How to decide what to take when moving to New Zealand

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Jenny and her family explain how they decided what to take when they moved to Auckland

We made the big decision to make the big move to New Zealand in early 2018 – we, being me (Jenny), my partner (Sam), our two young children (Mike and Sarah) and dog (Charlie).

Moving overseas with my partner’s career

Sam had been offered a really good job in Auckland, and while we had to pay most of our own way to get there, we were given a contribution towards moving costs and airfares, which made the overall relocation budget a bit more manageable. It was a hard decision to make, as we were happy in London, but the job offer was a generous one and afforded Sam the chance to further his career and experience, which just wasn’t open to him in the UK. We still agonised though!

Moving from the UK for an outdoor lifestyle

I think the deciding factor was the lifestyle opportunity for Mike and Sarah. We felt they would probably get a more well-rounded education, while having access to outdoor activities not available in London. And so it has proved. We’ve settled in really well, and though Auckland has many of the downsides of a major city – traffic being the main one – we can get to the beaches easily, there are lots of parks and bush walks (Charlie loves them!), and plenty of sports activities. Plus of course, Auckland has all the sophistication of great restaurants, cafes, theatres and bars found in any major city. (And the climate is definitely better!).

Auckland, New Zealand. Walking through the parks in the city.

The decision making process

Once that first decision had been made, we probably found the biggest question was what to take with us and what to sell or give away. I must admit our first thought was just to sell up completely and buy new when we got there – as part of starting a new life. But then we started to have second thoughts – what about the things that meant a lot to us (or the children) personally? Pictures and ornaments we’d accumulated over the time we’d been together, and even things we’d bought individually in our single days. (I remember this crazy little ornament of a fat lady reclining on a sofa with arms and legs outstretched, and a caption on the stand saying “Waiting for her nails to dry”)! I’d bought her at the Portobello Road flea market in Notting Hill, and there was no way I was going to part with her! And so it went on – “Oh, we have to keep that – remember when we bought it – such a bargain”. “And the kids will settle in much more easily if they have their own beds and furniture and toys – and Charlie of course!”. (Charlie is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel – that’s why he’s called Charlie – what other name could he be given?!) and loves the children, as they do him, so there was no question that he had to come with us, despite the long journey and quarantine period in New Zealand.

Moving home and packing

Packing up and planning what to take with us when moving home to New Zealand.

Then we started to delve deeper. Surely at least we would be better off getting rid of the big furniture – our bed, the lounge suite, dressers, dining table and chairs etc? All these large items add to the shipping costs, which are based on volume – the more you ship, the more you pay. But then we started thinking about the hassle of disposing of these things – and what we could expect to get for them if we sold on Ebay. And then the cost of replacing in New Zealand. We spent a bit of time looking at New Zealand web sites, and although there are some big retailers offering reasonably priced furniture, with very easy payment terms, you may have to wait several weeks for items like lounge suites to be manufactured and delivered – often from overseas. Plus, we had no way of knowing whether we’d find something that really appealed. And we like our stuff! We’d chosen carefully and built up gradually, so at the end of the day, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

New Zealands amazing scenery

New Zealands amazing scenery

We also did some research on electrical items, such as our whiteware and TV. We ended up taking the fridge, washing machine and dryer as they were fairly new, but decided against taking the TV. We’d had it a while and were thinking of replacing it with a bigger one (something to do with Sam’s addiction to watching sport on TV!). Here are a couple of considerations you should take into account when deciding whether to take these items.

Fridges, washing machines, freezers, tumble driers and microwaves will all work in New Zealand and are generally more expensive here than in the UK. Just make sure to check that the power usage is 2.4 KW or less.

The New Zealand television standard is PAL B/G compared to the UK standard PAL I. Check your television to see if it can support the B/G standard. Most modern TVs support both the UK and NZ systems. The main difference is in the sound carrier and if your television doesn’t support PAL G/B you will need a set top box such as Freeview or Sky to get it to work.

Moving our home to New Zealand

Moving our home to New Zealand

Do we ship the family car?

Apparently a lot of people bring their cars to New Zealand. We didn’t – mainly because they were getting a bit old, plus Sam was given a company car. Once again, it’s a case of doing the math. Cars are a bit dearer here, but there’s a huge selection, and shipping and compliance costs are very expensive. So it’s really a case of comparing the overall costs of selling in UK and buying in NZ, against shipping. We recommend doing your homework thoroughly – there’s lots of useful information on the internet which will help your decision-making.

Moving with a pet dog

Then there’s the question of whether or not to bring your pet(s). It’s not a cheap exercise, but in our case it was worth every penny we spent.  It seems to us the only consideration to be taken into account would be the age of the pets. In our view it would be a hard decision to leave them behind, but if they’re getting on in years, it’s probably kinder not to subject them to the journey, and hopefully a good home could be found for them in the UK.

Visiting the Giant Redwoods forests in Rotorua New Zealand

Visiting the Giant Redwoods forests in Rotorua New Zealand

What did we end up taking with us?

So, to sum up. We think you should look beyond just cost. You’re moving to a new country, where so much of your life will be different. It’s really important to have familiar things around you – even more so if you have a family – and the cost difference between shipping (including large furniture items) and selling/buying is not necessarily huge. Not forgetting too, there is an element of fixed cost in any move (administration at both ends, paperwork, truck costs etc.), so proportionately the more you ship, the less the relative cost. We know of people who made a list of everything in their home, with columns alongside, headed “Yes”, “No”, “Maybe”. We weren’t that organised, but it’s probably not a bad way of doing it. Our rule of thumb was basically – “If it’s in good condition and we like it, we’ll send it”! It worked for us, and we hope this article will work for you. Good luck! You’re making a good move!