We emigrated from the UK about 7 years ago and my husband's job was in Petone. I had lived up north until I was 19 so was unfamiliar with this area too. Now this is only my personal opinion ... we didn't want to buy in Wellington because it was too expensive and the roads are a nightmare (so many hills and narrow streets!). So we looked all around the Hutt Valley. We also wanted a flat section for my little boys and that was difficult to find in our price range. After seeing 80+ houses (I kid you not), we found the perfect one in Stokes Valley. Since moving here we have NEVER regretted it. It is such a fantastic community of friendly, helpful people. Yes, we have our problems, as any area does I believe, but the people are proud to live here and we have met so many who have lived here their entire lives or who have gone overseas in their 20s but returned to settle down here.
There are other fantastic communities in the Hutt too. And of course, they are all within easy commute to Petone, plus Wellington is at most a half hour drive away for events and attractions. If you want to message me I can give you some pointers? Just hover over the Home button at the top of the page and click on Messages
Good luck with your move!