Jason and Charlie Sklenar are emigrating to New Zealand after both serving in the Royal Engineers. Jason represented Great Britain in biathlon at two Winter Olympics, while Charlie spent most of her career serving in explosive ordnance disposal, deploying to Afghanistan and Eastern Africa. They’re looking forward to travelling through Asia for a few months with their three young daughters en route to their new home…
BEFORE their big move, Charlie and Jason’s main focus has been securing visas and building a network in their new country.
The couple made use of resources including the Officers’ Association and LinkedIn and Charlie, who remains in contact with her resettlement adviser via email, also planned ahead by saving her leave prior to hitting civvy street so that she will still be paid during the initial period of her travels.
She explained: “Though we have met numerous people planning major overseas moves, we found that resources were fairly limited to leaflets and websites.
“Our biggest challenge has been the time it takes for the visa process. We held off applying until September last year as the latest changes by New Zealand immigration were in our favour, but it has meant that we’re still in the final stages.
“There’s a lot to understand and get your head around, [so] the earlier your soldier can attend briefings the better.
“Informal networks that we have built up, particularly British veterans in NZ who we have been introduced to online via friends, have been really helpful.
“In the future I see us both working, kids happy, with a great quality of life – big goals but exciting times.”
If you are planning to emigrate, Charlie suggests doing your homework.
“Give yourself as much time as possible – you genuinely cannot start too early,” she said. “We have been planning this for three years and at times it still feels like it’s not enough.”