Moving or travelling long term to a new country can be a daunting thing, especially when you have an entire life set up with house, car and a career.
Making the move to New Zealand just recently, I was glad I had done my preparations 9 months prior when I made the decision it was going to happen. There are still a couple of little things I wish I had done differently, but overall the process went pretty much like I will outline below. It’s always going to be slightly different depending on your circumstances, lifestyle, and country you are going to, but generally it’s going to be quite similar.
I hope the following information provides some usefulness to others looking to make a move to a new place.
Here is my ultimate list of tips for moving to New Zealand or overseas!
BEFORE THE MOVE
Ideally, one year from moving overseas, you can start the process of getting ready. With the move so far away, there will be no stress to deal with, and you can focus on getting some stuff done. The more you prepare ahead of time, the less frantic rushing around you will have to do when it’s closer.
◘ Make a List
I LOVE lists! Making lists early on relieves headaches and dramas. They act as a guide and keep you on track. Consider using them, I did, and I would do it time and again.
I ♥ LISTS
◘ Add Dates Into Calendar
I added dates and reminders into my calendar on my phone. Using Google calendar is free and easy to share with other people (like my girlfriend Lanna) so we could coordinate weekends and tasks. I highly recommend using one.
◘ Selling & Getting Rid of Your Stuff
This one is great to start early and can make the world of difference in how stressful a move will be. Firstly, doing it early and without the pressure means you can sell items for more. Secondly, adopting a bit of minimalism not only helps you feel better, but also makes it less stressful when moving.
Less stuff = less stress.
Have a hard think about what you really use and need. Be very strict. Oftentimes, moving items like furniture will cost you many thousands of dollars, and take months to arrive in the new country. Then you will have customs searching everything and potentially rejecting certain items. This sounded way too stressful for me, so I just got rid of everything either selling or giving it away. I wish I had started the process sooner however, I could have sold my possessions for far more. Don’t underestimate how much you can fetch for things, you will easily make thousands with the average contents of a house.
And whatever you do not sell, give away to friends or charity.
What about putting items into storage?
This is another option, but like shipping, it can cost a fair bit over time. This usually works well if it’s under a year. If you will be gone for longer, look at selling and giving it away.
◘ Scan Important Documents to Cloud Storage
Using things like Google drive or Dropbox is a great, free way to know you always have everything when you need it.
◘ See Your Accountant And Ask the Questions
I went early and asked some of the following questions. You don't want to have to worry about tax stuff unnecessarily while you are away. You'll also have to see an accountant in your new country as well!
Things to ask them:
Will I become a non-resident for tax purposes?
How can I make sure that I don't get double-taxed?
In which country will I be required to pay tax in?
Am I eligible for income averaging?
What can I do to reduce my tax?
Can I file an early tax return?
◘ Start Receiving Important Documents and Bills Via Email
As well as being good for the environment, doing away with paper bills can be more secure. You can create another email account for all non-personal things like bills, insurance and business if you feel your inbox is too cluttered. Or just create rules so they automatically go into folders where you want them.
◘ Driving license & IDP
For my New Zealand move, I didn't have to worry about my licence but you may have to get one. Locally, getting my International driving permit (IDP) would have cost me under $100. Remember to check your expiry date on the card as well! Good advice for people travelling is to have one anyway, they come in handy.
◘ New Job?
Are you going to have work lined up when you arrive or are you going to wing it and see what happens? I opted for option 2. Let’s see how it goes! My plan is to holiday a bit first which will give me time to sort something out. Everyone is different, so plan this one on how you want.
Will you need visas in the country you are moving to? Don’t delay. Make sure you have all the information and preparation done ahead of time. Under 30 years? Go get a working holiday visa (WHV) you lucky kids! I just missed out and thankfully New Zealand is friendly to Australians and I don’t require a WHV. So thank you New Zealand!
Be sure to ask any questions you have of the appropriate government authorities. Don’t ask randoms on reddit or Facebook. You don’t want to mess around with incorrect information regarding to visas!
WHEN IT GETS CLOSER TO THE MOVE
As it gets closer, here are some things you may want to think about!
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Is all your gear and belongings worth anything? Get insurance! Your health? Get insurance! Travel insurance works best for general travellers. Shop around and find plans that are good for you and your priorities.
For New Zealand, rescue and health is covered by the country (to a degree) so my priority was making sure all my outdoor gear was covered as I have a fair bit (OK, a lot). What actually worked best was an option on my home contents insurance taking out 'portable goods' cover that would extend if I went overseas. This required my insurance company to directly speak to the underwriter to make the deal, and in the end I was able to cover a massive amount for a small premium. Eventually I would have to get insurance in New Zealand, but for at least 10 months I had all my gear covered.
A quick note on travel insurance: Be sure to read the PDS of every insurance company you consider!
As an example of what I found many times: It may say $12,000 of luggage covered in the advertising, but in the fine print of the PDS, as soon as the luggage was in a motor vehicle it went to $2000 maximum TOTAL claim, and if locked in the vehicle overnight, it went down to $0! So if the car was broken into overnight, we could not even claim anything! Doesn't work well if you are living in a van right?
◘ Organise Accommodation in New Country
There’s a few ways of doing this.
Just wing it and do no prep at all.
Book hotel/hostel/airbnb for a short period so you can get sorted (I went this option booking 3 weeks).
Buy new house or rent organising it all in advance (big headache, I imagine).
Choose whichever suits your style. Keep in mind places book our early in peak seasons, especially in New Zealand. Asking around forums and Facebook groups is a good idea to find out more. It helps get first hand advice from locals and travellers alike.
◘ Organise Transport If Required
As I was going to be living in a van, I didn’t need transport but went ahead and got a car rental for 3 weeks so finding a van and driving around would be much easier. I recommend never buying unless you've driven the vehicle. Again, ask people for help if you aren't sure.
◘ Doctors Visit
Do you need any medication? Sometimes it's just worth visiting and getting a checkup. Use your common sense here.
◘ Alert Your Bank of the Move
Tell your bank you are moving or going overseas, even if for a short holiday. It only takes a moment to call, and it will ensure your cards are not blocked.
◘ Set up New Bank Account
This will vary from country to country. You can often set up the new bank account and then just confirm when you arrive. In my case, it’s easy to do in New Zealand so I will just be waiting until I am there.
Using transferwise was my first option in moving money cheaply without large banking fees. Since writing this post I have used it countless times and can highly recommend it! For a free transfer (under $500) use this link HERE.
◘ Change Voting Options
There are usually several options when moving in relation to your voting process. I will be selecting the option to have my name removed from the electoral roll as I will not have a postal address for a while. Once settled, I can then add my name to the electoral roll again if I wish to do postal votes. Its an easy process and is often overlooked, but should not be forgotten. You will incur fines if you fail to vote.
◘ End Lease or Sell/rent Out Your House
I do not own a house or property so this was an easy step. For others, this may be a lot more work. One thing either way is to do it early and plan to live with family or friends for a few weeks before leaving. This keeps it stress free for the most part. If selling, you will need to allow more time and can then rent until you leave.
◘ Let the Important People/Companies Know You Are Going
Make sure to let everyone important know you are going. Medical, superannuation funds, insurance. You know, all those things that need sorting.
◘ Redirect Mail
If you still have paper mail, get it redirected. This is why I like getting bills and documents emailed now!
◘ Disconnect Utilities
Don’t forget to stop all the water, electricity, internet services. Make sure to get a paper (or email) trail showing you have disconnected them. Our internet provider took an extra 2 months to send the final bill. Lucky I get it via email otherwise it would have been lost in the mailbox. Unpaid bills can have the potential to cause serious repercussions if left unpaid.
◘ Test pack
As I was carrying so much outdoor gear, a test pack made it easier to see how everything would fit for the final pack. This is a personal preference but I find it good to do.
◘ Say Goodbye!
Often forgotten until the last minute is catching up with all the people you know. Start early and see them all. Ideally two months out, set up a dinner, lunch or picnic to catch up with everyone at once that may want to see you. Putting the occasion up on Facebook as an event, we also put up a public post letting people know. This allowed people who we weren't sure if they wanted to see us to come along anyway. Just remember, leaving people out can sour relationships. Be kind and say goodbye.
The following list will hopefully help remind you of things to consider. It’s a short version of all the information above. The more planning and preparation you do early on, the less stressful it will be. Doing it right may mean the last few days are spent relaxing instead of worrying and rushing.
When the move is a while away:
◘ Make a list of what you need to do.
◘ Add dates into a calendar on your phone with reminders.
◘ Sell items you don’t use and consider minimalism.
◘ Scan important documents to cloud storage.
◘ See your accountant and ask the questions.
◘ Start receiving bills and important documents by email
◘ Driving licence in new country, do you need an IDP?
◘ New job organised or just wing it?
When the move is closer:
◘ Organise accommodation in new country if required.
◘ Organise transport in new country if required.
◘ Doctors visit if required.
◘ Alert your bank of the move.
◘ Set up new bank account if possible.
◘ Have Transferwise (or similar) ready to go.
◘ Change your voting options.
◘ End lease or finalise house arrangements.
◘ Let the important people/companies know you are going.
◘ Redirect mail.
◘ Disconnect utilities.
◘ Test pack can ease stress.
◘ Say goodbye to friends and family.
You can download a PDF of the above list HERE or click the picture below!
Got any other tips you recommend? Have you done a move to a new country yourself? Leave a comment below!