What’s it like to sell everything, pack up three bags, and move half-way around the world? Moving to New Zealand has been the best decision I have ever made, but not without its challenges. If you’re considering moving abroad, or simply interested in the process, I’m here to share about my experience and hopefully shed some light.
Challenge #1: Definitely the hardest part about moving around the world is leaving behind my family. It’s the strangest feeling to be so beyond excited to leave, and yet part of your heart is breaking at the thought of not seeing your family for months, if not years. For me it was especially hard as well as I have three little sisters, the youngest of whom is six. The thought of missing out on their growing and changing over these next few years is really hard. I wish I didn’t have to, but it’s just that time of life. Even if I had stayed in the States I wouldn’t have probably lived close to my family, so really it’s all about perspective. It just FEELS worse when you’re in a different country a different time zone in a whole different day. Thankfully we’re able to still stay in touch via Facetime and messaging, so it doesn’t feel quite so distant.
Challenge #2: Besides leaving family, the hardest part about moving to NZ was making the actual decision to come! For a while I was struggling with timing; I wanted to have all my ducks in a row and have so much money in savings, and have x,y, and z accomplished. It’s good to accomplish goals before you leave and have your affairs sorted before moving to another country, but the reality is that you’ll never actually feel 100% ready. It’s a leap you have to take. Do what you can to get your finances in order, see the people most important to you before you go, sell unused items, downsize your belongings, etc. But make that decision, don’t wait until circumstances are perfect before leaving. For me personally, I felt that I had a word from God specifically which helped me make the choice to leave for NZ in August, rather than waiting until the end of the year. Getting one word from God will change your life forever, and help you make decisions that you don’t feel confident enough to make on your own. Don’t be afraid to step out, follow your intuition, and get out of your comfort zone! From experience I can testify that even though you might feel that everything is chaotic and how could everything all work out, when you’re following God’s leading He will work every last detail out for you. Before making a big decision like moving around the world, hear from God. Know in your heart that it is the right thing to do, and even though everything might not feel perfect and feel ready, it will ALL work out in the end.
Challenge #3: Deciding which visa to apply for. (Note: all this info is pertinent to my USA readers…for readers in other countries you’ll need to look up visa options for your country.)
Booking flights is the easy part – deciding which visa to apply for on the other hand is a different story. New Zealand actually has really great immigration, I’ve found it super easy and simple to visit, and visa applications while daunting are surprisingly simple. If you have any questions you can’t find the answers to online, I suggest calling the NZ immigration office. They are amazingly helpful and can answer all the questions you have. If you’re looking to move abroad and want the option to work, I highly suggest looking into whether that country has a working holiday visa option. I used this visa my first time into NZ, and this gave me a year in the country with the ability to apply for work. This time around however, I had already used that visa option, and had to get creative with my visa process. My reason for moving this time is to get married to a guy who is from and lives in NZ. There is a partner visa option which also allows you to work, but there were several conditions that you must meet before applying for this visa. Conditions that I didn’t happen to meet. After talking to NZ immigration I ended up applying for a general visitor visa, and explained in a cover letter my exact reasons for applying for the visa. I included photos of my fiance and I, evidence of our relationship, and even correspondence between my wedding venue hire and I confirming that I was truly coming to get married and stating my intention of applying for the partner work visa within a few months of arriving and could meet the conditions. Once I had all my evidences and documents together and the application sent off, I was accepted within two days and given a six month, multiple entry visitor visa! I’ve got a bit of breathing room for now. Only problem is…….
Challenge #4: I cannot legally work for the first 4-6 months after arriving in NZ. Because I have a visitor visa, I do not have the ability to work or apply for a job. Thankfully my fiance is able to provide me with a place to live and basic living needs, and I have a chunk of savings to fall back on if needed. The hardest part about this moving process has been knowing that I can’t legally work right now. In the meantime, I’m exploring ways to keep busy, and trying to figure out exactly what I want to do when I can work. I feel like I have so many options open to me.
Before I left the States I worked as a builder for a year. Hurricane Harvey hit our area of Texas quite severely in 2017, and I started helping rebuild flooded homes. I did everything from sheetrock, to texture, to painting, to trim, to tiling, to flooring, to refinishing exterior walls. Before that job I did sales and marketing, before that I did customer service, and before that I owned my own fashion/knitwear/jewelry business.
Now I’m in the time of life where I could literally choose to pursue whatever I want. It’s just trying to figure out what exactly it is that I’m passionate about.
Challenge #5: Packing. Ok, I’m a fashion girl. I love shopping. I love putting together cute outfits. Always have, and probably always will (throwback to my old fashion blog haha). Before I left I tried to get rid of 70-80% of my closet. I culled so many of my clothes and held a little clothing sale, and was able to make some good money off what I sold. But when it came time to begin packing, I realized that I really hadn’t gotten rid of as much as I had hoped. For all the bins of clothes I got rid of, I repacked all of them (and a few more) with the clothes and items I had in my room. Before I left I completely packed up my entire room and put my stuff in storage so my room could be used as a guest room or whatever my mom wanted to turn it in to (yes I still lived at home). I repacked my two suitcases and one surfboard bag probably 4 times before I figured out what I could take and what I needed to leave behind. It’s not easy moving all your stuff across the ocean. It’s not like throwing everything into a car and driving across the country. I had a bag limit, and each bag had a weight limit. Eventually I got everything packed and I’ve got another box for my parents to bring when they come for my wedding. Beyond that, I’ll have to go through everything again the next time I’m back in the States and bring another load of stuff over. Moving your stuff around the world is a process – you probably won’t get everything in the first lot. My advice is get rid of as much as possible, and bring the rest over in lots as possible. Eventually you’ll get everything where it needs to be.
It might feel daunting and impossible, but the challenges in moving halfway around the world to NZ pale in comparison to the joy and excitement and adventure I’ve found once arriving here. I’m so pumped for this next season of life with my soon-to-be husband, for figuring out work, getting settled in and adjusting to life here in NZ for good. The awesomest part of arriving this time is not having an end date of when I have to leave. So long as my subsequent visas come through, I can stay indefinitely. It’s a whole new way of life now. A whole new journey. I’m excited for all the new adventures to go on and places to explore. And I’m excited to have you along with me for the ride! Thanks for reading!!
If there are any further questions you have that I haven’t answered yet, feel free to drop a comment below or contact me on my social media.
Remember that there are no challenges in life that you can’t overcome if you set your mind to it. The battle is all in your mind. Once you decide to step out and make the move, make the change, the rest is easy. And oh, so worth it.