The information you need to make your move to New Zealand a smooth one. From checklists for your move to tips to help you settle in.
Don’t know where to start with importing household goods to New Zealand? We have the information you need to get the process going:
- How to avoid border clearance problems
- Items to declare
- Prohibited and restricted items
- Importing vehicles and pets
- Packing tips
Let’s start with the three things to do to get your goods through customs as quickly as possible.
1. Prepare an inventory
A detailed inventory listing all items in the consignment must accompany your shipment. You must also declare the necessary items. See our packing tips at the end of the article to making this process simpler.
2. Complete the necessary declarations
You’ll need to complete an Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration form if your personal items are shipped by sea or by air.
Should your shipment contain goods that pose a biosecurity risk, it’s advisable to complete a Personal Effects Supplementary Declaration. This declaration provides more information about specific items and could change the risk status of your consignment.
3. Provide the required documentation
Personal goods being shipped to New Zealand must be accompanied by:
- A completed NZCS 218: Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration
- A completed sea container Quarantine Declaration (for full container loads)
- A detailed inventory
- A completed sea container Quarantine Declaration, if you’re shipping a full container load
- Valid treatment certificates for goods that have been fumigated, heat treated or cleaned
- The shipping arrival papers, for instance Bill of Lading, Airway Bill or Arrival Advice
- Supplementary declaration, which provides more information about specific items and could change the risk status of your consignment.
- Any permits you need, for example:
Items to declare
New Zealand maintains the right to inspect certain items once these items have entered its borders to maintain the country’s strict health and safety standards. These items must be declared and include:
- Fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, mushrooms or fungi
- Any meat, fish, shellfish or poultry
- Ingredients used in cooking, all milk products, cheese, eggs or eggs products, and milk-based baby foods
- Hunting trophies or stuffed animals
- Traditional or herbal medicines or remedies, health supplements and homeopathic remedies that include animal or plant parts
- Dried flower arrangements or Christmas decorations made from plant material
- Items made from wood
- Items stuffed with seeds or straw
- Items made from bamboo, cane, coconut or straw
- Items containing hair, fur, unprocessed wool, skin, feathers or bone
- All outdoor, camping, sports equipment, hiking boots and other sporting footwear that could be contaminated with soil, seeds or water
- Animal grooming and veterinary equipment, beekeeping equipment, saddles, bridles, bird cages and pet beds
- Gardening equipment and outdoor furniture
This is not an exhaustive list, so check with your importer or with customs if you’re unsure about any items that you’re planning to take with you.
Restricted and prohibited items
Some personal items are prohibited or restricted from entering New Zealand:
- Any packets of food
- Honey, pollen, propolis, honeycombs and other bee products
- Plants, bulbs, cuttings, corms, rhizomes or tubers, commercially packed seeds and seeds for planting
- Packaging such as straw or used fresh food cartons
- Items restricted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) such as coral, ivory, snakeskin or whale bone items, turtle shell and some sea shells.
It is best to leave these items behind when packing for you move, unless you can ensure that is accompanied by official certification.
We’ll also advise you to read up on New Zealand’s restricted and prohibited items. You can get the information you need from New Zealand’s Customs Service.
Importing vehicles and pets
You are allowed to take your car and your pets to New Zealand, but you’ll have to meet all the requirements to be able to do so.
If you pack properly when moving your household goods to New Zealand, you’ll minimize the time it takes to inspect your goods. Here are tips for achieving this:
1. Create a packing list:
Record all boxes and what is in each box. Also include a description of what the goods are made from. For example, metal bed frame or cane basket.
2. Label and number:
Number the packing boxes and match the numbers on your packing list. Be sure to use permanent marker to write on boxes when you’re labelling them. Don’t use sticky labels, as these often fall off during the move.
3. Cartons and packing materials:
It is best to not use second-hand boxes or bags, unless you’re absolutely certain these are free from animal or plant material. Additionally don’t use straw, sawdust, wood shavings or other plant materials as packing or filler.
4. Pack items in groups:
Pack similar goods together and group the boxes together.
5. Pack for safety:
Securely wrap sharp or breakable objects such as knives or ceramic items. Clearly mark boxes with medical items, dangerous goods, or any items that could pose a safety risk. Do not pack flammable items such as fireworks or paint thinners.
Summarising importing household goods to New Zealand
You have to create a packing list, ensure that you provide the required documents, and declare the necessary items to import your goods when moving to New Zealand. Please also refer to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MIP) and New Zealand Customs websites for more information.
You’ll also make your life much easier if you work with a shipping company that specializes in the import and export of household goods. Such a company would be able to advise on the costs, the forms, and the general requirements when shipping your family’s belongings.
Sources: MIP and New Zealand Customs
If you’re looking for a checklist for moving to New Zealand, you’re at the right place! What you’ll find below are the tasks most critical to your immigration at each phase of the process. You won’t find the steps for your visa application itself, as it is best to discuss these with your immigration advisor.
How to use this checklist?
As we explained, your checklist is divided into phases. You’ll see that there are six phases. The first four phases involve all the hard work. The last two are simply tasks for the day before you fly and for the day of your departure.
Further to this, the timelines assigned to each phase of the process is estimates. Your immigration might move faster or slower than our phases indicate. That’s okay! Each immigration is unique.
That’s also why you might find that you won’t do the tasks from top to bottom. You might have to jump around. That’s fine too.
Now let’s get to your checklist for moving to New Zealand.
You’re just getting started
During this phase, you’re still gathering your thoughts and you’ve just decided that you’d like to move to New Zealand.
- Get your eligibility assessed by a licensed immigration agent. You should only proceed with the rest of the process if you’re certain that you qualify to live in New Zealand.
- Discuss your plans with your immediate family. Start with your children and then talk to your parents and siblings. They’ll need time to get used to the idea of not having you around!
- Investigate employment opportunities – where are the jobs in your occupation available?
- Decide where you want to live, then research house prices, salaries and the cost of living in the area.
- Update your CV to make it suitable for New Zealand employers.
- Check that your entire family has valid passports. Ensure that there are at least two years available on each passport. The process of applying for a visa may take several months!
- Check to see if your pet is allowed in New Zealand. New Zealand has strict requirements for the import of cats, dogs and other common pets.
You’re going from thinking about it to taking action
Your eligibility assessment has shown that you qualify to live in New Zealand, so now you can get the ball rolling. This phase is roughly 18 to 12 months before you move to New Zealand.
- Seeing as you know that qualify for a visa, now is the time to start job hunting. We’ve shared a list of recruiters in New Zealand on our blog before.
- Check with your immigration advisor whether or not it is time to go for medical examinations and to get police clearance certificates. You shouldn’t get these documents so far in advance that they’re no longer valid when you submit your visa application.
- Check what you’re allowed to take with you to New Zealand as far as personal belongings are considered. New Zealand has lists of prohibited items and items that you have to declare before clearing it for entry into the country.
- Start sharing your plans with your wider social circle, your children’s schools and your colleagues. With that being said, if you don’t want to discuss your plans just yet, that’s okay too. Do it when it feels right.
- Set up a meeting with your boss to discuss your plans. Who knows, you might need them as a reference.
- Make a list of the furniture and household items that you want to take with you to New Zealand. Once this list is drawn up, start selling or donating the unwanted items. Trust us, you don’t want to start clearing your house at the last minute!
- Start getting your finances in order. You might want to reduce debts or save money to have cash reserves for when you arrive. Also make a list of subscriptions that you’d have to stop or debit orders that you’d have to cancel.
- Now that you know what you want to take with, get quotes from shipping companies. Get quotes from pet importers too, if you have pets. These costs are bound to make up a huge part of your expenses, so it’s best to know how much to budget for well in advance.
- Get quotes for flights to New Zealand. You can’t book flights too far in advance, but it’s good to know how much tickets are as soon as it’s possible to do so. While you’re at it, get quotes for travel insurance.
- Unless your New Zealand employer is offering temporary accommodation, now is the time to start exploring accommodation options. Many people choose to rent a place for a couple of months to start off with. This means you have a home when you arrive, but also have time to house hunt at leisure once you’re in New Zealand. It’s so much better to be able to inspect a house or apartment yourself than having to decide on where to live over Skype!
You’re getting ready to leave in a couple of months
You can start seeing the finish line! It’s still about six months away, but now is the time to get the parts most critical to your move in order.
- Put your house in the market, either to sell or rent. The earlier you start this process, the better – especially if you’ve decided to sell your house. While you’re at it, ensure that your utilities and rates are paid up.
- Get rid of the last of the unwanted household items and furniture. When it’s all out of the way, start packing up your house. This might be stating the obvious, but start with the items you use the least. If you find that you’re overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to pack, tackle the process one room at a time. Another tip is to label boxes clearly so that you know to what room a box belongs. It’s going to make unpacking so much easier!
- Unless you’re going to import your car, you should put it on the market now too. Ensure that all services and maintenance are done and that you have paid any fines before selling it to someone else.
- Your pets might have to enter quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand. Now is the time to check that everything is in place for this process.
- Get credit references from your current bank and other lenders and open a New Zealand bank account. You can open a bank account from overseas up to a year before you move. It really is a good idea to do it now, because then you can make credit card and cash withdrawals as soon as you arrive in New Zealand.
- By now your immigration advisor would’ve told you if you qualify for New Zealand’s public healthcare. If you don’t, start making arrangements for private health insurance.
- Collect all the most important documents to take with you. These are commonly birth certificates, marriage certificates, medical documents, academic qualifications, credit references, and driver’s licenses.
- Talking about driver’s licenses – you’ll need a translation of it in English if you’re license is in another language. You’re allowed to drive in New Zealand on your overseas license for 12 months, so you won’t have to convert your license immediately.
- Now is the time to sign for temporary accommodation in New Zealand if you haven’t done so yet. If you have family or friends close by, get them to go have a look at the place and report back on its suitability.
- If you’ve been renting, give notice to your landlord. Most rental agreements require that you give notice at least two months in advance.
- Book your flights and arrange transport to your new home. You’re going to be exhausted when you arrive, so strongly consider hiring a car. That way you won’t have to figure out the public transport or where to catch a taxi.
- Get refills of prescription medicines and contact lenses. If you think you’re going to need new glasses in the upcoming months, rather go to your local optometrist now to get a pair.
- Cancel all those subscriptions and debit orders you put on your list. Also cancel things like gym contracts, phone contracts, and any insurance you won’t need.
- Request handover files from your dentist and doctor for your whole family. These files will be enormously helpful to your new doctor and dentist in New Zealand.
- Start saying goodbye to friends and family. It’s going to be hard but it has to get done!
There are only three weeks left until you fly!
Things are starting to feel real! These last few weeks are going to go by so fast!
- If you’re not done yet, finish packing up your house so that your belongings are ready to go.
- Organise transport to the airport.
- Make sure that your pets and your household belongings leave for the ports when the day comes.
- Call the bank to arrange the closure or transfer of your bank accounts.
- Have special farewells with your family and closest friends. Be sure to have separate farewells for your children and their friends. This move is going to be tough on your kids too!
The day before jetting off to New Zealand
With all of the hard work behind you, there is only a couple of things left to take care of.
- Pack your hand luggage. You first want to ensure that you have all the most important documents in your bag. Then you want to add any items that are going to make your flight easier. This could be anything from travel toothbrushes and books to toys and snacks for the kids.
- Finish up packing everyone’s suitcases.
- Get a good night’s sleep – tomorrow’s the big day.
It probably felt like this day would never come! Yet, here it is. You’re packed and ready to go.
- Double check that your hand luggage includes all your documents.
- Go through the whole house or apartment and check all the rooms to make sure that nothing has been left behind. Don’t forget to check in kitchen drawers and clothing cupboards in the bedrooms.
- Close the front door and set off on your new adventure!
Print and file your checklist for moving to New Zealand
You could just bookmark this page but our suggestion is to print the checklist and file it so that you can reference it easily. In fact, print a couple of copies so that each family member has a checklist. That way you can check up on each other to ensure that each item on the list gets done.
One last tip – consult with your migration advisor along the way
Depending on what services your migration advisor offers, he or she might also be able to advise you on certain steps of your checklist. Specifically when it is time to take specific steps. For instance, when you can start looking for a job or when it’s best to book flights. Please do consult with your advisor to find out what advise he or she will be able to give you.
Moving to New Zealand with children can be an extremely daunting experience. Not just because it’s extra little lives to co-ordinate while moving continents, but also because children don’t necessarily understand what’s happening. As parent you’ll know what this could mean – frustrated, angry, sad or scared children.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. You can pack up and move your life to New Zealand without disrupting your children too much. All you’ll need is an action plan – and we’re here to share tried-and-tested ideas with you.
Make your children part of the decision-making process
You know, and we know, that the parents will make all the important decisions. But you can let your children help with some of the decision making and make a big deal of their input. In this way, your children will feel included and considered. Start with their room – decide together what can stay and what should go.
Answer all the questions
Children are not afraid to ask questions! This is the one time though that no questions should be off limits. Getting answers to their questions will quell any fears or concerns your children might have. Also don’t wait for them to approach you. If you see your child is quieter than usual or is acting out more than is normal, ask them if anything about the move is bothering them.
Tell them it’s a new adventure
Let’s face it – while immigrating is indeed stressful, it’s also a big adventure. Get your children to buy into this! Here’s one idea – watch videos of New Zealand together and then place stickers on all the sights you want to visit once you’ve arrived.
Help your children say goodbye
Don’t forget that goodbyes are hard on your children too! We might not always realise it, but children also have the ability to form strong bonds, even at a young age. A great idea is to host a leaving party at school or at home, while also organizing one-on-one goodbyes with close friends.
Remind your children all along that new friends are waiting on the other side.
Stick to your schedule
Moving to New Zealand with children is going to be so much easier if you stick to your normal schedule. For instance, continue eating dinner at the same time. Keep bed time the same too! This not only makes the children feel safe and secure, it also makes things easier on yourself. Less chaos equals happy parents.
Don’t forget to care for your relationship with your partner too. It’s all too easy to focus only on the children or the parts of the your visa application. Yes, immigrating is not easy, especially when it’s as a family, but remember – as you’ll tell your children – a new adventure awaits!
We’re guessing your head is spinning with everything you have to remember for your emigration? It’s the packing list, the shipping list, the accounts-to-settle-list…and, and, and!
You probably haven’t even had a chance to think of what has to get done once you arrive in New Zealand.
Worry not – we’ve done the work for you. What you’ll find below are the four top priorities as soon as your feet are on New Zealand soil.
1. Get an IRD number
Your IRD number (Inland Revenue Department) is your tax number.
It’s important to apply for your IRD number before you start working. If you don’t have an IRD number when you get your first paycheck, you might pay more tax than you need to.
But how do you know if you should pay tax?
New Zealand Now advises that it’s every individual’s responsibility to find out if they’re liable for a personal income tax return. As a general guideline, New Zealand will consider you a ‘tax resident’ if:
- You’ve been in New Zealand for more than 183 days in any 12-month period and haven’t become a non-resident, or
- You have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand, or
- You’re away from New Zealand in the service of the New Zealand government.
You can read more about personal income tax on the website of the Inland Revenue Department.
2. Find schools for your children
While early childhood education is optional for younger children, children between the ages of 6 and 16 must go to school in New Zealand.
When choosing where to send your children, your first choice will be the type of school. You can choose from:
- State schools: Schools owned and funded by the government.
- State-integrated schools: A former private school which has integrated into the state education system, becoming a state school while retaining its special character.
- Private schools: Schools that charge set fees for a term or year.
Your second choice will be to which school to send your children. Schools in New Zealand are grouped into areas known as ‘zones’. Your children are guaranteed a spot in a school if you live within its zone. You can apply for admission to schools in other zones, but children living within the school’s zone will get the first choice.
It’s not all schools that have zones though. State-integrated schools, such as Montessori schools, and private schools generally do not have zoning restrictions.
You can read more about school zones on the Ministry of Education’s website.
3. Find a family doctor
The relationships we build with our family doctors are some of the most valued in our life. These GPs are our first port of call for information and care if one of our loved ones fall ill.
To find a family doctor in New Zealand, you can search on Healthpoint, which is New Zealand’s National Health Service Directory.
For information on New Zealand’s other health services, such as dentistry, you can turn to New Zealand Now. Here you’ll find in-depth information on each of New Zealand’s regions. Each region’s healthcare page also tells you where to find public and private hospitals.
Please note that you’ll have to enroll with your local Primary Health Organisation before seeing a doctor. You’ll also find the contact information for each region’s PHO on New Zealand Now.
4. Apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence
You’re allowed to drive on your overseas driver’s licence for the first 12 months of your stay in New Zealand. Thereafter, however, you must have a New Zealand driver’s licence.
You can convert your overseas driver’s licence to a New Zealand one. To do this, your licence:
- Most not be suspended, disqualified or revoked in the country of issue, and
- Must be either current or expired within the preceding 12 months.
Keep in mind that New Zealand licence classes are not exact matches to those that apply overseas. If your licence class has different specifications in New Zealand, it’s advisable to adhere to the New Zealand equivalents or to obtain a New Zealand driver’s licence right away.
There you have it – your four top priorities
We suggest that you bookmark this page for later. Then continue concentrating on getting your visas approved! If you need help with your visa applications, please feel free to contact us. Our licensed immigration advisors assist you from start to finish.
Do you have a beloved family pet that you can’t imagine leaving behind when you emigrate? Then you’ll be happy to know that taking pets to New Zealand is possible.
The most important requirement to meet to directly import your cat or dog is to be from an approved country.
There is much more to know though. Below we’ll cover it all and give you links to detailed information:
- Approved countries
- The requirements
The costs involved
- Using a professional pet importer
At the start of this article that pets must come from approved countries. But what countries are approved and what does ‘approved’ mean?
To appear on New Zealand’s approved list of countries for pet import, a country has to be rabies free or rabies controlled. These countries are divided into three categories to indicate the permit, post-arrival inspection and quarantine requirements for each.
- Category 1: Australia and Norfolk Island. If you’re importing your pet from here, a permit and quarantine stay are not required and neither are post-arrival inspections in certain cases.
- Category 2 and 3: Permits are required if importing your pet from a category 2 or 3 country. Post-arrival inspections are also required, as is quarantine.
Should the country you’re importing from not appear on any of these lists, your pet won’t be allowed into New Zealand until it has spent 6 months in an approved country and you can provide a vet certificate.
You can download a document with the breakdown of all approved countries here.
New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has published a step-by-step process for importing cats and dogs. This article includes a summary of the requirements, which is as follows:
- Ensure your cat or dog is eligible for import into New Zealand. Checking if you’re from an approved country is the best place to start.
- Ensure your dog is not a prohibited breed or type.
- Note the restrictions around hybrid breeds.
- Book an MPI-approved quarantine facility. This applies to all cats and dogs, except those from Australia.
- Apply for a permit to import from the MPI at least 20 working days before you’ll need the permit. Again, this does not apply to cats and dogs from Australia.
- Ensure all of the import requirements have been met.
- Notify an official veterinarian in New Zealand:
- At least 5 working days before arrival for cats and dogs from Australia.
- At least 72 hours before arrival for cats and dogs from all other approved countries.
- Declare any medication your animal is taking.
The costs involved
Taking pets to New Zealand is not necessarily cheap. You’ll have to pay for permits, inspections, and other costs as needed, for example quarantine fees.
The MPI lists some fees and charges you can expect to pay here. Don’t forget transport costs!
As explained, pets from Australia don’t have to stay in quarantine. Pets from all other approved countries have to stay in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days.
Please note that all cats and dogs must land in Auckland or Christchurch first. All other cats and dogs must be transferred to a quarantine facility.
Using a professional pet importer
The best piece of advice we can give you is to use a professional pet importer to get your pet to New Zealand successfully and safely.
In fact, most airline require that you use one when taking pets to New Zealand to ensure you’ve followed all the rules.
Professional pet exporters offers a wide range of services like arranging test, treatments, flights, permits, shipping crates and taking care of other requirements.
Please note: Intergate Emigration has not dealt with any of these providers. As such, this recommendation is not an official endorsement or guarantee of the services provided.
If you’re bringing a cat or dog from Australia, you don’t need a permit. However, you do need a permit if your pet is coming from an approved country.
When you come from any other country, your pet will only be able allowed into New Zealand after it has spent 6 months in an approved country.
To get through all the requirements without a hitch and get your furry family member into New Zealand safely, strongly consider using a professional pet importer.
For any other immigration advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
You may think moving overseas with your partner won’t affect your relationship, but a life change of this magnitude test even the strongest unions.
While some couples start a new life in a new country and do come out of the experience stronger, other couples find themselves struggling to keep things together after a while.
The reason why some relationships fall apart? Packing up your life and moving to another country is stressful! You’ll have a million things to tick off your to-do list in the application stage and have to deal with culture shock, uncertainties and homesickness in the settlement phase.
None of this is impossible to overcome though, as is evident in the many relationships that do survive a move overseas.
Here’s how the successful couples do it:
Relationship experts all agree that communicating effectively is key to having a successful relationship. Keeping the lines of communication open becomes even more important during a move to a new country.
What you do:
Raise your concerns, fears and worries. That way both partners know what kind of headspace the other one is in and you can support each other. It also prevents little issues from becoming huge arguments.
Don’t forget to mention the good stuff too, whether it’s complimenting your partner on how they handled a visa issue or sharing a story after your first day on the new job.
Balance is key!
They have common goals
Not everyone find living and working overseas appealing for the same reasons. For some the drawing card is making lots of money, while others see it as an opportunity to travel more. These goals aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but when there is no compromise, it’s a recipe for disaster.
What you do:
Sit down and discuss what each of you are hoping to get out of your time overseas. In an ideal world, you’ll have the same goals, but if you don’t, discuss how each person can compromise a little bit to give the other one what they want.
They have a plan
It’s not just having a plan but working on the plan together, so that both partners are on the same page.
What you do:
Start from the beginning, from the visa application. Then work your way right through to finding a house once you’re in your new country.
Your list should also include who’s responsible for what, so that things get done but more importantly, so that both partners know who’s responsible for what. That way there doesn’t have to be ‘But you were supposed to do this’ fights.
They make big decisions together
You may be responsible for finding a new home, but you should never sign on the dotted line without first speaking to your significant other. Life-defining decisions should always be made together.
What you do:
Exactly that – make the big decisions, like where to stay or whether you’re going to buy or rent a house, together. Sit down, go through all the details together and make a decision before going on with your day.
They make time to have fun
Successful couples know that emigrating can’t only be hard work and make time for some ‘time out’ along the way.
What you do:
You set aside time to relax while going through the motions of moving. Go see a movie, have dinner with friends or go hiking, whatever takes your fancy.
Once you’re settled on the other side, take time out to visit the tourist sights, explore your neighbourhood and taste the local flavours.
They spend time apart
Most couples are not used to spending all their time together or being dependent only on each other. Most couples also know that not taking a break could eventually lead to frustration and tension.
What you do:
Take a break and give each other some space at least once a week. Go have a coffee at a corner café, go see a movie, explore a part of the city on your own or join a hobby group. Your options are virtually endless!
They reach out
Being homesick and lonely happens to couples too, so couples who do it right reach out to new friends, but also keep their ties with family and friends back home strong.
What you do:
They decide if and when they’ll return home
Unless it’s a temporary work contract, with a definite end, the question of when to return home, or to do it all, is sure to pop up. Unless both partners are clear on the answer, this issue could lead to fights down the line.
What you do:
Discuss if your stint overseas is permanent or temporary. If it’s temporary, how long do you want to stay? Talk about what happens if one of you decide it’s time to go home, despite all that’s been discussed. Also chat about the possibility of moving to more countries.
The most important thing you can do for your relationship when moving overseas with your partner, is talk. Talk about how you want this adventure to play out, talk about your feelings and definitely discuss the big decisions.
When you keep the lines of communication open, your relationship is sure to survive The Big Move.
Moving house is stressful! Even more so when the move is to another country.
You can come out the other end in one piece though. It’s not impossible. Especially not with our survival guide by your side.
We’re going to tell you what to do before you move and once you’ve arrived in New Zealand to keep your entire family happy, smiling and excited.
Let’s start with what to do to prepare for your move.
It’s the day you’ve been waiting for – your visas have arrived. Suddenly it’s all too real and your mind starts racing. Instead of trying to do a million things at once, start here:
Share the news
Instead of telling the family in a throwaway manner, call a family meeting and share the news.
You’ll find that children, especially older ones, may have a lot of questions and calling a formal meeting will give them the chance to get answers.
More than that, sitting down with the family will give you the chance to paint this as a massive adventure, to get everyone on the same page and excited.
Involve the children
The quickest way to get children on board when moving abroad with your family, is to make them part of the process. It will make them feel like they have a say in what’s happening to them.
- Ask for their input and give regular updates on developments.
- Let them make decisions, such as which toys to take.
- Assign age-appropriate tasks to them.
- Let them help you pack.
Get to know your future home together as a family
It’s safe to say that you have already done research, but now is the time to introduce the rest of the family to their new home. It might go without saying, but include the city and neighbourhood you’ll be staying in too.
Use the internet, country and city guides, maps, videos – whatever is going to make it a fun and interesting experience for your family.
Create a checklist
Moving abroad with your family is no easy feat! The only way to keep track of everything is to create a checklist.
A checklist does so much more than just spell out what should be done though. It also brings a sense of security and structure to a manic time in your lives. Plus, with everyone knowing their responsibilities, arguments are kept to a minimum.
Take care of the basics
Perhaps you can’t enroll your children just yet, and you probably won’t be able to secure medical insurance just yet, but at least know your options.
You won’t believe how stressful it can be to leave these three tasks to last when moving abroad with your family.
No-one likes goodbyes but in this case there’s no avoiding them.
Start preparing your children well in advance! Get them to say their goodbyes to teachers, friends and family, but not all in one go. When goodbyes happen over time, your children will get used to saying goodbye and it softens the blow just a little bit.
You should do the same, but without overwhelming yourself. Your schedule is going to be jam-packed, so squeezing in too much will only stress you out.
The move went well and now you’re ready to tackle the new adventure as a family.
Make the new house feel like home
Unpack boxes with key items first and decorate with family favourites straight away. Think family pictures from your hold home, beloved stuffed toys and the well-worn living room couch.
Doing this will make everyone feel more comfortable, and more at home, in a flash.
Explore the neighbourhood
You’ve already done the research – now go out and explore! It’s another great way to make everyone feel at home.
If your children is still a bit sad about leaving home, make their points of interest the focus of your exploring. Go see what the local play parks look like, drive by their school and go to the beach, if that’s an option.
Stay in touch with family and friends back home
It’s so easy to stay in touch with loved ones these days. Simply set up a Skype, Zoom or Google Meet account and you’re good to go.
You should have catch-ups as a family but also ensure that everyone gets a chance for one-on-one catchups. Seeing familiar faces and catching up are great comforts!
Involving everyone in the process is the best thing you can do when moving your family abroad. Apart from that, make an effort to work as a team, to get everyone excited and to make your new place feel like home as quickly as you can once you’ve arrived.
You’ll start a new job and set up a house. At the same time, get used to everything that’s new. And it’s bound to be a lot!
Fortunately, there are ways to make the settling-in period easier.
For starters, you’ll need to acknowledge that it’s going to be tough. After that it gets easier.
1. Accept that the first few months are going to test you
You’re living in New Zealand. You are thousands of miles away from what has been ‘home’ up to now.
It’s going to be tough. Perhaps tougher than you thought.
Get through the hardest patches by cutting yourself some slack. It’s okay to feel isolated, scared, homesick or even disappointed. Many expats, if not most, feel the same way in the first few months!
Sit down with the family for regular chats too. Talk to your partner about your feelings and invite them to do the same. Ask your children how they’re coping with the change. Kids might only speak up if you speak to them first.
2. Get connected as quickly as possible
We’re talking cell phones, Skype and emails here. The quicker you’re set up, the quicker you’ll be able to connect with friends and family back home again. Talking to the people you love most will get you through all the tougher moments.
3. Establish a routine
Routine makes most of us feel safe. You know what to expect and when to expect it. To expats it means a bit of calm in a stormy time.
Establish routine at home by drawing up a weekly schedule for the family. Add work, activities, even grocery store trips. Then put the schedule on the fridge where all the family members can see it.
You’ll feel much more in control of your situation in no time.
4. Explore your city
The sooner you get to know your city, the sooner it’ll start feeling like home.
Take a walk or do a sightseeing tour. Use the public transport system. Find out about festivals, sports days…anything that’ll introduce you to the local way of living and doing.
5. Make new friends with locals as well as other expats
Making friends is about much more than establishing a social circle. It’s about connecting with locals who can give you advice, information and support.
Here are a couple of ways to meet new people:
- Introduce yourself to neighbours, colleagues and other expats.
- Get back into a hobby or take up a new one and join a hobby group.
- Join a sports club if you’re sporty.
- Shop at your local grocer, go to the pub on the corner, have a breakfast at a local eatery and strike up conversations.
- Look for Meetup groups in your areas.
- Join an expat club or group.
6. Make time to relax
Scheduling regular downtime will refresh you to continue dealing with the stress of adapting to a new country. It doesn’t matter if it’s a massage, going for run, painting, a day out with the kids – do whatever relax you the most.
7. Deal with homesickness
You could do the best job possible at adjusting to your new life, but still get homesick. It usually happens to most expats at some stage, so don’t feel guilty.
Keep your heart and head happy by focusing on the positives of living in Australia. And believe that your homesickness will get better – because it will.
Don’t forget that you can always pick up the phone or switch on Skype for a chat when you’re missing home too much.
A final note on living in New Zealand
Remember why you made the move. You did it for a reason. Just focus on getting connected, exploring, setting up a routine and making new friends. You’ll be a fully-fledged, happy New Zealander in no time.