Moving abroad is scary. There we said it. Were parts of it easy? Totally. Did we narrowly avoid sleeping on the street within our first few weeks of moving to New Zealand? Sure did! We decided to move to New Zealand because we needed a change of pace and a change of scenery, even for a little while. What better place to go to than Middle Earth? And hopefully, we can totally just move to Hobbiton…that’s a thing right? But there are things to do before moving to New Zealand that can help improve the process.

moving to new zealand

Thankfully there was no sleeping on any sidewalks (and sadly not at Hobbiton either) and no plans to do so. Are we where we wanted to be three weeks into our move….no. But who cares!

If you decide to move abroad and things don’t exactly go to plan, don’t panic. Sometimes it’s best to go into something a little bit blind. Why? Because things seem to work out no matter what so stressing yourself out isn’t going to help. Are there things to do before moving to New Zealand that will make your life a lot easier? Yes, and here they are.

1) Research Where You Want To Live

+++This could be a bit obvious but it wouldn’t be on our list if it was obvious enough. You really need to research where you want to live especially in New Zealand. It’s an exceptionally popular with backpackers so some of the more touristy places will be difficult to find work and accommodation. We learned this the hard way in Wanaka.

moving to new zealand

A famous tree in Wanaka. Better known as ‘That Wanaka Tree.’

Researching where to live is also important before moving to New Zealand because of its geographical nature. They are prone to things like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity. Knowing where these epicenters are can help you avoid disasters or at least give you the knowledge about it if it happens to you. It comes back to that whole ‘don’t panic thing.’ If you expect it to happen it won’t worry you as much as it would if you had no clue what was happening.

The flip side of that…

There are lots of awesome museums you can visit to learn about these occurrences! Especially in Wellington at the Te Papa Museum (it’s the COOLEST).

moving to new zealand

New Zealanders AKA Kiwi’s are some of the FRIENDLIEST people we have ever met. There is also a large variety of the types of people that live in the country. So as you are doing your research you’ll figure out which type of people you think you would vibe with most by getting a feel for the cities. If you are outdoorsy you may want to settle down somewhere on the South Island and explore that region. But if you are more into cities you may want to settle on the North Island in Wellington or Auckland, don’t worry there’s still lots to explore up there!

+++Doing your research on where you want to live will give you a better sense of where you may fit in and feel most comfortable. Find what suits you best but also remember you are free to relocate at any time, there is something for everyone when moving to New Zealand.

moving to new zealand

View of Queenstown from above.

2) Book your flights early but not too early

You want to start looking for flight dates ahead of time for a few reasons. So you can look for potential jobs around your arrival date (jobs depend on the seasons heavily), so you can re-save the money you spent on a flight, and so you know what date to use on your visa application. We booked our flights in February for our trip in July but didn’t book fully until our applications for our visas were approved.

With that big of a gap between us looking and us buying we were able to resave the money we spent on flights! Flying out on a Sunday or Tuesday seemed to be the best option for saving a couple bucks. Obviously being flexible on dates helps a lot too! July 1st was our initial date of departure but after a bit of looking around, we discovered that it was way cheaper to leave on the 5th. With working visas in hand, we booked those one-way flights! Which leads us to our next point….

3) Get your visa paperwork early

Look for flights and pick a tentative date before completing your booking apply for your visa, like we mentioned. Why is this so important before moving to New Zealand? Two reasons:

Reason 1) On the visa application you are required to fill in when you plan on arriving in NZ. That gives immigration an idea of when they should date your visa for. Visas, of course, expire so the more accurate you are with your arrival date the more accurate your visa will be.moving to new zealand

Not only is your visa valid for 364 days from the date you enter the country, but you only have a certain amount of time to enter the country. So if you apply for your visa 6 months in advance and put your visa date for the application date you could really screw yourself over.

Find more information on New Zealand’s visa web page.

Reason 2) Going back to that whole ‘look for a flight but don’t book it thing’…it would really suck to fill out your visa information and for some reason get denied but you’ve already booked a one-way ticket. One way tickets there and back is way more expensive than just purchasing a return ticket in the first place.

If you want to know some tips and tricks for getting a NZ working holiday visa you can do so here.

moving to New Zealand

4) Look for Jobs

+++Applying for a job when you still live in another country can prove to be quite difficult. Employers won’t take your application seriously if your address is halfway across the globe. So instead of applying scope the market for jobs and see what is available where. Like we mentioned before the jobs in New Zealand heavily depend on the seasons. Avoid the hassle of not being able to find a decent job by doing some research before hand.

We made a few mistakes when we first arrived in NZ but that could have been avoided had we done a bit more research on the job market. There are also certain times of the year where it’s going to be a lot easier to find work. For example, in the fall it’s going to be easier to find work in Queenstown or Wanaka because the ski hills are hiring, but mid-winter it might not be as easy.

Having an employee reference letter from your previous job will also be a god send when you’re looking for work. Employers can’t just call abroad and check your references so having a letter handy could help you land that position.

moving to new zealand

5) Look for Housing

There are two ways to approach finding a place to live when moving to New Zealand.

If you decide to be a bit more stationary and just work and live in one town check out the rental market before arriving. Like we mentioned a lot of backpackers relocate to NZ so it can be hard to find more ‘permanent’ housing. Doing some research on what rental properties are available will also tell you if you should be finding work in that area. If there isn’t much housing the likelihood of there being a lot of work is pretty slim. We met a lot of people who found jobs but were living in hostels because they couldn’t find a place to rent.

Make your life easier and before you leave get your boss or your current landlord to write you a character reference. That way if you do find a place you have a bit more credibility to become a renter. Getting a credit report wouldn’t be a bad idea either, people like to know they are going to get paid!

moving to new zealand

You could try living in one of these unique houses 😉

Now maybe you don’t want to stay stationary!

That’s why the SUPER fun part comes in. It is SO common to live in a campervan in New Zealand. It’s honestly probably one of their biggest draws for a lot of backpackers. We are 99% sure NZ created #vanlife. Finding a van is fairly easy and we do offer up some tips on buying one here and tips for living in one here.

Major cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are best for buying these vans because those are main hubs where people fly out of the country. If they’re leaving you can be sure they want to sell their van! Auckland seems to be the best for it overall though as their airport is the main hub for departures.

There’s no need to look at the van market before moving to New Zealand. Why? You really want to look at a van in person in New Zealand because of their rules and laws for vehicles. There is also no shortage of vans being sold.

moving to new zealand


You’re now equipped with a few things to do before moving to New Zealand. Which means it’s time to start applying for those visas and booking those flights! Like we said at the beginning, just don’t stress about it. It should be an exciting time, not a stressful one. Everything works out in the end and no matter what happens always remember that you are going to one of the coolest and friendliest countries in the world!

Enjoy the process, the ups and downs.

moving to new zealand

Have you visited, moved or plan on moving to New Zealand?
Sound off in the comments below!

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moving to new zealand

By |2017-08-24T23:05:22+00:00August 12th, 2015|New Zealand|


  1. Elroy Aeschliman March 15, 2016 at 8:07 am - Reply

    I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly loved every bit of it. I’ve got you book marked to look at new things you post

  2. Raynard Trollip March 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Cool review are you still living in NZ?

    • toquesandboots March 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      We wish we were! Canadian Visas in NZ are a maximum of two years if you get sponsored so we are back in Canada now. Ever been there?

  3. Nicole December 17, 2018 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Looking to move there in the next few years 🙂 thank you for this!!

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