We have lived in New Zealand for three months now and to say it has all been easy would be a complete lie. Has it been wonderful? Absolutely but gees Louise I didn’t expect there to be so much drama behind the scenes. It has been really tough and there are things I wish I knew before moving to New Zealand.
I have always wanted to live here – since I was 18 and I visited New Zealand, I knew this was the place for me. I knew that one day, I’d pack my bags and move here. It hasn’t been about the state of my country, the feelings about South Africa or anything else. It has been about my dream and yes, the crime in South Africa pushed me to finally get my crap together and move but it was always my plan.
Now that I’m here, there are some things I wish I had known. Not that they would have changed the course of my path but I just might have felt more prepared to handle them as they occurred.
1. People will take it personally!
No matter why you’re moving or where you’re moving to, people will make it about them! They will make you feel bad, they will transfer their feelings and they will guilt trip you. People will say things like “you’ve betrayed your country” and “you’re running away” and they will try to tell you that because you’ve left you don’t get to say anything about your own country. Which is funny because they’re the same one’s who have everything to say about Trump and Brexit but don’t think you have a right to talk about your country. It’s not about you. It’s about them and you need to remember that.
2. It will be A LOT more expensive than you plan for, even if you budget!
The costs involved with moving are ridiculous. We researched and budgeted and skimped and saved and we still ended up spending more than we thought we would. It is NOT cheap to move across the world and you will have to make many sacrifices on the other end. Even if you’re walking into a job, the set up costs will be crippling. It gets easier and eventually, you will stop converting everything into Rands (your local currency) and that will make it easier. Try to move with enough money to support yourself for a minimum of six months. It can be really stressful watching the cash in your bank account run out so try to give yourself a little more time to settle in.
3. Job hunting will SUCK!
Unless you’re moving across the pond into a job that is waiting for you, you will need to set some time aside to job hunt. It will be exhausting. It will kill your spirit and it will make you doubt yourself and you might even get a bit depressed. Keep your eye on the prize. When you feel like giving up, take a break and then start over again. You will eventually be rewarded with a job. Just make sure that you are applying wisely and be prepared to start at the bottom. You will work your way up again. If you give up, you’ve got no where to go but down. Keep reminding yourself of what you want out of this and keep focussed. Change your cover letter with EVERY single job application and if you’re applying to various industries, change your CV to emphasise the skills that you want to stand out.
4 People will let you down!
Even the people you don’t expect it from will let you down. They will make promised they don’t keep, they will forget to stay in touch and they will move on with their lives. It’s okay! This is a normal part of moving away. There will also be others who don’t. There will be those who stay in touch, who help you wrap up loose ends, who are always there for you. Those are the people that matter. Let go of the hard feelings you have towards people who you thought would be there for you but then weren’t. It’s usually not about you at all. Trust me, it’s them, not you 😉
5. You WILL make new friends!
You will feel SO alone when you first arrive. You will question yourself and your decision. You will wonder how on earth you could leave your friends behind. You will miss them fiercely and the good ones will miss you too! You will regret starting over and wonder if it was the right choice but then, after a few months, you will realise that you’re still in touch with all the friends that matter and suddenly you are being invited out to do things. Before you know it, you have some really awesome new friends!
You can’t survive in isolation and you will feel at home sooner if you allow yourself to make new friends. People who have been through what you’re going through will also reach out to you, those are the people who understand. They will hold your hand and even though you will feel like a burden, they get what it’s like! Appreciate them and accept their kindness!
6. Your new life will be EXACTLY what you make it!
In spite of all the struggles, moving to New Zealand has been the best decision I could have made. I sleep well at night and we spend our weekends doing the most amazing things and going on fun adventures. Even though often those adventures are just a visit to the local park. We find ourselves smiling over absolutely nothing. Walking in the forest is one of our favourite things to do. I don’t remember ever being this happy. It was really hard and there have been some really hard times. Since moving here, we have fallen out with both friends and family who don’t agree with our choices and yes, that was really tough. At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you and your family and you can’t let the feelings of others influence your choices.
I started job hunting one month after getting here, I applied to heaps of jobs and I got rejected by heaps of jobs. Two months in, I started my new job working for the local government. People told me it wouldn’t be possible, that it would take so much longer and I was ready for a long winter but I persevered and I did not give up even though I really wanted to.
I know we’ve only been here a short time but life has kinda fallen into place in spite of all the struggles. So when it gets hard, just keep focussed on your why, your reasons for making the move and keep persevering. It’ll be worth it in the long run!