trying to take away from everything that you have done, but I want to see your mind set so that I can help others see the freedom you have experienced. So many young people, myself included, are scared to take the leap. Some have priorities, mortgages, whatever…but you have a wife, a baby and a formidable business starting online (whether you have realized that or not yet) and yet still push yourself to the limits to have the life you desire. That my friend shows some balls and some character. So it also begs the original question, is the travel, the sacrifice and the stress putting you in a position that you are in love with? (maybe we can frame that answer in an interview or something – or just kick ass and reply!)

    Have a great week buddy.
    .-= Greg Rollett´s last blog ..You Have 100% Potential to Be A Rock Star =-.

    1. Greg,

      To be honest man, it’s tough to tell at this point. There are days when I feel pumped, like everything was worth it and I really appreciate the fact that we were willing to undertake this sort of thing.

      But there are are also days when I long to be back home. Or for a more stable set-up to live, write, etc…

      In the end we have our whole lives to settle down and return to a more “safe” existence. The next 3-12 months will help paint a clear picture on whether it was worth the hassle, but I try to focus more on living in the journey now. Interesting stuff, may be good content to turn into an interview!

      Thanks for the passionate comment!

  7. Hi there and well done
    It’s good to see that the arrive and get a job routine I used 12 years ago still works 🙂

    I arived in NZ on October 1 1997 with a 3 month tourist visa and not much else. I did have my NZQA accreditaion before I arrived but had no job or Kiwi experience. 12 years later I’m Assistant Principal at a fabulous country school south of NZ.

    Good luck and if you need help/advice drop me an e-mail.
    .-= Peter White´s last blog ..A Man living out his principles =-.

    1. Haha, it’s nice to know this strategy has stood the test of time! As you know, it can be a little stressful, but I’m glad to hear it’s been an awesome fit for you. I appreciate the opportunity to ask questions/get advice, although people who offer that to me usually regret it. 😉

    1. Thanks, Robert!

      For now, I’m playing stay-at-home-daddy (which takes a lot of adjusting for me) and going to commit to continuing to build this community and my freelance writing opportunities.

  8. Congratulations! Can’t say much more except isn’t it amazing how fate plays out – with a bit of help from some amazing persistence too. I’ll be visiting Auckland and Waiheke for a week in October so I’ll put the word out for some accommodation for you. Keep up the good work:)

    1. Annabel,

      If you come to Auckland and we at least don’t meet for coffee, I will be upset! You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. 😉

      In other words… I look forward to hearing from you when it’s closer! 🙂

    1. Yep, I’m staying at home with Milligan. While I’ve considered working evenings or weekends, Courtney & I have decided that focusing on this community & freelance writing opportunities will be the best use of my time long-term. Hopefully, we are right. 🙂

      1. Have you considering trying your hand at some non-PF things? It might be a good time to explore your creative side and see if writing about other topics appeals to you. Your NZ experiences are an obvious candidate, but I’m talking about just throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. Science, art, politics, fatherhood, whatever.

        I’m jealous of you. It would be nice to focus more of my energy on writing – although certainly the stay-at-home dad gig takes a lot of energy. I’m home alone with our two year old a couple of weekdays per month, and it can be a rather interesting experience (although blankie tends to calm the waters)

        If you want to experiment in new areas but aren’t comfortable attaching your name to that writing, I’d be happy to make a spot for a pen name on The Casual Observer. (Yep, I’m always trying to get people to help whitewash my fence …)
        .-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Love and Theft: World Wide Open =-.

  9. I read your guest post on Get Rich Slowly today. I just wanted to let you know that by posting the picture of your wife and her work permit everyone on the internet now has her passport number and date of birth.

    1. Brian, fantastic point. I owe you one for pointing this out. To be honest, It didn’t cross my mind/I didn’t realize how big or clear the picture would come out. I’ve fixed it and updated.

  10. I have always found, especially with traveling, that things not working out how you planned usually ends up being better than you could have imagined. You missed the train, well there happens to be a cool festival going on. Hostel only has a room for one night, the second night you find an amazingly charming hotel in another part of town where a parade will go by. That’s part of the great things about traveling the unexpected are usually the best memories.

  11. I had the same kind of situation with my work visa in Canada – it got rejected once and then I got moving on nudging people every few days and getting my HR department in on the act too. It really is about who you know!

    On a side note, I’m moving to Auckland in about 3 weeks myself (an Aussie living in Canada, moving to New Zealand!) and while as an Aussie, things are easier for me, I’ll be going through a lot of the same things. I’m selling everything, moving everything else and setting up shop knowing only my fiance (and his family once I meet them!)
    .-= Gemfit´s last blog ..Taking control one chocolate chip cookie at a time =-.

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  13. Just subscribed. Someone sent me the Tyler Durden article, and I kept clicking. By the way, I own a ’95 Nissan 240 w/ 175k miles and only spend pennies on maintenance (Yes, my check engine light is on also). My question is the rental property—any regrets? money maker, breaking even, or money pit? Good luck and talk later.

    1. Brady, we got lucky with the rental property. No major regrets, although it was retarded of us to get involved like we did. I got in no money down and actually walked away from closing with a grand.

      I took a big risk and it worked out in the very short-term. I’ll consider writing more about these details at some point!

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  16. What a great example of dealing with the logistics of square 3 of the change cycle. Sounds like you know the square 3 mantra…

    “Nothing’s working as expected… and that’s okay.”

    Well done, and thanks for sharing a real-life example of perseverance – many would have given up long ago and missed the rewards.


  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post! We are just starting on our family adventure, but I know things will probably not work out as we are imagining they will and we will have to be all sorts of creative and resourceful. I love the advice to show up in person, call, email, whatever it takes.

    You know, I learned this lesson not long ago when I couldn’t leave Costa Rica because my son is a registered Costa Rican and my hubby wasn’t there to grant his permission. So we got turned back at the airport and had to jump through a zillion red tape hoops in immigration there, while he was meeting with the consulate in Atlanta. It was a mess, but we were each persistent and honest, upfront, humble… we BEGGED… and finally got to come home!

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder: persistence, determination, creativity, resourcefulness and patience (just what the doctor ordered!).

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  21. i actually had a similar experience, and i was also going to new zealand, but it was due to some course credits that i needed to have assessed, and i was told i wasn’t able to take the courses i wanted… but i just went anyhow (i had already bought my ticket, sold belongings, etc) and it turned out okay.

    BUT new zealand! such a great spot in my humble opinion. you should get out to piha if you get a chance – good surf there and some great surf instructors. but be careful of the undertow – it is a doooozy!

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