Moving to New Zealand from the US

Moving to New Zealand from the US

Happy 10 year anniversary!!!

I moved to New Zealand 10 years ago today. I might be a day or so off as when I flew from LA to Auckland I lost a day but that’s ok.  Here’s my experience of moving to New Zealand.


When I moved to NZ I had so many misconceptions about the country. I knew the season were opposite of the northern hemisphere (give me some credit) but I definitely thought it would be a bit warmer. And I didn’t think it would rain as much – I’m looking at you Auckland.

When I moved to NZ I thought I would be living in Auckland as it is the biggest city in NZ but when I got there I realised it was just like living in London and it took an hour to get anywhere. I’d been in that situation before where you meet people, you want to meet up but sometimes it costs you an arm and a leg just to get home from there or if you try to use public transport it will take you forever. I wasn’t keen to settle in yet and I thought I would explore more of the country first. There were a few people going to the far north to hang out at the beaches, some were going directly to the South Island to work in hospitality, and a few were going to explore the North Island heading down to Wellington. I went with a few friends working our way down to Wellington.

And I’m so glad I did! Once I got to the coolest little capital I was mesmerized. Wellington is a great place to live with so many cool cafes and restaurants and the city is really set up for walking around and checking things out. It sealed the deal when I sent my CV to a few agencies and they called me back within 10 minutes and I had job interviews the next day. From there I knew I wanted to settle in Wellington and make it my home.

After a year of working in temp work on my working holiday visa, NZ opened a new online visa and because this was different than the working holiday visa I could apply again and work for another year in NZ. Hooray! And what I didn’t realise is that I had a year to enter the country and then work for a year from there. What this means is every time I left the country – I visited Australia, Fiji and SE Asia – when I arrived back my visa was dated for one year from the date I arrived. By the time I had worked in NZ for over a year I had enough points to apply for residency. Once I got residency I bought a house with my partner and it’s the same house we’ve been living in for the last 7 years.

In 2011 I applied for citizenship and had my citizenship ceremony in March of 2012. I now carry dual citizenship. As I write this it sounds like everything was so easy and that I just lucked out but in reality I spent a lot of time researching visas, researching how many points I needed for residency since this changes often in NZ, and researching what exactly was required for citizenship and ensuring I was tracking along. It is a long process and actually quite expensive. Luckily for me it has been worth it to live in this beautiful country.


Nicole LaBarge is a travel expert who has been traveling internationally for over 25 years and she has visited over 115 countries all while working a 9-5. She has lived in England, Scotland, Japan and New Zealand. Check out her detailed destination guides and travel product guides.

Recent Posts