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The emotional aspects of moving abroad

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Moving countries can be a really life-changing experience.

When you’re planning a shift internationally, you’re often doing so in pursuit of a dream, or new opportunities for yourself or your family.

But what about the emotional journey that you take at the same time?

Stage one: Excitement

Often, the first stage of moving overseas is excitement. You make a decision to undergo the big move, and start planning.

You imagine what your new life might be like, where you might live, what you might do for fun. The buzz of this period can help you get through some of the daunting administrative tasks that come with a big move, and your friends and family will probably feed off your energy.

Stage two: Apprehension

As the big move draws nearer, you may feel some apprehension. Is moving to another country – perhaps on the other side of the world – really the right thing to do? If you’re leaving a job that you’ve been in for a while in your home country, you may wonder what your career will be like in your new country.

Stage three: Culture shock and homesickness

Moving to a new country to live isn’t the same as being there for a holiday or shorter visit, as you’ll soon discover.

Sometimes, people feel an element of culture shock in their new home and start to feel homesick for the country they’ve come from.

Even things you don’t expect might be different, and you’ll likely have to make new friends and connections. You might even wonder whether moving was the right thing to do.

This can even be the case if you’re returning to New Zealand after a long time abroad.

Researchers refer to this as part of the settlement curve – and say it can take up to a couple of years to really feel settled.

Stage four: Adaptation

But after a while, you start to get into a groove and understand the locals a bit better, including their routines and generally how things work. This is when you can start to get back into enjoying your new home and really carve out your new life.

Making it easier

There are a few things that you can do to make a shift a bit easier, emotionally.

Stay connected: Maintaining your connections with people back home can help a lot. Whether it’s by video call or regular emails, keeping up that contact can help to ease your transition.

Have a plan: It might help you to feel more in control if you draw up a plan for how you will deal with everything that you need to do for the move, breaking it up into more manageable bite-sized pieces. There are so many things that go into making a significant move, and making a step-by-step outline may make this less overwhelming.

Acknowledge your feelings and look after yourself: You may feel a lot of pressure to give the impression that you’re absolutely loving your new home immediately, even if you’re not. Try to shake that off and acknowledge that teething problems are totally normal, and nothing to worry about. Schedule some time to do the things you enjoy – particularly if they’re things you’re more able to do in your new country.

Immigration NZ has services that can help with the practical issues around settling in New Zealand.

Settling in?

If you’ve moved to New Zealand, or are in the process of doing so, you may be thinking about how your UK pension fits in with your new life here. For some migrants, moving their pensions can make a lot of sense. We can help you work through whether this is the case for you, and how to go about it.


Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.