Rotorua District Council Economic Development Unit
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From Bed Sit to Business Owner










Name Debbie Rowles
8 months
Films, walking and surfing

The attraction of New Zealand, the quality of life and the smaller population encouraged a move from London to Rotorua for Debbie Rowles and her partner early this year. “We came to New Zealand on holiday and really liked it, so decided to immigrate, and we ended up in Rotorua when we purchased a costume hire business here.”

In London, Debbie worked as a costume designer in TV, but this kind of work involves just short-term contracts making it too difficult for her to get a work visa. So with her partner, Jeff Flitton, they looked at buying a business. There were two costume hire businesses for sale at the time, one in Auckland and one in Rotorua. They chose Rotorua because they liked it, it’s not a big city and offers a better lifestyle. Debbie says living in Auckland would really have been going back to the same sort of lifestyle of London. “We have a fantastic quality of life here. I only drive for half an hour a day to and from work whereas in London it was three hours a day. “We now have a house – in London I lived in a bed sit. We also have pets and don’t have to set the alarm clock to go to work.”

Immigration took a lot longer than they expected. Debbie says they were told it would take three and a half months but it ended up taking eight and a half. “This was quite stressful as we had to put our whole life on hold while we waited to find out if we even stood a chance of coming to New Zealand.” But Debbie says they ended up being very lucky because the people selling the business waited for them to get to New Zealand. Since taking over the business Debbie says they have been very busy getting that going so haven’t been able to get into the many outdoor activities on offer in Rotorua. “But we are hoping to get into more next year,” she says. Establishing business networks for Jeff, who works in special effects makeup, has been challenging. As has finding new friends – although Debbie says everyone has been really friendly. The best things about Rotorua for Debbie are the people and the beautiful surroundings – the lake and getting to the sea so easily. “It’s a great place.”








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