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Tips for moving internationally?

I'm an American looking to move to New Zealand. I have never made a major move before. I feel like the country would be perfect for me but I am unfamiliar with the process of moving internationally. How do people accomplish this? Any tips? 

9 Answers

top answer by
Jeremy from Berlin

Port your phone number to Google Voice. This makes things SO nice. As long as you have WIFI/data connection, you can call US numbers (cell, landline, 800 numbers, etc.) for free and they can all call you as well. And you can text.

So everyone in the States can continue to communicate with you like normal and vice versa. It's extremely convenient and a must for anyone from the US moving abroad. No messing with Skype or making sure that everyone in the US has your new NZ number so they can text you via WhatsApp.

The literature online is weird, so if you read mixed reviews about how it works or doesn't work, etc., it does work. Frankly, most of what I read online was more confusing than helpful. Just Google how to do it, follow the instructions, and know that it's the best decision you'll make in moving overseas.

3 thanks

answered by
Shannon from Shanghai

I agree about google voice and porting your #. I also have a Skype subscription (purchase it while you're still in the U.S.) for unlimited calls to U.S. and Canada #s for $3/month (if you'll need to be calling home, which comes up for practical matters if nothing else). Apps like WhatsApp (or WeChat, which is what is super popular here in China) are helpful for keeping in touch, too.

Have you explored the visa issues? That's always the #1 thing for much as many of us can be nomadic nowadays, old school rules still apply. Go online and do research...the web has made life so much easier nowadays and contacts in your new country and expat groups have probably already anticipated all the things you'll encounter. You might want to allow yourself to get a feel for the place and where you'd want to be with a short-term rental (such as Airbnb or HomeAway) to start. I also love Sabbatical Homes for short, mid and longer term rentals (and renting out your place, if applicable). If you have a lot of stuff, you can hire an international moving company but I've always moved light and simply bought what was needed in my new country.

Feel free to explore those online currencies, but I'd also say that with online banking etc.--things are so easy for being mobile. Make sure everything is set up easily for, consolidated. If you'll be somewhere more than a few months, you often want a local bank account too but a debit card from a bank with no charges for ATMS and no international fees (such as Capital One) is useful. I like having a point of contact back home to send the mail to...what little there is. If you don't have someone to do this, hire a service. You'll eliminate 99% of mail and things that need to be dealt with in country, but getting to 100% is tough.

1 thanks

answered by
Brad from Winnipeg

One thing that can make your life easier financially in the process is to become, "un-banked." Which means transitioning over to the next generation of online banking technologies like Bitcoin. If you're not familiar with Bitcoin, I'd suggest watching a documentary to get up to speed, such as, "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin." 

The concept is simple, you use select services to store your money which you have access through online or mobile app. You can store your money in Dollars, Bitcoin, or even Gold. Some of these services provide a Credit/Debit card that you can convert funds into dollars to charge the card so you can purchase things or withdraw cash from an ATM. You benefit because you don't need to go through all the hoops and expense of setting up a traditional bank account. ALSO, note as an American, you are now cursed with the IRS FACTA law, which basically makes it next to impossible to get a bank account anywhere outside the USA, unless you move and renounce your citizenship. 

Here's a few links to get you started. Great secure wallet, vault and exchange. Link is ref link that gives you some free Bitcoin when you sign up. This is one of the hottest startups online right now. You can instantly buy gold at 1% over spot and have your wealth stored in physical gold. You an also pay people with gold, or transfer it into dollars onto a debit credit card for spending anywhere credit cards and ATMs are. This is also a ref link that gives you some free gold on sign up. More of a consumer focused Bitcoin finance company that allows for easy purchase of Bitcoin and storage of US dollars. You can actually switch your holdings with a single click between either or.

Each company has apps on the App Store, please make sure you use Two Factor Authentication security with each, using the Google Authenticator app!

I've been using this system for over a year now and it's amazing. If you have any financial background on currency trading, you can time the entry and exit points and actually make quite of bit of money when Bitcoin is experiencing heavy trading volume. Ultimately, Bitcoin adoption rate, geo-political economic situations, and technology investment is so large and reputable now, the value of coins will become quite an investment. 

HOWEVER, with everything there is risk, so you should understand the system and be comfortable with it first before jumping in with two feet. Start small, and work your way up once you find your confidence. 

Bitcoin technology is making traveling super easy and a lot of fun. It's the future.

Good luck on your move!

1 thanks

answered by
Lola from Ireland

After moving from NYC to Panama to Ireland, I know a few things on this subject. I hope you will find my advice helpful. Most important keep your luggage light...all my belongings travel in two big suitcases.

I recommend you do as much research as possible and know the culture...they will have different ways than yours. Know key phrases in the language if different from yours to help you navigate. Become acquainted with their currency and the cost of living. Know what documents you need to have to enter the country, their rules and how obtain a long term status. Find out what banks need from you so you can open an account. Familiarize yourself with the public transportation if you don't have a vehicle. Know what health options are available for you and where hospitals are located. If you have a lot of things to bring with you look into a container transport to save money...sometimes you may be able to split it with someone else if you are on a budget.

You can get help from expats or locals by joining international communities. Facebook has forums if you search.

It's hard to know if you will love the place you end up in but after six months it should be clear. It took me almost two years to realize I didn't belong in the last community I lived in so I took care of business and moved on. Now, I live in Ireland and I am very happy.

Good luck with your move :)

1 thanks

answered by
Courtney from San Diego

Hi Alastair,

Here are some international shipping and moving tips: 

- Check with consulate on items that you are shipping. Make sure you will be able to import without trouble and/or that you have proper paperwork on any items requiring additional documentation i.e. pets or brand new items.

- Weigh the cost of shipping household goods against the cost of buying new stuff when you get to where you're going. Do you really need to take it? Most of the time, adding items to a shared / outbound shipping container is cost effective. That's when you'll want to involve someone to arrange the logistics for you.

- On moving day spend time with the packers. Make sure you make an inventory sheet with values of your goods before they're loaded up to be shipped abroad. An incorrect count can cause your shipment to be delayed at both origin and destination. Values will be very important in the unfortunate event that there is some damage during the trip.

- Add insurance to your items during transit.

- Plan at least six months in advance. Summer time is "peak" season for moves. If you wait until June to start researching your move in August you might find it difficult to secure the day that you intend to move.

Hope that helps! Good luck with your move! 

answered by
Edward from Seattle, Wa Usa

These are great suggestions from the other posters.  I would emphasize that you really shouldn't make a major move.  That is, don't burn your bridges without spending some time- like months, in your destination.  In the worst weather as well as the best. 

The visa can be a real headache.  New Zealand has some "desired skills" that they welcome, otherwise, not so much.  For retirement, I know they make it quite expensive; after all, you have not paid into the social network so you gotta show you can pay your way.

answered by
Sophy from Paris


NZ lovely location. You might want to check your visa requirements first. I am pretty sure it may be like in Australia and you may only be allowed 3 month entry. 

I agree with some others here. I would definitely "test" the location first before making any big decisions. 

And once your in test phase you can scout rental homes, banking, etc etc. 

Don't believe everything online but do in depth research. 

And yes just try and travel light. Everything you need you can buy in your final destination. We travel 3-6-9 months of the year and experience different countries at a time and thats exactly what we do. 

answered by
Nardine from Tamworth (England)

HI Alastair (Again :))

There are Co's out there that will do most of the "heavy lifting" for you.

Look out for a seminar for living & working in Aus & NZ, you'll find lots of info there, it's a great place to start.

answered first by
Pam from Malaga

Hi Alastair,  I've made several short term 'moves' ( 3-6 months) and have a few recommendations. 1. Connect with Facebook expat groups in the area you hope to relocate. They are usually happy to help and are a great source of info, having gone through what you will go through. You'll be able to connect with your new 'friends' as soon as you land.  2. Don't move permanently until you've spent some time there so you can experience the reality of the place, all the plusses and minuses,  which definitely exist, no matter how great the place sounds. Reality is often quite different than what you expected (my experience with Uruguay!)

Good luck!

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