Moving to New Zealand, Step 1
Let’s be honest here. The first step of moving to New Zealand is making that decision. Frankly, that decision for me was made SO LONG AGO that I don’t remember what first attracted me to the country. I said the same about Portland, Oregon, when people asked me why I was moving here almost 2 years ago, and that’s worked out well so far, so I’m not really going to second guess that feeling. I think there are some places in the world that just call to you. There are different places for everyone. Mine at the moment, in order, are New Zealand, Ireland, New Orleans, and possible Georgia, though I’m not entirely sure where. Oh, and that’s because Portland, Oregon has already been crossed off that list. But the real point here is that I made the decision to move to New Zealand a very long time ago, and I’ve been pining ever since. So the real question is, why am I moving to New Zealand now?
The short answer: money and 1985.
For those of you who are unaware, if you’re under 30 and are a US citizen (different opportunities apply to those over 30 and those not US citizens), you can get a working holiday visa for up to 12 months for both New Zealand and Australia. This means that you can travel around the country, taking part-time jobs, WWOOFing, and doing things like that, for an entire calendar year. Most other places, Ireland, for instance, only lets you get a holiday visa for 90 days as a US citizen, and if you want to stay there longer, there are all types of hoops to jump through and sponsorships from a job or family that you need. The catch is that you need about $5000 to be able to apply for that visa. You need $4200 NZD, which (depending on current exchange rate) amounts to about $3500 USD, in order to prove you’re not going to live off the government, PLUS you need a plane ticket or the funds for a plane ticket to-and-from NZ. That, with a little rough math, amounts to about 5 grand, and unfortunately for me, despite having worked full-time since I was 20, I’ve never had that much money just sitting in an account, waiting for me to do something with it. Until now.
No, I didn’t suddenly start making 90 grand a year and save it all up and make a dramatic career exit and decide to change my life. (Well, I did make a somewhat dramatic career exit and I did decide I needed to move in a new life direction.) Basically, I got lucky and I have amazing parents. When they had a little bit of money in the late 90s, they started a small investment account for me. I’ve been paying taxes on that account since I was declared legally an adult independent of my parents. But did I ever look at the balance or change it over from being a custodial account? Nope! Financial literacy, wha-? I decided to get my financial act together while paying taxes this year, and so looked at the account for the first time ever, only to find that I had access to a little bit of dough. What’s an almost-30-year-old to do when she discovers just enough money to make the biggest item on her bucket list come true? Move to NZ of course!
Do I know a single person in NZ? Nope!
(If you’re reading this and have NZ connections you’d like to share, or hey, are there now yourself, let me know!)
Do I know anything concrete about the country other than it’s gorgeous, everyone there seems really nice, and Peter Jackson made some gorgeous-looking films there? Not really.
Am I absolutely terrified to be doing this, even while I’m simultaneously thrilled? For sure (and a whole post about my fears to soon follow).
But, I know it’s now or never. And if you were born in 1985, this is your year, too.