When I made the decision to pack up my family and move from the UK to New Zealand, I admit that I threw caution to the wind. In retrospect, I skipped a few steps that would have made life easier, reassuring myself that we could figure it out down the line. One of these oversights is what we did (or didn’t) bring with us.
As you can read in Travel Tales: 5 Mistakes I Made When Moving Abroad (And How To Avoid Them), we made a decision early on that we wouldn’t use a shipping company to transport our furniture. Instead, we reasoned, we would sell everything we owned and buy second-hand once we arrived. After all, setting up a new home would be part of the adventure. Well, it turns out that as romantic as that idea is, the reality is quite different. So, with all this in mind, here is my list of “5 Things I Wish I Had Brought To NZ” – so you can learn from my mistakes.
Without an IKEA in sight (although one is rumoured to be opening in a few years), furniture is much more expensive in New Zealand. As a country, there is less of a throwaway culture, so items are repaired, restored and tend to hold their value.
Storage units, dining tables, drawers etc., are all either made from natural wood, commanding a high price, or imported from other parts of the world with the cost that incurs. Book that storage container and bring your furniture; you won’t regret it.
Bedding and towels may seem silly to bring abroad with you, but buying everything from scratch is neither fun nor cheap. In the UK, you can go cheap and cheerful from Tesco or something more mid-range from Dunelm Mill. In New Zealand, you have Kmart and then a rather big jump up in price to Briscoes.
If you’re paying for a shipping container for all that furniture, you may as well throw in your linen.
Toys, Toys, Toys
When we left the UK, we told the kids to bring a handful of their favourite toys. The sentimental stuff or toys that were
too heavy/large to bring along went to the grandparents’ house, and we sold/donated everything else.
In retrospect, I would have brought along more of the kids’ things to help them settle. Particularly on a wet winter day, without the abundance of indoor activities we’re used to in the UK, a few more toys would have been a godsend.
My Vacuum Cleaner
Ok, this is a strange inclusion on the list, but hear me out. Vacuums are expensive but not something you want to scrimp on. There is nothing more frustrating than a weak vacuum. In the UK, we had a Dyson handheld and a robot hoover. Buying those new in NZ is a big outlay when you’re re-establishing yourself.
Second-hand vacuums only exist because people get sick of poor suction and upgrade – a good vacuum is used until it dies. So, give yours a really good clean to get it past customs and bring it along with you.
Being an island, holidays in New Zealand are usually kept fairly local. In the UK, we had toyed with the idea of buying a caravan a few times but didn’t feel we’d use it enough. After making the decision to move to New Zealand, it seemed like the perfect thing to ship over, but again, we didn’t see the idea through. Boy, do we regret it now.
Basic UK manufactured 4-berth caravans start at $35,000 second-hand. So even with import fees, you can save yourself a significant amount by buying in the UK and shipping it over, especially if you’d prefer a higher spec.
Are there any unusual items on your “to pack” list? Will you be dusting out the innards of your vacuum cleaner? Share your tips in the comments.
Sarah Todhunter is a writer, mother-of-two and a dual citizen of New Zealand and the UK. As the sole proprietor of Fyxen Copywriters, she has navigated the ups and downs of moving a business and family across hemispheres, sharing the lessons she’s learned along the way. Find her on LinkedIn or anywhere good coffee is served.