When Shima Selvaraj set off to study in New Zealand, she never imagined meeting the love of her life, getting married and building her own home off-grid in rural New Zealand.
While she was born in Malaysia, Shima spent a big part of her childhood travelling to New Zealand.
“I grew up in Malaysia and New Zealand, relocating every few years due to my parent’s work,” she explained.
She went to study in New Zealand’s primary school system, then headed back to Malaysia for high school.
The accounting and commercial law student returned to her home country after graduating to begin a career at one of the big four accounting firms in Malaysia.
However, soon after beginning work, she realised that accounting wasn’t for her and decided to follow her passion and pursue a career in digital marketing.
Being the hard worker that she is, Shima started working while completing her master’s programme.
“I started working as a Digital Marketing Coordinator while I completed my master’s, so juggling both was a little difficult,” she says.
Finding love was definitely not on her mind — but fate had other plans for her. It turns out her soulmate Josh was a colleague.
“He was in sales and I was in marketing, so it was pretty funny considering the two conflicting departments,” she shares.
The two started spending a lot of time together travelling for work and immediately hit it off. “We got to know each other and realised it was something we both wanted to explore,” she gushes.
“It was interesting at work, but everyone knew and approved of the relationship, especially our boss.”
For Shima and Josh, it was a case of when you know, you know. Just nine months after dating, the two were engaged and soon after made it official by tying the knot.
Thankfully, as Shima spent several years growing up in New Zealand, there weren’t too many cultural surprises.
Though she admits, “I’m still getting used to Josh having an obscene amount of tomato sauce on his pies,” she laughs.
The couple is currently in the midst of building their forever home off-grid in the Far North of New Zealand.
When COVID-19 hit, Shima was made redundant at work. This coincided with Josh’s parents move to somewhere remote.
After a few visits, the two fell in love with the place and knew that was where they’d like to settle.
“It is very different from the city life I grew up with, but we’re both loving it so far and can’t wait to see how everything comes together,” she says.
In between, Shima began working on her own digital marketing business, which allowed her to work from anywhere.
On her Instagram account, she chronicles how her new home’s coming along, from painting to planting their own fruits and vegetables.
Everything was falling into place perfectly. But of course, building a home together does come with a number of challenges.
Shima’s one piece of advice for other couples? Always communicate with your partner. “Josh and I have this thing where if something is bugging us, we’ll talk it through,” she says.
“We may not always be on the same page, but we try to see each other’s point of view and at least understand where the other one is coming from.”
Shima and Josh ensure that they never go to bed upset at each other.