We just did a huge move from Australia to New Zealand. After 7 years in Australia we decided to make the move back over the ditch. New Zealand has always been home for us and is such a great place to raise kids so it was an easy decision for us.
I have been asked so many times how we managed to do it with four young kids (three of them being aged under 2 years). So I thought I would compile a few tips to help out anyone else considering an overseas move.
Start to research, write loads of lists and invest in a huge calender. Plan your move and do things slowly over time so you aren’t stressed trying to do everything last minute.
Sell what you don’t need and start to cull down straight away
Figure out what you can survive without, and what you want to take with you. This is such a fun lesson in living as a minimalist and you soon realise how much crap you have that you do not actually need. We culled down to two towels per person, two sheet sets per person, any home decor items we weren’t taking with us we sold, any excess toys that weren’t played with we also sold. We sold all bed frames about 2 months before we left and just slept on mattresses on the floor. Sure we may have “roughed it” for a little while but it saved so much stress in the last few weeks. Most items were sold and gone and we also knew how much money we had made from selling these things. We also sold our car about 6 weeks before we left. I listed it early thinking it would take a while to sell, I got a great offer within 2 weeks of listing and we worked out that even if we rented a car for the last month we would still be better off so we decided to do it. We sold the car and rented a budget rental for the last month and it has worked out so well. We also packed up all of our kitchen items a week before we left and used plastic plates, bowls and cutlery. This way we could wipe out and clean all of the cupboards and we knew they were empty and clean. We also did the same with one bathroom. Completely cleaned it and only used the main bathroom, it just made things easier as we got closer to leaving. About a month before we moved we stopped doing big food shops and used what we had. By the last we days we got a lot of takeaway as we had no food left, but at least we had used everything we had first.
Secure A Good Overseas Packer/Shipper
Shop around, get loads of quotes and ask lots of questions. Work out what it is going to cost you to move the items you want to take with you. Are you better off buying items new once you arrive or shipping everything over? Research the market where you plan to move to and the cost to replace any items. For us we ended up taking our “keepsakes” and any other important items we loved and wanted to keep, We also took our mattresses as they are all fairly new and we knew they were good quality and comfortable. Look into freight insurance and know what you are covered for. We also chose a local company and I popped by their office/warehouse a few times to drop off paperwork and collect boxes, this was very convenient and also comforting to be able to meet the staff and see them working…it made me feel at ease about them being reliable and legitimate.
What will the move cost you? Plan your budget and track your expenses. Save money where ever you can, we did our bond clean ourselves and we also packed our items to ship ourselves. This easily saved us over a thousand dollars.
Book Furnished Temporary Accommodation for your arrival
We quickly figured out that it would be so much easier to just have a place to go to that was furnished and we could relax for a while. It would take about a month to get our items that were being shipped and we didn’t really want to stress so knowing we had a house that was furnished and ready for us was such a savior. We even ordered a food shop to be delivered the day we arrived so we had all of our daily essentials and nappies etc delivered and waiting for us. We found our accommodation through air bnb and it has been a great experience for us.
To do list for when you arrive
We had one week with a rental car on arrival, so the first week we knew our first job was to buy a new car. Then our next job was to find a long term rental. Make a list and prioritize so you know what you need to do when you arrive. Bank accounts, drivers licenses, tax numbers…there is alot to do so make sure your list is fully inclusive.
Prepare for the big day
Its pretty obvious the day you all head to the airport will be stressful. Do whatever you can to minimize the stress. For us this meant knowing all of our bags were packed and we had weighed them all (so we had no nasty surprises come check in time at the airport). We booked a shuttle so we didnt have to worry about trying to get to the airport. We had snacks for the twins organised and ready and all outfits were laid out the night before. All we had to do was get up, get everyone dressed and fed and we were ready to go.
Have a separate bag for your passports and itinerary
I used a small zipped up pencil case to store all of our passports and our itinerary in our bigger carry on bag. That way I knew they were all in the one place. I also had our air bnb check-in information and our car rental hire information all printed and ready to make it easier once we got there.
Pre-order your meals and select your seats
We paid extra to pre-select our meals and seats. This made things so much easier as we picked a good layout to be able to pass the kids to each other if need be, and also closer to the toilet for on the plane. I knew we were all getting vegetarian meals and could just sit back and relax.
Have a great carry on bag
Spare outfits, snacks, new cheap toys that you dont mind losing, LOADS of baby wipes, extra dummys, jumpers etc. Be prepared.
Known where your things are in your bags
We had a smaller check-in bag specifically to be the first bag we opened once we got to the air bnb at the other end. By the time we got there we knew it would be late and the kids would be tired. We opened it and knew it had their pjs, nappies, bottles, bedtime stuff all ready to go. So we were panicking trying to find everything with cranky tired kids.
Try to breathe, if you have done everything to prepare and help make the process easier once you are on the plane you are on the home stretch. Remember that tomorrow you will wake up in a new country and you will have done it! “This too shall pass” was my mantra for the day.